Bert Arnold, career criminal
On this date one hundred years ago Bert Arnold presented himself in court to face the charges against him for forging checks. As the reporter noted, Bert was not unfamiliar to the officers or the court, as he had a long history of criminal activity in Bloomington. In July of 1909, he and his brother, Harry, stole a dollar from a 5 year old boy. In November 1911, Bert stole an overcoat. In 1912 he was picked up for petit larceny. In 1913 he was arrested for forging checks on two different occasions, but on this date, he blamed his bad actions on drink and promised to never drink again.
He was so remorseful that he had walked to LaSalle and then caught the IC to Bloomington in order to present himself to justice. (Which seems a rather indirect route to repentance!) He slept overnight near the Sugar Creek, washed out his clothes to make a good appearance and then let them dry before walking downtown.
Unfortunately, Bert did not keep this promise in full. He was never picked up for passing bad checks again, but he was arrested for drunkenedness in 1918 and 1921.
Harry did not fare much better, and was a frequent flyer in the McLean County Court as well.
There were many Arnolds in Bloomington, and another named Bert was a policeman in the city around 1905. One family had a "Bert" and a "Harold," but making the connection between these two men and Bert and Harry requires too many assumptions. Bert and Harold, along with their brother William, served in WWI. Brother Bert died in 1927 at the hotel where he worked as "houseman." He had a largish announcement of his death, which does not seem congruent with the past of the petty criminal Bert Arnold. This story may have to remain one of the mysteries of McLean County.