An attempted wholesale jail break, led by Jimmy Overstreet, was frustrated on October 20, 1925, at Murphysboro, Illinois, by Deputy Sheriff Dave Holder. Overstreet was serving a 25-year term at McAlester. He was brought to Illinois as a state's witness in a bank robbery in that state.
DAPPER JIMMY BACK IN THE NEWS
An attempted wholesale jail break, led by Jimmy Overstreet, was frustrated on October 20, 1925, at Murphysboro, Illinois, by Deputy Sheriff Dave Holder. Overstreet was serving a 25-year term at McAlester. He was brought to Illinois as a state’s witness in a bank robbery in that state.
Somehow Overstreet got hold of a .32 caliber pistol and demanded that the deputy sheriff leave the door open for escape. Instead, Holder slammed the barrier and jumped behind a steel-jacketed cell.
Since Overstreet was sent to McAlester, he had turned “stool pigeon,” and gave information to officers which was used in capturing many of his former associates.
DURHAM SHOOTS FITZKIE ON SHAWNEE STREET
Assistant County Attorney W.F. Durham was arraigned on October 22, 1925, on a charge of shooting with intent to kill. This followed an altercation in which he shot and seriously wounded Richard Fitzkie. Charges against Durham were lodged by Leroy G. Cooper, another assistant county attorney, in the absence of the head man Randall Pitman, who was out of the state.
Bad blood existed between the two men for several years. It grew out of a case in which Durham acted as prosecutor and resulted in a conviction against Fritzkie. He was sentenced to a four-year term in the pen. Durham’s friends stated that Fritzkie had frequently threatened the officer and insulted him on numerous occasions.
Durham said he was walking down the street, when he was accosted by Fritzkie in front of the Hailey White Clothing Company. Fritzkie reportedly said, “Hello, you dirty cur.”
Durham interposed an objection to the salutation and warned him not to address him in like manner again. Fritzkie continued his advances with vile and abusive language. Durham then drew his gun and fired one shot.
Fritzkie was taken to the clinic where he was administered first aid. He was later moved to the hospital. He told officers a story that was like Durham’s and that it stemmed back to the old charges against him.
Fritzkie was charged with a serious offense relating to his 11-year-old step daughter several years earlier. After being sentenced to four years in the pen, he was later given a leave of absence by former Governor J.B.A. Robertson. Later he was pardoned by former Governor Jack C. Walton. Fritzkie accused Durham at the time of his conviction with a “frame up job.”
JIM THORPE RELEASED FROM FOOTBALL TEAM
An announcement came on October 28, 1925, that Jim Thorpe, famous Indian athlete, had been released by the New York Professional Football Club. It was said because of failure to get into proper playing condition for competition.
He came to the New York team from Rock Island, Illinois, which also held a franchise in the new national league. It was with the understanding that he must get into condition to obtain an engagement there. Two weeks earlier he played against a Philadelphia team, but failed to show anything like his old-time form and was withdrawn. He had been handicapped by an injured knee, which failed to respond to treatment. Officials of the New York team said Thorpe’s contract would revert to Rock Island, but it was considered doubtful that he would play again during the season.
Thorpe was 39 years of age, and his failure to gain a regular position on the local team led athletic observers to see the end of his spectacular athletic career. The big Indian had a checkered career, but also one of the most marvelous all-around records in competitive circles.
He first gained national notice as a gridiron star at the Carlisle school in Pennsylvania, winning a place on Walter Camp’s All-American team of 1911 and 1912. As a member of the Olympic team in 1912, Thorpe romped away with the all-around track and field championship events. Later he was deprived of his medals and athletic glory by the discovery that he had previously lost his amateur standing by playing in a professional baseball game.
Thorpe later turned to the diamond for a living and was signed by the New York Giants, but failed to measure up to big league caliber. In the past few years, he had played both professional baseball and football, shifting from one place to another. At times, still flashed the brilliancy that came from his natural athletic ability.
WOMAN RUN OVER BY CAR IN SHAWNEE
Mrs. S.A. Hull, 55, who resided 12 miles north of the city, was instantly killed on the afternoon of October 29, 1925, when she stepped in front of an automobile driven by R.C. Pope, a prominent farmer from Tecumseh. The accident occurred on Main Street in front of the Murett Brown Clothing Store. Two of her daughters were waiting for her directly across the street and witnessed the accident.
Pope was at first taken into custody by the police during the investigation but was released by the authority of the county attorney. The officers expressed the view that the accident could not have been avoided. Pope said he was traveling around 15 miles per hour.
The car struck Mrs. Hull with such force that the radiator was partially dislodged. Her body fell across the hood of the car and was carried several feet before Pope could stop his machine. Pope said he applied the brakes as soon as he saw her start to retrace her steps, but his car was so close that he was unable to halt in time to avoid the crash.
Mrs. Hull, accompanied by her two daughters, had come to Shawnee to market cream. She had been to the Farmers Creamery, which was located back of the Murett Brown establishment, where she left the cream. Her two daughters were to wait for her at Woolworth’s. She had started to rejoin them when the accident occurred. Those who witnessed it said a streetcar was approaching and they believed Mrs. Hull had stepped back, rather than taking a chance on beating the car across the street.
(These stories and hundreds more appear in the first volume of Shawnee history, entitled: “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE EARLY YEARS, 1830-1929.” It can be purchased by calling Clyde Wooldridge at (918) 470-3728, or by visiting the Pottawatomie County Historical Society at the old Santa Fe Depot. The cost of purchase is $35. Volume two, “1930-1949,” is also available for $30. Volume three, “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE MIDDLE YEARS, 1950-1969,” is now available, at a cost of $35. All three volumes are more than 400 pages with hundreds of photos and illustrations. A combination of two or three can be purchased at $30 each. They are fully indexed, making it easy to look up individuals or places of business. Volume four 1970-1989, is scheduled for the fall of 2020; volume five 1990-2009, should be available in the fall of 2021; and volume six 2010-to the present, is scheduled for the fall of 2022. They are also available on thumb drive at the PCHS Museum.)
Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.