Category Archives: Crime and vice

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

Posted in Children, Crime and vice, Family life, Law enforcement, Local government, Sangamon County, Social services | Leave a comment

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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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