Thanks for your interesting question. Ive attempted to organize the
information chronologically for you.
There doesnt seem to be much information available concerning Johnny
Pattons mayoralty prior to his relationship with Torrio. This may be
in part due to the fact that Burnham, which is located on the
Illinois/Indiana border, eighteen miles southeast of the loop, was at
the time, a very small village with a population of approximately
1,000. Patton came by his nickname the boy mayor of Burnham because
he had run a bar since he was fourteen and had taken office before the
age of twenty. No one else being interested, the youth had taken the
presidency on the off chance that he might be able to squeeze
something out of it. [McPhaul, p. 116]
Gangster Johnny Torrio, interested in extending his operations
(prostitution) began exploring the outlying suburbs and villages of
Chicago ostensibly under the guise that he had plans to open a
restaurant. Shortly thereafter, he met Johnny Patton, then the
Village President. Author Jack McPhaul writes:
The journey into the countryside in a hunt for a whoring site to
supplant the beleaguered Levee had brought him to tiny, drab Burnham
and Village President Patton, young, seedy, panting for the dollar,
[McPhaul, p. 362]
Patton showed Torrio the Arrowhead Inn, which had the advantage of
literally straddling the Illinois/Indiana border. Torrio was able to
persuade his uncle, gangster Jim Colosimo, that this was a selling
point (different police jurisdictions). The Arrowhead was renovated
into a thriving whorehouse and saloon.
Johnny Torrio: First of the Gang Lords by Jack McPhaul. Arlington
He [Patton] proved a willing pawn so that by the time a second reform
wave smote the Levee Torrio and Colosimo were ready to launch their
first country brothel. The roadhouse was a twenty-four hour a day
operation. Further establishments followed, always located on the
Illinois/Indiana border. Other vice entrepreneurs set up shop under
the protective wing of the boy mayor until Burnham, which measured
barely one mile square, was a citadel of boozing, gambling, and
Capone: the Life and World of Al Capone, by John Kobler. G.P.
Putnams Sons (1971), pp. 56-57.
Jazz musician, Mezz Mezzrow, wrote of Burnham that there were more
whores per square foot than in any town in the good old U.S.A. He
came to work at the Arrowhead in 1923. In his autobiography, Mezzrow
recounts that Patton was a sharp cat, about twenty-five; a fashion
plate, always jolly and full of stuff, with a real Irish wit and
Johnny could get away with murder if he wanted to, and I mean murder.
There never was a town sewed up as tight as Burnham was under the
syndicate. The chief of police was our bartender, and all the waiters
were alderman, so we never had any trouble with the law. The only
time the board of aldermen ever had a meeting was when enough of the
waiters ganged up around the bar to talk about the laines they
clipped, and the police chief was too busy mixing drinks to bust
himself under the prohibition act.
Really the Blues, by Mezz Mezzrow and Bernard Wolfe. Anchor Books
(1972), pp. 55-56.
On April 6, 1925, there was a police raid on Torrios offices at 2146
South Michigan Ave., Chicago (gang headquarters at the time). Patton
was arrested along with Robert Larry MCCullough, Frank Nitti, Leo
Clark, Joseph Piza, Joe Fusco, Anthony Arasso, and Phillip Kimmle.
Records seized by the raiding officers revealed that John Torrio,
John Patton, Al Capone, Jack Guzik and others were reaping an annual
revenue amounting to millions of dollars from bootlegging and
disorderly house operations.
From Torrio to Capone, by Virgil Peterson, in Organized Crime in
America: a Book of Readings, edited by Gus Tyler. University of
Michigan Press (1962) p.158.
During the raid, Patton who was present coincidentally attempted to
bribe his way out of the situation and for the return of the documents
and was arrested for attempted bribery. He was discharged by a
friendly judge [McPhaul, p. 182]
Concerning Pattons relationship to Capones syndicate, Kobler (cited
above) wrote, the organizations greatest power derived from those
close associates who held political office like Johnny Patton, the
mayor of Burnham. Patton was so close an associate as to be a virtual
member of the gang, [Kobler, p. 149]
Patton didnt stay exclusively with bars and whorehouses. He and
Capone invested in Hawthorne Kennel Club (dog racing) with Edward J.
(Artful Eddie) OHare [Kobler, p. 243-244].
Johnny Patton also ran a country club called Burnham Wood. The club
opened in 1925 and featured a nine-hole golf course, which developed a
following among Capone and his men. Patton and Capone were playing
one day in 1928 when the gun Capone had in his golf bag accidentally
went off, shooting Capone in the foot.
Capone: the Man and the Era, by Laurence Bergreen. Simon & Schuster
(1994), pp. 228-230.
In 1932, Sportsmans Park, another race track, was built on the site
of the Hawthorne Kennel Club. OHare was the first president.
Patton, OHare, Charles W. Bidwill, Sr. and William H. Johnston, Sr.
were officers of the National Jockey Club which was connected with
Sportsmans Park History
Capone and his syndicate reportedly controlled dog tracks around the
country and according to the testimony of Virgil Peterson, who was the
operating director of the Chicago Crime Commission, Edward J. OHare
was the Capone Syndicate czar of dog racing. (Peterson also
described Burnham to be a center of vice, gambling, and booze for the
Crime in America, by Estes Kefauver. Doubleday & Company, Inc.
(1951), p. 70.
OHare was murdered in 1939 and incidentally was the father of Edward
H. (Butch) OHare for whom Chicagos OHare airport is named.
Deadly Stakes: the Tragic Tale of the Name Behind Chicagos Colossal
Airport, by Jim ODonnell. Chicago Sun-Times (May 3, 2000).
After this point, I didnt find too much information until the
Kefauver Crime Committee was launched. Named for its chairman,
Senator Estes Kefauver, this was a committee geared at investigating
organized crime. Some of its proceedings were televised beginning in
U.S. Senate Historical Minutes: Kefauver Crime Committee Launched
During the hearings, Patton was called to testify. At the time, he
acknowledged that he was a principal partner for four dog-racing
tracks in Florida and a horse track in Cicero. He admitted a
friendship with then-governor, Fuller Warren and that his dog-track
partners had contributed $100,000 to Warrens campaign. When asked
who had been responsible for the criminal activities in Burnham,
Patton named Jim Colosimo [McPhaul, p. 363].
John Patton died at age 73 on December 23, 1956 in Earl Park, IN. The
entry for him in Obituaries on File is brief, describing him as the
gangster associate of Al Capone, who was known as the Boy Mayor of
Burnhan [sic] a suburb of Chicago that was notorious as a gangster
Obituaries on File compiled by Felice Levy. Facts on File (1979), vol.
1, p 458
Sources you may find of interest or wish to investigate:
Definitely look into the two sites that debbi-ga suggested in the
Any of the books I cited above. Ive given you everything they had on
Patton, but they might be useful in giving you a broader picture of
the era, the Capone organization and the various figures involved.
Given that Patton testified before the Senate, you may also wish to
look into locating that. It would involve going to a Federal
Locate a Federal Depository Library/GPO Access
Some web sites:
Chicago History Files
Al Capone The Crime Library
FBIs FOIA Reading Room on Alphonse Capone
Big Jim Colosimo
Johnny Torrio Mobsters TV
The Brief Glorious Days of Al Capone by John Tuohy
A book I was unable to locate may or may not be useful:
Fateful Rendezvous: the Life of Butch OHare by Steve Ewing. Naval
Institute Press: 1997 ISBN: 1557502471.
Patricia Stelzer Jacobs wrote a thesis on Torrio, which given the
relationship between Patton and Torrio might be worth the effort to
read. You should be aware though, it's generally not easy to obtain a
copy of a dissertation (you would need to have your library attempt to
get via interlibrary loan).
Prohibition and Organized Crime: a Case Study: an Examination into the
Life of John Torrio," by Patricia Stelzer Jacobs. Wright State
Checked in standard print sources such as Biography Index and
Obituaries on File
Then went to library catalog and did searches on Patton (nothing in my
library or on Worldcat), Capone, Torrio.
Examination of the books and the bibliographies provided by the
respective authors led me to other print materials as well as the
johnny patton boy mayor
john patton boy mayor
john patton mayor capone
john patton mayor torrio
"jim colosimo" gangster
johnny torrio gangster
ohare airport history patton
butch ohare john patton
ohare john patton
same searches as above
I hope this answers your questions.