The Murder of Amos J. Snell Part 1

Besides reporting strange things that happen our our tours and investigations, one purpose of this blog is to serve as a supplement to the book. Forgotten for years, we present The Mysterious Murder of Amos J. Snell

The near-west side in the 1880s had no shortage of villains. E.A. Trask was operating on Washington street, possibly in conjuction with H.H. Holmes. A block to the south had been the offices of the notorious Dr. Thomas N. Cream. A block west of all of this stood the mansion of Amos J. Snell, a local millionare who owned hundreds of houses, including most of what is now Milwaukee Avenue, which he turned into a toll road that made him a fortune. He lived at the Northwest Corner of Washington and Ada (where a vacant lot now stands).

A millionare with a streak of paranoia, Snell kept a pistol by his bed and was known on several occasions to wake up, grab the pistol, and run off to investigate any strange noises he heard. Usually, it turned out to be nothing but the wind. But in February of 1888, Snell heard a strange noise in his house at 2 in the morning, came down to investigate, and was shot to death by burlgars – who stole nothing. The only clues were scattered views of coaches running by in the freezing street reported by servants, two sets of footprints in the snow, and a bag of tools – the kind used by burglars – left on the scene.

Mr. Snell’s paranoia had been brought on by a robbery of his house in 1867, just before his move to Chicago. The day before his murder, he had told friends in a saloon that he was going to have to be careful – one of the 1867 robbers had threatened to get revenge on him, and had just been released from prison. Snell, it was said, seemed terribly troubled that day, and seemed to have a premonition that he was going to die that night. Indeed, that day would turn out to be his last on Earth.

But that old burglar was far from the only suspect – more than 40 people were eventually arrested. One suspect was eventually pinpointed, but never captured.

TOMORROW: The Suspect!