Tag Archives: Springfield Jacksonville

Halloween-week story: Spence Auto Sales and Ottis Toole Death Car

Click below for Halloween-week’s story, or navigate the city through the direction buttons at the top of the page:

It was November 1983, six months since Spence had last seen Ottis Toole, the great fake serial killer. Detectives thought they could pin the Ottis Toole death car and a rusty machete to Spence Auto Sales. Two months later, Spencer Bennett was dead. 

New Story: First Baptist Church

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the direction buttons at the top of the page:

First Baptist Church has perhaps received more love and more hate than any other entity in Jacksonville. It dates to a ca.-Civil War split with black church members who retained the original name, Bethel Baptist. In 1923, Pastor W.A. Hobson welcomed 200 Klansmen in full regalia into his farewell sermon. In the 1980s, Pastors Homer Lindsay and Jerry Vines ignited a showdown with more “liberal” members of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2019, what once seemed unthinkable occurs: the church plans to sell 90 percent of its downtown campus.

New Story: Ottis Toole’s Mother’s House (Until He Burnt It Down)

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the direction buttons at the top of the page:

The first time Ottis Toole burnt down his mother’s house, he was 10 or 11 years old. When he burnt down his mother’s house on Day Avenue in 1981, his name wasn’t yet famous as either one of the worst serial killers in history, or one of the biggest fakes. 

Big Jim, Mouthpiece of the City’s Wild Soul

Click below for the full story:

Rexall Drugs sold the Americanitis Elixir to salve the nerves of anxious city dwellers suffering from noises like Big Jim. The State Board of Health condemned the old steam whistle, said it brought strong, rugged men to the breaking point. 

John Einig, the same inventor who built Jacksonville’s first automobile, had designed Big Jim. The whistle sounded the end of world wars, the dawn of electric lighting, the Great Fire of 1901, and the death of its inventor. The 140 year old whistle still sounds four times a day over Springfield and Downtown.