Crooks in Illinois, Yea, in Crystal Lake

I ran across an opinion piece in the Quad City Times by former State Rep. Jim Nowlan, who was selected by GOP Governor Dick Ogilvie as his running mate in 1972, when I first ran for State Representative. Having taught at Knox College, he now is a Senior Fellow at the University of Illinois’ Institute for Government.

He has a part that starts with a big crook with a Crystal Lake connection, William Lorimer.

The best view of former U.S. Senator William Lorimer’s “summer cottage” can be found in the winter when the trees are bare.  The Senator bribed state legislators to obtain his appointment and the resulting scandal led to the direct election by voters of U.S. Senators.

Lorimer was the Republican boss for Northeastern Illinois. He’s buried in Evanston, but he had a summer home overlooking Crystal Lake.

It is east of the north on the Dole Mansion, the big one built with undersized concrete blocks (or oversized brick-looking concrete blocks, if you prefer). It’s the one with the pillars overlooking the Crystal Lake Park District’s Main Beach. (While I was attending Crystal Lake Community High School from 1958-60, we lived at 800 Broadway, which was built of the same material.)

With that introduction, here is the paragraph:

“Our history provides examples to rival our more recent lapses in public integrity.

“In 1912, Illinois U.S. Sen. William Lorimer (R) was ejected from the Senate by his peers for allegedly bribing up to 40 Illinois state legislators to vote for him (which prompted a constitutional amendment on popular election of senators).

“In the 1920s, duly elected Frank L. Smith (R) was denied his seat in the U.S. Senate by a vote of the senators because of unseemly, huge contributions from utility magnate Samuel Insull.

“Also in the 1920s, we had the outrageous, thrice-elected Chicago mayor Big Bill Thompson, who brought live rats onto his speaking platforms to represent his opponents and turned a blind eye to gangster Al Capone.”

I would point out that this is not an all-encompassing list.

While I don’t subscribe to all Nowlan’s prescriptions for cleaning up Illinois politics, it is an interesting read.

To date, there is no historical plaque in front of this mansion. One could be put on the property maintained by the Crystal Lake Park District.


Crooks in Illinois, Yea, in Crystal Lake — 2 Comments

  1. Hi…Mr Skinner. wondering if it was you who went to CL high 58-60?

    I was there from 59-62 and for two years i was life guard at the beach.

    during that period i also went for shooting practice at a later suspected crime group hunt club (that i didn’t know about), riding my horse there, less than a mile from my home on oak ridge road close by bull valley in McHenry County.

    Then some later Dad told me Capone had a house the other end of Crystal Lake and he forbid me to go near there.

    but of course when the ice was frozen i would skate down to the other side where i had a friend.

    I became a close friend with Liesl who was a 19 yer old german black-haired beauty, unwilling mistress to the short dumpy mob boss (didn’t know what either of those things were ’til some later.)

    Anyway i wonder if it is possible that one of the mob’s retreats was in crystal lake, illinois rather than the one in new jersey.

    I am now recalling the very many memories during those times, now, as my mind slips into the alzheimers which overtook my mother for 20 years.

    would love to know whatever happened to Liesl.

    Any feedback would be most appreciated if you are interested.

    Thank you.

  2. That was me.

    I attended CLCHS for my junior and senior years in high school, graduating in 1960.

    I am sending your comment and email address to Jim Heisler, our local historian.

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