Category Archives: Crime and vice

Temperance movement, 1874

Springfield’s women’s temperance movement lost much of its momentum in 1874, after a (male) Methodist minister went out of his way to blame the local liquor trade on immigrant Germans and Irish. Doubly unfortunate for the crusading women, Rev. William … Continue reading

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Slovenians in Sangamon County

In 1909, Slovenian immigrants Josef Grobelnik and Bartol Ramschak operated a popular tavern on South 15th Street. At the time, southeast Springfield was filled with young Eastern European families—most of them new arrivals to the U.S. While Grobelnik and Ramschak … Continue reading

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$50,000 faro fraud, 1931

A fraudulent card game in Springfield in 1931 cost one of Illinois’ most prominent Republican women $50,000 – and her career. Myrtle Tanner Blacklidge (1878-1958) had been U.S. revenue collector in Chicago for two years when she visited Springfield in … Continue reading

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H.B. Hill insurance scandal & suicide, 1934

With the insurance company he founded linked to Chicago crooks and his own job gone, Springfield financier H.B. Hill tried make his suicide look like a gangland murder. Hill shot himself in the head sometime on the afternoon of Dec. … Continue reading

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‘Army of God’ kidnappings (1982)

Three anti-abortion extremists, one of them a Springfield native, kidnapped an abortion clinic physician and his wife in 1982 and held the couple in an empty ammunition bunker near Illiopolis. The kidnappers – Don Benny Anderson, 41, a 1959 Lanphier … Continue reading

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Cantrall riot, 1926

Two hundred railroad construction workers rioted in Cantrall on Aug. 20, 1926, following a brawl at an illegal beer parlor. When village marshal William O’Neal intervened, the rioters beat him up and took away his revolver and badge. A half-dozen … 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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John Schnepp, mayor & embezzler

John S. Schnepp (1866-1954) was a lawyer, real estate developer and two-time mayor of Springfield. He also was an embezzler and philanderer. With his thefts on the verge of exposure in January 1932, Schnepp disappeared. Discovered three years later selling … 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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