Winnebago County, Illinois
ARRESTED: A man by the name of J.R. Doty, living in the western part of the city, was arrested on Monday last by officer Upright, on a charge of stealing a couple of buffalo robes from the steamer "Rockford" and the running geer of a wagon from Mr. Oviatt, of Burritt. He was committed under $150 bonds. [Rockford Republican (Rockford, IL), Sep 6, 1860, page 2 ]
Royden & Son’s store was the scene on Saturday night, of a highly interesting and elevating entertainment, in which Thomas Weber and S.C. Wetherell were the principal actors. It appears that some three years ago Webber was arrested for fast driving across the bridge, at the complaint of Wetherell, and was fined several dollars therefore. At this time Webber swore vengeance on Mr. W., and although years have passed since then, the spirit of hatred still rankled in Webber's bosom, and we are told that he has endeavored repeatedly to engage Mr. W. in a fight that he might get satisfaction, but Wetherell, being a peaceable citizen, refused. On Saturday night Webber, who had partaken quite freely of Beloit whisky during the day, entered Royden's store, and spying Wetherell kneeling upon the floor searching for a piece of money which he had dropped, opened a conversation with him of a tantalizing character, during which he struck him a blow in the face which sent him crashing through the window. Arising to his feet, Wetherell, riled at this kind of usage, went for Webber, floored him, and would probably have paid him back in his own coin but for the arrival of the police, who at once placed them under arrest. Outside help was called in to assist Snyder, as Webber didn't go quietly as a little lamb. At first he was determined not to be taken to the lock-up, and one of his friends showed a disposition to lend a helping hand, but they finally concluded that it wasn't policy to resist an officer, and the, and the procession moved toward Justice Springer's court, where a trial was given Webber that night. In case the magistrate has not been present the calaboose would have not been occupied over Sunday. After listening to the evidence in the case, Justice Springer asked that Webber hand over to the town the small sum of four dollars and cost, which amounted to about six dollars. This was done, and the prisoner discharged, who at once started for home, a few miles in the country, inviting his friends to go a piece with him and he would tap the keg of lager which was in his buggy. Several did so, and the keg was probably tapped. [Rockford Times, 05-19-1875]
Last Sunday, while "Moxy" Botts, keeper of the "Black Maria" saloon, West State street, was doing his level best to preserve the sanctity of the holy day, some impious fellows, regardless of the tender and devout feelings of Mr. Botts, made an assault on his saloon at the back door. They broke the lock, forced open the door, and thus getting inside proceeded to spoliate the premises. They captured two bottles of whisky which Mr. Botts kept as a preventative of scarlett fever, two boxes of cigars which he used as an aid to Sabbath devotions, and al the "cider" he had in the "shebang." With this spirituous and narcatic booty, they left the Black Maria to windward, and went over to the fair grounds to drink the health of H.P. Kimball and Wade Hampton. Mr. Botts afterward coming around the saloon, discovered the vandalism. [--Rockford Journal, 09-08-1877]
Arrested on a Charge of Bastardy
Rockford: April 17, Gen. Weldon, a bartender of this city, formerly of Indianapolis, was arrested here last night upon the complaint of a young girl named Carrie Williams, who alleges that the festive George led her from the paths of virtue, and that he is about to become the father of her unborn child. [-- Indiana Journal April 18, 1879 - Submitted by BZ]
Rev. Ira Slater, the Free Will Baptist Clergyman of Cherry Valley, Arrested on Suspicion for Horse Stealing and Counterfeiting in Lee County
A Forged Letter of Ex-Sheriff Peats of the City, Causes all the Trouble, the Full Particulars
Rev. Ira Slater is a Free Will Baptist clergyman, at Cherry Valley, and has the entire respect of the townspeople, his character being above reproach. He came to Cherry Valley a little over a year ago from northwestern Ohio, and has very acceptably and creditably discharged the duties of his pastorate. Clergymen, like physicians, are oftimes summoned to neighboring towns on business pertaining to their calling, perhaps to officiate at a funeral or at a wedding.O n Thursday of last week, Rev. Mr. Slater relieved the following communication in a government envelope, postmarked Chana, Ill., March 29. The letter, as we will be seen, was dated at this city:
Rockford, March 29: Mr. Slater, I write you to see if I can secure your services to marry me on Friday evening next, March 31, at the house of my bride in the town of Alto, Lee county. She won’t have anybody but you; she says she has attended your church, being in the Quire, I don’t know as ever I met you, but it will be all the same with me; come by the way of Rockford, and take the C. and I. to Steward. I will meet you with my horse and buggy. If I am not at the train when you come, go to the hotel and wait for D.A. Town. Don’t fail to come for I will pay you well and my bride’s heart is set on it.
The following morning, Friday, Mr. Slater came to the city, and took the 10 o’clock train on the Chicago and Iowa road, arriving at Steward, Lee county, between 11 and 12 o’clock, and as he failed to see anyone at the depot, he went to the hotel and registered as Rev. Ira Slater, Cherry Valley. He took dinner and supper, after which he notice quite a number of citizens of the place, as he supposed, coming into the hotel and casting suspicious glances at him. Finally a man claiming to be a justice of peace, Mr. S.G. Whestone, came into the hotel and asked Mr. Slater his name, and on being informed, ordered a constable, Mr. R.N. Coleman, to arrest Mr. Slater of suspicion of being a horse thief and counterfeiter. In vain Mr. Slater protested until he saw it was no use, for his protesting only seemed to strengthen the mind of the justice that he had captured the notorious outlaw. By this time it had become rumored about the village that an important arrest had been made, and a horse thief and counterfeiter captured, and we are creditably informed there was much interest and excitement created, in comparison to the two places, as there was in St. Joseph, Mo., over the Jessie James business.
Mr. Slater was locked up in a room in the hotel, an officer being stationed at the door as a guard. At one time the constable to prevent an excape, talked strongly of taking the reverend gentleman’s clothes away from him, but failed to do so, however. He was kept in this room confined for twenty-four house, and what caused the trouble was the following letter--mailed in a government envelope, similar to the one received by Mr. Slater--At Freeport, March 30th, and received by Mr. Wesley Steward and Steward:--
Rockford, March 30: Friend Steward: One of three horse thieves and counterfeiters will probably be at your place on Friday or Saturday next. Don’t fail to have them arrested if they make their appearance. One is passing under the name of Babcock, another as Town, and another as Slater. They are well dressed, respectable appearing villains. They will either be at your place or another town where I am watching. Our detective who was one their track lost them at Earlville, but we have a clue to their future movement. Don’t fail to have either of the rascals arrested. Babcock is tall and portly, with long dark whiskers; about fifty, Town about the same height and age, not quite so dark. Slater travels as a Rev. D.D. F. Peats
After Mr. Slater had been arrested, a telegram was sent immediately to ex-Sheriff Peats in this city. He was in Chicago and his wife received the dispatch, and as she failed to understand its purport, did nothing in relation to the matter. On Saturday evening a gentleman names Gallaher, happened into the hotel at Steward who made inquiries of Mr. Slater in relation to the people of Cherry Valley, and among other questions, asked if he knew Thomas Lee in that town. Mr. Slater replied that he did, and that he was his nearest neighbor. Mr. Gallaher then went to the telegraph office and sent a telegram to Mr. Lee about as follows:
"Man by the name of Slater is here and claims to be a resident of Cherry Valley. What is his character? Telegraph quick."
An answer was sent immediately"
"Rev. Ira Slater, pastor of the Free Will Baptist church. Character above reproach."
Mr. Slater immediately came to this city an on going to Mr. Peats this gentleman was considerably astonish at the letter as he had never seen it before and knew nothing of it, pronouncing at once a forgery. Mr. Slater proposed to fully investigate the matter. There is no question but that one person wrote both letters, but what object the person could have is beyond the most vivid imagination. [--Daily Gazette, 04-06-1882]
A Pair of Bad Twin Brothers Terrorize Shirland Inhabitants--Break in a House With an Axe--Searching for Cider--Arrested and Held to $1,000 Bail
Teddy and Timmy Curran, of Shirland, are representatives of objects sometimes called twins, but in this particular instance the name seems to be a misnomer. The term, double cussedness, let loose upon the good people of the stauch little town of Shirland, to afflict them beyond endurance, would be much more appropriate. This unique couple set apart Sunday last as a day upon which to carry out a double portion of devilish didoes, instead of making such use of the day as was originally designed. They first visited the home of John Poole, situated in the northwest part of the town, and finding the family were absent, proceeded to break open the house, and turned everything into utter confusion. In the cellar they discovered a barrel of cider whereupon they immediately attempted the remarkable feat of getting outside of its contents. They succeeded well in the operation judging from their further exploits. They next visited the home of Alexander Boyden. Finding the old gentleman and wife at home they made a DEMAND FOR MORE CIDER and upon being refused proceeded to help themselves from the cask in the shed, allowing a large part of anticipated supply of vinegar for family use to run to waste upon the ground. They then took a temporary departure and the cider cask was set aside inside the kitchen in anticipation of their return. Sure enough, very soon they came back and demanded more cider and were refused, but being determined to suck cider at all hazards, they went to the cellar from the outside, and attempted to get through the trap door, into the kitchen, but Mr. Boyden was standing guard over the entrance with a club and they concluded on some other mode of entry. Whereuon they went out they set out of the cellar, and as they passed the kitchen window, they smashed it in. Passing into the shed, they secured an axe and BATTERED IN THE KITCHEN DOOR and obtained an entrance to their favorite beverage. Mr. Boyden being now at their mercy, told them if they would go home and let him alone, he would draw them each a glass of cider. While they were drinking this, the neighbors arrived and put a stop to their deviltry by taking them into custody. A warrant was procured and they were brought to Rockton by Constable Levi Card and placed in the bastile. Their examination was had before S.C. Wetherell Monday afternoon. A large number of witnessness and interested parties were present from Shirland, and the facts as stated above were admitted by the twins in birth and sin, and corroborated by the evidence of Mr. Boyden and several substantial witnesses. His honor, after listening to the evidence bound the twain over to the grand jury, and their father went on their bonds for $1,000, and they were set at liberty. [Rockford Daily Register, September 01, 1886]
ONE DOLLAR PER WEEK
THE WAY GUS HART, OF HARLEM, MADE A THIEF PAY FOR MONEY AND GOODS WHICH HE STOLE
Gus Hart, the well known farmer living in Harlem township, recently had a bout with a tricky peddler well known in this city, in which the shrewd granger came out first best. It seems that some time since Mr. Hart's daughter, who is a dressmaker, employed in this city by Miss Clark, was home for a time and was working in the sitting room. She stepped into another room to do some work on the machine, and during her absence a peddlar rapped on the door. No one heard him. The door had a glass top, and everything in the room was visible. When Miss Hart returned to the room, her bag with needles, work utensils and some money was gone. Mr. Hart, who is something of a detective himself, came to town, and with the aid of Officer McEvoy run down the peddlar and put the screws on him until he agreed to poney up $1 per week until the amount of $7 was paid in. This had been done and he has Mr. Hart's receipt for the money paid "on account". The peddlar will fight mighty shy of Mr. Hart when engaged in crooked operations hereafter. [Rockford Daily Gazette, February 3, 1890]
His Faithless Frau--They Fly From Chicago to Rockford and Palm Themselves off as Husband and Wife--Irate Hubby Pursues Them Here and Causes Their Arrest
It isn’t always safe to run away with another man’s wife, not even if she is your brother’s wife. It doesn’t follow that the injured husband will submit to having his affections thus unduly trod upon and his hopes shattered just because it happens to be in the family. Herman Mau, of Chicago, has just learned to his sorrow that it doesn’t pay to monkey with the band wagon in this respect. Herman has been living in Chicago for some time past with his brother, Gustav Mau, and wife at 485 West Twelve Street. He took a fancy to Mrs. Mau, who was a buxom good-looking little German woman and she encouraged his advances. Last Friday while the husband was at work Herman and Mrs. Mau pack up their duds and skipped, the woman taking her little four months’ old child with her. They first went to Freeport and Gustav followed close on the trail of his faithless wife and ungrateful brother. The couple learned of his coming and left Freeport, not even stopping long enough to look after their trunk which they had brought with them. They walked seven miles across country and took the train for Forreston, from there coming to Rockford. They arrived here last Monday and secured quarters at Mrs. Albert’s’ boarding house at the corner of South Second and Walnut Streets, informing the landlady that they were man and wife. In some manner Gustav Mau heard that his brother and wife were here living in an unlawful state, and yesterday afternoon he came down from Freeport with a warrant for their arrest. Chief Bargren and Officer Tisdale waited upon Mrs. Mau and her pseudo-husband and placed them under arrest, lodging them in the county jail for safe-keeping. This morning Chief of Police Root came down from Freeport and took the guilty pair back with him at 10:15, via the Northwestern. It was there that the husband found the first evidence that the couple were traveling together as man and wife. Gustav Mau married the woman who has now wrecked his home in Berlin, Germany, eight years ago. She was a blue-eyed, fair-haired fraulein , but their married life has never been a happy one. Mrs. Mau claims that her husband was cruel to her and that she could no longer endure his abuse, while the latter claimed his buxom little frau was too fond of other gentlemen’s company. The woman in the case is known to the world and Helene Mau, and in Chicago acquired quite a reputation as a fortune-teller. At the time of her arrests she had over $100 on her person, which she had undoubtedly been saving for a rainy day. She may find to sorrow before Gustav has had his revenge that it never rains but it pours. Herman Mau is a butcher by trade and two years ago worked in Rockford for the Schmauss Co. He was here about sixth months ago. He is a powerful fellow and quite good looking. Bother he and the woman appeared unconcerned over their arrest. Mrs. Mau said she didn’t see why it wasn’t all right--their running away together--as she was tired of her husband and wanted Herman. The poor little baby was in a pitiful condition. It had been carried in the baking sun until was burned almost to a blister and looked as if it hadn’t seen water for a month. A bath and clean clothing at the jail made a great change in baby. Both of the brothers work in a chair factory in Chicago. [-- The Rockford Republic, July 31, 1896]
IN TROUBLE AT AURORA
A police officer from Aurora has been in town looking for Edward R. Wetherell, who is wanted in that city on the charge of obtaining under false pretenses a sum of money amounting to $30 from a restaurant man named Willis Isbell. Wetherell was formerly employed by an East side paper and has good family connections here. [--Rockford Daily Register-Gazette, June 26, 1900]
Incident at Twelve Mile Grove, 1844
CLAIM JUMPING IN WINNEBAGO COUNTY
How it Resulted in the First Indictment for Murder--The Fight at Twelve Mile Grove in 1844 Disputes over land titles are not uncommon in settlement and development of a new country. On the frontier men were rough and ready. Plain of speech and strong of arm and ever willing to settle with their fists any point of difference without reference to the courts. Big as the new territory might be there was no room for weakling and the man who made a clearing in the forest or broke soil on the prairie and built his rude home was prepared to defend it with ax or rifle, for he trusted little in the preliminaries of the land office, uncertain as he was that fees had not been paid on the same claim by some other man. A review of the early history of Winnebago county brings to light the fact that disputes as to the ownership of land were not entirely unknown within its borders, although the instances of “claim jumping” were few, indeed, as compared with other sections. Then, too, it must be borne in mind that what was claim jumping to one man was to the other only securing possession of that to which he was legally entitled to and the merits of the case was for the courts to decide, although both parties generally preferred to settle it on the score of physical prowess. It is an interesting fact, probably known to only a few people now, that out of one of these property disputes came the fist indictment for murder returned by a grand jury in this county. The incidents leading up to the indictment and the subsequent trial of the accused form a story of the pioneer days that is worth the telling. One of the early settlers of Winnebago county was Austin Andrus. Wither he came from or when he left this vale of tears or whether he is still among the living is not now recalled. He fixed upon the neighborhood of Twelve Mile Grove as it was known, lying northwest of the present city of Rockford, for his habituation. This was in the spring of 1844. On March 7 of that year one Morris B. Pierce, so the story runs, entered at the land office the farm and home of Andrus. The entry was made on March 7. Andrus had not been idle in the matter, however, and a few days before Pierce visited the land office he had taken the necessary steps to obtain a pre-emption right to that portion of the tract which Pierce proposed to take for his own. This done, Andrus made haste to build and furnish a house to strengthen his claim to the land. A collision was inevitable. On the morning of March 20 Pierce, gathering about him a few neighbors, who believed in the right of to the claim, took possession of Andrus’ hastily erected home. The invaders were armed with guns, pistols and axes and were prepared to meet all comers. Andrus hastily went about the neighborhood, rallying men to his side and in a very short time he returned at the head of a party which represented nearly the entire settlement some of whom were without doubt strong champions of the casual, while it is probably equally true that there were others who were simply looking for a fight. A parley ensued between the two parties. Pierce and his men had fortified themselves in the house and did not propose to come out. Andrus’ party retired and held a consultation. Then they formed a phalanx and charge upon the cabin and attempted to turn it over. They did not heed the cries to desist which came from within and suddenly two rifle shots rang out and smoke from the nuzzles issued through holes in the cabin. Two men in the attacking party had narrow escapes, the bullets cutting their clothing. Instantly one or two men in the crowd outside fired in return. Pierce reeled and pitched forward on his face, shot dead. Guilford, another of the men in the house received a bullet wound in the arm. The killing of one man and the wounding of another ended the battle, and the major portion of the crowd proceeded to make themselves scarce. Whose hand sped the fatal bullet was not known and probably never will be. The case was not one to be passed over by the law. At the next term of the circuit court Austin Andres was indicted for inciting a riot. With him were also indicted Eliphalet Whittles , Daniel Vance, William Shimmin, Sullivan Daniels, Reuben Well, George S. Parker, Daniel Reid, Nelson Reid, Amos Durbin, Harvey Woodruff, Edward Shimmin, Smitt Judd and Edmund Whittlesey. Herman Leavenworth was one of the subjects of the indictment, but the true bill was nolled as to him ands he was made the subject of an indictment for murder, the first to be found in the records of Winnebago county. Then was the investigation of the unfortunate battle at Twelve Mile Grove fairly under way. The trial of Leavenworth was a notable one. There was no lack of legal talent on either the side of the people or the defendant. The case was prosecuted by Circuit Attorney Joseph B. Wells, assisted by Francis Burnap. Leavenworth was defended by Anson S. Miller, Jason Marsh, Martin P. Sweet, afterward representative of this district in congress, and Thomas D. Robertson The case was tried before Judge Thomas C. Browne, a noted jurist of the early days. G.A. Sanford was then sheriff of the county and James Mitchell was clerk of the court. Leavenworth appeared in court on Friday, August 23, 1844, and the trial was set for the following Tuesday. On that day the attorney for the people asked for a continuance, which was refused by Judge Browne. Leavenworth was arraigned and pleaded not guilty and then commenced the work of securing a jury. It was necessary to issue a special venire before twelve men acceptable on both sides could be empanelled, although eleven were secured on the first day. One the third day of the trial twelve “good men and true” were sworn. The jurors were Marshal Talbot, Miles Prentice, William McGhee, Leonard Fountain, E.W. Steele, Silvester Conway, Henry Lawrence, Edmund Parkhurst, Hiram Thayer, Curtis Fulason, Alonson Corry and Melzer H. Turner. Among the witnesses in the case were Ephraim Sumner, Sumner Guilford, Elijah Guilford, Elisha Vance, Charles Richings, Joel D. Thompson, Ephraim Ratcliff, Vernon Green and Justin Gates, the majority of these for the estate. The trial lasted five days. The jury retired on Saturday, August 31, and reported on Saturday, August 31, and reported the following verdict: “We the jury find the defendant not guilty.” There was much rejoicing among Leavenworth’s friends and he was immediately discharged by the court and (?)ied away in triumph by his family. The case against Andrus and his friends on the riot charge resulted the same way. They were tried at the same term of court and found not guilty. The members of Pierce’s party were indicted for disturbing the peace and brought to trial in the month of April, 1845. Sumner Guilford, the man who was wounded, was discharged by the jury, to whom the plea of his attorney had been referred by the judge, for lack of evidence. Another member of the party was found guilty, but the case was no considered a serious one by the jury, and they fined him only $5. This jury was composed of James McIntosh, (P?).S. Paine, Edwin Smith, Laomi Peake, G.E. White, Thomas Thatcher, Benjamin Baldwin, Joseph Hickox and Thomas W. Updike. This was the last chapter in the sorrowful tale of death, but the story of the tragedy continued to be told for decades afterward. To the present generation it will be of interest as bearing the flavor of the old days and showing that the conquest of the prairies, forests, and stream of Winnebago county was colored with stirring incident. [--Rockford Morning Star, April 08, 1900]
The murder of Sheriff John F. Taylor
Tuesday, November 11, 1856, John F. Taylor, sheriff of Winnebago County, was instantly killed by Alfred Countryman. On that day Alfred and John Countryman came to Rockford from Ogle County with some cattle, which they offered for sale at such low prices as to arouse suspicion. The cattle were sold for a sum below their market value. The purchasers delayed payment until notice had been given the sheriff, and papers made out for the apprehension of the brothers which occurred about nine o'clock in the morning. They were then arrested on suspicion; and before they were taken to jail Sheriff Taylor searched them for concealed weapons. He found pistol balls in Alfred’s pockets, and upon inquiring for his revolver the prisoner replied that he had none. Sheriff Taylor, assisted by Constable Thompson, then started with the prisoners for the jail. Just as they reached the steps Alfred Countryman broke away from the sheriff, leaped over the fence on Elm Street, and ran down that street, with the sheriff in pursuit. At the next corner, near the livery stable of Hall & Reynolds, the sheriff has nearly overtaken Countryman, and was about to seize him, when the latter drew a pistol which he had concealed, and fired. The sheriff staggered a few paces and fell. His only words were: “I’m shot; catch him”. Countryman ran to the woods north of Kent's Creek, with hundreds of infuriated citizens in pursuit. John Platt was the first to overtake him. He took his pistol from him, and, with assistance, secured his arrest. Amid threats of lynching, the prisoner was placed in jail and securely ironed. Samuel I. Church, the sheriff-elect, briefly addressed the crowd and assured them that the prisoner was secure. Sheriff Taylor was thirty-one years on age, and left a wife, and a son a year and a half old. He was an excellent officer, and was held in high respect by the community. The funeral was held Thursday on the public square adjoining the jail, under the charge of the Masonic fraternity. The board of supervisors were in attendance in a body. The discourse was preached by Rev. W.F. Stewart.
Execution of Countryman
Countryman was indicted and tried for the murder of Sheriff Taylor at the February term of the circuit court in 1857. The prosecution was conducted by U.D. Meacham, the state's attorney, assisted by William Brown. The council for the defense was Orrin Miller and T.J. Turner. The following gentlemen constituted the jury: Levi Trunks, Phil C. Watson, Anthony M. Felmly, Silas G. Tyler, Jacob B Place, G.R. Ames, Allen Rice, Charles Works, J.E. Jenks, Edward Peppers, J.W. Knapp, S.P. Coller. The trial began on Monday, February 23rd. The case was given to the jury on Thursday, and Friday morning they returned a verdict of guilty. Judge Sheldon pronounce the sentence of death upon Countryman. One of his counsel, Mr. Miller, tried to obtain a stay of proceedings, so as to bring the case before the supreme court. But Judge Caton refused to grant a writ of error. On Friday, March 27th, Countryman was executed on the farm of Sheriff Church, a short distance from the city. The execution was witnessed by eight thousand people. In the absence of a military company, the two fire companies, armed with sabres and carbines, formed a hollow square at the jail, into the center of which the carriages which were to form the procession, were driven, and as the procession moved to the place of execution the fire companies formed a strong guard. Upon arriving at the scaffold, Rev. Hooper Crews offered an earnest prayer. The prisoner made a short speech and professed repentance and forgiveness for his crime. At seventeen minutes past two the bolt was withdrawn, and Countryman was swung into eternity. His father, sister and one brother witness the execution. Before the body was taken down, Sheriff Church address the crowd as follows: "These painful proceedings being now concluded, and the sword of justice about to be returned to its sheath, I hope never again to be drawn into so much severity. I would thank you all for the good order you have maintained. Your conduct does credit to the city, and I hope you will observe the same decorum in retiring." [Source: Past and Present of City of Rockford and Winnebago County Illinois, Charles A Church and H.H. Waldo, 1905]
TWO SHOT IN GANG FEUD
Rockwell, Ill., Oct. 6.-Two men were shot and one perhaps fatally in an alleged gang feud here last night. The men, John Loney, 23, son of the publisher, Albert G. Allguery, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jack Ernest, 42, were shot. The police said as the result of gang war which had its inception in the fatal shooting of Bill Cable, alleged vice leader, last August. Loney, the hospital physicians declare, will die. The other man may recover, it was believed. The fight on the vice ring resulted in the suspension of Chief of Police and the Police Commissioner. [The Weekly Times-Record (Valley City, N.D.), Oct. 12, 1922, page 6]
CAFE OWNER FACES GAMBLING CHARGE
Joseph Engbarth, 34, 1116 Ferguson st., was freed under $131.30 bond following his arrest by police Monday night on charges of possessing a gambling machine and disorderly conduct. Police Detectives James Hannan and Roger Prentice filed charges against Engbarth after seeing a 14-year old boy win free games on a pinball machine in the Flying Saucer restaurant, 506 E. State st., which Engbarh operates. Engbarth was charged with disorderly conduct because he allegedly "made a scene" when police ordered him to accompany them to headquarters. [--Rockford Morning Star, April 3, 1951]
WOMAN ADMITS THEFT OF $100
FORMER WAITRESS Mrs. Juanita Weaver, 25, 81 N. Horsman st., until recently a waitress in the Flying Saucer drive-in restaurant, 2004 11th st., was arrested Tuesday night on embezzlement charges. Mrs. Weaver was arrested on a warrant issued on the complaint of Joseph M. Engbarth, manager of the restaurant. The warrant was served by Detectives Willard Lundberg and Don Saunders. Under questioning, she admitted, Captain Edmund Cavanagh said, that she had taken an average of $4 or $5 ever night during the month she worked in the restaurant by tearing up customers' bills and failing to ring up receipts on the cash register. She estimated she had taken a little over $100 altogether. Cavanagh said. [--Rockford Morning Star, April 18, 1951]
BENGSTON DEFENDS POLICE INACTION DURING TEEN-AGERS' RIOT
OFFICER DIDN'T SEE VANDALISM BLAMES WITNESSES
Chief of Police Folke Bengston took exception Wednesday to demands that the police department attempt to "scare" teen-agers who crowd into downtown restaurants into behaving themselves. The demand was made by Joseph Engbarth, operator of the Flying Saucer restaurant, 506 E. State st., after a crowd of about 150 youngsters jammed his restaurant Friday night and caused considerable damage. The suggestion was repeated by Mrs. DouAnn Raap, 904 Oakely ave. Mrs. Raap said police should have "brought out their paddy wagons and taken all of these children to the station and have called every parent to come and get their son or daughter." VANDALS UNKNOWN Begnston said no arrests were made in the Friday night fracas because Engbarth and his witnesses were either unable or unwilling to point out the youngsters who had done the damage to agree to appear against them in court. "Patrolman John Cunningham who was assigned to the call, did not see any vandalism done himself and so could not make an arrest on his own." Begnston said. Bengston said Cunningham found the door of the restaurant locked when he arrived and advised the owner to unlock it. Cunningham called Desk Sgt. Charles McDonnell for advice, and Engbarth grabbed the phone and "demanded" more policemen, Bengston said. 'NOT BOOGEY MEN' When Engbarth reportedly said he wanted the police to "scare" the teen-agers, McDonnell told him, "we're not boogey men," and refused to send additional men unless Engbarth would sign complaints against the offenders, the chief said. "Had we done what Engbarth wanted," Bengston said, "every one of those kids could have sued us for false arrest. "How would you like it if you had been sitting quietly in the restaurant eating and then suddenly been herded into a patrol wagon and taken to the station?" Bengston asked. The chief of police advised restaurant owners who want to curtail damage by youngsters to keep a sharp lookout and be ready to appear in court against persons they find destroying property. [--Rockford Morning Star, December 11, 1952]
UNRULY YOUTH TO FACE BAN
The Flying Saucer restaurant, 506 E. State st., is off limits for the city's small fry. Joseph Engbarth, the proprietor, today verified reports he is refusing service to customers under 20 years old. Engbarth said he was forced to that policy by rough-house tactics of some of his juvenile trade. "I can't possibly stay open under conditions that have existed the last year," Engbarth said. Mrs. Engbarth told newsmen she and her husband hope the off-limits rule will be only short-term to help eliminate undesirables. Both made it clear they don't oppose children, and are in business to serve all customers. Doubt as to the legality of the ban was expressed in some city circles. Several city officials who asked not to be quoted said they suspect the restaurant may not have the right to refuse service to anyone until the person actually creates trouble. [--Rockford Register-Republic, January 10, 1955]
NAB WAITTRESS FOR $12 THEFT IN RESTAURANT
A waitress who said she tried to get even with her boss for borrowing cigarets was in city jail Thursday night charged with petty larceny Lois Isley, 33, a waitress at the Flying Saucer restaurant, 2004 11th st., told police she was pocketing 25 cents per day because Joseph Engbarth, the proprietor, kept taking her cigarets without repaying her. She said she took about $12 during the last three weeks. She covered the thefts by not making out checks for customers during busy hours and then pocketing their payments. [--Rockford Morning Star, November 11, 1955]
MOTEL OWNER PENS PROTEST ON ZONING
Rezoning 202 acres of Greater Rockford airport land for general business would be unwise and possible illegal, says Joseph Engbarth in a letter to be read to the county board of supervisors Tuesday. Engbarth operates the Flying Saucer motel, 2004 11th st., and wrote on behalf of the Rockford Area Motel Operators association, a group now being formed. If rezoning is granted, airport commissioners plan to lease part of the land to a private corporation for construction of a motel. They also plan to permit the restaurant concessionaire in the terminal building to get a liquor license. A motel at the airport is not needed, Engbarth wrote, because "at least 200 modern motel units will be available for use by early this spring, which is more than sufficient to supply the needs of air passengers using the airport for the present and the forseeable future." Engbarth said the association feels that if the board grants the rezoning, already recommended by its zoning committee and county zoning board of appeals, "the operators of the proposed motel will be given unfair advantage over the legitimate private operators. "It would, in effect, put the airport authority, a govermental body, into competition with private enterprise." Questioning the legality of county board action in rezoning, Engbarth noted "the authority has its own zoning powers, which relate specifically to aeronautical matters. There is also serious question whether the county has any jursdiction to zone airport property." [--Rockford Register Republic, March 5, 1960]
POLICE LOCATE STOLEN WAGON; CLOTHES GONE
It took Rockford police less than four hours to locate a stolen station wagon Wednesday nigh, but when they found it the back seat was bare and $2,277 worth of merchandise was missing. John C. Mears, Shawnee Mission, Kan., told police the vehicle contained 250 children's dresses, 75 to 80 swimming suits, 100 pieces of sportswear, and other items including his personal clothing. The car was taken from the Flying Saucer Motel, 2004 11th St., about 7 p.m. Police locate the vehicle parked in the 1800 block Parmele St., before 11 p.m. Mears told police he arrived in Rockford late Wednesday afternoon and had planned to make business calls in the city today. [--Rockford Register-Republic, March 1, 1962]
LAFRANKA LAST SEEN IN CLUB HERE -- MURDER PROBE TURNS TO ROCKFORD
Operating on the theory that Charles LaFranka, 52, may have been murdered in or near Rockford on Jan 10 before his body was driven to Elgin in his car, Rockford police are tracing LaFranka's movements in Rockford on that date. LaFranka's body was found last Saturday, stuffed into the truck of his car, which had been spotted parked on a downtown Elgin street on Monday, Jan. 11. Kane County Coroner L. Victor Peterson said that a preliminary post-portem examination showed LaFranka had been slowly strangled to dead, perhaps with a rope. Rockford police said LaFranka arrived here shortly after noon on Jan. 10 and checked into the Flying Saucer Motel, 2004 11th St., telling the motel clerk he planned to stay for a week or 10 days.
He had two suitcases and several show boxes with him, the clerk told police, and he put them into his room before leaving. He apparently went from there to the St. Mary's Society Club, 1321 S. Main St., where he had two or three drinks and talked to bartender Anthony Schiro and several patrons. He called a Rockford woman to the club, telling her he planned to stop at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph LaFranka, 719 Cunningham St., to pick up some spaghetti sauce, and that he would come to her apartment for dinner. He also asked the woman to call his mother. "Tell mama I'll be there in 20 minutes." he reportedly said.
He left the club about 2 p.m. No one has reported seeing LaFranka between that time and Saturday morning, nearly a week later, when his body was discovered in Elgin. Rockford police hinted that LaFranka was involved in underworld activities in Chicago, where he had been living for the past several years, exccept for periodic visits to Rockford. Detectives said LaFranka may have been picked up by Chicago hoodlums after he left the club and strangled in Rockford or during the ride to Elgin.
When the body was found, it was dressed in the same clothing LaFranka had been wearing when he left the club. Also found in the car was a package of cheese, which a close relative said had probably been bought in Chciago as a gift for his mother. Police said LaFranka had been in Rockford on Christmas Eve, and had quite a bit of money with him at the time, although he had been in debt when he left Rockford for Chicago four months before. In 1959, while in Rockford, LaFranka had been questioned by sheriff's deputies in connection with the finding of the bodies of two men who had also been strangled to death and stuffed in the trunk of a car owned by one of them.
Bodies of Joseph Patrick Greco Jr., 21, 615 Montague Road, and Donald L. Burton, 21, also of Rockford, were discovered early in the morning of May 2, 1959, in the trunk of Greco's car. The car was parked on Montague Road, just east of Meridian Road. Also found in Greco's car was a case containing several hundred pairs of dice. The double-slaying has never been solved. --Rockford Morning Star, January 19, 1965
The Regulators and the Banditti
The Pecatonica Beer Riot 1874
The People vs. Amil Johnson Charged With Highway Robbery
The Unsolved Murder of Marshall S. Pritchard
Murder of David Peacock
Murder of Thomas Perra
Abduction and Murder of Joseph Didier, 1975
Mass Murder in Rockford, 1978 - Simon Peter Charged in Deaths of Children
BIG CRIMES in LOCAL HISTORY
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