100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Archive for the category “Crime”

National Guard Closes Racetrack In Indiana

The Progressive movement in American politics is one based on reform. It took aim at unfair labor practices, women’s and children rights, social welfare the rights of the middle class. But it also took aim at society’s vices and wanted an prohibition of not only alcohol but gambling as well. Horse Racing had been dependent on admission charges for their prize money but had just recently started using stake races in which horse owners paid an entry fee that became part of the purse. High profile stake races included the Belmont, the Preakness, and the Kentucky Derby. Racing and bookmaking had become corrupt and rife with organized crime. The Progressive movement passed restrictive laws and banned horse racing in many states. The number of tracks fell from 300 in 1900 to only 25 by 1908. Many tracks have embraced Air Shows as an alternative source of income taking advantage of the grandstand seating.

The Mineral Springs Racing Track in Porter, Indiana holds races where illegal betting takes place, run by Chicago organized crime. The governor of the state is also the Vice-Presidential candidate running with Governor Woodrow Wilson on the Democratic ticket. With the election a few weeks away, governor Marshall decides to take action.

On October 22, 1912 3 companies of the Indiana National Guard dressed for combat moved on the Mineral Springs Racing Track and shut down racing. It was drizzling rain but 1,000 people had showed up to wager. The races were stopped by uniformed troops with mounted bayonets. The president of Mineral Springs tracks denounced the interference of the troops as “social anarchy.”

Indiana National Guard troops control crowd of gamblers
Mineral Spring Race Track
Porter, Indiana
October 22, 1912

Champion Boxer Faces Racially Motivated Charge

John Arthur “Jack” Johnson was born in Galveston, Texas in 1878. He worked as a dock worker but in 1901 he fought experienced boxer Joe Choynski in Galveston in an illegal match. Both men were jailed and Choynski taught Johnson the skills of boxing while they were in prison. Johnson developed his own style of boxing that was slow and deliberate. It was very effective but it was criticized in the press as being cowardly and devious. By 1902 Johnson had won at least 50 fights against both white and black opponents. Johnson won the World Colored Heavyweight Championship in February 1903. He wished to fight for the World Heavyweight Championship but reigning champion James J Jeffries refused to face him. Johnson fought former champion Bob Fitzsimmons in July 1907 and knocked him out in two rounds.

Johnson finally won the world heavyweight title in December 1908 beating reigning world champion Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia in 14 rounds. For the next 2 years, Johnson faced several fighters each called “the Great White Hope”, a racial taunt at the African American champion. Finally in 1910 former undefeated heavyweight champion James J Jeffries came out of retirement to challenge Johnson. He had to lose 100 pounds to get to fighting weight. “The Fight Of The Century” took place on July 4, 1910 in front of 20,000 people, at a ring built just for the occasion in downtown Reno, Nevada. Recently Johnson defended hit title against “Fireman” Jim Flynn in New Mexico.The fight was filmed and producers hoped to successfully distribute it just as the Jefferies fight had been. Congress passed the Sims act which outlawed the interstate transportation of fight films.


Johnson is a independent African-American who does not fit stereotypes or the roles white society thinks he should conform to. He openly socializes with white women and paid no deference to the color line. In January 1911, Johnson married Brooklyn socialite and divorcee Etta Terry Duryea. Etta suffered from severe depression and after just 8 months of marriage, committed suicide by shooting herself in the head in September 1912. Shortly afterwards Johnson began seeing Lucille Cameron, an 18 year old prostitute, an act that outraged the public.

On October 17 1912 Jack Johnson is arrested on a charge of abduction. Lucille Cameron denies the charge and will refuse to testify against Johnson.

Doctors Will Not Operate On Roosevelt

On September 6, 1901 US president William McKinley was at the Buffalo International Exposition in Buffalo, New York. He was shot by self-proclaimed anarchist Leon Czolgosz. The bullet entered the abdomen. Until recently a gunshot to the abdomen was considered fatal with death by gangrene or infection inevitable. Surgeons worked with difficult lighting, inappropriate tools and primitive procedures. The bullet was never found and the wound itself had not been thoroughly cleaned or traced. Precautions against infections were negligently handled. After initially rallying, McKinley died on September 14, 1901. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt became president and McKinley became a cherished martyr hero.


Yesterday ex-president Theodore Roosevelt was shot while campaigning for president on the third party Progressive platform in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


On October 15, 1912 after determining that probes and x-ray showed that the bullet had traversed three inches (76 mm) of tissue and lodged in Roosevelt’s chest muscle but did not penetrate the pleura, doctors stated their opinion that it would be more dangerous to attempt to remove the bullet than to leave it in place. Remembering what happened to McKinley after his operation, Roosevelt heartily agrees.

1912 book “The Attempted Assassination of Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt” :http://www.gutenberg.org/files/21261/21261-h/21261-h.htm

X-Ray showing bullet as it remains in Theodore Roosevelt

Attempted Assassination Of Theodore Roosevelt In Wisconsin

When Theodore Roosevelt left office in 1909 he selected William Howard Taft his Secretary of War to succeed him as President. Taft easily won the 1908 presidential election. Taft alienated Roosevelt when he used the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to break up US Steel, a trust Roosevelt approved of as a “good” trust. On the other hand, Taft let American Tobacco Company structure its own dissolution, a move Roosevelt saw as too lenient. Taft represents the conservative wing of the Republican party and has said Roosevelt is “the greatest menace to our institutions that we have had in a long time.” Roosevelt advocated the recall of judicial decisions through popular vote whereas Taft had held up the recognition of Arizona as a state until popular recall was taken out of the state constitution. To Taft, Roosevelt and his attempt at a 3rd term as president Roosevelt has made him a dangerous radical “because of his hold upon the less intelligent voters and the discontented” with policies that bordered on Socialism. The two contested each other at the Republican National Convention in Chicago but Taft had the delegates all sewn up. Roosevelt saw this as a theft and started his own party. Roosevelt has been campaign hard since the Democratic convention, traveling the country by rail and making speeches.

John Schrank was born in Germany but emigrated to America as a child. He had a troubled life as his parents died, his aunt and uncle (his adoptive parents) died and his girlfriend died in the GENERAL SLOCUM disaster. He has been stalking Roosevelt since New Orleans and has followed him across 8 states. He thinks he’s in communication with the ghost of assassinated president William McKinley.

John Schrank

On October 14, 1912 Roosevelt was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to make a campaign speech that evening at the Milwaukee Auditorium. He stopped at the Hotel Gilpatrick, dined with local dignitaries and was to leave by automobile for his evening speech. Jubilant crowds awaited him outside and he jumped up on the running board of the auto to greet them. This presented Schrank with the opportunity to step forward and shoot Roosevelt at close range in the chest with a .38 revolver.

The would-be assassin’s .38 revolver

A 50-page speech folded over twice in Roosevelt’s breast pocket and a metal glasses case slowed the bullet which still penetrated 3 inches into Roosevelt’s chest.

The breast-pocket articles that saved Roosevelt’s life

Roosevelt yelled out, “Quiet! I’ve been shot.” Schrank was immediately subdued and apprehended. Roosevelt was not coughing up blood so assessing his lungs weren’t damaged, Roosevelt insisted on speaking to the crowd.

“Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet – there is where the bullet went through – and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.”

With blood seeping through his shirt, Roosevelt spoke for 90 minutes.

Roosevelt’s blood-soaked shirt

Roosevelt was rushed to a local hospital for treatment. There are no immediate plans to remove the bullet.

Roosevelt’s x-ray showing the bullet lodged in his chest

Policemen Killed In Texas

On October 6, 1912, Deputy Richard Shipp, along with Roy Harrington, George Duncan and Assistant Chief John Southall of the Greenville, Texas Police department responded to a call of a man being intoxicated and firing his pistol. As they approached the man he opened fire, striking Southall in the forehead, stomach and leg. Deputy Shipp was shot through the heart and killed. Southall wounded the suspect who was killed by the other Deputies.

Assistant Chief John Southall of the Greenville, Texas Police department

Witness In Police Corruption Trial Shot In New York

Herman Rosenthal was a New York gangster who was being extorted by a corrupt police Lieutenant Charles Becker. After he spoke to a journalist about police corruption and was called to testify to a grand jury, Rosenthal was gunned down in the street in front of a hotel.


The murder was front page news and would not go away. The Manhattan DA made no secret of his belief that the gangsters had committed the murder at Becker’s behest. Amid a major public outcry Becker was transferred to the Bronx and assigned to desk duty. At the end of July 1912 Becker was arrested by special detectives from the District Attorney’s Office. In August 1912 Becker was indicted by a grand jury for the killing of Herman Rosenthal along with the gunmen and others.

Zelig Harry Lefkowitz was raised in New York City’s lower East side and was involved with gangs there as a child. By the time he was 20, Lefkowiitz was know as Jack Zelig and head of the Monk Eastman gang. It was Zelig’s men that committed the murder of Herman Rosenthal at Becker request. The case was making national headlines and it was rumored that Zelig would testify against Becker and his gang members for leniency.

On October 5, 1912 two days before Becker’s trial is to begin Zelig was hanging out at Segal’s Cafe when he received an anonymous phone call requesting his presence. Zelig jumped on the uptown trolley. While riding the trolley Zelig was shot behind the ear and killed a man with a police revolver. The shooter was run down and arrested by a beat policeman. Zelig was 24 years old.

Jack Zelig

Postmarked September 25, 1912

address : 420 Grant St
Buffalo, NY

Miss Marion Smith
South Wales, N.Y.


Dear friend – arrived home safe and sound. Do you know the face on this card. How are your pets getting along. Did you get wet going home Sunday from Aurora.

ans. soon

Eva M Welch

The 25th President of the United States William McKinley was shot and fatally wounded on September 6, 1901 inside the Temple of Music on the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. McKinley was shaking hands with the public when he was shot by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist. The President died on September 14 from gangrene caused by the bullet wounds.

The country was shocked and mourned McKinley for years after the event. Buffalo, New York was McKinley’s home town and people visiting made pilgrimages to where he was shot and where he died. Souvenir postcards were sold where your own picture could be inserted.

Millburn residence – Buffalo, N.Y. Where Pres. McKinley Died

Policeman Electrocuted By Phone In Philadelphia

The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. The next year the first police telephone was installed in Albany, New York. Call boxes for use by both police and members of the public were first installed in Washington, DC in 1883, in Chicago and Detroit in 1884 and in Boston in 1885. These were direct line telephones placed on a post which could often be accessed by a key or breaking a glass panel. In Chicago, the telephones were restricted to police use, but the boxes also contained a dial mechanism which members of the public could use to signal different types of alarms.

On September 24, 1912 a severe northeast storm pounded Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with heavy rains and high winds. As a result several power lines were downed. Philadelphia policeman George Freeman went to use a police call box at the corner of 52nd Street and Haverford in West Philadelphia. The telephone line connecting the call boxes became electrically charged by a charged line and Freeman was electrocuted. Several other officers were also shocked while trying to use the call boxes but Freeman was the only one to be killed as a result. Freeman, a nine-year police veteran, left a wife and two sons.

Police call box

Police Officer Acquitted In Partner’s Shooting In Kentucky

In March 1912 Officer John McKinney was shot by his partner, Officer Arthur F Moore during a personal quarrel that occurred near New York Street and Kealing Ave ue in Indianapolis, Indiana. Officer Moore was arrested and tried for murder.

On September 16, 1912 Arthur F Moore was found not guilty of murdering John McKinney at a trial that took place in Martinsville, Indiana.

Officer John McKinney

Man Carries Bullet In Chest For 48 Years In Colorado

The Blonger family came from Swanton, Vermont. Brother Mike, Lou and Joe fought in the Civil War and afterwards with brother Sam found there way out West where they operated several saloons and gambling halls. In 1882 Sam was made Marshall of Albuquerque, New Mexico and deputized his brothers. They still found time to continue gambling, prospecting, horse racing, and even running a brothel. The brothers eventually landed in Denver, Colorado in 1888 and set up shop there. They were so successful that by 1892 they controlled all of Denver’s underworld crime that had extended to election fraud and mining swindles.

Joe Blonger stayed away from his brother and led a more upstanding life. Joe served many years as a part-time scout during our Indian wars under Chief Scout Buffalo Bill Cody and also played in many a card game as Wild Bill Hickok’s partner. He was known for his temper and shot the boss of the Bottom Dollar saloon in 1897 when he wouldn’t let him go to Santa Fe for a drink. During the Civil War, Joe received a bullet, called a Minie-ball in his chest.

On September 13, 1912 THE DENVER POST reported that Joe Blonger had an X-Ray that confirmed he had a bullet in his chest that weighed more than ounce.The entire DENVER POST article – September 13, 1912 : http://www.blongerbros.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Joe_Bullet.jpg
Blonger Brother’s Blog : http://www.blongerbros.com/blog/

Joe Blonger

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