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This week in history: Mayor Carter's murderer hanged + Harrison Ford's first interview

Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition
Welcome to the “This week in history” newsletter! Every Saturday we take a break from recapping the day’s news to bring you a deep dive into Chicago’s thespian, heroic and sometimes a little sad history. For more historic photos, follow us at @CSTphotovault on Facebook and Instagram.
— Alison Martin (@miss_alison_m, follow for extra history plus rants and dogs throughout the week)

This week in history: Mayor’s murderer hanged
A portrait of Patrick Eugene Prendergast as it appeared in the July 13, 1894 edition of the Chicago Daily News.
A portrait of Patrick Eugene Prendergast as it appeared in the July 13, 1894 edition of the Chicago Daily News.
The assassination of Mayor Carter Harrison III shocked Chicago so much that the afternoon paper, Chicago Daily News, published a rare evening edition to report on the Oct. 23, 1893, crime.
“The murderer is under arrest,” the paper announced. “He gives his name as Eugene Patrick Prendergast” — though his name was actually Patrick Eugene Prendergast.
On that night, Prendergast knocked on the door of Harrison’s mansion and insisted to the maid that he see the mayor, the Daily News reported. The maid roused a napping Harrison in the parlor and sent him out to greet his guest in the hallway, but she didn’t follow him.
“Almost immediately she heard a shot which was quickly followed by two others,” the paper said. “Then there was the sound of a heavy fall.”
Read the rest of the account here. Harrison served eight terms as Chicago’s mayor, one who regulated vices and used the proceeds to build roads, streetcars and other infrastructure. Check out this biography of him here or read more about his murder here.
Strange Chicago
While on a press tour in Chicago in 1977, the three stars of "Star Wars" — Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford — model Bugs Bunny-like hats to mock a negative review of their performances in the movie. Photo by James DePree/Chicago Sun-Times.
While on a press tour in Chicago in 1977, the three stars of "Star Wars" — Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford — model Bugs Bunny-like hats to mock a negative review of their performances in the movie. Photo by James DePree/Chicago Sun-Times.
In 1976, George Lucas cast a relatively unknown Chicago-born actor as the dashing rogue in his upcoming space epic. When it hit theaters the following year, Harrison Ford, along with co-stars Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, skyrocketed to fame. Since then, Ford’s become a household name and gone on to create other iconic roles such as Indiana Jones.
About a month after “Star Wars” premiered, the actor, who was born July 13, 1942, stopped by Chicago along with Fisher and Hamill on a press tour.
When Chicago Daily News reporter Cynthia Dagnal caught up with the trio on June 22, 1977, in a Chicago hotel, she likely didn’t expect them to be wearing Bugs Bunny ears. 
“This is my John Simon review,” Fisher told Dagnal as she turned around and showed the word “Wretched” stitched into the back of the hat. Simon wrote a particularly scathing review of the movie for New York magazine and Esquire, so the actors decided to have some fun. 
“I’m uninspired!” Hamill said.
“‘Yeah, well I can understand that. But I’m adequate,’ Ford smirked as Mark pretended to pout,” Dagnal wrote.
Harrison Ford speaks to the press about "Star Wars" during a press tour in Chicago on June 20, 1977. Photo by James DePree/Chicago Sun-Times.
Harrison Ford speaks to the press about "Star Wars" during a press tour in Chicago on June 20, 1977. Photo by James DePree/Chicago Sun-Times.
But all three actors were secretly pleased with the review, as “films Simon likes are generally not well attended,” Dagnal noted.
The reporter then asked Ford why he thought people flocked to the movie.
“The primary response it elicits is that it was a lot of fun,” he told her. “And that’s plenty.” 
He continued: Audiences “no longer want to see rape, kill, violence, chase… All that crap is over now. It’s like the films of the ‘30s and '40s. They were still about society’s problems, but they didn’t co-op the issues and then provide a simplistic solution — that visceral catharsis, that accessible intellectual experience that makes people feel better for now reading. When you see Jimmy Stewart in 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” you know that’s crap. You know that’s not the way Washington works. But it makes you feel good — it makes you feel that you can affect the process.“
With the success of "Star Wars,” the trio expected other copycats to follow. “And they’ll miss the point completely,” Ford concluded.
You can read John Simon’s review that the actors mocked here. Enjoy a few highlights of Ford’s impressive career here, here and here.
City of arts
Later renamed Navy Pier, Municipal Pier opened to the public on July 15, 1916. Here is how it looks on May 6, 1916. From the Sun-Times archives.
Later renamed Navy Pier, Municipal Pier opened to the public on July 15, 1916. Here is how it looks on May 6, 1916. From the Sun-Times archives.
Municipal Pier costs $4.5 million and stretched 3,300 feet into Lake Michigan, according to a timeline from WTTW. When it opened to the public on July 15, 1916, visitors could walk the pier, visit the head house on the west end and peek in on the Grand Ballroom, which would host special events.
To celebrate the pier’s opening, the Department of Public Works booked several popular bands to bring in the crowds, including the “Johnny” Hand Band.
But the renowned conductor, John “Johnny” Hand himself, wouldn’t get to conduct the concert.
Born in Prussia, 20-year-old Hand arrived in Chicago on Nov. 4, 1851 — Election Day according to the Chicago Daily News. He landed his first paid gig that year playing a Christmas dance in LaSalle.
When the Civil War erupted, Hand served as a bandman in the 24th Illinois infantry “until he was mustered out,” the Daily News reported. He later joined a group of Chicagoans going to Kentucky to deliver supplies to the wounded, but Morgan’s raiders captured the group and held Hand prisoner for two days.
After the war, Hand played subscription dances and soon gained enough renown to land the bigger parties, the Daily News said. His band played the World’s Fair ball, the Peace Jubilee dance and the Dewey ball (likely held in Admiral Dewey’s honor), to name a few.
By 1916, Hand’s health had deteriorated, and though his band played Municipal Pier, he could not conduct.
“The veteran bandleader sat in an automobile as near the band as he could get and listened. He was too fatigued to lead the band himself and so delegated the duty to his son, Armin,” a July 17, 1916 report in the Chicago Daily News said.
Three months and one day later, the paper published Hand’s obituary.
“His son, Armin F. Hand, was hastily called to his father’s bedside and was with him when he died.”
Take a look at how storied Navy Pier, which turns 105 this year, has changed and evolved since opening day here.
First mention/Last mention
Ida B. Wells-Barnett, born July 16, 1862: Journalist. Activist. Suffragette. Badass. Ida B. Wells-Barnett made a name for herself reporting on the lynchings of Black Americans in the South, but on June 12, 1903, she wrote into the Chicago Daily News to give her opinion on a lynching in Illinois. Nine days earlier, a mob in Belleville, Illinois, lynched school principal David Wyatt of nearby Brooklyn. Belleville’s mayor, law enforcement officials and many town businessmen supported the murder. In her first published letter to the paper, Wells-Barnett blasted a Chicago Christian minister who had voiced support for the mob. “There have been hypocrites and Judases since the world began and there will be till its end,” she wrote. “But that the Christian and moral forces of this great community can be so silent and seemingly indifferent over the outrage which is being done to justice, to the moral well-being of our people, to Christianity and consistency — to everything which a Christian and moral and civilized nation holds dear — by such acts as the horrible occurrence at Belleville and such teaching as that of the minister who sees good in such acts is incredible.”
Czar Nicholas II, died July 17, 1918: The last Romanov czar of Russia, Czar Nicholas II, the royal family and several servants were executed by Bolshevik troops in Ekaterinburg on July 17, 1918, but the Bolshevik government kept the execution a secret for more than a week. The first report of it reached Chicago in the July 27, 1918 edition of the Chicago Daily News. “Recently the deaths of Czar Nicholas and his son Alexis at the hands of the bolsheviks have been reported.” No other information was given at the time.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett risked her life to report on the lynching atrocities in the South. Read her work here or learn more about David Wyatt and the lynching in Belleville here. For a complete history of the Romanov dynasty, read Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “The Romanovs: 1613-1918” (careful, it’s a long one), or for more on how the Romanov bodies were finally discovered, check out Robert Massie’s account, “The Romanovs: The Final Chapter.”
Thanks for reading! Want to share your thoughts? Your favorite moment in Chicago history? Your complaints? Send them to amartin@suntimes.com.
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