Eugene Temple

Newspaper report on the investigation into Eugene Temple’s death overlaid on 37th and State Street today. Text: Chicago Tribune, August 4, 1919.

Born: 1887
Occupation: Laundryman
Killed: July 28th, 1919
Cause of death: Stab wounds

Eugene Temple, a white man, was born on December 28th, 1887 in Chicago.  Temple lived at 3415 N. Clark Street, in the Lake View neighborhood and owned Columbia Laundry at 3642 S. State Street. He married his wife, Grace, on June 7th, 1907. On the second day of the riots, July 28th, Temple and his wife were exiting their laundry to get into his waiting car when, “he was attacked by three Negroes, robbed, and stabbed.” Temple died of his wounds that night, July 28th, at the age of thirty two. He is buried at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.

The coroner’s jury proved unable to identify Temple’s killers, leading the jury’s foreman to censure Chicago police for their failure to obtain evidence. The motive of Temple’s killers also remains a mystery. The coroner’s report concluded, “this was a cold blooded, calculated murder, without the element of race passion.” The Chicago Commission Report, on the other hand, suggested Temple’s killers may have been retaliating against white murders of Black people: “The ‘Black Belt’ contributed its share of violence to the record of Monday afternoon and night. Rumors of white depredations and killings were current among the Negroes and led to acts of retaliation.” The Chicago Commission Report went on to indicate Temple employed both whites and Blacks at his laundry and allegedly maintained friendly relations with all of his workers, and no other white shopkeeper on the block was attacked.

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