THIS DAY IN HISTORY (January 30, 1934) – John Dillinger

Faribault Daily News

Heavily guarded, manacled and shackled, outlaw John Dillinger is shown on Jan. 30, 1934, as he is taken from one plane to another in St. Louis, Tenn., while under way to his final destination, Indiana jail at Crown Point. (AP Photo).


He didn’t stay long.

Dillinger was caught in Tucson, Arizona on January 25, 1934. He was later escorted back to Indiana by Matthew Leach, the chief of the Indiana State Police, and imprisoned within the Crown Point jail.

The local police boasted to area newspapers that the jail was escape-proof and posted extra guards to make sure. What happened on the day of Dillinger’s escape on March 3rd is still open to debate.

Deputy Ernest Blunk claimed that Dillinger escaped using a real pistol, but FBI files make clear that Dillinger carved a fake pistol from a potato. -Source Wikipedia

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A Baby Face Nelson sighting in Nevada – 1934

The Nevada Appeal August 22, 2016

“If all reports are true, Baby Face Nelson, with several pals, paid Gardnerville a visit several weeks ago. From here, the gang went to Hawthorne, living in the outskirts of that town for several days and then vanished. Federal officers, it is reported, were several days behind the fugitives but hope to apprehend them before many weeks go by.” — The Record-Courier, Nov. 16, 1934

Baby Face Nelson

After mention of Nelson in the Locals column of The Record-Courier, 11 days would pass before authorities killed Nelson in a gunfight in Wilmett, Ill. on Nov. 27, 1934, just two days before Thanksgiving and less than two weeks before his 26th birthday. And that signaled the end of Baby Face Nelson, or Lester Gillis, the only Most Wanted Criminal ever to live in Douglas County as a most wanted criminal.

 Dead Nelson

Read more from Nevada Appeal Article.

Nelson did die in Wilmett, but he received the mortal wounds in the “Battle of Barrington” where he killed two federal officers (Inspector Cowley and Agent Hollis). Also at the gun battle were Baby Face’s wife Helen and longtime friend John Paul Chase (aka Earl Butler).

Battle of Barrington

The car driven by Nelson and disabled by agents’ bullets is shown in the picture above. The events leading up to the car chase, the shootout, and what followed are described in my novel manuscript Midnight Run 1932.

Chase, an unknown, could walk into a grocery store for supplies or a sporting goods store for ammunition without causing suspicion. Initially, it was not know that he was at Barrington with Nelson; however, Helen was captured in Chicago and after being tortured revealed Chase’s identity.

HelenClips (1)

The hunt for Chase began in Illinois and ended up at Mount Shasta in California.

My 87,000-word manuscript is a fact-based novel chronicling the life of a naïve northern California dairy worker (Chase) eager to experience the women, booze, and fast cars of the roaring 1920’s.

[If you are an AAR literary agent and interested in reading more, please contact me at:

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John Dillinger

John Dillinger

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(CN) — A lit cigarette ignited table cloths in the basement of Tucson’s Hotel Congress on Jan. 22, 1934, causing a fire that eventually engulfed the third floor. Guests ran into the street, many still in their underwear. Two men reportedly bribed firefighters to retrieve their luggage.

Later recognizing the men as members of John Dillinger’s gang, the firefighters tipped off the police — resulting in a stakeout that nabbed the infamous bank robber and his men.

“In a space of five hours, without firing a single shot, the police of small-town Tucson had done what the combined forces of several states and the FBI had failed to accomplish,”  Source Courthouse News Service July 15, 2016

AZ Congress Night

The Hotel Congress is a historic building located in downtown Tucson, Arizona. It was built in 1918 designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm William and Alexander Curlett as part of an expansion of congress street and in conjunction with the theatrical venue Rialto Theatre, which sits north of Congress street. The rear of the building faces the historic Amtrak Southern Pacific train station, built by Southern Pacific in 1907. In addition to being a hotel, the Hotel Congress building also houses a restaurant, bar and music venue.

The Hotel is known for being the site of the capture of bank robber John Dillinger in 1934. After a series of bank robberies, the Dillinger Gang arrived in Tucson to hide out. On January 22, 1934, a fire started in the basement and spread up to the third floor, where the gang resided under aliases. After the desk clerk contacted them through the switchboard the gang escaped by aerial ladders. On the request of the gang, two firemen retrieved their luggage, identifying who they were. After being transferred to a jail in Crown Point, Indiana, Dillinger escaped again and was eventually shot down in Chicago, Illinois. Source Wikipedia.

Read more.

Footnote: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 5K reward for Dillinger in 1934 would be worth $89,935.55 in 2016; the 10K reward $179,879.10; and the 20K reward $359,758.21.

Mothers Day


Thinking of Mom – Off the Record

By Kevin Sweeney

May 5, 2016

A few years ago, at a Thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s house in St. Paul, my mother confided to me, “You know, I might not be around much longer.”

“Why?” I asked. “Are you moving to Miami or something?” My mother is 96 years old, a fact you’d never guess from her appearance. (Here she is in a photo take last spring at my nephew’s high school graduation.)


She lives on her own in a residence on the University of St. Catherine that once was a retirement home for nuns but was expanded into a residence for not only nuns but pious women, such as my mom.

Mom has had an exciting and drama-filled life. Most of the drama, I admit came from raising the seven children she and Dad had, starting right after they got married when Dad got home from World War II. My oldest sister, in fact, may be the original Baby Boomer.

But Mom had her moments in her own right. She said that John Dillinger once bought her a jelly doughnut.

This was back in the days, you understand, when St. Paul was known as a hideout for gangsters. Author Chad Lewis recently spoke at the library how corrupt St. Paul Police Commissioner John O’Connor had a deal with the nation’s most wanted. They could hang out in St. Paul, with no fear of police, as long as they registered when they arrived – and paid a fee to O’Connor.

Anyway, Mom said one day she and a friend were standing outside the neighborhood bakery, noses pressed to the glass as they looked at the pastry. A man passing by asked them, “What’s your favorite doughnut?”

“Bismarcks,” Mom said. I don’t know what her friend liked. The man took them inside, bought them each a doughnut, and went on his way. Later, Mom saw the man’s photo in the paper – it was John Dillinger.

Mom has a knack for storytelling and is a museum of knowledge about the family history. She is a bright student of politics who couldn’t believe her son once wrote an editorial endorsing that “jackass” George W. Bush.

She takes a keen interest in the lives of all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She knows how many there are and all their names, which is more than I do.

Mom at 96 takes a lot more naps than she used to, but who wouldn’t?

On Mothers Day I’m sure she will be surrounded by the many children, grandchildren and great-grands, glad that she hasn’t moved off to Miami quite yet.  Read More.