Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pearl Elliott : The Mob Madam

Have you ever heard of Pearl Elliott?  You might be more familiar with her buddies, John Dillinger and Harry Pierpont, notorious for shenanigans during the 1920s through the 1930s era.

Pearl Elliott, images.google.com
Pearl hailed from Indiana.  She was married three times.  I wonder why?  She was a nice sort of lady, well, except for being a "frequent flyer" on the local police blotters.

You see, Pearl became a Madam (do you really use a capital M when spelling that word?).  I suppose it was to "make ends meet".....well, I guess I should not use THAT phrase.....  let's just say she needed to earn a living.  It was the Depression Era. She also rented rooms to a few of her friends that needed places to stay, before and after they robbed banks and carried on in other activities considered illegal. She started harboring fugitives in 1925 when Pierpont completed a bank heist and needed a place to lay low.

Kokomo was her hometown when she tried her skills at this business. Her home was raided in 1929, but the judge dismissed the case in the city court. There were other raids and arrests from 1930 to 1932. Sometimes she pleaded "guilty" to charges of brothel management, if it appeared that she had no other choice.  But then, some of those in the ranks of the police and fire departments were frequent visitors to her establishment, so she got some friendly help in dismissing some charges along the way.  They provided protection for her and her girls when some paying visitors were disorderly and caused trouble.  How nice to have armed men outside the house when she needed them.

Pearl's husband, "Dewey" Elliott, was on friendly terms with Pierpont and Dillinger. He suggested that Pearl become the treasurer for the Dillinger group of thugs.  Evidently, she did a good job.  Pierpont aided Dillinger in his escape from  jail.  Pearl was not seen in the Kokomo area after the jail break.  Seems unusual, so she must have had a hand in it. She found herself on the Chicago Police Department's Most Wanted List, with an order of "shoot to kill" since she was considered a dangerous partner of John Dillinger and Harry Pierpont, and she was known to harbor them and their gang members in her "Rooms For Rent" establishments.

When Dillinger escaped from the Crown Point, Indiana jail, he found refuge in an apartment in Chicago, where the rent had been paid two weeks in advance....by Pearl Elliott. She hid out there with Dillinger and Joe Burns, a member of the gang.

Dillinger met his end in front of the Chicago Biograph Theatre, gunned down in a hail of bullets in July of 1934, orchestrated by Melvis Purvis, FBI.   Harry Pierpont was sent to the electric chair while at the Ohio Penitentiary the same year in October.

Pearl Elliott, among other women noted for their participation in the career of John Dillinger, was seen at his funeral in Mooresville, Indiana.  She paid her respect for her friend, noting that he never let her down, and she had to be there to see him once more.

On August 10, 1935, Pearl McDonald Elliott was pronounced deceased after her battle with a carcinoma at the age of 47.  She was laid to rest with the McDonald family in Greenlawn Cemetery in Clinton County, Indiana. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=elliott&GSiman=1&GScid=226628&GRid=28777548&

Friday, December 9, 2016

You Can't Blame the Beer Hops : Lemp Family Triumph and Tragedy

How many families have your researched having a constant history of suicide?  The Lemp family had it's share, that is for sure.

The Lemp family moved from Germany to the United States.  They started their own brewing company along the banks of the great river city, St. Louis, in 1840, after having dabbled in the grocery store business. Adam Lemp distilled vinegar and brewed beer for customers.The beer brewing became so popular that he scrapped the grocery business.  He focused solely on beer brewing and established his company, which was named Western Brewery. Adam Lemp passed away in 1862, and William, his son, inherited the business. William Lemp, who was only 12 years old when he came to America. became a naturalized citizen in 1841.  He graduated from St. Louis University and started his own brewing company, which eventually merged with his deceased father's brewery.  He named this the William J. Lemp Brewing Company. The company incorporated in 1892.

William served in the Missouri Union troops during the Civil War, and became a member of the GAR.  He and his family were becoming very well respected as he rose to the ranks of the elite class. Lemp had invested interests in many breweries, mostly in the southern states of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

The Lemp family life seemed perfect.  William and his bride, Julia, raised a family of four daughters and five sons.  Life seemed to be great.  He renamed his company as Lemp, and built a rather nice house not far from the cool caves where he brewed his product.  There supposedly was an underground tunnel connecting the Lemp home to the Lemp cave brewery. Eventually, Lemp's Falstaff Beer outsold the Budweiser product for quite some time.

beer bottles, free images.google.com

William was getting along in age by the turn of the century, so he decided to go into partial retirement and travel with his wife.  He appointed his sons as custodians of the business.  Of the five sons, Frederick seemed to be the favorite.  However, Fred wasn't feeling so well, so he left for California to attend to this health, when he died suddenly of heart failure in December of 1901 at the age of 28.

Mr. and Mrs. Lemp took the loss very hard, although William seemed to bear the most grief.  Not more than three years after the passing of his son, he learned that his old friend, Frederick Pabst, of Milwaukee, had passed away.  William Lemp seemed to be filled with unending grief.  Frederick Pabst was the father-in-law of William's daughter, Hilda.  William could not take any more of his depressed life, so he took his life by shooting himself in the head in the bedroom of his home.  His wife, Julia, passed away two years later, in 1906, It was said that she, also, suffered from bouts of deep depression since the suicide of her husband.

Lemp Brewing, Falstaff Beer Logo, free images.google.com

The brewing business was passed onto William Lemp, Jr.  He established the offices of the company in the family home.  He is credited with naming the premier product, Falstaff, William Jr., known as Billy, married in 1899.  His wife, Lillian, was of the aristocrat status, and she insisted on wearing the color of lavender everyday, all day.  This marriage was doomed.  He didn't like her having a different carriage for every day of the week, and her use of profane language.  She charged that he brought women to their home and beat her, threatening her life with a revolver. Lillian was granted a divorce in 1909, and gained full custody of their son.  She did not feel satisfied with alimony of $6,000/yr., and eventually took her case to the state supreme court, and was awarded a lump some of $100,000.00.  Cha Ching! She never remarried, and continued to wear lavender every day.

Billy's younger sister, Elsa, was also in a very unhappy marriage.  She was granted a divorce from her husband, Thomas Wright, in 1919.  They remarried in 1920....WHAT? One week after their second wedding day, she seemed to be dealing with depression, which was a family affliction.  She was having one particularly bad evening, so she excused herself to her bedroom overnight.  The next morning a loud sound was heard coming from her room.  Elsa was found deceased, having shot herself in the heart.

Prohibition did not make things very good for the Lemp brewing family.  They tried to brew some non-alcoholic beverages, but sales were very low. Family members quarreled over what to do with the company.  Billy did not want to update to modern brewing standards.  He preferred to brew with old traditional ways.  Eventually, the brewery was closed.  The buildings were sold.  Billy became overcome with depression, just like his father and sister.  He shot himself in the heart while sitting in the business offices of their Lemp family home in December of 1922.

Lemp Brewing Company cave where brewing took place, free images.google com

William Lemp, III, tried to revive the Lemp Brewing Company after the repeal of Prohibition.  For a while it seemed that partnering with another  company in the early 1930s was a good idea.  He had relocated to Illinois on the east side of the Mississippi.  Unfortunately, his company went bankrupt..  In 1943, the disappointed man died of a massive heart attack.  He was only 43 years old.

Charles Lemp, son of William Lemp, Sr., brother of Billy Lemp, had once been president of the brewery.  But in 1911 he withdrew from the business and went into a banking career. He was never married, and became a reclusive person, moving back into the Lemp home.  In 1949, at the age of 77, he, too, shot himself in the head. He had pre-arranged for his funeral and left a note requesting cremation, having his ashes spread over his farm.

Lemp family mausoleum, Bellfontaine Cemetery, free images,google.com
The Lemp family has a large mausoleum in Bellefontaine Cemetery, in St. Louis.  It is among the largest ever built there.  It was constructed by William Lemp, Sr., after the death of his beloved son, Frederick, in 1901.  Thirteen members of the Lemp family are interred here. There are no living family with the Lemp name.  It is said that the Lemp family home, now a restaurant venue, is haunted.

Lemp Mansion, free images.google.com

I wonder, how many of the Lemp family are still hanging around the house?

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Christmas Ogre : He Deserts His Family and Takes a Young Bride

What a guy!  This story is about a rather Scrooge-like scumbag.  He was the father of twelve children.  He left his family, yes, at Christmastime.  Why?  No, he was not depressed.  No, he was not penniless, unable to deliver a wonderful, light-hearted holiday to his family.  He just left them all, without a note.  You see, he found a young 16-year old to take as his bride.

free images Scrooge
 Michael Boland lived in St. Louis, Missouri.  Married, father of a large brood, and according to some, a nice neighbor, was missing from his family in late December of 1889.  He was found in Arkansas on December 27th, celebrating a honeymoon with his new, under-aged bride.

Boland, a laborer by trade, left St. Louis in October of 1889 to work on the levee in Bright Star, Arkansas.  Mrs. Boland reported that she ceased to receive any letters from him after he had been gone about 10 days.  She had received a letter from someone claiming to be a "Sheriff Brown".  The letter told of an incident where Mr. Boland had gotten himself into a skirmish with others while on the Arkansas River, and he died from his wounds.  Mr. Boland did have a life insurance policy, with a value of $150.00.  His wife placed a claim for death benefits, as she had a house full of children to feed and care for.

Here is where the story gets good.  The Prudential Insurance Company proceeded to investigate the death of Mr. Boland when they had received the claim from the Mrs.  Another letter was found, once again written by someone claiming to be "Sheriff Brown".  It stated that Mr. Boland was on a skiff on the river, when he was knocked into the river, floating downstream until he was picked up by a steamboat crew, who then transported him to New Orleans.  According to the letter, he was last seen laying in a hospital there.

Following the trail, the insurance investigators contacted the New Orleans officials, who reviewed their maritime records, and found that no such person was transported on a steamboat, and no injured passenger was taken to a hospital there.

Mrs. Boland, needing some closure and some money for support, asked the St. Louis Police Department for some help in locating her husband and finding out what happened to him.
Upon arriving in Bright Star, Arkansas, the police detectives found Mr. Boland, alive and well.  He had never left Bright Star, and had never been involved in a skirmish, nor was he ever tossed off a skiff on the river.

Mr. Boland was found snuggling with his new, much younger bride.  Well, HO HO HO.  Mrs. Boland was notified of what the police had uncovered....her husband was a rat fink.  She proceeded to sue for divorce, and the courts prepared charges against Mr. Boland for bigamy.

I guess we can assume he got coal in his stocking that year!