Saturday, August 30, 2008

White Slavery in Chicago

The most famous white slavery case in Chicago history took place here, at 2252 S. Wabash, now the site of a collision repair shop and an empty lot where train cars are stacked.

Mona Marshall worked at the ribbon counter of Marshall Field's department store, One day in the spring of 1907, a handsome man named Harry Balding approached her affectionately, and asked her to join him for a show at a theatre. Instead, he took her to the Prima Dance Hall on 35th St., drugged her, and the next day she awoke here, at the Follansbee Flats on Wabash. After being brutally "broken in," Mona was sold to a brothel called the Casino on Dearborn St.which was run by Vic Shaw's husband, for $30.

One night, Mona wrote "I am a white slave" on a scrap of paper and threw it from her window, where it was found and brought to the attention of the police, who rescued Mona and arrested Harry Balding and the others who had conspired to enslave her.

At least, that was Mona's story, which was used to convict Harry Balding, despite a number of inconsistencies which came out at trial. The case brought the practice of white slavery to the public's eye and began the outrage which led to the passage of the Mann Act in 1910 and eventually led to the closure of the Levee's restricted prostitution district in 1911.


Anonymous said...

I've never seen train cars stacked in this lot. Semi-trailers, yes.

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