Alice Lois Lindsay 23,24
- Born: 1 February 1871, Onarga, Iroquois County, Illinois 116
- Marriage: Frank Eldridge Wynekoop 17 April 1900 in Onarga, Iroquois County, Illinois 115
- Died: 4 July 1955, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois at age 84 116
- Crem.: 6 July 1955, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois at Mt. Hope Cemetery 117
Cause of her death was Pneumonia.
Another name for Alice was "Doxey."
Alice was ill through much of her childhood and forced to stay in bed for days at a time. She was anemic and suffered on and off for several years from tuberculosis and malaria. Alice's daughter, Catherine, remembers her mother telling the story of "her father measuring huge doses of powdered quinine on the end of a knife, with one such dose being taken by her three times daily." Because of Alice's poor health, she did not receive formal schooling until the age of nine. Thanks to her grandmother Boyd, Alice entered Del Rey School able to read. However, she was unable to spell, write or do math work. At the age of fourteen, Alice registered at a co-educational boarding school in Onarga. Here she was considered brilliant, though tempermental, and an exceptional student in mathematics and chemistry. She graduated from the school at the age of eighteen, then returned home to live with her parents until the age of 21. As a child, she displayed a strong will. A psychiatrist once said of her, "She is the strong willed New England type." Despite threats by her father to order her from home, she joined the Episcopal Church and said of religion, "it is the reality of life".
In 1893, she enrolled at Northwestern University Women's Medical School. It is said that she decided to become a doctor due to the ill health she suffered as a child. She once called medicine, "the greatest profession in the world." During her senior year at Northwestern, Alice began teaching at the school. She was an instructor of anatomy, then served as chief demonstrator in the dissecting room, and finally clinical assistant to D.D.R. Brower, Specialist in Nervous and Mental Diseases. In 1896, she served an internship in the Women and Children's Hospital. The following year she traveled to Denver, Colorado to receive medical treatment for returning tuberculosis, staying until the early summer of 1899.
On 17 April 1900, Alice married Frank Eldridge Wynekoop of Wolcott, Indiana in Onarga, Iroquois County, Illinois. The couple first met at Northwestern University where they both graduated in 1895. Not long after their first meeting, Alice began to write home about Frank Wynekoop. A favorite Aunt would not visit because she declared that at each visit, she was introduced to a new prospective nephew-in-law. It seemed Alice was never short of suitors, but she insisted that, "this was different". Alice was 5 ft. 8 in. in height with a ruddy complexion, blue eyes, and a beautiful head of golden red hair that earned her the nickname "Gloria". During their courtship days, Alice called Frank "Dox" and he called her "Doxey" -- no doubt a play on the word doctor. Frank had become bacteriologist for city hall. Shortly after, Alice, too, began working in the bacteriology department at city hall. A little later, Alice was teaching in the biology department at the College of Physicians and Surgeons where Frank had taught since 1895. Soon Frank introduced Alice to his family and on 25 December 1899, Frank asked Alice to marry him. The couple held a simple ceremony at the home of the bride's parents. A young neighbor named Chauncey Booth remembered ice cream being shipped via the railroad for the occasion. The dessert had been packed in dry ice and arrived in portions shaped like the Camellia flower.
After the marriage, Alice became an instructor in histology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. She held the position for fourteen years. During that time, Alice and Frank had four children, all born in Chicago: Frank Lindsey (b. 29 March 1902), William Walker (b. 5 December 1903), James Earle (b. 31 December 1905) and Catherine Francis (b. 4 June 1908). James Earle was just beginning to walk when Frank Jr. died of an appendicitis attack. The birth of Catherine nearly cost Alice her life. She was bedridden six months before Catherine's birth and for one year after the delivery. The doctor told Alice that it was unwise to have any more children. However, Alice felt that her youngest should not be without a sister. A close friend told Alice of a baby 10 weeks old to be given up by her parents. Although Catherine was less than a year old, Alice immediately went to see the child. As she leaned over the crib, the baby stretched out its arms to her and that night stood a cradle in the middle of the library floor of 3406 West Monroe Street. Father Frank said, "Well, I see we have a new addition." The baby girl was named Mary Louise. She was born 23 March 1909 in Chicago. The sixteen room, three story mansion at 3406 West Monroe Street in which the family resided was built specially for the Wynekoops in 1901. This is the same home that would later become known as the "musty-old Wynekoop mansion". It consisted of an "English" basement, living quarters with thick heavy doors and bathrooms with claw-footed bathtubs.
After the death of Alice's first child Frank in 1907, Alice became greatly interested in child welfare. She served on the Boards of West End Mothers Council of Children's Benefit League, the Illinois Congress of Mothers (later known as the P.T.A. and in which she had a lifetime membership), and was a member of the Child Welfare Committee of the Woman's City Club. She was Chairman of "Baby Week", conducted daily clinics at the Boston Store in Chicago and was Director of mother's classes at the Off the Street Club. When Dr. Wynekoop attended a congress of mother's in 1910, she told them, "He who adopts a child does more good than Rockefeller, Carnegie or even Florence Nightingale."
In addition to establishing her own medical practice in the basement of the mansion, Alice took part in numerous cultural, educational and philanthropic projects. She was President of the Chicago Medical Women's Club for two years; served as chairman of the Propaganda Committee of the Chicago Medical Society for two years; presided weekly lectures at the Chicago Public Library; was a member and one of three trustees of the National Chapter of Nu Sigma Phi, a sorority for medical women; was member and secretary of the Chicago Eugenic Education Society. During World War I, she disseminated knowledge regarding social hygiene and first aid; was a member of the Social Hygiene Committee of the Women's Division National Council of Defense; lectured on social hygiene in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A.; served as Director of First Aid under the Red Cross; was a member of the Board of the Chicago Culture Club and the Chicago Political Equality League. She was a member of the D.A.R. and charter member of the Cordon Club, and for a short time, taught an adolescent class in Epiphany Sunday School. She carried on campaigns on the health menace of flies and mosquitoes and was also a leader in the campaign for women's suffrage.
It is clear that Alice felt the burden of the world's problems on her shoulders. She often treated her medical patients for free and asked the worst of them into her home, supplying them with free medication. Christmas never passed without thinking of less fortunate children. At regular intervals, Alice instructed the children to donate their unwanted toys to poor and needy children. Alice always took the children along when the gifts were donated so that the children could see how the poor lived. At Christmas time, the Wynekoops "took care of a family" and then made calls later to see how they were faring. On one occasion as recalled by daughter Catherine, her mother took in a baby girl after a friend decided she wanted to adopt her but had changed her mind at the last minute. The baby was named Barbara Jane. She became very ill, but Alice nursed her back to health and cared for her until three years of age, at which time she found little Barbara Jane a loving home. Alice was a registered Republican, but considered herself a "progressive Republican". She enjoyed literature and spoke and wrote fluently in German and French. More than one person has commented on Alice's sense of humor. Her good friend, Bertha Van Hoosen said of her, "Even in serious things she saw amusement."
In 1929, Alice's life took a turn for the worse. Her beloved husband died of a stroke and in March of 1933, daughter Mary Louise died of heart trouble at just 23 years of age. Both died in the Wynekoop home on West Monroe Street, a fact that would later return to haunt her. But nothing would prepare Alice for what came next. On the morning of 22 November 1933, the world awoke to headline news, "Rheta Wynekoop Murdered!" Dr. Alice Lindsay Wynekoop stood accused of murdering her daughter-in-law. Beautiful Rheta was married to her youngest playboy son, James Earle. The press went wild with accusations and stories. The official story on file with the state attorney reads as follows:
"The evidence in this case disclosed that on November 21, 1933 about 10 o'clock in the evening the police were called to 3406 West Monroe Street, which is the home and office of the defendant, who is a practicing physician, and in the operating room at that address, lying on the operating table, the police found the dead body of one Rheta Wynekoop, daughter-in-law of the defendant. A post mortem examination disclosed that the girl had been killed with one shot from a .32 caliber revolver. The autopsy also disclosed that some chloroform was found in the vital organs. The gun with which the girl was killed belonged to the defendant. A few days thereafter the defendant was arrested and taken to the Fillmore Police Station where she was questioned on three different occasions. On November 23rd the defendant made a written statement wherein she stated in substance that the girl had been complaining of pain and the defendant requested the deceased to go down to the operating room and prepare herself for an examination. The deceased went to the operating room, partially disrobed and laid down on the operating table. Thereupon the defendant administered some chloroform to her and then began making an examination. While she was making the examination she noticed that the deceased had stopped breathing; that she stopped the examination and resorted to artificial respiration in an effort to resuscitate her and that failing, she then went to her desk, which was in an adjoining room, procured the revolver and returned and fired one shot into the body of the girl. The medical testimony, however, established the fact that the shot [that] took the girl's life was fired into her body before she died.
The evidence was disclosed that shortly before the murder the defendant procured life insurance policies on the life of the girl, one in the sum of $5,000, with $10,000 payable in the event of accidental death, and another in the sum of $1,000, also with the double indemnity feature, and that she had sought to obtain two other policies in the sum of $10,000, each, each with double indemnity features.
The evidence further disclosed that at the time of the murder the defendant was in serious financial difficulty and there was also evidence tending to show that the deceased, who had been living at the home of the defendant for some time and was married to a son of the defendant, had been having considerable difficulty with the defendant's son.
The evidence further showed that the defendant is 63 years of age and has practiced the profession of medicine in Chicago for a great number of years.
The defendant has no previous criminal record."
For a more detailed account of the Wynekoop murder case, go to: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~wynkoop/webdocs/murder.htm. The site is maintained by Christopher H. Wynkoop.
When news of the murder spread, West Monroe Street resembled something of a carnival. Anywhere between 500 and 1000 people crowded the street in front of the residence. The automobiles that passed by traveled at a slow pace because the occupants would stick their heads out the window to look at the "strange old house" where two deaths and a murder occurred.
On 26 March 1934, the jury in the courtroom of Judge Harry B. Miller found Dr. Alice guilty of murder and fixed her punishment for a term of 25 years imprisonment. There was much debate by jurors over what should be the punishment of Dr. Alice. Two jurors wanted the death penalty and eight jurors out of twelve wanted life imprisonment. The compromise was a sentence of 25 years imprisonment with the belief that Alice would not live to regain her freedom.
Evidence of Dr. Alice's sense of humor appears when asked if she'd like to go to jail or remain in the custody of the police. She replied, "Well your honor, never having been to the county jail, I should find the choice difficult." When a wagon arrived to take her to the jail, she said "What, no automobile this morning? Well, I wouldn't want one anyway. I'd like a patrol wagon particularly. You get so much exercise in a patrol wagon. They knock you this way and that and you have gymnasium and transportation in one and the same time."
Walker and Catherine accompanied their mother to Dwight Reformatory for Women as she began the first day of her sentence on 29 March 1934. At first, Earle was nowhere to be seen -- then a speeding taxicab appeared. Earle pushed through the crowd of reporters and embraced his mother. As he wept, she held his face to her own and whispered in his ear. After kissing her other children who followed her car over the 80 mile drive from Chicago, Alice was taken into the prison to begin her sentence.
While the Dwight Reformatory for Women is a prison, it is not so in the typical sense. Instead, the grounds consist of two-story limestone "cottages" that resemble sorority houses, and there exist no bars or prison walls. With such "comfort" nevertheless, Dr. Alice lost seventeen pounds during her first two months of imprisonment.
Alice, or Lois, as she preferred to be called, was the most celebrated inmate. Prison staff reported that she wasn't a "mixer", but that she was liked and people believed that she did not commit the murder and instead took the rap for someone else. She liked to keep others updated on current events and taught fellow inmates about their social responsibility. Dr. Alice spent much of her time indexing articles from medical journals and was mentally alert. She became very religious and read the Bible constantly. Her favorite passage in the Bible was the last chapter of Matthew, which said that those who would believe must have faith in a life hereafter regardless of their present troubles. In prison, Dr. Alice walked with two canes. She sewed and when well helped out in the kitchen. Dr. Alice was allowed to write a letter each Sunday and could receive mail every day. She heard from her son Earle frequently. Dr. Alice was known as an "A grader" prisoner. In other words, she was a model prisoner and therefore "could wear flesh-colored hosiery." A Dwight staff member commented, "On their admittance, prisoners were given black stockings. It took about six months of good conduct to trade them for the flesh-colored kind. Thereafter, infractions were punished by the return of the black stockings. Dr. Wynekoop went back to the black stockings for a short period a few months ago. The acting superintendent said it was a minor infraction, something about her mailing privileges." According to Dr. Alice's prison file, this infraction was for sending a letter through irregular channels.
In a letter to good friend, Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen, Alice writes of her daily prison routine:
"My old pal! Could I but grip your hand and sit where I could see you awhile. I 'd not need many words! Times I feel as though I'd literally succumbed to the desperate need of someone who cares. All my life, until imprisoned, there were those within touch or call who satisfied this deep need. Just can't seem to get along without it. My schedule is pretty well defined: called at 6:30, breakfast at 7:00, "do" my room and report for assignment, 7:45. Back in room 11:40, shower and change work suit for dress and dinner 12:00. In my room again (with door locked) until 12:30. Then until 1:15 am enjoying a bit of tutoring for someone who has a laudable ambition-I like doing that! At 1:15 I go to the solarium, where I rest an hour; then until 4:45 read and brief (for filing) selected medical articles. Supper is at 5:30; lights out at 8:30 … For "pickup" am undertaking lace for an altar cloth. It is No. 50 thread so that I cannot do more than fifteen minutes at a time. It is hard, but am making it a devotional service. All that time I'm at prayer …
In 1944, Dr. Alice made a plea for her pardon, which was subsequently denied. Dr. Van Hoosen put forth her theory that the actual murderer was Alice's brother-in-law, Dr. Gilbert Wynekoop, who had been confined to the psychiatric ward of Menard State Penitentiary. He had a criminal attack record covering 12 years and was committed on sex charges. Dr. Gilbert Wynekoop furthermore embarrassed the family when he attempted to strangle his estranged wife in the home of Dr. Alice during their divorce proceedings. His landlady once had him arrested on nudity charges. Mrs. Charlotte Hiermeier said that he sat naked in the open doorway of his apartment and wandered about the halls in the same condition. Dr. Gilbert Wynekoop also pleaded guilty to a narcotics charge. Dr. Alice had once told police that her office had been burglarized on more than one occasion and medicine and drugs taken. A man of controversy, Dr. Gilbert Wynekoop claimed that he could solve the murder mystery in five minutes if allowed to talk to the coroner.
After ten years imprisonment, Dr. Alice's parole officer reported the following:
"Lois has made a poor adjustment in the institution and has had two demotions. She received one demotion for hiding keys that belonged to Dr. Wilson and the second demotion was for sending out a letter to her daughter Catherine through an irregular channel. This woman is of superior intelligence and is a vital, alert individual with a keen sense of humor but has rather a dominating nature. She is an ardent Episcopalian and obtains much satisfaction through her religion. She has no definite plans if pardoned but would like to enter Women's and Children's Hospital in Chicago for two weeks for observation and x-ray of lungs. [She] would also like to spend a week with Miss Marianne Bugge, masseuse, at 3144 Washington Blvd. I talked by telephone with her two sisters, Mrs. Harvey E. Wood, 717 Oneida Street, Joliet, Illinois, and with Mrs. C. Fairclo, Kingston, Illinois; neither of them are able to take her into their home. She has a very good friend who visited her recently, Doctor Bertha Van Hoosen, 1521 W. Warren Blvd., Chicago, Illinois, who is very willing to assist her in any way she might be able. It is the opinion of the Classification Committee … that if pardoned her chances of adjustment in community life are POOR."
To the contrary, upon Dr. Alice's release from prison, a Dwight superintendent described her adjustment to prison life as "amazing".
Due to poor health, Dr. Alice was finally released from Dwight Reformatory 28 December 1947 at the age of 76. She left the grounds in an ambulance with her son Walker and Walker's son by her side. As reporters mobbed them and flashbulbs popped, Alice maintained her innocence. She was on her way to Wesley Memorial Hospital in Chicago for treatment of a heart ailment. She served a total of 13 years and 9 months of her 25 years sentence.
Sadly, the Wynekoop mansion was razed to the ground 8 September 1935 after being sold by Dr. Alice's three children to an adjacent apartment building owner in July of 1934. The reported price was $1,200, plus assumption of a $9,000 mortgage. Before its destruction, the infamous mansion said to be cursed became an attraction on a haunted tour of Chicago. It's been claimed that Rheta's violin could be heard coming from the ruins of the mansion. Tourists also stole a glimpse of the mansion on the "Unusual Guide to Chicago" tour, a tour that also included sites of Al Capone.
The Wynekoop murder case came to life in Austria in 1965 where it was featured in a mock trial at the annual Salzburg Seminar in American Studies. The trial was conducted according to German law and then by American law. At Salzburg, Dr. Wynekoop was acquitted in the American proceedings but convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to two and a half years in prison in the mock German trial. When all was over, the fellows and their professors discussed the case for hours, comparing the two judicial systems. It was thought that Dr. Wynekoop had chloroformed her daughter-in-law for a medical examination and later shot her because she thought, erroneously, that she had accidentally killed her with an overdose of the anesthetic. The shooting was intended to make the death look like murder by a person or persons unknown.
In general, the public theorized that Dr. Alice chloroformed and then shot her daughter-in-law to rid her son of an unwelcome wife and to collect insurance money. At least, this was the story portrayed and pushed to the public by the press.
It is true that the marriage between Earle and Rheta was an unhappy one. The marriage was further strained when Earle began dating and misleading dozens of women. He told one woman that his name was Michael and when she called the house asking for Michael, a woman believed to be Dr. Alice called for Earle without hesitation or question. Rheta's father accused Dr. Wynekoop of conspiring with her son to kill his daughter so that Earle could marry someone else. Dr. Harry Hoffman, chief of the behavior clinic of the county and psychologist said, "The love affair between Rheta and Earle was a fantasy. They met once and then corresponded. Earle fell in love not with the girl but with her letters. Her letters had an intellectual quality that appealed to him. There was nothing physical in their premarital relationship. The moment they were married, their physical love was a failure and from the first week or two both of them realized their marriage was not a success and never could be a success, for neither one loved the other. Earle's affairs with other girls was simply compensatory for the lack of love in his own married life." Earle confessed himself that this was the case. It is said that Earle had a little black book that contained the addresses of over 50 mistresses with physical descriptions. One woman said of him, "I fell head over heels in love with him. He was cool and I had to reproach him sometimes because the other girls at the fair used to admire him."
Just what really happened in the "gloomy old mansion" on the night of 21 November 1933 we may never know, as every detail seems to contradict the other: the body contained no traces of chloroform, the body contained traces of chloroform, Dr. Alice shot Rheta, a burglar shot Rheta …. The press would have you believe that she also murdered her husband and daughter Mary Louise, the latter being put into the furnace of the old home. People who did not know her swarmed and cursed her, called her vile names and spit on her. Dr. Alice voiced her frustration with reporters who continually "got it all wrong", and she is correct in that respect. There is incorrect information from her date of birth to her date of death and even the year she was released from prison. Earle was even mistakenly reported as being dead from a car accident in the 1940s and having never remarried.
Dr. Alice's struggle with life ended at Burnside Rest Home (5842 Stony Island Avenue) in Chicago where she died of pneumonia seven years after her release from prison. She was 84. Daughter Catherine kept her death a secret from the public for 11 months. She went to great pains to conceal her mother's identity with the rest home and Mt. Hope funeral chapel where Dr. Alice was cremated. She holds a place in Rosehill Cemetery alongside her husband, baby son Frank, and Walker.
• She was ill with malaria between 1876-1880.
• She appeared on the census in 1880 in Onarga, Iroquois County, Illinois. She lived in the household of her parents.
• She appeared on the census in 1900 at 1563 West Monroe Street in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. She lived with her husband and sister-in-law.
• She appeared on the census in 1910 at 3406 West Monroe Street (aka Adams Street) in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. She lived in the household of her husband.
• She appeared on the census in 1920 at 3406 West Monroe Street in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. She lived in the household of her husband. She is listed as "Lindsay".
• She appeared on the census in 1930 at 3406 West Monroe Street in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. She was a widowed head of household. Her property was valued at $25,000. Two boarders lived in the home Ash & Enid Hennesey.
• She was educated at Grand Prairie Seminary (aka: Onarga Commercial College) in 1890 in Onarga, Iroquois County, Illinois.
• She was educated at Onarga Seminary in 1892 in Onarga, Iroquois County, Illinois.
• She was educated at the Northwestern University of Illinois (Woman's Medical School) in 1895 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.
• She had a residence at 949 W. Harrison Street in 1899 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.
• She had a residence at 3406 West Monroe Street in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.
• She enjoyed literature.
• She worked as a medical doctor.
• She was a registered Republican, but considered herself a "progressive Republican".
• She was President of the Chicago Medical Women's Club, Chairman of the Propaganda Committee of the Chicago Medical Society, member and Trustee of the National Chapter of Nu Sigma Phi and Corresponding Secretary of the Chicago Eugenic Educational Society.
• She was Episcopalian and attended the Church of the Ephiphany (Adams St. & Ashland Avenue) in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.
• Her funeral was held at John E. Egan (5908 S. Kedzie) in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.
• She was cremated at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois and shares a tombstone with her husband and children at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.
Alice married Frank Eldridge Wynekoop, son of William Garrett Wynekoop and Helen Mar Haynes, 17 April 1900 in Onarga, Iroquois County, Illinois.115 (Frank Eldridge Wynekoop was born 13 December 1866 in Wolcott, White County, Indiana,115,118 died 2 January 1929 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois 118 and was buried 5 January 1929 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois at Rosehill Cemetery 118,119.) The cause of his death was stroke.