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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,
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The Rise of Abraham Lincoln and His History and Heritage in His First Namesake Town,
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Introduction to the Social & Economic History of Lincoln, Illinois,
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"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"


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Route 66 Map with 51 Sites in the Business & Courthouse Square Historic District,
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The Foley House:  A Monument to Civic Leadership
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with Distinction

News Media in the Route 66 Era

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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
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(Post yours there.)


Highway Sign of
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     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


40. The 1950s Gambling Raids and Trials in Lincoln and Logan County, IL:
 A Case Study of Gov. Stevenson's Push for Good Local Government


     This chapter/page, the result of much research and collaboration, is dedicated to the memory of life-long Lincolnite Attorney Fred Blanford for sharing information, photos, wit, and wisdom throughout the development of this Web site from 2002 until his passing in 2008.. Note: this chapter is a companion resource for 39. Q: Why Did the State Police Raid Lincoln, Illinois, on October 11, 1950? A: Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson Was Cracking Down on Gambling.


     A bound copy of these chapters is available at the Lincoln Public Library of Lincoln, Illinois, via Interlibrary Loan, ref:


40.1: Fred Blanford, LCHS Class of 1959, (1941--2008)

40.2: Attorney Fred and Marge Coogan Blanford in Their Parlor (2003)

 (Marge was also LCHS Class of 1959.)

Introduction and Summary

       In May of 1950 Governor Adlai Stevenson began to order the Illinois State Police to raid businesses throughout Illinois in order to confiscate illegal gambling devices. Stevenson had been elected Governor by a landslide because of his campaign promise to reform government. Once elected, he was pressured to move against illegal gambling and the corruption associated with it. Caught in a dilemma, the Governor experienced a heart-felt need to crack down on gambling (and the need to fulfill campaign promises), but attempted to do so in a way that would not create political backlash--gambling devices added to the bottom line of many small businesses because countless citizens patronized the various gambling devices (for example, slots, pinballs, punchboards, and fishbowls). Stevenson would have preferred local authorities to enforce anti-gambling laws, and he would have preferred enforcing them in private clubs as well as in "the corner tavern."

     On October 11, 1950, Stevenson ordered the Illinois State Police to conduct extensive gambling raids in many taverns, restaurants, and other businesses in Logan County and Lincoln, the county seat--but not the private clubs, for example: the Moose, the Eagles, the American Legion, the V.F.W., and the Elks. The State Police raid in Lincoln, Logan County, and other sites in Macon County on October 11, 1950, was the fifth in a series throughout Illinois. The raids in Lincoln touched off legal proceedings against the owners of the gambling machines--especially one-ball pinball machines--and those who offered these machines in their places of business.

     These 1950 State Police raids in Lincoln and Logan County sparked legal drama that ensnared state, county, and city police; lawyers; an assistant attorney general of Illinois; circuit and county judges; businessmen; ministers; mayors; city council members; county board members; a city attorney; and many private citizens. The controversial trial of the state vs. the pinball machines continued into 1951, giving rise to additional proceedings aimed at controlling amusement devices and eliminating corruption. The legal proceedings stemming from the 1950 State Police raid also inspired a controversial "Good Government" movement in the early to mid 1950s. In 1954, the local Good Government Council provided information that  led to charges of corruption against a local justice of the peace. After his acquittal, this justice of the peace retaliated by suing his accusers for $900,000.

     The push for good government led to additional gambling raids in 1954 and 1960 in Lincoln and Logan County, which were conducted by local authorities in city and county government. Believe it or not, the 1954 raid in Lincoln was in a private club. The 1960 raid was even in private residences. Was the Democratic reform governor's vision of social justice beginning to take hold even in the heart of GOP land, where individualistic, enterprising small businessmen and many ordinary, broadminded citizens commonly "winked" at the gambling laws? (But the raids in Lincoln were never in the most prestigious private clubs--the Elks Town Club or the Elks Country Club!)

     The locations of private clubs, of course, were not secret, so those establishments could have been raided just as easily as the taverns and other businesses that offered gambling. The photo below, taken on Chicago Street during the 1953 Centennial Celebration of Lincoln, Illinois, shows that taverns (the Schlitz sign of Swingle and Montgomery's, later just Swingle's) and private clubs (Eagles) existed in close proximity--here, literally side by side. Several private clubs were located in downtown Lincoln, for example, the Elks Town Club and Knights of Columbus in addition to the Eagles. As indicated later in this chapter, taverns on Chicago Street in Lincoln and other downtown locations had been raided by the State Police in 1950.

40.3: Pre-Clydesdale WHITE MULE Budweiser Team on Chicago Street (August, 1953)

     (Photo courtesy of John Swingle, son of the proprietors of Swingle's Tavern (Schlitz sign). The man in the forefront at left is John's father, John H. Swingle. The man next to him is Lewis "Zoo" Barrick, long-time Budweiser distributor in Lincoln (this ID provided by Linda Barrick, wife of Zoo's son, Jack). John Swingle identifies the photographer as Ernie Horton. Note the brick pavement and the interurban tracks. To the right of the Molloy Cafe, just before Kerpan's Grocery on the corner of Chicago and Pulaski Streets, is a barber pole and a taxi cab office. The name of the Dalmatian is unknown.)

The Scope and Organization of This Chapter

     The following are the subsequent topics covered:

  • Significance of the 1950s Gambling-Related Events in Lincoln and Logan County

  • Sources

  • A Few Gambling Memories from LCHS Alums of the 1950s--1960s to Set the Stage

  • The Tangled Vine of Illegal Gambling and Corruption

  • Gaming Machine in the 1936 Rustic Tavern on Pulaski Street

  • Scope and Procedure of the 1950 Raids

  • Temporary Storage of the Pinball Machines at the Logan County Fairgrounds

  • Legal Activity Prior to the Civil Trial of the State vs. the Confiscated Machines

  • Key Players from the Bench and Bar

  • The Beginning of the Pinball Machine Trial: The Most Bizarre Civil Trial Ever Held in the 1905 Logan County Courthouse

  • The Question of Church Influence on the Case of the State vs. the Pinball Machines

  • Conclusion and Outcome of the Trial of the State vs. the Pinball Machines

  • The Logan County Grand Jury of January, 1951, and Related Activity

  • The Question of the Outcome of the Criminal Trial of the Pinball Machine Owners

  • Revoking and Revising Lincoln's Ordinance for Licensing Amusement Machines

  • The Rise and Fall of the Good Government Council of Logan County

  • The Issue of Post-Trial Illegal Gambling in Lincoln

  • The Last(?) Gambling Raid in Lincoln--September 27, 1960

Significance of the 1950s Gambling-Related Events in Lincoln and Logan County

    This page tells the fascinating stories of the gambling raids and subsequent legal activity in Lincoln and Logan County from 1950 to 1960. These are dramatic stories of politics, piety, and power; and the events described in this chapter are certainly among the most colorful and important aspects of Lincoln and Logan County history of the twentieth century. This chapter provides an original case study of relationships involving local and state law enforcement, the court system, city and county government, and various other local community elements, including the clergy and businessmen. An account of these gambling raids and related activity is long overdue--no previous local history writers have touched these stories-- because of their unique significance to the history of Illinois (and the nation)--and they all took place in or near the first Lincoln namesake city.

     Curiously, small-town American life of the early 1950s is often portrayed as uneventful--much complacency and conformity--hardly any social strife. In the Lincoln Evening Courier of the early 1950s, the Korean War raged in the headlines, while the front page often carried stories related to legal and political activities stemming from the 1950 State Police gambling raids. This aspect of the history of the first Lincoln namesake city suggests that small-town Midwestern life could have its own social drama, its own "culture war"-- conflict between moral conservatives and more broadminded citizens -- a social phenomenon more often associated with present-day American life. The Lincoln, Illinois, of the 1950s was not entirely Mayberry R.F.D.

     Here, I have tried to be clear and accurate in order to be consistent with the educational aim of this entire Lincoln community history Web site. There is a great deal more that I could have written about some of these historic events, especially the controversy surrounding the Good Government Council's activities and the indictment of eighteen of its members; but here I have tried to temper truth with discretion. As a researcher, writer, and teacher of many years, I trust I have struck the right balance; but my readers, of course, will be the judge of that.

     The events reported on this page suggest important lessons. One is that labeling people as conservative (right) or liberal (left) oversimplifies. The members of the Good Government Council were motivated by traditional morality--the belief that gambling is wrong because it corrupts-- and were thus conservative (right), but they were also calling for reform and were thus liberal (left). Those who supported gambling were conservative in their belief in the traditional American principle that individuals should have freedom in the "pursuit of happiness," and both the business people who provided gambling devices and the gamblers were liberal in their willingness to deny or overlook the moral and civic corruption associated with gambling. Certainly those who supported gambling were radically liberal in their willingness to break the law.

    The political/social difficulties reflected in the events of this period emphasize the need for the rule of law. These events indeed may have provided well-learned lessons to pave the way for a more moderate, rational climate that has generally distinguished Lincoln's and Logan County's government in more recent decades.

     In addition to books and articles, I have relied heavily on accounts and photos published in Lincoln and Logan County's only daily newspaper: titled the Lincoln Evening Courier from 1940 to 1956 and was called the Lincoln Daily Courier from 1960 to 1968 (presently it is The Courier). I also usefully draw upon my contemporaries--LCHS alums--whose memories of gambling I solicited by email. Below, I offer some of these memories; others are placed in relevant places throughout this chapter. I am deeply indebted to these special and wonderful contributors (as are all readers who enjoy my Lincoln community history Web site), so let me thank these "Lincolnites at Heart" for all of us.
A Few Gambling Memories from LCHS Alums of the 1950s--1960s to Set the Stage

      Former Lincolnite Dan Gaydosh, writes: "Just read through the section of your 1950--60 gambling raids part of your site (3-11-10).  Nice research and very informative.  Most of our age group probably did not know what was going on during that time.  The only reason I remember so much is that I was like an only child isolated on a farm, which meant I was immersed in the adult world as a kid.  As I have related to you before, there were many stories that I wish could be researched from the Good Government era.  I guess all the adults from that time are gone now.  You have probably combed the records that are available.

     Looking back at it now, it looks like the Good Government group was an overreaction to a perceived conspiracy of corruption in the county at the time.  There probably were some shady dealings going on and some friendly back-scratching, but nothing of a real serious nature.  The vigilante style actions of the Good Government group caused the other side also to overreact and resort to a cover-up, protective mode, so the game was on.

     There may not have been much fire, but there was a lot of smoke back then in the form of mystery movie type actions that took place in and around the county.  Things got tense and life got rough for some of the parties involved.  You have done the best job of firming out some of my vague memories from those days.  I hope you can learn more.

     Of course, it was the early 50's when people were looking for Communists behind every door.  Maybe something similar took place in Lincoln and Logan County at that time, just for a different cause."

     From native Lincolnite  Illinois Appellate Court Justice James A. "Jim" Knecht: "I remember sitting on the front stoop of Pluth Apartments on Sangamon Street watching State Troopers raid the bars up and down Sangamon and bring out machines [in 1950] . . . . It was highly publicized and seemed to be successful only in the sense it made saloon owners more circumspect in having slots and tote boards--punch boards--I remember seeing them after the raid." 

     From native Lincolnite Patricia Beckholt Kindred: "In regard to gambling, etc., I lived on Lincoln Avenue and the house across from me (Jim Moriearty lives there now) was rented (or something) by Al Capone who came to Logan County to see his businesses (Maple Club; Coonhound Johnny's" between Lincoln and Lawndale; and possibly other places. The occupants of the house would drive up in their big black cars (looked big to me - a little girl). This was the early 30's. Hope this information is of some use."

     From native Lincolnite Pat Hoagland Geskey: "I remember the horse betting parlor in Lincoln. My grandmother, Pearl Langenbahn, used to take me with her to bet 'the ponies.' It was upstairs above where Sorrento's Pizza is now. This would be in the 500 block of Broadway St. Jacobs Clothiers was below. I was about 5 or 6 years old. What I remember is a place that looked like the betting place in the movie The Sting. When we went, I remember it being in the daylight and warm weather. My grandfather was Fred Langenbahn. He was the Schlitz Beer distributor for over 20 years here. His brother, Howard Langenbahn, had a tavern on Chicago St. Kinsey worked there. They had gambling upstairs. They had a crap table up there. On Friday nights we would go to the tavern and eat fish and meet grandpa after we went to the movies. I would always get to go up there to tell him we were ready to go home. Always a crowd."

     Note: The building Pat refers to was constructed in 1868 by John Dean Gillett, one of the three founders of the first Lincoln namesake town and an acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln. The second floor of the Gillett Building was known as Gillett's Hall. According to Stringer's 1911 History of Logan County, Illinois, Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered a lecture there in the year it was built (p. 577). Ironically, Gillett's Hall, the site of the gambling activity described above by Pat Hoagland Geskey, was the site of a civil trial in 1904 in which Gillett's heirs sued one another for ownership of his vast real estate empire near Elkhart, Illinois. The trial was held in Gillett's Hall because construction had not been completed on the new Logan County Courthouse until 1905. This trial lasted for several weeks, and day-by-day reports were published in the Lincoln Courier, but no other analysis and commentary about this trial has ever been written and published. This building still stands as of March 2011 and was recently for sale.

     Native Lincolnite Fred Blanford reports, "I can remember playing penny and nickel slot machines in many locations in Logan Co. They were not as much fun as the pinball machines which (in my memory) did pay off also if a certain level of accomplishment was achieved. . . .  While a chair was too high, a beer case was about the right height for me to play the machines. Lincoln's involvement continued into the 60's as I recall reading about the seizure of a truckload of slots in Lincoln--reported in a Chicago newspaper while I was resident in Champaign.

     Fred continues, "The entertainment/politics angle goes back to the night (1950) my dad came home--said get in the car we're going out--and we drove to various locations in town to watch as the machines were hauled out of various establishments (to the County Fairgrounds as I recall) where a photo-op was created for someone to take a sledge to some of them. The only name I will name is C. Marvin Hamilton--Mike's dad. Even way back then Mike was a friend of mine--so his dad's involvement stuck with me while the involvement of other adults that were unknown to me did not make a lasting impression. Marvin was either State's Attorney or an Assistant SA at that time and was involved in any prosecutions that may have taken place" (from email to 175+ LCHS alums, 10-27-02).

     This Web page documents illegal gambling of the late Route 66 era (1950-1960), but as native Lincolnite Dave Salyers reports, slot machines had also been popular earlier in the Prohibition era, when alleged bootlegger Coonhound Johnny Schwenoha owned and operated his infamous roadhouse just north of Lincoln on Route 66:

Dear Leigh --

     Just read some of the mail on slots, etc. [posted on the watering holes page]. In the mid-1970s, my father called me to ask if I wanted a slot machine. Long story short, he knew a guy who had several slot machines in his garage.  Provenance for all of them was Coonhound Johnny's.

     A friend and I rented a truck and drove to Lincoln to pick up a vast array of separate parts -- sort of like buying several autos -- all unassembled. We hauled them back to Chicago and found a fellow who repaired slots and told him we wanted three completed, working machines out of the lot and that he could keep the rest (probably a heck of a deal for him, because he didn't hesitate a second in agreeing). Anyway, I've still got one lovely Jennings Indian Head 5-cent machine sitting in my home.

     Leigh replied:

     "Dave, I mentioned my ignorance [about slots] and suspect many other folks in the LCHS alums' email group are like me -- heard about 'em but never saw one. I did a quick search at Google's images and came up with the following image and description. Does your machine look something like this?"

 Dave confirmed:

     "Yes, apart from the fact that mine sits in a wooden case with a metal rod at the bottom that serves as a foot-rest for the "serious" player. The red side lights are illuminated when plugged in, and there's a brass Indian head that you can see just below the lemon, if you look closely."

     Below is a photo of the Indian head slot machine I found on the Web (link below).  That Web site 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."

40.4: Indian Head Slot Machine from

     Former Lincolnite John Feldman tells how he came to possess the machine shown in the photos below: "There was an old hotel in downtown, can't remember the street, but was right around the corner from the pool hall [formerly the Commercial Hotel and named the Howard Hotel in the 1950s--one block south of several taverns raided by the State Police on October 11, 1950].

     My dad owned the building, and when the hotel manager heard the police were raiding and confiscating the pinball machines (deemed to be gambling devices that would corrupt our youth) he offered two to dad to put in his basement. One was an old bowling machine and the second was a Humpty Dumpty pinball machine with flippers, which I still have at home here.

     It is somewhat famous in that it was the first pinball with flippers in the US, written up in Playboy who had done an article on the history of pinball. Manufactured by D. Gottlieb & Co out of Chicago. My brother Larry tried to figure out how they worked and tore the bowling machine apart and we had to throw it out. Glad he didn't pick on Humpty. P.S. Judi would like me to get rid of it but I just can't. Too much history around it."

40.5: The D. Gottlieb & Company's "Humpty Dumpty" Pinball Machine from Lincoln, Illinois,
That Escaped Being Confiscated, Smashed, and Burned as a Result of the 1950 State Police Raid

      (Photo is courtesy of John Feldman, LCHS Noble Class of 1960, its president of the National Honor Society, and owner and master operator of the Humpty Dumpty above.)

       In the early 1930s, designers of pinball machines applied electricity to add such lasting innovations as the tilt mechanism. "In 1937, a feature emerged that. . . used electrically operated wire and spring bumpers to lengthen the play of the game. . . . The next major development, one of the most radical innovations of all, was introduced in 1947 when D. Gottlieb & Company unveiled Humpty Dumpty.

     This machine incorporated a feature that its inventor, Harry Mabs, called flipper bumpers on the side of the cabinet. For the first time, a pinball machine offered players some control over the flow of the game on the playing field. The success of flippers was immediate, and the game as we know it was born (Sharpe, "Pinball," p. 63). Scroll toward the bottom of this page to see technical illustrations of the tilt mechanism and electronic bumper, and a photo of the flipper mechanism.

40.6: Upper Section of John Feldman's Historic Humpty Dumpty Pinball Machine

     Pinball machines were usually designed to use one or five balls. The one-ball machines were typically used for gambling, while the five-ball machines were used for amusement only ("free play"). The main gambling device confiscated by the State Police raids in Lincoln and Logan County of October 11, 1950, was the one-ball pinball machine.

     More memories of gambling and roadhouses in Lincoln and Logan County, Illinois, are found on the watering holes page of this site. See Sources Cited below for a link to that page.

The Tangled Vine of Illegal Gambling and Corruption

     One of my Lincolnite correspondents, who wishes to be anonymous (no, it's not Fred Blanford or Jim Knecht), shares the following experience and observation that supports the view that where there is illegal gambling, there is corruption (bribes, payoffs, etc.). My correspondent says that in 1954 he ran into a former Lincolnite in an out-of-town tavern, and the two of them discussed the gambling raids for several hours. This former Lincolnite "went into great detail about the relationships" among various officials in Lincoln and Logan County in the early 1950s.

     According to my correspondent, "It would not be possible to have the gambling in Logan County at that time like there was without some type of arrangement with the law enforcement officials of that area. It simply would not be possible. That's common sense."

    In addition, my correspondent said the person he talked to in the tavern claimed he was personally involved in this corruption. This person "said his job was to take care of one special elected official at that time, and he would give a special amount of money to that individual every Monday at the old First National Bank building on the corner of Pulaski and Kickapoo. He made the payoff in the area where you can go privately to check the contents of your safety deposit box."

     My anonymous correspondent also writes that "I can remember going to shows at the Maple Club and show producer Alan Tidaback (probably have spelling wrong) would get up and say in the old days at the Maple Club the top floor of the Old Maple Club next door was a cat house and that there was a secret room for gambling at the Maple Club and he did have on exhibit an old crap table that was in that gambling room."  [Note: More information about the Maple Club appears in Chapter/Page 36 of this Web site: Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era:  Entertainment in the Fast Lane. See link in Sources Cited below.]

     "A lot of the people that knew things are dead. I remember seeing all of the slots and pin ball machines stacked up out at the fairgrounds one time when I came home to Lincoln. I knew a lot of the gamblers and bookmakers in those days. I played a lot of pool and knew John Hickey well and his poker game upstairs from the pool hall. Slick Foutch I knew" (Email to Leigh of 9-2003).

      Jim Knecht observes, "I remember in the late 1950s an assistant state's attorney who intended to make a name for himself by being against gambling and corruption--he wanted to run for state's attorney [of Logan County] and did so, but I believe he was soundly trounced because no one was interested in doing away with all gambling and all corruption" (email to Leigh of 9-9-03).

     As this chapter shows, suspecting corruption is one thing--proving it is another.

Gaming Machine in the 1936 Rustic Tavern on Pulaski Street

   Amusement devices must have been a long-time tradition in the taverns of Lincoln, Illinois, as indicated by the following incredible photo from 1936 provided by John Swingle. Is the machine in the background a pinball machine? A bowling machine? Or what? (Note: the Rustic Tavern was the alleged site where several men in 1876 hatched their plot to steal the body of Abraham Lincoln. For more information about that abortive plot and photos of the Rustic Tavern, scroll to the bottom of 3. The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln in this Web site. See link in the Sources Cited at the bottom of this gambling page.)

40.7: Rustic Tavern Interior of October, 1936

     (Photo courtesy of John Swingle. He identifies the two men behind the bar as Frank Sumski (l) and Joe Sumski. Others are unidentified. Notice the wood decor appropriate for the tavern's name.)

40.8: Politically Correct Gaming Machine Patrons Before PC Was Cool:
Two Women and Two Men, Including a Black Gentleman--All Well Dressed

Have you ever seen a more guilty look than that of the man turning toward the camera?

Scope and Procedure of the 1950 Raids

40.9: Pinball Excitement Picks up in Lincoln and Logan County on October 11, 1950

     The State Police gambling raids of October 11, 1950, took place in Logan and Macon County. "State Police, acting under orders from Gov. Adlai Stevenson, raided 49 establishments in Logan County. . . and seized 98 gambling devices, including 76 pinball machines, 16 punch boards, and 6 'fish bowls.'" Logan County communities raided were Atlanta, Broadwell, Elkhart, Lincoln, and Mt. Pulaski.

     "In a companion raid in Macon County, 79 devices, including 10 console type slot machines and 69 pinballs, were confiscated. About 70 Macon establishments were raided although they contributed a lesser haul than small Logan." Macon County communities targeted included Blue Mound, Boody, Colonial, Decatur, Maroa, and Warrensburg. Some rural taverns in these counties were also hit.

     In point of number of troopers participating and number of establishments visited, the operation was the biggest in the six-month history of the State Police crackdown on gambling" (Courier, 10-12-50, p. 1). "Fifty-two officers under the direction of Harry I. Curtis, State Police Chief, and Thomas P. Brennan, assistant director of public safety, participated in the Logan raid." The raids began at 7:00 p.m. and were completed by 11:00 p.m. "The raid in both counties came with lightning swiftness and without the knowledge of local law enforcement officers until it was underway. A single state patrolman entered each establishment on the list, tagged the illegal machines he found, and then waited until joined by other officers" (Courier, 10-12-50, p. 1).

    In Lincoln, besides taverns on Chicago and Sangamon Streets, various other establishments raided included the Blu-Inn, the Broadway Cafe, the Mill, the Tizit, the Tiz-Rite, and the J&J Tavern on Pulaski Street. The machines "were carried outside and loaded on cruising State Police trucks. Hundreds of people gathered in Lincoln's downtown streets to watch the Police at work. An interurban train was held up for some time while machines were loaded on Chicago Street."

     "Lt. H.W. Nofs, of Elgin, who participated in the Logan raids said the men had the 'full cooperation' of both local authorities and tavern and cafe proprietors during the raid. The machines were turned over to the custody of Sheriff C.T. 'Dutch' Kief,' with the State Police getting a receipt for them. Only one local proprietor was reported to have offered any resistance to the raiding officers, and his resistance was minor. A Lincoln cafe proprietor expressed a sudden desire to close up shop as soon as he saw the entering State Police. A moment later he decided to 'cooperate'" (Courier, 10-12-50).

     "In another Lincoln establishment, State Patrolmen encountered a city policeman off duty who was placed under arrest with the other patrons while the single machine in the establishment was removed."

     "A State Police lieutenant, questioned by a Courier reporter at the conclusion of Wednesday night's raid, said that his men probably overlooked a number of establishments having machines, and that several were found to be closed. He said the proprietors should not feel slighted at the omission, and suggested that any proprietors still having machines should call the State Police headquarters in Springfield" (Courier, 10-12-50, p. 1).

     The confiscated machines were taken to the Logan County Fairgrounds and stored in rows under the grandstand, and police guarded the machines.

40.10: State Police Raid on Chicago Street

(Photo from the Lincoln Evening Courier, 10-12-50)

     In the above photo, the white box in the upper right encloses part of the same "BARBER SHOP" sign also seen on the far-right building in the photo below about a decade after the raid.

Chicago Street Businesses Raided

40.11: Chicago Street Barber Shop (at right) in the Early 1960s

(Photo from the D.D. Welch collection)

40.12: Left to right: Barber Shop, Hickey's Billiards, and Slick's Inn

(Photo from the D.D. Welch collection)

       Jim Knecht reports, "there was a high stakes poker game at Hickey's before our time in the late 1930s and '40s--I know because Hickey told me as did my father who gambled there and at the Maple Club. In the 1960s there was a high stakes poker game that ran in the basement of what had been Bree's and then Kendrick's and then Babe Naugle's pool hall next door to Hauffe's butcher shop--the pool hall was Hickey's competition for pool but not poker because by then Hickey believed it was no longer safe or economical to run a poker game" (email to Leigh of 9-9-2003).

     Dave Salyers reports, "My mother said that soon after she and my father were married, he lost his job due to an injury. (In the Depression, if you weren't able to work, there were hundreds waiting for your job.) In any event, my mother said that she would put all change -- quarters and smaller that she got back from grocery shopping, etc. -- into a Mason jar. Every night, my father would take as much silver as he could get into his pocket and off he would go to Hickey's. My mother said that it was a rare night that he didn't come back with considerably more than he started with.

     I recall when I was four or five years old, going with my father to Hickey's on weekend afternoons. He'd play, and I remember sitting at an unused table and playing with those wonderful clay poker chips. By the time I was in grade school, he had stopped playing, and I never really talked to him about that as I got older. Very sorry now that I never learned anything about that part of my father's life" (email to Leigh of 9-10-2003).

40.13: Don Loren's Barber Shop and Site of Former Hickey's Billiards on Chicago Street in 2005

(Leigh Henson photo)

     Note: Photos 40.12 and 40.13 suggest that Don's front door and the striped barber pole to the left of the door have not changed in a half century! A barber shop continues here as of March 2011.

 40.14: (l. to r.): Slick's Inn, the Empire Tavern, empty store, Molloy's Cafe (and beautiful '56 Fairlane)

(Photo from the D.D. Welch collection)

     The empty storefront to the right of the Empire Tavern had been a tavern operated by the father of John Swingle, LCHS Class of 1957. In July of 2005, John was gracious to take the time to write in the middle of a move from Wisconsin to Arizona: "My dad's tavern was between. . .the Empire Tavern and Molloy's Cafe. It was originally Swingle and Montgomery, and was owned by my dad, John, and mother, Ruth, after his partner, Harry Montgomery, died. Regulars used to play cards at a table in there (nothing serious), have a couple of pinball machines, and a couple of pool tables, where I learned to play. I remember them talking about punch boards and tip jars in the early days, but I was a little young in those early years. My dad sold the place in 1955 and retired as I went into my junior year, but I don't think the new owner lasted too long."

Sidebar:  Note the historic twin parking meters in the above photo. Shouldn't they be considered a form of legal gambling machine? You pay to play; then you go about your business, betting that you can finish before you need to feed them again or get a ticket.

     By the way, most of these devices have been removed from downtown Lincoln, but three or four remain in front of the post office, so you can still play. Does using the post office services help or hinder your odds of beating the clock?



40.15: Legal
Gambling Machine in
Downtown Lincoln, IL

(Leigh Henson photo)

Dining While Gaming in Lincoln During the Early 1950s

     After a meal downtown in the early 1950s, you could amuse yourself with various games of chance (not advertised). The following ads ran in the Lincoln Evening Courier. Note the wide beer selection available in Chicago Street taverns (four brands indicated by the signs).

40.16: Cold Budweiser Available

(Courier ad, 3-10-51, p. 4)

40.17: Cold Hamm's Available

(Courier ad, 12-18-54, p. 6)

     According to Jim Knecht, Slick's Inn "was an interesting place that seemed to avoid both scandal and fights--a quiet bar. I think there had been a poker game upstairs earlier, but like [John] Hickey, Slick concluded the risks outweighed the benefits" (email to Leigh, 10-17-2003).

    Note that one of the delicacies served at the Empire Tavern was carp, and it could have come from any of several Logan County gravel pits or such streams as Salt Creek, Sugar Creek, or Kickapoo Creek.

40.18: Cold Rheingold Available

     (Courier, 4-11-51, p. 4). "L" located at Broadway and Chicago Streets, future location of the Thudiums' Lincoln Office Supply)

40.19: The "L," Near the Train Depot

     (Photo in Gleason's Lincoln: A Pictorial History, p. 23. The overhanging sign advertises Rheingold beer.)

     "I remember an oversize bartender at Langenbahn's Tavern who drove a white Cadillac and was a bookmaker on the side operating out of a room over what became the Lincoln Office Supply or very near there. This was in the 1950s and 1960s" (Jim Knecht's email to Leigh of 9-9-2003).


40.20: The Mill on Stringer Avenue

(Photos by Leigh Henson in 2001)

40.21: Mill Ad

(Courier 1-30-47, p. 3)

40.22: The Mill on Stringer Avenue (Business Route 66) in 1946
Owned and Operated by Albert and Blossom Huffman

(Courier photo, 8-17-46)

Temporary Storage of the Pinball Machines at the Logan County Fairgrounds

40.23: Pinball Machines Lined Up at the Logan County Fairgrounds

40.24: Pinball Machines Temporarily Stored Under the Logan County Fair Grandstand

(Courier, 10-12-50, p. 1)

40.25: Arrow Points to Location Where Pinballs Were Stored

(Leigh Henson photo, 2001.This grandstand was demolished in 2003 and replaced with bleachers.)

Legal Activity Prior to the Civil Trial of the State vs. the Confiscated Machines

     10-12-50: On the day after the raids (Thursday, October 12), the Courier reported that "petitions for the destruction of all the devices confiscated will be filed Friday morning in Logan County court and Friday afternoon in Macon County court, Assistant Director Brennan said. The petitions will be filed by Baird Helfrich, Assistant Attorney General, acting for the State Police. The petitions were not filed Thursday because of court recess in observance of Columbus Day. Note: Baird Helfrich took part in the 1950 state-wide gambling raids and appeared in Logan County Circuit Court many times to represent the state, but I could not find a photo of him until several years after the original publication of this Web page. In December 2010 Mr. John Miller, a retired attorney with the National Labor Relations Board, emailed me to say he was a nephew of Mr. Helfrich and offered me this photo of him and the following biographical information:

40.26: Assistant Attorney General Baird Helfrich

     John Miller wrote: "My uncle, Baird Helfrich (11/06/08 to 05/18/81) probably practiced law in Illinois until mid-1952 (I assume living in the house in Rochester, IL that he purchased in 1949).  His life took a dramatic turn in June of 1952, when he, his wife Pat and their 4 children moved to Rangoon, Burma, where he ostensibly set up an import/export business. He had previously been in Burma for several years during WWII, when he worked in the OSS. See the attached story on p. 4 of that newsletter. He stayed in Burma for the next 12 years, until the family was expelled from the country in about 1963 -- a result of U Thant assuming power and the country turning non-aligned.  By that time the family included 8 children (the older ones had become immersed in Burmese society, although they were educated in Catholic boarding schools in Burma and India).  The family moved to the Washington, DC area for a few years, with Baird working for either the State Department or one of the national security agencies.  In the late 60's or early 70's the family moved back to Illinois (first to Rochester and then to Springfield), where he practiced law and/or worked for one of the local selective service draft boards.  In the late 70's he began to experience heart problems and had to restrict himself from working very much.  I'm not quite sure how long he continued to work, and whether he continued to stay in Illinois until his death.  I do know that just about all of his family eventually gravitated to Hawaii, where many of them continue to live, primarily in Hilo, on the big island of Hawaii.  I guess the pull of the tropics remains a force in the family."

     The Courier article continues: "In previous gambling raids, however, no action has been taken by the state against individual proprietors themselves, the office of Thomas J. O'Donnell, acting director of the Department of Public Welfare, reported. In a number of earlier raids, nevertheless, the local state's attorney has taken action against operators [machine owners], the office added."

     "Destruction of the machines would mean a loss of about $19,000 in yearly income to the city of Lincoln, which licenses the pinball machines. A sum of $8,000 comes from the Lincoln Pinball Association for an operating license under the city ordinance, and an additional approximate sum of $11,000 comes from individual operators through the Association, which collects on the basis of number of machines in the establishment. A city official said 117 pinball machines have been licensed for the city's 1950 fiscal year" (Courier, 10-12-50, p. 10).

10-16-50: The Courier reports that "a number of Lincoln tavern proprietors who were on the list of State Police raiding Logan County. . .have been warned they will lose their state liquor licenses if the machines go back. . ." (p. 8). The petition to the Logan County court for the destruction of the machines had not been accomplished as of this date. State's Attorney Edwin C. Mills was still working on the specifics. Pending court action, the machines, stored at the Logan County Fairgrounds, were under 24-hour guard by a State Police officer and a Logan County deputy.

10-25-50: The Courier reports that the gambling machines have been re-located to the Logan County Courthouse, where they will soon be opened and their contents removed.

     Circuit Judge Frank Bevan ordered the Logan County sheriff personally to deliver legal notices to 69 individuals in Logan County who might have some claim on the confiscated machines and other devices. The notices were to inform these people that they would have to appear in court on or before November to answer the petition for the destruction of the machines as prepared by State's Attorney Mills. Failure to appear would be the same as confessing that the machines were used for gambling.

Key Players of the Local Bench and Bar

     As indicated later on this page, Judge Bevan presided over most of the legal proceedings relating to the gambling raids.

     At the time of these proceedings, Judge Bevan was serving his second six-year term as a circuit judge, and in March of 1951, he was re-nominated by his party. At that time, the Courier reported that Judge Bevan was a descendant of two of the pioneer families of Logan County. A native of Atlanta, Illinois, he was 64 at the time of his re-nomination. He was educated in the Atlanta public schools and the University of Chicago, where he received his law degree in 1910. "The Illinois Supreme Court admitted him to the bar in October, 1910. He began a law practice in Atlanta with his father under the firm name of Bevan and Bevan. John L. Bevan practiced in Atlanta from 1874 until his death in 1933. Until his election as circuit judge in June, 1939, Frank Bevan carried on their extensive law business" (Courier, 3-23-51).

40.27: Circuit Judge Frank S. Bevan

(Courier photo)

40.28: Logan County State's Attorney
Edwin C. Mills

(Courier photo)

40.29: Lead Defense Attorney
Harold F. Trapp, Sr.

(Photo from The Namesake Town, p. 67)

     As indicated later on this page, Edwin C. Mills, Sr., as the Logan County state's attorney (Democrat), played a prominent role in the legal proceedings relating to the gambling machines. The professional bio below derives from a Courier article in January, 1960, when that paper named Mr. Mills its "Man of the Month."

     Edwin C. Mills, Sr., a native of Lincoln (b. 1900), attended St. Mary's Elementary School and Central School and graduated from LCHS in 1918. Thinking about a career as a chemical engineer, he attended Eastern prep schools and graduated cum laude in 1920 from the Phillips Academy at Exeter, N.H. He then attended Yale before going to California because of a health issue. In Los Angeles he attended Southwestern University before returning to Lincoln in 1927, where for a year he read law in the office of Peter Murphy. At the age of 28 he then went to Chicago for further legal studies, also working first for the Chase Securities Corporation and then the Chicago Title and Trust Company. In Chicago he graduated from the Marshall Law School in 1930 and was admitted to the Illinois Bar.

     In 1928 he had married Esther Dehner in Lincoln, and he returned to Lincoln to begin his legal career in the early 1930s. At first he was in private practice as a trial attorney in the firm of Peter Murphy. Then, he was a master in chancery of the Logan County Circuit Court from 1932 to 1935. He was elected as the state's attorney of Logan County in 1940, 1944, and 1948. After 1952 he returned to private practice.

     His community service included being county chairman of the National Recovery Act, board member of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of the Logan March of Dimes one year.

     Edwin C. Mills, Sr., like some other successful members of their professions in this community, was a leading participant in the Lincoln Elks Club--the most prestigious private club in Lincoln. These memberships in the Elks Club have significance for the gambling scene in Lincoln, and this significance is indicated later on this page.

     Mr. Mills joined the Lincoln Elks in 1927 and  served as exalted ruler during the lodge year of 1937-38. In the mid 1930s, he participated in Elks ritualistic team competition, and during that time the Lincoln team won district and state titles, and placed third in the national competition held in Los Angeles. Mr. Mills was also an officer of the Illinois State Elks Association as district deputy grand exalted ruler for the East Central District of Illinois during the lodge year of 1942-43.

     In 1960 Edwin C. Mills, Sr., and his son, Edwin C. Mills, Jr., were partners in the law firm of Mills and Mills. In 2005 the senior Mills' grandson, Edwin C. Mills, III, practices law in Lincoln.

40.30: 1950s Luminaries of Bench and Bar from Lincoln and Logan County, Illinois

     (Photo from Dooley and Welch, The Namesake Town: A Centennial History of Lincoln, Illinois, p. 34.)

     The above image is a cropped section of a photo of judges and lawyers taken in the cafeteria of the Hotel Lincoln when they gathered to help legendary Lincoln scholar Judge Lawrence Stringer celebrate his 75th birthday. Left to right: Harold F. Trapp, Sr.; Luther Dearborn; C. Marvin Hamilton; Edwin C. Mills, Sr.; William S. Ellis; Harold Trapp, Jr.; and Leland Miller.

     As the story that unfolds in this chapter shows, Harold F. Trapp, Sr., was a seasoned, skillful attorney whose strategies shaped much of the early phase of the legal proceeding in Judge Bevan's court hearings related to the confiscated gambling devices.

     Harold Frederick Trapp, Sr. (1877--1951) was the son Frederick and Emma Rubly Trapp of Springfield, Illinois. Attorney Harold Trapp's father had been a major legal and business counselor to the vast Scully estates: The Lincoln-based office of Scully and Koehnle was re-named Koehnle and Trapp in the 1880s. Frederick Trapp implemented an effective record-keeping procedure for the Scully estates. A later agent praised Trapp: "when Fred Trapp came, the records started and the business really began to move. . . . He contributed much that could be of use to William Scully" (Socolofsky, Landlord William Scully, p. 87).

     Harold F. Trapp, Sr., married Lillian Attchison April 20, 1908, at Mt. Pulaski. Their first son, Harold F. Trapp, Jr., also became an attorney and his father's law partner. Another son was Robert N. Trapp, M.D.

     Harold F. Trapp, Sr., attended the University of Illinois, where he lettered in track and received his law degree. In Lincoln, Trapp read law in the firm of Beach and Hodnett, and after Mr. Beach's death continued the office. Trapp belonged to the American and Illinois Bar Associations. Also, he had been president of the Logan County Bar Association. In 1933 Mr. Trapp was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for state supreme court justice in the third judicial district. A prominent trial lawyer, Mr. Trapp in 1950 was honored by the Illinois State Bar Association for 50 years of service to his profession.

     Attorney Trapp, a resident of 227 Tremont Street in Lincoln, was deeply involved in the civic life of the community. He was a charter member of Lincoln Lodge 914 B.P.O. Elks. In addition, he was the organizer and first president of the Lincoln Rotary. Also, he served as a trustee of Lincoln College. Mr. Trapp was a member of the First Presbyterian Church (information from Mr. Trapp's obituary in the Courier, 1-24-51, p. 1).

     In my little library of publications relating to Lincoln, Illinois, is a book titled Lincoln: The Namesake College, A Centennial History of Lincoln College (1865-1965). I bought it in a used book store in Springfield, Illinois--the town where Mr. Trapp's parents had lived--, and this book had been owned by Harold F. Trapp, Sr. The book contains his signature. Graphologists will note that the signature suggests Mr. Trapp possessed a strong, balanced, and unpretentious personality:


The Beginning of the Pinball Machine Trial:
The Most Bizarre Civil Trial Ever Held in the 1905 Logan County Courthouse

12-7-50: "Claims Gambling Machines Were Seized Illegally" (Courier title)

     Mr. Trapp had been hired by nine members of the Lincoln Pinball Operators Association--the owners of the confiscated gambling devices--to defend the owners against the state's petition to destroy the devices as illegal gambling equipment. In court, Mr. Trapp came out swinging--he filed a motion to dismiss the state's petition based on the argument that the devices were taken by "unlawful search and seizure." Trapp's motion to dismiss was also based on the argument that the state's petition failed to show that the machines were used for gambling.

     "Judge Frank S. Bevan. . . overruled that part of the owners' motion that the petition by the State's Attorney was insufficient because it states the machines are gambling devices without any basis. Trapp held the state's petition jumps to a 'legal conclusion' that they are gambling devices without any description of the operation of the machines."

     "The judge then asked for arguments on whether there is any property right in the machines, assuming they are gambling devices and seized by legal means. Trapp argued the machines were seized without statutory authority and against the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Baird Helfrich, assistant attorney general of Illinois, was present in court for the state. " (As the "rest of the story" shows, Mr. Helfrich determined that Mr. Trapp was a formidable trial lawyer of the "old school" and that Mr. Helfrich needed to become directly involved to help the local state's attorney.)

     "Trapp read in entirety an opinion from an Appellate Court [ruling] in a 1945 Chicago case involving roulette wheels and tables which held that search warrants and the bringing of persons in possession of seized devices into court are means of notice to proceedings clearly intended by Illinois law."

12-8-50: "State Alters Pinball Case to Include Sheriff as Plaintiff" (Courier title)

     "Assistant Attorney General Baird Helfrich and Logan State's Attorney Edwin Mills were allowed by Judge Frank S. Bevan. . . in Logan circuit court to amend their petition for the destruction of 75 pinball machines seized in Logan County Oct. 11 by State Police to include the Logan sheriff as a party to the seizure."

     Judge Bevan allowed the insertion of the name of Clair W. Smith, Logan sheriff, to the list of plaintiffs against the machines which beforehand included only the 'people' and the Attorney General and State's Attorney as their agents.

     Purpose of the amendment was to bring the seizure action directly under the terms of section 342 of the Illinois criminal code, which allows the confiscation of gambling devices by local or municipal authorities.

    Attorneys Trapp and Trapp and C. Everett Smith, counsel for the nine owners of the machines who argued a motion to strike and dismiss the case, professed themselves 'caught by surprise' by the amendment allowed the state and sought an extension of time to extend and amend their own motion against the state's petition. As one argument in their attempt to show the petition was insufficient, they had held that the State Police had no authority to seize the machines.

     "Judge Bevan in turn granted their motion to revise, and late Thursday afternoon continued the hearing until 9:30 a.m. next Tuesday."

     "The hearing had consumed five hours during which both the state and the defense referred freely to judicial opinions in several earlier and similar cases, in several instances drawing on contradicting dicta from the same case. Ten or twelve law volumes were heaped on the tables of both people and defense."

40.31: Logan County Sheriff Clair Smith,
Elected November, 1950

(Courier photo)

     "The amendments allowed by the judge to petition and cross-petition marked the third revision for the state, but only the first for the owners' counsel. The judge earlier in the hearing denied two parts of the motion by the owners, one that the petition was insufficient in that it jumped to a 'legal conclusion' the machines were gambling devices, and the other asking the state to specify in its petition how the machines were operated as gambling devices."

   "The amendment to the state's petition adding the sheriff's name to the seizure was allowed over the objection of owners' counsel that it constituted a departure from the original petition and allowed a different basis and cause for the proceedings. Attorney Harold Trapp, Sr., indicated this would be one of the grounds upon which his revised motion would attack the people's case, i.e., how the sheriff came into possession of the machines."

     "It was also indicated the owners would move for a clarification from the state on its allegations and a statement on which how and on what authority the machines were seized and whether search warrants had been issued.

     "In answer to the owners' contention the confiscation was illegal because no search warrants were issued, Assistant Attorney General Helfrich cited four Illinois gambling cases and his experience with similar proceedings in 15 other Illinois counties in arguing that search warrants were not involved in prosecutions of either slot machines or pinballs, the latter of which he said have been held to be a kind of slot machine."

     He said the state also does not require search warrants except in the case of forcible entry to seize concealed property, nor due process of law 'for the abatement of contraband' such as pinball machines. He said the circuit judge in a similar case in Decatur threw out a motion against the state's petition."

12-12-50: "Bevan Bars Motion to Drop Pinball Destruction Petition" (Courier title)

     Judge Bevan overruled "a motion by nine owners of 75 pinball machines [principals in the Lincoln Pinball Operators Association] confiscated in Logan County Oct. 11 to strike a petition by the Illinois Attorney General, Logan's state's attorney and sheriff for their destruction as gambling devices" (Courier, 12-12-50, p. 1).

     "The judge said his ruling. . .was based 'on the theory [assumption] that the motion admits it [the type of pinball machine confiscated-the one-ball] is a gambling device.' He explained this admission was implicit in the [defendants'] motion in its argument that the state's action was unlawful search and seizure."

     "The defense counsel objected to the ruling and asked leave to answer or plead over. The defendants' amendment had taken issue with the state's most recent amendment to its petition. . ., which named Logan County Sheriff Clair W. Smith as a plaintiff against the machines. It argued that Smith was not sheriff when the machines were seized and that the amendment constituted a departure from the original petition."

     [Below I provide information that offers one reason the former sheriff, C.L "Dutch" Kief, had not been named in the state's amendment to its original petition.]

Sidebar (12-14-50): The court proceedings were heating up during the Christmas season. Perhaps some of the owners of businesses raided felt a need to boost their public image at this time. On this date, the Courier carried the following brief story under the heading "Cafe, Tavern Owners Give to Rec Yule Party": "The spirit of Christmas is on the wing in Lincoln. It invaded a recent meeting of Lincoln cafe and tavern owners. Learning a committee. . . is planning a Christmas party at the Rec for a selected list of youngsters, the group. . .demonstrated the Christmas spirit by raising funds for providing a treat package for each of the invited children. Those contributing. . .include Floyd Altman [owner of the J&J Tavern], Swingle and Montgomery, Lee's Cafe, the 'L' Corner Tavern, Rustic Tavern, McCoy's Tavern, Slick's Inn, West Side Tavern, Western Hotel and Tavern, Looby's Inn, and the Old Milwaukee Tavern." (Note: I am not sure that all of the preceding establishments had been raided by the State Police, but some of them were.)

12-19-50: "City Police to Hunt for Unlicensed Pinballs" (Courier title)

     The Courier reported that the Lincoln city council, responding to a motion by Alderman Thomas Kenning, asked Police Chief Marshall Downs, to investigate the alleged presence of unlicensed five-ball pinball machines and shuffle-board games in a number of Lincoln businesses. The City of Lincoln had an ordinance that required businesses to license gaming machines that were to be used "for amusement only." These machines included the five-ball pinball machines. The type of pinball machine used for gambling and targeted by the October State Police raids was the one-ball pinball machine.

    The photo below did not appear in conjunction with the above story. Instead this photo appeared with a story about the new uniforms of the city police. Yet, the photo shows those who were charged with the investigation of the local [legal] five-ball pinball machines.

40.32: Lincoln, Illinois, Police Force of Late 1950

(Courier, 12-19-50)

     The Courier story says that the main feature of the new uniforms was the "Eisenhower" style of navy blue jacket. From left to right, first row: Frank Barrick, Herman Ireland, Harry Salmons, Earl Minder [police chief in the late 1950s], Elroy Williams, Paul Seabolt, Louis Membower, and Chief Marshall Downs. Second row, left to right: Health Officer Adam Schack-?, and Radio Operator Ed Morris. Art Steffens was absent due to illness.

12-21-50: "Counsel for Pinball Owners Allowed to Act for Storemen" (Courier title)

     "Over the stern objection of Assistant Attorney General Baird Helfrich, Judge Frank S. Bevan . . . allowed the defense counsel for the nine owners of 75 confiscated pinball machines to file motions against the state as alleged representatives of 55 proprietors from whose restaurants, taverns or gas stations the machines were seized last October 11." 

    "As the pinball case entered its 70th day of litigation in Logan Circuit Court, the proprietors evidently became parties to the defense when the court allowed Attorneys Harold F. Trapp, Sr., Harold F. Trapp, Jr., and C. Everett Smith to file their answer to the state amended petition, claiming the machines are not gambling devices, and a motion to suppress them as evidence and return them to the nine owners because they were illegally seized.

     "Harold Trapp, Sr., told the court he now represents all the non-owners of pinballs involved  in the case."

     "Judge Bevan granted leave for the new motions after denying a motion by Assistant Attorney General Helfrich requesting that the defense counsel be ordered to show written authorization that they actually represent the 55 proprietors. However, the judge denied the non-owners' motion to strike the state's petition, but set a hearing on the motion to suppress for 10 a.m. January 3.

40.33: Attorney Harold F. Trapp, Jr.

(Courier photo)

      The owners themselves also filed a similar motion to suppress along with their answer to the state's amended petition. "The defendants [machine owners and business proprietors] "alleged that the pinball machines were not seized by any local authority nor under a search warrant, and no arrests for an offense committed in the presence of an officer were made in connection with the seizures. The motions to suppress argued that no complaint in writing or warrant preceded the raids and that none of the defendant proprietors were arrested" (Courier, 12-21-50, p. 1).

12-22-50: "Committee of 5 to Take Money from Stored Pinballs" (Courier title)

     "A 'pinball committee' of five persons, acting under a circuit court order by Judge Frank S. Bevan, moved into the basement of the Logan Courthouse early Friday morning and began removing the money from 75 pinball machines which have been stored there since a State Police raid October 11."

40.34: Logan County Courthouse in the 1950s

      The pinball committee consisted of Sheriff Smith, three owners of the machines (including Vince Schwenoha), and Arthur M. Wallker, a brother-in-law of Attorney Homer B. Harris and a long-time employee of the Lincoln Sand and Gravel Company. Mr. Walker was selected as a "completely disinterested" person.

     Judge Bevan's order that the five persons should count the money and place it in a local bank in the sheriff's name followed a stipulation between the state and the defense after agreeing that the money should be deposited in a bank for safekeeping until the case is adjudicated, with the amount of money contained in the machines not divulged.

    The stipulation was arrived at after a motion by State's Attorney Edwin C. Mills for the removal of the money by the sheriff was met by an objection of Defense Counsel Trapp and Trapp that the money in the machines is still private business and should not be disclosed unless and until they are declared gambling devices by the court" (Courier, 12-22-50, p. 1.

 [Note: Mr. Schwenoha owned Coonhound Appliances, 121 Kickapoo, and Coonhound Motors, 215 S. Sangamon. Coonhound Appliances provided service for radios, so the staff had expertise in electronics. I have no information that these technicians also maintained or modified electronic amusement devices. Mr. Schwenoha was also the founding owner of the world-famous Tropics restaurant on Route 66 at "the Four Corners" in Lincoln. He was known as "Little Coonhound," his father being legendary Coonhound Johnny, owner of a Prohibition-era roadhouse north of Lincoln on Route 66 (with rumored Chicago connections.)]


40.35: Businessman Vince Schwenoha

(From a Tropics ad in the Courier, 1950)

        Note: In approximately 2010 using Internet searching and Facebook, I made contact with the Schwenoha family in California. Vince Schwenoha moved there in the 1950s. The present-day California Schwenohas enjoy their colorful family history roots in Lincoln, Illinois.

     On December 28, 1950, Sheriff Smith delivered a sealed report from Arthur M. Walker, of Lincoln, to Judge Bevan concerning the amount of money removed from the confiscated machines. The money was deposited in a local bank.

     A hearing was scheduled for January, 1951, on the defense motion to suppress the machines as evidence in relation to the state's petition to destroy the machines as illegal gambling devices (Courier, 12-29-50, p. 1).

1-3-51: "Helfrich Accuses Pinball Owners of Stalling Hearing" (Courier title)

     "Assistant Attorney General Baird Helfrich . . . accused the attorneys for the nine operators [owners] of 75 confiscated pinball machines with a 'dilatory' and 'red herring' motion in Logan Circuit Court to divert the state's suit to have them destroyed."

     Helfrich asserted that "a pending motion by Defense Counsel Trapp and Trapp to suppress the machines as evidence because they were illegally seized is 'a dilatory motion to avoid the use of evidence which they feel is unconstitutional. . . another red herring to divert the case from the main question--whether the machines are criminal or not.'"

     When Harold F. Trapp., Sr., indicated he would call the Logan ex-sheriff, C.L. Kief, and the current sheriff, Clair W. Smith, in seeking to prove the machines were not seized by any local authority but by the State Highway Police alone, Helfrich replied it was immaterial to the case whether Sheriff Kief said he seized or did not seize the machines, since the present sheriff is 'living up to his duties" by holding them in custody."

     "He further accused the defense of attempting to try the case 'piecemeal' on a number of issues of fact in their motion for a trial by jury."

     "Judge Bevan overruled Helfrich's objection to the operators' motion to suppress the machines and allowed Trapp to call Kief and Smith as witnesses. . . ."

     "Ten or twelve ministers, members of the Logan County Ministerial Association were present . . . . One minister said the group was a delegation of observers spearheaded by the Association's Social Action Committee.

     Also present in the gallery were two pinball operators from Decatur, where a similar case is pending."

     "Under examination by Trapp, C.L. 'Dutch' Kief testified that neither he nor any of his deputies 'to my knowledge' participated nor arranged to participate in the State Police raid in Logan County the night of October 11, 1950.

     He said he told Assistant Attorney General Helfrich the night of the raid that he did not want to accept responsibility for the machines because he believed they were not gambling devices. He said he still believed they had been changed over to 'free-play' devices with no 'payoffs.'"

     He said he gave the State Police a receipt for their custody after they complied with his request that they be suitably protected from the weather at the Logan County fairgrounds where they were assembled by the raiders."

40.36: Sheriff C.L. "Dutch" Kief

(Courier photo, 11-6-46, p. 6)

     "Under cross-examination by Logan State's Attorney Edwin C. Mills, Kief admitted he had cooperated with the State Police in the storage of the machines and acceptance of their custody and that he had not returned any of them to their owners up to the expiration of his term, December 4."

     "Sheriff Clair W. Smith told State's Attorney Mills on the stand that the sheriff's office did not object to the seizure of the machines and that, during a conversation he overhead between Helfrich and Kief, the two had agreed that a court should determine whether they are gambling devices" (Courier, 1-3-51, p. 1).

1-3-51: "Bevan Rejects Motion to Nullify Pinballs as Proof" (Courier title)

     Judge Bevan ruled after a four-hour hearing in which Counsel Trapp, Sr., called various business proprietors to the stand to testify that the raids had not been conducted with search warrants. Under cross-examination by State's Attorney Mills, one businessman admitted that "winning combinations" on the pinball machines in his establishment had been rewarded with both cash and free plays. He said that "once in a while" winners received a nickel for each cashed-in free play, admitting to Mills that as many as 10 to 20 plays were paid off at one time. The businessman said that he had "advisedly discontinued the pay-off in cash a week before the raid." Attorney Trapp continually but unsuccessfully objected to the state's cross-examinations.

     "Assistant Attorney General Baird Helfrich, at the conclusion of each witness's testimony, asked the court to summarily condemn and destroy the machines involved because the defense had admitted by its own witnesses the machines were gambling devices," but the judge allowed the hearing to continue.

 ". . . The judge indicated he would allow a jury to determine whether the machines were gambling devices, as requested by defense counsel. Helfrich, however, asked for leave to argue against the trial as uncalled for in the civil proceeding" (Courier, 1-3-51, p. 1).
The Question of Church Influence on the Case of the State vs. the Pinball Machines

     As indicated below, Judge Bevan suddenly reversed himself and decided not to allow a jury trial to determine whether the machines were for gambling or amusement.

  • Did the Illinois Attorney General's office exert pressure on Judge Bevan behind the scenes? (And if so, was the Governor pressuring the Attorney General's office?)

  • Did Judge Bevan realize that a jury trial would favor the defense (the machines were popular with many citizens)?

  • Did the Judge have political ambitions for advancement--perhaps even an Illinois Supreme Court appointment--that told him not to let the defense win? If the state lost this case, it would adversely affect numerous similar cases throughout the state, profoundly embarrass the Stevenson administration, and threaten the judge's chances for advancement or retention.

     In March of 1951, after the state's successful prosecution of the pinball case, Judge Bevan barely missed being nominated as a Republican candidate for election to the Illinois Supreme Court:  "In a nominating convention of the third Illinois Supreme Court district Judge Bevan was second in a field of six candidates on the final ballot polling 158 votes against 161 for Judge George W. Bristow of Paris."

     At a Republican convention of delegates from the five-county 11th judicial district, Judge Bevan was nominated for re-election to the circuit court" (Courier, 3-23-51).

1-7-51: Logan Co. Churches Urge Gov. Stevenson to Intervene in Pinball Hearings (Courier title)

     A Courier story of February, 1951--a month after the pinball hearings were concluded--reported that in the first week of January, 1951--just before Judge Bevan decided not to allow a jury to determine whether the pinball machines were gambling devices, "two Logan County churches had petitioned the Illinois governor for intervention in the trial of 75 pinball machines in Logan circuit court . . . ."

     "A letter urging Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson to use his 'influence' to secure the destruction of the machines, signed by 60 or more members of the Beason Methodist Church and 40 members of the Harmony Methodist Church, was mailed a week or ten days before the conclusion of the court case."

    "It evoked a reply from the governor's secretary, who said that Stevenson was too busy with the opening of the General Assembly to answer personally, although he had read it 'with interest and appreciation.' Neither letter nor reply was released to newsmen from the governor's office."

    "A letter of similar wording was addressed to Lincoln's Mayor Alois M. Feldman at the same time. It also was revealed, asking his aid in the interests of a 'clean community.' That letter was not acknowledged."

     "Commending the governor for his action in cleaning up gambling in the state, the letter to him said: 'There is some talk that the pinball machines confiscated in and around Lincoln last Oct. 11 may eventually be turned back to their owners. We sincerely hope not.'"

   "If it is within the power of law to secure the destruction of these machines,' the letter went on, 'we urge you to use your influence to do so. . . you can thereby win our deepest gratitude by helping to make our community as clean and wholesome as possible.'"

     "The governor's secretary, in reply, said that 'it was encouraging to the governor to know that a number of good people are standing behind him in his efforts to promote clean government.'"

     "The reply, however, was reportedly careful not to commit the governor to any definite course of action in regard to using his 'influence' in the Logan County pinball case. The letter from the governor's secretary noted that 'the forces on the other side of the question always use influence and often pressure to achieve their desire ends. . . because of that, he appreciates your influence on his side.' Mailing of the letters to Governor Stevenson and Mayor Feldman followed close upon the delivery Sunday, December 31, 1950, by the Rev. J.W. Pursell of an entire sermon on the 'evils of gambling' to his congregation at the Beason and Harmony churches. The sermons were made at the suggestion of members of both churches, and the 100 signatures went on the letters the same Sunday. The letter soliciting the governor's aid was mailed at a stage in the pinball trial when defense counsel for nine operators of the machines. . . were arguing that the machines had been illegally seized and should be suppressed as evidence in the state's case against them."

40.37: 1950 Movie Ad in Courier

   This movie ad suggests that in the 1950s while conservatives condemned gambling, others found it a source of amusement. "The more things change, the more they stay the same?"

    "The letter preceding by only a few days the appearance in the circuit courtroom as 'observers' members of the Logan Ministerial Association Social Action Committee" (Courier, 2-3-51).

     Note: Although Stevenson obviously discussed his secretary's letter of reply with her, he did not sign it, and so that letter neither appears in nor is referred to in The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson, [Vol.] III: Governor of Illinois, 1949-1953, eds. Walter Johnson and Carol Evans (the latter being one of Stevenson's secretaries) [NY: Little Brown, 1973]). Curiously, the secretary's letter does not say that the Governor would have no legal means of influencing the Logan County pinball machine trial, and the question remains whether Stevenson had special communication with his Attorney General's office in this matter. The question is especially poignant in view of the developments described below.

Conclusion and Outcome of the Trial of the State vs. the Pinball Machines

1-10-51: "Bevan Cuts Further Pleadings by Pinball Operators' Defense" (Courier title)

     "Judge Frank S. Bevan ruled to strike all answers by the defense against the state's petition for the destruction of the machines because of what he termed 'false pleadings. . . .' He defaulted all defendants in the case and said he would allow no further pleadings by operators or proprietors because they had 'attempted to impede the orderly progress of the court.' He threatened to assess each pinball operator and proprietor with all the costs of the sheriff and State Police in guarding the machines since their Oct. 11, 1950, seizure because of the improper pleadings."

     "An amended answer filed . . . by Defense Counsel Harold F. Trapp, Sr., was branded 'an insult to the dignity of the court' by the judge because it was 'absolutely inconsistent' with the sworn testimony last week of a Lincoln restaurant proprietor and a cafe bartender."

     "But they [the machines] had all been changed to free plays," Trapp insisted. He . . . then asked the court's leave to withdraw from the case and allow his clients to seek new counsel. He claimed he had been acting in good faith."

     Judge Bevan said he would not allow any further delay for a hearing of the original petition for the destruction of the machines. The judge then allowed Helfrich to set up a pinball machine in open court to demonstrate its operation as Helfrich called witnesses for the state. The machine tag indicated it had been in the Tizit Restaurant on Chicago Street.

40.38: Ad from the 1947 Lincolnite

     Note: the pinball machine demonstrated in Logan County Circuit Court had come from the restaurant where the world-famous "Pig Hip Sandwich" had been invented and which became part of the legend of Route 66 in Illinois. There is even a Pig Hip Restaurant Museum at Broadwell, Illinois, supported by the Illinois Route 66 Association.  

    In addition to the four proprietors, the state called State Policeman Howard Stein of Bloomington, Illinois. Stein said he had investigated the pinball machines in sixteen locations in Lincoln on six days just prior to the raid.

     "Stein testified he received or witnessed the receipt of both cash and merchandise in return for free plays registered upon the machines. He listed as payoffs from different establishments two cigars, $1.00 in cash, a sandwich and a cup of coffee, and miscellaneous amounts of change."

     "In one establishment he said there were so many young people playing the machines that he was not able to get near them. In another establishment two sixteen-year-old boys played for a half-hour before winning anything" (Courier, 1-10-51, p. 1).

     A second State Policeman, W.T. Hall of Springfield, demonstrated the working of the machine confiscated from the Tizit. "He placed 30 nickels in the machine, which had been set up in open court, but won nothing after attempting to build up the odds. 'The machine is so constructed that the high-paying odds are difficult to obtain,' Hall said. 'It has the most complicated system of wiring and lights I have ever seen. . . If I play long enough, I might win.' He said he spent a full day in Logan County last August 3 making a spot check on gambling under orders of a superior" (Courier, 1-11-51).

     Helfrich also attempted to show that the Lincoln Pinball Operators Association had used intimidation to force local businessmen to use its various kinds of amusement devices--including shuffleboard machines and jukeboxes--, effectively monopolizing the local market these kinds of products.  Helfrich "charged in open court. . . that the pinball operators [Lincoln Pinball Operators Association] are 'the most arbitrary dictators this community could know' and they keep their control over businessmen by 'direct and indirect threats of violence, which have included the breakage of windows, filing of gambling warrants, and revocation of liquor and sanitary licenses."

     Helfrich "said he hoped to show that the Lincoln Pinball Operators Association was a 'conspiracy to control exclusively all coin-operated devices from legitimate cover,' using a city ordinance with an $8,000 license fee requirement. He said 'this town has a group of gamblers forcing their will upon the businessmen. . . a syndicate of shake-downs.' He was not allowed to elaborate by the judge."

     "Under examination by Helfrich three Lincoln proprietors of establishments from which machines were seized told how they had shared the profits from them on a 50-50 basis with the owner of the Speedy Electric Service. The proprietors said the machines paid off automatically until about September 1 when the owner of Speedy Electric installed 'free play meters' on them to register free plays as rewards. But they admitted that the free plays could be cashed in for both cash and merchandise up to the time of the raid."

     [Note: The 1950 Lincoln City Directory lists the location of a Speedee Electric Company at 117 S. Sangamon--the same block as the Western Hotel and the Illinois Tavern. I suspect that "Speedee Electric" and "Speedy Electric" are the same, and if so this location certainly was central to many of the taverns and other businesses which offered gambling devices. The 1950 Lincoln City Directory also lists a "Coonhound Amusement Service" at 121 N. Kickapoo Street. None of the Courier accounts of the pinball trial mention this business, but its name easily suggests a relevance to gambling machines.]

     The proprietors "said that a weekly payment of $2.00 was collected for each machine by the East Lincoln township constable. However, when Helfrich asked them about an 'exclusive monopoly' of all coin-operated devices including shuffleboards and jukeboxes, they were not allowed to answer by the judge, who upheld an objection of Harold F. Trapp, Sr., that the questions were irrelevant."

     "Judge Bevan would not allow Helfrich to pursue this line of questioning on the grounds he had 'not formulated a pleading in this direction.' The judge restricted the evidence to the one-ball pinball machines which were the defendants in the case. He prohibited Trapp from cross-examining the state's witnesses."

     The judge, however, did allow the testimony of a businessman who had tried to use his own amusement equipment. LaMont Bingham, president of the Tiz-Rite Enterprises, "said he had continuously tried to put in his own legal gaming equipment but that he had been told this was impossible in conversations with the owner of Speedy Electric. Also, "Floyd Altman, owner of the J&J Tavern on Pulaski Street, said he had last year installed five-ball pinball machines, considered amusement games, but had been informed he was violating the city ordinance. He said he ended up selling them to the owner of Speedy Electric. Subsequently, he said he installed his own music box and shuffleboards."

40.39: Businessman LaMont Bingham

(From 1952 Tiz-Rite ad in Courier)

    Judge Bevan concluded this session with "a formal order . . . compelling the operators and proprietors involved in the case to pay all the costs of storing the 75 machines since the October 11, 1950, raid. He said this was a penalty for false pleadings" (Courier, 1-11-51, p. 14)

1-11-51: "Post 24-Hour Police Guard for State's Pinball Witnesses" (Courier title)

     Illinois State Police maintained a round-the-clock guard on "the homes and establishments of tavern and restaurant proprietors who testified as state witnesses." This action followed Judge Bevan's rejection of the defense's argument that the devices were not used for gambling but for amusement only.

     As the judge allowed the state to pursue its case, the Assistant Attorney General Helfrich called various operators (members of the Lincoln Pinball Operators Association) and proprietors (businessmen) to the stand. The owner of the Speedy (or, Speedee) Electric Service, a member of the Association, said he owned 21 of the 75 pinball machines and had purchased them from his father. The owner testified that the Association was established by local businessmen "who have set up rules" and who had "worked collectively last September [1950] to convert the machines from automatic payoff to free plays 'in order to change them from gambling to amusement devices.'"

     When Audas "Slick" Foutch, owner of Slick's Inn on Chicago Street, was "questioned on the reason for the conversion of the pinballs from payoff to free play, he refused to answer."

     "When stopped by the judge for going into 'collateral matters,' Helfrich charged that the change-over was just a method of evading the gambling laws of the state. The judge would not allow Helfrich to ask the owner of Speedy Electric if the operators' agreement on pinball locations was known to city officials, nor the name of the 'bonded person' who actually paid the city license fee for the operators, nor whether he had ever had conversations with proprietors with regard to installing their own machines in their establishments, nor as to how many machines he operated in the county" (Courier, 1-11-51, p. 1).

1-12-51: "Gambling Devices Destroyed" (Courier title)

     "The state was about to complete its proof that 75 pinball machines seized in Logan County last October 11 were gambling devices. . . in circuit court when their nine owners, suddenly and surprisingly, surrendered them up for destruction."

     "A stormy case thus was ended quietly and without judicial finding when defense counsel Harold F. Trapp, Sr., said his clients were ready to release all claims to the machines and their contents and to pay costs totaling $1,400.76 for their storage in the courthouse basement for the past 90 days."

     Logan State's Attorney Edwin C. Mills said that gambling charges would be filed against individuals in the near future. He said the charges would 'certainly' come under the Illinois gaming statutes, which provide a $100 fine for each operated machine and a jail sentence, and 'possibly' for conspiracy to violate the gambling laws, which is a penitentiary offense."

     "Judge Frank S. Bevan ordered Sheriff Clair W. Smith to destroy all pinball machines, punchboards, fishbowls and a pull board which were defendants in the case and report to him within 10 days. Sheriff Smith immediately arranged for the burning of the machines at the City of Lincoln dumping grounds southwest of the city. . . . Trucking of the machines from the courthouse was scheduled to began at 1 p.m."

     "The Judge opened a secret report from Arthur M. Walker, of Lincoln, which disclosed that $2,177.95 in nickels had been taken from the machines December 26 and placed in a local bank for safekeeping. "

     "The sudden ending of the case followed 45 minutes of closed-door consultation between attorneys for the state and the defense and four or five of the pinball operators. . . . Then the attorneys conferred 30 minutes in chambers with Judge Bevan before introducing the settlement in the form of a stipulation, or agreement, between all parties. The stipulation included a request that the state's petition for destruction. . . be granted and that the defendant operators and proprietors voluntarily waive all right of appeal to a higher court. Attorney Trapp remarked that in view of the settlement there was 'nothing left to appeal.'"

     "Helfrich added that the state's witnesses would be available to any local authority for criminal prosecutions."

     "A check for $1,400.76 written by Vincent 'Little Coohnound' Schwenoha was accepted by the judge in open court as payment of costs for custody and guarding of the machines" (Courier, 1-12-51, p. 1).

40.40: Torching the Pinball Machines

(Courier photo, 1-13-51)

     From Courier photo caption: "Logan Sheriff Clair W. Smith tosses the first torch upon the pile of crushed and broken gambling devices to carry out a circuit court order for destruction. He was handed the torch by nearby Lt. John Stuper of district 8, Illinois State Police, who with Captain Tom O'Connor brought 16 State Policemen and two trucks to aid in the burning.

     In the bottom photo, the machines go up in flames hot enough to melt their soft metal working parts. They had been broken up with sledges and double-edged axes, then covered with gasoline before the torch was applied. Pinball machine gambling will probably be investigated by the Logan grand jury."

40:41: Machines That Had Run Cold Suddenly Turn Hot
(Courier photo, 1-13-51)

The Logan County Grand Jury of January, 1951, and Related Activity

     The court actions described above were civil procedures. Near their conclusion, officials suggested that criminal procedures might follow, and in mid January, 1951, Judge Frank S. Bevan impaneled a grand jury.

     "Robert Langellier was appointed foreman of the 23-member body after the judge charged the jurors with full responsibility for law enforcement. He said the burden of bringing accusations against person is upon the jury on the basis of evidence brought by the state's attorney or otherwise brought to their attention.

     The judge made no direct reference to the recent case of people versus 75 pinball machines, in which the operators released all claim to the devices. . . before the state had finished its proof they were gambling devices. He made  routine instruction that jurors must look into 'bucketshop, gambling,' etc., activities as called for by Illinois statute.

     Leaders of the Lincoln Ministerial Association land the Logan County Social Action Committee were again in court. . . to witness the impaneling of the jury, which retired to make its routine investigation of the county jail" (Courier, 1-15-51, p. 1).

40.42: Robert Langellier

(From 1952 ad in Courier)

     Mr. Langellier, with his father, O.L. Langellier, was co-owner of the Langellier Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury dealership in Lincoln and manager of the used car division.

1-16-51: "Ministerial Group Blasts City Pinball Licensing" (Courier title)

      Lincoln's "ordinance licensing of pinball machines for 'amusement or skill only' received a sharp lampoon from a group of clergymen. It was an aftermath of last week's court battle over the legality of the one-ball variety of the devices.

    Five Logan county ministers attacked the ordinance and asked Mayor Alois M. Feldman and the city council to 'repeal its sanction' of the machines in a letter read at a recent city council meeting.

     The ministers, members of the Social Action Committee of the Logan County Ministerial Association, said 'these machines were without question demonstrated to be gambling devices in the recent hearing and confessedly so by their owners.'

     They urged the city to 'take action immediately to end the license of gambling devices' and further solicited the council to 'direct the city police to enforce the laws against all gambling devices.' The held that the city's need for revenue is 'no valid excuse' for carrying an illegal ordinance in the city code.

     Neither the mayor nor the council had open comment on the letter, which was signed by the Rev. T.J. Marshall Crapp, the Rev. Wayne Sill, the Rev. Arthur A. Vinz, and the Rev. T.H. Sanders, all of Lincoln, and the Rev. Selden L. Myers of Emden. Mayor Feldman referred the communication with dispatch to the Ordinance Committee, whose chairman, Robert McAllister, was absent from the meeting."

     The members of the Social Action Committee had attended the pinball case civil procedures in Logan County circuit court.

40.43: Rev. T.H. Sanders of the Lincoln
Cumberland Presbyterian Church

(Photo from the 1947 Lincolnite, p. 59)

40.44: Rev. Wayne Sill, Founding Pastor of the Lincoln Free Methodist Church

(From a Courier photo, 3-14-50, p. 10)

40.45: Rev. Arthur A. Vinz of the Lincoln
First Baptist Church

(Courier photo, 10-23-50, p. 12)

     Note: Reverend Vinz had served as president and vice-president of the Illinois Baptist Ministers Council (Courier, 10-23-50, p. 12).

      In a Lincoln city council meeting, "a Lincoln attorney representing four cafe and restaurant proprietors called upon Mayor Feldman and asked him to revoke the license of the Lincoln Pinball Operators Association under the terms of the city ordinance. The attorney, Bernard Mayberry, who is assistant state's attorney of Logan County, told the mayor he has the duty to revoke the license since the ordinance was violated by the operation of gambling devices."

  "The ordinance specifies that 'nothing. . .shall be construed to authorize or permit the setting up or placing of any gambling device of any kind that is prohibited by this ordinance or by any other ordinance of this city or by the laws of the state of Illinois.' It gives the mayor the 'right to revoke any license issued for the violation of any of the provisions of the ordinance.'" Mayberry said his clients have no intention of forming any type of organization such as the present operators association. He added that he believed the pinball ordinance is illegal for a number of reasons, citing the amount of the operators' license, $8,000 yearly, its vague terms regarding the type of pinball machine permitted, and charging it is designed to create a monopoly in the hands of a group.

40.46: Bernard C. Mayberry

(Cropped from a Courier group photo, 9-20-48)

     Mayor Feldman made no open reference to Mayberry's request at the city council meeting. He told a Courier reporter he would take no action on the request until the operators' license expires May 1. He did not indicate whether he was in sympathy with the request" (Courier, 1016-51, p. 1).

1-17-51: "Grand Jury Investigation of Pinballs Nears Climax" (Courier title)


     "The grand jury interviewed both present and past township officials, including Lincoln's ex-Mayor David Sullivan, Mayor Alois Feldman, Police Chief Marshall Downs, East Lincoln Constable Claude Applegate, and an East Lincoln Justice of the Peace. This grand jury was composed of fourteen men and 9 women."

     "Although no witnesses divulged the nature of their testimony, the Courier discovered that the grand jury was apparently focusing on "the nature and working of the city pinball ordinance. The ordinance, passed originally in 1936, had been amended in 1948 during Sullivan's administration to raise the operator's license [Lincoln Pinball Operators Association] fee from $3,000 to $8,000 yearly."

     "It was testified during the [pinball machine] trial that Claude Applegate, as constable, had worked out of the office of the Justice of the Peace in making a collection of $2.00 weekly from each pinball machine toward the cost of the city operator's license" (Courier, 1-17-51, p. 1).

40.47: David L. Sullivan

(Courier photo, 12-31-46, p. 6)

1-18-51: "Witness List Lengthens as Grand Jury Renews Pace" (Courier title)

     The grand jury was interviewing members of the city council and local businessmen. The Courier article reported that "its members were paying little heed to considerations of time, and would stay in session as long as necessary to find out what they want to know." Two of the business owners called had expressed "resentment against the coin machine control of the Lincoln Pinball Operators Association" during the recent trial. Also questioned was the secretary of the Association, who was also the bookkeeper for Speedy Electric. This person paid the operator's license fee for the Association to the city clerk's office (Courier, 1-18-51, p. 1).

40.48: Courier Headline of January 20, 1951

     Those indicted were seven members of the Lincoln Pinball Operators Association and two other owners of pinball machines. Curiously, only those businessmen were indicted who had claimed their machines were for "free play" amusement, not gambling, during the preceding trial of the state vs. the pinball machines.

     "In an extraordinary special report issued by the grand jury in connection with its indictments, the jury recommended that the city council of Lincoln 'take immediate steps' to repeal or amend its ordinance licensing pinball machines and similar devices. The report, for which the jurors asked special release to the press, said the jury believes the ordinance under which the operators association was the sole licensee is 'not only invalid in law and unenforceable, but that it is a distinct detriment to the welfare of all persons in this community. . . . It fosters, nourishes and encourages a monopoly."

     "The jury further recommended to the 'proper authorities of the city of Lincoln that they determine whether or not all of its officials, officers, agents, and employees are fully performing their duties and that if any be found to be derelict therein, that they be removed and replaced.'"

     "The pinball ordinance, the jury said, 'denies the ordinary businessman the opportunity to own and operate in his own place of business, the coin-operated devices contemplated by the ordinance.' They said it 'should be repealed and done away with.' There was no hint in the special report of further action by the grand jury, which remain[ed] in session until May 1."

     "Immediately after the jury had reported to the judge, Assistant State's Attorney Bernard Mayberry told the court that rumors are rife in Lincoln as a result of the jury's investigation of gambling that there was 'personal vindictiveness' in the jury. Several of the 15 witnesses called by the jury on the pinball machine hearing were reported to have blamed Mayberry for carrying the lead in the investigation."

     "Elaborating later on his statement after the judge had disallowed it from the record, Mayberry said he was being accused of pressing the jury to indict the pinball operators. State's Attorney Edwin C. Mills said that he did not witness any vindictiveness before the grand jury while in session. He said that both he and his assistant presented evidence before the jury which led to the gambling indictments." (The grand jury also indicted a Mt. Pulaski man and a Springfield man for theft of corn from farms in Logan County [Courier, 1-20-51, p. 1]).

     The Logan County circuit clerk mailed a copy of the grand jury's special report to the city clerk's office. Lincoln Mayor Alois M. Feldman said it would be up to the city council whether to act on the special report. He "anticipated difficulty within the council in arriving at a solution because of the necessity of securing an eight-vote majority in the eleven-man council. He also expressed amazement that the grand jury should single out Lincoln for criticism of its pinball ordinance when a number of other cities and towns in Logan County [had] ordinances regulating the operation of pinball and similar devices. . . . Robert McAllister, chairman of the Ordinance Committee, expressed his belief that many of the councilmen were 'bewildered' at the grand jury's recommendation and that few have yet formulated a definite attitude toward it" (Courier, 1-29-51, p. 1).
1-31-51: "Trapps Withdraw As Pinball Counsel"
(Courier title)

     "Judge Bevan accepted a motion of the Trapp and Trapp law firm to withdraw as counsel for eight of the nine pinball operators indicted by a Logan County grand jury. The motion was presented by Harold F. Trapp, Jr., who declined to give the press an explanation."

     "C. Everett Smith, counsel with Trapp and Trapp for the operators throughout the recent trial of 75 confiscated pinball machines, said the withdrawal was for reasons of ill health of the senior member of the Trapp firm, in Florida since the conclusion of the pinball trial. Smith said that he would remain as defense counsel. Note: Harold Trapp, Sr., passed away in December, 1951.

40.49: Attorney C. Everett Smith

(Cropped from a photo in
The Namesake Town
, p. 34)

     Note: Harold F. Trapp, Jr., served as an Illinois Appellate Court Justice for twenty years. For a rare, inside story of how he gained that position, see The Honorable James A. "Jim" Knecht:  Memoir and Short Story Set in Lincoln, Illinois (link below in Sources Cited).

The Question of the Outcome of the Criminal Trial of the Pinball Machine Owners

     Following in the footsteps of Harold F. Trapp, Sr., Attorney C. Everett Smith filed "a motion to dismiss an indictment charging seven Lincoln men with conspiracy to violate the state gambling laws. . . , alleging, among other grounds, that the grand jury which brought the indictments was not legally selected and impaneled. The motion to quash the indictment "alleged further that the grand jurors of the January term were not chosen by the board in a regular manner nor at a legal meeting. It held that all three counts of the indictment. . .'were insufficient to charge a criminal offense.'

     Other grounds presented for dismissal were that the indictment failed to charge a conspiracy for the purpose of gambling, and that its allegations against the operators [were] 'vague, indefinite, and insufficient.'"

     At the request of State's Attorney Mills, Judge Bevan granted "a general continuance of the case, with no date for resumption set down" (Courier, 3-29-51, p. 1). Mills wanted time to investigate the basis of the motion. In August of 1951, Judge Bevan overruled the motion to quash the indictments (Courier, 8-1-51). In skimming issues of the Courier for the rest of 1951, I did not see any further news reports relating to this case. Perhaps no date to resume proceedings was ever set, or if the case was continued, there were no major determinations.

     As noted later on this page, the grand jury of January, 1951, stimulated a controversial "good government" movement that affected the governments of both Lincoln and Logan County.

Revoking and Revising Lincoln's Ordinance for Licensing Amusement Machines

     Lincoln Mayor Alois M. Feldman revoked all licenses for coin-operated devices on February 2, 1951 (Courier, 2-3-51). The revocation applied to members of the Lincoln Pinball Operators Association and to all businesses, including restaurants, taverns, grocery stores, and gas stations. This action thus prohibited businessmen from offering such legal amusement devices as the five-ball pinball machines, bowling machines, and shuffleboard machines.

     Apparently the mayor took this sweeping action as a means by which the city government could officially disallow illegal machines, avoiding any loopholes or controversy over whether a particular kind of machine was used for gambling or amusement. The Social Action Committee of the Logan County Ministerial Association had sent a letter to Feldman urging him to repeal the ordinance pertaining to coin-operated amusement devices (Courier, 2-6-51, p. 1).

     Feldman said "it was up to the city council to determine upon what basis any machines will be operated in the future."

     "While all but one of the location proprietors readily turned over their licenses to the police, there was considerable grumbling among them as they did it. Albert Huffman, co-proprietor of the Mill, said he 'realized afterward I should not have turned over the license. . . . I paid for it.'"

40.50: Mayor Alois M. Feldman

(Photo from The Namesake Town, p. 63)

      "LaMont Bingham, president of Rite Enterprises, said he [did] not intend to surrender his licenses 'unless given a sufficient legal reason.'"

     "The city's action looks to me too much like the operators' hand" [Lincoln Pinball Operators Association], Bingham said, "like their action in the past whenever faced with a desire by the proprietors to install their own machines.' He said he had just invested considerable money in his own legal devices.

     "Bingham said his employees informed him that the two five-ball pintables and a bowling machine on his two locations had been unplugged in the presence of the [city] police. Winfield "Win" Bates, proprietor of the Broadway Cafe, joined with Huffman and Bingham in protesting the city's action. Bates said he had been operating a five-ball pintable without payoffs" (Courier, 2-3-51, p. 1).

2-6-51: "Council Tables Action on Pinball Ordinance Repeal" (Courier headline)

    "The city council postponed action on the grand jury's special recommendation asking for the repeal forthwith of Lincoln's ordinance licensing pinball machines and similar devices."

     In the audience of this council meeting were two members of the ministerial Social Action Committee.

     Chairman of the City Council's Ordinance Committee, Robert McAllister, requested that the matter be referred to his Committee, and the mayor agreed it would be up to the Ordinance Committee to "propose a new coin-device ordinance if it sees fit."

     McAllister observed that it would "require considerable study to properly evaluate the jury's recommendation."

     Fifth ward Alderman Rell Musick was the only spokesperson for the city council. He asserted that "the city council had acted in good faith in 1936 when it first passed the pinball ordinance.

     Musick said the council could not rightfully be blamed for what use of it had been made by the operators. Presuming to speak for other aldermen, he said, 'We would resent an accusation of indulging in shady tricks.' The present situation is not the council's fault. If the terms of the ordinance were violated by the operation of gambling devices,' he went on, 'then it was the duty of the city's executive department to check them.' He scored the 'lack of enforcement' of the ordinance." "Musick expressed a doubt whether a new ordinance 'would last any longer nor have any more virtue than the present one'" (Courier, 2-6-51, p. 1).

40.51: Councilman Robert E. McAllister

(Photo from Beaver,
Logan County History 1982
, p. 650)

     The caption of the photo of Mr. McAllister in Beaver's book reads, "Grand Commander of Knights Templar of the State of Illinois 1977 by Members of Constantine Commandery #51, Lincoln, Illinois."

Sidebar: Lincoln Ministers Supervise Lottery for State Basketball Ticket Sales

     In the spring of 1951, Lincoln High's basketball team advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen" state tournament in Champaign-Urbana. According to the caption of the Courier photo below left, Lincoln High Athletic Director Roy Anderson enlisted the help of the Reverends Wayne Sill, pastor of the Lincoln Free Methodist Church, and John T. Burns, pastor of the Lincoln First Presbyterian Church. (Both ministers were members of the Logan County Ministerial Association.) These two ministers were called upon to oversee--"keep things on the 'up and up'"-- the drawing for those season ticket holders who would have first chance to buy coveted tickets to the state tournament. Apparently not all Lincoln ministers were opposed to all games of chance. As a further measure of to ensure an honest drawing, Cub Scout (and future Federal Magistrate Judge) Robert Goebel was the one chosen for the honors, and most likely Bob was chosen by Reverend Burns because the Goebels attended the First Presbyterian Church.

40.52: Bob Goebel Plays a Game of Chance

(Courier photo, 3-14-51)

40.53: LCHS
Principal W.C. Handlin
(Courier photo)

     In the above photo at right, LCHS Principal W.C. Handlin sports the small, yellow "Victory Hat" at a pep rally in the LCHS gym prior to the state basketball tournament. By custom, the "Victory Hat" was passed around during a pep rally so that many folks could add to the hat's mystical power. The "monster" pep rally, attended by 2,500, filled the bleachers of the gym and half of the playing floor. Lincoln's luck ran out, however, when it lost in the quarter-finals to the Quincy Blue Devils: 63 to 65 (despite Lincoln's having seven players in double figures).

     Note: The late Reverend John T. "J.T." Burns (@1910--2005) had been one of the more broadminded members of the Logan County Ministerial Association. His daughter, Marilyn Burns Potler, had written the following about her father shortly before his passing:

      "My father was, of course, a member of the ministerial association. Don't remember him mentioning illegal gambling, but he may have chosen not to mention it to his children. I do remember his mentioning a meeting of the ministerial association at which the plans for a youth center were discussed, probably around 1953 to 1955. It was going to have some activities, such as a pool table and perhaps a pinball machine, and would allow dancing. The ministerial association had been asked to lend their support for having public money support such a place. I know my Dad told us that he and one other minister supported having such a center but all the others opposed it because dancing would be allowed.

40.54: The Reverend John T. Burns

(from the 1961 Lynxite--Lincoln College Yearbook)

      Dad felt it was far better to have a center in town with adult supervision rather than having youth go out in the country to socialize with no supervision and, presumably, access to drinking, etc. (I don't think he mentioned teen pregnancy but I assume that was one of the negative results he knew could come from the unsupervised socializing.)" (email to Leigh of 3-2005).

10-16-51: "City to License Amusement Devices for Pinball Control" (Courier headline)

     "'Because of a desire to control all pinball machines operating in the city,' in the words of Mayor Alois M. Feldman, the city council passed an amendment to the ordinance licensing amusement devices. It was brought out the new regulation will cover the five-ball pinball machines which are now in operation here without license coverage." The mayor emphasized that five-ball machines are for amusement only.

     "The new regulation bans all gambling devices. It puts a license fee of $50.00 on each and every mechanical amusement device and sets a scale of lesser fees for all other types of machines. Penny operated machines will pay $2.00 per year; nickel operated vending machines, $5.00 per year; nickel operated juke boxes, etc., $25.00; and vending machines taking coins larger than a nickel will pay $10.00."

     "The mayor also emphasized that the licensing ordinance is not intended to raise significant revenues and is "only a means of controlling the machines in the city."

    "The new ordinance nullifies the ordinance that previously dealt with the licensing of pinball machines, and called for a license of $8,000.00."

     "Alderman James Coddington was most outspoken against passing the ordinance. He maintained that the attorney general had given the opinion that it is illegal to license pinball machines."

    "This declaration was taken up by Alderman Rene Hoagland, who declared that if they are illegal then the city should get rid of them. 'If they cannot be taxed, then we should take them out and throw them on the dump,' he stated.

     City attorney Thomas Walsh informed the council that the machines have been taxable in Lincoln since 1907, and no court has as yet held that there is anything illegal about the machines in question. Aldermen Coddington, Henry Lee, and Larry Shepler cast dissenting votes on the passage of the ordinance."

10.55: City Attorney Thomas Walsh

(Photo by Larry Shroyer and
provided by Fred Blanford)

10.56: Mayor Feldman Greets Adlai Stevenson in Lincoln, Illinois

(Photo from Paul Beaver, ed., Logan County History 1982, p. 20)

     Adlai Stevenson makes a whistle-stop in Lincoln during his 1956 campaign as the Democratic candidate for the Presidency. WPRC announcer Earl Layman is at the right. Stevenson's State Police raids on gambling eventually led Mayor Feldman to revoke the licenses for amusement devices in Lincoln.

The Rise and Fall of the Good Government Council of Logan County

    The late attorney Fred Blanford afforded some useful background for this section, "Over the years I heard the phrase 'Good Government' that referred to a rather loose-knit group that had organized and exercised some influence in Lincoln around that time. I DO NOT know which side of that group Mr. Hamilton may have come down on. I am given to understand that there were a few prosecutions--very few is the usual summary--may have been no convictions--and apparently a lot of hard feelings. As an adult, when I asked various people that I had been given to understand were part of the affray (one side or the other) to tell me about it--I was unable to get anyone to tell me anything further. To this day, while I may know a lot of names that were ostensibly involved--I have never been able to ascertain who all was involved--who was on what side--what occasioned the divide--and what the results were. I have found no one who was there and knew what was going on that wanted to talk about it" (email to Leigh of 10-27-02).

     The grand jury of January, 1951, stimulated a "good government" movement that greatly affected the citizens and governments of both Lincoln and Logan County. Specifically, this grand jury began to raise questions about records of justices of the peace relating to the collection and disposition of licensing fees for the pinball machines and other mechanical devices installed in Lincoln's businesses. Also questioned were the records of justices of the peace relating to fines assessed for highway traffic tickets issued by the State Police. Leading proponents of this good government group pressured the Logan County Board of Supervisors to hire a new auditing firm to examine these records, and this pressure divided the Board between those who favored the new audits and those who did not.

     "Supervisor Roy Johnson agreed that such a step [new auditing] is needed if the good names of the county officials are to be cleared of the rumors that have been circulated throughout the county."

     "Louis Lauer, supervisor of West Lincoln township, questioned the need. 'We have an audit by a man who is as good as any in the state,' he declared, 'so why waste money on something that has already been done?' The rumors will die out, he opined."

     "Johnson said he personally wanted an audit so that everything can be brought out in the open and 'we can tell the whole world we are on the square. Men are being accused of that of which they are not guilty,' he roared, 'and I am for an audit that will protect men like Mills, Claude Tull, and all the other fine county officials whose good names have been besmirched by vicious rumors." The motion for new audits carried on a vote of 18 to 3 (Courier, 3-14-52).

     The Good Government Council of Logan County became controversial. Some criticized the ethics--if not the legality--of its methods. One of this Council's founding members expressed this criticism:
5-13-52: "W.R. Wilson Resigns from Good Government Council"
(Courier title)

     Lincolnite William R. Wilson, a local grocer, dramatically resigned from the Good Government Council of Logan County and from his position as its secretary after three attempts to "bring the entire membership into the open and eliminate the secrecy of its activities." Wilson sent a formal letter of resignation to the Council's chairman of the executive committee. Wilson also sent a copy of his resignation letter to the Courier, which published it on March 13, 1952.

     In resigning, Wilson expressed his view that the Good Government Council was hypocritical in concealing the names of its members:

     "the citizens of our county are entitled to know the names of those responsible for the recent audits and investigations, and if they approve such actions, the citizens will have much greater respect for the organization regardless of the ammunition they fear it might furnish the suspected adversaries."

40.57: Citizen William R. Wilson

(Photo provided by his
granddaughter, Sue Young Wilson)

     Apparently the Council had acted to conceal information about its membership and operation, and Wilson condemned this concealment: "This organization [the Good Government Council] has taken the liberty to look at the records of our county citizens and should not expect to prosper in its efforts if these citizens are denied the same liberty to inspect the records of any organization involving itself in public matters." Wilson also expressed the criticism that the Good Government Council was beginning to betray its original commitment not to endorse political candidates (Courier, 5-13-52). William R. Wilson was the father of Lincolnite author Robert Wilson. More information about William Wilson appears on the Web page about Robert Wilson in this Lincoln community history Web site. See link in Sources Cited below.

The Kickapoo Press  

     In the early 1950s, some proponents of the local "good government" movement supported and invested in a printing business, that included a weekly newspaper titled The Kickapoo Press, co-founded by the multi-talented Don Dunkelberg and located at 119 North Kickapoo Street in Lincoln. J.R. Fikuart writes that "Dad remembers that Roy Clapper founded the paper with Don Dunkelberg and that Good Government issues may well have been the reason for doing so" (email to Leigh of 8-27-03).

     The Kickapoo Press offered commercial printing of wedding announcements, letterheads, envelopes, and business forms. The newspaper lasted only several months. The Illinois State Historical Library project to copy/preserve newspapers in Illinois had microfilmed only a couple of issues. When I looked at them, most of the content was advertisement, not editorials calling for government reform or feature stories based on investigative reporting.

     Don Dunkelberg was also much involved in Lincoln's civic life. He was a talented amateur actor, participating in various productions of the Lincoln College Community Players. For example, in 1954 while launching The Kickapoo Press, he played the leading role of Tommy Turner in The Male Animal. Turner is an "embattled young professor who takes a tip from the panthers and penguins and puts up a fight for his mate--and settles an issue of academic freedom" (Courier, 12-8-54, p. 7).

40.58: Businessman Don Dunkelberg

(from 1952 Courier ad)

    Jim Knecht comments: "As for The Kickapoo Press--Virginia Dunkelberg (and Marilyn Hale Meadows)--was my cousin--her husband Don was often in theatrical productions at Lincoln College and was not only an aspiring actor (he spent time in New York in plays and seeking work) but also a printer and the writer-editor-publisher of The Kickapoo Press--very near where the old K of C used to be in downtown Lincoln. . . . He was a classic liberal with a highly developed social conscience as well as wit and courage."

     "I have strong memories of family discussions involving the pressure to which he was subject to not publish certain stories and to avoid comment in stories or editorials about race and perhaps crime. . . . Thus, I am certain about the stress and pressure to Don Dunkelberg because of his liberal views and willingness to write about a side of life in Lincoln that did not often appear in the Courier. . . . [He raised] the ire of the establishment" (from email to Leigh of 2003).


40.59: Kickapoo Press Masthead on Its First Issue, February 4, 1954

     Roy Clapper was a successful businessman who also worked to advance commercial growth. He was a 1927 graduate of LCHS and had attended Illinois Wesleyan University.

      Early in Roy Clapper's sales career, the B.F. Goodrich Tire Company hired and trained him. He founded the Lincoln Tire and Battery Company at 216 S. Kickapoo St. "In the forties Roy Clapper became a national director of the National Tire Dealers' Association. He worked industriously to improve conditions for and promote legislation to protect small businesses."

     "Roy was elected president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce in 1949. He worked diligently to promote new industry and create a better business climate. The Clappers bought the store building, and the adjoining lot, expanded and remodeled it, renaming it Lincoln Tire and Appliance Company" (from "Roy and Inez Clapper" by Inez Clapper in Logan County History 1982, p. 222).

40.60: Businessman Roy Clapper

(From a Courier ad)

    Mr. Clapper's civic involvement included membership in the Elks and Kiwanis. He helped plan and organize the 1953 Lincoln Centennial Celebration. His support of The Kickapoo Press shows that he was a businessman with a social conscience. Perhaps his family's religious background helps to explain his ethical motivation: His father had been a Methodist minister, and Roy and Inez Clapper were active in Lincoln's Methodist Church (Beaver, p. 222). Note: For dramatic photos of the Clappers' Lincoln Tire and Appliance Co., see 20.6 and 20.7 at Cars, Trucks, & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era (link in Sources Cited below).  

    The lore of Lincoln and Logan County says The Kickapoo Press weekly newspaper was founded to serve the interests of the Good Government movement. The paper, however, makes no mention of such political purposes in the "Introduction" of its first issue.  Yet the tone of the language suggests its author--most likely Mr. Dunkelberg--took pleasure in the public's anticipation of the paper's appearance:

     "Since wheels of commerce runs [sic] fairly slowly, this edition of The Kickapoo Press was preceded on the streets by a lovely amount of rumor, talk, and plenty of plain old wonderful gossip [bold mine]. We've enjoyed most of the stories we've heard about this sheet, laughed at plenty of others and felt quite humble at other reports."

     "One opinion seems commonly true--Logan County wants and needs something like The Kickapoo Press. In garnering advice the past few months, we have talked to a trainload of people who will read what is printed in Logan County and many who will advertise. They wish us well, and what is more important is each contributed his valued opinion concerning the duties and responsibilities of printing any kind of circulated printed sheet of paper."

     "Whether we can call ourselves a newspaper now is not the question. (We can't.) The question is whether or not we can attract readers and have faithful enough readers to keep us in business until we can offer the best news coverage, the best policy, the best size for the service of the people hereabouts."

     "He who said 'Talk means nothing' didn't have us in mind. For our bread and butter we need advertisers. Our advertisers want to see A-C-T-I-O-N in what they advertise. If a confectioner advertises a truckload of divinity fudge on Thursday in this paper and has to hire statisticians on Friday to keep track of the zooming profits then that confectioner is our boy and will venture a few more bucks with us next week."

     "This naked appeal is sincerely meant. We want you to be careful shoppers--to take advantage of the many bargains that thoughtful buyers and merchants put on their counters for your pleasure. We want you to mention The Kickapoo Press when you buy. Say it over on your way uptown and get a real throb in your voice! If you are successful in this, we will be successful in THIS. Your support will be cherished thing" (The Kickapoo Press, February 4, 1954, p. 1).

     This above statement shows that Mr. Dunkelberg knew that his "sheet" would have to succeed as a business in order to provide a medium for his editorial views. Yet did his liberal editorial content alienate businessmen, causing a lack of advertisement and thus the demise of The Kickapoo Press?

The Good Government Council Helps to Get Indictments, and Then the Council Gets Indicted

     The audits of Logan County revenues generated by the system of using justices of the peace led to a series of legal developments over several years. A call for audits stemmed directly from the 1951 grand jury activities described above.

     The call for audits was closely associated with the controversial political activities of the organization known as the Good Government Council of Logan County, Illinois (GGC). In March of 1952, members of the Good Government Council brought formal perjury charges against one of Lincoln's justices of the peace "concerning [this justice's] annual report" of 1950 (Courier, 4-9-54, p. 1). The Council also charged this justice of the peace with embezzlement. In April, 1952, "Police Magistrate Robert Thornton dismissed perjury charges because [the Council members] refused to proceed with further hearings of the charge" (Courier, 4-9-54, p. 1). Members of the Good Government Council testified before the May, 1952, grand jury, which brought additional charges of perjury and embezzlement. "In April, 1953, [the justice of the peace] went on jury trial in Logan County circuit court and was acquitted. The jury trial created a stir here [in Lincoln and Logan County]" (Courier, 4-9-54, p. 1).

40.61: Police Magistrate Robert L. Thornton

(Courier photo)

      The trial of the justice of the peace was most unusual and tense. At one point, members of the Good Government Council (GGC) petitioned the judge in protest of the way he was handling the proceedings. An anonymous source says that the petition was signed by approximately 1,000 citizens. This source says that the judge "responded by threatening all of them with contempt of court and calling them into his courtroom on a hot day where they had a chance to withdraw their names from the petition. Some did, but most did not."

     According to information obtained by J.R. Fikuart from his parents, "All of the petitioners were called before the judge. With all in the courtroom, a bailiff inadvertently leaned up against a long shade in one of the windows in the courtroom. It was loosed and shot up to its moorings making the sound of gunfire. The judge paled and leapt from his chair" (email to Leigh of 8-27-2003).

    Giving the petitioners an opportunity to withdraw their names must have been highly controversial, for a different judge was in charge at the end of the trial than the one who began it. The first judge allegedly was later censured by a higher court for violating the right of the people to petition.

     After his acquittal, the justice of the peace sued eighteen members of the Good Government Council (GGC) for "maliciously intending to injure the plaintiff in his good name, fame and credit, and to bring him into public slander, infamy, obloquy and disgrace. . . and thereby to further their own selfish political purposes. . . ." The slander suit asked for "redress of $900,000.00 (Courier, 4-9-54, p. 1). The attorney for the justice of the peace was Thomas F. Walsh.

     In skimming various issues of the Courier, I saw references to postponements of the legal proceedings related to this case and to reduction of charges against the GGC members, but I did not find information to indicate the final disposition. Also, the effectiveness of the Good Government Council in achieving political aims appears limited. According to J. Richard Fikuart's father, one county official "was sacrificed" and lost his pension, while another county official failed to gain re-election as a result of notoriety generated from the special audits.

     The reason for my reference to these matters is, again, to demonstrate the need for the rule of law and that Midwestern, small-town life in the 1950s was more complex than commonly thought: it had plenty of controversy--values conflict between those involved in gambling (either as businessmen who offered opportunities to gamble or as gamblers) and those who opposed it and its related corruption, including a "do gooder" religious right that sought to impose its moral vision on the rest of society. (Of course, there were also the many citizens who were merely curious about all the excitement and those who were apathetic.) Lincoln and Logan County, Illinois, in the early 1950s had a kind of culture war more often associated with present-day American life--conflict between moral conservatives and more broadminded citizens.

The Issue of Post-Trial Illegal Gambling in Lincoln

     Did so-called "politically incorrect" entertainment in the private clubs, indicated below, include gambling? And speaking of political incorrectness, do you suppose the entertainment from Decatur was integrated?

40.62: Courier Ad, 9-21-54, p. 4.

40.63: Courier Ad, 9-29-54, p. 4.

The 1954 Gambling Raid on the Moose Club

     As noted above, in the fall of 1951 the City of Lincoln revised and updated its ordinance to prohibit gambling machines and to require paid licenses and for such legal devices of amusement as five-ball pinball machines and shuffleboard machines. Of course, this fact begs the question of how well the ordinance was enforced. While skimming microfilm issues of the Courier for 1954, I noticed that on June 23, 1954, Police Chief Earl F. Minder had discovered three slot machines in the Moose Club "during a routine check of downtown taverns, clubs, and billiard rooms for pinball licenses, shuffleboard and bowling game licenses. The three machines were confiscated and taken to the city hall" (Courier, 6-24-54, p. 9).

40.64: Slot Machines Confiscated from the Moose Club in 1954

(Courier, 6-24-54, p. 5)

     The caption for the above photo says that a session of the Logan County Court was held in the Lincoln City Hall, where Judge William S. Ellis issued an order to destroy the machines. Left to right in the above photo are State's Attorney C. Marvin Hamilton, Logan County Judge William S. Ellis, Assistant State's Attorney Paul Knoblock, and Priscilla Rademaker of the county clerk's office, and Minder. She helped count the $64.16 recovered from the slot machines.

40.65: State's Attorney C. Marvin Hamilton

(Courier photo)

40.66: Logan County Judge William S. Ellis

(Courier photo)

    At the left below is Chief Earl Minder acting on the court's order to destroy the slot machines. At the right below is a 1951 photo of Logan County Deputy Sheriff Joe Scanlon, who, according to the Courier, helped Minder destroy the machines.

40.67: Minder Whacks Slot Machines

(Courier, 6-25-54)

40.68: Deputy Joe Scanlon

(Courier photo, 1-6-51, p. 8)

The Question of Law Enforcement Against Gaming in the Private Clubs

     Since the slot machines were taken from the Moose Club, I wonder what other private clubs in Lincoln may have sometimes had illegal gambling activity. As shown on another page in this Web site, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson had expressed his criticism of the hypocrisy of raiding local taverns but not private clubs. Did local authorities check other private organizations for slot machines? By all indications, some--if not all--of those organizations had slot machines in their facilities.

     Provided by Fred Blanford, the images of slot machine slugs below are allegedly from the K of C club in Lincoln, Illinois. He includes images of coins to show the relative size of the slugs:

40.69: K of C Slugs from Lincoln, Illinois

     Fred Blanford wrote, "the slugs were part and parcel of the slots in all of the clubs back then. I remember being 'paid off' in slugs on the machines I played [but not in the K of C] from atop the beer cases in the 'joints' that had the machines--you traded them in at (usually) the bar."

    In the Lincoln, Illinois, of the 1950s, the Elks' Town Club and the Elks' Country Club were the most exclusive private club facilities in Logan County. Did local authorities monitor the entertainment resources of these clubs, which were frequented by the rich and powerful members of the community, including lawyers and government officials?

40.70: Courier Ad for Elks' Public Party October 13, 1951

40.71: Latham Building When the Elks Town Club Occupied the Upper Floors

(photo courtesy of D.D. Welch and Fred Blanford)

     The "public party" was scheduled for just four days after the first anniversary of the State Police raid in Lincoln, and various members of bench and bar and the business community who were involved in the prolonged legal procedures were members of the Elks. Was this "public party" an attempt to show the public that the Elks Town Club was free from illegal gambling devices?  Oh, to have been a fly on the wall of that gathering! And what about the Elks Country Club? The Elks Town Club was located on the Kickapoo Street side of the Logan County Courthouse square and was above the building that housed the Myers Brothers clothing store.

     Several distinguished Lincolnites whose photos appear above on this page belonged to the Elks, frequented the Town Club and the Country Club, and could thus answer the question of what kind of amusements might have been offered in the Elks' facilities. The photo below shows additional distinguished Lincolnite Elks of the 1950s who would have been able to answer the question:

40.72: Celebrating the Elks Fiftieth Anniversary in Lincoln, Illinois

(Courier photo, 9-27-54, p. 1)

     Photo caption: "CONGRATULATIONS to William K, Maxwell (center), one of the charter members of Lincoln Lodge 914, B.P.O. Elks, comes double. On his left is U.G. Kinsey, exalted ruler and at right, R.G. Borman of Carlinville, president of the Illinois Elks Association. Charter members were honored at the lodge's 50th anniversary observance at the Elks County Club. John LaMothe, Lincoln organist, is in the background.

     Note: William K. Maxwell, Sr., was the father of the famous Lincolnite Author William K. Maxwell, Jr. Both Mr. Kinsey and Mr. Maxwell drove Cadillacs--the coveted symbol of upper-middle class affluence in the 1950s.

     One anonymous contributor reports, "Dad said there were slot machines everywhere at one time, perhaps when they were legal. He remembers nickel slots at Tull's and others at Lee's [on Business Route 66, Keokuk St., later the site of the Colonial Restaurant] and also at the [Elks] Country Club."

     Another anonymous contributor writes that the Elks' Country Club had machines back then. Each summer the workers club of the local utility company rented this facility for its annual picnic. "In the old clubhouse--off the screened patio (entry level--dining room was up on split level while pro shop and row of slots was down from the level) was where I saw and played the machines on many occasions--as a kid--Dad would give me some pennies and nickels." This source also says that above Myers Brothers clothing store where the Elks had two floors, "there was a fire door on the second floor landing that would lead into the second floor of Maxey's Drugs that I was always told was where the slots were stored. . . ."

     Note: Elks' members included businessmen and such professionals as lawyers and doctors--people of influence. If slot machines were stored in the Elks' Town Club--on the Logan County Courthouse square, right in the middle of town--, it would not have been a well-kept secret, and the location would have been an easy target for law enforcement--just "kitty corner" across the square from the City Hall, headquarters of the Lincoln city police. Was this situation a classic example of Governor Stevenson's criticism that some citizens thought it was all right to raid the corner tavern of gambling devices but not the private clubs?
The Question of High-Stakes Card Games at the Elks and Other Downtown Sites

     Card playing in private clubs (and in obscure places of pool halls, taverns, etc.) is an age-old pastime, and William Maxwell and Fred Blanford have described this practice at the Lincoln Elks Club. In his extensive family history, Ancestors, Maxwell writes, "Lincoln itself was a farming community, and owed its prosperity to the rich farmland that lay all around it. It was also a place that successful farmers retired to when they were ready to give up farming and spend their declining years at the Elks Club, playing rummy" (p. 231).
     Fred Blanford describes playing cards at the Elks Town Club: "While I never played cards (rum or whatever) at Bushell's, The Western Hotel or (pictured at Leigh's site) The Illinois--I do know the practice that was prevalent at the Elks Town Club in the 60's and early 70's. At the Elks--the tables and the decks of cards (semi-fresh you always hoped) were provided by the 'management.' For the privilege, the players (winners usually) paid a nickel or dime (I really don't remember how much--but it was little) per game (rum--four hands constituted a game while the bridge players put up a similar amount per rubber) which was collected by the 'house.' Any individual gambling was not 'house involved' and settlement was among the players themselves. I know the bridge players played for the astonishing amount of 1/20th of a cent per point. No plungers here" (email to Leigh of 3-28-2004).

     If rich farmers played cards at the Elks Club and other locations, how high could the stakes go? Do you suppose it's possible that fortunes based on expensive Logan County farmland might have changed hands as a result of high-stakes card games in the 1950s?

Bill Gossett, LCHS Class of 1941, Remembers the Elks Club

     Bill Gossett belonged to the Elks Club in Lincoln at mid-20th century. The photo below shows him in 1951, when he was elected Exalted Ruler of the Lincoln Elks Club. James W. Abbott was the Leading Knight; Ken Goodrich, the Loyal Knight; James R. Gayle, the Lecturing Knight; Harold Coogan, Secretary; Raymond Downs, Tyler; and James Vaughn, Trustee. Bill Gossett was also chosen to represent the Lincoln Elks at the Elks Grand Lodge Convention in Chicago that year. At the ceremony in which Bill was installed as Exalted Ruler, a smelt supper was served. At my request, Bill offers some recollections about the Lincoln Elks' culture at mid 20th century:

40.73: Bill Gossett as Lincoln Elks Exalted Ruler

(photo from the Lincoln Courier, 3-22-51, p. 10)

     [Bill's response to my question about the Elks Club Town Club on Kickapoo Street across from the Logan County Courthouse] "2nd floor "club rooms" front room - (Kickapoo St.)  so-called sitting room - chairs sofa, magazines, etc. Dominating the room was a huge Elk head staring our from large fireplace, never used to my knowledge. Small office to north in area that would be over the looooong stairway.  Of note - apparently structural supports for 3rd floor were covered with nicely finished wood and around these pillars, etched in glass, were names of deceased brothers. Middle room card room and MODEST eating area.  Back room - billiard table, pool table and ping pong table.  3rd floor used for lodge meetings and social functions - i.e., dances. ALSO - very important to many, many in the community - mostly women - was the regular Monday nite. Bingo games - purpose of which was to raise $$$ for the Elks crippled children's work --  a most notable and praiseworthy charity of the Elks. 

      Primary fund-raisers for this charity were the annual Elks Festivals held early on in Elm Park and later in what is now known as Scully Park. All kinds of fun and games for dimes and quarters-- later more, of course -- Big $$$ came from selling Sunshine bonds - chances on a new car.  Each year - a dealer "sold" a care to the lodge and something like a cost price and that car was given away on the last night to the holder of the winning # on  a Sunshine bond - no limit as to how many you could buy. Proceeds rec'd along the years were wisely invested and today there are still youngsters seen @ clinics @ the hospital at no charge and this would include what we used to call braces, etc.

      [Bill's response to my question about whether membership was all male]: "ALL Elk lodges were men only during these times just like Rotary, etc. The old boys are spinning out there in Union and Holy Cross, etc., but as the times changed so have many lodges and clubs.  Horror of horrors - women are now officers in the lodge-- Paving the way for Hillary I guess -- just threw up on my nice keyboard."

      [Response my question on whether membership was exclusive to the upper middle class]: "NO! - there did not appear to be a 'class' attitude - Not everybody was a professional or businessman - of course many, many were. When it came to voting - if you were a son-of-a-bitch you were that whether or not you had money."

      [Response to my questions about whether gambling and drinking were allowed]: "Yes -- there was lots of card playing -- mostly rummy and on certain nights there was usually a rather heavy poker game going on. No bar as such and I do not recall much drinking in the club room. NO teetotaling, though -- upstairs dances were another story."

      Bill continued: "Pinballs did not make much of an appearance until the move was made to what was known as the Elks Country Club. As I remember there were no  pinball machines up there [Town House on Kickapoo St.] - slots yes and therein lies a memory that sits firmly in the grey cells that are deteriorating up there. Like  all lodges, the Elks had an annual 'party and the Elks had theirs out  at the old country club bldg - later burned.  Jim Abbott & I were co- chair for this event and we decided that we would take the slots out  there for the big bash. They were stored on the 3rd floor of the old  Elks bldg. - this was after the big raids and these were not  confiscated for some reason - in any event, Jim and I carried those things down three flights of stairs and they were HEAVY - and then  they had to be returned to their 'resting place' - have no idea as to  whatever happened to them -- no wonder my back is no good today."

     "Another 'flash-back' - like other lodges, organizations, etc. the  Elks always had a big family day on the evening of the 4th, with  entertainment, etc. --capped off by a big fireworks display - always  under the supervision of our veteran fireman -- Skinny Watson. A special treat(?) one year was when Jimmy Malerich landed his bi-plane crop duster on the 18th fairway -- for a 'demonstration'. The take-off left a bit to be desired - Jim didn't get enough altitude on take off and flew that plane right into the top of a large leafy tree, doing a beautiful job of tree-trimming - but a bit hard on the plane, which promptly cartwheeled into a crash -- no damage to pilot -- but that sure put a damper on the evening."

40.74: Bill Gossett's Fellow Elks Members of the 1950s:
Businessman Bud Dehner (l) and Dentist Bob Goebel

Note: Dehner's and Goebel's sons became judges.

(photo from the Lincoln Courier, 9-20-51, p. 8)

40.75: Elks' First Country Club

(undated photo from The Namesake Town, p. 60)

     William Keepers Maxwell, Sr., the father of native Lincolnite author William Maxwell, was a founder of the golf course that was eventually purchased by the Elks Club in Lincoln. As noted above, the senior Maxwell was also a founding member of the Lincoln Elks Club. The senior Maxwell's account of their Country Club and golf course, published in the 1953 centennial edition of the Lincoln Evening Courier, appears in the Appendix of this book.

40:76: 4th Green or 2nd Hole at the Lincoln Elks Country Club with
the Chautauqua Lake in the Background

(photo courtesy of Jerry Gibson)

     Mrs. Bill Berger (l) and Tom McGrath (r). One of the other two men is Mr. Bill Berger.

40.77: Edward Hoblit, Elks Country Club Golf Pro

(undated photo courtesy of Jerry Gibson, Ed Hoblit's nephew)

     Not everyone who went to the Elks Country Club golf course went there just for leisure- time fun. Jerry Gibson, LCHS noble Class of 1960, recalls that "before they headed to Illinois State Normal University, Ed and his younger brother, Ron, caddied for years at the Elks Country Club golf course to earn money for the family." These men were my great uncles.

     Jerry continues: "One problem that made the Hoblits' struggle during the Depression especially difficult was that the father, John, was incapacitated for a couple of years due to illness. As a result, Ron and Ed's mother, "Grandma Hoblit, had to walk to the State School at night to make some money during those tough times. Ed or Ron would walk her to and from home to the entrance gate at the Colony. There wasn't a light near the tunnel under the RR tracks at the end of Elm until we [Jerry and Leigh] were kids-- Grandma Hoblit had her own Nightmare on Elm Street in the late twenties into the early thirties. Dark, cold, hungry times in those difficult years."

     "During the Great Depression (and the Hoblits' plight), Grandma Hoblit always found some sort of food scrap to give to the hobo train riders who frequented the rail cars parked on the multiple tracks [double tracks of the GM&O and single track of the Illinois Traction System] less than a hundred yards from the Hoblits' front door. Any compassionate gene we possess must have come from her."

The Annual Elks' Festival: A Bonanza of Legalized Public Gambling to Benefit a Charitable Cause

     A lottery ticket to win a new vehicle was sold for $1.00. Vendors sold tickets from booklets of 15. Non-Elk members, including enterprising youth, could obtain the booklets for ticket sales. Vendors paid the Elks $10.00 per booklet, thus making $5.00 for each booklet sold.

     During the Festival, always held in Washington Park (now Scully Park), various games of chance were available: fishbowls, punchboards, wheels-of-fortune, and bingo. Folks could also take their chances on carnival rides. The Elks' Festival was one of the summer's highlights. Always held early in July, it gave folks time to save up for the Logan County Fair in early August.

40.78: Courier Ad for the Elks' Festival

     Weren't the Fords in the Elks' drawing usually black with black wall tires?  One year the Ford was won by a guy who worked at a Sinclair gas station. Wearing his green uniform and cap, he liked to pretend his new Ford was a police squad car, and he enjoyed sitting on Madison Street next to the VFW to scare people driving on Business Route 66 into thinking their speed was clocked by radar. 

     Seems I recall he was eventually arrested for impersonation of an officer of the law. Since plea bargaining had not yet been invented, I am unsure if he is eligible for parole even today.

The Last(?) Gambling "Raid" in Lincoln--September 27, 1960

     I have only a vague memory of the 1960 slot machine raid described below. Unlike many of my high school classmates, I was still living in Lincoln at the time. In September of 1960, I was a freshman at Lincoln College and driving to classes in my first car, a 1949 Ford with a flat-head V-8. I had bought this wonderful vehicle with $300.00 of my own money earned the previous summer from a job which family friend Republican County Chairman Joe Sapp had obtained for me at the Illinois Department of Conservation through his close ties to Governor William Stratton's administration. Please understand that at the time I was too preoccupied with this car, thoughts of the opposite sex, and my classes--in that order of importance-- to pay much attention to local news. Now, thanks to journalistic accounts and the collective memory of other Lincolnites at heart, I can come to know what had been invisible to me 45 years ago.

     Fred Blanford reported: "Slots--Two different and distinct 'raids.' The Good Government one (and I'm not even sure it was the Good Government Council that did it) was when I was quite young. The incident in the 60's was not a raid--the elderly Mrs. Schwenoha (I have guessed at the spelling--Mrs. Coonhound for short) was the one who owned the house from the basement of which a large (semi?) truckload of slots was being on-loaded when a neighbor we think one of Marge's [Marge Coogan Blanford, Fred's wife] neighbors from the next block west on Delavan--called the police in the middle of the night to report suspicious activity--and the police investigated to find the 'on-loaders' 'en flagrante delicto' which is Latin for bare-assed--or in-the-act. That was the one that made the Chicago papers while I was a student in Chambana" (email of 9-4-2003).


40.79: Unloading Slot Machines at the Logan County Jail

(Courier photo by John Swingle)

40.80: John Swingle, Courier photographer, LCHS Class of 1957

(John Swingle retired from the Peoria Journal Star as a photographer.)

     On November 28, 1960, the Lincoln Daily Courier story that accompanied the preceding photo of the slot machines being unloaded at the Logan County Jail reported that those charged with illegal possession of gambling devices pleaded not guilty. Those charged included a 52-year-old man from Pharr, Texas. He allegedly hired the Lincoln Transfer Company to move the machines. Others charged were the four men employed by Lincoln Transfer who were loading the machines. Coonhound Johnny's widow and a man who owned a farm northwest of Lincoln were charged because they owned the property were the machines where found.

     According to the Courier, "an anonymous tip received by the State's Attorney's office led to the arrests and discovery of the machines. State's Attorney Darrell Klink, Assistant State's Attorney Rodney Bucher, [Lincoln] Chief of Police Earl Minder, and city policeman Jerry Agnew found a semi-trailer truck almost loaded at the residence of Mrs. Minnie Schwenoha at 302 N. Logan St.

     They were told by Lincoln Transfer employees that some of the machines had been picked up at Coonhound's Grove north of Lincoln on Route 121."

     "A search warrant was obtained from Police Magistrate Dan Handlin, and Klink, Minder, Sheriff Joe Scanlon, and Sgt. Paul Zimmerman of the State Police found 11 more machines in the basement of the Schwenoha residence."

     "Meanwhile, Cpl. Robert McKay was obtaining a search warrant from Justice of the Peace Edward Gehlbach, and authorities went to Coonhound's Grove. There two extremely old machines were found in a two-room building. The warrants were turned over to Scanlon, who made the searches."

     "According to various reports, the slot machines were destined for shipment to Europe. A bill of lading has not yet turned up."

     "Practically all of the machines were old and not in working order. There was a wide assortment of types and sizes. Following seizure of the truckload of machines, the truck and contents were taken to the county jail where some were unloaded in the yard."

     "After a brief inspection by authorities they were reloaded and taken to a building owned by Mayor Edward L. Spellman. The machines are being kept there, except for the 13 found with the two search warrants which are at the county jail." Klink's office immediately prepared petitions to destroy the machines.

The Coonhound Johnny Connection

     A farm northwest of Lincoln along Route 121 was the alleged location of Coonhound Johnny Schwenoha's "summer home" and Coonhound's Grove. Coonhound Johnny, the husband of Mrs. Minnie Schwenoha and the father of Vince "Little Coonhound," was Logan County's most colorful alleged bootlelegger and middleman between Logan County distributors and consumers of contraband alcohol and the Chicago gangsters who supplied it. A possible connection between Vince Schwenoha and the 1960 raid is mentioned below. At the time of the 1960 raid, Mrs. Schwenoha was a widow. For an account of Coonhound Johnny's alleged bootlegging activity and gangster connections, see "The Prohibition Era in Logan County" by Sanford Patterson in Paul Beaver's Logan County History 1982, p. 26 (see bibliographical details in Sources Cited below).

     Coonhound's summer home on Route 121 was between the Bell Station curve and the Sugar Creek bridge. Coonhound's lair, then, was just a couple of miles south of Hutton's Lodge, also on Route 121 (later called Lonnie and Mae's and now known as Tom's Lodge). Hutton's Lodge--Logan County's most infamous roadhouse surviving from the Prohibition era-- was between the Sugar Creek bridge and Hartsburg. For more information about this historic watering hole (including a contemporary photo), Al Capone's alleged acquaintance with Coonhound Johnny, and gangster visits to Hutton's Lodge, see 36.  Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era: Entertainment in the Fast Lane (link below in Sources Cited).

     A map of the area north of Lincoln along Route 121 showing the locations of Hutton's Lodge and Coonhound Johnny's summer home appears in the Appendix of this book. The map was adapted from the Plat Book and Farmers' Directory of Logan County, Illinois, 1962. Fred Blanford provided the following two Courier photos relating to the confiscated slot machines:


40.81: Smashing Slot Machines at the Builders' Supply Warehouse

     Courier photo caption: "Slot machines seized in a raid in Lincoln Sept. 27 are shown as they are destroyed by city workers in Lincoln. The machines were allegedly destined for England before they were intercepted by police. A total of 129 of the 'one-armed bandits' were smashed and burned at the city dump in Lincoln."

     Corresponding Courier story was titled "Logan Slots Profitably Destroyed": The 129 slot machines seized in a raid here Sept. 27 have been destroyed, and rather profitably for Logan County.

     A considerable amount of money, $173.53, was obtained from the machines, which were smashed and checked for coins under the eyes of four court designated watchers. The task, carried on at the new warehouse of Builders' Supply Co., required seven hours. The wrecked machines and cases were taken to the city dumping grounds, where they were burned then crushed by a bulldozer. Later the salvaged metal will be sold in the highest bidder and the money from the machines and salvage will be turned over to the treasurer of Logan County."


40.82: Authorities Witness Slot Machine Bonfire

(Courier photo by John Swingle)

     Courier photo caption: "Beginning of the end is pictured here as authorities put the torch to 129 slot machines at the city dump. . . . From left are the progressing blaze, more slot machines, Cpl. Robert McKay of the State Police; Darrell Klink, state's attorney; Rod Bucher, assistant state's attorney; and Early Minder, Lincoln chief of police. The junk metal left over will be sold to the highest bidder, and this money, along with the coins found in the machines, will be turned over to the county treasurer. However, a report from the state's attorney's office indicates that the fire did such a good job there may not be too much left to bid on. Nine personas were charged with illegal possession of gambling devices as a result of a raid Sept. 27." A man from Pharr, Texas, pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $500, plus costs of $30.15. The other eight have entered pleas of not guilty and are scheduled for jury trials."

     John Swingle, who took the above photo, emailed a comment in July of 2005: "I saw something in your Web site about a certain official wanting to promote the raid and elevate his chances for higher office. A little later, I was told the same thing, and in 1960 I think the push for slot machine raids was pretty well spent. Darrell Klink was the State's Attorney and Rod Bucher was the Assistant State's Attorney. I believe Rod had higher aspirations, and when we're younger we probably all want to better ourselves. Scuttlebutt had it that many of the confiscated machines were old, broken, and didn't even work."

The Added Drama of Conflicting Personalities in the 1960 Slot Machine Raid

    Fred Blanford provided a fascinating article from the Decatur Herald-Review about the 1960 slot machine raid that shows how personalities came into play at the time of the raids:

     "Gaming Raid Points Up Fued [sic] Between Logan's Sheriff, State [sic] Attorney" by Norman J. Puhek of the Herald staff, Lincoln, Sept. 28, 1960

     "On the downtown streets of Lincoln today there was one main topic--slot machines.

     Authorities, starting Tuesday afternoon, rounded up 130 of  them from two places. Some appeared to have been stored 10 to 12 years. Inside the courthouse, the legal follow-up to the rather fantastic haul started.

     Rumors and undercurrents of dissatisfaction were heard because Logan County State's Att. Darrell E. Klink, acted quickly when he learned through a tip that a semi-trailer truck was being loaded with the machines from the basement of an apartment house.

     Some persons seemed to believed that he was supposed to ignore the information and 'let them take the machines out of here.'

     Talk, even from a judicial chamber, backed up rumors that all is not well between the officers of Klink and Sheriff Joe Scanlon.

Records Show Reason

     A check of court records proved why. Last July 24, Sheriff Scanlon was charged in County Court with assault and battery against Ass't States Att. Rodney G. Bucher. It seems that Bucher (with permission of a deputy sheriff, he said) used a living room of the joint county jail-sheriff's living quarters, to take a statement from a prisoner.

     Scanlon said he found Bucher 'flipping cigarette ashes on the rug and a bleeding prisoner was sitting on my furniture," when he walked into the room. Scanlon did not elaborate on the "bleeding' description.

     Scanlon is a tall 200-pounder.

     Bucher is of average height. He weighs 140.

     Bucher, if an assault and battery did result, did not require hospitalization.

     The next day (and, Klink admits after a number of members of the Board of Supervisors called him and thought it would be nice if he withdrew the charges) the case was dismissed on motion of the state's attorney's office."

Cautious Over Dismissal

     County Judge Leland H. Dunham was cautious about the dismissal. He required an affidavit from the state's attorney saying the dismissal was being done at the request of the complaining witness; that an apology to the office had been tendered and that it was being done in the best interests of law enforcement.

     Scanlon, Klink, Judge Dunham, most members of the County Board of Supervisors and nearly everyone else in Logan County are Republicans, so political labels as such do not enter the picture.

     The sheriff, today and Tuesday night, indicated he was miffed because he was not notified at the start of the slot machine harvest. He was called on later to puck up 13 machines, after search warrants had been issued. The town folks, for the most part, chuckled about the slot machine episode. 

     In a restaurant Klink was approached several times and asked, 'Say, can you get me a slot machine?'"

40.83: Logan County State's Attorney
Darrell Klink

(Courier photo, 11-3-1960, p. 3)

  Sidebar: Darrell Klink ran for re-election in the fall of 1960. At that time, the Courier ran a "Know Your Candidates" profile of Mr. Klink and his opponent, Warren Peters.

     "Darrell E. Klink, 33, 237 N. Union St. . . , is serving his first term in the office. In the primary, he defeated Lincoln attorney Marvin Baker. Klink has lived in the county all of his life except during the time he was in the Navy and in college.

     He attended Emden Grade School, Hartsburg-Emden High School, and University of Illinois where he received a BA degree and law degree. Klink is married and has three children, two girls and a boy.

     He reports: 'I am of course running on my record during the past four years. The total fines, fees and forfeitures collected during my term as state's attorney from December, 1958, until Oct. 25, 1960, has been $130,008,25. This total is almost twice the fines, fees and forfeitures collected for the 10 years prior to my term.'

     'I believe this indicates an active and efficient office. Also we have been fortunate in that we have only lost one jury trial in a court of record in the past four years. I believe this record should be attributed not only to the state's attorney's office, but to the efficiency of all law enforcement agencies and the desire of the citizens of Logan County to have the law upheld and respected'" (Lincoln Daily Courier, 11-3-60, p. 3).

     Note: in this election Klink defeated Warren Peters, who later was elected State's Attorney of Logan County. As a native of the Hartsburg-Emden area, Mr. Klink would have driven on Route 121 between his home and Lincoln countless times. Thus, he would have known the location of Coonhound Johnny's rural retreat and could have easily directed the charge to search Coonhound's property for slot machines.

    Bucher said the machines were destined for Liverpool, England, after an overhaul and remodeling so they would take English coins. Public gambling is taboo in England except in private clubs. A number of new ones have spring up in the past year. Bucher said the immobile shipment of slot machines was insured for $13,000. Quite a few Lincoln residents believe the machines belonged to Vincent J. Schwenoha, former Lincoln restaurant and bar operator who now lives in California. One woman told a reporter her husband had worked for Schwenoha 'back when they were storing them.'

Mother Denies Report

     "But Schwenoha's mother, Mrs. Minnie Schwenoha, in whose home most of the machines were found, said they did not belong to her son. She said a man from Pharr, Texas, who hired the truck to take them to LaSalle, Ill., had rented space from her and 'went around buying them until he had enough for a load and then he would ship them.' One leading citizen said that Vince had once offered to give him a machine for his home's recreation room in return for a favor. He refused this offer. Wilkinson, Mrs. Schwenoha, and the men loading the truck all pleaded innocent. The farmer on whose property a few machines were found, four miles northwest of Lincoln on Route 121, received a continuance of his arraignment until Oct. 4. He posted a $1,000 bond. A petition to destroy the machines, after city police worked most of the night getting serial numbers from each so the petition could be drawn, is to be filed in County Court by the state's attorney."

Supplemental Information

     The first pinball machines were pintables, which date to the 1700s. It's not my intention to summarize the history of this amusement here. I recommend that you search Google using keyword combinations featuring such phrases as "pinball history" and "pinball machines" and "Humpty Dumpty pinball machines."

40.84: Pinball Wizard Abraham Lincoln

     From Marshall Frady, "Pinball," Playboy (December, 1972, p. 163. Compliments of John Feldman.

     Note: I have no information on whether Mr. Lincoln played pintables in the first Lincoln namesake city when he often visited there for business and politics in the mid to late 1850s. In the 1930s and 1940s, designers of pinball machines applied electricity to add such lasting innovations as the tilt mechanism, flippers, and bumpers.

40.85: Anti-tilt Mechanism

40.86: Bumper Mechanism

     The technical illustrations above are from Sharpe, "Pinball!" Popular Mechanics (December, 1994),  pp. 64-65, compliments of John Feldman.

40.87: Flipper Mechanism

     (From Michael Laurence, "Great Moments in Pinball History," Playboy [December, 1972], p. 162. Compliments of John Feldman.)

Sources Cited


Beaver, Paul, ed. Logan County History 1982. Dallas. TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1982.


Dooley, Raymond, and Ethel F. Welch, eds., The Namesake Town: A Centennial History of Lincoln, Illinois. Lincoln, IL: Feldman Print Shop, 1953.


Frady, Marshall. "Pinball" Playboy (December, 1972): 159+.

Henson, Leigh. A Tribute to Lincolnite Author Robert Wilson.

_______.  Cars, Trucks, & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era.

_______ . The Honorable James A. "Jim" Knecht: Memoir and Short Story Set in Lincoln, Illinois.

_______. 3. The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln.

_______ . 36.  Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era: Entertainment in the Fast Lane

Laurence, Michael. "Great Moments in Pinball History," Playboy (December, 1972): 162-163).

Lincoln Daily Courier, Lincoln, IL. Various issues 1960-61.

Lincoln Evening Courier. Lincoln, IL. Various issues from 1946 to 1954.

Maxwell, William. Ancestors: A Family History. NY: Vintage Books, 1971.

Polk's Lincoln (Logan County, Illinois) City Directory, 1934-1935. Chicago, IL: R.L. Polk & Co., 1934.

Plat Book and Farmers' Directory of Logan County, Illinois. (Mankato, MN: N.p., 1962).

Sharpe, Roger. "Pinball!" Popular Mechanics (December, 1994): 63-65, 123.

Socolofsky, Homer E. Landlord William Scully. Lawrence, KS: The Regents Press of Kansas, 1979. (Note: this is now a rare book, meaning that a copy might go for $200.00--not the price I paid for my copy.)

The Kickapoo Press. Volume 1, Issue 1. Lincoln, IL. February 4, 1954.

The 1947 Lincolnite. Lincoln, IL.

The 1961 Lynxite. Lincoln, IL.


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

"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.