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: