Category Archives: Crime and vice

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

Posted in Business, Crime and vice, Depression, Law enforcement | Leave a comment

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

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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Fisher ‘murder’ hysteria, 1841

The case of a “murdered” man who later turned up alive is one of 19th-century Springfield’s best-known legal controversies. That’s mainly because Abraham Lincoln wrote about it, but also because of the roles played by circumstantial evidence, a false confession … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Early residents, Law enforcement, Lincoln, Abraham, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

The whipping post, 1828-37

A whipping post stood permanently on the northeast corner of Springfield’s public square from 1828 to 1837. It apparently was used infrequently, but often enough that whippings stuck in the minds of those who saw them. The post – which … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Early residents, Illinois capital, Law enforcement, Local government, Prominent figures, Sangamon County, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Mail robbery, 1923, ‘most daring ever’

Ten men eventually went to prison for a 1923 mail robbery the Illinois State Journal called “the most daring ever staged in this city.” The gang struck at 1:20 a.m. April 1, 1923, at the Chicago & Alton railway station … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Law enforcement, Railroads, Transportation | 4 Comments