Histories

Katherine McMahon

 

She was the daughter of Clara Ewing McMahon and born of a happy prosperous family from Bloomington IL. But Katherine MacMahon's 1923 passport application tells the sad story of her life up until her 31st year. "I solemnly swear that I was born at Chicago, in the State of Illinois on or about the 6 day of October 1892, that my father Thomas J MacMahon was born in Belfast Ireland and is now residing at: where abouts unknown to me.  He may not be living. The following facts I am not sure of, as my father left his family when I was an infant and my mother who would know these facts has been dead for some years." Katherine lived with her uncle, Spencer Ewing, and his wife Lena on Washington Street in the 1920's but she disappears from the record except for her passport application where she explains the lack of a father to the passport board. She was applying for the passport to travel to Europe so she obviously had the means and leisure to travel, but her story is touching and mysterious. Her application says that she is a teacher and that she had previously travelled for one year in Europe in 1920. Her face is very pensive in the application photograph and her dark eyes are piercing. I'm planning to learn the history of her mother (1912) and sister's (1916) deaths and will include more information about them when possible.

 

Shortly after making this entry I found a paragraph in a book by the Pulitzer's School of Journalism. In it I learned that Katherine completed a degree in journalism at the University of Chicago in just a year (1917) and then used the Pulitzer's award she earned to travel and study in London at the School of Jounalism there. On her return, she was added to the faculty of Mount Holyoke in 1922 and unexpectedly died the next year.  A scholarship in her name continues to this day at Columbia University. Where her earlier degree was obtained is not revealed, but in 1918 Katherine went to Duluth Minnesota as a high school teacher, rather than using her scholarship. 

 

Katherine's obituary appeared in the Pantagraph on November 10, 1924. Her death was thought to have occurred due to heart disease. Even as a child Katherine had shown literary promise. With her sister Margaret she wrote a newsletter about the comings and going of the Ewing clan. She also wrote articles for the Pantagraph during a year spent abroad after her graduation from Bloomington High School .  She attended college at the University of Chicago and then taught high school for one year in Duluth Minnesota and another in Bloomington. She then attended journalism school at Columbia University and the University of London.

 

Clara MacMahon died in 1913, of undisclosed causes and Margaret MacMahon died in 1916 of a stomach complaint that left her very ill for about three weeks. 

Dr. L B Lockett DDS -- Cold Case

 

On October 24, 1929 Dr. L B Lockett of 1701 E Oakland was in a jovial mood when he told his wife he was going to his farm in Greene County and would return for patient visits the next day.

 

Twenty four hours later, he was found on a country road, dead from a bullet shot through the base of his skull. At the coroner's inquest Mrs. Kathryn Fenton, his bookkeeper/secretary, testified that he was in good spirits the week before his death and that he had no financial troubles. She further testified that he was not "playing the stock market" to her knowledge.  In explicably, evidence of an altercation with a former farm tenant was not introduced at the inquest. Dr. E M Stevenson testified that the bullet entered the skull “back of his right ear and travelling upward.” Not a trajectory indicative of suicide, but a gun that Dr. Lockett had purchased some months earlier was found near his body. No evidence was given indicating Dr. Lockett had any reason or inclination to end his life,  and no evidence was given of anyone who had reason to murder him. The coroner’s trial ended with an open verdict. The Pantagraph did not report whether Mrs. Lockett received the double indemnity insurance payment that would be payable if Dr Lockett died as a result of a crime.

 

William F Costigan (417 Woodland) and Joseph B Stannard (101 Fairview) were among the pall bearers at Dr. Lockett’s funeral. Dr. Lockett was interred in the mausoleum at Park Hill cemetery.

 

Greg Koos, of the McLean County Museum of History, was very helpful in explaining that this mystery was the result of a love triangle.

 

 

 

 

 
More True Crime -- Elizabeth Crabb

 

For a short while a woman who led a very interesting life lived at 1509 E. Grove Street. Elizabeth Crabb was born Elizabeth Monroe in 1892 to her parents George and Mary Monroe of Front Street. In 1915 Elizabeth married Willis Crabb and it was then that her life took an interesting turn. Willis Crabb was part of the Crabb banking family of Delavan, Illinois and during their married life they lived in the Crabb “mansion.” They had two sons, James and Daniel. In 1933 the Crabb home was invaded by a group of men who wanted to rob the Delavan bank. They held Elizabeth hostage while Willis Crabb was forced to open the bank and hand over bank monies and then refrain from calling the police for one hour, to guarantee the safe return of his wife. In 1935 Elizabeth divorced Willis, claiming that he drank to excess.  Willis Crabb remarried that same year to a much younger woman. Elizabeth gained custody of her two sons and moved to Bloomington where she lived on Grove Street. James was in New Mexico at a military academy which was also attended by another FG resident, Wilbur Snow. After his graduation, James married Betty Collison, a young woman from Champaign and began their married life in the Crabb mansion. Five weeks after their marriage Betty died of a gunshot wound under unexplained circumstances. James Crabb was not convicted at his trial, but he was later tried and convicted of perjuring himself in that trial. While that conviction was under appeal, James committed suicide in Detroit, Michigan. In 1939 it was discovered that Willis Crabb had misappropriated money from his bank. He was sentenced to 4 years in Leavenworth and served 20 months. In 1943 both Elizabeth and her son Daniel were serving the navy. Elizabeth was in Washington DC with the Department of Ships, and Daniel was a yeoman in the Mediterranean. After the war Elizabeth was assistant manager of the Midwest Travel Bureau in Bloomington for several years.

 

 
 
 
 
Edward Saddler -- Old timer and stage coach driver

 

Edward Saddler lived with his youngest son, Sherman Saddler in the 1200 block of Clay Street and his son William lived at 1223 Grove Street. But prior to living in the civilized climes of Clay Street Mr. Saddler was born in Ireland  in 1830 and moved the United States as a child. He was orphaned early and raised by  a sister and then a minister in Urbana after the age of eight. When living in Urbana he observed the stage coaches and decided to be a stage coach driver. He began driving in 1849 and told a Pantagraph reporter (in 1907) that we was stuck many times on the very muddy roads in Central Illinois. He told a story of taking two girls out for a rather wild ride. After the coach was stuck in a slough, he had to carry the screaming girls on his back out of the slough to safety and then dig the stage out of the muck.

 

He regularly drove the stage from Urbana to St. Louis for two years and then from Urbana to Peoria with another company. He told the story of the only stage robbery he experienced. This was on the Leroy route. At the time the money in the mails was torn in half (for security) and sent in two different stages. Mr. Saddler recalled being shot at, but no one was hurt in the robbery. One of the robbers was caught in the nearby woods.

 

Mr. Saddler recalled carrying Abraham Lincoln on several occassions and what a fun and popular passenger Lincoln was. He carried all the judges and lawyers on their circuit and remembered when Bloomington had nothing but a wooden courthouse, one bank and one hotel.

 

His sons William and Sherman had the Saddler Nursery on Clay Street in the 1300 block.  His granddaughter was on the first IWU girls basketball team.

 

 

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