McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy
Mr. Funk, a cattle dealer, in McLean County, Illinois, on the 9th instant, left home, with his son, taking a considerable amount of money, to buy cattle for the Chicago market. He was overtaken and attacked by three men. He shot one dead; and wounded another. The third fired and killed him. His son, who had been detained on the road, arrived soon after the death of his father, and had a confession from the wounded robber, of the whole affair. The son killed him immediately afterwards, and started in quest of the third robber and murderer. [1850 Dec 25 - Wisconsin Free Democrat]
A case of poising occurred in Martin township, McLean County, Illinois, Friday last, resulting in the death of three children of Mr. Hurt. Four other children, poisoned at the same time, were living at last accounts. Suspicion rests upon a married daughter of Mr. Hurt and a brother of her husband, who are under arrest. [1867 Aug 18 - Memphis Daily Avalanche]
Murderous Fight - (Special Telegram) - Bloomington, Ill., Oct. 10. -- The particulars of a bloody quarrel, resulting in the instant death of one man, and the wounding in a very serious manner of two others, have arrived here to-day from Ellsworth station, on the Lafayette road, in Padua township, McLean County, 10 miles east of Bloomington. The melee occurred early this morning, on a 30-acre timber lot owned by Robert Nichols, and located one mile south of Ellsworth. At that point there is a spring which has been known as Deer Lick, and which furnishes a never-failing supply of water. This year Nichols gave permission to John and Patrick Roach to deepen the spring, which had become filled up, in consideration of giving them access to the spring. Calvin Dunlap, who lives in that vicinity and owns a large farm, has also claimed the right to get water there, but has been ordered off by the Roaches. This morning Dunlap’s son Byron, a young man aged 22, accompanied by one Theodore Wilcox, who is stopping at Dunlap’s, drove their cattle to the spring where the Roaches were. The latter ordered Dunlap away, and from rough words the four came to blows, ending in a pitched battle in which Byron Dunlap and Patrick Roach, and Wilcox and Jno. Roach were pitted against each other. In the progress of the row Dunlap hit his antagonist, Pat Roach, on the head with a club, fracturing his skull. Jno. Roach knocked Wilcox down, and commenced punching him, when Wilcox cried “enough,” and Roach let him up. Then, according to Roach’s testimony, he ran away, and was pursued by Dunlap with the club, and by Wilcox with a stone. Seeing they would catch him, he halted and drew a pocket-knife. Wilcox threw the stone at close range, but it was warded off by Roach, who plunged his knife into Wilcox’s side, inflicting a very dangerous but probably not fatal wound. At that moment Dunlap struck at Roach with his club, which Roach threw off with his arm. Roach then used his knife again -- this time with dreadful effect, stabbing Dunlap in the pit of the stomach, making a wound from which he died in a few seconds, after running some 200 steps. Pat Roach is in a critical condition. The Roaches and Dunlaps are all unmarried. Roach is a notorious dead-beat and scalawag generally. He has followed the circus, and never remains long in one place. John Roach is lodged in the county jail in this city.
[1874 Oct 11 - Sunday Times]
A Murder in Money Creek - Two and a half miles northeast of the village of Towanda, but within the limits of Money Creek Township, there was found, one morning in October, 1876, the body of a man, in the field of James Donohue, about forty rods from the railroad. The body was first discovered by Mrs. Strode. She thought it was a " tramp" asleep, and so reported the matter at home. The boys went out and found the man dead, lying on his face. They reported, and immediately sent for Coroner Hendricks. Dr. Smith, of Bloomington, held the post-mortem examination, and found that one ball had entered behind the jaw, and passed back of the trachea, down below the heart. Another ball had passed through the body just below the ribs and toward the left side. An examination of the skull showed a fracture on the back, as though he had been struck with the breech of a pistol. There was also a mark on the skull at one side, and a piece gone from the ear, which went to prove that the man had been struck. From papers on the body, it was found to be that of Albert Anglen. He was from Grafton, W. Va. He had letters in his pocket from a young lady in Flora, Colo. It was ascertained that he had been an exemplary young man, and had been respected by all of his acquaintances. With the body was found a pair of boots, lying to one side, that he could not have worn. These were recognized by a shoemaker at Shippey, Ill., as being a pair that he had mended for Karl Klusty, a Bohemian. Klusty and Anglen had been working at Shippey. They had passed through Towanda a few days before, and it is supposed that the Bohemian murdered the young American for his money. The revolver probably belonged to the American and was snatched away from him while his attention was drawn toward something else. The men had slept over night at a straw-stack near. A great many arrests were made, but none proved to be the man sought. Quite recently, it has been ascertained that Karl Klusty has arrived in Bohemia, and is there under arrest, where it is hoped that he will meet with the punishment he so justly deserves. [The History of McLean County, Illinois, Chicago: W. LeBaron Jr. & Co., 1879]
John Dyer, a notorious desperado; who has caused much trouble to the people of Saybrook, Illinois, appeared in town yesterday afternoon, whereupon the alarm was given and 150 citizens turned out to hunt him. He was followed into the woods, and, refusing to halt, was shot a number of times and captured. He may survive. [1880 Apr 27 - San Francisco Bulletin, California]
Miss Anna Corrigan, a young lady attending school at the Illinois Wesleyan University at Bloomington, had a very exciting and dangerous episode with a burglar the other night. Sometime during the night as she lay in bed in her room in the young ladies’ boarding-hall, second floor, she heard a noise and awoke with a scream as she saw a man springing lightly toward her. He stood by her bedside with a villainous knife in his hand and said in a low tone to her: “If you whimper I’ll kill you.” She buried her face under the bed clothes, and when she looked out again the burglar said: “Slim picking, ain’t it?” Miss Corrigan said: “Yes, sir. I’ve nothing worth stealing, sir. I’m a poor girl and I never had anything worth stealing.” Just then Miss Van Patton, who occupied an adjoining room, made a noise by poking her fire, when the burglar raised his knife and ordered Miss Corrigan to keep still. She again dived under the clothes and when next she looked out the thief was gone. [The Henry Republican, April 12, 1883]
At Bloomington, a few days ago, R. P. Dunn, shot his wife and attempted to kill his daughter, but was prevented from accomplishing the latter intent by the courage of his son, who disarmed him and hurled him through the window. Mrs. Dunn had begun a divorce suit against her husband. The would-be murdered was locked up to await the result of his wife’s injuries. The Henry Republican, April 12, 1883
Chicago, Dec. 27. -- The Inter-Ocean’s Lexington, Illinois, special says: The news of the lynching of Thomas Kerr, at Pioneer, Arizona, was recived [sic] this morning. His mother and sister were crushed by the intelligence. Kerr had many friends, was not a desperado and the people here refuse to believe he killed Hartley without grave provocation. [4 Jan 1883 - Dallas Weekly Herald]
Mr. George Stubblefield of Bloomington, says that for some hours before his barn was found to be on fire, a number of dogs kept up a terrible howling and barking and kept him and his sick brother awake. Mr. Eugene Hampton finally got a shotgun and killed a dog that was howling in the alley. Mr. Stubblefield and others now think that the dogs had some instinctive knowledge that all was not right and the weight of that dog’s taking-off hangs like a mill-stone on Mr. Hampton’s conscience. [The Henry Republican, April 12, 1883]
Dr. Harris, who killed Dr. Barton at Saybrook, Ill., Monday, has been held by the coroner's jury for willful murder. [The Argus (Rock Island), October 1, 1885, page 1]
Considerable excitement has been occasioned in McLean County by the robbery and beating of Wolf Simmons, a Chicago peddler by Harry McCracken and P. M. Jacques, sons of prominent citizens of the county. They were arrested but subsequently escaped. Simmons' injuries are serious. [1890 Jan 31 - Ava Advertiser]
Criminal Cases Dismissed - Burdens Taken from Several Law Breakers in McLean County, Illinois
BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Dec. 1. -- The State’s Attorney of McLean County to-day on his own motion dismissed a number of important criminal cases. Five of the cases were against Ignaiz Lederer, formerly collector of Bloomington township. He was indicted with his deputies, Leon L. Loehr and Harry Loehr, for forgery and falsifying public records. Lederer, the principal turned state’s evidence. Hary Loehr was sentenced to one year in the penitentiary and Leon Loehr was acquitted. The other cases were six indictments against William F. Fursman, of Pontiac, the noted forger who stole over $200,000 and is now serving a seven year sentence in the penitentiary. Fursman can now see his way clear to get out in about five years. Had he been prosecuted to the full extent for his crimes committed here and at Pontiac he would have received sentences aggregating about 200 years in the penitentiary. [1891 Dec 02 - Inter Ocean]
Bloomington, Ill., Nov. 14. -- A mob of several hundred men, women and boys at Colfax organized this morning and proceeding to a building just erected by P. D. Radeke, a brewer of Kankakee, known as a “cold storage” plant, completely wrecked the structure. Threats had been made by the temperance element, but the contractor employed a large force of carpenters and planned to resist any attack. They were outnumbered, however. Warrants have been sworn out, and the trial has been set for next Wednesday. [November 15, 1903 - Philadelphia Inquirer]
Post Office Looted - Burglars Secure $500 from Lexington, Illinois (Special to the News) - Lexington, Ill., May 23. -- The post office building and safe were wrecked by dynamite explosions this morning by burglars, who escaped with $500 in cash and stamps. [23 May 1906 - Aberdeen Daily News]
Oscar Strange, 19, of LeRoy, has been thrown in jail for burglary. He is the son of respectable parents, but has been under suspicion for a string of burglaries in LeRoy. He is willing to plead guilty to the job he was arrested for, but denies any knowledge of the rest. [Dec. 30, 1908, The Pantagraph - How Time Flies by: Jack Keefe]
Bloomington, Ill - Harry Larue and Frank Kelly, Chicago, arrested in cornfield after exciting chase, charged with stealing auto owned by P.M. Hanson, Bloomington. Fred Palmell, Chicago, said to be gang leader. [The Day Book. (Chicago, Ill.), 12 Aug. 1912]
Bloomington, Ill - Francis Dunkin found not guilty of murder of John M. Zellhofer, ex-editor Le Roy Journal. [The Day Book. (Chicago, Ill.), 16 June 1914]
Youthful Bank Robber Caught.
"Bring Mother to Me," Sobs Boy When He is Placed in Cell.
Case Comes Up For Trial Today - All But $500 Recovered.
Chicago, Feb. 27 -- The evidence in the case of William Dalton, 16 year old bank clerk arrested in Heyworth, Illinois, yesterday, 48 hours after he had stolen $772,000 in liberty bonds from the Northern Trust Co. here where he worked, will be palced before the grand jury tomorrow. Robt. E. Crowe, state's attorney, announced tonight. Mr. Crowe said every effort would be made to push the case and bring about speedy punishment for the boy who found it a simple matter to carry out the biggest bond theft in history, only to fall into the hands of a village constable after he had been recognized from pictures published in the newspapers. Mr. Crowe's statement followed similar utterances from the company which had insured the trust company and from the bank's officials. All the bonds except one for $500, which had been cashed, were recovered, but the insurance company said to be lenient with Dalton would be placing temptation before other boys and that he must pay for his crime. Bank officials felt the boy must be punished, but said his case should be handled carefully and he should get a fair chance to reform. While the state's attorney's office was preparing to push the case, Dalton sat in a detention home here with an occasional tear running down his cheek. The air of nonchalance and bravado which characterized his statements yesterday had disappeared. [1921 Feb 28 - Aberdeen American, South Dakota]
Mrs. Caroline Moore of Normal admitted to giving cash to help her brother, Walter Moore, escape from Joliet prison. Brown, who killed a local deputy, had cohorts on the inside. Mrs. Moore also named some cohorts on the outside, but they deny everything.
[Dec. 10, 1933, The Pantagraph - How Time Flies - By Jack Keefe]
It’s been a bad year for Henry Bertsche, 68, of Lincoln. His auto parts store had already been robbed once and burglarized twice. Then last night three guys kidnapped him at his house, took him to the shop and stole $10,000 after forcing him to open the safe. [The Pantagraph - How Time Flies by: Jack Keefe]
Colfax Couple Found Dead; Rifle Bullets Kill Harmses; Find Gun Near Bodies in Farm Home
COLFAX - Clarence T. Harms, 57, and his wife, Wanda L. Harms, 56, were found dead in their home north of Colfax about 5 p.m. Monday. Both had suffered gunshot wounds in the head. Authorities theorize that it was a case of homicide and suicide. A .22 caliber rifle was found near the bodies. The Harmses’ daughter-0in-law, Mrs. Nolan Harms of Colfax, found the two lying on the kitchen floor in their farm home when she stopped by to visit Monday evening. McLean County Coroner Joe Hallett reported that the deaths must have occurred Saturday night or early Sunday morning. He said that Mrs. Harms had visited her daughter, Mrs. Richard Gillan, in Colfax Saturday afternoon.
ACTIVE IN CHURCH --- The Harmses lived 1-1/2 miles north of Colfax where he owned and farmed 240 acres. Mrs. Harms had furnished their home with antiques she had refinished. Both were active in affairs in the Colfax Christian Church. There was no evidence found of robbery at the Harms home. Nothing in the house had been disturbed, according to Mr. Hallett. Harold Sylvester, McLean County’s chief deputy sheriff, said it was thought that Mr. Harms had shot his wife and then turned the gun on himself. The gun was found at his feet. Authorities are continuing their investigation, however. Coroner Hallett said he would hold an inquest. The date has not been set.
PRIVATE RITES -- The deaths were investigated by Sylvester, Hallett and Deputy Sheriff Russ Fitzgerald. The Harmses were taken to the Harper Funeral Home. The funeral will be private. Burial will be in Wiley Cemetery. The Rev. Malcolm Norment will officiate. Mr. Harms was born in Colfax Oct. 13, 1901, son of Ben and Flora Reinholtz Harms. he married Wanda Hardy Dec. 19, 1923, in Bloomington. He is survived by two brothers, Julius and Henry, both of Colfax; five sister, Mrs. Mattie Williams, Colfax; Mrs. Minnie Humphrey, Colfax; Mrs. Jennie Moncelle, Fairbury; Mrs. Emma Tipsord, Saybrook; Mrs. Ella Walden, Peoria. 3
CHILDREN SURVIVE -- Mrs. Harms was born in Clay City June 7, 1903, daughter of John and Lucy Payne Hardy. She is survived by her parents, Mrs. and Mrs. John Hardy, Colfax; two brothers, Elmer, Colfax Kenneth, Dayton, Ohio; five sisters, Mrs. Camella Doyle, Bloomington; Mrs. Evelyn Beneke, Bloomington; Mrs. Hazel Hutson, Colfax; Mrs. June Schanf, Bensonville; Mrs. Lela Mills, Gibson City. The couple is survived by one son, Nolan Harms, Colfax; two daughters, Mrs. Donna Bethel, 713 N. Fell Ave., Normal; Mrs. Darlene Gillan, Colfax, four grandchildren. They were members of the Colfax Christian Church. The family requested that any tangible expressions of sympathy be made in the form of contributions to the Christian Church building fund. [7 Sep 1959 - The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois - Sub. by Teri Colglazier]
Jan. 1, 1959: Woodford County Sheriff Gene Wolf is now expected to survive his gunshot wounds at the hands of Howard Belsley, 18. The suspect, a reform school parolee, has written a full confession. He was caught trying to escape by driving away in low gear. [The Pantagraph - How Time Flies by: Jack Keefe]
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