What made Elgin area news in 1910?

Published: 6/29/2010 11:59 PM

It was probably hard for some to believe, but the son of the President of the United States visited Elgin in 1910 and didn't say a word to anyone.

As a memorial to those who fought at the Battle of Little Bighorn neared completion, tales were told of two Elgin men associated with the ill-fated battle.

And, an Elginite who was the first woman to drive from Chicago to New York and back in an automobile said she had an idea for topping her noteworthy feat.

Here's a look at those stories and others that made Elgin area news in June 1910.

Presidential snub: Can you imagine Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. son of the former president, visiting Elgin and not saying a word to anyone?

It happened as the well-recognized American and his wife arrived in the city two days after their marriage as part of their transcontinental honeymoon.

When an Elgin welcome party attempted to board the train to greet the couple, they were told they could not do so without tickets.

The conductor also said there was no one by that name on the train, though a couple named Mr. and Mrs. Shroop Rogers, bearing the same description, asked not be disturbed.

Seven minutes later, the Roosevelt train pulled out of Elgin with the noteworthy couple locked securely in their room and not getting a glance at the city's famous watch factory or other sites.

Police blotter: At least the kind of crime we have today didn't go on years ago, right? Well, maybe not.

Three occupied east side residences were entered during the middle of the night by intruders - one who took his shoes off to avoid detection and another who tried to overcome a woman by holding a chloroform cloth in her face.

An Elgin minister who was out at late hour was knocked to the ground and rendered partially unconscious.

And, the family of a Elgin man murdered while in Chicago was relieved to learn of the arrest of a suspect - a man who shared a romantic interest in the same woman as the victim.

Outdoor fare: Anyone planning to purchase salves, ointments, silks, cashmeres, and other wares at outdoor markets operated by traveling merchants would likely have a much more difficult time finding such commodities after the city council enacted various fees - some as high as $300 a week - to better regulate such street vendors.

Unchanged, however, would be licenses to operate fruit and vegetable stand which remained at $10 per week - an enterprise the council saw little problem with. A similar ordinance stalled a year before when the aldermen had difficulty drafting rules that would regulate these traveling salesmen without disadvantaging South Elgin merchants.

Adventurous woman: Talk about a daredevil. Miss Alice "Birdie" Potter of Elgin, who became the first woman to drive from Chicago to New York in an automobile, said she wanted to set another first - be the first woman to fly an airplane in a contest over the same route.

Operated by the Illinois Aero Club, the contest, which organizers said was to set distance and speed records, did not specifically prohibit women and they would give consideration to Potter's application. One requirement of every individual was that they had to first fly solo for one hour - something Potter said she had yet to attain.

Royal burial: Would there be a royal burial in Elgin? That's what many were wondering after a man believed to be a prince from India passed away at an Elgin hotel.

Others said the man was the son of wealthy businessman who often wore diamonds - though he only had 3 cents on him at the time of his death. Newspapers were silent on any further investigation and a current check of Bluff City Cemetery records reveals no was ever buried in Elgin bearing the man's name.

Custer's Last Stand: Finally, the dedication of a monument in memory of General George Custer and his men on the anniversary of the Battle of Little Big Horn where the group suffered a stunning defeat, brought forth the involvement of several Elgin area men in the battle.

One was Fred Gillette, who reportedly asked to be assigned to Custer, and who had a "well visited" headstone at the Montana battle site.

Another was Captain L. M. Kelley, who was among those who guarded Native American chief Sitting Bull following the incident, and to whom the Sioux leader reportedly became "fast friends" and told the "true story of the battle."