Category Archives: Crime and vice

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

Posted in Buildings, Business, Churches, Crime and vice, Ethnic groups, Hotels & taverns, Social life | 4 Comments

$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

Posted in Churches, Crime and vice, Law enforcement, Prominent figures, Social services, Women | 2 Comments

Bryan Bolton, gangster

Note: This story has been updated with information questioning Bryan Bolton’s role in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Bryan Bolton, a Thayer farmboy turned Springfield businessman turned gangster, claimed to have taken part in the St. Valentine’s Day massacre and … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Law enforcement | 3 Comments

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