Although we seem to have crime problems from time to time in Kendall County—and we have had them since the county was established in 1841—at least we haven’t had to contend with road agents demanding we stand and deliver for quite a while.
Not that highway robbery wasn’t a problem both earlier and later in our history than you might imagine.
The first account I ran across of road agents trying to rob someone around these parts was in the Aug. 7, 1879 Kendall County Record. The Record’s Oswego correspondent provided the details:
A.J. Ives being in Aurora the other evening started to return about 9 o’clock and just outside the city (east side) near Spring Lake cemetery overtook two men on foot, one of which grabbed the horse by the bit and the other poked a cocked pistol in the face of Ives with the request “throw up your hands you —– —— —–; after appropriating his pocket book containing $12 and watch and chain they wanted the ring on his finger but Ives got mad and declared to submit no further bulldozing even if it had to come to the worst; the robbers expressed admiration for his spunk and let him go; driving about two rods, Ives halloowed the name of a resident near there when the highwaymen fired two shots at him and then put for the woods; they were masked. Ives had left his pistol at home.
Can’t help but wonder what those three words were the miscreant called A.J.
The last incident of literal highway robbery took place, surprisingly enough, in the first third of the 20th Century, and involved Oswego’s then-new dentist and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. Sheldon Bell. According to the Nov. 8, 1930 Record:
Dr. Sheldon F. Bell was one of the victims of the bandits during the 10 holdups in Kane and Kendall counties on Wednesday evening, Nov. 1. He was robbed of about seventeen dollars on Route 22 near Normantown. Dr. Bell was accompanied by his wife, who was not molested. All the robbers wanted was money, rejecting the bill fold and the papers it contained.
Route 22 is now known as U.S. Route 30, and Normantown was the small hamlet located where Normantown Road used to cross the EJ&E tracks just north of what’s now called 127th Street. In fact, Normantown is still illustrated on many modern maps.
So, yes, we have the occasional holdup, lots of burglaries and pilfering from local businesses, but at least we haven’t had to worry about being ordered to “Stand and deliver” for some decades now. So I guess we’ve got that going for us, right?