Illinois Genealogy Trails

Coles County, Illinois

Crime News Stories


©Except where noted, these were transcribed by K.Torp

These are listed in loose alpha order, sorted by the first alleged criminal's surname - or in the case of no criminal, the victim's name.

Mary ALWELL, against whom a number of indictments have been found for selling liquor, was incarcerated in the county jail on Saturday last. States' attorney Leitch seems to be in earnest in punishing law breakers. There are thirty indictments on the docket. [The Plain Dealer, April 21, 1881]

Mary ALWELL, one of our illicit whisky dealers, was fined, Tuesday morning, for furnishing whisky to Bridget MCMAHAN, handing it to her through the bars of the county jail. This is the fifth time she has been fined for violating the city ordinance against dealing in intoxicating liquors. She had just been turned out of jail on bail, being placed there to await trial in the Circuit Court for the same offense. She had been set at liberty but a few minutes until she was on hands again with some oranges and other luxuries for her confederate; these she was permitted to pass in, but when she undertook to furnish whisky, she undertook too much, and the jailer introduced her to Esq. Shaw. We feel satisfied that a little vigor on the part of our officers and a little backing on the part of the better class of citizens would crush out the illicit sale of whisky. [The Plain Dealer, April 21, 1881]

Verne CONOVER, a young man of near Mattoon, was arrested Saturday, accused of giving checks to defraud. He is alleged to have given two checks, each for $5.00, drawn on the Peoples State Bank of Newton, in which he had no account, and signed by himself, to L.E. Calhoun and S.J. Smallwood of this city. He claims that he has been employed by E.D. Neff on his farm on Route Two, Newton. [Newton Press,August 10, 1926]

About ten o'clock Tuesday evening a burglar tried to get into a window at C.G. GAISER'S residence but was discovered by Mr. Gaiser before an entrance was gained. [Charleston Courier, April 22, 1886]

After Men "Higher Up"
Mattoon, Ill., Oct. 28 - Judge Peter S. GROSSCUP and Marshal E.S. SAMPSELL, receivers of the Union Traction company of Chicago, together with seven other officers and directors of the Mattoon City Railway, will, it is believed, be indicted for manslaughter by the grand jury, which will be filed in court on Monday or Tuesday. True bills, which, it is understood, have been voted, are a result of the collision near Charleston in August of passenger and freight cars on the electric line in which fifteen persons were killed and fifty-two seriously injured.  [The Paducah evening sun. (Paducah, Ky.), October 29, 1907]

A man named Frank HASTINGS was brought over from Mattoon last Saturday and lodged in jail. He is charged with larceny. [The Plain Dealer - July 28, 1887]

Accused of Having Poisoned His Young Bride.
Charleston, Ill, Nov. 6 - William J. HONN, son of W. K. Honn, one of the wealthiest bankers in Coles county, has been arrested under an indictment accusing him of having poisoned his wife. His bond was fixed at $7,000 and his trial set for next week. The young man's troubles began last January when he was brought to this city by a constable and the father of Miss Mayhala Galbraith and forced into a midnight marriage. The wife died suddenly. Honn returned to the home of his parents and the story of Miss Galbraith's ill fated and short life was forgotten, but the grand jury got hold of the affair and returned an indictment. [Jamestown Weekly Alert. (Jamestown, Stutsman County, D.T. [N.D.])]

We learn that a man by the name of Elisha KELLER, a citizen of this county, and a contractor on the Eastern branch of the Central Railroad, in the north part of this county, was shot one day last week by a man by the name of A. DAVIS. [Wednesday, Dec. 21, 1853 - Charleston Courier]

State Journal:  In the United State District Court, Tuesday, John C. HEARNS, of Mattoon, plead guilty to selling liquor without license, and was fined $25 and cost. [Mattoon Gazette (Mattoon, IL) 8 Jan 1886, Fri]

Mattoon, August 30 [1926]: Edward LIBOTTE, 56, a rural mail carrier of Gays, formerly of South Muddy twp, Jasper co., was shot twice by two bandits about midnight, Saturday night, in a filling station operated by himself and son on Route 16, and died at one o'clock on Monday afternoon in Memorial hospital, Mattoon. The bandits made their escape and the car they were driving was found about a half hour later in a ditch two miles northwest of Gays, in a wrecked condition. It was about ten minutes before midnight when two men appeared at the filling station. Libotte was asleep inside and the men awoke him, saying they wanted some gas. As he was getting it, one of the bandits struck him a blow on the head, a glancing one. He grappled with his assailant and the latter's companion ran up and shot him in the thigh, causing Libotte to loosen his hold. As he did so, the man he was struggling with shot him in the abdomen. Both men then ran to their automobile and got away. A posse was organized but did not catch them. Miss Ruth Libotte, a daughter of Libotte, who had just retired at the family home across the street, heard the shots and awakened other members of the family rushed out and found him lying on the ground, groaning. He was taken to the hospital at Mattoon, where his death occurred, Monday. The wrecked car was found to have been stolen about 7 o'clock on Saturday night from John Charnetzki of Decatur. Mr. Libotte, who was a brother-in-law of Dr. J.C. Clagg and Charles Smith of near Wheeler, resided in Jasper county about twenty years ago, and was well known to many people there. [Newton Press, Aug. 31, 1926]

The mayor of Mattoon has sat down upon the sparrow shooters by ordering the police to arrest any person, little or big, firing a gun inside the city limits. Mayor KERN is the level-headed son-in-law of Rev. W.S. Hooper. - [Shelbyville Union/ The Mattoon Gazette, 13 January 1893 - Contributed by Src #3]

A peculiar case of mistaken identity is reported from Mattoon, Ill., where the Mayor was charged with various offenses such as sitting in a poker game and visiting disreputable resorts. His twin brother was introduced in the trial and swore that it was he who had visited the places on the dates named. The Mayor was acquitted on the more serious charges, which goes to show the advantage of having a twin brother. [The Paducah sun. (Paducah, Ky.), October 08, 1903]

An Even Dozen Held up in a Mattoon, Ill Saloon
Mattoon, Ill., - Nov 1 --  Two highwaymen entered the Peerless saloon this morning and compelled a dozen men to stand facing the wall while they relieved the proprietor, George KIZER, of four hundred dollars and two diamonds worth eight hundred dollars. They then escaped.  [The Paducah sun. (Paducah, Ky.)November 01, 1904]

[Charleston Plain Dealer, Thursday Morning, April 22, 1880]
The people of Charleston were startled on Tuesday morning by the news that John MASON, an old settler, living eight miles north of our city had been murdered. The story so far as known is easily told. Mr. Mason was a man probably eighty of age, a German by birth. His residence, in one room of which he kept a small county store, was just at the northern terminus of what was once the plank road leading to our city. All that is known concerning the matter was learned from his wife. She says that about half past nine on Monday evening, after the old couple, who slept in an adjoining room, retired to bed, a knock was heard at the store room door, and the old man arose and opened it; after which his wife says she heard him remark "You are late this evening," then the next thing she heard was the report of a pistol. She arose to find her husband lying on the floor in a dying condition, a bullet having entered his right eye. She immediately made outcry which was heard by some neighbors, then after locking the door, she ran to a neighbor who lived on the same farm, but before she had returned, Jesse O'HAIR, another neighbor, had reached the house and found it locked. When Mrs. Mason returned and opened the door, the neighbors found the dying man lying in the doorway between the store and sleeping room. He had in all probability, suspected something in the appearance of the man, and grasped his gun to defend himself as he was found to by lying across it. Mr. James WHEATLY, from whom we learned these facts, informed us that the wounded man breathed for an hour after he received the fatal shot, but had not spoken. There seems to be no celw (sic) to the detection of the murderer. There is some mystery about the whole affair as Mason was so feeble from age that he could easily have been tried (sic) while a robber could have ransacked the house at his pleasure. Mr. Mason was an inoffensive citizen. None of his neighbors know of any one who could have desired his death. This is another argument in favor of a more vigorous execution of the law. A sickly sentimentality against hanging as a punishment for murder may do very well as a philosophy but is is not very effective in detering (sic) men from committing the crime.

Friday last warrants were issued for the arrest of Swick McMORRIS, and Charles RODGERS, both of Hutton township, who were charged with shooting and dangerously wounding a daughter of John T. Handley. Deputy Sheriff Dowling and some other officers went down into Hutton township for the purpose of arresting the two young men, but failed to find them. They did arrest a man named Emmett Fritz, who it is charged, hastened in advance of the officers.... [didn't copy the rest] [The Plain Dealer - July 28, 1887]

Man Hung in Coles County, Illinois
From a gentleman direct from Charleston, Ill., we learn that a man by the name of A.F. MONROE who was under sentence of death, and who was to have been executed last Friday, suffered death in that place, but not in a judicial form. Through the influence of some of the immediate relatives of the doomed man, the Governor of Illinois had respited or postponed his sentence until the 15th of May next.
A large crowd, as is usual on such occasions, had assembled to witness the execution, and when it was known that a respite had been received, a portion determined to hang him anyhow. They broke into the jail where the prisoner was, by means of picks and other tools, dragged him out, and hung him on a tree. The murder for which Monroe was convicted was of a most aggravated kind, having killed his father-in-law, whose name was Ellington. This murder has been the cause of much excitement in Coles County, ever since it was committed. At the trial, there was some reason to apprehend that the accused might escape a conviction, and hundreds of citizens assembled around the Court House, and gave unmistable signs of their intention to hang the prioner if the jury should not do their duty. They were saved from this act of violence by his conviction and the sentence of death being passed upon him. An appeal was taken to the Supreme Court, lately in session at Springfield, but there the motion for arrest of execution was denied, and the sentence permitted to take its course. What followed is briefly stated above. The man on hearing what was going on outside of the jail, attempted to destroy himself by beating his brains out against the wall of the prison, and when taken out he was in an insensible condition. Upon his restoration, the mob hanged him. It is said that six or eight of the leaders in the affair have been arrested, and are now confined in jail, to await an examination.  One of the papers from Coles county, printed last week, contained a long report of a speech which the murderer intended to deliver at his trial but from which he was disuaded by his counsel and friends. The following letter was written by Mrs. Monroe, and sent to her husband a few days previous to his death. The person whom she mentions as Pole is N.B. Aulien, brother-in-law of A.F. Monroe:
Charleston , Feb 12th, 1856
My Dear Husband: - how miserable you must be. My very heart aches for you. I have not given up yet - I still have hope. - I am now at Mr. Ball's with Pa and Ma. Pole has been a brother to me and a true friend to you. I intend to make his home my home, wherever that may be - I hope a good ways from here - the further from there the better. -- I would rather die to-night than to stay among my enemies, for those who are your enemies are mine, and your friends are my friends.
As soon as I can make arrangements and get the means, I will leave this town, never to return again. May is well. Farewell, but I hope not forever.
I subscribe myself your true and devoted wife.
Nannie Monroe
And proud to own it.
[published 3 May 1856, the "Lake Superior Miner"]

In Paris Jail.......The MULLINIX brothers are sent to the Paris jail by the federal court at Danville for bootlegging in Coles county, for Paris has the room. The government pays the grub bills.- Daily News - [Oakland Messenger 30 Nov 1911 - Contributed by Src #2]

Two boys, names William and John RATLISS were arrested, Sunday night, and lodged in jail charged with petty larceny. [The Plain Dealer - July 28, 1887]

Janesville: W.M. RODGERS' store was broken open Friday night and goods to the amount of about $150 stolen. It was broken into again Wednesday night, but it is not known how much was taken. Nothing has been heard of the thieves. [The Plain Dealer - April 14, 1888]

Surprise Testimony May Free Accused Kansas Man - Witnesses State They Saw Chapman Alive After Roland Had Left Town
Charleston June 26- Testimony by Mr and Mrs Earl Hite, Kansas, that they saw James CHAPMAN alive at 7:30 o'clock on the evening, on May 16, of the day he disappeared, may free Clyde ROLAND, 48, who was being tried for Chapman's murder. Roland has produced evidence that he left Kansas on the afternoon of May 16, at 4'oclock. Mr and Mrs Hite said they saw Chapman on the platform of the Big Four Depot in Kansas. The testimony produced by the defense late Wednesday morning came as a surprise.
State Rests Case
The state rested its case against Roland about 11 o'clock Wednesday. The defense expected to have it's last witness early in the afternoon and the case was expected to go on to jury by evening. Closing arguments are to be limited to an hour and a half each.  Considerable progress was made Wednesday morning; Mrs Laura Chapman, widow of the dead man, was on the stand. She was very nervous and trembled while she was answering questions. She identified articles owned by her husband, and said that the last time she had seen him alive was about was about 9 o'clock on the morning of May 16. She said that he was in the habit of coming home in an intoxicated condition.   Dewey Jones, a truck driver, said he had seen Chapman and Rowland walking along the Big Four right of way west of in Kansas early on the morning of May 16. He said Roland was carrying a sack at the time. He said that he later saw Chapman lying in a ditch west of Kansas, and that Roland was not with him. He said that he thought Chapman..... con't pg 12
(note- Roland is spelled 2 different ways in this same article)
Decatur Evening Herald (Decatur, Illinois), 26 June 1929 - [Contributed by Src #2]

Fatal Battle with Robbers.
Sid Snapp, 17 years of age, was fatally shot by officers in a battle at Mattoon. Snapp, with the two Heath boys, all desperate youngsters, were robbing a store when the battle occurred. The police had been warned and concealed themselves in the store. When the boys were carrying out the goods the lights were flashed up and the shooting began. Chief of Police Dennis Lyons suffered a shattered arm, which may have to be amputated. One of the Heath boys, while escaping, was seen to fall heavily twice, and it is thought he will be found badly wounded. Older brothers of all three of the lads have done or are doing time in the penitentiary. [Algonquin Herald (Algonquin, IL) March 13, 1902, page 3]

Recover Stolen Auto
Chief of Police Schnorf received a telephone call Friday to be on the lookout for two boys with a stolen auto. The boys had gotten gas at Kansas and drove off without paying for the same and this trick was their downfall. Chief Schnorf and Constable Chase Hunt started toward Ashmore in search of the boys but Jesse Honn, an Ashmore deputy, had the couple under arrest abut the time the Oakland officers arrived. The boys gave their names as Ed ROSKER, 14, and Harry TUCKER, 15, and their residence as Long Beach Calif. The car said to be worth $3,000 was stolen in Rock Island and belonged to a man in Davenport Iowa. Rosker and Tucker were placed in the Coles county jail and the car taken to a Charleston garage. [16 May 1929 - The Oakland Messenger - Contributed by Src #2]

John STEVENS shot and killed John A. REEVES, a carpenter at Terre Haute, about a week ago. Trouble concerning a board bill. [The Plain Dealer... April 23, 1868]

A young girl by the name of Eliza STRADER, who has been living for some time with Mrs. Mary Vanderen, left on last Monday night without much ceremony, taking with her about $70 worth of clothing belonging to Mrs. Vanderen and about $2.00 in money. She was followed to Paris, arrested, brought back, plead guilty and in default of bail was placed in jail to await her trial at the next court. [Plain Dealer...May 24 1866]

Coles County sends seven persons to the penitentiary last week. One for life, one for 20 years, one for 3 years, one for 2 years and three for one year. Geo. STRANGE, who murdered H.H. BRONSON, was sent for 20 years. [Originally printed in the "Casey Times" and quoted in the "Newton Press" on June 18, 1874]

FORMER POLICE IN BATTLE - Fred TATE, former patrolman of Mattoon, and John BOLIN, also of that city, are said to have had a free-for-all battle with knives at a resort in Mattoon on Christmas night. Both men were wounded by the knives and were taken to the Mattoon Memorial Hospital for treatment. Mollie Easton, a nephew of Tate, stopped the battle. [December 28, 1932 - submitted by Src #168 ]

Joseph TOLES and Noah SCOTT were arrested on Tuesday evening, on suspicion, for the murder of John MASON. As we go to press there has been no investigation yet.[The Plain Dealer, April 22, 1880]
Burglars entered the office of George N. GAGE, near the railroad on Thursday night last, and blew open the safe, from which they obtained something over thirty dollars. No clew has been discovered with reference to the perpetrators of the deed.[The Plain Dealer, April 22, 1880]

Trueblood Sent to Penitentiary 1-10 Years
Ten defendants indicted by the grand jury serving in connection with the April term of circuit court, were arraigned before Judge Casper Platt at Charleston at 11 o'clock on Monday morning. Eight entered pleas of guilty and two pleaded not guilty.
Raymond TRUEBLOOD, 25, Charleston, pleaded guilty to a charge of arson and after Judge Piatt (or Platt?) informed Trueblood of his rights. Trueblood persisted in his guilty plea. He was sentenced to serve a period of from one year to ten years in the southern Illinois state penitentiary at Menard.
Marion WARMAN, brother-in-law of Trueblood, charged with arson on two counts- one for burning real estate and one for burning a barn entered pleas of not guilty to both charges. Attorney C.M. Heinlein, who had been retained as attorney of the case, asked to be relieved of the duties, and Judge Casper Platt (Piatt?) appointed Fred Wham, Mattoon young attorney to defend him. [Oakland Messenger - 25 Apr 1934 [contributed by Src# 2]

Lora M. WALKER, a teacher in the public schools of Coles Co., killed Thomas Nichols, who assaulted him on account of a punishment administered to a brother. [Newton Press,Jan. 21, 1891]

Strychnine found in vital organs of Mrs. Ida B. WATERS, Mattoon, Ill., by coroner's physician.  Husband held for murder. [The Day Book. (Chicago, Ill.), 20 Jan. 1916]

A Mattoon (Ill) preacher killed a fellow who interrupted his prayer.  However, he waited until he said "Amen" before hitting the disturber over the head with a chair.  [The Day Book. (Chicago, Ill.), 24 March 1915]


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