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.