Category Archives: Law enforcement

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

Bryan Bolton, a Thayer farmboy turned Springfield businessman turned gangster, took part in the St. Valentine’s Day massacre and partnered with some of most vicious thugs of the 1920s and ‘30s. But Bolton died peacefully and nearly forgotten in California … Continue reading

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Kidnapped banker, 1932

Springfield coal miner James Gammaitoni lost his life savings when Taylorville’s John B. Colegrove State Bank failed in 1929. So Gammaitoni took direct action: He kidnapped Colegrove. John Benjamin Colegrove had been a lawyer and real estate investor before he … Continue reading

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Lake Springfield holdout, 1933

Leander Shoup vowed to go down in a blaze of gunfire rather than relinquish his 123 acres of farmland to inundation by Lake Springfield. The city of Springfield won a lawsuit to take over the land, a little over a … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Farming, Law enforcement, Local government, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Hunger march blockade, 1933

Police cordoned off Sangamon County in April 1933 to quell a planned “hunger march” on the Statehouse by unemployed people from around Illinois. Springfield Mayor John “Buddy” Kapp summed up authorities’ opinion of the demonstration: “The law enforcing officers of the … Continue reading

Posted in Coal mines and mining, Depression, Illinois capital, Labor unions, Law enforcement, Prominent figures, State government | Leave a comment

Harry Taylor, first black firefighter, police detective

Harry Taylor (1861-1928) was Springfield’s first African-American firefighter, but became better known as a Springfield police officer and detective. Positions on both the police and fire departments were patronage appointments in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Taylor was … Continue reading

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Hangings in Sangamon County, 1826-1927

  Sangamon County put to death seven men, all convicted of murder, between 1826, five years after the county was established, and 1927, when a new state law required executions to be carried out in state prisons. Those hanged were: … Continue reading

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‘Murder by abortion,’ 1946

A Springfield osteopath was convicted of murder after allegedly conducting an abortion that led to the death of a 19-year-old woman in 1946. Ronald U. Tilley (1897-1966) was sentenced to 18 years in prison, but the Illinois Supreme Court overturned … Continue reading

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