A Century of Murder, Mayhem, and Fraud in Jacksonville

November 10, 2014 8 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Do you really know your next door neighbor? Over the last century, Jacksonville has been the home of several interesting characters and residents who operated on the other side of the law. Here's a few from Jacksonville's notorious past.

4. Henry "Skimp" Tillman

A resident of Northshore, Henry "Skimp" Tillman's house still stands at 111 Tallulah Avenue.

Henry "Skimp" Tillman was the epitome of a vibrant downtown Jacksonville era that featured an undertone of violence. The city's lawless streets were littered with bars and juke joints in the years immediately following the downfall of Prohibition. During this time, newspapers were filled shootings at saloons, chili parlors, hash houses and dance halls.

Known for having a bad temper, Skimp Tillman was the one-eyed bar owner of Skimp's at the northwest corner of Main and State Streets. Over a twenty year period, Tillman had been charged six times with assault to murder. In one 1935 case where he was acquitted, a customer named Leslie Oldham told the bartender, "I'll get you yet, Skimp." Skimp responded by telling him, "I'll get you, Leslie," then shooting him from behind the bar.

In 1935, Tillman shot to death a customer named Leslie Oldham in Skimp's bar at Bar and Lee streets. Witnesses said Oldham said, "I'll get you yet, Skimp," and Skimp replied, "I'll get you, Leslie," and shot from behind the bar. He was acquitted and the world turned and the life and times of Skimp Tillman went on.

Skimp's luck with beating the law ran out on the afternoon of August 12, 1948. That day, he shot Frank Wood inside of his bar. Moments earlier, Skimp had an argument earlier with his customer about cases involving the Hyslers.

Labeled a trigger-happy hot-head by Assistant State Attorney Nathan Schevitz, the jury found him guilty of first degree murder. The punishment was a ride on "Old Sparky." At 8:30 a.m. on June 5, 1949, Henry Van "Skimp" Tillman was electrocuted at the age of 51.

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