Thursday, March 12, 2009
The Era of Illegal Vices
As early as the 1910s, the Chain O' Lakes region, particularly Fox Lake, were known for their drinking and gambling establishments.
Shown at right is a real photo postcard of the Ingleside Buffet, circa 1910. Mr. Coleman, the proprietor, is most likely the man standing behind the bar.
During Prohibition (1920-1933), the lakes region became a notorious hangout for Chicago mobsters, including Al Capone's and Bugs Moran's gangs. The Chicago Tribune reported it was “…worse than in the levee districts of the city.”
The situation in Fox Lake was in part due to Chicago’s efforts to “clean up” its vice districts, which caused those districts to re-settle in the suburbs. The Tribune article added, “Probably the most vicious resort is the Mineola Hotel. All of the hotels are supplied with slot machines.” The Mineola is shown in its heydey in this V.O. Hammon Company postcard, circa 1920.
The 100-room Mineola Hotel was built in 1894 by Chicago businessmen. It is the largest wooden structure in Illinois, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is still in use today as a restaurant and banquet facility.
In the late 1930s, Lake County's board of supervisors appointed a Special Prosecutor to deal with the illegal gambling problem. Shown in this News-Sun photo from May 9, 1939, is Special Prosecutor, Charles E. Jack, (right) watching as workmen demolish 80 slot machines and pinball games in the yards of the Diamond Lake Junk Company. The News-Sun reported, "The machines were seized in a series of raids... to drive gambling out of Lake County. Jack filed his final report, announced the county clean, and ended his duties yesterday."