Homepage of "Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, & Other
Highlights of Lincoln, IL"
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
Internet Explorer is the only browser that shows this page the way it was designed.
Your computer's settings may alter the display.
April 24, 2004: Awarded "Best Web Site of the Year" by the Illinois State Historical
achievement: serves as a model for the profession and reaches a greater
Marquee Lights of the Lincoln Theater, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era:
Entertainment in the Fast Lane
The Hotel Lincoln had a cafeteria, banquet room, and "tap room" -- not a
bar--, the classiest watering hole in downtown Lincoln during the Route 66
era. More information about the Hotel Lincoln is presented at
& Restaurants of the Railroad & Route 66 Eras.
Hotel Lincoln in the early 1960s
(Photo provided by D.D. Welch, caption by Norm Schroeder)
Hotel Lincoln Tap Room
Photographer Charles Stringer Parodies Mussolini in the Hotel Lincoln Tap
by Mark Holland and provided by Stan Stringer, true "Lincolnite at
honorary member of the LCHS Class of 1952)
With Stan Stringer's permission, I emailed the above photo of the
Hotel Lincoln bar scene to 160 mid-20th Century alums of Lincoln Community
Bob Goebel wrote in response: "I
did get your pic of bar scene at Hotel Lincoln and sent it to my mother,
who, with assistance from her husband, Dr. Jim Aldendifer, and Emil Moos,
came up with the following: L to R in front of the bar, former Lincoln
Mayor, Ed Malerich, Fanny Metelko, Virginia Moos Cummings, Dan Cummings,
Dorothy Field(?), Homer Holland(?) or Howard Loeber(?), Mark Holland's
father, and Charles Stringer. Behind the bar, Eva Edgell (who ran the Hotel Lincoln
so ably for many years), her husband, Percy Edgell, and John McGowan, father
of our 1960 classmate, Sara McGowan Hinman.
Respond to Bob at
Judy Malerich Cortelloni wrote to add, "On the
identification of the Hotel Lincoln: the Ed Malerich pictured at the end
of the bar is the father of the former mayor."
Respond to Judy
If only walls could speak.
Clyde Camp emailed Stan Stringer in
July, 2007, to give his views on identities for the people in the above
Dear Stan; You don't know me, but I am a 1940 graduate of LCHS. I have
been looking at Henson's very interesting website about Lincoln. I refer to
the picture of the people at the bar in the Hotel Lincoln. Mark Holland's
party. I can't identify all the people but I take exception to number 4 and
5. That is not the way I remember Dan Cummings. I think number 4 is Leander
Hake, a regular frequenter of the hotel and for whom I worked at the
Oldsmobile Garage for 6 Years. Number 5 is, I believe, his wife Mildred. I
agree that number 3 is indeed Virginia, Dan's wife. Just thought you might
be interested in hearing another opinion. Respectfully, Clyde W. Camp
Stringer explains the above photo:
"The party was a welcome home party for Mark Holland shortly
after he returned from Europe. When Mark returned, like other veterans, he
brought some souvenirs home. Included in this was the blouse, metals and
hat of an Italian Fascist party member.
My dad got a kick out of this, and as I recall Mark had
dad dress up in the outfit and several portraits were taken with dad mimicking
Mussolini. As far as I know, those photos are lost, but the night of the
party dad donned the outfit again for the benefit of Mark's friends. On
the left, next to the pseudo El Duce is Mark's father. Unfortunately, I
can't identify anyone else in the photo, and if you're asking where's Mark.
He's taking the picture.
While I hadn't seen the picture for years, I received
it via e-mail from Mark's youngest son, Steve Holland. Steve had seen the
article I wrote for the LincolnDailyNews.com about Mark buzzing Lincoln.
We exchanged emails for a while about Mark and my father's friendship and a war
experience Mark told dad when he visited us on his return.
The pictures appearing in Paul Gleason's book,
Lincoln: a Pictorial History, were given to him by Marcella, Mark's
wife. I learned this spring that Marcella died this past May of cancer.
Steve Holland assured me that Marcella had read and enjoyed my story about Mark
Respond to Stan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I loved his pic from the bar in the old
Hotel Lincoln. If it was post WWII (and I have every reason to believe it
was) -- it had to have been a very small window in time before Saunders Devine and
Tom Walsh [4th from the left] (two confessed "naturalized citizens" after their
25 consecutive years of local residence) took up their reserved seats on the
front (near in the pic) corner of that bar. Both were WWII veterans who took up
residence here after the resolution that conflict."
As a member of the LCHS
alums' online community, Gwen Lisk Koda asked whether Fred had any information
about Mr. Walsh. In response, Fred sent along the following memoir and
photo of Mr. Walsh:
"I became acquainted with Tom while I was still in HS.
I'm not sure of the circumstances of the first meeting but the many that
followed were welcomed by me as Tom was surely one of the most interesting
people I have ever met. He was at once not only a practitioner at law, but
also a student of literature, music, history, chemistry and most of all the
human condition. He introduced me to the works of Ambrose Bearce and H.L.
Mencken -- not the sort I had ever encountered in HS.
The following was pulled quickly from a Mencken site on the net -- offered only
for insight on Tom if you are not familiar with Mencken.
'We live in a land of abounding quackeries, and if we
do not learn how to laugh we succumb to the melancholy disease which afflicts
the race of viewers-with-alarm... In no other country known to me is life
as safe and agreeable, taking one day with another, as it is in These States.
Even in a great Depression few if any starve, and even in a great
war the number who suffer by it is vastly surpassed by the number who fatten on
it and enjoy it. Thus my view of my country is predominantly tolerant and
amiable. I do dot believe in democracy, but I am perfectly willing to admit that
it provides the really really amusing form of government ever endured by
According to the lore -- Tom had been at
various times: a professional football player, professional baseball player,
umpire for "big league" baseball, AND also an officer in WWII who had
functioned at a high level in the Manhattan Project -- primarily acting (in
his words) as a courier between Stagg Field and the TVA installation. I offer
none of this as fact -- but make the list to emphasize his skill as a raconteur.
In listening to Tom's stories -- it never occurred to question his veracity. I was
given to understand his undergraduate (and/or graduate) training had been in
chemistry -- which could have explained his involvement with the Manhattan
All the while Tom lived
in Lincoln, his wife resided in Macon County. I had known him years
before I ever knew he had a wife. In fact, I found out about the wife
when I ran into Tom at a Lincoln Hall Theater (Chambana) performance of HMS Pinafore where he was accompanied by a
daughter (or two--memory fades) which led me to ask about "where" she/they had
come from. It was in his much later years that I (one time only) met his
wife. She was in charge of cleaning up his "studio" (read office -- a term
he never used to refer to it) for the first, last and only time that was ever
Lincoln Attorney Thomas Walsh
(Photo by Larry Shroyer from the 1950s)
I believe divorce was
never a question -- Catholics didn't do that -- and it is my belief Notre Dame
was his alma mater and he sang in the choir at St. Pat's every week.
I recall Tom relating to my father-in-law how the "lost
was now found." He had been unable for some time to locate his Oxford Unabridged
Dictionary. It was on his desktop. On my first visit to his studio -- I
followed the "path" through the accumulated piles of documents, legal tomes,
files and miscellany to the second room of the studio. There -- he cleared a
chair for me to sit and he remained standing the whole time. I had gone there to
get a pleading he was to file in a case I was involved in -- and he informed me he
would type it up while I waited. I found that a curious statement as I
didn't see a typewriter anywhere. After moving some more piles of papers, files
etc., -- there it was -- an IBM selectric -- front and center on his desk. He was
quite accomplished with the two-index-finger method of typing.
I shared many pleasant hours with Tom in places where
"libations" could be had. The Hotel Lincoln was one of his
favorites -- although he often found himself standing at the bar in Dehner's (Heinie&Poopie's--not
Cork's). When you walked in -- you knew Tom was there. He smoked
Picayune cigarettes (which Pfau's Drugstore ordered in especially for him) and
there was no mistaking the "bouquet." He told me and I
tried -- they were like eating Limburger -- if you smoked them (they were a very
mild cigarette) you didn't smell them. My wife put her foot down with my
Gwen mentioned The Mikado. There were those years in my early life
when there was a Community Theater group. The more recent version (I
did participate for a few years in the 70's) is not a continuation but a
resurrection. Both then and now -- the success of such enterprises
depends on a great deal of volunteer work from some very energetic people.
My ceasing to participate was a combination of loss of energy and a jealous
regard for how I would spend my free time. In the 50's many of
the energetic volunteers were also talented. That is not to suggest
the current version lacks talent -- it just seems they had a larger group to
draw from back then.
I believe I mentioned Tom and Saunders Devine in a
previous email. They both settled in Lincoln about the same time and swore
you had to be a resident for 25 consecutive years before the "locals" would stop
referring to you as a foreigner and consider you a naturalized citizen. That was
one of the threads they shared. Voice was another. Saunders had
performed professionally (on/off Broadway I don't know) prior to coming to
settle in his wife's hometown. Both were part of the Community Theater of
As noted previously, when a jpg has an LBS as part of
the moniker -- the pic is scanned from the Shroyer archives at the Lincoln
Route 66 had its
famous (and infamous) taverns and bars from Coonhound Johnny's to the
Tropics, the Blu-Inn, and the Logan Lanes Bowling Alley. Downtown Lincoln also had
its bars of distinction, with a few depicted here. Besides the tap room of the Hotel Lincoln, others
included the Illinois Tavern, the "L," and the Empire Tavern.
A curious fact emerges from looking at the photos: Some brands of beer
have disappeared along with the taverns.
Illinois Tavern Flanked by Two Other Sangamon Street Businesses, with the
World-Famous Humongous Ball of String in Dutz's Window
(Photo provided by D.D. Welch with caption by Norm
Note the brick pavement that characterized
Lincoln's downtown streets of the Route 66 era.
36.5: Inside the Illinois
(Photo from Gleason, Lincoln:
A Pictorial History, p. 64)
reads, "The Illinois Tavern was located at 111 South Sangamon Street and was
owned by Grover Field. It was also the location of the Illinois Hotel
and the Cigar Store. Grover's [grand]daughter, Susan L. Fuhrer, currently
operates the establishment, called the Blue Dog Inn. The unique metal
ceiling remains in place. The building was located in the block which
was known as 'Dutch Row' when the buildings were first erected" (p. 64).
responds to the paragraph above (8-2003):
"My guess on
the Illinois Hotel (Tavern whatever--now the BlueDog) bartender would be
that--If it is Grover Field--he is probably daddy to Bobby Field (who I have
known for years--used to play a trombone in the Legion Band) and Bobby Field
is daddy to Sue who now owns/operates the Blue Dog. I say Bobby because
that's what my dad always called him. He is Robert. . . ."
36.6: The Blue Dog Inn
(Blue-and-White Striped Awning) on Historic Sangamon Street
(Leigh Henson photo, 12-01)
Blue Dog Inn Web site at
The "L" Tavern at
Broadway and Chicago Streets
(Photo in Gleason,
Lincoln: Pictorial History, p. 23)
The Empire Tavern on Chicago Street, with Hamms Beer Sign Overhanging
(Photo provided by D.D. Welch)
Photo 36.7 shows an
interurban stopped for passengers. The Alton & Chicago (GM&O) depot
was to the left of the interurban car. The depot served both lines
apparently. Photo 36.7 also shows one of the glorious five-globed
streetlights of the early 20th century -- installed circa 1913 -- and a Griesedieck beer sign above the
cut-away corner entrance to the "L" tavern. Was the "L" for the shape
of the long side and shorter front or for "Lincoln" or both? This
building later housed Vic and Geraldine Thudium's Lincoln Office Supply
36.9: Wall Art
Surviving from the Past and Naming Three Things Gone from Lincoln: Sinky's, the 121, and Griesedieck Bros. Beer
(Photo provided by Fred Blanford)
36.10: Wall Art
the Wall Dogs in 2004
(Photo from The Courier of Lincoln, Ill.)
Note that the 2004 version has omitted Sinky's Tavern and made some other
modifications. Perhaps the next time around Sinky's can be restored.
The location of the 121 Tavern sign is 515 Broadway on the east side of
Lincolnite Attorney Warren Peter's office.
36.11: Original, Premium, and
(Ad from Lincoln Evening Courier,
April 2, 1953, p. 5)
A Rare Neighborhood Tavern
Lincoln, Illinois, has
seen dozens of neighborhood "mom and pop" grocery stores come and go, but
Lincoln has never had very many neighborhood taverns, probably because of
Lincoln's small size. Most of the taverns were downtown.
The photo at the right
shows an exception--a contemporary neighborhood tavern in the 1200 block of
north McLean Street. In the 1930s, this place was owned by Fred Gardner.
This photo was taken
mid-day in June of 2004, and by the several vehicles in the parking lot, it
looks as if business is good. As I note in other places in this Web site,
sometimes the past surprises and delights (as well as informs and "nostaligizes"). The photo
shows lighted beer signs for Stagg, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Old Style. Pabst
is still brewed, but I'm not sure about Stagg and Old Style. Like other
signs shown in this Web site, these signs, then, are remnants of a lost
North Lincoln Neighborhood Tavern
For more information
about north Lincoln's social history, see
4. Introduction to
the Social & Economic History of Lincoln, Illinois
A Tribute to Robert Wilson (LCHS
Old Milwaukee Tavern and the Maple Club
During Prohibition (1919-1933),
"the hey day of the 'moonshiners' and the 'bootleggers' and making of home
brew and 'White Mule' became a way of life for 14 years. Along came
the 'road houses' in the rural areas: "Andy's Corner' south on old
route 4 [my father, Darold Henson, showed exactly where it was]; Lee's
place west on the Fifth Street Road; the Maple Club on the Pulaski Road"
(Larry B. Shroyer, in Paul Beaver, History of Logan County 1982, p.
Francine Jereb's Mother Standing in the Door of the Old Milwaukee Tavern on
Broadway-Route 121, Far East Side of Lincoln,
(Photo provided by Francine Jereb,
Lincoln Community High School, Class of 1954)
at my request for information about the photos of 36.13 and 36.14
responded by email on April 14, 2003, with the following information:
"I came by the picture of the Old Milwaukee because my parents and I came
from Milwaukee in about 1939. I was 3 years old at the time. My father
and mother started the Old Milwaukee Tavern, and I am sure it was named
after my father's hometown. My mother was from Lincoln and moved to
Milwaukee years before, met my father, got married and when my
grandparents got into financial straits, my parents came to Lincoln to
bail them out. In exchange they received the building that was to become
the Old Milwaukee.
The building had been built originally to house an auto repair shop that was to be my uncle's shop. He failed at the business, and since my
grandfather had gone in debt to build it, he found himself in serious
debt. My father died shortly after coming to Lincoln (early 194) to
start this venture leaving my mother to run the business which she did
until she, too, died in 1947. She is the lady you see standing in the
doorway of the building when the picture was taken. By whom, I do not
know. When was probably in the early 40's. Same with the Maple Club. My
mom was friends with the owner of the Maple Club.
I don't know what his real first name was as I only knew him as Bubby
Brelsford. There were good times early on.
Pinballs were still in the
bars. The Old Milwaukee was the first bar in town to have Schlitz on
tap. That was a big deal then. The man who was responsible for putting
the pinballs in the local establishments then was Slick Foutch. Don't
know what his first name was either. I spent a lot of time in the bar as
we lived in one room in the building for some time. What else can I tell
you? It was different."
I told Fred that I have more pics in the basement. Just have to find the
time to go thru them. My mother was notorious for taking and collecting
pictures. Mostly of vets who patronized the place.
Maple Club on Route 121, East of Lincoln
(Photo provided by Francine Jereb.
Respond to Francine at
Mr. Gleason's book says that the Maple Club dates to the Prohibition and Big
Band Era and was the site "where all political dinners in Lincoln were held.
A large house which once stood on the premises has been removed. Rumor
had it that at one time a tunnel connected the stage and the house" (p. 62).
36.15: The Maple Club on
Route 121, Southeast of Lincoln
(Photo from Gleason, Lincoln: A Pictorial History, p. 62)
Of the various Lincoln-area roadhouses in the Roaring Twenties, the
Maple Club remains as a historic structure with renovations and can be
rented for parties and other special occasions.
Enlargement of Ad for
Maple Club in Our Times, Winter, 2002 (inside back cover)
According to Sanford Patterson, Logan County had its share of bootleggers.
Patterson quotes an old local joke that said "there were so many bootleggers
in Logan County, they had to wear badges so they would not sell to each
other" ("The Prohibition Era in Logan County" in Beaver, p. 26).
Prohibition brought gangsters from Chicago to sell beer and liquor to local
bootleggers: "The local bootleggers did not like it, but they became a
part of the Chicago based Capone mob" ("The Prohibition Era in Logan County"
in Beaver, p. 26).
Post-Prohibition Gang-Related Armed Robberies at
the Maple Club
Early in 1947, gangs robbed the Maple Club at gun point twice within a few
weeks. The first made the Courier headline:
Headline of February 4, 1947
The Courier ran the following: "A gang of six to 10 bandits, each
masked and each with a gun and a blackjack, took over the Maple Club, a
half-mile east of Lincoln on State Route 121, shortly after midnight Monday
night, tied up 15 or 20 patrons or employees in the old club house and
escaped with an undetermined amount of cash and jewelry. Rough estimates
placed the loss in excess of $2,500 to $3,000.
First word of the holdup was learned when "Bud" Sparling and Bill
Przykopanski, drivers of the Lincoln Cab Company who had gone in the club to
pick up a fare about 2 a.m. Tuesday and were picked off by the bandits
loosened their bonds and came into the police station to report to Floyd
Kennedy, police radio operator, at 2:30 a.m. [italics original].
When Sheriff C.L. Kief and Deputy Sheriff Joe Blickem arrived at the club
most of the patrons who had been tied had been freed and departed. Albert
Jones, state highway patrolman, investigated.
Sheriff Kief, after an investigation, said it was his opinion that at least
10 men were in the gang. Questioning employees at the club, he said he
learned that five men bound the hands and feet of the men and women
patrons and employees and laid them on the floor after which they frisked
them for money and jewelry. Several wrist watches and rings were said to
have been taken.
Members of the gang were rough and one is reported to have hit Harry
Goldsmith, a patron, on the head and another to have slugged a Chicago man
with a gun [italics original].
Herbert C. Wilmert, club employee, reported that he was robbed of $1,000 in
cash, the "bank roll" of Harry Brelsford, proprietor of the club, as well as
$125 of his own money. Several of the bandits invaded the Wilmert apartment
upstairs, bound his wife and took a diamond ring and wrist watch from her.
The bandits are said to have failed to recognize Brelsford, tied him up and
put him along with the rest of the victims and overlooked getting a valuable
diamond ring off his finger. He had turned the ring so the stone was inside
and Mrs. Herman Ireland, customers, are also reported to have saved their
valuables. Ireland stuffed his watch in a sock and his wife saved her
billfold by hiding it in her blouse. One patron is said to have saved his
billfold containing $350 by tucking it in the inside the top of his
of the gang is reported to have threatened Jack Roberts, an employee of the
club, when he told them he didn't have any money.
Despite apparent nervousness, the gang took its time in the raid and was
believed to have been in the club more than an hours.
A Decatur couple missed a chicken dinner which had just been served when the
gang entered the place with drawn guns.
Bud Sparling on going into the club was caught and tied and one of the
bandits then went out to the parking lot."
Second Armed Robbery of the
Maple Club in 1947
"Five Bandits Raid Maple Club; Get Over $300 Cash" (Courier title of
armed men, well dressed and unmasked, held up the Maple Club 1 1/2 miles
south of Lincoln on Route 121, at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, and escaped with
between $300 and $400 in change and $10 bills. The bandits entered both of
the Maple Club buildings. This is the second hold-up at the Club in less
than two months.
According to reports to Sheriff C.L. Kief and Deputy Sheriff Clair W. Smith,
who investigated, the five robbers drove into the club grounds just as
Raymond Sengotta, an employee, was carrying a bag of change from the old
club to the new, preparatory to opening for business.
They forced Sengotta into the car, took the money from him, and while one
man stood guard, two of the bandits entered the old club where most of the
activity took place, and two entered the new club [italics original].
Flourishing their revolvers, the bandits, who had been drinking, lined up
the employees and Harry Brelsford, proprietor, and searched them. One of the
men was reported to have asked Brelsford for his diamond ring, which
received publicity when it was missed by ten masked bandits in the Feb. 3
holdup. There were no patrons in either building.
Brelsford no longer wears the diamond, having placed it in a bank safety
deposit soon after the other robbery. When he failed to produce the ring,
one of the robbers is said to have struck him over the head with a revolver
and then fired a couple of bullets into the floor.
Another of the bandits became angry when one of the bartenders had no money,
and struck him across the face.
The men opened the cash registers but did not molest the slot machines.
Before leaving, they cut the telephone and light wires.
Forcing Brelsford to go with them, the bandits left the old club and went
outside. There they told Brelsford to 'get over there behind that shed.'
As he started to obey their order, one of the bandits said, 'and we mean
in a hurry.' Then shots were fired into the cinders around his feet to 'make
The men re-entered their sedan car, which was described to be new and either
very dark blue or black, and sped south on Route 121.
Employees told Sheriff Kief that the man who was apparently leader of the
gang, answered to the name of 'Blackie.' He was described to be about 5 feet
7 inches tall, of medium build, square shouldered, and about 45 years of
age. He was said to have a 'hard look' and was drunk. He took a quart of
whiskey with him as he left the club.
Description of Others
Another of the men was said to be about 5 feet, 10 inches tall, weighing
around 175 to 180 pounds, and with sandy hair. He was wearing a light tan
overcoat, a tan sport shirt with no tie, dark trousers, and a hat. He was
the bandit who struck the bartender.
One of the men was said to be 'an old fellow' wearing a black overcoat. He
had black hair, weighs around 140 pounds, and is about 5 feet, 7 inches
fourth bandit wore a 'bluish' suit. He was said to be short and to weigh
around 150 pounds. He wears glasses and has a thin-lined mustache.
Descriptions of the men varied a great deal.
No trace had been found of the men Friday morning."
"Coonhound Johnny" Schwenoha's Roadhouse on Route 66
The most celebrated figure of the Prohibition era in Logan County was John Schwenoha (pronounced schwin-uh-haw), known as Coonhound Johnny. William Maxwell mentions that during
Prohibition his father had "bought rotgut whiskey from a bootlegger named
Coonhound Johnny. . ." (So Long, See You Tomorrow, p. 18).
introductory note: Several years ago when I published the first
information on this page about Coonhound Johnny, I wondered whether he
became legendary because he may have been a sort of Robin Hood folk
hero, but it was not until after I added Joyce Ogden Gibson's material
(early in March, 2009) to
this page that I got some information from Dave Armbrust, LCHS Noble Class
of 1960, that offered some testimony supporting the Robin Hood folk hero
aspect of the Coonhound Johnny legend. Dave emailed me this
interesting/important testimony on March 3, 2009, and I gratefully quote it
Coonhound Johnny story from my Father (Raymond Armbrust)-- My dad worked
for his Uncle Fred Armbrust in his grocery store and on several occasions
when my dad was present Coonhound would appear and request a basket of
groceries be delivered to some address where a family was having a hard
time. 'Don't tell them who sent them just deliver the groceries.' Harry Gehlbach of Gehlbach Hardware (we attended church with the Gehlbachs) had
similar stories of Coonhound coming in to buy either a cook stove or a
heating stove and requesting it be delivered without fanfare to someone with
a houseful of kids and suffering through a bad winter. It is no wonder many
of the locals looked the other direction."
Then Dave emailed me another amazing Coonhound story: "Disclaimer: I
personally heard this story from one of the people involved but hesitate to
keep getting other folks involved. The following ramblings kind of set the
On Sunday mornings after church my dad and I would go to a local drug store
on Pulaski street (427 I believe) next door to Bushell's tavern (corner of
Pulaski & Kickapoo). As a kid I pronounced the name Firebrackers when in
reality I believe it was spelled Feurbacher. We would pick up a Chicago
newspaper, medications and other supplies (my first razor) among other
things before going home to one of Mom's wonderful Sunday dinners.
On one occasion Howard Bushell (tavern owner) came in and for whatever
reason the subject of Coonhound Johnny came up, and Howard told this story:
Coonhound came to Howard and asked if he might have access to the room over
the tavern for a couple of days (room was used by various unions for
meetings). It seems he had received news via the grapevine that someone was
going to rob the First National Bank across the street. According to Howard,
Coonhound sat upstairs for a day or two with a high-powered rifle keeping
watch on the bank. Howard's take on this was that Johnny didn't want the
Feds coming into Lincoln over a bank robbery and stumbling over his
Nothing ever happened at the bank. Is this true? I don't know but I heard
it first hand. . . . I do not know where fact becomes legend or legend
Email Dave at
(Use the following link to see Lincoln-IL-area photos of vehicles from the
1920 Coonhound Johnny bootlegging era that Dave contributed to this
community history Web site:
Besides owning and operating a roadhouse on Route 66 just north of Lincoln
(near the present interchange of Business I-55 and I-55), Johnny was a
long-time breeder of high-quality hunting 'coon' dogs. He kept the dog
pens behind the roadhouse. Even before that, he kept dog kennels behind his
home on Ottawa Street (address in Polk's
Lincoln City Directory 1934-35, p. 155). Thus, Mr. Schwenoha gained his
nickname. (Scroll to photos of him and his dogs below.)
Many locals knew Coonhound Johnny as the owner of the roadhouse seen in the
photos below. (John's son, Vince, known as "Little Coonhound," pursued a somewhat different business
career when he founded the Tropics restaurant in 1950.) The caption for the two photos of
Mr. Coonhound's roadhouse reproduced here from Paul Gleason's book says,
"After Prohibition in 1933, 'Coonhound Johnny' built his roadhouse
establishment north of Lincoln along the Route 66."
According to Sanford Patterson, the local "conventional wisdom" was that
Coonhound Johnny was the Chicago mob's organizer of bootleggers in Logan
County. Why was Coonhound chosen for this role? My father,
Darold Henson, said that Coonhound was a sociable, clever guy who knew the
hot entertainment spots in central Illinois where he could take his big-city
business associates to amuse and impress them.
Most likely, these places included Havana, Illinois where gambling was
rampant, and such nearby backwater
rustic retreats as Goofy Ridge on the Illinois River. Goody Ridge! Now
there's a place for you. If you have never been there, you are missing
a most curious adventure. Back around 1980 I went there to an auction
because I was intent on buying an old oak ice box. Before the auction,
my ex-wife and I sat in a local bar -- the community had many more bars than
churches -- and had a beer, listening to the locals' banter. I recall
one elderly lady complaining about the "stroke in the head" she had
suffered. PS I did buy the old oak ice box and spent many hours
refinishing it, but not nearly as many days as I spent refinishing an
ancient, oak horseshoe-shaped bar that came from a tavern in Kingston Mines,
south of Pekin on the Illinois River. The bottom of that bar was badly
stained black from the boots of countless coal miners who had bellied up. But I digress.
Back to Prohibition in Logan County. Larry Shroyer describes law
enforcement's attempts to control bootlegging: "Hardly a week passed
without law enforcement 'cracking down' on stills and bootleggers. One
such raid was made by Sheriff A.G. Alberts in 1920 and the confiscated corn
liquor, in 55-gallon drums gathered from numerous hideouts in the county,
was brought to the courthouse and covered the concrete walk from the steps
to the street" (Beaver, p. 13).
Shroyer continues: "Another raid staged by Federal Agents and local
officers on 17 places led to the arrest of 17 men on September 16, 1924.
Two bootleggers, Coonhound Johnny Schwenoha and Dave Hobert, were jailed
after resisting the 'Feds.' U.S. President Calvin Coolidge gave
Schwenoha a pardon and he was released from jail due to ill health, the only
'bootlegger' ever to get a Presidential pardon" (Beaver, p. 13).
The prevailing view is that bootlegging gangsters killed those who failed to
cooperate and comply with their impositions. This social history gives
rise to certain questions: were murders and other crimes committed in
Logan County and central Illinois as a result of bootlegging and mob
activities? Seems I recall a gambling "mover and shaker" from Havana,
Illinois, named something like Fay Raleigh (sp?), who disappeared one day,
along with his new [1953?] Cadillac, and both have never been found despite
numerous searches of gravel pits and strip mine pits in Fulton County.
Did Mr. Coonhound and his employees participate in the "strong arm"
activities associated with bootlegging? Or, did they take a more
genteel approach (higher moral road), leaving the unpleasant physical
methods to their big-city associates? I have always wondered whether there
were any murders in Logan County associated with bootlegging.
36.18: Well-Heeled and Well-Wheeled
Big City Businessmen Visiting Central Illinois
(Photo courtesy of Joyce Ogden Gibson of Monrovia, CA)
Johnny's Roadhouse on Route 66 North of Lincoln, Illinois
(Photo from Gleason, Lincoln: A Pictorial History, p. 179. Notice both Schlitz and Budweiser
beer signs. Clearly, this was a day and age before exclusive marketing
agreements.) In 1947, the
roadhouse was moved downtown to Clinton Street across from Washington Park
and became the first recreation center for high school youth in Lincoln. . .
" (p. 179).
36.20: Coonhound Johnny's
(Photo from Gleason, Lincoln:
A Pictorial History, p. 179)
bartender, drinking on the job, hoists a cold Schlitz or Bud. Is he even old enough to
Coonhound Johnny, His Canine
Companions, and Their Trophies
In February, 2009, Joyce Ogden
Gibson of CA provided two rare photos of Coonhound Johnny found in her
family papers, and she sent them to me for publication here. Respond to
Joyce at email@example.com.
Johnny, Canine Friends,
and Their Shared Trophies
Click on above photos to access larger sizes. Various pelts include those of
raccoons. Photos are courtesy of Joyce Ogden
Gibson, LCHS Class of 1959, now of Monrovia, CA.
Hunting Companions with Trophy Fox
(Photo courtesy of Joyce Ogden Gibson)
Click above photo for larger version suitable for
36.24: Dog Tag
Denoting Proud Source
A memorabilia gift to Leigh Henson gratefully received from Bob Olson of
Springfield, IL. The tag is heavy metal measuring 4" x 1 1/2". When
I asked Bob how he came to know about Coonhound Johnny, he replied: "when I
was in high school at LCHS (1973--1977), people like Thomas Beaver [an
English teacher] still talked about him, and many people slightly older than
me talked about the old "Rec," which of course had been Coonhound's
roadhouse & tavern. Email Bob Olson at
Jerry Ogden: Coonhound Johnny's Dog Customer and Hunting Companion
My email correspondent and good friend, Joyce Ogden Gibson (LCHS Class of 1959)
of Monrovia, CA,
writes that her father, Jerry Ogden (b. 1910), was a friend and customer of
Coonhound Johnny: "my dad was very vain about his shooting and handling of
dogs. I know he always bought his pups from Coonhound Johnny, and his name
was heard in our house from forever. My dad and Johnny used to hunt
together. I think there is a pic of my dad, standing with a rifle and a man
on his haunches over to the left. I imagine that is Johnny. My dad always
trained his own dogs. Lady, the white hunting dog in a few pictures, was
uncannily intelligent. She was also my baby-sitter when I was tiny."
As the photos below indicate, Joyce's mother, Jennie (b. 1909) also enjoyed
hunting. James and Jennie Ogden also owned and operated the J & J Tavern on
Pulaski Street in downtown Lincoln during the 1930s and 1940s, as depicted
later on this page.
36.25: Jerry Ogden
with New Car
36.26: Jennie Ogden
Dog Lady and Pheasant
photos of Mr. and Mrs. Ogden immediately above and below are
courtesy of their daughter, Joyce Ogden Gibson.
36.27: Jerry Ogden
Unidentified Hunting Companion
Ogden with Lady
36.29: Joyce Ogden
Gibson with Lady, "My Babysitter," October, 1942
(Photo courtesy of Joyce; respond to her at
Keep scrolling to later sections for more information and photos from Joyce
about her parents' business activities.
Rte. 66 Pig-Hip Restaurant Owner Ernie Edwards Remembers Coonhound
Johnny and Al Capone
William Kaszynski wrote a biography of Ernie Edwards titled Pig-Hips on
Route 66, and the book is based on interviews with Mr. Edwards. In this
biography, Ernie tells of his encounters with Coonhound Johnny and Al Capone, and I quote
that account below with the generous permission of Mr. Kaszynkski:
character that Ernie became involved with was a man known as 'Coon Hound
Johnny.' He often wore a brown hunting hat and was apparently given his
nickname because he liked to hunt raccoons at night with his four very
ferocious hunting dogs. However, Johnny had hobbies other than huntin' coon,
namely moon shining. Johnny had an ingenious scheme to keep from getting
caught by federal revenue agents that kept him in business for years. He
drove an old pickup truck that he outfitted to haul corn whisky undetected.
Johnny cut a hole in the bed of the truck with enough space to fit eight
5-gallon tin cans of illegal liquor. He covered the hole with a canvas tarp
and placed four wooden cages to cover the hole with the whisky cans. He
drove around with one dog inside of each cage that he built himself of
wooden slats. He made the cages so that the slats were just wide enough for
the dogs to be able to poke their heads out to deter anyone who approached.
He covered the cages with a tarp and was stopped on several occasions by
revenue agents who patrolled busy highways such as Route 66. Each time they
attempted to inspect his cargo, the dogs would snap at them and the agents
would let Johnny proceed."
"Johnny lived in Lincoln and would drive south approximately 60 miles to
Macoupin County to an area know as Macoupin Bottoms to pick up moonshine
whisky and transport it back to Logan County. Macoupin Bottoms is in the
vicinity of Carlinville, on Illinois State Route 4, which was the early
alignment for U.S. 66 from 1926 to 1930. Times were still tough even in the
1940s and people had to resort to almost any means to earn a dollar. Farmers
sometimes only got ten cents for a bushel of corn and a few corn farmers
found that trafficking in 'white lightning' was a lucrative way of making
some extra income, so they made corn whisky and sold it to 'runners' like
Coon Hound Johnny. The terrain in central Illinois is basically flat
prairie, while the land in Macoupin County is honeycombed with hills and
hollows, making it an ideal location for the moonshiners to hide their
whisky stills. One night, two agents stopped Coon Hound Johnny in the Macoupin
Bottoms as he was heading north back to Lincoln. They asked Johnny what he
was doing in the area and he replied, 'Coon hunting.' The agents noticed
several rifles in the pickup, which Johnny always kept in the truck to
complete his disguise. They lifted back the canvas tarp and asked, 'Are
these your dogs?' Almost immediately, the dogs began barking and one lunged
at one of the agents. The frightened agents left Johnny alone and let him
proceed on his journey. Coon Hound Johnny's business went on for years and
he was never caught."
note: earlier on this Web page, I quote Larry Shroyer's account of how
Coonhound was once apprehended, jailed, but later pardoned by President
Calvin Coolidge because of Coonhound's poor health. Coonhound lived to be
only 48 as indicated on his tombstone in Holy Cross Cemetery just south of
Lincoln. For a photo of Coonhound's stone showing his dates, scroll to
11. Route 66 Map
& Photos Showing New and Old Union Cemeteries (William Maxwell family stones)
and Lincoln Memorial Park (site of Kickapoo Indian Village
and of Illinois's Largest Chautauqua Village)].
was known for his pleasant and easy-going disposition and got along well
with the local law enforcement. He did favors for them and gave away turkeys
to the chief of policy, the sheriff and other police officers at
Thanksgiving time. Rumor had it that he had paid off the Logan County
Sheriff. He acquired a tavern and installed a few slot machines and had a
regular business supplying slot machines to places like stores and gas
stations. Johnny convinced Ernie to rent a few machines for extra income.
The slots took nickels, dimes and quarters and the profits, especially the
quarter machines, helped Ernie pay his bills. Slot machines were legal in
the U.S. until the late 1940s until most states (except Nevada) outlawed
them. They were declared illegal in Illinois around 1947, but Coon Hound
stayed in business. Ernie hadn't heard of the change in the law and Johnny
continued to stop by the Pig-Hip once a week to collect $2.00 for each
machine. Ernie thought that he was paying a license fee and later read an
article in the Chicago Tribune newspaper describing police raids on places
with slot machines."
"Coon Hound curried the favor of some local law
enforcement authorities and was able to tip off his customers if he learned
of an impending police raid. One night, Coon Hound called Ernie and told him that
the state police were about to make some raids in the area. [Note: during
the administration of Governor Greene, there were rumors of corruption in
the Illinois State Police, so someone in that force may have tipped off
local authorities when raids were scheduled. Governor Stevenson reformed the
State Police and conducted raids.] He told Ernie
to hide his machines, so Ernie moved them to his basement. Soon thereafter,
several squad cards swept through the front drive of the restaurant but
continued south, leaving off one officer. The trooper came in and ordered
everyone not to leave the building and that they were all under 'house
arrest.' He looked around a bit and muttered that he was from Chicago and
had no idea where he was. Confident that the lone trooper wasn't going to be
much of a problem, Ernie decided to play a practical joke. As one of his
regular customers was sitting quietly at the end of the lunch counter, Ernie
whispered to the trooper, 'See that guy over there? you better watch him.
He's with Capone's outfit.' The trooper put his pistol on the counter and
everyone froze. However, the trooper ended up leaving without making any
arrests but confiscated two 'punch boards,' another gambling item that Ernie
purchased for 37 cents each (they were similar to today's 'pull tabs.'). The
trooper was picked up as the squad cars headed back north and taken back to
Chicago. After the incident, Ernie called Johnny and said he wanted no more
to do with the slot machine business. Johnny calmly told Ernie that he'd
take care of everything and arranged for a laundry truck to stop by and pick
up the machines."
"The loss of the slot machines meant a loss of steady
income, so Ernie had to go back to earning a living 'the hard way.' Johnny
and Ernie remained friends, however, and he could always count on Johnny for
a short-term loan if he needed any money."
[Leigh's note: the State Police raid referred to above could not have been
among the most famous State Police raids conducted in 1950 as ordered by Governor
Stevenson because according to Coonhound's headstone he died in 1944.]
association with Coon Hound Johnny led to his meeting one of the most
notorious criminals of the century. The Chicago gangster, Alfonso 'Al'
Capone, was released from prison in 1939 and lived out his final years at
his luxurious estate in south Florida. Most people believed that he left his
life of crime after leaving prison, particularly since he was suffering from
the advanced stages of syphilis. Ernie heard that Capone went to Hot
Springs, Arkansas, to visit the steam baths on occasion. Ernie traveled to
Hot Springs hoping to meet Capone but never found him. In any case, 'Big Al'
still made it back to Illinois once in a while for some illegal activity. On
several occasions, Coon Hound Johnny called upon Ernie to take him and
Capone to Springfield. Ernie didn't ask any questions and didn't know the
manner of Capone's business but nevertheless acted as their driver several
times. Ernie would drive to Coon Hound's home five miles north of Lincoln to
pick the two up and take them to the Cloverleaf Restaurant on the corner of
Fourth and Jefferson in downtown Springfield. He was instructed to drop the
pair off on the corner and pick them up in a half hour. These trips seemed
to coincide with the state legislature's regular sessions."
Coon Hound rode in the back seat of Ernie's car and hunkered down for much
of the journey to keep from being recognized. Capone had aged considerably
since his gangster days and appeared frail. He was usually very quiet,
dressed plainly and always wore a felt hat that he kept pulled down almost
over his eyes like most hoodlums of the time. He didn't display his wealth
and was quite congenial, except once in a while he'd get angry and pound his
fist. While en route to Springfield, they often stopped at a Standard
filling station in Lincoln on the southwestern corner of the intersection of
Route 66 and Illinois State Route 121. [Also, Illinois Route 10,
intersecting from east-west, and this intersection is the famous "Four
Corners."] A family named Werth owned the station and they lived in a house
about 40 feet behind the building. They had a pear tree in the yard and one
time, a couple of Capone's men tried to pick a few pears. A woman, probably
the owner's wife, came out and chased them away with a butcher knife. Other
than that, most trips to Springfield were uneventful. Today, Werth's is an
oil changing and lubrication business. . . ." [pp. 63-65).
36.30: Standard Filling Station
Referred to in Coonhound-Capone Anecdote Above
(Photo courtesy of Dave Armbrust,
LCHS Class of 1960)
Reminiscence from John Dean Wilham, Herb Ayers, and J. Williams
Note: Thanks to Joyce Ogden Gibson for forwarding Leigh the following
From: John Wilham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 6:16 PM
Subject: Fw: I was too young to remember
Note to interested parties. I am John D.
Wilham and do genealogical research for my own enjoyment. Coonhound Johnny
has always been an interest as both my wife and I are from Logan County
originally. To give you some idea
of my interests, I was born on
May 28, 1939 in the front
bedroom of a farmhouse about 1/2 mile north of Lake Fork on the "Primm Road"
(which still exists). I went through the school system in Mt. Pulaski, and
operated two businesses for over 35 years. One, a construction company, the
other a design and sales company. Our main focus was on building and
maintaining inland river ports (barge loading/unloading). I am related to many
families in Logan County. Surnames such as Wilham, Wines, Lucas, Copeland,
Erlenbush, Ayers, Phillips, Crozier, Green, Kilhoffer, Shanle, Dill, etc. My
genealogy database is well over 3,500 people.
My wife, Sara Lynn
Lolling Wilham, grew up on farms about 2 to 3 miles from "Tom's Lodge". Her
father's first farm was demolished in a tornado about 1950, and they took
shelter in the chicken house (I think I have the Lincoln Courier from the
following day). Sara's father, Henry Simon Lolling, worked one of the Scully
farms nearly all his life.
Leigh, certainly, you
can utilize any material I sent. Some of the material, of course, is
"hearsay" passed down or witnessed by me when I was very young. Leigh, thank
you for the "Coonhound Johnny" history. Many people in Lincoln or Hartsburg
had never heard of Coonhound. There are still many people alive who could
add to this history I'm sure. My cousin, Keith Wilham (85) of Mt. Pulaski
has an excellent memory and might be a good one to interview.
Most of the population were working people
and during WWII did enjoy a few beers or other drinks at many colorful local
bars. In the letter I failed to mention "The Maple Club" and "Harry's and
Marys". In the text of this letter to a relative (Herb Ayers) who resides in
an assisted living facility in California and is E-mail and computer
literate (born 02/December/1919). Besides my first cousin once removed, he
is my friend. The Lincoln Courier article sparked the following E-mail to
When I was about 5 years old, my dad took me
out to Coonhound Johnnie's home and bought a 50 lb sack of black market
sugar. This must have been 1944 as Coonhound died in 1944 and had I been any
younger I doubt that I could have remembered. One of the things that sparked
my memory is out front of Coonhound's cabin was a little shed full of cages
of raccoons. I think when a visitor hunter came, that they would release a
coon to get the dogs to run.
I also remember when mom and dad lived on a
small farm near Buffalo Hart, that "Shavey Mason" worked for the state and
would mow the rt. 54 right of way, putting up his horses in our barn and
staying the night (for which my parents were paid). I remember Dad telling
me that both Shavey and George Mason were "Coonhound Johnnie's" right hand
men. "Coonhound (John Schwenoha). I remember that my mother complained that
Shavey always peed out the upstairs window staining the side of the house.
There was a rumor that "Coonhound's" money
built the "Tropics" in
In 1963, I had sold a grain dryer at Hartsburg
Grain Company. When we started it up, along came George Mason hauling a
wagon load of ear corn pulled with a pair of horses. I guess they were just
opening up their fields and hitched up the horses.
When I was 5 or 6 (1944/1945), my dad and
mom would go dancing at "The Crawdad Hole", down by Dawson, just a few miles
from our farm. One of the things I remember was all the chewing gum stuck
under the tables and the bar. Did you ever go there? I remember that they
had a 4:00AM license. I remember some of the jukebox songs from there ("Bell
Bottom Trousers") ("Sioux City Sue") (Oklahoma Hills), and some of the "big
band" stuff. Do you remember any other popular songs of that era?
Herb, I know you had mentioned that you had
worked for the munitions plant at Illiopolis, IL during that time. I would
be interested in anything you can remember about those times. I also
remember that my parents danced to "big band" music at the "Old Pioneer"
tavern in Lake Fork, IL. Again, at 5 years old, I remember my father digging
the well there. Jobs were hard to find, and the men who were digging the
well made 3 times the money that the workers above made who cranked up and
took away the earthen spoil. Somehow, I remember the drummer's name "Hank
Letterle". I remember that a family named Coats ran the bar for several
years and that their daughter who was in my 3rd grade at Mt. Pulaski passed
into a coma and died of died of unsuspected diabetes.
and Mary's was a busy place during the 1940's, and I remember being there
with my father. It has gone through several owners including David Dinger
and ran as Dinger's place for several years. Davey works at Stahl Furniture
a quarter mile down the road. He may have heard some stories over the years
of that place. I can't confirm it, but I understand that the "Mary" from "Harry's
and Mary's" tended bar at Tom's Lodge for several years. I think her name
was Mary Houchins. "Harry's and Mary's" has reopened under new ownership
recently (it has a Sunday license).
Maybe Herb Ayers, my
nearly 90 year old cousin will have something to add.
One time at "The Old
Pioneer" in Lake Fork, my father and me stopped and we were the only
customers in the place. I was about 5-1/2 and this was 1944. There was one
of those old fashioned punchboards and a male doll as a prize. The board was
about punched out, and after a few "no wins", my dad bought the 32 remaining
punch-outs (these were little paper tickets were "accordianed" to where they
were only about 1/8" square when in the punchboard). NONE OF THEM WERE
WINNERS, so the bartender had to give my father the doll.
When I was 18 to 25, a
couple named Lou & Bev Johnson owned and operated the Tropics. Lou's sister
worked there too. Across the old Route 66 was the "Blue Inn" and I think was
operated by Lou's or Bev's brother....Can't remember his name. I heard at
that time that "Bev" was the grandaughter of Coonhound (whether Coonhound or
Coonhound Jr., I don't know).
Somewhere on route 10
west of Lincoln and off to the south about a quarter mile, a man named
Arthur Park (A.M. Park) hired my father to sink a coalmine shaft. This would
have been about 1953 or 1954, I think. For whatever reason, work was stopped
and never restarted. I also remember that about a half mile west of the
Wurth gas station there was an airplane hanger and a grass landing strip. I
think that the proprietors were named Seaman.
Herb didn't remember
much more than I did, but I had forgotten a couple of other night clubs that
he mentions: The "Subway" at Riverton, IL. Herb mentions "Goofy Ridge" where
I have heard that Al Capone's chums went to hunt ducks and drink the nights
away. I had a belly laugh when I read Herb's last sentence. He is 90 and has
the right to mispell!
JOHN DEAN WILHAM
Friday, March 27, 2009 1:46 PM
Re: Herb: I was too young to remember
i realy enjoyed your mail about all the
bootleggers. i hazve visited all of them when as a tgeenager and just
exploring. i also knew or was told that young coonhoud built tjhe tropics.
he was not like his father in far as the company he kept. we my wife and i
would go to the old pioneer and dance sometimes. i remeber when it burned as
i was on the fire department .one of our favorite places to dance was the
subway at riverside. i remember one nite when we had to leave as it was
their closing time and i ask the bar keep where we could go that would be
open and he said you might try church. we also went to the place near dawson.
it was quite a rundown place and had no indoor facilities. you needed to be
careful where you wsalked as i got pretty muddy out back the crawdad hole.
i've been to goofy ridge one time with johnmartin when we were in havana
duck hunting. the maple club was going great back in my younger days and i
went when i could afford it. didn't have much money then and was going to
lincoln collage. i rember one nite i was coming home fro a dance at the
collageand i driving a 1929 ford coupe. it stalled just in front of the club
i went in and found someone from mt.pulaski and he said he would pull me
home if i had a tow rope. i said that i would find something so i went
across the highway and twisted a piece of barbed wire fro the fence it was
realy cold but i got me and the car home. water in the gas line had frozen.
sorry for all the errors and spelling but i' starting to get old. Herb
Date: Thu, Apr 2, 2009 at 6:30 PM
Subject: T Edward Hickey
Greetings, my grandfather, Ed Hickey, often spoke about Coon hound
Johnny and his silent tracking coon hound. Grandpa said "We wouldn't get the
guns out of the trunk and that dog would have a coon in treed. He (the dog)
wouldn't make a sound until the coon was in the tree." I can remember a
couple of the stories. Maybe not the names, but enough to figure them it
out. One night they were playing cards and one of the players showed up
late. He said he ran into someone. No one asked thought it was talking to an
old friend. They played cards and finally someone asked "Hey, who'd ya run
in to? Reply, "I didn't know who he was. He walked out in front of my car as
I was going down (street north of Pulaski) and ran him over and killed him."
This guy played cards all night didn't say a word. Do you know or do you
know someone that would know anything about Ed Hickey. I think he must have
been something when he was younger. I know he was when he was older. He
raised me, I'd like to know more. Thank you for your time. J Williams
36.31: John Schwenoha Headstone in
Holy Cross Cemetery, Lincoln, Illinois
I stumbled across this headstone while hiking-roaming through Holy Cross
Cemetery. This former bootlegger did not have a long life, but perhaps it
was a happy one. The headstone is located on the west side of the cemetery,
just above the Route 66 cut (ravine) in Cemetery Hill between Holy Cross and Old
Union Cemeteries. His final resting place is an appropriate location because
he drove Route 66 between Lincoln and southern Illinois countless times in
obtaining his contraband product from that part of the state. Also, this
location is near the Salt Creek bottoms, which Coonhound must have hunted in
countless times as well.
Note: Coonhound Johnny's son, Vince, was known as "Little Coonhound,"
and he founded the Tropics restaurant in 1950. Information about the tropics
is found in this site at
Email Discussion of Coonhound
Johnny (email addresses may be obsolete)
Johnny's post-Prohibition roadhouse became the subject of several email exchanges among
Lincoln Community High School alums of mid-20th Century:
Email from Fred Blanford
(b. 1941--d. 2008)
(sent to 160 mid-20th Century LCHS alums on October, 2002):
dividing his site into categories, I figure Arts & Entertainment would
probably be one important group. For all as have moved away, IL does still
participate in "politics as entertainment" -- how else to explain its long
history. The subcategory I wish to deal with today goes back to the late
40's early 50's. My memory is hazy.
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 (my memory recalls) did pay off also if a certain level of
accomplishment was achieved. Since such activities have garnered mixed
press over the years, I dare not name names (individuals or locations) lest
some might to this day be offended. While a chair was too high, a beer case
was about the right height for me to play the machines. Lincoln's
involvement continued into the 60's as I recall reading about the seizure of
a truckload of slots in Lincoln -- reported in a Chicago newspaper while I was
resident in Champaign.
The entertainment/politics angle goes back to the night
(40's-50's) 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
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.
Over the years I heard the phrase "Good Government"
that referred to a rather looseknit 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.
Artifact: An object produced or shaped by human craft.
. . of archaeological or historical interest.
Affinity: A natural attraction, liking, or feeling of kinship.
In the past I have demonstrated to many folks a certain
affinity for worthless old things (a kinship no doubt) which might be
considered artifacts. As a result, a few years back a friend gave me what I
only describe as three "mint" rolls of "artifacts." The items are
marginally smaller in diameter, thinner and naturally lighter weight than a
nickel. With no hands-on knowledge of the use, purpose or intent
of these items, I am left to speculate. I can only observe that to
merit the cost of production --the use must have been fairly
institutionalized at the time."
below of the "artifacts" (slot machine slugs from the K of C) was provided
by Fred. His image includes the coins for size perspective.
36.32: Slot Machine
Sue Phillips' response:
"Back to slot machines (only because I just read what
Fred wrote tonight). I cannot remember much & I do know I had to have
been younger than 11 years old because my parents were not divorced yet, but
I do remember a restaurant that was torn down many years ago & I was there
with my parents one night & everyone was quiet & just not acting like they
usually did, & my dad told us to not go out back because the slot machines r
there waiting for "them" to pick to them up. I did not really know
what that meant but I do know I was always afraid of what was "out back" at
that restaurant & never wanted to go back there because the adults were so
quiet & whispering & just acting different than usual & so I thought
that whatever was out there must be awfully scary."
Respond to Sue at
Ted Allison comments:
"I have a
rather clear recollection that the slot machine raids were conducted by the
state police during the time that Adlai Stevenson was Attorney General of
Illinois, and that this was his initiative. Which may
help to explain why Stevenson never was very popular after that!"
Respond to Ted at
Dan Gaydosh had
written to Fred:
"You are thinking about the Good Government Council.
This was quite a time in the county during the early 50's. Issues from this
era divided Lincoln into two groups. One group was made up of the circuit
and county judge, the state's attorney, the county treasurer, the sheriff,
the police magistrate, the newspaper, politicians, and others. The GGC was
made up of prominent businessmen, local clergy, a lawyer who became a future
mayor of Springfield and a Chicago newspaper.
I was just a kid then but I remember some things that
may or may not have been true. The slot machines you mentioned were first
taken to the basement of the courthouse. They were supposed to be destroyed,
but they mysteriously remained there intact with money still in them. When
that was discovered and exposed, the slots were hauled to the
fairgrounds where they were run over by a bulldozer.
Another story consists of a petition being signed by
many people. All those people were summoned to court and told they would be
in contempt of court unless they took their names off the petition. The
judge was later censured by the state for this constitutional violation.
I believe there were charges of corruption made against
one official and maybe a trial was held. The results of this trial might
have led to the petition. A number of secret meetings were held by various
Furious election battles were held until the whole thing died out in the
Another rumor was that a race track was to be put into
the still open area west of the radio station.
The whole thing was brought to light in the Chicago
papers and made Lincoln a famous (infamous?) place for a while. I believe we
were referred to as Little Chicago.
I cannot vouch for the authenticity of all of the
above; these are just vague memories that I have. I'm not sure of all the
issues involved, just that part of Lincoln and Logan County was supposedly
corrupt and the other part was out to save it.
It would be interesting to research this story. Sounds
like it would make a good book and TV movie for you or Leigh to make."
Respond to Dan at DGaydosh@aol.com.
Dan Gaydosh wrote in a follow-up email:
"Coonhound Johnny is sort of a folk tale figure to
me. Stories heard by a little guy listening to grownups visiting with each
other. I believe he got his
nickname by training coonhounds, dogs that chased and drove coons up a tree
at night for night hunting. His main job was producing "beverages" for
thirsty people. It was hinted that he had connections to the Chicago mob,
especially when there was a body of somebody who had been shot that was
found along old Rt. 66. Again, this is all hearsay that goes back way before
our time, Leigh. Don't make us any older than we are!" Dan Gaydosh
Dave Salyers emailed the following
in response to fred's account of the slots:
Just read some
of the mail on slots, etc. 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
(I still don't know where CJ's was.) [Note: I emailed Dave that the
CJ's was located on Route 66 just north of Kruger's Elevator--on the east
side of the road near the I-55 interchange.]
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.
Hope all is going well for you.
David Salyers Respond to Dave at
"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?"
Respond to Leigh at
"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." Dave Salyers
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."
36.33: Indian Head Slot
many years in the 1950s and 1960s, Coonhound Johnny's roadhouse had enjoyed
a second life as the public recreation center of Lincoln (becoming the
famous "Rec"--and sometimes still infamous in that period--but
without the slot machines).
Roadhouse Reinvented as "The Rec"
(Photo from Gleason, Lincoln: A Pictorial History, p. 118)
The following photos are courtesy of John Fuller,
son and grandson of the owners of the Fuller Seed Company. John's older
brother, the late Kenson Fuller, was in my LCHS Noble Class of 1960. For
information about the Fuller Seed Company, access this link, and scroll down
about two-thirds of the way:
36.35--39: Mid-1950s Patrons
of "The Rec"
The J & J Tavern
The J & J Tavern of the Route 66 era was located at 408 Pulaski Street,
and for decades beginning in the 19th century, this location was the site of
numerous watering holes with other names now forgotten. This location is between the Kerpan Grocery, which was on the corner of Pulaski and Chicago Streets, and
the Rustic Tavern on Pulaski Street at the alley. The J & J was one or two doors from the
Rustic Tavern, the alleged site of the conspiracy to steal Abraham Lincoln's
body in 1876. For a 19th-century photo of the site of the J & J site and the Rustic
Tavern, access the page link immediately below and scroll down to near the
bottom at the section titled
"Early 20th-Century Photo of Pulaski Street with Rustic Tavern at Far
Joyce responded to my request for background information about her parents'
ownership of the J & J. Joyce tells about her mother's early life: "Jennie
Caroline Krueger was born in Altamont, Il, 1909. Sister: Edna Caroline
Krueger (Miller), 3 brothers alive; one died as a baby. My father was
Garland James ["Jerry"] Ogden, born in Springfield, Il (?), 1910. Sister:
Ruth Ogden (Morris), 2 brothers."
"Both families were very poor. My Grandma Ogden urged Mom to marry my Uncle
Alva--said he loved her and wasn't a philanderer. When Mom was going into
7th grade, I think because she was not a very good student, she was asked if
she wanted to go to school, work with Grandma Anna (Burger) Krueger in the
house, or with help Grandpa (Gus) Krueger in the fields. She chose the
fields. Mom was crazy about horses but--again--no money for a riding
horse. They had two work horses that she (secretly) rode all the
time. Finally, Grandpa surprised her with a pony on her birthday. She LOVED
that little horse and since she was enamored with all the female shooters
and riders of that time. She taught herself to ride bareback, standing
on the pony's back, making her brothers jealous. She was also a very
good shot with a gun."
Joyce reported that her parents "were married in Springfield, IL, in either 1930 or
Chicago as a chauffeur and personal maid to a rich family. When they would
go to the FAIR (world's), movie, opera, etc., the lady of the house would
braid Mom's hair and dress her in kids' clothes so she could pay for a
lesser fare. Mom said she always looked very young for her age, probably
late 1920s, early 1930s. It was probably in his chauffeur capacity that my
dad met some of the Chicago hoods, including Al Capone, who later visited him in
Joyce candidly continues: "they operated the J & J from the early to late
1930s. I don't know a lot about the J & J, but I'll tell you what I know. It
was opened after they stopped driving their truck. Mom said they helped take
government stuff across country. I have a feeling that they ran whiskey."
36.40: Jennie Ogden with Truck of
Family Business Prior to the J & J
Joyce continues, "my dad ran the tavern until he went into the Navy, then my
Mom had the pleasure (ugg) of doing it. My dad didn't trust anyone else to
do it--afraid they'd cheat him. You know it takes one to know one. During
the time he was in the Navy, he paid someone to start a fire in the J & J
for the insurance. They didn't do much of a job though. Mom and Dad used to have fish
fries at the tavern, and Mom would make a lot of something to take down on
Friday nights. Mom said my Dad watered down the liquor--not enough so
someone could tell. They also mixed some homemade stuff with the
regular liquor. They sold the tavern after they got a divorce in 1943 or 44.
My mom was refused communion at Zion Lutheran Church because she bartended
at the J & J, and then later because she was divorced. It really saddened
Joyce comments, "also, reading about Coon Hound Johnny and Hutton's
lodge--even the Mill. Mom and Blossom [co-owner of the Mill and its cook and
waitress] were good friends. . . . She would come to our house for coffee--I
think in the '50's, makes me feel proprietary. They were MY Coonhound
Johnny, and MY Hutton's Lodge. Isn't that silly?" [Leigh's note:
not silly. Our recollection of the past is unique to each of us, and we are
thus the only ones who can really own it. But we can also donate some of
what we own--if the government doesn't take it all-- for the common good.
The trick is to decide what to keep for ourselves--private property--and
what to share. Extensive sharing has made this community history Web site
The following photos of the J & J Tavern and its owners, Jennie and Jerry
Ogden, are courtesy of their daughter, Joyce Ogden Gibson, of Monrovia, CA.
Respond to Joyce at
36.41: Jerry and Jennie Ogden in Front of J & J
Ogden in J & J Front Doorway
36.43: Jerry Ogden
Behind Bar with Two Unidentified Male Customers
Click on above photo for larger version. This photo shows bar stools, while the photos below do not. Perhaps the
above photo comes from a later time than the bar shown in the photos below.
Besides the stools, the back of the bar seen above has a clock and more
signs than seen in the following photos.
Joyce recalls falling off the bar stools at the J & J when she was very
young. "My Grandmother, Anna Krueger was my darling baby-sitter, but I
always wanted to be with my Mom. When I just couldn't stand to not see my
Mom, I would sneak down the alleys to the J. We called it the J. One
'trip' downtown to visit my Mother, who was tending bar, led to a 'trip' off
the bar stool onto my head. I remember seeing stars and then being warned
not to spin around on the bar stood any more. I also remember talking the
next door neighbor's granddaughter into running down the alleys with me to
get a candy bar and pop. She got in big trouble so it was the ONLY time she
ever did that."
As the daughter of parents who owned a downtown business, Joyce early on
became familiar with that part of town, as indicated by the photos below:
City Hall in Background
36.45: Joyce on
Square at Broadway St.
Behind Bar, Jennie at Right, and
36.47: Jerry and
Jennie Behind Bar,
Click each photo for a larger version, and then
click on that one again for an even larger version. In the photo above
at right, notice the pinball machine (at left) and the cuspidors (spittoons) in both
photos. Notice the photo above the back of the bar. The
subject is unidentified but was perhaps the governor of Illinois. Joyce
notes, "at some point when they took the one-armed bandits out of
the basement of the J & J, many of them came down to our basement there on
Wyatt Ave. People never came to pull the handles, and they were covered
up--seems like in the coal bin."
Ogden Ready for Customers
Click photo for a larger version. The liquor selection is impressive. Notice the details, including the sign that says "No Ladies Seated
at Bar." There was decorum even in a working-man's watering hole. Previous photos show ladies standing
at the bar.
36.49: Jerry Ogden
Center with Friends Holding Giant, Skinned Catfish
Joyce says the photo above was taken in the J & J, and she provided an undated
Lincoln Courier clipping with the following story: "Lincoln, Ill.,
Aug. 1--Jerry Ogden and George Gluick with friends Wednesday night were
displaying a hefty specimen of the catfish that the succeeded in hooking in
Reel lake in Tennessee early Thursday morning. The blue catfish tipped the
scales at 48 pounds. The men reported the fish made delicious steaks when
dressed. The men said their total catch included a big string of crappies
and two large bass."
Joyce also commented that "other people would also bring in a load of fish
or deer, etc., from their hunting/fishing trips, and when the did, Mom would
cook and service it. From what I remember, the food was always free and an
encouragement to drink more beer or booze."
Leigh notes that his dad said as a kid in the 1920s he used to go to the
Mill for free wild game dinners. The owner at that time liked to hunt
squirrels and would skin and fry them to offer free dinners to his tavern
patrons and friends.
Joyce provides an undated clipping from the Lincoln Courier with an
article titled "Tavern Burglary of $160 in Goods." "Merchandise including
cigarettes and liquor valued at $160 was stolen early Tuesday morning from
the J. and J. Tavern, 408 Pulaski Street, operated by Jerry Ogden, according
to a report made to police."
"The theft was discovered by Officer Jacob Leininger at 2:30 a.m. when he
heard a tramp dog, which has been staying in the alley, barking. He
investigated and found the back door of the tavern had been jimmied open."
"The thieves apparently used a car to haul the loot away as employees in the
nearby Molloy restaurant heard a car drive away from the rear of the tavern
about 2:00 a.m."
"Chief of police Marshal Brannan investigated Tuesday morning and reported
120 cartons of cigarets [sic] and 10 quarts of whiskey were stolen."
"Chief Brannan also was investigating the theft of pillows and sheets from
the beds in two rooms at the Commercial hotel sometime during Monday night.
Wesley Clark, manager of the hotel, was of the opinion several hotel guests
cleared out early Tuesday with the bed linens."
Joyce continues: "oh, during the time my Dad came home from the Navy (he
paid a doctor to say he had a bleeding ulcer to send him home), and during
the time he was getting very interested in "the other woman," he was
starting the J & J Garage in Springfield. . . . He had a contract with the
Springfield police, maybe state police too, to service their cars. There was
interesting talk about that. In case you haven't noticed, my father was a
Hutton's Lodge, Later Known as Lonnie
and Mae's, Then and Now Tom's Lodge
Below at left is a photo of a roadhouse located on
Route 121 between Lincoln and Hartsburg. Presently it is a tavern called
Tom's Lodge. Previously it was called Lonnie and Mae's, and originally
it was Hutton's Lodge, allegedly one of the watering holes frequented by Al
Capone and his gang. Some where nearby was Coonhound's Grove. Local
lore says it was a rustic retreat used by the Capone gang.
Route 121 Roadhouse
in 1954 Lincoln Evening Courier
Joyce Ogden Gibson Writes
About Hutton's Lodge, Her Father, and Al Capone
Joyce wrote: "my father, Jerry Ogden, owned or managed
Hutton's Lodge. That was where they used to have parties for Al Capone. Whenever Al Capone came into town, my dad would take him out to
Hutton's Lodge for booze, food, women, and dancing and whatever else he wanted. Mom
said they had to call him by another name--Mr. Blah Blah ????
I know my dad
watered the booze, and my mom would get mad at him. They had pinball machines
and one-armed bandits at the Lodge. I remember hardboiled eggs in a big jar out
there. I remember when we would go out to Hutton's Lodge, and there would
be a TON of people out there. Usually at night. I loved to go out there because
we always got to see people who were nice to me and gave me candy.
We used to have lots of pictures of all the goings
on out there."
did the main cooking. She said Capone always 'bragged on' her potato
salad and slaw. I still have a set of ceramic bowls she kept because
she said Al Capone had eaten coleslaw and potato salad out of them. I believe this was during
Prohibition. Coonhound Johnny used to take Capone hunting or sold him a dog or
two. Johnny had a dog run somewhere behind the Lodge." (Emails to Leigh of
9-2003 and 2-2009). Respond to Joyce at
36.52: The Bar at Hutton's
(Undated photo courtesy of Joyce Ogden Gibson)
The quality of the photo is poor, and the only one Joyce can identify is her
mother, Jennie Ogden, at the left.
Dave Salyers Writes About Lonnie and Mae's (formerly
"As to roadhouses, in
1962, Roberta Vlahovich and I used to drive up 121 to a place we could dance to
music from the jukebox. I was fresh out of the army and ready to return to
school in the fall. But the place we visited wasn't the one in your photo --
unless it has been radically altered.
Yet, I recall it was called Lonnie and Mae's. The place we visited sat on
the east side of the road. I had a sweet, blue TR-3 that I'd brought back from
Europe, and one lovely summer night, Roberta and I drove back to Lincoln on a
back road. The top was down, and we could smell the blooming clover and alfalfa
in the fields.
We were batting along, deep in conversation, when I saw, to my terror, that the
road before us "teed." It was pretty exciting for a couple of nano-seconds as I
braked really hard and slid the car about 90 degrees. I was lucky to keep it on
watches out for idiots and young people, I guess." (Email to Leigh of 5-2004).
Respond to Dave at
Origin of Tom's Lodge, Lonnie and Mae's Pilfering Monkey, and Other Roadhouses on Old
In August of 2010 I received the following information from Mike Stephens via
email, and he has kindly given permission for me to post it here:
My name is Mike Stephens. I presently live in Morton, IL but was born and
raised on small farm just west of Hopedale on old Rt 121. I read with great
interest the stories about some of the old watering holes in and around Lincoln
and Logan County. One story in particular that caught my eye was the one
regarding the old Hutton's Lodge, now Tom's Lodge just south of Hartsburg on
As a small boy in the 50's my parents would take us kids to the stock races in
Lincoln on Sunday night during the summer. This would have been during the "hey
day" of the Tropics and the Blue Inn, the latter located practically next
door to the race track. But I was always fascinated as we would fly by in the
car by the little roadhouse up near Hartsburg known as Lonnie and Mae's.
In the past 10 years or so I have since stopped in at Tom's Lodge and have
gotten to know at least casually the current owner Tom (?) (don't know his last
name.) During this time of stopping by Tom has shared with me some stories
about the place. He tells me Lonnie and Mae owned and operated it from 1954 to
1969 when he purchased it. Having owned it now for 41 years, Tom is longest
continuous owner of the property. He said the original part of the building (the
main part) was an existing hunting lodge in Louisiana that was disassembled down
there and then shipped by rail to its present location. He said a "doctor" from
Chicago was the original owner and intended to use it as a hunting lodge for
himself and "his friends." Whether that would have been the Hutton's I do not
Tom went on to tell me that for awhile Lonnie kept a monkey behind a small door
on the south end of the bar. The door was at the level of the bar so that when
he opened it, the monkey could prance right out on to the bar. Apparently Lonnie
(or someone) had taught the monkey to pick up the spare change that customers
would have in front of them on the bar. The monkey would go and down the bar
latching on to "the loot". The customers loved it and happily parted with their
hard-earned cash just to see the monkey do his thing. Such a thing would never
happen today. The Health Department would shut you down so fast it would make
your head swim. The little monkey door is still there to this day at the south
end of the bar. Also I believe the old NCR cash register that Tom still "uses"
(doesn't work anymore .... he just leaves the cash drawer open) may very well be
the same cash register that you can see in the picture you have posted on your
web-site back when it was Hutton's.
Anyway, really enjoyed the history you and your folks have gathered and shared
on your web-site. Thought you might be interested in this little bit of
additional information on the old Hutton Lodge.
I love the
colorful histories of Logan and Mason counties and of course Tazewell County
where I was born and raised and where you spent a good deal of your adult life
and career it sounds like.
continued north from Hartsburg on old Rte. 121 there were more colorful
establishments along the way before reaching Morton. The Black Oak Tavern, The
Lomax Cafe (owned and operated by my Mother and Father, Lois and Max Stephens),
and the Hillside Tavern (better known as The Bloody Bucket) to name three. These
three establishments were each located very near the junction of old Rt 121 and
Rt 122 which would be the current Hopedale exit on I-155. In fact the Lomax
Cafe was located right at the "Y".
little farther north at the Tremont intersection (junction of Rte. 121 and Rte.
9) was the Seven Acres and The 121 Club. All the aforementioned were colorful
places in their hey-days during the late 40's, 50's and on in to the 60's. The
121 Club is the "last man standing" and still operates today under the same
name, the building having changed very little since the time it was built in the
40's I believe it was.
I still refer
to old Illinois Route 121 from Morton to Lincoln as the "Mother Road", more so
for personal reasons than any historical reason but for sure it was a "great
ride" in its day. I still take the old sections of the Mother Road to Lincoln
in lieu of I-155 whenever I'm not in a hurry ..... which is most of the time.
Mike Stephens Feel free to reach Mike at
Leigh's note: Indeed I did travel old Route 121
for the thirty years I taught in Pekin and often drove to Lincoln to visit
family. There were winters when drifting snow closed that highway. The Seven
Acres, at the intersection of Routes 121 and 9, just east of Tremont was for
many years a good place to eat, serving deep-fried whole catfish. For
information about Coonhound Johnny's connection to Hutton's Lodge and
Coonhound's "summer home" just east of that roadhouse, see
Harold and Paul Madigan's Ten Pin
on Broadway in the 1950s
(Photo provided by D.D. Welch with
caption by Norm Schroeder)
36.54: Ten Pin Ad from
Lincoln Evening Courier, April 2, 1953, p. 5
Email comments, corrections, questions, or suggestions.
email me if this Web site helps you decide to visit Lincoln, Illinois: DLHenson@missouristate.edu.
"The Past Is But the