Museum Hosts Author Matthew Galik

Village History Museum Hosts Author of "The 1926 Orland Park Murder Mystery" December 15
Posted on 12/07/2018
An unsolved mystery will be the topic of discussion when the Orland Park History Museum hosts Author Matthew Galik to discuss his recent book, “The 1926 Orland Park Murder Mystery.”An unsolved mystery will be the topic of discussion when the Orland Park History Museum hosts Author Matthew Galik to discuss his recent book, “The 1926 Orland Park Murder Mystery.”

The free event will be held Saturday, December 15 from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. at the museum, 14415 South Beacon Avenue. Galik will discuss his book, sign copies and books will be available for purchase.

A lifelong resident of Mokena, the 32-year-old Galik published his first book, “Images of America: Mokena” in 2011 and writes a bi-monthly column for the Mokena Messenger Newspaper.

“We’re looking forward to learning more about what was happening in the region in the 1920s,” said Trustee Kathy Fenton, village board liaison to the museum. “To put it in perspective, the population of Orland Park at that time was around 400 and the heart of the town was where Old Orland still stands.”

On the morning of April 14, 1926, the Inland Steel payroll delivery was hijacked in Indiana Harbor. Later that afternoon, Will County Deputy Sheriff Walter Fisher, of Mokena, died in a hail of gunfire just outside of Orland Park. That night, the bullet-riddled body of Santo Calabrese turned up on a Broadview road.

The exact sequence of events remains uncertain, but a jury was able to trace enough of the day’s violent trajectory to send Daniel Hesly on the path to Alcatraz.

“I wanted to write about this subject because Deputy Walter Fisher, the main figure in the story, ultimately gave his life protecting the lives and property of his fellow townsmen and today, he is completely forgotten in Mokena,” Galik said. “With the book, there will always be something in existence that serves to remember him.”

Galik’s story includes the drama of a high speed pursuit and mistaken identity that shocked the jaded sensibilities of Prohibition- era Chicago and plunged Mokena into mourning.

“I learned about this case years ago while looking through issues of Mokena’s old village newspaper from the 1920s,” Galik said. “Nowadays, we have a somewhat romanticized version of the 1920s in our heads with images of silent movies, flappers and the like. The decade was exceptionally ridden with crime and violence though, especially in Chicagoland.”

“At that time, all of the towns out here were small, farming communities,” said Orland Park Museum Curator Sarah Stasukewicz. “Orland Park historians will know that this happened three years before Orland Park Mayor Ralph Jennings asked Franklin Loebe to serve as village treasurer --- a post he held for the next 65 years.”

Galik has been studying the history of Mokena for 20 years and is a graduate of the University of Illinois – Chicago with a degree in Germanic studies. He serves on the Boards of Trustees for the Mokena Community Public Library District and the Will County Historic Preservation Commission. Galik is also a Chicago tour guide where he entertains visitors and residents with “breezy stories of architects and gangsters.”

Galik added, “The tragic story in my book is only one among many that our forefathers experienced in this era.”

For more information, call the Orland Park History Museum at (708) 873-1622.