The Threat of the Dope Fiends!
In March of 1915 a new law went into effect that regulated the dispensing of habit forming drugs at pharmacies. Apparently before this law went into effect, such drugs were rather loosely available. On June 15 the story of one such dope fiend appeared hitting all the buttons of the frightened and outraged populace.
J R May, a stranger to McLean County was admitted to Brokaw hospital in a raving condition after forging a local doctor's prescription to obtain morphine. He was a friend of this unnamed doctor and had served in the army with him. The doctor did not choose to prosecute because his friend had admitted himself to the hospital on his advice.
May came to this city with a story of his wife abandoning him and their two children. He left those children at the orphanage and checked into the YMCA where he told his sad story, but was careful to hide his drug habit.
The day before this article in the paper, two young girls, Elsie Harvey and Gussie Riley, who appeared to be less than eighteen, presented at the county court, asking for papers to be remanded to the hospital in Bartonville for treatment of their drug habit. They had become addicted to dope while living on Moulton Street (the Segregated District) They said they liked the drug habit when their dope was readily available, but that the withdrawal was too much for them.
On the following day articles appeared 1) regarding a colored woman named Peggy Meadows incarcerated here on charges of selling opium and 2) the sensational story of a man running wild through the Greisham Building and demanding drugs at Dr. Greenleaf's office.
Not only would have the people of McLean County gone in fear of people raving from the loss of their drugs, but they would have resented the expense the county was put to for the incarceration of them and the treatment of them in the local hospitals. Mr. May had left his children at the orphanage, leaving them to the support of the tax payers as well. They would also blamed the drugs for the life of vice led by the two young girls from Moulton Street.