Bluestocking Journal

Real history, through the eyes of a fictional person

Tag: Chicago

Monday, December 16, 1912

Henry Bussman and “Swipes” Phillips were arrested when the Champaign police raided an alleged bootlegging joint on North Walnut street. “Bussman is an ex-bank clerk who has been on the toboggan for several years.” I asked Papa what “on the toboggan” meant, and he said it referred to going downhill. I am a little cross with myself for failing to deduce that right away!

The first car on the Kankakee-Urbana “university route” electric line will leave Urbana at 2 o’clock Thursday. Souvenir tickets cost $5 and up, and whoever offers the highest price will take the first slip. The car will reach Thomasboro and return late in the afternoon.

In Chicago, the federal government has filed an anti-trust suit targeting the Elgin Board of Trade (the “butter trust”) and the American Association of Creamery Butter Manufacturers, which are charged with conspiring to fix the price of butter in the interest of big manufacturers and cold storage concerns, to the detriment of small producers and the consuming public.


Thursday, December 12, 1912

Representative S. A. Roddenberry of Georgia has introduced a House resolution to “forbid the marriage of negroes and persons of any other color.” Angered by the recent marriage of “Jack” Johnson, a negro prize fighter, to Lucille Cameron, a white girl, in Chicago, Mr. Roddenberry spewed forth much vitriol. “We see an African with much brutal force, with no moral character, with no stamina, entering the office of a legal officer in that city, and calling on him to issue—’to Jack Johnson!’—a marriage license to wed a young American woman of our own blood, our own race, our own color. The young officer is directed to issue to the brute a legal certificate permitting a white woman in these days to be bound in the wedlock of black slavery.” Black slavery! He went on and on and on, apparently, and it looks as though the papers printed most of it. “No blacker incubus ever fixed itself upon the social politics of this republic than the embryonic cancer of negro marriage to white people that has lately been in evidence,” he emitted, probably turning redder and redder. “No more voracious parasite ever sucked at the heart of pure society and moral status than the one which welcomes or recognizes everywhere the sacred ties of wedlock between Africa and America.” What a horrible man. I feel sorry for his wife.

Meanwhile, Senator Benjamin F. Shively of Indiana disdained ether and chloroform before an operation in which his toe was to be removed. Instead, while it was being cut off, he smoked a cigar. I expect he hopes to be shot on his way to a speaking engagement so that he may give a speech while a bullet is in his chest, just like Theodore Roosevelt.

The Courier-Herald consulted various Urbana residents and came to the conclusion that the temperature last night dipped below zero. The headline is “MERCURY LOSES STANDING LOCALLY,” and below that, it says, “Weather Indicator Tries to Sneak Out of Bottom of Tube.”

Tuesday, December 3, 1912

One of the men who went off a bridge in an automobile the other day has died. James B. Busey, assistant cashier of Busey’s bank at Mahomet, died this morning at the Burnham hospital due to uremic poisoning resulting from internal injuries. This came as a bit of a surprise, as it had been thought that he was only suffering from exposure and nervous shock. He leaves behind a young wife and two infant children.

The District of Columbia court of appeals held that Thomas Edison is not the inventor of the motion picture film and that his patents are invalid, having “merely solved camera apparatus problems.” Mr. Edison had brought suit against the Chicago Film company for infringement on his patent. This decision will save millions of dollars to motion picture concerns.

Hsuan T’ung, the boy emperor of China, is seriously ill. “By the terms of the edict of abdication the boy emperor of China was permitted to retain his title and to reside in a palace in the Forbidden city with the dowager empress, Lung Yu. There he has been living in strict seclusion, in accordance with the ancient usage, and has been treated by his attendants and others as though he were still ruler of China.”

Thursday, November 21, 1912

W. C. Woodward, University of Illinois class of 1911, broke the world record for working the way around the globe. He completed his tour of the world in 245 days. “In Paris he sang American ragtime songs to amuse frequenters of the cafes.” Woodward, a crack swimmer, now resides in Chicago but is back in Champaign for the time being.

The United States government launched a sudden crusade against “physicians and manufacturers who exploit for profit the demand for methods conducive to race suicide.” Postal inspectors in all parts of the country conducted raids simultaneously. A total of 173 persons were brought in, charged with using the mails to promote criminal medical practices or the sale of materials for illegal purposes. Most of those arrested are “pill doctors” who operate using the mail. I am still trying to figure out what exactly is meant by “race suicide,” but it must be very important, since “BLOW TO RACE SUICIDE” is one of the headlines.

Thursday, November 14, 1912

James Cain, a farmer, appeared at the Lewis store where Margaret Lowry works as a bookkeeper and asked to escort her home. Months earlier she had rejected him, and so she refused, but he persisted until she agreed. On South Randolph street near her home, he exclaimed, “This is a good place,” and hit her twice on the back of the head with a hammer. Her condition is critical. The mangled body of her attacker, which could only be identified by his ring and hat, was found scattered along the Illinois Central track; it is believed to be a suicide.

James Eaton, the man who went mad with drink on election day and tried to kill a man at the polling place, was arrested yesterday. He was at the side of his dying baby and pleaded to be allowed to stay, but he was taken to the jail.

A Chicago woman was placing lighted blessed candles on the graves of relatives, when her clothing caught fire. A man ran to her and wrapped her in his overcoat, quenching the flames, but she was fatally injured.

After those stories of horror, I don’t know what to make of this next one. At first I thought it might be a made-up story because of the names. In Philadelphia, Magistrate Coward decided that it is no crime to call a policeman a “gink.” Policeman Pill of the vice squad had arrested Jack Hanlon, a former pugilist, whom he accused of calling him a gink while Pill was on duty. Said the judge, “I’m called worse things than that a dozen times a day. I don’t care how you take it. If that is all that the man said you had no right to arrest him.” During cross-examination by Hanlon’s lawyer, Pill admitted that he did not even know what the word meant.

Saturday, November 9, 1912

The entire Champaign police force raided Hattie Gara’s notorious maison de joie at 201 North Water street in Champaign last night. Mrs. Gara, nine male patrons, and five female inmates were taken to the station. The patrons, whose names are listed in the paper, settled this morning for $7.50 each; Mrs. Gara and her girls await a hearing, but the usual fine is $27.50 for the proprietor and $17.50 for each girl.

A hardware store and a grocery were burglarized last night, although not much loot was taken: six razors, several knives, and a shaving brush from the hardware store, and nothing at all from the grocery, although a window had been pried open. The police have sent to Danville for bloodhounds.

A woman brought two boys who had been shooting pigeons into the Urbana police station. “Chief of Police Lindstrum disarmed them, taking an air rifle from one and a ‘nigger-shooter‘ from the other.”

The University of Illinois has opened a new archaeological museum in Lincoln Hall. Many interesting things are there, including the head of an Egyptian mummy!

A Chicago woman, the wife of a Democratic committeeman, sat in her home all night, reading election returns. She remarked, “I am glad Wilson won, because he is a good man.” A moment later, she fell dead, probably from strain caused by the election.

And finally, a hydroaeroplane beat an automobile in a race from Omaha to New Orleans. “The flying machine showed its ability to go about three miles to the automobile’s one, except when the automobile was using the best of roads.”

Tuesday, November 5, 1912

All I have to report upon today is loads of madness and death. Perhaps it is is somehow indicative of my character that I should find these stories interesting, out of all the stories in the paper, but I think I will avoid dwelling upon that.

The big news from Chicago is that Conway, “the wooden-footed clown,” has confessed to the murder of Miss Sophia Singer. He said, “Sophia came to the rooms where we were living together and asked my wife to go out with her with two men. She wanted her to do something that was immoral. That made me angry and we got into a quarrel.” His wife, he said, left the room, and Miss Singer attacked him with a handkerchief containing a doorknob. He seized it from her, she snatched up a nearby razor, and he struck her with the doorknob-kerchief. Not knowing she was dead, he said, he gagged her and tied her up, and left with his wife. “I did not mean to kill her, but if a man cannot protect the name of his own wife, who in the world will?”

A woman named Pansy Lesh has confessed in Los Angeles to the murders of two women in Missouri by poison; a prominent alienist says she is sane, and Mrs. Lesh agrees, although she says she has no idea why she killed either of them. A Chicago negress (who is a spirit medium and crystal gazer) was found guilty of poisoning her son for the purpose of collecting life insurance; five other members of her family (two husbands, a brother-in-law, and two children) were also murdered, but it is not known whether she poisoned them too. And a millionaire cigar manufacturer was taken to the Boston Hospital for the Insane because he fears that someone is trying to poison him.

Here is news from Joliet: “Driven insane by the constant clicking of a telegraph sounder, Mrs. Mabel Plumbe, an employe [sic] of the Postal Telegraph company for twenty-five years, killed herself by firing a bullet into her brain.”

A horrible ten-year-old girl in Pennsylvania named Gazelle buried a five-year-old girl alive in the woods. Detectives with bloodhounds found the child, and she is now in critical condition.

I will end this day’s report of death and madness with the sad story of an actor whose corset was laced too tightly while impersonating a woman. He was stricken with apoplexy onstage, and he died in the hospital.

Saturday, November 2, 1912

Important front-page news! “William, the little son of Mr. and Mrs. John Turner, pushed a button up one of his nostrils, and the services of a physician were required to remove it.”

Besides that fascinating story, there is more on the Singer murder in Chicago. Lillian Beatrice Ryall-Conway, “burlesque actress and animal tamer,” whilst screaming and cowering and generally carrying on, told the the fascinatingly named Captain Nootbaar that her husband, Charles Conway, “the wooden-footed circus clown,” murdered Miss Singer after a quarrel. Whew! I think that sentence is going to get right up and walk off the page.

Also in the paper today were the official ballot, the woman’s ballot, and the proposals to be voted upon, which seem to me to be worded in such a way as to imply that anyone who votes against them must be very stupid indeed. I have decided to clip them and paste them in here; I will be interested to see whether any of them do not pass.

Friday, November 1, 1912

“There was an exciting hairpulling, lasting at least five minutes, in front of Knowlton & Bennett’s drug store, shortly after 4 o’clock, Thursday afternoon. In this case, hairpulling is no figure of speech, for the three women involved, Mrs. Ethel Boley, Mrs. Bessie Slade and Mrs. Hazel Turner, made the rats and Marseille waves fly. The scrap has the same effect on the tonsorialists as a dog fight and the crowd that gathered around the combatants was liberally sprinkled with white coats from shops near and far.”

Charles Conway, a one-legged professional high diver, was arrested in Lima, Ohio, along with his wife. They were wanted in connection with the Chicago murder of Miss Sophia Singer, a Baltimore heiress. Conway admitted he knew he was wanted but denied any connection with the crime; his wife became hysterical. They had two suits of clothes, which they admit are the property of the murdered woman’s lover, in a trunk at their hotel room.

Speaking of murder, a man in Moline, angered when his ability as a musician was belittled, killed his life-long friend with a chair.

Saturday, October 5, 1912

Woodie Mathews, “well known colored shoe shiner,” is building a $10,000 three-story building at 502 East Green street in Champaign. “Woodie is the magnate of the shining art in Champaign, having conducted two establishments for the past eight years.”

Theater ushers are able to procure many free bonbons and chocolates. “At an interesting climax the emotional matinee girl forgets her candy box and lets it slide to the floor with several pieces sticking in the corners. Immediately after the performance all enterprising ushers search the house for discarded sweets.”

In Chicago, a kitten went to sleep on top of a baby and suffocated the child “by sucking the breath from its mouth.” The mother “had feared this accident would happen to her child.” This sounds like bunkum to me. After all, the newspaper did say last week that Roosevelt would visit town, when no such thing was even planned.