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updated: 6/30/2011 1:01 PM

Top Elgin headlines from 1911

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By Jerry Turnquist

Daily Herald correspondent

The "death cup" would be eliminated in Elgin, city residents were told in 1911. Teachers said a new technology -- motion pictures -- was allowing some students to cheat on assignments.

And police, who had to deal with a murder south of the city, also made news by saying it was time for prisoners at the Kane County jail to start doing some work.

Here's a look at those and other stores that made Elgin area headlines in early summer, 1911.

"Death Cups": A new state law banning the "death cup," or public drinking cup, had city officials and business owners making plans to comply with the requirement.

Fountain Square, a popular area in the center of town would have its common cups removed and drinking fountains installed, city officials explained. "Bubbling fountains" would be placed at all schools, added school officials.

As a service to its readers, one Elgin newspaper even offered free reusable "oiled paper cups" to those who wanted them.

Inmate labor: The Kane County jail needed to be a "work house," not a place for sitting around, Elgin police told county officials.

"It is useless to send a man to Geneva now. He is assured of good food and a warm place to sleep without work to do. He is really more comfortable in jail than out of jail,' they added.

County officials responded by saying that it would "cost more money to make them work than to not work." Aurora police supported their Elgin counterparts in arguing for a work program for prisoners.

'Landmark' removed: Newspapers called "The Dipper" an "Elgin landmark," but most people were probably glad to hear it was going to be cleaned up.

A large area of nearly stagnant water near the current Gail Borden Public Library, the low lying region had been used to dump various refuse including "ashes, tin cans, glassware and garbage." It was "one of the filthiest spots in the city," one report added.

The risk of disease caused by the slow moving water particularly concerned city physicians who were glad to hear it was to receive some attention.

Hideous crime: The discovery of a woman's body along what is now Route 25 south of Elgin was described as the "most dastardly and baffling case of assault, murder and molestation, in the recent annals of the county."

Newspapers spared little detail in describing the victim and the crime scene, noting that the female, who had been brutally assaulted, tried to defend herself with a hat pin. Investigators who tried to unravel the crime were further hampered because the body had been burned. Neighbors were said to be very disturbed by the incident.

Student ethics: While the Internet has the potential for misuse by students today, it was a new technology -- the moving pictures -- raising the ire of some teachers a century ago.

"There are quite a few students who have been taking the plots of the moving pictures shown in the theatres about town and handing them in as their original work," said the head of the Elgin High School English Department. This practice was "lowering the standard of work" at the school, he added.

Church reform: "It is a gigantic undertaking and will either mean a religious upheaval throughout this and every other town in the country or a colossal failure," said a representative of the "Men and Religion Forward" movement that was planning a meeting in the city.

Churches were falling more and more under the care of women and men needed to take a more active role, organizers said. An "eight-day campaign" was planned to launch the effort.

Ladies first: Finally, women at the Elgin National Watch Company breathed a sigh of relief when they heard that the company would allow them to leave work four minutes before the men.

This was to help the women at the large factory -- who accounted for about half the workers -- to avoid being "squeezed, knocked against the walls, and bumped hither and thither" at quitting time.

Some women had even reported being carried down the steps with their feet off the ground in the fast moving stream of employees at dismissal time. The company planned to regulate the new plan by ringing the ending bell twice -- once for the women and again four minutes later for the men.

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