Monday, March 23, 2015

The Beginnings of the Condell Memorial Hospital

Despite its close proximity to Chicago, Libertyville had retained its small town charm and has a close-knit community. It’s only fitting that the first hospital built in Libertyville was put together by the donations of its citizens. During its early history, the city of Libertyville never had a hospital. Town doctors were capable and provided an individual & personal service. However, if urgent or long-term care were needed, patients were to go to a neighboring towns, such as Waukegan or Highland Park, and use their hospital. In the case of an emergency, time is a major concern and a hospital's location could be the difference between life and death. Relying on the town’s physicians, the citizens’ needs for the most part were being met. However by the 1920s, as the town continued to grow, it became more and more apparent that something had to be done about the towns’ long term health care needs. 

Picture of Condell shortly after its opening.

However, hospitals don't just appear. Elizabeth Condell, a descendant of a pioneer family, left $20,000 to be put aside to help construct a hospital when she passed away in August 1917. Citizens of Libertyville would then make private contributions to get the construction financed. Prominent and respected citizens of the community needed to back the construction, people such as Dr. John Taylor and Samuel Insull.  These citizens would be the face of the project instilling confidence among the people. Taylor, Insull and others would also line up the medical professionals and administrators needed to set up the professional aspects of the facility. The community was required to be behind the hospital as they would be the ones primarily funding, then supporting it. In other words, for the hospital to be built, the community would literally have to invest together for everything to fall into place.

As it would happen, the hospital did come together.  In 1927 the cornerstone for what would become known as the Condell Memorial Hospital would be laid on the corners of Stewart and Harrison. During the course of the following year, the hospital was constructed at a cost of nearly $150,000. The people who eagerly watched the building go up had a direct connection with the building. Different organizations also donated time and money into the project, the Libertyville firemen and the Libertyville Kiwanis to name a few. A memorial fund was also established in the name of Dennis Limberry. Limberry served in Libertyville in a variety of positions for many years, including sheriff and fire chief. He died of a heart attack during the hospital’s construction. 

The entrance to the hospital in 1957.

The hospital wasn't just a building to be functional; it was to be practical as well pleasing to the eye. Those responsible for the construction were looking for a building that the people of Libertyville could be proud of. Condell was built in the shape of a cross, so that everyone had an outside room enabling patients a room with sunshine and fresh air. The structure would be a single floor with a two story section to act as the nurses' quarters.The grounds were to be immaculately kept to help inspire a feeling of comfort and hope. Plans were soon in place to pave the streets leading up to the hospital.   

Clipping from the Libertyville Independent in June 1928 taken shortly after the hospital's opening.
In February of 1928, the construction was almost finished and the hospital had a walk through for the citizens of Libertyville. The walk through gave the people who had given financially as well as emotionally the opportunity to see first hand the hospital that they had helped build. On February 13, over 1000 people attended during the three hour event. Just getting to the event was no small feat. Roads were unreliable in an era where they were most often dirt/mud depending on conditions. Even traveling on foot could be difficult with ice or mud. Town leaders made sure to plank the walkways and make other provisions to ensure safe travel to the site. 

Postcard of Condell Hospital from 1950s. Note older cross shaped section to the left.

Not long after the hospital was opened in 1928, the hospital publicity committee started publishing short articles in the local Libertyville Independent newspaper. The articles were to help build up support and acquire funds for the newly established building by informing the public about some of the services that the hospital provided. For example it was stated that the hospital had 148 major and 58 minor surgeries performed at Condell and went on to explain the health and financial benefits of having a hospital so close to home. The main concept was that while it's wonderful that the building had been constructed, money was required to run and maintain it properly.

Since its construction the hospital has provided a convenient place for the people of Libertyville to get their medical care. Over the years the building has been added on to and the name is now the "Advocate Condell Medical Center." Sadly much of the communal feel that brought it into existence has been largely forgotten and most of the people in modern day Libertyville aren't aware of the hospital's origins. Condell was born when the people of the village came together to construct a part of thier community to benefit Libertyville as a whole.

  1. “Says Hospital Is a Public Utility.” Libertyville Independent, September 25, 1930, p. 1
  2. "Libertyville Citizens Give Town Hospital." Chicago Daily Tribune, January 15, 1928, p B1.
  3. "Sick Bay for Suburbanites." Chicago Daily Tribune, Jan 15, 1928, p. B1.
  4. "Will Lay Cornerstone of Hospital Sunday." Libertyville Independent, July 14, 1927, p.1.
  5. "Contract is Awarded For A New Hospital." Libertyville Independent, March 17, 1927, p.1 
  6. "Start Erection of New Hospital In Libertyville." Libertyville Independent, March 24, 1927, p. 1
  7. "Lay Cornerstone of New Hospital, July 10." Libertyville Independent, July 14, 1927, p. 1.
  8. "New Hospital Open for Inspection Sunday." Libertyville Independent, February 9, 1927, p. 1.
  9. "Many People Visited Hospital on Sunday." Libertyville Independent, February 16, 1927, p. 1.
  10. "Hospital Fills Long Time Need." Libertyville Independent, September 4, 1930, p. 1.
  11. "Hospital Deserves Community Support." Libertyville Independent, September 18, 1930, p. 1.
  12. "Hospital is a Public Utility" Libertyville Independent, September 25, 1930, p. 1.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Origin of a Local History Reference Quest(ion)

In October I delivered a presentation entitled “1914: Libertyville 100 Years Ago”.  At that program, an audience member asked me if the Libertyville One-Mile Track was in operation during the time. It was, but there were not many articles in the newspaper about the race track in 1914, so I had not included it in the year’s highlights.

Never one to let a local history question lie, I pulled the Cook Memorial Library Local History Clippings File folder on the One-Mile Track to verify the dates of operation. The track opened in 1904 as a harness racing venue. A few automobile races were held there in its later years.  Samuel Insull bought the track in 1918 and closed it - reportedly due to his objections to gambling. The heart of the track was located at the intersection of today’s Crane, Carter, and Rockland roads.1

The One-Mile Track
Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society collection

I doubled checked the Lake County Independent index and the Chicago Tribune Historical Database. No mention of a race in Libertyville with Rickenbacker and Disbrow in 1914. However, I did find several articles in July/August 1913 that looked worth pursuing  - “World Famous Drivers to Race the Race Track”, “Speed Kings of Country to Race at Libertyville”,  “Biggest Race Carnival of Year at Libertyville”. The articles touted the line-up including Louis Disbrow in his Simplex “Zip”, as well as Barney Oldfield, “Wild” Bill Endicott, and…..Eddie Rickenbacker in his Mason.3

The weekend of August 9-10 drivers descended on the Libertyville One-Mile Track with hopes of breaking world speed records.  The meet was to cover two days.  A 100-mile race would be the featured event and be last on the program. 4  Rickenbacker was the “chief breadwinner” on August 9 winning two events – the first heat of the 10-mile race and a five mile race – as well as having the best time in the mile dash.  The 100-mile race scheduled for Saturday was rescheduled to Sunday due to a preponderance of dust. 5

Dust was not an issue the next day. Sunday’s races were postponed because of rain and moved to August 17.  Many of the racers, including Disbrow and Rickenbacker, stayed in the area and practiced at the track during the week long delay. 6

The Chicago Tribune described the excitement at the track the following weekend: “Five thousand persons saw the races, which were the best ever held on a dirt track in the vicinity of Chicago. Rickenbacker and Disbrow, who bear no love for each other, were the stars of the meet...[Disbrow] jockeyed his opponent [Rickenbacker] out of every chance to win [in the 10-mile race].” 7 The Lake County Independent reported “Louis Disbrow’s Simplex Zip carried its owner to a world’s competition record in a sensational duel with Eddie Rickenbacker of the Mason team…in the 10-mile race.” 8

"Disbrow Beating Rickenbacher in the 10 Mile Race"
Chicago Daily Tribune, August 18,1913, p.8

After two days of racing, Disbrow and Rickenbacker appear together in the results only for two 10-mile heats, the final 10-mile race, and the one mile time trials. Of these races, Rickenbacker was triumphant in just the August 9th 10-mile heat for which Disbrow is reported as “out.”9,10  Is this the race in question? It is the only one I can find that is 1.) in Libertyville, 2.) Rickenbacker won, and 3.) Rickenbacker beat Disbrow. The only other possibility is the 5-mile race on Day 1, but Disbrow’s finish is not reported in any of the articles. Without a complete list of race participants’ placement, it is difficult to know. There is no mention of a 100-mile race taking place on either day.

So where did the articles in the Local History Clippings File get their information?

One regularly cited source is Eddie Rickenbacker’s 1967 autobiography Rickenbacker. Rickenbacker recounts a race against Disbrow at Libertyville, IL where he kicked dust up into his rival’s face. He declares he “won the race by only 10 seconds.” 11 The anecdote is in a chapter concerning races of the 1913-1916 period, but no specific date, year or distance is specified. On to other sources.

W. David Lewis’ Eddie Rickenbacker: An American Hero in the Twentieth Century offers the most specific mention of the race. Writing about the 1914 race season, Lewis states: “He also won a 100-mile race by ten seconds against Louis Disbrow at Libertyville, Illinois, where he had been victorious a year before.”12 Lewis cites the “Rickenbacker Automobile Racing Record” found in Box 23 of the Edward V. Rickenbacker Papers at the Library of Congress. According to Lewis’ source notes, the Rickenbacker Automobile Racing Record is a typewritten list, with additions in Rickenbacker’s handwriting, showing the dates, locations, distances, cars, and results of all of Rickenbacker’s races between October 4, 1911 and November 16,  1916. Lewis notes: “I have relied on this list unless evidence from primary sources contradicts it.”13

I contacted the Library of Congress and they were kind enough to send me a copy of the list. The only entry for a race at Libertyville is dated August 17, 1913. The table shows that Rickenbacker placed first at a distance of 5 miles.  That matches the local newspaper articles.  The record shows two 100-mile races in 1913, but not one at Libertyville. Rickenbacker placed first in a 100-mile race in September in Cincinnati, Ohio.14

Louis Disbrow's Case "Jay Eye See", at left, and the Simplex Zip at the 1913 Libertyville race.

Image courtesy of Jim Moran.

I thought I would contact Dr. Lewis and see if he could shed some light on his research. Unfortunately, Dr. Lewis passed away in 2007, but his papers and a collection of Eddie Rickenbacker papers are held by the Auburn University Libraries Special Collections and Archives. Archivist John Varner graciously looked through the Rickenbacker scrapbooks for any mention of a Libertyville race. He did locate a few clippings mentioning Rickenbacker and Disbrow, but none that shed light on the current question.

As I was drafting this post, I came upon an earlier Rickenbacker article by Dr. Lewis - perhaps a precursor to the book. Writing about the 1914 season, Lewis states: “…Rickenbacker also savored the joy of victory before ending his first year on the tour. His first win was modest, coming in a 5-mile race at Libertyville, Illinois, on August 17, but he had a more impressive triumph on September 30, when he outpaced the field in a 100-mile event at Cincinnati.”15 He cites the same Rickenbacker Automobile Racing Record as his source.

Now what?

I’m pretty confident that there was not a Rickenbacker-Disbrow race in Libertyville in 1914. I have found no other sources besides the Lewis book that place the race in 1914 and Lewis’ source of information is not clear. In fact, he provides different information in a prior article.

As happens so often, my research on the Rickenbacker-Disbrow race of 1914 has brought up additional questions:

·         What race is Rickenbacker describing in his autobiography?

·         Is the anecdote reliable?  The book was published 53 or 54 years after the race when Rickenbacker was 77 years old.

·         Could the Libertyville race have been a practice race during the week-long delay?

·         Perhaps the race was at a different track?

What’s next? 

The answers to these questions can be found only by continuing the quest, doing additional research, and finding additional sources. If I find out anything new, I'll be sure to publish it in this space.

--Jenny Barry, Local History Librarian, Cook Memorial Public Library District, Libertyville, IL

  1. “Lost – One Mile Track – Historic Marking Project.” CMPLD Local History File – One-Mile Track.
  2. “Tracks of Time.” Daily Herald, November 9, 2001, Section 5, p.1. CMPLD Local History File – One-Mile Track.
  3. “World’s Famous Drivers to Race at the Race Track.” Lake County Independent, July 25, 1913, p. 7, pt. 2.
  4. “Motor Pilots Brave Hoodoo.” Chicago Daily Tribune, August 9, 1913, p.10.
  5. “Two Auto Events to Richenbacher.” Chicago Daily Tribune, August 10, 1913, p.C1.
  6.  “Postponed Auto Races Sunday.” Lake County Independent, August  15, 1913, p.3.
  7. “The Man the Boss Finds Hard to Locate Loses His Value.” Chicago Daily Tribune, August 18, 1913, p.8.
  8. “Two Lake County Young Men Drove in Auto Contests.” Lake County Independent, August 22, 1913, p.4.
  9. “Libertyville Race Meet Marred by Rain.” The Horseless Age, vol.32, August 13, 1913, p.253.
  10. “Fast Time at Libertyville.” Motor Age, vol.24, August 21, 1913, p.19.
  11. Rickenbacker, Edward  V. Rickenbacker. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1967. p. 79.
  12. Lewis, W. David. Eddie Rickenbacker: An American Hero in the Twentieth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005, p.68.
  13. Ibid., p. 567.
  14. Rickenbacker Automobile Racing Record. Edward V. Rickenbacker Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Box 23.
  15. Lewis, W. David (2000). Eddie Rickenbacker: Racetrack Entrepreneur. Essays in Economic and Business History, vol. 18, p93.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The 'Lost' Churches of Libertyville

In the early 20th century, between the years of 1904 and 1927, Libertyville saw three of its churches destroyed by fire. In a relatively small, yet growing village, the loss of a church is a huge blow to the community.  The people proved to be tough and in most cases the buildings were insured and replacement structures were up running within the year.  

What can’t be lost in the discussion of fires in the early history of Libertyville are those who fought them. Lacking the modern firefighting equipment of today, firefighters had to not only protect lives and property, they also had to do so without any real protective gear. In the early 1900s, the fire department was just getting its footing, as the fire department hadn’t existed in Libertyville until a huge fire almost wiped out the village in 1895. After that the department came into being and was a gradual work in progress, always growing and improving with emerging technology.

Libertyville after the devastating fire in 1895.

The first church Libertyville lost was the Sts. Peter &  Paul Catholic Church, which burned on Sunday, June 19, 1904. The fire was unique for a couple of reasons and pointed out some real issues that the village had in regards to public safety. The fire was first discovered by Bishop MacGavin who lived across the street from the church. MacGavin gave the alarm and he and Jasper Holt were the first ones to arrive at the fire. What initially appeared to be a small fire, proved to be much deceptive. Mr. Holt estimated that the fire could be easily put out, yet it spread very quickly and soon engulfed the building in flames. Even though the fire started towards the front of the church, which was furthest from the entrance, the flames were so intense that only a few things (some newer pews and other furniture) were able to be saved.
St. Joseph's Church taken a few years after its construction in 1905.
By the time the fire engine arrived, saving the church was out of the question, so protecting nearby buildings became the priority. The biggest problem the fire department had was that the village didn’t have a water system. So in order to work, their engine had to use private wells for water. When one well went dry, the engine stopped until it could be connected to the next well. Despite this, the fire was contained to the church and no other property was destroyed. Since the damage was so great and spread so quickly, no one is sure how the fire started.

Thankfully, the Catholic Church had the foresight to have an insurance policy on the building, which was built around 1885. By 1905, St. Joseph’s had been built to replace the Church of Sts. Peter & Paul. The fire brought about the obvious need for a more efficient water system for the village of Libertyville, which was in place within a few years after the fire. This is not unlike the fire of 1895 showing the village the need for a fire department.

The St. Lawrence Church was originally the Union Church built in 1868. The Union Church provided a house of worship for many denominations of Christianity, which shared the building. The Episcopalians had only bought the building in 1912. Sadly, the St. Lawrence Episcopal church was destroyed by a fire on Friday, 7, 1917. The fire was first noticed by a choir member who immediately went to get help. Despite the fire department’s quick arrival, by the time the fire had been noticed, significant damage had already occurred. An overheated furnace was thought to be the cause of the problem, which set the flooring on fire. In what had to be a very dramatic as well as horrific scene, the walls of the structure fell in on themselves and the cross on top of the steeple fell over 100 feet to the ground. Despite this devastating loss, the church moved on quickly. The Church had a large insurance policy on the building, around $9000, and by the end of the year had another church already built.

The St. Lawrence Church, formerly the Union Church, taken in the 1910s.
This is by no means a reflection on the efforts or competency of the fire department. Due to the nature of the fire and the materials of the building, by the time the fire department got to the scene the fate of the church has already been sealed. Despite this, they fought the intense heat from the blaze and valiantly saved the surrounding buildings that were constantly threatening to go up themselves. The town itself was on watch as sparks from the fire were noticed as far as five blocks away.   

A faulty furnace was to blame for a fire at the Presbyterian Church in February 1927. The fire started when the janitor was prepping the church for Sunday morning services and started up the heat. Soon flames were shooting out on the second floor. The building itself was wooden and very old, so it didn’t take long for the fire to do significant damage.

Photograph of the Presbyterian Church taken in the 1910s.
The fire department was quick to respond and was actually battling the fire in short order. However, due to the age of the building and a strong wind, for a time it appeared that the fire would defeat Libertyville's dedicated crew. The neighboring Mundelein Fire Department was called in to assist and with the combined effort the building wasn’t a complete loss. While many items were saved, including four pianos, a large organ toward the front of the building was lost. The Libertyville and Mundelein Fire Departments' efficiency and bravery was noted. Besides the fact that this was a House of God, nobody wanted to lose the building as it had been in the community for about 40 years.

The Presbyterian Church had an insurance policy on their building and a plot of land to possibly build a new structure. Due to the significant damage done by the fire, they decided to build a new structure that was constructed by August of 1928.

While losing some of its churches may have been tragic for the people of Libertyville, there are some positives to these fires. First, and most importantly, nobody lost their life as a result of any of the fires. During these fires, and other fires that took place during this time, the Libertyville Fire Department was able to prove themselves as brave and effective, helping them earn the respect of the citizenry. Lastly, the congregations were able to build safer and newer churches for their followers.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Great Rondout Train Robbery - Part Two

A crew of six men had set out and successfully stopped the train running the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul Line on the night of June 12, 1924. Consisting of a well coordinated strategy, some stolen cars and some inside information everything had been going according to plan. Using the railroad staff as labor, the thieves moved 63 marked Postal bags into four stolen Cadillacs in less than 25 minutes. However, during the loading of the stolen cars, two things happened that doomed the, until then, perfect crime.

First, brakeman Sandy McRae suggested to the robbers that he should set fuses (flares) down the line behind the train. Rondout was at an intersection and another train was soon due to arrive; it could possibly hit the train if the red fuses weren’t set out. Glasscock agreed and McRae set out to the back of the train to set the fuses. However, when he was out of sight, McRae saw his chance and made a break for the nearest farm house to alert the authorities.

Willie Newton in bed during the trial with his brothers around him.

After a few minutes, the robbers became nervous when McRae hadn't returned. Willie Newton was ordered to go and bring McRae back to the group. One side of the stopped train was illumined by the cars’ headlights and the other side was pitch black. Willie started heading out on the dark side of the train and realizing his mistake, he crawled back under the train to the illuminated side. Popping out from under the train, Willie startled his fellow robbers, one of whom opened fire, striking Willie five times. The wounds weren’t immediately life threatening but would soon require medical attention. The robbers, who were loading their cars, proceeded to place Willie in one the cars on top of some of the mail bags. Who actually shot Willie is a matter of debate, with the confusion of all that was going on; there are various accounts to what exactly happened including who pulled the trigger. However, most sources point to Brent Glasscock as the guilty party.With Willie seriously wounded and the police presumably on their way, thanks to Sandy McRae, the gang quickly left the robbery site and headed to Ottawa, IL to divide up the loot.

Soon local police and postal inspectors were on the case. Through good detective work, in less than four months all of the thieves were caught and were awaiting trial. Willie, who was lucky to be alive, spent the trial in a hospital bed, which was brought into the courtroom daily. Two of the robbers were particularly interesting in how they were captured.

Some of the recovered mail sacks.

Inspector Fahy, who was working with the gang, pretty much sealed his own fate. Since Fahy had a tendency to arrive at a crime scene in the investigation before he should have, other inspectors were quick to put it together that he had some kind of extra involvement in the robbery. Using a wiretap, inspectors caught Fahy having a conversation about the robbery with one of the robbers.

Mugshot of James Murray.

Willis Newton actually made it the farthest away, getting to Mexico. The United States didn’t have an extradition agreement in place with Mexico at that time, so legally law enforcement couldn’t arrest Willis on Mexican soil. However, Willis was known as a bit of a braggart. Playing on that, an undercover agent befriended Willis at a bar and told him of a rodeo in El Paso, Texas where he could show off  his horse riding skills. When Willis went to go to El Paso, law enforcement picked him up and sent him back to Illinois for trial. When he was arrested, Willis was said to be wearing a gaudy outfit for his moment of triumph at the rodeo. He proudly wore it all the way back to Illinois.

Picture of Brent Glasscock taken before the trial.

By the end of the November 1924 the trial was over and the robbers were on their way to prison sentences. In all, eight men were convicted: the Newton brothers, William Fehy, Herbert Holliday, Brent Glasscock and James Murray. Despite the amount of money stolen, most of the robbers received rather light sentences; the most time was given to Herbert Holliday who received 25 years. None of those convicted served their entire sentence and all were eventually released for good behavior.

Plaque at the spot of the robbery sponsored by state and local historical organizations.

 The mystery of the robbery is just how much was stolen. The $3 million is an estimate and of that, only about $1.5 million was reported to have been recovered. No one is really sure what happened to the rest of the loot. Brent Glasscock was reported to have buried much of his share, which never was accounted for. An old story has it that Willis Newton buried a bunch of his share as well. The problem is that he was supposedly heavily intoxicated at the time and had no idea if/where he actually buried anything. Some even think O’Banion’s gang may have received a cut. In the end, no one is exactly sure were the missing items are.

Thus ends one of the more exciting, if not peculiar, episodes of local history. It had everything you could base a movie on. If fact they did, The Newton Boys. The film that was based on the Newton's robbery career that culminated with the Rondout robbery and can be checked out at your Cook Memorial Library!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Great Rondout Train Robbery - Part One

Most people aren’t aware that one of the most audacious train robberies in the history of the United States actually took place just a few miles east of Libertyville. On June 12, 1924, just outside the small town of Rondout, robbers made off with between 2 and 3 million dollars worth of cash, liberty bonds and other valuables (estimate set in 1924).

Investigators searching for clues on train shortly after robbery.

The eight-man crew that pulled off this feat included professional thieves and a corrupt law enforcement officer; it was rumored at the time that they possibly even had mafia connections.  The caper itself was bold, simple and, with some inside information, relatively easy to pull off.  Of the people involved the most famous were probably the Newton Brothers. The four brothers (Willis, Joe, Willie and Jesse) were from Texas and had made a very profitable career of holding up banks and robbing trains. The Newtons aren’t as notorious as other outlaws, the reason probably being is that they never killed anyone in their illegal activities. As they saw it, they were into an alternate form of a business. They simply weren't killers.

Detective posing as one of the robbers during investigation.
In the early twentieth century, trains were known to carry loads of cash and other valuables for the Post Office for their pay roll and other financial needs.  Hitting the right train could mean the score of a criminal’s career allowing them to retire very wealthy men. One would just need to know which train to rob.

William Fahy during the trial.

William Fahy was thought to be a rising star among the inspectors of the Postal Service. However, he would give the robbers the date, place and time that the train loaded with goods would be. Also involved were Brent Glasscock, James Murray and Herbert Holliday. Glasscock was thought by some to be the brains of the operation. He and Murray had legal and illegal dealings with the Post Office and railroad delivery of mail. Glasscock would provide valuable information to make the robbery run smoothly and Murray would provide the place to sort and divide the stolen goods. Hebert Holliday was a volatile career criminal, who had pulled off a handful of robberies. All three possibly had connections with the mafia, most notably infamous Chicago mobsters, Dion O’Banion and Hymie Weiss.

One of the cars used in the robbery, taken in front of the detective bureau.

Around 10 p.m. on the night of June 12, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul line train slowed down right outside the town of Rondout to pick up their orders from the order hoop located on the Rondout Tower. That was the signal. Willis Newton and Herbert Holliday walked out from behind their hiding place dressed as railroad workers, holding red lanterns to get the train to stop. The rest of the gang had arrived driving stolen Cadillacs. They lined the cars up to provide light for the robbers to see what they were doing, as the surrounding area was open county.

After forcing the engine crew to stop the train, they started corralling everyone outside. Staff in the other cars turned off the lights and locked the doors of their cars, per postal regulations. The thieves had accounted for this and broke or shot out the windows of the cars and threw in canisters of tear gas to force the crew inside to open their doors.  At that point everything was going according to plan. The thieves had stopped the train and were about to unload the precious postal bags into the four stolen cars That's when everything started to unravel.
Be sure to check back in the next few weeks for the thrilling conclusion!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Arthur Sheldon

Arthur Frederick Sheldon was born and educated in Michigan, but by 1900 he was making his presence known in the Chicago business community. An up-and-coming businessman, Sheldon joined the fledgling Chicago Rotary organization and was responsible for coining its motto, “He Profits Most Who Serves Best.”

Building on his past experience as a sales manager, Sheldon developed a theory of salesmanship combining scientific method and ethical behavior. He formed the Sheldon Publishing Company, wrote several books including “The Science of Successful Salesmanship,” and also published a magazine titled “The Business Philosopher.”

Sheldon believed in a higher quality of salesmanship than the cutthroat “buyer beware” methods of the 19th century. Seeking to further his sales philosophy, Sheldon opened a correspondence business school in Chicago in 1902. His program followed a strict mathematical formula and could be applied to selling ideas or services as well as merchandise. Sheldon’s aim was to develop his students mentally, morally, and physically in addition to improving their salesmanship.

Sheldon’s methods must have struck a chord with the business community because by 1904, students were enrolling at the rate of 150 students per month. In 1915, at the height of his school’s popularity, over 10,000 students from around the world were enrolled in The Sheldon School.  

As his school became more successful, Sheldon moved his printing facilities from Chicago to the upper floor of the Schanck building in Libertyville, pictured above. He must have been taken by the beauty of the area; around 1908 he bought 600 acres in the small town of Rockefeller, now Mundelein. To improve the land, he dammed up a small stream to create a mile-long lake and started construction on school buildings and a home for his family.
The Sheldon School became a thriving part of the local communities. As its success grew, the school employed up to 195 local residents. Sheldon and his school grounds provided many opportunities for recreation and education for local residents. Evening classes offered shorthand, typing, and bookkeeping instruction. The upper floor of the main building had a large hall which was used for lectures, meetings, summer classes, and dancing. The grounds were available year round for swimming, picnicking, canoeing, ice skating and sleigh riding.
Because of the abundance of mail generated by Sheldon’s correspondence school, the local Rockefeller post office was upgraded from a fourth class to a first class operation. In 1909 the town’s name was changed to an acronym of the Sheldon School’s motto: Ability-Reliability-Endurance-Action.

World War I took many of Sheldon’s students away and his school fell into a gradual decline. He sold his property to the Catholic Diocese in 1921which used the land to build St. Mary of the Lake Seminary. Sheldon continued to speak to Rotary clubs and other service clubs throughout the world. He died at his ranch in Mission, Texas, in 1935.