Crime in Pullman

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Property Crimes in Pullman

Property crimes are nothing new to Pullman. Consider this entry of a 19th century horse-jacking crime spree:
Two or three cases of horse stealing have occurred recently in the Pullman and Grand Crossing districts. William Everett has lost a team valued at $500.00, and Edward Bucknell, residing on Cottage Grove avenue, has had a horse, buggy, and harness stolen. The Hyde Park police have been notified, but thus far no arrests have been made.
-- Chicago Tribune, December 2, 1888. p. 6

And, of course, there is Kate Corcoran's excellent account of the embezzlement of manager Charles Angell.

Crime at the Hotel Florence

The Hotel Florence has been the scene of several crimes. Due to its proximity to the Illinois Central railroad and the main Pullman station, the Hotel has been the jumping off point for at least two sensational robberies.
Headline: Fights Thugs at Dawn: John A. Hendricks, a bookkeeper for the Knickerbocker Ice Company, fought a successful battle with two masked robbers at Pullman yesterday morning just after daybreak, and saved nearly $1,000 which he was carrying in a sack to the Illinois Central station. The attempted robbery took place directly in front of the Hotel Florence, and the fusillade of revolver shots which Hendricks and the would-be robbers fired at each other from close quarters nearly caused a stampede at the Hotel. Hendricks came out of the battle unharmed, but he believes that he wounded at least one of his assailants.
-- Chicago Tribune, Sept. 20, 1896. p. 1

Mr. Hendricks, apparently, would pick up the Knickerbocker Ice Company revenues from concessions in the south part of the city, place them in canvas money sacks, and bring them to his lodging rooms at 12 Arcade Row (now 543 E. 112th Street) overnight. He would then dutifully take them to work with him in the morning. Surely this was a risky proposition, even in the relative innocence of the Gilded Age. The robbers, incidentally, got away in the 1890s equivalent of a get-away car, a waiting horse and buggy.

The Hotel played an incidental part in a less dramatic but much bigger theft:
Headline: Burnham Raid Traps $100,000 Theft Suspects: Frank C. Miller and John C. Heine, both living at the Hotel Florence, 11111 Forestville Avenue, were held at the Kensington police station last night as suspects in the $100,000 mail coach robbery from the Pullman station of the Illinois Central railroad... In their rooms at the Hotel, Lieut. Homer found revolvers, brass knuckles, and large automobile goggles, such as were used by the driver of the bandit car.
-- Chicago Tribune, August 23, 1920 p. 9

The Hotel has also been the location of some very poignant stories. Consider the sad fate of Mrs. Campbell, who made a poor choice in her life to leave her husband and take up with a violent man:
Headline: A Jealous Husband's Deed: James Doble, a middle-aged Englishman (N.B.: probably Canadian, since census records and newspapers of the time frequently designated Canadians as Englishmen ), shot his wife at Pullman. The woman was alive at a late hour, but the physician declared the wounds mortal. A year ago a Mrs. Campbell secured a divorce from her husband. Shortly afterward she became Mrs. Doble and the pair left Pullman. Six months ago Mrs. Doble returned, saying that she had been unable to live with Doble. She was given a position at the Hotel Florence.
-- Chicago Tribune, May 25, 1888

He tracked her down where she was working in the linen room. She was shot 4 times, but she lived, although blinded for life by the first bullet:
James Doble, who May 24th last at the Hotel Florence in Pullman shot his wife several times, one bullet destroying both her eyes, was yesterday sentenced by Judge Jamieson to fourteen years to the penitentiary on the charge of assault with intent to kill.
-- Chicago Tribune, November 9, 1888 p. 8

The Acheson case is also about a person who made a series of poor decisions in life:
Headline: Pullman Sensations: Nothing further about Bradley-- Hotelkeeper Acheson's mysterious absence. Nothing new was to be learned yesterday concerning the whereabouts of the missing ex-Manager of Pullman. The Pullmanites were yesterday given another interesting morsel of news. Friday morning, J.C. Acheson, Superintendent of the Hotel Florence, went to Chicago and has not since returned... It was found, however, that his wife did not know where he was and that everybody else was in the dark... The company's officials waited until Monday night, and, as no Acheson had appeared, they began to force the hotel safe.
-- Chicago Tribune, August 11, 1886 p. 3

Pullman Company officials had no comment at the time as to what was stolen. The long arm of the law eventually caught up with the wayward Mr. Acheson; he was snared by no less than a Pinkerton detective.

Headline: Acheson Coming Back: The missing Pullman Hotelkeeper on his way to Chicago with a Matt Pinkerton Detective. James C. Acheson, the absconding manager of the Hotel Florence at Pullman, was captured in Detroit yesterday by Matt Pinkerton's detectives. -- Chicago Tribune, September 2, 1886

Acheson was on his way to the casinos of Windsor, Ontario. He had absconded with $2,000.00 from the Hotel's safe. He was apparently trying to recoup his gambling debts by winning big in Windsor.

Not all crimes centered around the Hotel were quite so dramatic.

Headline: Speeding Auto Wrecked as it Flees Police: A race with an automobile in which Chief of Detectives Michael Hughes and a squad of detectives were riding ended abruptly when the speeders' car was wrecked at South Michigan avenue and East Forty-fifth street. William Fischer, son of the owner of the Hotel Florence, 11111 Forestville avenue, driver of the car, and four men and a woman were arrested.

Murders Most Foul: Murders in Pullman

A perusal of the Homicide in Chicago: 1870-1930 database maintained by Northwestern University yields several tragic stories from Pullman history.

  1. JUNE 27, 1883 -- A Brickyards murder

    Case description: "Ryan, Thomas, alias Dowdey, fatally shot (died) Pullman, by William Ray, boarding house keeper, who Ryan, in company with George Fox (also shot) attacked."

    William Ray managed a boarding house at the now vanished corner of Fulton (Langley) and 116th St., part of the Brickyards neighborhood in Pullman. (Your house was built using brick supplied by these yards.) Thomas Ryan (a.k.a. Thomas Dowdle) and George Fox appeared at William Ray's rooms and continued a previous argument. A fight broke out, Ray pulled out a pistol, and shot Dowdle and Fox in front of many witnesses, including Ray's wife, two boarders, and two servant girls. Ray then immediately walked the 4 blocks to the police station and surrendered.

    Perhaps the argument which led to the murders was related to Dowdle's and Ray's involvement in the brickmakers' union, which had just concluded a violent strike 2 months previously.

    Map of crime scene, Chicago Tribune, June 28, 1883.
  2. NOVEMBER 19, 1890 -- Murder/Suicide at 224 Stephenson (11234 Champlain Ave.)

    Case description: "Mrs. Frank Fooke shot dead, home 224 Stephenson St., Pullman, by her husband, who shot himself."
  3. AUGUST 4, 1907 -- Mysterious death at a boardinghouse (now demolished blockhouse at 11233 Langley)

    Case description: "Kabas, Ladislaw, 24 ys. Old. Fatally shot Aug. 4, at room 5 block E, Fulton St., Pullman, Ill. Thought to have been self-inflicted. Nov. 9. Frank Kudish, Steve Bartek & Paul Juinisek were each held by Judge Maxwell for the murder of Kabas, 14 prect. Kubish, Bartek, and Juinisek acquitted by jury in Judge Kerstein's court, March 16, 1908."

    According to the Tribune, August 5, 1907, this was perhaps a suicide, which is probably why the jury acquitted the 3 defendants. The Tribune lists his name as Ladreslaw Kabas, 24, employee of the Pullman Factory. Kabas was found wounded and unconscious beneath his window. He claimed to have been robbed, beaten, and thrown out of his window. Police of the Kensington station had denied that Kabas had been robbed, but said he had tried to commit suicide when despondent over a love affair. However, the Coroner declared that the wounds could not have been self-inflicted; Kubish, the manager of the blockhouse, was found in Kabas' rooms shortly thereafter.

  4. FEBRUARY 11, 1912 -- Drunk son kills his father at 11420 St. Lawrence Ave.

    Case description: "Garzo, Paul, 40 yrs. Shot dead at 11420 Watt Ave. by his son Paul Garzo, Jr. 16 yrs. old who escaped. 14 pct. 7/6/12 -- Brought back from Fargo, No. Dak. Turned over to Sheriff. 1/4/1913 -- Reformatory -- Windes."

    Paul, Jr., who lived upstairs from his parents at 11420 S. St. Lawrence Ave., was celebrating a christening with his family on the day of February 11. Everyone was drinking. Junior's friends came over. Junior, bored and clearly wanting to go out on the town, demanded $2.00 from his father. When his father refused, he ran upstairs, found his pistol, and shot his father, killing him instantly. He then fled to Fargo, North Dakota. He was captured there, returned to Chicago, and spent time in reform school.

  5. NOVEMBER 21, 1912 -- Pullman Factory fight

    Case description: "Theoharris, James, 22 yrs. Fatally assaulted Nov. 21 (Iron Pipe) in Pullman shops -- died Nov. 28, by Charles Drucas, alias Jenkushis, who escaped - 14 Prect."
  6. OCTOBER 4, 1925 -- Street fight at the corner of 115th and St. Lawrence

    Case description: "Amrosini, John -- Age 35 -- Died from stab wounds received 10:30 p.m., 10/4/25 in a street fight at 115th St. and Watt Ave. On 11/12/25 the Coroner recommended the arrest of John Merls, alias 'Bochy' alias 'Pimpery' 9th Dist."
  7. APRIL 16, 1927 -- Attempted rape/murder at 11208 St. Lawrence Ave.

    Case description: "Hart, Mary - Age 23 - Colored - Died from a cut and extensive hemorrhage and found dead at 10:30 PM, 4/16/27, in front of Joe Sam's laundry. 11208 Watt Ave. Alleged to have jumped through a window to escape the Chinaman's attentions. On 4/16/27 Joe Sam was held by the Coroner. 9 Dist. May 1927"

    As Mrs. Hart was African-American and Mr. Sam was of Chinese descent, this story wasn't covered at all by the Tribune. The Chicago Defender covered the case extensively with the sensational headline of "Nude Woman Found Dying on Sidewalk", releasing a photograph of Mr. Sam in their May 7 edition. The Defender writes: "Joe Sam, Chinese proprietor of a laundry at 11208 Watt St..., was held to the grand jury Wednesday... Mrs. Hart, who was found dying in front of 529 E. 112th St., Saturday, April 16th..." She was taken to the Pullman Hospital (next to the Greenstone Church) where she died on the operating table. She had either been flung from or jumped out of the plate glass window at the laundry. Mrs. Hart worked as an ironer for Sam.

    Mrs. Hart, Chicago Defender, April 30, 1927, p. 1.

    Joe Sam awaiting trial, Chicago Defender, May 7, 1927, p. A3.
  8. JANUARY 14, 1928 -- Shootout with police officers at 114th and Langley Ave.

    Case description: "Hiliger, Herman - Age 38 - Shot to death at 11:55 AM, 1/14/28, at 114th St. and Langley Ave., in a duel with two officers, Patrolman Patrick H. Devine and Michael Shannon while resisting arrest. On 2/7/28 the officers were exonerated by the Coroner. 12 Dist."


More Information About the People of Pullman

The People of Pullman

An Introduction

The Pullman House History Project

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 People of Color

Maps of Pullman

1897 Sanborn Map

Other Pullman-Related Sites

  • Historic Pullman Garden Club - An all-volunteer group that are the current stewards of many of the public green spaces in Pullman. (

  • Historic Pullman Foundation - The HPF is a non-profit organization whose mission is to "facilitate the preservation and restoration of original structures within the Town of Pullman and to promote public awareness of the significance of Pullman as one of the nation's first planned industrial communities, now a designated City of Chicago, State of Illinois and National landmark district." (
  • The National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum is a 501(c)3 cultural institution. Its purpose is to honor, preserving present and interpreting the legacy of A. Philip Randolph, Pullman Porters, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the contributions made by African-Americans to America's labor movement. ((
  • Pullman Civic Organization - The PCO is a strong and vibrant Community Organization that has been in existence since 1960. (
  • Pullman National Monument - The official page of the Pullman National Park. (
  • South Suburban Genealogical & Historical Society - SSG&HS holds the Pullman Collection, consisting of personnel records from Pullman Car Works circa 1900-1949. There are approximately 200,000 individuals represented in the collection. (
  • The Industrial Heritage Archives of Chicago's Calumet Region is an online museum of images that commemorates and celebrates the historic industries and workers of the region, made possible by a Library Services and Technology Act grant administered by the Illinois State Library. (
  • Illinois Digital Archives (IDA) is a repository for the digital collections libraries and cultural institutions in the State of Illinois and the hosting service for the online images on this site. (