July 24, 2023 post by the US National Archives on Facebook:
There have been many infamous lawbreakers in history, but John Dillinger was the first criminal labeled by the FBI as "Public Enemy No. 1."
After spending nine years (1924–33) in prison, Dillinger went on a deadly crime spree with his gang, traveling through the states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. They killed numerous people, robbed multiple banks, and even raided police arsenals. FBI agents shot and killed Dillinger on July 22, 1934, as he left Chicago's Biograph Movie Theater.
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Image: Wanted Poster of John Dillinger
In 1933, John Dillinger, the infamous bank robber of the 1930s was declared "Public Enemy #1" by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. See A Public Enemy’s Life in the Fast Lane The National Archives Prologue: Pieces of History blogwith John Dillinger $10,000 FBI Wanted poster. Dillinger was born and is buried in Indianapolis, his biography is on the FBI Famous Cases & Criminals page and also John Dillinger on Wikipedia. DILLINGER SHOT TO DEATH BY FEDERAL AGENTS AFTER HUNT on The National Archives Today's Document includes part of a 1934 newsreel highlight from a more graphic video version Universal News, Volume 6, Release 269, Story #1, July 23, 1934 on the US National Archiveson YouTube. 10 Things You May Not Know About John Dillinger by Evan Andrews published August 4, 2014 on History.com. Stories have Dillinger in local places such as a Monroeville restaurant Comment March 3, 2017 on Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana on Facebook.
Dillinger was locked up in the Lima, Allen County, Ohio jail, when 3 members of his gang broke him out while killing the sheriff. They also stole a machine gun and a small arsenal of guns in 1933 from the Auburn, DeKalb County, Indiana police department north of Fort Wayne. The machine gun might have been responsible for the deaths of some of the 13 police officers killed by Dillinger and his gang. March 6, 2014, the gun was returned to Auburn. Read more in Dillinger legend finds its mark Gun stolen from Auburn police in 1933 finally makes it home by Frank Gray published March 7, 2014 in The Journal Gazette newspaper. View Piece of History with Violent Past Returns to Auburn video by Eric Olson published March 7, 2014 by the Indiana NewsCenter. March 3, 1934, John Dillinger escaped from the Crown Point Jail, the "inescapable" jail, stole Sheriff Lillian Holley’s car, and headed for Chicago. Posted March 3, 2017 by Indiana Bicentennial Commission on Facebookon Facebook.
July 22, 1934 John Dillinger was gunned down after seeing a show at Chicago’s Biograph Theater, betrayed by the “woman in red” who tipped off the FBI. Read more in Dillinger’s Jailor, Sheriff Lillian Holley posted by Juliana Smith July 22, 2014 on Ancestry.comblog.
Dillinger gang members buried in Fort Wayne
Homer Van Meter was born December 3, 1906 in Fort Wayne to Cary B. Van Meter and his wife Julia Miller. Homer was a get-away driver for John Dillinger. He was gunned down August 23, 1934 in St. Paul, Minnesota and is buried in Lindenwood Cemetery Section 4, Block 4, Row 2, Space 10 shown on Find-A-Grave. Dillinger cohort lures curious to local digs is a newspaper article about his grave site by Jeff Wiehe published July 3, 2009 in The Journal Gazette newspaper. Homer Van Meter on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia has a photo and more. Family information is from Scott Van Metre on his Homer V. Van Meter page from his Van Metre Family website. A newspaper article Dillinger cohort lures curious to local digs by Jeff Wiehe published July 3, 2009 in The Journal Gazette newspaper discussed Homer Van Meter. Homer was discussed January 1, 2018 on You are positively from Fort Wayne, if you remember... Archived group only visible to existing members on Facebook.
The front page of the August 24, 1934 The Journal Gazette newspaper on the right was used with permission of The Journal Gazette newspaper.
An August 23, 2019 post by The History Center on Facebook stated:
Many celebrities count Fort Wayne as their hometown, but not all of them were on the right side of the law. One such man, Homer Van Meter, born December 3, 1905, turned to a life of crime and eventually became a member of John Dillinger’s “Terror Gang.” As member of the Dillinger gang, Van Meter was in charge of identifying and scoping out potential robbery targets. Homer Van Meter’s luck ran out, exactly 85 years ago today on August 23, 1934, when police in St. Paul, Minnesota shot him dead. Following his death, Van Meter’s body was released to Robert Klaehn & Sons’ funeral home for his burial in Fort Wayne. Today we remember the death of one of Fort Wayne’s most infamous sons. #sociallyhistory
Coins and flowers have been placed on Homer Van Meter's gravestone for many years. Some sources claim coins on gravestones are intended as a memorial to veterans. His stone was empty when I first photographed it in 2003. A newspaper article Tombstones tell tales Mementos of all types dot landscape of city cemeteries by Terri Richardson published October 22, 2019 in The Journal Gazette newspaper discusses leaving coins and objects on tombstones.
The Google ebook Dillinger: The Untold Story shows Clifford "Whitey" Mohler (1903-1968) an early accomplice died August 25, 1968 and is buried in Prairie Grove Cemetery and Samuel Goldstine (1890-1975) died May 19, 1975 on same page 280 buried in Section Y, Lot 50 in Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne. Apparently neither has a tombstone since none are shown on Find-A-Grave nor local DAR cemetery pages. Another Samuel Goldstein was mistakenly thought to be Dillinger's gang member dying in jail July 22, 1939 in Lima, Allen County, Ohio on the 5th anniversary of Dillinger's death.
Local Dillinger Connections
Charles Markley Was Framed is a web site that looks at a Dillinger cohort who may have been involved in a bank robbery in Sheldon now Yoder, Indiana
Some information on John Dillinger Gang's Fort Wayne, IN Connection on published July 25, 2009 on CherryTeaTime blog has some interesting reader comments on Van Meter's Fort Wayne activities.
I need to find a link to a the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook discussion about Dillinger's hideout at the old brick building at U.S. 27 and Hoagland Road. If you find it Contact Allen INGenWeb.
A Broadway Bank location at Broadway and Taylor robbed by the Dillinger gang is shown in 1947 as a drug store on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook.
Other Dillinger Information
- Find-A-Grave shows John Dillinger is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery Indianapolis, Wikipedia says it is the third largest cemetery in the United States.
- Google has a Timeline
- Hammond, Indiana has the John Dillinger Museum Crime Doesn't Pay.
- The state of Indiana lists John Dillinger Resources
- John Dillinger Hulu.com has the 1973 movie Dillinger
- Public Enemies movie stared Johnny Depp shown on Wikipedia
Infamous Former Residents
- City native, dead at 89, found fame as bigot Report: Request made for burial at Arlington Willis Allison Carto
a native of Fort Wayne once called “the most important professional anti-Semite in the U.S.” by the Anti-Defamation League died Oct. 26 at 89.by Rosa Salter Rodriguez published November 5, 2015 in The Journal Gazette newspaper.