Posts in Category: Main

Who Was Charles Birger?

As a rival to the Shelton Brothers, Charles Birger was born to a simple Jewish family in what is today known as Lithuania. At the time, it was a part of the Russian Empire.

Immigrating to the U.S. as a young child with his family, they settled into the St. Louis area where Charles got a job at the ripe young age of eight. He worked as a newsboy for the Post-Dispatch. Later, he would work his way up the ranks and move to the O’Fallon area of Missouri where he would work in a pool room.

In July of 1901, young Charles enlisted himself into the U.S. Army and would be assigned to the Company G of the then 13th Calvary Regiment. He was stationed in the South Dakota region and often described as a great soldier and in 1904 he would be honorably discharged at Fort Meade.

After the army, Charles found work as a Cowboy. Eventually, he would return to the Illinois area where he would meet his future wife, Beatrice. Here he would become a minor and expand the coal mining community of the Harrisburg area. Later, he became a keeper at a local saloon.

However, in 1919 the United States would adopt prohibition that would ban the sale and the manufacture as well as the transportation of alcohol drinks. Charles saw this as an opportunity since it would put his saloon out of business and in the year 1920 he would join up with the bootleggers Shelton Brothers who would later become rivals.

Charles based his bootlegging operation in the Harrisburg area of Southern Illinois. Eventually, the authorities of the Saline County region convinced him to relocate and he built up a fortified speakeasy named Shady Rest across the line in Williamson County. Shady Rest was located right off of Highway 13 and it was halfway between Marion and Harrisburg. A barbecue shack would stand as a guard service for the speakeasy.

Who Were The Shelton Brothers Gang?

During the prohibition era, there were many bootleg gangs that worked to keep the southern Illinois area stocked with liquor. As the main rivals of another famous bootlegger named Charles Birger and his gang, The Shelton Brothers were a source to contend with.

Often described as “America’s Bloodiest Gang”, they can trace their roots back to Ireland where they lived under the surname of “Hunter”. Today, there are many of their descendants that still reside in the St. Louis area.

Comprised of Carl who was born in 188, and his brother Bernie, aka “Red” Shelton who was born in 1898 and their friend “Geff” Jerffersonville of Wayne County Illinois just after prohibition came into being in 1920, they operated in Williamson County, Illinois making their moonshine and an array of other illegal alcoholic drinks.

Eventually, they dominated the gambling and the liquor distribution in the Little Egypt region until 1926 when Charles Birger entered the scene and tried to overtake their operations. A violent gang war quickly ensued and both sides of the equation utilized homemade armored trucks that also included aerial bombing raids and several experienced automobile accident attorneys by both parties at the Shady Rest Headquarters. All of this to control the bootlegging business in southern Illinois.

In spite of over fifty gunmen, the Shelton Brothers were defeated by Charles Birger according to the testimony of both Birger and Art Newman. Convicted of the 1925 mail carrier robbery that netted $15,000 they were sentenced to 25 years in prison each.

With their leaders locked up for 25 years, the gang faded away and Charles Birger became the dominate bootlegger for the region until 1928 when he was hanged after a conviction of ordering a murder in West City Illinois of the mayor, Joe Adams.

Upon release from prison, the Shelton Brothers would move into the Peoria Illinois area and later they were both murdered thanks to orders from a former member of the gang Frank aka “Buster” Wortman.

The documentary embedded below has some more amazing info on the Shelton Brothers Gang:

The Bloody History Of The Herrin Massacre

The Herrin Massacre marks a dark day in the history of Illinois and the United States as a whole. There were a total of 23 deaths that resulted from the violence taking place during June of 1922. The massacre had a lasting effect on the families of those involved as well as the rest of the country.

The massacre involved hundreds of armed miners and mine guards. On one side of the conflict are the miners represented by the United States Mineworkers of America(UMWA). These union workers were currently taking part in a strike that was affecting the area. They worked W. J. Lester, who had only recently opened the mine and was suffering from a massive debt.

Lester agreed to honor the strike and not to ship out any coal. Because his mine was so new, the UMWA decided to let him keep the mine open as long as no sales were taking place and no coal was moved from the location. A few workers continued to work in the mine while the rest were on strike.

The price of coal rose considerably as the strike caused a shortage of coal in the state. Lester realized that he could sell the coal he had and make a significant profit. In doing so, he violated his original agreement with the UMWA and workers. When the workers complained, he fired them all. In their place, he hired 50 workers referred to as “strikebreakers” along with mine guards that carried machine guns.

Tensions rose throughout the city. A large mob of mine workers began stealing weapons from hardware stores and ambushed the strikebreakers. They later laid siege to the mine itself. Several strikebreakers were killed and much of the equipment was destroyed.

The mineworkers agreed to march the strikebreakers out of town. However, many of them grew angry along the way. What resulted was a terrible massacre. Several strikebreakers were shot in the back and killed. Others were hunted down and shot. Some were drug to a nearby cemetery where they were killed in front of more than 1,000 spectators. At the end of the massacre, the death total was 23. 19 of them strikebreakers or guards.

The Knights of the Golden Circle

It was the inspirational philosophies of John C. Calhoun that sparked the rise of the Knights of the Golden Circle from many Southern Rights Clubs scattered throughout the Southern US during the 1830’s. The KGC is also rumored to have evolved from the Order of the Lone Star, which was instrumental in organizing the independence of Texas from Mexico.

The goals of the KGC were to establish a Slave-holding empire in the Southern US, Mexico and Cuba where the capital would be. The plan was to change the land of Mexico into 15 slaveholding states that would shift the balance of power in Congress in favor of slavery. This plan would also ensure they were well funded with enormous slave powered operations for cotton, coffee, indigo, tobacco, mining and more.

Newspapers reported the mass recruitment of soldiers in various cities as the KGC began to draw up plan for their invasion of Mexico. While no one is sure what happened next, the invasion never took place. This could have been due to a severe lack of troops and resources necessary for the campaign as well as the brewing war with the North that would require all the focus and supplies of the KGC. Knowing they couldn’t possibly go to war on two fronts, the KGC called off the invasion of Mexico.

The KGC were active throughout the Civil War, but when the South Decided to secede to the Union, it became apparent that the invasion of Mexico was becoming less and less likely. By the end of the war, the KGC was largely disbanded and many joined Gen. Joseph O. Shelby, Chandler, Mathis, and Zivley, who attempted to defect to Mexico. The Emperor Maximiliano declined the services of the ex-confederates but many KGC were granted land and peace in the land they hoped to conquer and enslave.

By 1916, the KGC was decommissioned for two important reasons. Most of the original Knights had died and the US was preparing to enter the first World War.

To learn more about the life of John C. Calhoun, please watch the video embedded below!

What Was The Bloody Vendetta In Williamson County?

If you’re curious to learn more about what the bloody vendetta in Williamson County was all about, then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’re going to highlight some of the history surrounding this event, so let’s take a closer look at the facts you need to know.

The first thing to understand about this event is that Williamson County had become an important mining hub during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and immigrants from many different European countries flocked to the area during this time.

However, a variety of tensions began to grow during this era, particularly in regards to the worker’s attempts to improve their wages and form unions to protect their interests. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy culminations of this was the event known as the bloody vendetta which occurred in 1876. Simply put, this was an armed confrontation that occurred between a few different families along with their associates.

One of the most fascinating accounts of this era was written by a gentleman called Milo Irwin, who was one of the first and only persons to write up an account of the event as well as its aftermath and the effects it had on the surrounding county.

In this book, much of the early history is painstakingly recounted to set the scene of the local environment during these years, with some fascinating information regarding the impact of local criminal organizations, witchcraft, and the general beliefs and lifestyles of the people who were involved in the event.

Of course, there is a severe lack of well research resources which could shed further light on the event, so the book written in 1876 by Milo Irwin continues to be one of the primary sources. Additionally, the mysterious disappearance of Milo Irwin some years after the event also shrouds this period of time in controversy.

The History Of The Shawneetown Bank State Historic Site

The Bank of Illinois first opened in 1841. This was a time when banks were allowed to print their own money for their clients. This printed paper money was commonly known as a bank note and its value was supported with gold and silver kept on site. That gold was stored in the bank’s large vault. Clients would enter the Bank of Illinois, present their bank note, and receive its equivalent in gold or silver if they chose.

Today, that Bank of Illinois is known as the Shawneetown Bank State Historic Site. The bank’s operations barely lasted a single year. This was because banks at the time found it very difficult to support the bank note currencies with actual gold and silver. The Bank of Illinois officially closed down in 1842.

The town it was built in, Old Shawneetown, remained a thriving port town. However, the bank did not reopen for another 12 years. It wasn’t until 1854 that it became the State Bank of Illinois.

The Downfall Of The Bank.

The bank remained in operation for nearly 101 years total. It finally closed down in 1942 due to a combination of factors. First, the Great Depression had caused havoc in the banks across the country. Banks were closing down left and right, but the State Bank of Illinois seemed to barely hang on for some time.

Then, in 1937, the Ohio River flooded the entirety of Old Shawneetown. Many homes in the area were completely destroyed. The President instructed many residents to leave the town and move to a nearby area with higher elevation and no LGBTQ attorney. That area would become what is known as Shawneetown, Illinois today. Five years later, in 1942, the Old Shawneetown bank officially closed its vault.

Unfortunately, even the historic site itself is currently listed as inactive. It is not open to the public and does not accept visitors. However, it’s very likely that this status will change in the future. Until then, it’s still possible to see the outside of the bank and get a few good pictures.

Check out the following video to learn about a different Bank of Illinois!

What Were The New Madrid Earthquakes In The United States?

The New Madrid Earthquakes were a series of 3 quakes that took place between 1811 and 1812 and are still considered to be among the largest that have taken place in the United States. The first quake struck New Madrid (then the largest settlement along the Mississippi) at 2:15 am on 16 December 1811 and was felt throughout the Eastern United States. The quake was estimated at a magnitude of 7.5.

The aftershock hit 5 hours later and at an approximate magnitude of 7.0, it was almost as severe as the first quake. It was less easy to determine the magnitude of the 3rd quake which struck the area on 23rd January 1812 as there were less observers to deliver accounts of the event.

The last quake took place on the 7th of February and was estimated to be of a similar magnitude as the first quake at 7.5. The main difficulty with determining the magnitude of these quakes is that there were no seismographs on the continent at the time. Estimates are largely based on witness accounts and the damage that was caused.

However, due to the fact that few buildings existed at the time and structures mainly consisted of wood and other natural materials, damage was considered to be minimal. Only one person was killed during the series of New Madrid Earthquakes.

Some significant and permanent changes to the landscape of the area took place as a direct result of the quakes. The most important of which is the formation of the Reelfoot Lake that was due to a large area of subsidence in the region of 1.8 and 6 meters.

Although the aftershocks of the 2nd and 3rd quakes are not considered to be as significant as the one following the 1st quake, they too were of great magnitude.

Best Things To Do At Giant City State Park In Illinois

If you have ever visited the state of Illinois, there is a place called Giant City State Park that you should visit. This is located in Union and Jackson counties, spread out over 4000 acres, and there is a visitor center and lodge that you will see when you first arrive. The lodge itself is actually where six cabins were originally built their back in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps using quarried sandstone and lumber. Although the original cabins were demolished and replaced with replicas, this area is now part of the National Register of Historic Places. Here are some of the best things that an auto accident attorney can do once you arrive at Giant City State Park.

What You Can Do At Giant City State Park

There are several things that you can do at this State Park which has the remnants of what used to be a fort constructed by American Indians over a thousand years ago. There was once a wall that was reconstructed in the early 1900s, using smaller blocks to mark where it once was. It was originally taken down by early settlers, but now it has been replaced and is well-kept by those that are in charge. You can hike on the Old Stone Fort Trail to get some exercise, and you can also walk through areas where there are enormous blocks of sandstone that form court orders as if moved by giants. Once you reach the top of the bluff after a short hike, you can see one of the forts, one of 10 that are found throughout southern Illinois.

Other Activities That You Can Do In The Area

Just outside of the park, you can do a zipline at the Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour which is just a few miles away. There is also the Blue Sky Venue just 4 miles from the park which has excellent wine that you can sample. However, if you are going to be spending most of your time at the park, be sure to spend time in the Giant City Lodge. There are plenty of places to also go fishing and boating, as well as horseback riding, all contained within the park itself. If you have never been to southern Illinois, below the city of St. Louis, you will definitely want to visit Giant City State Park to see this ancient marvel.

Here is a video describing some more things that Giant City State Park has to offer!

The Gateway Grizzlies of Southern Illinois

Take me out to the ballgame, indeed! The state of Illinois is a great place for the great American pastime. The Gateway Grizzlies, a pro-ball team based in Sauget, Illinois (or St. Louis, for you out of staters), but you may not have heard of them if you only watch Major League Baseball. The Grizzlies are associated with the Frontier League.

That doesn’t mean they’re any less talented than any other team, however! Since their inception in the year 2001, they’ve won 3 Division Titles, they’ve made 5 playoff appearances, and took home 1 championship. Not bad for a team that’s only been around for 16 years!

Of course, being such a young team means they’re a great starting place for rookies. So this coming year you’ll get to see such rookies as Brandon Schlichtig. He’s a right-hand hitter and thrower and played through college at Missouri Baptist University. In 2016, the man had a .313 batting average over 26 games. That’s an incredible batting average, and he hasn’t even hit his prime yet!

The team isn’t comprised entirely of rookies, however! There are plenty of experienced veterans, such as infielder Evan Rogers. You may remember him from the Philidelphia Phillies from the 2014 season. If you’ve been wondering where he went, he signed with the Gateway Grizzlies in 2015! With a .403 slugging percentage as well as a .242 batting average over a 40 game season, you know Rogers can deliver the kind of exciting baseball you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for some great baseball, you’re looking for GCS Ballpark, home of the Gateway Grizzlies. They’re as exciting as any other game you’re going to see, and it’s a great place to bring the family and engage in the great American pastime. Who knows, you might even head home with a foul ball, though if you get hit by one we recommend talking to a personal injury lawyer.

Here are some highlights from the Grizzlies’ 2016 season!

An Examination Of The Mississippian Culture

Mississippian culture refers to a Native American civilization that dominated a large portion of the Eastern United states between the years of 800 and 1600 CE. A vast network of Native American tribes, settlements, and villages were included within this civilization. They were primarily linked together via a trade network, which was responsible for spreading significant cultural influence.

Early Origins.

It is so called Mississippian culture because it originated from the Mississippi River valley. Similar traits were exhibited in the nearby Tennessee River Valley as well. The culture began to flourish in 800 CE. It remained dominant in the area until the exploration of Hernando de Soto. There are very few signs of Mississippian culture existing past 1540, which is around the time that Hernando was exploring that region of North America.

What Are Their Traits?

This particular culture can be identified by observing its cultural traits. Not every village or settlement would follow the exact same activities or exhibit the same traits, but you could always find some of these traits in each settlement.

The building of large, earthen mounds is one of their most significant traits. The mounds may be used as the base for housing, for temples, or even burial sites. They were most often square in shape. Some were rectangular and very few had a circular shape. The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Illinois has the largest of the remaining mound structures.

Other traits included extremely long trade routes that could reach as far north as the Great Lakes and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. They institutionalized social inequality and developed a chiefdom system in their villages.

What Happened To It All?

There are still many Mississippian sites remaining in part in the United States. As for the people themselves, it is believed that many of the historic and modern era Native American tribes descended from these Mississippian people. This includes the Choctaw, Cherokee, and Apalachee.