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Macon County Illinois News


T. P. Kepper Skips Town
The Ottawa Free Trader (Ottawa, Ill.), December 02, 1854
T. P. Kepper, a merchant in Decatur, Ill., recently absconded with another man's wife, leaving his own in a destitute condition. He also leaves some eight or ten thousand dollars' worth of disconsolate creditors to curse his rascality.

Smith Kills Pontwood
The Ottawa Free Trader (Ottawa, Ill.), July 14, 1855
The Decatur Chronicle states that on the 4th instant, a murder was committed at Moweaqua. A man named Smith, a resident of Decatur, got into difficulty with another man named Pontwood, and cut his bowels out, form the effects of which he soon died.

 llinois State Chronicle (Decatur, Illinois) Saturday, July 21, 1855

Local Affairs

Burglary and Robbery

On the night of the 17th inst., some man entered the grocery store of Mr. Powers , of this city, by means of the (?)reing process. The burglar or burglars , bored a small hole through one of the shutters, just above the bolt, pushed the bolt back, and opening the window, entered the ware room, just back of the (?)n building, passing to the middle room which separates the main building from the ware room. He bored out a hole large enough to admit his hand, the key remaining in the lock, it was an easy matter to turn it.

From the manner in which the work was executed, the burglar must have understood his business, fortunately, for (?) Powers, there was only a small amount of money in the store, he having taken the precaution to remove it every night to a place of safety, so that the scoundrel made rather a small lift. Our citizens should be on the look out, as with the railroads, we receive an accession of villains, whose only business is burglary and robbery. Keep a strict watch and we may be able to send some of them to one of our State institutions.

-Contributed by Nancy Piper

Illinois State Chronicle (Decatur, Illinois) February 14 1856

Mr. Baizie H. Gordon, Assistant engineer on the North Missouri Railroad, was murdered near Warrenton, Missouri, last week. His body was found shot through and through, near the head of a ravine, about twenty rods from the road, buried in snow. He was out collecting subscriptions for the construction of the road, and no doubt he was murdered for the purpose of securing the money, which he was supposed to have in his possession.

-Contributed by Nancy Piper

Illinois State Chronicle (Decatur, Illinois)  November 27 1856


On Saturday night last, Mark Simpson's residence was entered and over $200 stolen. An entrance was attempted in Ehrman & Green's. We also learn that Rev. D. P. Bunn's residence was also entered. Mr. Hiram Cobble's residence was also entered and two watches and a small amount in cash was taken. Our citizens are on the lookout for the rogues.

In addition to the above we learn that several other places were reconnoitered by the scamps. These operations prove that they are very adroit rogues or else well acquainted with the Houses which they visited.

This is just what we expected, for the last year quite a number of rowdies have been yelping around our streets until a late hour of the night, men without any visible means of support. Who would very naturally be ripe for some such work.

-Contributed by Nancy Piper

Illinois State Chronicle (Decatur, Illinois) April 30 1857

Burglary Again

On Saturday night last, the store room of G. A. Smith's carriage shop, was entered and about $200 worth of carriage Trimmings stolen therefrom. No clue has yet been had to the robbers. This house breaking, following so close upon the heels of the robbery of Mayor Barnes, advises us that our city is infested with some villains, who need looking after. We have noticed from time to time the coming of professional gamblers into our city, and strange to say while they are in our midst these robberies occur, (…. Can't read remainder….)

Illinois State Chronicle (Decatur, Illinois) April 30 1857

The two men arrested for the robbery of Dr. Barness' store, had their trial on Friday last, which resulted in the acquittal of one of them, and the binding over of the other to appear at the Circuit Court, in the sum of $300. In default of bail, he was sent to jail.

-Contributed by Nancy Piper

Arrest of Railroad Employees For Theft

Illinois State Chronicle (Decatur, Illinois) September 17 1857

Arrest of Railroad Employees

Great Haul of Stolen Goods

A Gang of Thieve Broken Up

We learn from the Springfield (Ills.) Journal, that considerable excitement was created yesterday morning, throughout that city, by the arrest by officers Hopkins, dunning and May of a number of men in the employment of the Chicago, Alton and St. Louis Railroad Company, charged with stealing loads and merchandise from the cars and warehouses of that road. The names of the persons thus far committed to jail are Robert Stall and wife, Joseph Miller and (?) Daniel Hatfield, Jas. Kearns, William Ashton and Amos Shaw. It is probable that others will yet be arrested. An examination of the premises of the suspected parties, developed a large amount of stolen goods marked for various persons at different point along the road. The (?) is clear.

T.A. Green and Mr. Davis Arrested for Disturbing the Peace - Charles Shepherd Has a Heart Attack (Dies) after being Called as A Witness to Fight
The Ottawa Free Trader (Ottawa, Ill.), September 26, 1857
Some two or three weeks since, a young lawyer by the name of T. A. Green, wrote a piece of poetry for the Decatur Gazette, which the editor of that paper, Mr. Davis, saw fit to criticize rather severely. Green took exception to this and wrote some sharp articles in the other papers of the place in reply. This drew forth further remarks from Mr. Davis, whereupon Green challenged him to fight. This Davis refused and was consequently branded as a coward. As Mr. Green could not have his difficulties settled according to "the rule of honor," he determined to take the matter entirely into his own hands, and accordingly proceeded yesterday to the office of Mr. Davis. On his way, he met Mr. Charles Shepherd, a well-known and highly respected citizen of Decatur, whom he invited to walk with him. Mr. Shepherd was not apprised of what was to follow or he would not have gone. On returning at the office of the Gazette, Green demanded of Davis satisfaction. This Mr. D. refused to give. A fight ensued, in which both parties were considerably injured.
Messrs. Davis and Green were arrested for a disturbance of the peace, and Mr. Shepherd was called upon as a witness. Being a nervous man, the excitement of the occasion overcome him, and after giving in his testimony, he fell down and immediately expired.
The affair has caused a good deal of excitement in Decatur, and Mr. Shepherd's death is felt deeply by his numerous friends. - Springfield Ill. Republican.

Attempted Arson at Dr. W. A. Barns Store
Illinois State Chronicle, Decatur IL August 25, 1859
An attempt was made to set the drug store of Dr. W. A. Barns on fire, about 9 o'clock on Monday evening. It was happily discovered and put out before it had even made its mark upon the building.

Christopher Robison Stabs James Rickman
Decatur Republican, Decatur, IL March 19, 1868
Serious Stabbing Affair
Last Saturday night a negro named James Rickman was stabbed by a white man, named Christopher Robison. It appears that Robison met Rickman in the neighborhood of the third ward school house and after asking and ascertaining who he was, told him (the negro) that he was going to settle with him for running after his (Robinson's) wife. He then drew a knife and cut the negro's throat, inflicting a ghastly wound. Not content with this he stabbed him in the left breast though the glancing of the knife from off the bone prevented a mortal wound. Rickman succeeding in making his way to the residence of a colored man, when he was properly cared for. Robison was arrested the same night and committed to jail. He was arraigned before "Squire Bishop" on Monday morning, and the examination postponed one week on account of the condition of the wounded man. Rickman was removed to his home at Macon, on Tuesday evening, and at last accounts was doing well. He is represented as being as industrious, quiet man, while Robison is generally regarded as a desperado of the most dangerous kind.

Francis Major Assaulted by Wm. Ward
Decatur Republican, Decatur, IL April 16, 1868
Attempted Robbery
Last Monday evening a stranger named Francis Major was assaulted and knocked down while walking on the railroad track near the East Main street crossing. At the time of the assault Major was in company with Wm. Ward, who, according to Major's statement, also dealt him a few blows. Major, however, succeeded in regaining an upright position, and seizing Ward brought him up town and surrendered him to the police. The other assailant got away in the darkness, but various circumstances which has a mysterious look caused the arrest of Henry Hockingberry. The prisoners had a hearing before Esq. Fullet, who held Ward to bail in the sum of $150, for his appearance at the next term of the Circuit Court, and discharged Hockingberry. On Tuesday, however, Ward concluded to turn State's evidence, and Hockingberry getting wind of the matter left town very suddenly. Deputy Sheriff Hewes followed him to Harristown, and arrested him just as he was getting on the evening train going west. He was brought before Esq. Kaufman this morning, and waving an examination he was committed to jail in default of $600 bail.

Barrackman's Stable Robbed
Decatur Republican, Decatur, IL April 23, 1868
The stable of Mr. C. J. Barrackman, corner Edwards and William Streets, was entered Tuesday night by some unknown scoundrel who managed to steal a set of buggy harness without being detected.

Mr. Baldwin Shoots Smoke House Thief
Decatur Republican, Decatur, IL April 30, 1868
Mr. Baldwin residing in the northwest part of the city, was awakened Monday night by hearing a noise in his smoke house and was convinced that a thief was plying his vocation. He arose and challenged the intruder, but receiving no reply, discharged his revolver through the window. The intruder uttered an exclamation of pain as if he had been hit, and retreated apparently badly demoralized. The next night however, the same rascal (as is supposed) made another raid, and this time succeeded in carrying off every pound of meat.

The Morning Review (Decatur, Illinois) > 1881 > November > 7

Friday evening between 7 and 8 o'clock, the residence of B. H. Cassell was entered and robbed of a sum of money and some very valuable jewelry belonging to his daughter.

Dr. Roswell Shaw Killed by James T. Ward
The Ottawa Free Trader , Ottawa IL November 19 1881
Physician Murdered at Decatur
A Times special from Decatur, Ill., Nov. 11th states:
A tragedy occurred at Blue Mound, in this county this evening. The people of the town are very much excited - so much so that it was difficult to get at the bottom of the affair. Dr. Roswell W. Shaw, an old and well-known practicing physician of this county, was shot and instantly killed by James T. Ward, aged 21, son of Reubert Ward, the hotel-keeper at Blue Mound. The shooting grew out of a family difficulty. Dr. Shaw is the father of E. T. Shaw, station agent at Blue Mound, and was very much respected by all classes of people, and his death is generally regretted. Ward is at large.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois)
April 3 1882

A Sensational Episode

Two Daring Robbers Call Out Henry Cassell and Relieve Him of $14 in Cash

A hair raising and thrilling incident transpired at the farm house of Mr. Henry Cassell, two miles northeast of Decatur, on Saturday evening at about eight o'clock, which seems like a chapter from one of those diem novels that poison the minds of the yourth of the land. Mr. and Mrs. Cassell and the hired hand were seated in the big room chatting together, when the sound of a knowck was heard at the front door. Wondering who the caller could be, Mr. Cassell went alone to the door, opened it, and there in the moonlight stood two strange and fierce-looking men, both wearing overalls and skull caps. The taller man's face was partly covered with beard and the fleshy man wore full beard, but whether or not the whiskers were false, Mr. Cassell is unable to state.

The tall man first asked if he could get work for himself and companion. Mr. C. said he had none at present; then the man asked if he could get lodging for the night, and while Mr. Cassell was telling the couple that he could not keep them, and that they had better go into town, the tall man grasped Mr. C. by the collar, and pointing a pistol at his head, said he had come for that $200 that he (Cassell) had got while in the city. Mrs. Cassell hearing the demand, rushed to the door screaming with fright, but her cries were soon quieted by the second dare devil, who got into the hall and pointing a cocked pistol at the woman's head, warned her to keep quiet or he would blow her brains out.

The two robbers then compelled Mr. and Mrs. Cassell to enter the room in which the dumb-founded hired hand was standing, and while the tall robber made Mr. Cassel hand out all the money he had in his pocket book ($14), under threat of instant death, the other robber kept his pistol pointed at the laborer and the thoroughly frightened woman.

After the cash had been secured, they passed out of the room and house backward, with pistols leveled at the heads of the trio, and as they passed out of the front door, the tall man notified the inmates that if either of them left the house within one hour, the body of that person would be pierced with bullets.

The family were in a dilemma, and were at loss to decide what to do; and therefore they did nothing but remain in doors until their nerves became steady, when all the doors and windows were securely fastened and they retired. In the meantime the robbers scampered off with the booty.

The officers have obtained no trace of the robbers.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois)
April 4 1882

The officers have obtained no clew as to the identity of the cheeky robbers who relieved Henry Cassell of $14. The bold couple have probably gone hence many miles.

Edward Stultz Critically Injured by Edward Rutstick
The Ottawa Free Trader , Ottawa IL August 18 1883
Cowardly Assault
Decatur (Ill.) special dated Aug. 11 to the Chicago Tribune, bring these items.
At 1 o'clock this morning, near the Union Depot, a cowardly and probably successful attempt was made to murder Edward Stultz, a young man well known in this community. He was approached from behind by Edward Rutstick, who sunk a knife-blade in his head over the right eye, and then fled in the darkness. The screams of Stultz drew officers to his side, and after he was borne to the light the gleaming blade was drawn out of the ghastly cut. Stultz lies in a dangerous condition this evening. Rustick was arrested at his boarding house at 5 o'clock this morning, and is now in the county jail. The two men were paying attentions to the same girl, and the assault was the result of the rivalry.

Henry Carlesey Beaten by Enslemaker and Nimms
The Ottawa Free Trader , Ottawa IL August 18 1883
Last night at Ceylon, four miles from here, in this county, Henry Charlesey was so badly beaten by two fellows named Enslemaker and Nimms that his recovery will be impossible. Charlesey is a cripple and offended Nimms in trying to collect a just bill against him. After the arrest of Nimms and Enslemaker a mob of about 200 secured a rope and were going to hang them, but were persuaded by Charlesey's mother to let the law take its course. The excitement there is intense.

William B. Hunter Indicted for Ballot Tampering
Rock Island daily Argus, (Rock Island, Ill.), October 17, 1891
William B. Hunter has been indicted for tampering with ballots while serving as judge of election in Mount Zion Township, Macon County, Ills. last spring.

Grant Atterbury Lynched

Contributed by Dale Donlon

The Langston City Herald, Langston City, O. T., February 22, 1896

Lynching in Illinois

Decatur, Ill., Feb. 13 – Grant Atterbury was lynched at Sullivan last night. Fifteen masked men broke open the jail and hanged him to a tree in the courthouse yard. He died declaring that he was innocent of the crime of criminally assaulting his sister-in-law, Mrs. Roxy Atterbury.

Rev. James Miller Killed and Robbed
The evening bulletin. (Maysville, Ky.), November 25, 1896
Minister Murdered
Shot to Death and Robbed by Highwaymen at Decatur, Illinois
Springfield, Ills., Nov. 25. - Rev. James Miller, pastor of the Grace Methodist church, Bloomington, was found murdered at an early hour yesterday morning at Decatur, Ills., in the alley in the rear of Dr. W. M. Catto's residence, at the corner of Williams and Edwards streets, in the fashionable part of the city, with a bullet hole in the center of his forehead.
Rev. Miller had been in Springfield Monday and left for Decatur that evening, arriving there at 10 o'clock.
The supposition is that he walked up Edwards street to go to the residence of Dr. Catto, whith whom he has been in the habit of stopping while in the city.
A man employed at one of the nearby residences states that he heard a shot at 11 o'clock or before. The body was found in the alley with the pockets rifled and a 38-caliber revolver lying by its side. No powder burns were found on the face. Two ladies coming home from a party noticed two men standing in the alley and crossed the street to avoid them. As they did so a negro, who was on the opposite side of the street joined the two in the alley. The police have a fair description of the men.
Rev. Miller was formerly pastor of a church in Decatur. He was 60 years of age and has a wife and three children. A son, Dr. John Miller, resides in Decatur. He had been grand chaplain of the Knight Templar of Illinois for 20 years and a great worker among the Masons. He attended the annual conclave of the grand lodge of Knights Templar in Chicago last week and was re-elected. He had been a member of the Central Illinois Methodist conference for over 25 years.

Ephraim Faunce Pardoned
Rock Island Argus, (Rock Island, Ill.), April 20, 1898, Page 4
Governor Tanner granted a full pardon to Ephraim Faunce, convicted in Macon County, Ills., in 1859 of the murder of Matt McKinley

Magill on Trial for Wife's Murder
Los Angeles herald [microform]. (Los Angeles [Calif.]), October 09, 1907
Magills on Trial for Murdering His Wife
Decatur, Ill., Oct. 8. - The case of Fred H. Magill and his wife, Fay Magill, charged with the murder of Mrs. Pet Magill, the first wife of Fred Magill, was called this morning by Judge Cochrane and the work of impanelling a jury began immediately.

Decatur - Samuel Houston of Mattoon, convicted of attempting to murder his wife and daughter was sentenced to from one to 14 years in the penitentiary. Houston, while they were in bed, shot them both and then beat them over the head with the butt of his revolver. Both recovered. [Friday, December 12, 1913, Ste. Marie Tribune, Jasper County, IL - Submitted by K. Torp]

Decatur - Asks Camera Before Doctor.
Carl Person, editor of the Illinois Central Strike Bulletin, who shot and killed Tony Musser, a Clinton strikebreaker, refused to have the blood washed off his face or his injuries given attention until a picture had been made of him. He wishes the picture used as evidence to show the bruises and wounds inflicted upon him by Musser just before the shooting. Evidence of 6 witnesses at the coroner's inquest brought out the fact that Musser had met death at the hands of Person and the latter is now being held on a charge of murder. [Ste. Marie Tribune, Jasper County, IL, Friday, January 9, 1914 - Submitted by K. Torp]

The Decatur Review , September 9, 1915

Got Cassell Machine

Thieves almost succeeded in stealing the automobile of C. H. Cassell, 1000 West Main street, at an early hour Thursday morning, but they made a little too much noise and awakened the people in the house. The attempt was made about 12:30 Thursday morning, when Miss Ray Smallwood, who rooms at the Cassell residence, was awakened by noises in the yard. Seeing several people at the garage on the rear of the lot, she awakened the others and the lights were turned on, at which the thieves ran.

Four In Party

Miss Smallwood saw about four in the party. They had pushed the machine out into the yard, turned it around and were taking it out into the alley and had it almost out when scared away. The machine is a Ford touring car.

-Contributed by Nancy Piper


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