Homepage of "Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, & Other Highlights of Lincoln, IL"

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A Long-Range Plan to Brand the First Lincoln Namesake City as the Second City of Abraham Lincoln Statues

The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in Lincoln, Illinois

Abraham Lincoln and the Historic Postville Courthouse,
including a William Maxwell connection to the Postville Courthouse

About Henry Ford and the Postville Courthouse, the Story of the Postville Courthouse Replica,
Tantivy, & the Postville Park Neighborhood in the
Route 66 Era


The Rise of Abraham Lincoln and His History and Heritage in His First Namesake Town,
also the founding of Lincoln College, the plot to steal Lincoln's body, and memories of Lincoln College and the Rustic Tavern-Inn

Introduction to the Social & Economic History of Lincoln, Illinois,
including poetry by William Childress & commentary by Federal Judge Bob Goebel & Illinois Appellate Court Judge Jim Knecht

"Social Consciousness in William Maxwell's Writings Based on Lincoln, Illinois" (an article published in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, winter 2005-06

Peeking Behind the Wizard's Screen: William Maxwell's Literary Art as Revealed by a Study of the Black Characters in Billie Dyer and Other Stories

Introduction to the Railroad & Route 66 Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois

The Living Railroad Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois: on Track as a Symbol of the "Usable Past"


Route 66 Overview Map of Lincoln with 42 Sites, Descriptions, & Photos

The Hensons of Business Route 66

The Wilsons of Business
Route 66
including the Wilson Grocery & Shell Station

Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial Park
(former Chautauqua site),
the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites

Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek & Cemetery Hill,
the highway bridges, GM&O bridge, Madigan State Park, the old dam (with photos & Leigh's memoir of "shooting the rapids" over the old dam), & the Ernie Edwards' Pig-Hip Restaurant Museum in Broadwell

The Historic Logan County Courthouse, Past & Present

Route 66 Map with 51 Sites in the Business & Courthouse Square Historic District,
including locations of historical markers
(on the National Register of Historic Places)

Vintage Scenes of the Business & Courthouse Square Historic District

The Foley House:  A Monument to Civic Leadership
(on the National Register of Historic Places)

Agriculture in
the Route 66 Era

Arts & Entertainment Heritage,
including the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers' Riders Club of the 1950s

Business Heritage

Cars, Trucks & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era

including the hometown churches of Author William Maxwell & Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr

Factories, Past and Present

Food Stores of
the Route 66 Era


Hospitals, Past and Present

Hotels & Restaurants of the Railroad & Route 66 Eras

Lincoln Developmental Center
(Lincoln State School & Colony in the Route 66 era), plus
debunking the myth of Lincoln, Illinois, choosing the Asylum over the University of Illinois

Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; & Utilities


Museums & Parks, including the Lincoln College Museum and its Abraham Lincoln Collection, plus the Heritage-in-Flight Museum

with Distinction

News Media in the Route 66 Era

The Odd Fellows' Children's Home


Memories of the 1900 Lincoln Community High School,
including Fred Blanford's dramatic account of the lost marble fountain of youth

A Tribute to the Historians and Advocates of Lincoln, Illinois

Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era

The Historic 1953 Centennial Celebration of Lincoln, Illinois

The Festive 2003 Sesqui-centennial Celebration of Lincoln, Illinois,
including photos of LCHS Class of 1960 dignitaries & the Blanfords

Why Did the State Police Raid Lincoln, Illinois, on October 11, 1950?

The Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County, Illinois,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960)


Pages in this section tell about Leigh Henson's Lincoln years, moving away, revisits, and career:

About Lincoln, Illinois;
This Web Site; & Me

A Tribute to Lincolnite Edward Darold Henson: World War II U.S. Army Veteran of the Battles for Normandy and the Hedgerows; Brittany and Brest; and the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge)

For Remembrance, Understanding, & Fun: Lincoln Community High School Mid-20th-Century Alums' Internet Community
(a Web site and email exchange devoted to collaborative memoir and the sharing of photos related to Lincoln, Illinois)

Leigh Henson's Pilgrimage to Lincoln, Illinois, on
July 12, 2001

Leigh Henson's Review of Dr. Burkhardt's William Maxwell Biography

Leigh Henson's Review of Ernie Edwards' biography, Pig-Hips on Route 66, by William Kaszynski

Leigh Henson's Review of Jan Schumacher's Glimpses of Lincoln, Illinois

Teach Local Authors: Considering the Literature of Lincoln, Illinois

Web Site About
Leigh Henson's Professional Life


Pages in this section are about the writing, memorabilia, and Web sites of other Lincolnites:

A Tribute to Bill and Phyllis Stigall:
Exemplary Faculty of Lincoln College at Mid-Twentieth Century

A Tribute to the Krotzes of Lincoln, Illinois

A Tribute to Robert Wilson (LCHS '46): Author of Young in Illinois, Movies Editor of December Magazine, Friend and Colleague of December Press Publisher Curt Johnson, and Correspondent with William Maxwell

Brad Dye (LCHS '60): His Lincoln, Illinois, Web Site,
including photos of many churches

Dave Armbrust's Memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois

J. Richard
(JR) Fikuart
(LCHS '65):
he Fikuarts of Lincoln, Illinois, including their connections to the William Maxwell family and three generations of family fun at Lincoln Lakes

Jerry Gibson (LCHS '60): Lincoln, Illinois, Memoirs & Other Stories

Dave Johnson (LCHS '56): His Web Site for the Lincoln Community High School Class of 1956

Sportswriter David Kindred: Memoir of His Grandmother Lena & Her West Side Tavern on Sangamon Street in the Route 66 Era

Judge Jim Knecht
(LCHS '62): Memoir and Short Story, "Other People's Money," Set in Hickey's Billiards on Chicago Street in the Route 66 Era

William A. "Bill" Krueger (LCHS '52): Information for His Books About Murders in Lincoln

Norm Schroeder (LCHS '60): Short Stories

Stan Stringer Writes About His Family, Mark Holland, and Lincoln, Illinois

Thomas Walsh: Anecdotes Relating to This Legendary Attorney from Lincoln by Attorney Fred Blanford & Judge Jim Knecht

Leon Zeter (LCHS '53): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1953
including announcements of LCHS class reunions

(Post yours there.)


Highway Sign of
the Times:

The Route 66
Association of Illinois

The Illinois State Historical Society

Illinois Tourism Site:
Enjoy Illinois



     Email a link to this page to someone who might be interested. Internet Explorer is the only browser that shows this page the way it was designed.  Your computer's settings may alter the display.

April 24, 2004: Awarded "Best Web Site of the Year" by the Illinois State Historical Society "superior achievement: serves as a model for the profession and reaches a greater public"

link to homepage

Marquee Lights of the Lincoln Theatre, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois

  You can go home again. Email Leigh Henson at DLHenson@missouristate.edu.

39. Illinois Governor Adlai E. Stevenson's 1950 Crackdown on Gambling

     "Stevenson . . . has touched no political, economic, or moral subject on which he has not taken a clear and open stand even to the point of bearding selfish groups to their faces" [opposing them face to face].
                             1962 Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck, Preface to Speeches of Stevenson    

     "I just stumbled across your site by accident looking for another copy of my book about Stevenson [Adlai: The Springfield Years] and was delighted to get up to date on so much. I must say, you did a remarkable research job, and I was fascinated. Congratulations on such an accurate and revealing piece of work!" --unsolicited testimonial from Journalist-Author Pat Harris (email to Leigh Henson, 2-11-06).

39.1: Source: Illinois Blue Book 1959-1960, p. 1.

      Like many of my contemporaries who grew up in Lincoln, Illinois, during the 1940s and 1950s, I vaguely remember hearing about the gambling raids there, and a desire to learn more about these raids and my hometown prompted me to research and develop this Web page-chapter to tell the story of Governor Adlai E. Stevenson's crackdown on illegal gambling. This page can stand alone, but also is intended to provide background and context for a separate Web page on The Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County, Illinois, During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960).

     Note: During a sabbatical leave in the fall of 2003, I researched several subjects, including the gambling raids, and conducted some of this research in Meyer Library of Missouri State University. All of this research was done to explore ways of using English studies for public service in support of the University's public affairs mission: specifically, to advance our knowledge of American social history and culture.

     In presenting information in 2003-04 about how Stevenson dealt with the gambling problem, I faced two choices: either develop a Web page or write an article for submission to an academic, refereed journal. I chose the Web page for these reasons:

  • At this final stage of my career I do not need to build my resume (curriculum vitae, or cv) with another academic article and because an academic article would have required deeper research and taken a lot more time (e.g., time to find such primary source material as letters and government documents buried in archives and vertical files of distant libraries);

  • I wanted to tell the main story and reach a greater audience than the small readership of a scholarly journal and because I wanted to add pages to expand my community history Web site of Lincoln, Illinois, as a "distance" public service;

  • A Web page allows more extensive use of photos and such informal material as memoir and minor digressions. The enrichment of this informal material adds the appeal of "human interest" that the constraints of formal scholarship do not often allow;

  • A Web page is a lot more fun and rewarding than writing an article for academic publication--a Web page sometimes prompts reader response. A journal article almost never does. Plus, trying to get published in an academic journal is always a crapshoot anyway; and

  • In doing this page and the entire community history Web site of Lincoln, Illinois, I confess I am trying to deflate the myth that we academic types only offer knowledge that is uninteresting and useless to the general public (that we only "pile higher and deeper"). Here, I have tried to "pile higher and dearer."

     Adlai Ewing Stevenson (1900-1965) earned a substantial place in American and world history for his roles as the two-time Democratic candidate for President (1952 and 1956) and as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations (1961-1965). His effectiveness as a one-term reform Governor of Illinois (1948-1952) attracted the attention of the Democratic Party, which convinced him to be its candidate against Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. One of Stevenson's most dramatic and controversial initiatives in promoting "good government" in Illinois was his crackdown on illegal gambling. Beginning in May of 1950, Stevenson ordered the Illinois State Police to conduct gambling raids throughout Illinois, and these raids continued beyond 1950. Following raids in southern Illinois and northern Illinois, raids were conducted in central Illinois, including Logan County and its county seat of Lincoln, on October 11, 1950.

     Other pages in this Web site present additional information about gambling and good government in Lincoln during the 1950s. Links to those pages appear in the Sources Cited at the bottom of this page.

     Topics presented in this chapter/page are

•  Stevenson's principled public service in the Lincoln tradition,

•  Introduction to Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson's crackdown on gambling,

•  Stevenson's reform of the Illinois State Police and anti-gambling legislation,

•  Sidebar: Remembering Harry Dial, Illinois Republican Ex-State Police Officer from Lincoln,

•  Stevenson's decision to use the State Police to attack gambling,

•  The Illinois State Police gambling raids of May--October, 1950, and

•  Stevenson's final word on gambling (1952).

Stevenson's Principled Public Service in the Lincoln Tradition

     As a native son of Illinois, Stevenson showed much interest in its history and Abraham Lincoln in particular. Adlai Stevenson's maternal great-grandfather, Jesse W. Fell, was the founder of Illinois State [Normal] University in 1857, and Fell had been a key player in arranging for the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates. Fell also was a friend and supporter of Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 Presidential campaign. Thus, by family history, Adlai Stevenson had been introduced to Abraham Lincoln. Historian Kenneth S. Davis describes Stevenson's fascination with Lincoln and Illinois history:

     "Public views of Stevenson as one who moved and had his being in the Lincoln tradition were enhanced by the Governor's obvious love affair with Illinois history. One of his earliest acts was to establish direct and well-used lines of communication between his office and the Illinois State Historical Library, whose head, State Historian Jay Monaghan, was the author of widely read books on Lincoln and Illinois history. From the library he obtained a carefully selected group of books for his office shelves and oil paintings by Illinois artists to hang on the mansion walls.

    Out-of-town visitors to the mansion were almost invariably taken, either by the Governor himself or by an appointed guide, to reconstructed New Salem, to Lincoln's tomb, to the house on the corner of Market and Eighth--and these visitors spread abroad tales of the Governor's total immersion in Lincolniana and of his fondness for the company of such famed Lincoln scholars Monaghan, Benjamin Thomas, then at work on his classic one-volute biography of Lincoln, and Carl Sandburg" (Davis, The Politics of Honor, p. 200).

     Note: Apparently when Stevenson spoke on certain occasions relating to Illinois history, he had Lincoln Biographer Benjamin Thomas ghost write speeches. The Papers of Adlai Stevenson, vol. 3, includes the text of at least three "thank you" letters that Stevenson sent to Thomas for ghost-written speeches, including a speech to the prestigious Chicago Historical Society on November 19, 1950, which Stevenson said brought "reverberating applause" (pp. 313, 316, 320, 482).

      39.2: Stevenson with Abraham Lincoln Autobiography Written at the Request of Jesse Fell

     (Photo from Noel F. Busch, Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois: A Portrait, p. 28. The caption reads, "Governor Stevenson inspects framed copy of three-page autobiography written by Abraham Lincoln at the request of Jesse W. Fell. Original manuscript, given to Fell, is now in the Library of Congress.")

     As a student of Lincoln, Stevenson understood that morality was at the core of Lincoln's view of public service. In Lincoln's time, slavery, of course, was the burning issue, and it brought Lincoln out of political retirement in 1854. Among Lincoln's most famous speeches framing his views on the slavery problem was the speech that led to his Republican party nomination--the speech at Cooper's Union, New York (February 27, 1860). In this speech Lincoln exhorted his audience to act on slavery as a moral issue: "Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it" (bold mine; quoted from Benjamin Thomas, Abraham Lincoln: A Biography, p. 204).

     Stevenson's desire for reform and good government clearly reflects his view of public service as a moral endeavor. As a result of this view, Stevenson was committed to act against gambling because of the corruption it caused (but as indicated below, he needed a little prodding).

39.3: Adlai E. Stevenson as Governor of Illinois

(Official portrait in the Illinois Blue Book 1949-50, p. 45.)

Introduction to Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson's Crackdown on Gambling

     From the beginning of the twentieth century, gambling was illegal in Illinois, but it flourished there through the activities of organized crime. Nationally the Chicago Syndicate ran the use of the telegraph to transmit racing news. The Chicago gangsters also dominated the numbers racket. "They corrupted politicians and law enforcement officers. They contributed to the campaigns of politicians of both parties" (Martin, p. 443). As John Bartlow Martin explains, gambling was at the center of the growing corruption:

     "About 1944 the Chicago Syndicate made an alliance with a gang in the East St. Louis area for the purpose of extending its empire throughout the state, particularly its gambling network. Downstate gambling had been dominated by the Shelton gang. In many counties it had run wide open; the gamblers paid off the local law enforcement officials. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch had criticized Governor Green harshly for permitting it [previously Green had been the States Attorney who had successfully prosecuted Al Capone]. The collision of forces between the Chicago-East St. Louis gangs and the Shelton gang had produced the murder at Peoria of Bernie Shelton at the height of the 1948 political campaign. That murder had led to the disclosure of wide-open gambling, links between downstate politicians and gamblers, links between gamblers and Governor Green's state police, and the indictment, later dismissed, of a Post-Dispatch reporter by a supporter of Green" (p. 443). In Springfield during Green's administration, gambling--including roulette-- "had been wide open at the Lake Club, a night club. . . frequented by legislators" (Martin, p. 444).

     Central Illinois Journalist Bill Monson explains:

     "In 1944, Dwight Green narrowly won re-election as Governor. Some say it was contributions from gangsters which helped him over the top. By this time, one-third of Illinois counties (including Knox County) had gambling of some kind.

     Peoria also had prostitution, which shamed some citizens so badly that they managed to elect a reform mayor, Carl O. Triebel, in 1945. The Sheltons tried to buy him off but couldn’t. Carl Shelton decided to retire to his farm in Wayne County and left Bernie in charge (Earl had never been much involved in the Peoria operation, preferring to operate from his home territory in Fairfield.) With the end of the war, Peoria became tamer; but there was still gambling, and Bernie got most of the take. Then the Sheltons’ enemies began to make their moves. In October 1947, Carl was shot to death in an ambush near his farm. In July 1948, Bernie was cut down by a sniper’s rifle outside his headquarters in Peoria [Leigh's note: I have seen the site of the slaying; it was in front of a tavern on Farmington Road near Bradley Park]. Their deaths had two results. There was a shakeup in gang operation throughout Illinois and a media frenzy about corruption which extended all the way to the governor’s office.

     Green ran for a third term in 1948 and was expected to benefit from popular Republican Thomas Dewey’s campaign for the Presidency. But the media fallout from Peoria led to statewide investigations which connected Green and Attorney General George Barrett with corruption" (Monson).

     After some prolonged soul searching, Stevenson became the Democratic candidate for Governor. He set out to campaign

     "in the name of non partisan efficiency--for good men who might not be Democrats in state office, for a new constitution that might not protect the organization, and for the civil service cloture [closure] of patronage jobs that formerly bound the 'shock troops' to the Democratic party . . . ."

     "Stevenson's campaign for the governorship began in the dark and cold and snow of an Illinois winter, with his chances as dismal as the weather. By spring when the planting began and the long horizons held a mist of color, and he had received a good turnout in the uncontested primary, his chances for elections had improved. The Republican incumbent, Dwight Green, felt it necessary to shorten his Florida vacation to respond to Stevenson. By summer when a withering hot dry spell set in and the bookies in Mason County, in central Illinois, were giving seven-to-five odds on Green, the two candidates were providing Illinois voters, as is the way of American politics, mirror images of themselves and their concerns. With tireless public ebullience, the bald-pated, rumpled, self-proclaimed amateur in Brooks Brothers button-down shirts talked and talked, worried about contributions, and sometimes helped install the red, white, and blue Stevenson banners at the county fairs and courthouse squares where he spoke. 'Four counties a day is a fine education,' he informed Alicia Patterson in September, 'but I don't recommend it for human beings.'

     Unknown to most Illinoisians, who had forgotten his family, Stevenson squirmed when after his calls for better government the first question was how to pronounce his first name. In Lincoln, a small town in central Illinois, he spoke of ending corruption and especially gambling, before an audience [at the Logan County Fair] that could not hear him for the shouts from the racetrack in the background" (emphasis mine; Baker, Chapter 1).

     Through his vigorous campaigning, Stevenson had successfully reached a public interested in reforming government because of the corruption that stemmed from gambling:

     "Voter anger in Illinois was reflected in the fall election. Green lost to underdog Adlai Stevenson by over half a million votes" (Monson).

39.4: Defeated Governor Dwight Green Meets Governor-elect Stevenson

     (Photo from Patricia Harris, Adlai: The Illinois Years. Stevenson appears to grimace in contempt.)

Stevenson's Reform of the Illinois State Police and Anti-Gambling Legislation
     During the 1948 gubernatorial campaign, Stevenson denounced gambling and corruption, and that position attracted the support of groups who wanted reform that would achieve "good government." The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote that Stevenson won a landslide victory because of his commitment to reform government (5-13-50, p. 3).

     In his first year as governor (1949), Stevenson took action to reform the corrupt State Police force. It had been established in 1923 with 100 officers and was gradually expanded to 500 in 1945 (Illinois Blue Book 1949-50, p. 526).

     "Sponsored by Governor Adlai E. Stevenson, legislation was passed by the 66th Illinois Legislature removing the Illinois State Police from politics, establishing tenure of office for members of the force and permitting reorganization of the division to an efficient, stream-lined policing unit. Under the new legislation, a non-partisan merit board was created, charged with the responsibility of selecting qualified candidates for appointment to the state police. The new law requires that by January 1, 1951, the police division shall be equally composed of members affiliated with the two major political parties. After that date, politics will play no part in the selection of candidates for police work. The new legislation assures members of the State Police division of tenure in office by providing that no members may be discharged, or demoted, except upon proper charges brought and substantiated in a hearing before the non-partisan merit board" (Illinois Blue Book 1949-50, p.527).

     A first step involved replacing about half of the Republican State Police with officers belonging to the Democratic Party, but complete reforming would take time. In August of 1950, at the height of the gambling raids, five State Police were charged with theft of $150 from slot machines confiscated during a raid in Cairo, Illinois. The accused officers were suspended immediately, and Acting Chief Thomas J. O'Donnell asked the State Police Merit Board to fire them (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8-3-1950, 3A).

     Stevenson not only reorganized the State Police, but also advanced the use of technology for better law enforcement. "The decision to utilize the aircraft for state police assignments was reached by Governor Stevenson on recommendations of the Directors of both the Aeronautics and Public Safety Departments" (Illinois Blue Book, 1951-52, p. 461). There is, however, no indication that air-to-ground communication was used during the 1950 gambling raids. Typically the State Police on those raids did not use radio communication as a security measure. The State Police thus prevented gamblers from monitoring their radio transmissions and gaining advanced warning that a raid convoy was on the move.

39.5: Illinois Officials Confer on the Coordination of Air-Ground Law Enforcement

(Photo from the Illinois Blue Book 1951-52, p. 461)

     Some of Stevenson's early efforts to attack gambling through legislation met with defeat. "When Congress passed a law forbidding the shipment of slot machines in interstate commerce, Stevenson proposed a law prohibiting their manufacture in Illinois where, as a matter of fact, practically all slot machines were made. The legislature said no. He also proposed to strengthen the powers of the Liquor Control Commission, to halt gambling wherever liquor was sold. Again the legislature said no" (Kenneth Davis, pp. 234-235). Stevenson, however, made significant progress "by increasing administrative efficiency and eliminating waste" (Davis, p. 235).

Sidebar: Harry Dial, Illinois Republican Ex-State Policeman from Lincoln

     Pictured below is Harry Dial (left), an Illinois ex-State Police officer, who was a Republican from Lincoln, Illinois. I speculate that he was a casualty of Stevenson's strategy of replacing Republican state policemen with Democrat new hires. In the early 1950s, Mr. Dial and "Putz" Jones, another Republican ex-State Policeman, owned and operated Dial and Jones's Texaco gas station on Business Route 66 in Lincoln at the corner of Fifth and Union Streets. Later in the 1950s and 1960s, Dial was the sole owner and operator.

39.6: Illinois Ex-State Police Officer Harry Dial (left) Accepts Trophy from George Harford for
Winning the Civilian Pistol Match Sponsored by the Logan County Shooters Rifle and Pistol Club

     Photo from the Lincoln Evening Courier, 11-16-54, p. 4. Image is poor due to scan of microfilm printout. Mr. Dial's picture above shows him in his Texaco uniform, which he wore proudly. I always suspected that he liked it because it reminded him of his State Police uniform. I never suspected, however, that any uniform ever went to his head. He never expressed any "big me, little you" attitude, but I do recall he happily told the story of once humbling "Squire [Thomas] Scully"--the largest landowner in Logan County and thus its wealthiest--by pulling him over for some minor traffic violation on Route 66.

     Harry Dial kindly allowed countless young men in Lincoln to make this Texaco station their second home--including Gerry Dehner, who grew up to become a Logan County Republican Circuit Court judge; Robert Madigan, who grew up to become an Illinois Republican State senator; and James "Jim" Knecht, who grew up to become an Illinois Appellate Court justice. At his station Dial allowed his young charges to wash their cars, borrow tools, watch TV, and play catch on the drive. Mr. Dial's gruff exterior concealed his heart of gold. He let his place of business be used as a hangout for teen guys even though this benevolence must have cut into his bottom line: no one knows how many old ladies decided to "trade" elsewhere because of the un-business-like, menacing appearance created by this semi-harmless collective socializing. Dial's Texaco station had a $.25-cigarette machine, a Coke machine, but no gambling machines.

     This Texaco station also became the informal Logan County Republican Headquarters. Local GOP leaders crossed paths there almost daily, including Logan County Committee Chairman Joe Sapp, who became the unofficial "right hand man" of Republican Governor William G. Stratton in the 1960s. Mr. Sapp gassed up at Dial's before driving to Springfield almost daily. When my father was young, Mr. Sapp had been his baseball mentor. In my own youth, Mr. Sapp used his political connections to obtain two minor patronage jobs for me: one with the Department of Conservation in the summer of 1960 in which I worked on the game farm on the NW corner of the Illinois State Fairgrounds--site of the new DNR Headquarters. My other political patronage job was with the Department of Public Welfare in the summer of 1963 (Lincoln State School).

     The Web page on the 1950 gambling raids in Lincoln, Illinois will show that gambling devices remained in Lincoln as late as 1960. As one of the guys who hung out at Dial's in the1950s, I can testify that this gas station was free of punchboards, and there were no slot machines in the back room. The most harmful device in the station was a cigarette machine. Mr. Dial had no children of his own, so perhaps he considered all of us his sons.

     In the later years of this socializing, Dial's gang bought him a new telephone and some other office equipment to express its appreciation for his friendship. Around 1960 we secretly bought him a new desk and office chair (Jim Thudium got us a good deal through his parents' Lincoln Office Supply). While Dial was at dinner, the new furniture was installed, and the old pieces were placed on the big curb out front, chair stacked on top of the desk. We had the hired man, Wayne Charron, call Dial to tell him he had better come down to the station right away as there was trouble. Harry, arriving, seeing the furniture, and knowing his office had been "vandalized," pulled onto the middle of the drive in his old blue pickup truck, stopped, got out, and entered his station with a very red, angry face. Then, amazed, he saw his new office, and Pete Ross asked him, "Now that you like 'em, do you want to buy 'em?" Mr. Dial then unlocked the Coke machine so we could help ourselves.

     August, 2013: Jim Knecht wrote: "Leigh, I would add to your account with my memory—an imperfect tool.  I remember Harry arriving in a white over yellow Buick 2 door--nice car.  And I think Ron Castor was either sitting on or just gotten off the desk and chair that were stacked at the corner of 5th and Union.

     When Harry left work, he would go home, bathe, shave, put on what today would be a 1950/60 version of business casual and take His mother to dinner—so he arrived not only red-faced but in pristine attire having either dinner or the pick- up of his mother interrupted.

     He was livid—then relieved—then warm and grateful. Though less of a friend to youth, I trust you remember his early partner—another retired State Trooper—Albert “Putts” Jones.

     Cranky—profane—but with a sense of humor—though less tolerant of the reprobates who hung out there—he was interesting  and affable at times.  I remember being told he was sitting on the step outside the front door when a local miscreant—Hooner Eckert—kept riding his bike back and forth over the tube that rang the station bell—Putts told him to stop, he did not and Putts reached for a full oil can, heaved it and knocked Hooner off the bike—no serious injury but it stopped the bell-ringing. 

     I can remember going to then Dial & Jones in the early 50”s while walking to Central School—meeting Fred Worth (fat Freddie who lived on 5th ) and Wally Smith and we would walk to school together. Once we were 9 or 10, Joe Sapp would pay the three of us to pass out campaign flyers door to door up and down 5th.  Then when the State Fair arrived the following summer, he would drive us to Springfield, drop us off at the front gate and pick us up again. At 4 or 4:30—I think kids got free fair entry in those days.  That was an introduction to Politics—coupled with Joe’s second headquarters, Alvey’s Drug Store. Best regards, Jim Knecht." (Leigh's note: Justice Jim Knecht's page in this site: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/knecht/jknecht.html.)

Stevenson's Decision to Use the State Police to Attack Gambling

     Stevenson understood that gambling was a complicated problem. He believed that efficient government could best be achieved through local government wherever possible. (Note: Stevenson was a Democrat, but he embraced de-centralized government wherever possible--a principle traditionally associated with the Republican Party.) Stevenson also knew that countless citizens enjoyed illegal gambling, and "he disliked the double-standard morality of respectable citizens who denounced corruption but played slot machines in their private clubs" (Martin, p. 444).

     Stevenson well understood that any direct interference of his state government to curtail gambling would have a backlash against him. Thus, Stevenson's first attempt to stem the twin problems of illegal gambling and corruption was to encourage local officials to take action: "during 1949 he and his Attorney General, Ivan Elliott, had quietly brought pressure to bear on local law enforcement officials. They had been only partly successful. In some counties gambling had stopped[;] in others it had stopped for a time then resumed, and in others it had continued unabated. Now in the spring of 1950 he began to move against the gamblers" (Martin, p. 444).

     The circumstances of 1950 that led Stevenson to order Illinois State Police raids on gambling establishments provide an interesting and important plot twist in this story. It seems that Stevenson needed some prodding to act against gambling, and it came in the form of two provocative stories by Gordon Schendel that ran in Collier's magazine in April of that year. At that time, Collier's was struggling, so its new editor, Louis Ruppel (ex-Marine and ex-Federal narcotics investigator), was probably eager to publish controversial material as a way to boost readership and attract more advertisers.

      Curiously, Ruppel had worked for Stevenson's gubernatorial campaign, and both men had spent time together "riding around Illinois in the summer of 1948" (Harris, p. 59). Historian Harris raises the question of Ruppel's motive in publishing articles critical of Stevenson's handling of the gambling problem. Specifically, she wonders whether Ruppel may have felt inadequately paid for working on Stevenson's campaign and thus might have held a grudge that led to the stinging criticism in the two articles (pp. 59-63).

     Patricia (Milligan) Harris, a member of the press corps during Stevenson's governorship and vice-president of the Illinois Correspondents Association, describes the Collier's articles:

     "On April 15, 1950 the new 'Ruppelized' Collier's came out with the first of two blistering exposes on gambling in Illinois titled 'ILLINOIS SHAKEDOWN: The Little Guys Lose.' '. . . Governor Adlai Stevenson won the support of Republicans and Democrats on reforms, but he has not yet delivered on gambling.'

     Although most of the article zeroed in on gambling in the city of Quincy, there were several juicy little paragraphs by the author, Gordon Schendel, to the effect that Stevenson was reneging on his campaign promises. Schendel quoted from some of Adlai's speeches, particularly one delivered on Democratic day at the 1948 Illinois State Fair, in which Stevenson asserted:

     'My colleagues and I are going to fumigate the statehouse or break our hearts in the attempt!' [emphasis mine].

     Stevenson also was quoted as admitting that gambling was his Number One headache but that it was a 'local problem' to be solved by local law officials.

39.7: Patricia Milligan-Harris

(Illinois Blue Book 1950-51, p. 275)

     Even more telling were quotes from Stevenson's sidekick, Attorney General Elliott, to the effect that his powers were limited by statute and that he could move into a county only when asked to by local authorities.

     Schendel went on to say that newspapermen in Springfield were making wry jokes about how much worse the slot machine situation would have to become before the Governor would use his legal power to act."

     Milligan-Harris continues: "I didn't know about that but from personal observation, I knew that the slots and punchboards were in operation full blast all over middle Illinois, as they had been since the day I moved there. I was not much of a gambler myself, but some of the newsmen with whom I lunched played the punchboards regularly, and one of them rolled the dice for 'double or nothing' almost every noon (and lost). We usually ate in a narrow little place called 'The Saddle Club,' where the beer was cold and the plate lunches adequate" (Harris, pp. 63-64).

     Patricia Milligan-Harris's above account is the fullest explanation I could find of the role the Collier's articles must have played in Stevenson's first gambling raid. As a trusted member of the press corps in Stevenson's administration, she was invited to ride along during one of the gambling raids, and I provide her account of that experience later on this page.

     Stevenson's own papers show evidence that the Collier's stories prompted him to order the State Police gambling raids. Schendel's second Collier's article, quickly following the first, appeared on April 22, 1950. In an undated response, Stevenson wrote,

     "The Collier's article [note the singular of article] correctly quotes me as having said during the campaign that I would keep the state administration free of gambling taints. I say the same thing now, and I have done what I said.

     The enforcement by local officials of the gambling laws is better now than it has been for a long time. Had Collier's wanted the facts--and to know what the Attorney General and I have done--its reporter could have come to Springfield and talked with us. He didn't" (Walter Johnson and Carol Evans, The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson, vol. 3, p. 270).

     One of many letters Stevenson received about the gambling problem was written by Paul Simon, the young editor and publisher of the Troy Tribune, Madison County, Illinois. Mr. Simon said: '"It seems to me your extremely able administration should not be hindered by attacks of failing to act in the gambling situation.' James W. Mulroy [one of Stevenson's administrative assistants] replied to Simon's letter on May 4, saying, ". . . I am told that Madison County is still open in some respects but I am of the considered opinion that in a comparatively short time the better known gambling places in your county will be closed either to action taken by your own authorities or by some other type of action. . . . " (Johnson and Evans, p. 270). The first State Police gambling raid targeted Madison County.

Key Players in Stevenson's Battle Against Gambling

39.8: Carmi Native Ivan A. Elliott, Attorney General

IL Blue Book 1949-50, p. 56.

39.9: Paris, IL, Native Carl McGowan, Administrative Assistant

 IL Blue Book 1949-50, p. 441.

39.10: Chicago Native Thomas J. O'Donnell, Acting Head of the State Police

IL Blue Book 1949-50, p. 524.

The Illinois State Police Gambling Raids of May--October, 1950

     Stevenson was at first reluctant to use the State Police to fight gambling, but the circumstances of political pressure summarized above show that later he was quick to order the State Police on gambling raids. As indicated above, Madison County (just east of St. Louis) was a notorious gambling Mecca, but did Illinois authorities have some basis other than hearsay to know which establishments would be good targets there and in other locales?

     The answer is yes because government records existed for the names of establishments where slot machines were located. These records existed because the Federal government required sites with slot machines to pay taxes on them. Owners of slot machines in such states as Illinois and Missouri faced the irony that although these devices were illegal in those states, owners had to pay Federal taxes on them. Certainly in Illinois state officials most likely would have had access to those records: the office of the Collector of Internal Revenue was in the state capital of Springfield.

     In August of 1950, just two months before the State Police raided Macon and Logan Counties, the Internal Revenue records "show that taxes were paid on 1,402 slot machines in 355 establishments in Illinois during July. This [was] considerably below the figures for the same month in any other recent year. July is the beginning of the government's fiscal year." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8-3,-50, p. 3A). Each machine was taxed $100.00 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 7-28-50, p. 7A).

     Logan County (and its neighboring Macon County) ranked among the counties with the highest number of machines: "The largest concentrations of slot machines in the new list are in Madison county, 39 machines in seven places; Macon county, 37 machines in 32 places; Logan, 27 machines in 17 places, and Tazewell, 10 machines in eight places" (Post-Dispatch, 8-3-50, p. 3A). As indicated later on this page, all of these counties were targeted by Stevenson's State Police raids.

     Former Lincolnite Dave Salyers says that the slot machines in Lincoln and Logan County were Indian head slot machines like the one pictured below. The Web site where I found this photo explains: "They [Indian head slots] have the highest odds against a player. They make enough money to pay for all the overhead cost required to run a large, modern casino. The big payoffs are far and few, but people play the slot machines more than any other casino game."

39.11:  Photo of Indian Head Slot Machine from www.jme.com/slotsbody.htm

     The irony of having to pay taxes on illegal gambling machines puzzled their patrons as well as their owners. In his final published statement on gambling in 1952, Governor Stevenson writes:

     "People don't understand how slot machines can be illegal in Illinois while the Federal government collects a tax of $150 per year [taxes must have gone up $50 per machine in two years] on each machine. The lawyer can explain the difference between the gambling laws of Illinois and the revenue laws of the United States. The average citizen, however, naturally assumes that when a machine has been properly registered with the Collector of Internal Revenue and the tax has been paid, the owner is entitled to use it. The owner is indignant when gambling devices on which he has paid the Federal tax are confiscated and destroyed under state law.

     Effective law enforcement in Illinois with respect to slot machines and similar gambling devices that are Federally taxed has been complicated by popular misconceptions arising from this paradoxical legal treatment by two separate governments. Moral confusions--always a problem with respect to gambling--are intensified. And the paradox is further aggravated when Congress taxes these machines yet prohibits their interstate shipment--which prohibition, by the way, does no good in Illinois, where they are all made" (Stevenson, "Who Runs the Gambling Machines, The Atlantic, 2-52, p. 35).

     The main source I used to identify the following series of gambling raids was the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

     Raid 1: May 12, 1950: Madison County, IL (St. Louis suburban area in Illinois)--the 200 Club in Madison, Illinois, and the Hyde Park Club in Venice. This raid made the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch with the blaring headline:

     "State Police Raid East Side Casinos; Will Be Used Further, Governor Warns. Hyde Park Club, 200 Club Closed; 3 Operators, 48 Helpers Booked."

     I quote much of the Post-Dispatch story below because it is the fullest published account of all the raids, because it helps to explain the role of the Illinois State Police, and because this raid was apparently typical of the procedures used in the other raids.

     "Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson served notice today that state police will be used to suppress gambling in Illinois communities where local authorities fail to act. . . . Three operators of the two casinos and 48 employees were carted off to jail at Alton in a state police convoy after the raiders surprised about 800 customers in the two handbooks in the mid-afternoon rush of betting business. The prisoners later were transferred to Madison county jail at Edwardsville, where warrants charging them with handbook operation were issued, and bail was arranged.

     Fifty Illinois state troopers, mostly new men in the department, from various sections of the state, swooped in on the two large gambling establishments in simultaneous raids shortly after 3 p.m. Madison county authorities were given no word of the well-planned raids, and there were no state police on hand from the immediate East Side area.

     Spearhead of the invasion of the two gambling establishments, which had continued wide-open handbook operation in the face of repeated efforts by the Governor to get local authorities to take action, were state troopers in plain clothes, who mingled with the customers. Their presence apparently was to insure that the raiding forces would get inside the establishments with minimum opposition.

     Using unmarked state cars, the uniformed raiders moved into the parking lots at the Hyde Park Club, 836 Main Street, Venice, and the 200 Club, 200 State Street, Madison, at the appointed moment.

     The separate groups were led by Assistant State's Attorney General Baird Helfrich; Thomas P. Brennan, administrative assistant to Director of Public Safety Thomas O'Donnell; Normal J. Lee, Chief investigator for the State Bureau of Investigation, and State Police Capt. R.C. Winder of Duquoin. . . .

    The 500 customers in the Hyde Park Club were busy with their racing forms, receiving results from major horse tracks over a public address system. Clerks were marking the 'boards' and cashiers were in their booths.

     The scene was much the same at the 200 Club, where some of the 300 customers believed the troopers were robbers in police uniforms. Blackjack games were going in both establishments, being conducted largely for the amusement of customers between races. The dice, roulette and 'heavy' card games were closed by the operators late last year because of 'poor business.' The Hyde Park gambling casino is in a building separate from the handbook. Customers were ordered to remain in their places while officers took their names and addresses. The customers then were ordered outside, where many loitered on the sidewalk watching developments. [Note: the Post-Dispatch published the names and addresses of those arrested.]

     After the customers had been disposed of, the officers began the removal of betting paraphernalia and equipment. A moving van was summoned to the Hyde Park Club to haul away the evidence, which included the familiar arm chairs provided for horse bettors, bar stools, the loud speaker equipment, black boards and the various printed charts and tabs. Equipment not taken was smashed with axes, crowbars and heavy hat racks, the latter part of the handbook equipment . . . . Cash seized as evidence in the two handbooks totaled $22,663, of which $16,663 was found in the cashiers' cages and the office at the Hyde Park Club. Safes in the handbooks were too bulky to cart away, but authorities plan to open the strong boxes later and expect to examine records of the establishments. State police details were posted in the raided places overnight. [Prior to the raids,] members of the raiding force were summoned to Springfield by telephone, arriving there by 11 a.m. yesterday. They were given a general briefing on the situation, but were not told where the raids were to be made. It was not until their cars approached Madison county that the rank and file of State Police learned that their objectives were the Hyde Park and the 200 Clubs. Madison County Sheriff Dallas T. Harrell was not notified, and there were no local officers in on the raids" (pp. 1 and 3).


     39.12: Captain R.C Winder of the Illinois State Police (at left, with heavy metal hat rack used for smashing equipment) and Norman J. Lee, Chief Investigator for the State Bureau of Criminal Investigation

     (Photo on page 1 of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5-13-50. Image is poor due to scan of microfilm printout. None of the other Post-Dispatch stories about gambling raids made the front page, nor do they have photos.)

39.13: Chicago Sun-Times Photo of Gambling Equipment
Taken in the Raids by Stevenson's State Police

(From Patricia Milligan-Harris, Adlai: The Springfield Years, p. 58).

     After the raid on Madison County, Stevenson issued a press release in which he affirmed his commitment to using the State Police to enforce gambling laws:

     "The State Police will be used again if need be to stop persistent, defiant violation, although the force is still in process of reorganization and has all it can do to patrol the highways, enforce the truck weight laws and discharge its regular duties. . . . The local citizenry and their elected officials can stop commercialized gambling with its attendant corruption and lawlessness. I hope they will, and that Illinois will not contribute further to the abdication of local government and local responsibility" (Johnson and Evans, p. 272).

     Raid 2: May 26, 1950: Grundy, Iroquois, and Jo Davies Counties (northwestern Illinois). A wide-ranging, early afternoon raid led by Assistant Attorney General Baird Helfrich that confiscated 180 slot machines, a dice table, a roulette wheel, and wall boards with horse-race information from taverns, restaurants, roadhouses, and gasoline stations (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5-27-50).

     (Note: For years I was unable to find a photo of Mr. Helfrich, who was a key player in many State Police gambling raids and subsequent legal proceedings, including litigation stemming from the raid in Lincoln on October 11, 1950. The Illinois Blue Books do not have photos of Assistant Attorneys General in this period, perhaps to help prevent easy recognition and violent retaliation by gangsters. A photo of Helfrich emailed to me late in 2010 appears later in this document along with an explanation.)

     Reporter Patricia Milligan-Harris writes the following revealing and amusing account of the second raid:

     "On the morning of the gambling raid, we three bureau managers received calls to gather at the home of Stevenson's public relations man after telling our Chicago offices we would be out of pocket for a while. The most elaborate precautions were taken to assure the utmost secrecy involving our destination.

     In addition, we were given an eight-point list of orders which were to be followed by the police:

     1. Cover the device politely and courteously until pickup.

     2. Allow no one to remove device, or telephone, until pickup (on threat of arrest). Ask all persons leaving premises to give name and address.

     3. Tag each machine with name and address of place where located along with name and owner of place.

     4. Obtain name and address of owner, serviceman and collector on each device, if possible.

     5. Proceed to another spot and repeat same on any devices found in open view, until no other devices in public view.

     6. Truck all devices to local State's Attorney indicating that each officer confiscating a machine wants to issue a complaint for immediate destruction under Chapter 38, Paragraph 342, Illinois Revised Statutes, and that Attorney General will advise him on procedure if desired. Complaint should issue from County Court or Circuit Court preferably.

     7. No warrants are to be issued against persons, only against machines, unless local State's Attorney requests same before he will authorize warrants against the machines. Warrant will be 'People of State of Illinois vs. Slot Machines' and one warrant for each place where machines were seized should be issued on complaint by officer who seized same.

     8. No comment to press. Courteous raid against property, not people. No arrests unless absolutely necessary.

     Crammed into an unmarked state car with the two other managers, a state photographer, the public relations man and with a plainclothes officer at the wheel, we headed up into northern Illinois, a trip of several hours. Pulling up to a halt just outside the small community of Morris in Grundy County (which just happened coincidentally to be in the political territory of Republican U.S. Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen), we waited while our driver solemnly checked his watch. Everything was synchronized, he told us. No calls on the police radio were to be made for fear the gamblers were monitoring the air waves. Silently, we waited and watched until the secret zero hour arrived and our driver announced grimly 'We're off!' and stepped on the accelerator.

     We were still admiring the split-second precision with which everything was coordinated as we sped into the drowsy little town of Morris, roared through the downtown area leaving surprised passersby in our wake, tore on out the other side of town and came to a panting halt in the middle of a cornfield.

     'Where the hell's the raid?" the photographer asked.

     Our driver shook his head, turned the car around and sped back into town as fast as he could go and on out the other side where we came to stop again.

     'I don't know,' he said. 'I thought it was on the main drag.'

     It seems that he didn't even know the name of the place being raided. The photographer had an idea.

     "Drive us on into town again, only go slow,' he said, 'and stop at the first tavern you see.'

     His scheme worked. When he emerged from the tavern, he gave us directions.

     'It was easy,' he said. 'I just asked them where I could place a bet.' By the time we pulled up in front of a roadhouse called 'The Seven Gables' a mile north of the town, fourteen state policemen had already broken in and were busy disposing of thirty-two slot machines, a gambling table, a roulette wheel and several horse race wall boards. The manager of the roadhouse, leaning resignedly against the bar, asked us politely if we would care for a drink. When the phone rang, he lifted the receiver, listened a moment and then replied with great aplomb:

     'No sir, I can't accept any bets today. We're being raided by Adlai Stevenson's police.' Although we didn't know until later, other state police had swooped down on gambling spots throughout a three-county area, confiscating in all some two hundred pieces of gambling equipment which they presented to the state's attorneys in the counties. Back in Springfield, Governor Stevenson issued a statement: 'The Attorney General and I regret the necessity of these raids on commercialized gambling. The local government should protect its own integrity. Besides, the taxpayers should not have to pay for law enforcement twice" (Harris, pp. 69-70).

     Subsequently Grundy County Judge William G. Peacock ordered the destruction of $5,000 worth of slot machines taken in the second raid, while questioning the legality of that raid: "He said he did not believe the act of establishing the state police empowered members of the force to enter a county, make raids and carry on other normal police duties without calling upon a constable or other enforcement officer of the county concerned. Judge Peacock found, however, that since the goods had been seized and they are illegal, they should be destroyed. Headed for the torch and ax are 89 slot machines, two diced tables, one roulette wheel and table, a quantity of punchboards and a complete setup for a horse race bookmakers" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6-16-50, p. 11A).

39.14: The A. L. (Tod) Sloan Memorial Press Room in the Illinois Statehouse

(Illinois Blue Book 1951-52, p. 270)

     Raid 3: June 10, 1950: Lake County (northern Illinois near Chicago). $100,000 worth of gambling devices was confiscated from resorts and taverns in Ivanhoe, Liberty (location of Stevenson's family residence), Volo, Mundelein, Half Day, Long Grove, Lake Zurich, Wauconda, Antioch, Loon Lake, Lake Villa, and Fox Lake.

     Notes: June 6, 1950: Gangster Roy Shelton shot to death on his tractor on his farm near Fairfield in Wayne Co. Related raid: July 4, 1950: Cook County State's Attorney's police raid the Tam O'Shanter Country Club. On July 17th, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch carried a brief story about a low turnout at a meeting called to discuss the legalization of gambling in Illinois. The meeting was called by the owner of "the notorious FAR Club in East Peoria, Illinois," who had sent out about 400 invitations. Only about 12 tavern owners attended. The instigator of the meeting said "those who did not attend probably were 'scared of being called criminals'" (p. 2A).

     Raid 4: July 19, 1950: Pulaski County (extreme southern tip of the state). $20,000 worth of gambling equipment confiscated from simultaneous raids on six night clubs and taverns in or near various towns, including Cairo.

     Notes: On July 25, 1950, at Rock Island, Illinois (western Illinois on the Mississippi River), the Chicago Syndicate was accused of supplying nude dancers to local taverns. On August 3, machines valued at $20,000 that were taken in the Pulaski County raid were destroyed. The county State's Attorney said, "It was a good thing for the tax payers. I hope the state police will call again because they can do things we can't" (Post-Dispatch, 8-4-50). As indicated elsewhere on this page, Governor Stevenson strongly disagreed. On August 10, 1950, five Illinois State Police were fired because they stole $150 from slot machines seized in the Pulaski County raid (Post-Dispatch, 8-11-50, p. 13A).

     Raid 5: October 11, 1950: Macon and Logan Counties, including Lincoln, Illinois (central Illinois).  Information about the Lincoln-Logan County raid will appear on a forthcoming companion page in this Web site.

39.15: Headline in Newspaper of Lincoln, Illinois


39.16: Pin Ball Machines Lined up in Lincoln, Illinois

(Lincoln Evening Courier, 8-12-50, p. 1)

     State Police simultaneously raided Logan and Macon Counties:

     "In the stepped up offensive against gambling, 49 policemen raided 51 establishments in Logan County, confiscating 76 'one ball' devices. A harvest of 100 'one ball' and 25 slot machines was made by 73 officers who raided 71 places in Macon County.

     The raiders struck at rural taverns in both counties. They also made taverns in Lincoln, Mt. Pulaski, Elkhart, and Broadwell in Logan county and Decatur, Maroa, Macon, and Blue Mound in Macon county.

     The 'one ball' machine seized last night is a type of pinball game in which only one ball is shot. If the ball drops in the proper slot, a payoff is made by the house. Such machines are common in taverns in St. Louis where arrests are made only where evidence of gambling is obtained" (Post-Dispatch, 10-12-50, p. 6D).

     For detailed information, including the lengthy, plot-twisted legal proceedings after the Logan County raids, see The Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County, Illinois, During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960).

     Raid 6: November 30, 1951: McLean County, including Bloomington: According to an article in the Lincoln Evening Courier, "in a series of raids in McLean County, 105 State Policemen carted off pinball machines. The Friday afternoon raid was led by an official of the State Department of Public Safety. More than 100 machines were picked up. The raids in Bloomington netted about 50 devices and those outside the city 50 to 60 more.

     Thirty-four places were raided in Bloomington and 43 elsewhere in McLean County. Included were the towns of Heyworth, Leroy, McLean, Cooksville, Colfax, Saybrook, Ellsworth, Gridley, Chenoa, Lexington, Towanda, and Danvers.

     The raids were under the leadership of Thomas Brennan, administrative assistant to the director of the Department of Public Safety.

     Among the establishments raided by Brennan and the police were candy stores, taverns, drug stores, pool rooms, roadside restaurants, and gasoline stations.

     Police said those playing the machines received less than 5 percent of their money back, on the average.

     Brennan said the State Police and his office had been investigating the machines for about a week and had 'definite evidence' that payments were made to persons who made winning scores.

     The payments, he said, most frequently were made by the proprietor or bartender of the establishment housing the machines which had been allowed to operate in the county for years, ostensibly for 'amusement only.' Five state trucks hauled the machines to a central collecting spot in Bloomington, Brennan said he would seek a McLean County court order next week to destroy them" (Courier, 12-1-51, p. 1).    

*  *  *  *  *

     I do not know if the McLean County raid was the final one in the series of State Police raids during 1950. In his 1952 article in The Atlantic, Stevenson mentions that the Illinois State Police raids on gambling had continued beyond 1950 ("Who Runs the Gambling Machines?," p. 35).

     I wonder if there might have been a State Police raid in Springfield or Sangamon County. Would Stevenson order raids so close to home that might catch important rivals in their extracurricular activities, embarrass them, and spur them to seek revenge? Certainly Springfield was as ripe for raiding as any other place in Illinois. Journalist Patricia Milligan-Harris describes the gambling scene of Springfield: Wide open gambling flourished. Punchboards were displayed prominently beside cash registers. Cashiers offered to roll the dice 'double or nothing' with customers. Blackjack tables, roulette wheels and slot machines abounded. Everything was so out in the open that when I first arrived there, I thought that gambling was legal" (Adlai: The Springfield Years, p. 27).

Stevenson's Final Word on Gambling

     Adlai Stevenson had apparently used State Police raids as a last resort to diminish gambling, and he did not use this dramatic action for selfish publicity. In fact, the Illinois Blue Books for 1949-50 and for 1951-52 feature "High Points of Service" in the sections devoted to the Attorney General's activity, but no reference whatsoever is given to the State Police gambling raids. The February, 1952, issue of The Atlantic ran Stevenson's article titled "Who Runs the Gambling Machines?," and this article seems to be his final and most complete position statement on how this problem should be handled. In this article, Stevenson offers statistics to indicate the effectiveness of the State Police gambling raids, but his main point is that he feels the better solution is local law enforcement.

39.17: Stevenson on the Cover of The Atlantic in 1952--the Last Year of His Governorship
Before Being Drafted as the Democratic Party's Presidential Candidate

      Stevenson explains his views on law enforcement against gambling:

     "From the period July 1, 1948, through June 30, 1949, about 8,400 lot machines were registered for Federal taxation in this area. How many more were in use is anybody's guess. The raids began in May, 1950. For the period of July 1, 1950, through June 30, 1951, the registrations totaled about 3,400--a decline of 60 percent. And for the first three months of the new license year beginning July 1, 1951, the total registrations were down to 1,783.

     This seemingly remarkable improvement is due, as I say, not only to the State Police action but also to the effect of state intervention in alerting the people and the press locally and stimulating action by their officials. This latter is, of course, precisely the result for which we had hoped.

     I measure my words carefully when I say that not a single one of these raids was necessitated by any inherent inability on the part of the local officials to cope with the conditions themselves. in my judgment the problem was neither too big nor to complex for the local officials to handle in a single case.

     The State Police force of Illinois is undermanned for its normal duties of patrolling thousands of miles of highways night and day, directing traffic at many congested points, enforcing the truck-weight laws, chasing stolen cars, and so forth. They should not have to divert further time and effort to this task of local law enforcement. Those who talk so much about economy in  government should reflect that this added duty can only result in higher costs of government, because the taxpayers are required to pay double for law enforcement--to the local officials who fail to do the job and also to the state to do the job for them.

     The spectacle of the state having to use its money and resources to do work which local officials are elected and paid to do is distasteful, to say the least. And the county officials who hold the purse strings and withhold funds honestly needed by conscientious local law enforcement officers are themselves contributing to the very loss of power and responsibility which they deplore.

     Now this situation presents, it seems to me, a classic case of why governmental functions climb the ladder to higher levels. In the enforcement of gambling laws, certainly, there is no one higher up reaching down for the added power. Rather, it is being thrust upon us by local default. And it is time we recognized that the 'conspiracy' against our liberties from above is too often a device to excuse our own inaction [bold mine].

     I should like to see the Illinois State Police withdraw from this field and give their full time to their other pressing and important duties. But they are not going to get out while I'm in if by doing so law enforcement will go by default and the hoodlums get the green light to exact their grim toll of our purses, our morals, and our public life" [bold mine] (p. 36).

     Stevenson explains the circumstances that, in his view, have retarded local officials from enforcing the gambling laws:

     "The slot machine registration figures show something else which cannot be overlooked. It has been estimated that in 1948 and 1949, 75 per cent of the registered gambling devices in Illinois were in taverns and similar public places. For the year beginning July 1, 1950, the Federal registration figures released for these seventy-six counties of Illinois were broken down by location into three categories: taverns, fraternal organizations, and private clubs. For this period the figures showed 37 per cent of the machines in taverns, 49 per cent in fraternal organizations, and 14 per cent in the clubs. For the first three months of the new license year beginning July 1, 1951, the distribution was 7 per cent in taverns and 93 percent in lodges, veterans' posts, clubs, and so forth. Army and Navy posts no longer bear any of the blame for these results, because Congress a year ago expressly prohibited gambling devices at military installations.

     These figures speak for themselves. They speak loudly and insistently of an attempt to establish a double standard of law observance which would negate the concept of equal treatment for all, the most basic concept we have. I have heard all the arguments about how the slot machine in the country club is one thing and the slot machine in the corner saloon another. Of course there is a difference. But I know also that the machine in either place is against the law as it stands on the books; and I know further that the citizen who 'harmlessly' violates the law in his country club or fraternal lodge is in no position to, and does not in fact, insist that his elected officers enforce the law in the corner saloon.

     By this very act of self-indulgence many of our most reputable and influential citizens sterilize their power and influence to demand and get faithful performance by their local officials. They have tied their own hands and stopped their own mouths--and on this issue they evaporate as a community force. They place honest and conscientious law enforcement officials under intolerable and unwarranted social pressures. They delude themselves that they have discovered a way of maintaining their clubs and activities for nothing--and they pay ten times over in terms of lax laws enforcement, corrupted officials, and venal politics, opaque morals, and finally the surrender of self-government to higher levels of authority.

    When Congress decided more than a year ago to prohibit the shipment of gambling devices in interstate commerce, I pointed out that this law might only aggravate our problem in Illinois because virtually all such devices are manufactured in Cook County, Illinois. Clearly the one place where traffic in slot machines could be carried on without falling afoul of Uncle Sam was in this state. Hence, I recommended to the Illinois legislature last spring that the state should supplement the Act of Congress by prohibiting the manufacture of such devices, so that our local law enforcement officers could knock out the traffic at its source.

    Two bills were introduced to this end. They never got out of committee. And it was clear to observers of these proceedings that the fraternal and veterans' organizations and the private clubs were opposed to them. The criminal syndicates didn't even have to get into the act. They sat back and let the respectable elements do their own for them. Yet many good citizens insist that slot machines in clubrooms have no effect on crime in general, while uniformly they bemoan the way in which Washington and the state capital at Springfield are encroaching on the powers reserved to local government (pp. 36-37).

     . . . . While I am on the subject of public responsibility, I should like to point out that public officials don't corrupt each other; that behind every bribe taker in government is a bribe giver, behind every fixer is a fix, behind every influence peddler is someone who wants the influence, behind every lobbyist is a pressure group. Who are they? Why, they are 'the people.' And sometimes they are not cheaters and scum but the same 'respectable' people who demand that all the officials in a government by the governed should be cleaner than the governed, cleaner than themselves.

     There is a price tag on good local government as there is on everything else. It must be paid for in active and continuing interest in local affairs [emphasis mine], in self-denial in all those situations where self-indulgence--the double standard--has a harmful effect on the community at large, in willingness to press issues insistently in the face of strong personal and social pressures.

     I do not want to see Springfield take over the control and direction of law enforcement throughout Illinois. All the signposts on that road point to Washington. The values of local government are too great and too inclusive to be frittered away in any single respect without first doing everything we can to preserve them. In law enforcement our problem is not so much to devise new machinery as to make what we have work" (p. 38).

39.18: Illinois Capital City Crusaders: Governor Stevenson with Best Friend, King Arthur ("Artie")

     (United Press Photo in Noel F. Busch, Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois, p. 222. Note the shadowy, otherworldly figure of Abraham Lincoln looking over the Governor's shoulder. I suspect that when Abraham Lincoln now walks at midnight, as Vachel Lindsay describes, he has good company.)

Sources Cited

Note: the links below are several years old, so they are unreliable.

Baker, Jean H. Stevensons: A Biography of an American Family. NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1996.

Barrett, Edward J., ed. Illinois Blue Book 1949-1950. Springfield, IL: State of Illinois, 1950.

_____. Illinois Blue Book 1951-52. Springfield, IL: State of Illinois, 1952.

Busch, Noel F. Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois. New York: Farrar, Straus & Young, 1952.

Carpentier, Charles F. ed. Illinois Blue Book 1959-60. Springfield, IL: State of Illinois, 1960.

Harris, Patricia Milligan. Adlai: The Springfield Years. Nashville, TN: Aurora Publishers, Inc., 1975.

Lincoln Evening Courier (various issues in 1950 and 1954).

Martin, John Bartlow. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois: The Life of Adlai E. Stevenson. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1976.

Monson, Bill. http://www.thezephyr.com/monson/sheltons.htm

Steinbeck, John, quoted in Speeches of Stevenson, Debs Myers and Martin Randolph, eds. NY: Random House, 1952.

Stevenson, Adlai E., quoted in The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson, vol. III, Walter Johnson and Carol Evans, eds. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1973.

_____ . "Who Runs the Gambling Machines?" The Atlantic February, 1952, pp. 35-38.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, various issues May, 1950, through November, 1950.

Sources Suggested

Downstate Publications, books by Taylor Pensoneau, including Brothers Notorious: The Sheltons (nonfiction) and The Summer of '50, a novel about gang violence related to gambling in Illinois of the summer of 1950--at the peak of Stevenson's gambling raids: http://merau.pair.com/dspub/books.html

"Dwight Herbert Green." A sympathetic biographical sketch of Governor Green:

"Frank 'Buster' Wortman Composite Obituary and Related Story from the Journal, Post-Dispatch, and News-Democrat." Below is a link to a Web page with information about one of the most powerful Illinois "wheelers and dealers" of slot machines and pinball machines in the post-WW II era. This page is just one in a book-length Web site about the colorful history of the East St. Louis region.
http://www.eslarp.uiuc.edu/ibex/archive/nunes/esl history/wortman-obit.htm

Furry, William. "Gentlemen Bandits," a critical review of Taylor Pensoneau's nonfiction book, Brothers Notorious: The Sheltons, Southern Illinois' Legendary Gangsters:

"Governorship: "I never fancied myself a combatant politico." Presents more photos of Stevenson as governor of Illinois, including him at the 1950 Illinois State Fair: http://infoshare1.princeton.edu/libraries/firestone/rbsc/mudd/online_ex/stevenson/case2.html

Ruppel, Louis. Biographical sketch and gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery:


  Email comments, corrections, questions, or suggestions. 
Also please email me if this Web site helps you decide to visit Lincoln, Illinois: DLHenson@missouristate.edu.

"The Past Is But the Prelude"


The founding fathers of this town asked their attorney, Abraham Lincoln, for permission to name this new community after him, and he agreed.  On the first day lots were publicly sold--August 27, 1853--, Abraham Lincoln, near the site of the train depot, used watermelon juice to christen the town as Lincoln, Illinois.  It thus became the first town named for Abraham Lincoln before he became famous--the first Lincoln namesake city..