Crime News Items
Concerning Douglas County Residents
INCUBATOR BABY’S FATE
Fifth Trial to Determine Parent
Child Four Years Old
U.S. Court of Appeals at Minneapolis Will Decide Case in Few Days
BORN IN ST. LOUIS HOSPITAL
Hospital Matron Stole Infant From Its Mother’s Sick Bed, and Substituted Dead Child – Selling the Child to Baby Incubator Company.
CHICAGO, May 22 – Fate of the famous Incubator baby of the St. Louis World’s Fair, will be decided in a few days by the United States Court of Appeals at Minneapolis.
The decision will determine finally whether the baby shall belong to its real mother or to the woman who adopted it. Four courts already have attempted to decide this question. Ann Illinois Circuit Court decided the child belonged to its real mother. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed this decision and gave the baby to its foster parent. A district court in Kansas decided the little one belonged to its adopted mother. The Kansas Supreme Court gave it back to its real mother. At present, under the aegis of the Kansas upper courts, the real mother and child are living together at Sedan, Kas.
The incubator baby, now grown to a pretty girl of four years, was born in a St. Louis hospital, February 15, 1904. While the mother, Mrs. Charlotte Thompson Bleakley, lay ill, the hospital matron stole the baby and sold it to the Baby Incubator Company of the World’s Fair. A dead baby born in the hospital, it is alleged, to Edith Stanley, an actress, was substituted. Mrs. Bleakley was told her baby had died.
The baby in the incubator thrived and Mrs. Jas. J. Barclay, a wealthy woman of Buffalo, decided to adopt it.
Mrs. Bleakley signed a deed waiving all claims to the incubator baby. She was convinced it was another child.
But Mrs. Bleakley became suspicious finally. She went to the St. Louis Hopital, where the matron admitted the incubator baby was the child born to Mrs. Bleakley.
When she learned the real mother had come to claim her off-spring, Mrs. Barclay fled, it is said, with the infant from St. Louis. She was halted at Rock Island by a warrant charging her with kidnapping. The Rock Island restored the baby to Mrs. Bleakley who took it to Lawrence, Kas. After appealing the case in the Illinois Court, Mrs. Barclay went to Lawrence and began action to regain possession of the child. Judge Smart of the District Court then decided the adoption was legal and gave the real mother six hours in which to surrender the baby.
While a deputy sheriff waited in the Bleakley home Mrs. Bleakly slipped out a back way with the child in her arms and caught an express train. By mean of a bogus arrest by a bogus officer, it is alleged, she had herself conducted safely past pursuit through Kansas and Missouri into Illinois, where the circuit court had recognized the validity of her claim. For several months she and her child lived happily at Rock Island until the supreme court returned the child to Mrs. Barclay.
Meanwhile an appeal had been taken in Kansas and the supreme court of that state had upheld the claims of the real mother. Mrs. Bleakley fled in disguise back to Kansas, where she now lives. Mrs. Barclay has spent $50,000 in her fight for the baby. She calls the child Dorothy Edith Barclay. Its real mother, who is poor, has spend $5000 in defending her claims. She knows the child as Maria Roberta Bleakley.
Several famous Kansas lawyers have handled Mrs. Bleakley’s case free of charge. About $3500 has been contributed to help her by public subscription. [The morning Astorian., May 23, 1908, Image 1 & Page 2, Image 2]
KIDNAPING IS A NEW CHAPTER
Sensational Incident Today at Topeka Involves the Famous Incubator Baby
POSSE IN HOT PURSUIT
Child Over Which Court Fight Was Waged Here Has Been Mixed in Similar Situations Before.
Topeka, Kas., Aug. 21. – Marion Bleakley, the St. Louis world’s fair incubator baby who was the cause of litigation which extended over several years was kidnapped in a most sensational manner from the home of her mother here this morning. Two men and a woman were engaged in the kidnaping and the child was secured only after a struggle in which several shots, which, however, went wild of their mark, were fired. The kidnapers escaped in a buggy and a posse was soon in pursuit.
Mother is Stenographer.
Mrs. Charlotte Bleakley, who was awarded the child by the federal courts two years ago, lived with her mother in Garfield avenue, a mile and a half from the business district. She worked as a stenographer. Marion, who is aged 6, has been guarded carefully in Topeka. This morning a woman, ostensibly selling soap, appeared at the Bleakley home.
Three In a Buggy.
She soon left, and half an hour later a buggy, in which were two men and the same woman, appeared in front of the house. One of the men alighted, and entered the yard where the child was playing. As the kidnaper ran toward her, the young man in whose charge she had been left, attempted to interfere. The kidnaper shot at him, but missed. He then knocked the boy down with the revolver and carried the child to the buggy and drove off.
Has Had Remarkable Career.
Marion Bleakley has had a stormy career. She was born in a hospital in St. Louise, and was placed in one of the incubators shown at the exposition there. While there she was formally adopted by Mrs. James G. Barclay of Moline, Ill. Mrs. Bleakley signed a release bill, but afterwards sued to recover the child, and was successful in the Illinois court. She brought the little girl to Kansas. The child was kidnaped from the mother in Montgomery county, but later recovered. The fight for possession of the baby was fought through the state and supreme courts, and finally awarded to Mrs. Bleakley. Mrs. Barclay then instituted suit in the federal court for possession of the child, but was again defeated.
Cousin on Guard.
The young man in charge of Marion today was Clarence Belknap of Jackson, Tenn., cousin of Mrs. Bleakley. After he had been struck down he recovered sufficiently to follow the buggy and caught on the rear of the vehicle, but was beaten off. The kidnapers lashed the horse to a gallop and drove west on Tenth street. It is supposed they headed for some small station west of Topeka, where they expected to board a westbound train.
Buggy is Found.
The buggy in which the kidnapers escaped was found at 1 o’clock at a point two miles from where the child was stolen. It had been hired from a local livery. Mrs. Bleakley, mother of the child, said this afternoon: “There have been detectives and alleged friends hanging around the house all of the time and I have feared that such a thing would happen. Six weeks ago I got wind of almost the same thing as happened today but was able to stop it and break up the plans.
League Against Her.
“At times I have thought that some of the most prominent people in Topeka were in league with them in order to take Marion from the state. I have an idea who they are, and have confidence in the detectives ability to catch them.”
Belknap was only able to give a partial description of the kidnapers.
New Chaper in Case.
The kidnaping referred to in the above Associated Press dispatch furnished the beginning of a new chapter in the romantic story of the incubator baby. It is not the first time that this child, over which six years litigation that began here has been waged, has been kidnapped. Marion’s life story, though covering comparatively few years, is a most remarkable one.
It will be remembered that in the habeas corpus suit, started here and later fought over in the state courts of Kansas and in the federal courts, it was shown that the child was born at St. Louis, and that its mother, Mrs. Charlotte Bleakley of Lawrence, Kan. was told the baby had died. It was placed in the noted baby incubator exhibit at the fail. The mother’s domestic affairs were not running smoothly, and after a series of incidents, the incubator baby was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Barclay of Moline. Mr. Barclay have been stationed at St. Louis in the interests of the Deere & Mansur company during the fair.
Then Long Fight.
Then the long court fight began. Mrs. Bleakley started suit here, and won the case. An appeal was taken, and the decision was reversed. In the meantime Mrs. Bleakley had taken the child to Kansas, and before the appellate court decision was given in Illinois, the controversy had been carried to the supreme court in Kansas, which held that the Illinois decision should govern. The fight was started over; Mrs. Bleakley disappeared with the child, kidnaping it from under the eyes of bailiffs after the court had held against her; then she reappeared in Lawrence, and the suit began in the federal courts. The matter never has been finally decided by the courts, and the long litigation has attracted the widest attention. The incubator baby names Marion, has been in the mother’s possession the great part of the time since Judge Graves gave his decision in the case in this city.
The case is one about which a book might be written, and now the spiriting away of the child opens a new series of sensational incidents that will recall all of the other romantic parts of the baby’s life.
Already the theory is advanced here that the controversy between the Barclays and Mrs. Bleakley is at the bottom of the kidnaping. [Rock Island Argus., August 21, 1909, Page 5, Image 5]
SUPREME COURT MUST DECIDE PARENTS OF INCUBATOR BABY
Washington, Oct. 2 – What is probably one of the most unusual cases which will come up in the Supreme Court at the term which opens in a few days is the one in which the court must decide who is the parent of the “incubator baby,” which was on exhibition at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis nine years ago. For nine years Mr. Lottie R. Bleakley of Topeka, Kan., who claims to be the mother of the baby, has fought in the courts for her possession.
She appears now before the Supreme Court as prosecuting witness against a detective, whom she charges with having kidnapped the baby from her home. On the other hand Mr. and Mrs. James G. Barclay of Douglas County, Illinois, claim the child by adoption. Barclay was an employee of the St. Louis world’s fair and watched the “incubator baby” grow while the two-pound mite was at the fair in her glass cage.
Then he and Mrs. Barclay adopted the child. They declare that Mrs. Bleakley is mistaken about the parentage of the child and state that Mrs. Bleakley’s baby died a few days after it was born and the “incubator baby” is not her child. [The day book., October 02, 1913, Image 28]
IT IS AT AN END.
Long Legal Fight for the Incubator Baby.
Washing, Jan 21. – The long legal fight for possession of the St. Louis exposition “Incubator baby” was dismissed in the supreme court because neither party to the suit had printed the record. Mrs. Lottie Bleakely, of Topeka, Kan., and Mrs. James G. Barclay of Moline, Ill., were the litigants in a contest which involves the identity of the baby, now a growing girl. Courts of Kansas and Illinois have worked on the case several years and the child had been awarded first to one contestant and then another. Mrs. Bleakely had her when the appeal was taken to the supreme court.
The action of the United States supreme court in dismissing the incubator baby case is the final chapter in the most interesting and sensational fight ever staged in a Kansas court for the possession of a child. For months the case was dragged through the courts, occupied the attention of the district courts of Shawnee, Douglas and Chautaugua counties and had final hearing in the state supreme court. Illinois courts were also called upon too take action in the matter and the case attracted nation wide attention. Attempts to secure custody of the “Incubator” baby, exhibited at the St. Louis fair and claimed both by Mrs. Barclay and Mrs. Bleakely, resulted in arrests of several detectives and the arrest and conviction of Capt. Tillotson on a charge of assisting in the kidnaping of the child.
Its Early Life in Courts.
The baby practically has lived in court during her tempestuous life. She was born in a hospital in St. Louis Feb. 15, 1904. She weighed only two pounds and was sent to the baby concession at the World’s Fair, where she remained in an incubator through the summer.
James G. Barclay and Stella Barclay were in charge of the concession. They adopted the baby and took her to their home in Illinois. After the child – Marion is her name – was adopted, Mrs. Robert Bleakley of Lawrence, Kan., the mother, who had been informed that her baby was dead, learned its whereabouts and claimed it. This started litigation which had lasted nearly ten years.
The Illinois court first decided in favor of Mrs. Bleakley. She took her child to Lawrence. Meanwhile Mrs. Barclay had appealed.
In January, 1906, Mrs. Barclay brought habeas corpus proceeding in the district court at Lawrence, Kan. The Kansas court gave a verdict in her favor.
Mrs. Bleakley, however, escaped by a ruse with the child on the same day the district court decided against her. For a time she hid in the Indian territory. Later she took an appeal and the Kansas supreme court sustained her. A week after the Kansas court rendered its decision the Illinois court of appeals reversed the case begun at Moline, ruling that the Barclays were legally entitled to the child.
Mrs. Barclay began a three years’ search for the baby and found it in Topeka In August, 1909. The baby was kidnaped from school after a street fight in which a relative of Mrs. Bleakley’s was shot. Fearing a conviction in the Topeka courts, Mrs. Barclay went before Judge Porterfield in Kansas City and surrendered all claim to the child.
A day or two later the Topeka authorities arrested J. M. Gentry, F. H. Tillotson, a Kansas City detective, and Mrs. Barclay for the kidnaping. Tillotson was convicted of kidnaping and Gentry of assault. Each was given a sentence of one to five years in the penitentiary. Both appealed to the Kansas supreme court, but the sentences were affirmed in both cases. Gentry served the minimum sentence and Tillotson appealed to the United States supreme court. Mrs. Barclay is supposed to be living in Buffalo, N. Y.
Mrs. Bleakely, who finally won possession of the child, is now teaching at the Highland Park school where she has her little girl in school. [The Topeka state journal., January 21, 1914, LAST EDITION, Page 9, Image 9]
Mare Stolen: On last Saturday night, an iron-gray mare, 8 years old, belonging to P. S. SHARP, of Brazil, Ind., was taken or escaped from LESTER's stable in this city, and a liberal reward is offered for her recovery. About two weeks ago, Mr. SHARP and his wife came to this city in a buggy, on a visit to Mrs. SHARP's relatives, R. J. FOSTER's family, and kept the mare in LESTER's stable, from which the animal mysteriously disappeared. She is spirited and a good traveler, and highly valued by her owner. [The Saturday Journal, June 29, 1878]
Two of the prisoners that broke jail, Davis and O'Gara, were captured at Clinton, last Wednesday, and brought back by Deputy Sheriff Sims next day. (Arcola Herald, quoted by the Charleston Plaindealer on Thursday, June 23, 1887)
J.W. Helm running a bucket shop at Danville, Ills., for J.A. Murphy & Co., of Chicago, has disappeared owing about $6,000. [The R ock Island Argus, Volume 38, Number 184, 24 May 1890]
Earl Pasley was arrested by Sheriff Trainor and held for an officer from Tuscola, who came down and took him there last night. He was wanted on the charge of bastardy. [The Newton Press, Jasper Co, IL, July 1, 1891]
FINED HIM $117.
Magistrate Gives Tuscola Drunk Heavy Sentence.
Tuscola, Ill., Aug 29. – Sherman Delp was brought before Justice McKnight this morning on the charge of being drunk and disorderly, and assault and battery. The amount of his fine was $117, which he paid.
The accused has been separated from his wife for some considerable time, and they have just united again. Last night he got out to celebrate the occasion and got slightly inebriated. Going home he roughly used his wife and mother and threw the latter into the street. [The Decatur Herald (Decatur, IL) – 30 Aug 1906 Thu – Page 8 - Herald’s Tuscola Page – Tuscola, August 29, 1906]
SHERIFF LOSES THREE PRISONERS
Investigation Shows That Negroes Offense Was Committed In Douglas County—Jones Takes Them.
Sheriff Evans today lost three of his prisoners at the county jail, it having developed, upon investigation, that the offense of the three negroes who threatened an Illinois Central train was committed in Douglas county.
Sheriff C. N. Jones came up from Tuscola this afternoon and took the men away with him. Edward Anderson of Jackson, Miss., one of the prisoners, is said to be wanted for murder at Nashville, Tenn., having escaped from the state penitentiary there four years ago. The others are Walter Lewhite of Madison, Wis., and Henry Jones of St. Louis. [Urbana Daily Courier, 23 Feb 1915]
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