Category Archives: Law enforcement

Reed ‘Kid’ Waddell, international con man

Springfield’s Reed Waddell often gets credit for inventing the gold brick swindle. He probably was innocent, for once, of originating that particular swindle. But by the time he was shot to death – by a crony in Paris, France – … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Law enforcement | 1 Comment

First women jurors

In January 1931, Grace Dye of Williamsville became the first woman eligible for jury duty in Sangamon County. But it would take eight years for most other women to enjoy the same right. The hiatus was thanks to the Illinois … Continue reading

Posted in Law enforcement, Local government, State government, Women | 1 Comment

Wife poisonings, 1941

When authorities suspected Carl Zubr had poisoned his second wife, they started to wonder about the death of his first wife too. The bodies of both women, it turned out, were laced with strychnine. Zubr (1902-67) was a mule driver … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Law enforcement | 4 Comments

Mumblety-peg slaying, 1889

Theophilus “Moonlight” Waldron was a 15-year-old orphan, living on the streets and by his wits, when he stabbed to death a man over a game of mumblety-peg. Waldron (1874-?) was sentenced to life in prison for murder, a judgement many … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Crime and vice, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media | 1 Comment

Harry Lane, ‘boss gambler’

Chester M. “Harry” Lane was Springfield’s gambling kingpin at the turn of the 20th century, apparently with the connivance of police, city officials, and the courts. He stepped down in the mid-1900s, after a fatal shooting, the election of a … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media, Politics, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

Three killed in saloon shootout, 1905

A drunken shootout in a Springfield saloon in 1905 left three men dead and two brothers charged with murder. The cause was a previous fistfight, followed by a series of telephoned challenges, newspaper articles reported. Those killed were all from … Continue reading

Posted in Communications, Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Journalism, Law enforcement | 3 Comments

Theater bombings, 1931-32

Unhappy theater workers were the immediate suspects in 1931, when bombs – both explosives and stink bombs – went off in three local cinemas. A few months later, another bomb wrecked the home of a theater manager. Members of Springfield … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Crime and vice, Depression, Labor unions, Law enforcement, Theaters | Leave a comment

New Year’s 1921

What was on the minds of Sangamon County residents for New Year’s 1921? Potholes. For its special New Year’s coverage on Sunday, Jan. 2, 1921, the Illinois State Journal asked 47 “prominent citizens” (not surprisingly for the time, all were … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Celebrations, Journalism, Law enforcement, Local government, Prominent figures, Social life, Transportation | Leave a comment

Cornfield shootout, 1914

The robbery of a general store near Chatham on Christmas Eve 1914 climaxed in a cornfield shootout that killed one of the bandits and wounded two of his pursuers. Newspaper accounts of the incident read like a movie script, complete … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Law enforcement | 2 Comments

Killing of police detective, 1938

A work disappointment sent James Young into an emotional crisis on Jan. 11, 1938, culminating in the deaths of both Young and Springfield Police Detective Patrick Gilmore. Florence Young told officers later the incident began that morning, when her husband … Continue reading

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