Prohibition Along Archer Road
Date: June 24, 2011 01:23AM
I started this new thread as not to hijack the “Willow Springs Cemetery” thread elsewhere. Questions have come up about Capone’s involvement in speakeasies or stills along Archer road from Summit to Sag Bridge. I have done some research work into this [i](though not much as there is not much left to find)[/i], and decided to cut and paste a few lines from my personal notes gleaned from issues of the DesPlaines Valley News and the Tribune for all to enjoy.
Below are snippets from the newspapers that mention illegal prohibition era events from Summit to the Sag. Some of the items speak of Stickney and Lyons which are outside of the Archer Road line, but still part of the same circle of crime. These dates indicate the date of publication. Please excuse my transcription errors. My center of historical research is based around the Village of Summit, and this database was created for the benefit of the historical archives located in the Summit Library. There are businesses and persons named that will mean nothing to most people. I also abbreviated some of these stories when I felt it could be done without ruining the historical context.
Remember that though prohibition became Federal in 1920, Lyons Township and other municipalities already had some form of prohibition in effect for some time prior. Take note also of the organization of the Cook County Highway Police and the station at Archer and Kean in Willow springs [i](sometimes called Justice, but it was west of Kean – so that is Willow Springs).[/i] My comments will be in parenthesis.
Dec 1916 - Summit having issues with a tavern on Lyons road at the crossroads called the "Hump" or "Humph". The place is raided a few times by the police. Village put them out of business, but occasionally catches them open. It was a "disorderly place". Raided in December 1916 by Trustees Lambert, Reeves, Jones and Officer Allison. [i](This place was located on the N/E corner of Joliet Road and Lawndale. McCook was incorporated in 1926, so at this time Summit tried to close this place down but couldn’t legally because it was out of the village limits)[/i]
May 3rd 1917 - Deputy Sheriff Walt Fischback and the local resident's once more raided the notorious "Humph" tavern and closed it down again.
Aug 30th 1917 The "Hump" was raided again and the owner and inmates were taken before Judge Citek.
Jan 30th 1919 - Cook County deputy sheriffs raid the local establishments in Argo Summit and remove some 16-18 slot machines. The village police magistrate has left town for some unknown reason. [i](Gee I wonder why?)[/i]
May 13th 1920 - Hicks pool room at 63rd and Archer was raided by police. He was fined 85.00. A closer look would have revealed even heavier gambling the basement. [i](Hick’s was on the S/W corner of 63rd st and Archer – at that time not in the Village of Summit)[/i]
May 20th 1920 - The raid upon Hicks Pool Room did not do very much good, as the place is doing business as usual at the same old gate. It is regrettable that a joint like that must be tolerated in our midst because of the lack of proper police attention; unfortunately the place is "outside of the village limits"
Feb 10th 1921 - J. Galowich was arrested by prohibition officers last Saturday charged with selling whiskey.
July 28th 1921 - Auto searching staged at Green Corner, Lawndale and Joliet roads - intersection. Vehicles being searched by fraud police looking for liquor. If found, booze is confiscated and violator's extorted to pay fine less face charges.
Sept 1st 1921 - Clay Wilson, who for a short time was employed in the prohibition enforcement office, was picked up by the feds charged with selling liquor and extortion. His operation here was of a well known character, and the town is speaking of who may also be brought in to testify.
Aug 31st 1922 - The soft drink parlor at 61st St. and Archer ave was raided by the police last Saturday with a net result of three women and eight men of whom were locked up.
Aug 31st 1922 - The soft drink parlor at 61st street near Archer Ave was again raided by local police last Friday and by officers form the sheriff's office Saturday.
Jan 11th 1923 - Grand Mask Ball will be given by the Orland Nut Club on Saturday evening, January 13th 1923 at Justice Inn, 7350 Archer Ave. [i](opposite resurrection cemetery. The names mentioned here like “nut club” is being used in a derogatory sense)[/i].
June 7th 1923 - A detail of the States Attorney office swooped down on the Justice Tavern last Sunday morning and made a successful raid, in which they captured eighty-one men and seven women. It took eight patrol wagons to haul the crowd away.
June 14th 1923 - The village board of Justice refused to issue a license to the proprietors of the Justice Tavern. The place has already been raised by the State's Attorney's office.
June 28th 1923 - The officials of the Village of Justice raided the Justice Inn yesterday evening and placed 26 persons under arrest.
July 5th 1923 - Alvin Jones of 62nd place was shot and killed in what was said to be a beer runners fight at Sag last Sunday. The Wellman brothers, three in number, left Joliet in a motor truck to haul in a load of meat from Chicago and while on their way they were e held up on Archer Rd. at Sag by three men in a machine and then the shooting commenced. [i](Beer runners watched for competitors on the road at Sag and it was very difficult even for legitimate businessmen to get through without a fight)[/i]
Sept 27th 1923 - Schmederman place on 62nd place raided by trustees and two women placed under arrest and the keeper fined $200.
Oct 11th 1923 - Justice Tavern located opposite entrance to Resurrection Cemetery is raided. Howard Reed proprietor. Justice revokes license. William Roeske mayor.
Nov 29th 1923 - Green Corners roadhouse on Joliet and Lyons road [i](In the old days Lawndale down through McCook and Lyons was called “the Lyons Road., or the “Lyons-Summit Road)[/i] the target of numerous investigations in the past, has broken loose again, this time with a murder committed Sunday night. The place is known for be being of ill repute. The village of Summit had tried to take action against the business in years past (The Hump or Humpf), but it is just outside of the corporate limits of Summit. Helen Smith and Stafano Geno charged with keeping a disorderly house. The Green Corner is still operating full tilt even though this murder happened. They were not shut down.
Dec 13th 1923 -Unanimous condemnation of Green Corners, the Lyons Roadhouse, was voiced by county and city officials in the hearing of a suit to close the place for a year. State’s Attorney Crowe said he personally had conducted a raid on the place, which is described as a "notorious house of ill fame, a hangout for gunmen". Sheriff Hoffman said his deputies had repeatedly raided Green Corners and had obtained convictions of keepers and inmates. The owner of the roadhouse, Aaron Markowitz, is a west side vice lord, owner of a number of vile dens of prostitution. Harry Heywood, manager of the place is under indictment for the murder of Otto Skoff in the cafe two weeks ago.
Jan 17th 1924 - Drivers of the milk wagons of the Argo-Summit Dairy Co. have been living lives of adventure the last week or so. The drivers, Bill Hunter, Stanley Heinze, Norman Kunka and also William Brown, son of the proprietor W H Brown, have been forced to get much of the firm's supply from the producers who smuggled their supply through cordons of pickets at Sag, Lemont and other points. There have been wild times, trucks having been held up by armed men, whole truck loads dumped in the canal and so on. Some of the local supply came in under guard of the local sheriff.
Feb 14th 1924 - Stash of 9,000 dollars in counterfeit bills found in the rear of Justice Tavern some weeks ago in an old ash can.
May 29th 1924 -"County Hard Roads Police" Establishment of County police station at Archer and Kean Avenues in Justice "Station 19". Headquarters have been established in a one-story stucco building across Kean Avenue from Village Gardens owned by the Cook County Forest Preserve. Building has been repaired inside and out for the new force. Call Willow Springs 9 for the police. There are three such stations in Cook County and the Justice station is manned by a force of 18 men - Lt. L R Davidson - OIC, Desk Sergeant Martin Ozinga, Patrol sergeants Earl L Kistner and Joseph L Sebeck. Motor Patrolmen Cornelius Buis, Francis J Caraher, W D Gannett, Edwin Wofford, August L Arado, William Drake, Edward J Hall, George H Hill, W P McLogan, Edward Mikulecky, Louis Nelson, Frank Redmond, Harold B Wheeler, G C Peterson. Territory covered by the Justice station is to Lake Street on the north side, Blue Island on the south, the city limits on the east and the county line on the west. The force is under the jurisdiction of Sheriff Peter M. Hoffman.
July 17th 1924 - Latest chapter in the stories of Justice Tavern at Justice and Green Corners at Lyons as told in today's Chicago Tribune. Sherriff Peter M Hoffman and a squad of his deputies found underworld yesterday and boarded it up. It was a large subterranean cavern, and so many occasions, Hoffman said, it housed huddling crowds of 'scarlet women'. It was the "storm cellar" of the Justice Tavern, 7300 Archer, termed by the sheriff one of the most notorious "vice dens" in Cook County. Deputy Sheriff Otto A Gnewuch, was wont frequently to step in unexpectedly on the tavern in the hope of bringing the contents to a court of justice. So the owners put in many wires and batteries and buzzers, all over the place, and when Otto's familiar footstep sounded on the threshold the whole tavern, and several cottages adjoining, buzzed warningly. And search though he did, Otto never found any evidence. But the notoriety of Justice Tavern spread and the sheriff finally got Judge Ira D Ryner to issue a mandate closing the place for one year. Jubilantly the sheriff and his carpenters went out to Justice Park yesterday to do the job. And Otto found the answer to the great puzzle about the disappearing women. He kicked in a door, shielded by some shrubbery and here was the "underworld". It was a cave 10 by 15 and 8 feet high, sufficient to house more than a score of women. It had a soft clay floor and examination showed the marks of many little French heels. The sheriff and his men also visited and gave similar treatment to the Green Corners, a notorious roadhouse at Lawndale and the Joliet Road. Recently a barkeeper in the place shot and killed a diner, and is now serving a life sentence in Joliet Penitentiary.
July 31st 1924 -Raids at Willow Springs. Liquor seized at resorts near Lithuanian National Cemetery. Three drink parlors located near the entrance to the Lithuanian National Cemetery on Kean Avenue were raided Saturday night by a squad form the Sherriff’s office. Raids were made as a result of a report by Lt. Davidson of the Justice Park highway police station. 40 gallons was confiscated. The resorts visited were the Kean Inn, and the places kept by John Grebus and John Kozslosos.
Nov 20th 1924 -Raids in nearby towns. 15 resorts in Stickney and Lyons were raided last Friday by prohibition agents. Among them were the Tower Inn, the Cottage Inn, Mary's Place, the Pershing Road Gardens, Gus Grimm's Retreat, the French Café, Rosie's Place, and the Stickney Restaurant.
Jan 8th 1925 - Raids made here by Chief Allison and deputies Buis and Bokholdt of the County Highway Police. Busted for Moonshine or Mash: Store of Joe Dominski 7554 64th st., Tony Jepka 6078 75th av., Jack Speeluke 7616 62nd st., George Hammond 7533 64th street - A. Carter's place at 7533 W. 64th street and also Buster Williams who was on premises with a concealed weapon.
Feb 5th 1925 -Green Corners is burned. Roadhouse at Lawndale and Joliet road was almost completely destroyed by fire. Roadhouse had been closed for some months following violations of the liquor laws and the sentencing of its former manager Harry Heywood, to life imprisonment for the murder there of Adolf Skoff.
April 16th 1925 - US Prohibition agent raids. Confiscated still at rear of building at 63rd street and Archer square. The place was under lease to Charles Hibbs, who sublet it to a man named Jack Brown.
April 16th 1925 - A dozen barrels of beer and more than a hundred gallons of wine, moonshine whiskey and cordials were taken in the raid of the roadhouse kept by Frank Kahout on Archer near Willow Springs.
April 23rd 1925 -Fred W. Berg for several years manager of Village Gardens at Justice Park, has severed his connections there and bought a half interest from John Gribas in Kean Inn, three blocks south of his former location. Mrs. Francis Blinstrup, owner of Village Gardens, recently was married to Edward Zine of Silverleaf Park, Lyons, and with her husband assumes full management of Village Gardens.
June 4th 1925 -Police active this last week with a raid on the American Hotel: the arrest of two gypsies on a charge of trespass and consequent ridding of the village of a gypsy band. Harry Shemafelt the keeper. Summit officers shot a few stray dogs over the week.
July 23rd 1925 - Rainbow Inn, Formerly the Justice Inn at Justice was raided by the county highway police at 2:30 Sunday morning. Louis Danna was arrested as keeper of a disorderly house and three girls and four men as inmates.
July 23rd 1925 - The fight of Sherriff Peter Hoffman and other civic organizations to close the Harlem Tavern, known as the "Sticks" 4225 Harlem Avenue Stickney, said to be operated by "Scarface Al" Brown, ended victoriously when Circuit Judge F C Wilson issued an injunction ordering the inn padlocked for one year.
Aug 6th 1925 - County police swoop down on alleged disorderly houses. Raids occurred on the west side of Archer on 62nd street and 62nd place. 31 blacks were taken in the raids on charges of disorderly conduct and the police quarters proved inadequate to house them so they were taken to the village hall upstairs where many of them gave bail for their appearance before Judge Herzog. Most of those charged were men and girls who are alleged to have been making a practice of visiting Argo on Friday nights and making the night hideous with their orgies.
Aug 13th 1925 - Moonshine raid with up to date distillery found at Summit. The largest found in Cook County was raided Monday night by highway policemen. It is an up to date concrete structure built last spring on the alley in the rear of the post office. Three 150 gallon stills more than 10,000 gallons of mash and a quantity of alcohol were seized. Anthony Papagno of Chicago and Frank Fabri, who is said to have lived in the plant, were arrested. The stills were electronically operated with a generating plant, the most advanced the police had ever seen. The police guarded the facility for a few days until it was taken over by the prohibition authorities.
Aug 27th 1925 -County Highway police of Justice swoop down on the Sniderman place on 62nd Pl, Argo, last Friday. Arrested two man and two women. This report has been in the spotlight on account of the killing of an alledged hold up man there three months ago. Also raided was the Harlem Tavern at 4207 Harlem Avenue. 200 patrons tried to run out to escape capture. Seven women and five men were found upstairs and arrested. Mary Gray was booked as keeper. This was the second raid in the past week. Also a raid on Lyons's Davidac - arresting James Martineck and over a dozen others on gambling charges. A cleanup in slot machines is also being undertaken by Lieutenant Davidson.
Sept 3rd 1925 -Shot during row at Willow Springs. William Heblund near death from bullet; Frank Hock arrested. Occurred Saturday night at the Willow Springs Hotel [i](aka Zenk’s Hotel)[/i]. Heblund shot through nostril and bullet exits in front of his ear. Frank Hock arrested by county highway police. Fight occurred after many drinks of moonshine whiskey in barroom and racial argument. After attempt to strike Hock by Heblund, he was shot in face with a .32 revolver. The police closed the bar and arrested Chas. Makutanas and his wife Mary for selling intoxicating liquor.
Sept 3rd 1925 - Raids and Re-Raids by County Police and local authorities. American Hotel raided. This raid had been made Saturday night by the Summit Division of the village police, viz: Captain Avery Wood and officers Boetcher and Van Ort. After spending three hours on an adjacent roof doing the Peeping Tom act they jumped in and seized Henry Halander as keeper, James Paulsen and Jack Cook as bartenders, Jean Ryan, the only woman in the case and 11 men as inmates. This hotel was raided the night before by Lyons Township constable B E Reich. Also in their Friday night drive the "Lumberyard" at 7745 62nd place and arrested Mrs. Eva Sniderman. The Rainbow Inn at Justice was raided and arrested was Phillip Mangano as keeper of a disorderly house and seized two slot machines. The constables also made many other raids in Lyons on the same night, but many other resorts they visited evidently had been tipped off. Richard Hutzinga, chief of Police of Lyons, who had not been invited to join the raiding party spotted the eight constables just as they got their automobiles into charging formation at 8:30 pm near Ogden and Lawndale avenues in Lyons. Speeding in his motorcycle ahead of the advancing constables he gave continual shrill siren warnings.
Sept 17th 1925 - Raids by Lyons Township and local officials are in front of Judge Smith and Herzog. Case against American Hotel dismissed for want of evidence. The case brought by the village against the hotel resulted in guilty verdicts. Theodore Stone served as prosecutor for the village. Judge Smith conducts his courtroom at his house, while Judge Herzog holds court at the Village Hall.
Sept 17th 1925 -Yardmaster E H Wilson, Village President of Summit and yardmaster of the Michigan Central was taken out of service pending an investigation relative to a car shipped from the east over the Erie railroad, transferred to the IHB and reconsigned over the Michigan Central to a destination in the stockyards. The railcar was found to contain beer instead of syrup as the bill of lading was marked and Wilson is being investigated.
Nov 12th 1925 - Eddie Zine of Willow Springs was assassinated early yesterday in front of his house. He had just left his car in the garage and was walking towards the house when there was a sudden blaze of revolvers. He was struck by three bullets and killed instantly. His wife, who was formerly Mrs. Tony Blinstrup of Village Gardens, Justice, had gone into the house when the shooting began. She rushed out and saw several men in her husband's car backing down the driveway. She tried to call for assistance but the wires were cut. Zine had 2,000 in his pockets and on his person were diamonds worth several thousand dollars more. The gunmen did not touch him after the murder, which indicated the purpose was not for a robbery. After a preliminary investigation by Lieutenant Carl Wolf and Sergeant Joseph L Sebeck, three men were taken into custody. They are Abe Trad, his son William and Charles Gazelle, all of California Avenue in the city. They were witnesses of a fight in a Chicago poolroom, at which Zine was said to have been present. The fight resulted in another shooting. Zine and wife left and made it back to their home, where these three men, part of the shooting in the city lay in ambush. Zine who was known as "Diamond Tooth Eddie" because one of his teeth had been set with gems, earlier in the day had attended the funeral of "Samoots" Amatuna. He acquired the Village Gardens café nine months ago by his marriage to the widow of Tony Blinstrup, who had died a natural death a short time previously. He sold it a month ago.
Feb 18th 1926 -Police raids made by Chief Botz and officer Foran on the Sniderman place and the café of Frank Vidmar on 63rd street.
May 27th 1926 - Body found floating a block north of Lawndale in Canal. Body found by a number of inhabitants of shacks that line the Canal. The roads along the canal at this point have been termed "cemetery lanes" by gangsters because of the number of occasions different members have been taken for rides along them.
June 10th 1926 -The Kean Inn raided. The county highway police last Saturday raided Kean Inn, opposite Archer Woods Cemetery and arrested Fred Berg as proprietor, and eight other people accused of disorderly conduct. A large quantity of liquor was seized. The raid was conducted by Deputy McLogan with a Cadillac squad form the city.
Aug 5th 1926 - Five 75 gallon stills operating at capacity and 600 barrels of moonshine mash were seized last Friday night when Chief Leroy Davidson and Deputies Joseph Seeback and Earl Kestner of the highway police raised a house at 74th street and 63rd place, Argo. 50 gallons of alcohol ready for market was also taken. Joseph Eeagero and Carlo Besdephano of 1203 West Roosevelt road were at work in the place and arrested.
Aug 12th 1926 - Body found tied and gagged and weighted with bricks, in the cistern of three months. Horses refused to drink from cistern. Gangland killing, cistern behind abandoned farm house at 95th street and 100th avenue in Palos Park. Victim was Anthony Cuiringione alias Tommy Ross.
Aug 19th 1926 -A. Mamath's cement block garage burns on 63rd street diagonal from the High School. Fire Chief Walker stated that there were flammable liquids in it that ignited and that some of them had been confiscated by the Highway Police.
Oct 7th 1926 –County Highway police broke into a brick garage like structure at 75th avenue and 60th place last evening and found it to be a flourishing factory for the manufacture of hard drinks. They took away 69 ten gallon receptacles for liquor and also much machinery in the way of stills and pipes. The building is owned by Thomas Rzepka, but it is claimed that others had rented it from him.
Nov 25th 1926 -Highway police from downtown upset midnight party. Midnight at Dinty Moore's at Willow Springs, and a Saturday at that. There were 150 guests in the house. The cops were from the downtown office of chief Davison of the County Highway police. They got away with a large amount of liquor and arrested the manager Mr. Dugdale.
Jan 13th 1927 - County police "Hughaiders" swung into action and came down on the Harlem Inn at Stickney. Hidden in a small secret room near the ceiling of the second floor the raiders found 15 women, tearing down doors and parts of walls to locate them. 40 men and women were arrested. Tuesday night Hughs and his men raided "The Ship" at Cicero, where they arrested 100 persons.
Feb 3rd 1927 -A confession before the US District Attorney, by Summit Village President Elias H. Wilson, involving himself, Chief of Police Andrew Botz and other county town officials in the huge beer distributing syndicate operated by Joseph (Big Joe) Saltis, was revealed last night by the government. It is declared the biggest that ever operated in Chicago. It is reported that Chicago policemen and scores of railroad employees may also be involved. Saltis, according to the government, has been getting his supply of beer from Scranton, Pa. By reason of a business deal with Robert F. Adams, whose father is the reported operator of the Anthracite Brewery near there. Adams was arrested by C L Converse, government investigator, brought to Chicago, and confessed, it is reported, that the beer was shipped to Summit under cover through the connivance of William Dillon, an employee of the Erie Railroad at Waverly N.Y. He said Saltis paid Chief of Police Botz $2.00 for every barrel of beer unloaded from railroad cars at Summit, and that the graft was divided by himself, Botz and other officials. During the day federal agents raided an alleged Saltis cold process brewery at Lemont, Ill. It formerly was an ice cream factory, and was remodeled at a cost of $1,000. It was equipped with two 5,000 gallon storage tanks, fermenting tanks, and racking machinery with a capacity of 80 barrels a day.
March 24th 1927 -Raid without warrant. 63 barrels of mash, two stills and one Buick automobile were seized and three men arrested last Thursday night in a raid made by Village trustees and police on a little cottage on Hanover Street in Summit. The men arrested were turned over to the Federal Prohibition enforcement officials in the Transportation Building Chicago, and were due to be given a hearing today before a US commissioner. The raids were done without a warrant and a mystery surrounds the disappearance of the still form the building during the period when the prisoners were being taken to Chicago, and the arresting officers were returning to the raided place for evidence in way of liquor. At this second visit, the raiding trustees were given a bad fight as the lights went out after they entered the cottage. The raid was instituted by trustees Garrison, Uhrhammer and Van Vossen without notification to chief Botz. Officers Drew and Van Ort, with Van Ort's brother serving as deputy, were called in to assist the trustees.
April 26th 1927 – Joseph Zahora, chief of police of McCook, Ill, was held to the grand jury Wednesday in bonds of $2,000 by United States Commissioner Henry C Beitler when arraigned on charges of violating the national prohibition act. He was arrested in front of the American roadhouse at Lyons while he was delivering several barrels of beer. Residents of McCook deny that Zahora was chief. He was a traffic cop for about a month that is all.
June 28th 1928 – The Chateau DesPlaines at Lyons, owned by Frank Eilers, closed down after a raid by prohibition agents. He was given an 8 months sentence and fines $1,000. Though Mr. Eilers has been in this country for 20 years, he did not have citizenship either.