Category Archives: Crime and vice

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

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

Moonlight Garden

Moonlight Garden flourished as an open-air dance pavilion and then an indoor roller rink on Wabash Avenue for more than 35 years. Entrepreneur/showman Roy Dexheimer Sr. founded Moonlight Garden as the otherwise nameless “Open Air Dance Pavilion” in June 1927. … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Crime and vice, Social life, Sports and recreation | 6 Comments

Jake Wexler murder, 1935

Jake Wexler was a jeweler in downtown Springfield for 15 years. But when he was gunned down gangland-style in 1935, newspaper stories revealed he had a sideline: slot machines. And, unwisely, he apparently refused to sell his devices and get … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice | 3 Comments

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

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

Child charged with ‘depraved’ crime (1894)

When two itinerant horse traders were charged in 1894 with “a nameless crime” – apparently sodomy and child sexual abuse – their presumed victim, a seven-year-old boy, went to jail as well. “The details of the story are too indecent … Continue reading

Posted in Children, Crime and vice | Leave a comment