A Long-Range Plan to Brand the First Lincoln
Namesake City as the Second City of Abraham Lincoln Statues
Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in Lincoln, Illinois
Abraham Lincoln and the Historic Postville
including a William Maxwell connection to the Postville Courthouse
About Henry Ford and the Postville Courthouse,
the Story of the Postville Courthouse Replica,
Tantivy, & the Postville Park
Neighborhood in the
Route 66 Era
The Rise of Abraham Lincoln and His History and
Heritage in His First Namesake Town,
also the founding of Lincoln College, the plot to steal Lincoln's
body, and memories of Lincoln College and the Rustic Tavern-Inn
Introduction to the Social & Economic History of
including poetry by William Childress & commentary by Federal Judge
Bob Goebel & Illinois Appellate Court Judge Jim Knecht
"Social Consciousness in William Maxwell's
Writings Based on Lincoln, Illinois" (an article published in the
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, winter 2005-06)
Peeking Behind the Wizard's Screen: William
Maxwell's Literary Art as Revealed by a Study of the Black Characters in
Billie Dyer and Other Stories
Introduction to the Railroad & Route 66 Heritage
of Lincoln, Illinois
The Living Railroad Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois:
on Track as a Symbol of the "Usable Past"
Route 66 Overview Map of Lincoln with 42 Sites,
Descriptions, & Photos
The Hensons of Business Route 66
The Wilsons of Business
Route 66, including the Wilson Grocery & Shell
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial
(former Chautauqua site),
the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek &
the highway bridges, GM&O bridge, Madigan State Park, the old dam (with
photos & Leigh's memoir of "shooting the rapids" over the old dam), &
the Ernie Edwards' Pig-Hip Restaurant Museum in Broadwell
The Historic Logan County Courthouse, Past &
Route 66 Map with 51 Sites in the Business &
Courthouse Square Historic District,
including locations of historical markers
(on the National Register of Historic Places)
Vintage Scenes of the Business & Courthouse Square
The Foley House: A
Monument to Civic Leadership
(on the National Register of
the Route 66 Era
Arts & Entertainment Heritage,
the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers' Riders Club of the
Cars, Trucks & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era
Churches, including the hometown
churches of Author William Maxwell & Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
Factories, Past and Present
Food Stores of
the Route 66 Era
Hospitals, Past and Present
Hotels & Restaurants of the Railroad & Route 66
Lincoln Developmental Center
(Lincoln State School & Colony in
the Route 66 era), plus
debunking the myth of
Lincoln, Illinois, choosing the Asylum over the University of Illinois
Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; & Utilities
Museums & Parks, including the Lincoln College
Museum and its Abraham Lincoln Collection, plus the Heritage-in-Flight
News Media in the Route 66 Era
The Odd Fellows' Children's Home
Memories of the 1900 Lincoln Community High School,
including Fred Blanford's dramatic account of the lost marble
fountain of youth
A Tribute to the Historians and Advocates of
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era
The Historic 1953 Centennial Celebration of
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,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960)
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
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
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
Web Site About
Leigh Henson's Professional Life
in this section are about the writing, memorabilia, and Web sites of
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
including photos of many churches
Dave Armbrust's Memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois
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
Judge Jim Knecht
(LCHS '62): Memoir and Short Story, "Other People's Money," Set in
Hickey's Billiards on Chicago Street in the Route 66 Era
William A. "Bill" Krueger (LCHS '52): Information
for His Books About Murders in Lincoln
Norm Schroeder (LCHS '60): Short Stories
Stan Stringer Writes About His Family, Mark
Holland, and Lincoln, Illinois
Thomas Walsh: Anecdotes Relating to This Legendary
Attorney from Lincoln by Attorney Fred Blanford & Judge Jim Knecht
Leon Zeter (LCHS '53): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1953,
including announcements of LCHS class reunions
(Post yours there.)
Highway Sign of
The Route 66
Association of Illinois
State Historical Society
Marquee Lights of the Lincoln Theatre, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois
1950s Gambling Raids and Trials in Lincoln and Logan County, IL:
Case Study of Gov. Stevenson's Push for Good Local Government
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
Q: Why Did the State Police Raid Lincoln, Illinois, on
October 11, 1950? A: Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson Was Cracking Down on
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.
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
are the subsequent topics covered:
Significance of the 1950s Gambling-Related Events in
Lincoln and Logan County
A Few Gambling Memories from LCHS Alums of the 1950s--1960s to Set
The Tangled Vine of Illegal Gambling
Gaming Machine in the 1936 Rustic Tavern on Pulaski
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
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
government in more recent decades.
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
A Few Gambling Memories from LCHS Alums of the 1950s--1960s to Set
Former Lincolnite Dan
"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
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
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."
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."
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
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
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:
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
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.
"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?"
"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
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
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
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
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."
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
(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.
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.)
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
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
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
"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,
"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,
The confiscated machines were taken to the Logan County Fairgrounds
and stored in rows under the grandstand, and police guarded the machines.
Police Raid on Chicago Street
(Photo from the Lincoln Evening Courier,
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
Chicago Street Barber Shop (at right) in the Early 1960s
(Photo from the D.D. Welch collection)
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).
Loren's Barber Shop and Site of Former Hickey's Billiards on Chicago Street in 2005
(Leigh Henson photo)
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.
(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
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
Gambling Machine in
Downtown Lincoln, IL
(Leigh Henson photo)
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).
(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.
4-11-51, p. 4). "L" located at Broadway and Chicago Streets,
future location of the Thudiums' Lincoln Office Supply)
"L," Near the Train Depot
(Photo in Gleason's Lincoln: A
Pictorial History, p. 23. The overhanging sign advertises
"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).
Mill on Stringer Avenue
(Photos by Leigh Henson in
(Courier 1-30-47, p. 3)
Mill on Stringer Avenue (Business Route 66) in 1946
Owned and Operated by Albert and Blossom Huffman
Temporary Storage of the Pinball Machines at the Logan County Fairgrounds
Pinball Machines Lined Up at the Logan County Fairgrounds
Pinball Machines Temporarily Stored Under the Logan County Fair Grandstand
(Courier, 10-12-50, p. 1)
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).
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
The Courier reports that the gambling machines have been re-located
to the Logan County Courthouse, where they will soon be opened and their
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
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,
Circuit Judge Frank S. Bevan
Logan County State's Attorney
Edwin C. Mills
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.
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
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
The Most Bizarre Civil Trial Ever Held in the 1905 Logan County Courthouse
12-7-50: "Claims Gambling Machines Were Seized Illegally"
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
"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
"State Alters Pinball
Case to Include Sheriff as Plaintiff" (Courier
"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
Logan County Sheriff Clair Smith,
Elected November, 1950
"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
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
Bars Motion to Drop Pinball Destruction Petition" (Courier
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,
"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.
Lincoln, Illinois, Police Force of Late 1950
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"
"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
"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
"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.
Attorney Harold F. Trapp, Jr.
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
"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."
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"
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.)]
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
"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
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."
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,
"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"
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
. 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
allow a jury trial to determine whether the machines were for gambling or
Illinois Attorney General's office exert pressure on Judge Bevan behind the
scenes? (And if so, was the Governor pressuring the Attorney General's
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"
1-7-51: Logan Co. Churches Urge Gov.
Stevenson to Intervene in Pinball Hearings
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 . . . ."
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."
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
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
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"
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
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
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
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."
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
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
 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
"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"
"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
"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
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).
Torching the Pinball Machines
(Courier photo, 1-13-51)
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."
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
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).
(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)
"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
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)
Wayne Sill, Founding Pastor of the Lincoln
Free Methodist Church
(From a Courier photo,
3-14-50, p. 10)
Arthur A. Vinz of the Lincoln
First Baptist Church
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
"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
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.
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.
1-17-51: "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).
David L. Sullivan
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).
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.
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
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.'"
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."
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."
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
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
"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,
(Cropped from a photo in
The Namesake Town,
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
A. "Jim" Knecht: Memoir and Short Story Set in Lincoln,
(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
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
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
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
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.'"
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."
audience of this council meeting were two members of the ministerial Social
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.
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).
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,
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
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
(Courier photo, 3-14-51)
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
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.
Reverend John T. Burns
(from the 1961 Lynxite--Lincoln
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."
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
Attorney Thomas Walsh
(Photo by Larry Shroyer and
provided by Fred Blanford)
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
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
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."
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"
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
Citizen William R. Wilson
(Photo provided by his
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.
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).
(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).
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).
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
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).
Police Magistrate Robert L. Thornton
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
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
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?
Courier Ad, 9-21-54, p. 4.
Courier Ad, 9-29-54, p. 4.
The 1954 Gambling Raid on the
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.
State's Attorney C. Marvin Hamilton
Logan County Judge William S. Ellis
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
Minder Whacks Slot Machines
Deputy Joe Scanlon
(Courier photo, 1-6-51,
The Question of Law
Enforcement Against Gaming in the
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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).
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?
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
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,
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.
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
"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.
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.
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
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).
Unloading Slot Machines at the Logan County Jail
(Courier photo by John
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
Klink's office immediately prepared petitions to destroy the machines.
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
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:
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
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
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
Scanlon is a tall 200-pounder.
Bucher is of average height. He
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
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
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?'"
Logan County State's Attorney
11-3-1960, p. 3)
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
'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
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."
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
From Marshall Frady,
"Pinball," Playboy (December, 1972, p. 163. Compliments of John
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.
(From Michael Laurence, "Great
Moments in Pinball History," Playboy [December, 1972], p. 162.
Compliments of John Feldman.)
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,
Tribute to Lincolnite Author Robert Wilson.
Cars, Trucks, & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era.
A. "Jim" Knecht: Memoir and Short Story Set in Lincoln,
3. The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln.
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
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.
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"The Past Is But the