working the badger game

In 1905, Marshall Field, Jr. was found shot to death in the bedroom of his home on Chicago’s Prairie Avenue, reportedly the result of a self-inflicted gun shot. Field’s family told police the death had been an accident: Marshall had been cleaning a hunting weapon when it accidentally discharged. Others weren’t so sure, however, and soon there were rumors of Field’s dealings in the old Levee vice district. Had Field taken his own life to bow out of some untoward matter at Chicago’s most prestigious brothel, the Everleigh Club?

Everleigh Club found here

In November 1913, the New York Times ran this story

LOS ANGELES, California: Vera Scott, who says she is the wife of a Kansas City musician, and who is in jail here on a charge of vagrancy, in connection with an alleged attempt to work the badger game, told the police today that she shot and killed Marshal Field, Jr., in a Chicago clubhouse in 1905.

Not this Vera Scott

The Scott woman asserted that after the shooting, Marshall Field Snr gave her a large sum of money to leave the country. The woman asserted further that it was she who shot and killed Reese Prosser on a train in Montana in June 1910. (Prosser was killed by his divorced wife who was acquitted on the grounds of self defence)

1910 Train wreck Allard, Montana found here

The woman laughed heartily and often during the reciting of her story, at the ease with which she has been able to “handle” men. She told how she arrived in Los Angeles 8 months ago with only $3.00 and since then had made $60,000 by wheedling wealthy men.

some wealthy Los Angeleans found here

“I am the daughter of a wealthy French-born stockbroker” she said. “I went to New York and married Louis Clarkson, poor fellow he’s dead now. Then came Reese Prosser. We got along well until he turned savage. Besides, I wanted liberties, so I took them. In Chicago I was introduced as Vera Leroy to Marshall Field Jr.  who took a fancy to me and we went to the Everleigh Club brothel together. 

Princess Caroline weds her French stockbroker

He said something that offended me and I was so inflamed with wine I took his revolver off him and said I would teach him a lesson. The trigger must have been finely set, it just went off before I intended it. Marshall fell mortally wounded but was still able to say “Get me a cab out of here and don’t say anything”

some interesting old taxis to be found here

The next thing I knew we were in two separate cabs, he returning to his wife and children and me heading towards a hotel on the North Side. Next day, his father Marshall Field Snr, visited me and handed over $10,000. I was promised another $10,000 if I set sail for the Orient so I took that too.

Marshall Field Snr found here

 Later I returned quietly and went to Cleveland where my husband Reese Prosser was glad to have me back. Then in 1910 I met Leroy Scott and told Reese I wanted a divorce. I got one against his wishes and when he followed me on a train I had to shoot him in self defence. 

find out how to defend yourself in Bahrain

The story of Field Jr.’s death at the age of 38 continues to stir controversy today. Although officially ruled accidental, rumors have long circulated that he was in fact shot by a prostitute in the infamous Everleigh Club, or was despondent and was trying to commit suicide. The true story of his death may never be known.

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35 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It is unusual for women to indulge in violent murder, unless their own safety is involved. The Thallium alternative seems much more common.

    So, what happened to “the Scott woman”?

    • I don’t think her story was believed

  2. Inflamed with wine … what a fabulous excuse for a misdeed. I must remember it!

    • Get inflamed this weekend cindy!

  3. The badger game? You sure that’s not supposed to be the beaver game? 😉

    • See my comment below re the badger game. Not much beaver either by all accounts.

  4. Nobody cleans a loaded guy, for cryin’ out loud! That’s the worst cover story I’ve ever heard. Would have liked to meet this Scott woman. I’ll bet she knew how to…oh, never mind.

    • i bet Vera’s kinda old right, now… but maybe still knows how to…. and without teeth!

  5. The badger game, huh? Not a term I was familiar with. Usually refers to blackmail attempts, typically over adultery or scandalous sexual behaviour. But Vera seems to have specialised in murder and money-wheedling so not quite the same.

    I’ve been trying the money-wheedling lark for a while, but I don’t seem to have the knack. My bank balance is still pathetically unimpressive.

    • You’ve got a property portfolio haven’t you? 😉

      • I have one large house, as a result of various strokes of good luck over the years. In my twenties I was renting a squalid bedsit in London and assuming I would die in one. Property portfolios are entirely beyond my means.

  6. “Besides, I wanted liberties, so I took them.” … that almost makes sense …

    • Takes one to know one daddyp

  7. I’m not quite sure how, but I’m pretty sure this confirms what granny coyote always told me:

    Never mess with badgers…”

    • Grandmothers are always right. Except for that occasional time they sucked on the wrong egg

      • Funny. I seem to recall that grandad coyote used to say that, too

  8. I don’t think I would have been that calm if someone shot me.

    • I’d be screaming bloody blue murder

  9. I love grifters.

  10. I was thrown out of the Everleigh Club once.
    Okay. Not really.
    But it’s fun to pretend sometimes. 🙂

  11. I’ve been inflamed with wine hundreds of times. If only I knew that I could use that as an excuse I would have done even more.

  12. The attacker on that self-defense book is doing it all wrong. Never interlace your fingers like that when doing a choke hold, or any hold for that matter. Christ, where are our rapists of today learning this crap?

    • I wondered about that. And is he wearing fake nails?

  13. Not sure if gun-toting is the best strategy for being forced to accept $10 000 and flee to the Orient, but I’d give it a try. Trally-ho!

  14. What a story. He was shot n took a taxi home to die there.

  15. Great story!

    (nothing witty or stupid to say)

  16. I bet he got too frisky with the prostitute.

  17. You’re not doing research for some personal adventure, are you?

  18. Look. These things happen. I mean, the other day my husband said, “Pass the salt,” and I was like, “Oops!” and I shot him. I then went next door to hang out with my friend, and she went to get peanuts in the pantry, and I was like, “Oops!” and I stabbed her to death. It’s a bummer. What can you do?

    • Robin, if my children were still young you would be exactly the kind of child psychologist I’d be seeking out for their treatment

  19. ha, ha – nursemyra – very entertaining, specially the incongruous placement of Princess Caroline’s wedding photo and “defend yourself in Bahrain”

  20. “We got along well until …”

    There always seems to be an “until,” isn’t there?

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