When You Visit Chicago, Always Bring Your Guns With You

Another post from Chicago, Satan’s Sanctum, by L. O. Curon. From chapter four (I think it starts at the bottom of p. 117) which outlines the various different kinds of gambling, robbery and theft that went on in Chicago 100 years ago. For obvious reasons, I’m not gonna comment on this. Because, to be honest, there’s just not a lot to add to this account. I make no apologies for Curon’s language. He is, after all, writing in 1899:

Boys in their teens, men and women, both black and white, the latter of the strong armed class, comprise this coterie of criminals. The strong armed women, generally negresses, have the developed muscles of the pugilist and the daring of the pirate. They entice the stranger into dark passage ways, that innocent stranger, so unfamiliar, but so willing to be made familiar with the wickedness of a great city, who seeks out its most disreputable quarters and scours its darkest byways, to report to his mates, on his return to his country home, the salacious things that he has heard of, and a few of which he witnessed. In these dark and dangerous ways the strong armed women garrote and rob their victims, or they entice the innocent, but lustful, stranger to their rooms, and there, through the panel game, or by sheer strength or drugged potations, appropriate the innocent stranger’s valuables. Mortified and humiliated, the stranger usually has nothing to say to the police of the affair. Then the emboldened strong armed women go upon the street in couples, and rob in the most approved methods of the highwayman. Alone, one of these notorious characters is said to have pilfered to the extent of $60,000. She was, and is, a terror to the police force. Released from the penitentiary not long ago, she is now undergoing trial for a fresh offense. Approaching a commercial traveler from behind, she is charged with having nearly strangled him, and then robbed him of his money and jewelry. 

“Only one man ever got the best of E. F.,” said detective Sergeant C. R. W., of Harrison street station, who had arrested E. F. frequently. 

“Once she held up a cowboy and took $150 from him. He came up to the station hotfoot to report the robbery. We were busy and a little slow in sending out after E., whereupon the cowboy allowed he’d start out after her on his own hook. He met her down by the Polk street depot, and the moment he spotted her he walked right up close to her and covered her with two six-shooters. 

“You’ve got $150 of my money, now shell out nigger,” he said. 

“Go and get a warrant and have me arrested then,” replied the big colored woman, who wanted time to plant the coin. 

“These are good enough warrants for me,” returned the cowboy significantly, as he poked the revolvers a trifle closer to her face. “Now, I’m going to count twenty, and if I don’t see my money coming back before I reach twenty, I’ll go with both guns.” 

“When he reached eighteen, E. weakened. She drew out a wad and held it out toward him. But the cowboy was wise and would not touch the roll till she had walked to the nearest lamplight under the escort of his two guns and counted out the $150. Then he let her go and came back to the station and treated.”