Thursday, February 5, 2009

Albany Farmer Fleeced by Floozies, 1900

This is from the Capital Journal Weekly in 1900. It shows a lively and shifting boundary in Salem between vice and the law, and between saloons and brothels.

Hattie McGinnis was an important madam in Salem for several years, and her "boarding house" was on Ferry street in the red-light district, called "Peppermint Flat." The boarding house was where the Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield office is on the corner of Ferry and High. Peppermint grew in the swampy depression - which you can still see in the sunken alley between Ferry and Trade. During floods, the depression filled and became a waterway off Pringle Creek and the Mill Race.

The "Turner block" is also known as the northern part of the Eldridge Block. It and the Parvenue Tower were demolished in 1954 for a Lipman's parking lot. Today the Chemeketa Parkade stands there. The southern portion of the Eldridge block remains as Greenbaum's Quilted Forest.



Is Relieved of Over $600 by Salem Vultures But His Cash is Recovered by Chief Gibson

There was a sensational story behind the four-line item published in Saturdays' JOURNAL to the effect that Recorder Judah had imposed a fine of $10 on a farmer who had imbibed too freely, but for good reasons the officers did not wish to publish all they knew.

The farmer in question, whose name is with-held, was relieved of about $600 in cash on Friday night while under the influence of drugged liquor, the job being done by a couple of Salem's prostitutes, who were compelled to cough up $525 of the spoils by shrewd and energetic work on the part of Chief of Police Gibson.

The farmer came into town Friday from Albany, having $600 in gold on his person. He had a few drinks and was taken in town by McGinnis one of the birds of prey who lie in wait for the unwary.

He was finally steered into the back room of a saloon, a couple of females were summoned from Peppermint Flat, and the farmer, minus his money, was soon afterward found by night officer Smith raising a disturbance in the hallway up-stairs in the Turner block.

Saturday morning he made his loss known, and Chief Gibson started on the trial with very slight clews to go on, the farmer's mind being in a very hazy condition.

But the chief soon traced the matter immistakably to the McGinnis woman and one of her girls. He called at their place of business and gave them a short time in which to show up with the money at his office. The woman reached the city hall nearly as soon as the chief did, with voluminous explanations of how she came to have the money, and she counted out $525 in gold, claiming that was all she got out of the agriculturalist.

Chief of Police Gibson had spotted the gold German as easy game for the tenderloin gang before he fell into their hands. In fact he had a complete history of every movement of the victim and of every movement of those who deliberately plotted to get his cash. McGinnis had him in tow from 9:30 a.m. First he was taken through one saloon and then another, and at each step Chief Gibson had eye witnesses to the unfolding of the scheme. He even has the telephone message that was sent to call the vultures to their prey.

This morning the farmer called upon Chief Gibson and got his money or $525 of it. He was overjoyed to receive it, and well may be for he was exceedingly fortunate that his case fell into the hands of an officer as energetic and as free from "entangling alliances" as is Chief [Gibson.]


  1. Thanks! Here's a photo (be sure to zoom in) taken from the Bush-Brey Block (home to Copperjohn's and soon a post!) that shows the full length of the block with the Turner/Eldridge building at the left, and the RM Wade/Pearce building on the right. At the far right is an edge of the building that holds Venti's, which was incorporated into the Pearce building at the remodel circa 1940.