Former Algonquin deputy police chief to present program on notorious murders in McHenry County

Submitted by McHenry County Historical Society
Posted3/27/2022 6:00 AM

When other kids ran off to Settlers' Day carnival, Ed Urban would steal away to the library and pore through the county's 1885 history book.

The Marengo native has always had interest in history, especially its seedier side.


"I love history. I've just got this curiosity about 'What happened here?' And I've always had an interest in true crime. I listen to, I don't know how many, true crime podcasts."

Urban will present Only Murders in McHenry (County) at 3 p.m. Monday, March 28, at the McHenry County Historical Museum, 6422 Main St. in Union. Tickets are $12 and are available in advance at or at the door. Masks, per the latest government health guideline, are optional. For information, call (815) 923-2267.

Urban plans to touch on some of the most notorious crimes in the last century -- including the county's first murder in 1848 ... not 1846, as we've been led to believe. Thirty years later another farm field was the scene of yet another heinous act when a killer attempted to burn his victim's body in a haystack.

Learn about the unsolved murder of Martin Cooney in 1866, the first woman in McHenry County charged with murder, the Earl Ellsworth triple killing in Woodstock and the remarkable case of Eldredge brothers of Richmond.

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Charles Eldredge died in 1931 in nearly identical fashion as his brother, Earle, 24 years earlier. But when you consider they were both working as state game wardens at the time and that they were killed with the same gun, this unsolved case takes becomes one for the record books.

Urban was in law enforcement for 33 years, first working for DeKalb County Sheriff's office. Following stints at Northern Illinois University and Marengo, he spent the next 26 years at the Algonquin Police Department -- working his way up from patrolman to detective to deputy chief. Following five years in Illinois casino enforcement, he now works as an insurance fraud investigator.

Early pioneers were subject to many of the same dangers society faces today, according to Urban.

"It's all human nature -- the same motives of jealousy and greed," Urban said. "You look at the western development of our country when people moved out to the prairie in order to make a living. There were no outlaws out here until there was stuff to take."

Upcoming programs in the 36th annual Sampler Lecture Series are:

• 7 p.m. Monday, April 11 -- The Eastland Disaster: An Unparalleled Tragedy will be presented by members of the Eastland Disaster Historical Society. Learn about the tragic 1915 capsizing of the Eastland passenger liner -- stuffed to the gills with Western Electric employees and their families headed to picnic. A total of 844 passengers and crew were killed in what was to become the largest loss of life from a single shipwreck on the Great Lakes.

• 3 p.m. Monday, April 25 -- Vibrant, Resilient, Still Here: Contemporary Native Americans in Illinois will be presented by Pamala Silas, a member of Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin and a descendant of the Oneida Tribe, works for Northwestern University as the associate director for the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. Silas will touch on history of Native Americans in northern Illinois, as well as their role today. Explore how the public learns about and views Native Americans today, as well as discuss demographic data, topical community issues and values, and engage through recommended readings and resources.

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