Category Archives: Law enforcement

Pawnee posse captures burglars, 1899

A posse of Pawnee citizens corralled two burglars in a remote crossroads schoolhouse on Dec. 9, 1899. The two surrendered after a tense standoff. But their criminal careers would include one last episode in Springfield. The men, identified as Frank … Continue reading

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First parking meters (1941)

Confusion, reluctance and a little apprehension were Springfieldians’ responses to the city’s first parking meters. The Illinois State Journal described their debut in its Oct. 24, 1941, edition. Springfield entered a new era of streamlined parking control yesterday as nearly … Continue reading

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First traffic signals (1924)

Struggling with out-of-control auto traffic downtown, Springfield decided in 1924 to experiment with traffic signals. Officials chose the intersection of Sixth and Monroe streets for the city’s first set of stop-and-go lights. They started working Nov. 5, 1924. One set … Continue reading

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Sangamon County Detention Home, 1916

The Sangamon County Detention Home was created with two goals: to be both an alternative to jail for the county’s youngest delinquents and a refuge for neglected or abandoned children. It wasn’t a perfect solution to either problem, but it … Continue reading

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Rooftop gunman, 1951

Updated with information on the Horn Hotel — ed. A man fired shots at random from the roof of a Springfield hotel for more than an hour the evening of July 1, 1951. Somehow, no one was injured except the … Continue reading

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Benjamin Miller, homesick murderer

Benjamin Miller was homesick. So Miller walked into the sheriff’s office in Jena, Louisiana, in November 1915 to confess that he had shot and killed James Kirlin in Riverton 36 years earlier. “I am tired of dodging from one place … Continue reading

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Tapeworms and medical fraud, 1884

Dr. George Kreider “hates quacks as the devil hates holy water,” the Illinois State Register said in 1884, but he almost met his match in an 87-foot tapeworm. George N. Kreider (1856-1922) was a leader among Springfield physicians in the … Continue reading

Posted in First Citizens, Journalism, Law enforcement, Medicine, Prominent figures, Public health, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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

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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