Category Archives: Law enforcement

First Prohibition bootlegger, 1919

The 14 gallons of whiskey federal agents seized on May 30, 1919, made Servia Diaz Springfield’s first officially recognized Prohibition bootlegger. Diaz (1897-1975), an immigrant from Spain, claimed he had made the liquor “only for his own use ‘cause he … Continue reading

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Fortune-teller scandal, 1897

A fortune-teller with a gift of gab went to prison in 1897, thanks partly to an investigation by Springfield’s first woman dentist. Arthur A. Waite went by the name of “Luke Leslie” when he set up shop at Second and … Continue reading

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‘Humane officer’ report, April 1904

Charles Stone (1847?-1911) was appointed Springfield’s first humane officer in November 1903. The position was part of the Springfield Police Department, and the humane officer had all the powers of any other police officer, but with the special duty of … Continue reading

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H.B. Hill insurance scandal & suicide, 1934

With the insurance company he founded linked to Chicago crooks and his own job gone, Springfield financier H.B. Hill tried make his suicide look like a gangland murder. Hill shot himself in the head sometime on the afternoon of Dec. … Continue reading

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‘Army of God’ kidnappings (1982)

Three anti-abortion extremists, one of them a Springfield native, kidnapped an abortion clinic physician and his wife in 1982 and held the couple in an empty ammunition bunker near Illiopolis. The kidnappers – Don Benny Anderson, 41, a 1959 Lanphier … Continue reading

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Cantrall riot, 1926

Two hundred railroad construction workers rioted in Cantrall on Aug. 20, 1926, following a brawl at an illegal beer parlor. When village marshal William O’Neal intervened, the rioters beat him up and took away his revolver and badge. A half-dozen … Continue reading

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First African-American juror in Sangamon County

The first black person to serve on a jury in Sangamon County may have been Thomas Flynn, a barber, on March 18, 1873. Flynn wasn’t the first African-American called to jury service in the county, but an earlier attempt – … Continue reading

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A.C. Littlejohn fraud and suicide

Angus Littlejohn, once a pillar of Springfield’s business community, spent three years in the 1930s trying to recoup his reputation and keep himself out of prison. He failed. On the morning of July 2, 1938, five minutes before he was … Continue reading

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Washington Hall, 1922-26

In the 1920s, the Washington Street Mission operated a rehabilitation center for young prostitutes in what now (2018) is the Chesapeake Seafood House. The facility closed in 1926, with no publicity and no explanation. Fifty years later, however, the mission’s … Continue reading

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Bryan Bolton, gangster

Note: This story has been updated with information questioning Bryan Bolton’s role in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Bryan Bolton, a Thayer farmboy turned Springfield businessman turned gangster, claimed to have taken part in the St. Valentine’s Day massacre and … Continue reading

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