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Homegrown Confidence Man

I've featured con artist and confidence men before on this page, but where did they come from?? Bloomington made its own contribution to the population of criminals and Walter Paul was one of these. Walter Paul was a young man born to an Alton conductor, Jacob Paul and Sophronia Couchman Paul. Young Walter was a great disappointment to his parents. Before the age of 16 Walter had forged checks totalling $1700 and his family had to sell their home to buy their way out of the disgrace. He was essentially run out of Illinois and relocated himself in California, where he passed himself off as a member of the British aristocracy and continued in his check forging ways. He claimed to be an actor and toyed with that career, but Walter was perhaps more talented at acting away from the cameras and lights. The Los Angeles paper said the he "dallied with moving pictures, and did almost everything but work." He stole automobiles and cashed a number of checks on his new friends. On this date in 1915 he was remanded to the state reform school in Ione, CA for cashing a check on a Miss Porter's account.

Apparently Walter learned his lesson in the reform school and returned to the Midwest in later years. He served in WWI, as did his father, James Clinton Paul. He married Ruth Robertson of Bloomington in 1918 and lived in Gary Indiana at that time and at the time of his father's death in 1925.

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