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Q: Johnny Patton, the Boy Mayor of Burnham,IL"? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Johnny Patton, the Boy Mayor of Burnham,IL"?
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: bobp-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 21 Sep 2002 11:32 PDT
Expires: 21 Oct 2002 11:32 PDT
Question ID: 67605
The history of his Mayorship? He was Mayor sometime between 1915-1935
in a small  town outside Chicago.
How he came to power?
His relationship with Johnny Torrio and Al capone?
Any scandals he was involved in or was he ever attested?
Any sources that I can go to for additional info?
here is some info I read in
"Wicked City"
 Chicago:Fron Kenna to Capone
 written by Curt Johnson with R> Craig Sautter
 "Four years of savage,terrible war devastated Europe but for Johnny
Torrio that war was never fought. The world after 1918, drunk with
gunpowder and blood, sank into an anarchy of disorder and confusion,
but not Johnny Torrio. He quietly sent his small army of thugs to call
on Chicago cigar store owners to persuade them to rent their back
rooms for use as Colosimo handbooks. The owners were happy to. His red
motorcar took him tp a village of Burnham 18 miles south of the Loop
at the invitation of Johnny Patton the villages's boy president.
Patton, 25, had tended bar since he was 14 and thought he knew a good
thing when he so it. He showed Torrio a two-story building, the
Arrowhead Inn, that straddled the Illinios-Indiana state line. Torrio
bought the Arrowhead for $15,000, added a bar to the first floor's
restaurant and divided the second floor into small bedrooms. He made
Patton manager and hired  Burnham's chief of police as a bartender,
three village trustees as waiters. The crib size like bedrooms were
furnished with Levee lovelies" Page 104

".....under Torrio's direction, Patton oversaw suburban operations"
Page 105

 "Johnny Patton, th "Boy Mayor of Burnham," who had brought the
profits in suburban sin to Johnny Torrio's attention, continued to
work closely with Al Capone, especially in the matter of arranging
political fixes."  Page 242

The hope the above information will help in understanding the "BOY

Good Luck!!!
Subject: Re: Johnny Patton, the Boy Mayor of Burnham,IL"?
Answered By: luciaphile-ga on 28 Sep 2002 15:44 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi bobp-ga,

Thanks for your interesting question.  I’ve attempted to organize the
information chronologically for you.

There doesn’t seem to be much information available concerning Johnny
Patton’s 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
House (1970).

“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.
Putnam’s 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 Torrio’s 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 Patton’s relationship to Capone’s syndicate, Kobler (cited
above) wrote, “the organization’s 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 didn’t stay exclusively with bars and whorehouses.  He and
Capone invested in Hawthorne Kennel Club (dog racing) with Edward J.
(“Artful Eddie”) O’Hare [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, Sportsman’s Park, another race track, was built on the site
of the Hawthorne Kennel Club.  O’Hare was the first president. 
Patton, O’Hare, Charles W. Bidwill, Sr. and William H. Johnston, Sr.
were officers of the National Jockey Club which was connected with
Sportsman’s Park.

Sportsman’s 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. O’Hare
was “the Capone Syndicate czar of dog racing.”  (Peterson also
described Burnham to be “a center of vice, gambling, and booze for the
Capone Syndicate.”)

Crime in America, by Estes Kefauver.  Doubleday & Company, Inc.
(1951), p. 70.

O’Hare was murdered in 1939 and incidentally was the father of Edward
H. (“Butch”) O’Hare for whom Chicago’s O’Hare airport is named.

“Deadly Stakes: the Tragic Tale of the Name Behind Chicago’s Colossal
Airport,” by Jim O’Donnell. Chicago Sun-Times (May 3, 2000).

After this point, I didn’t 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 Warren’s 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.  I’ve 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
Depository Library.

Locate a Federal Depository Library/GPO Access

Some web sites:

Chicago History Files

“Al Capone” The Crime Library
FBI’s 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 O’Hare” 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
University, 1997.

Search strategy:

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
Kefauver Committee.

Google searches:

“johnny patton” “boy mayor”
“john patton” “boy mayor”
“john patton” mayor capone
“john patton” mayor torrio
"jim colosimo" gangster
“johnny torrio” gangster
“o’hare airport” history patton
“butch o’hare” “john patton”
o’hare “john patton”

“john patton”
“kaufauver committee”
“kaufauver report”
capone patton
same searches as above

I hope this answers your questions.  


Clarification of Answer by luciaphile-ga on 28 Sep 2002 19:20 PDT
Hi bobp-ga,

I'm very pleased you were so happy with my answer. Unfortunately, it
goes against Google Answers's policy for me to contact you privately.
If, however, you wish to post additional questions to Google Answers,
please feel free to do so.

bobp-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
A great job. Thank uou very much. Would you have the researcher
contact me at    I would like to know if he/she
would be interested into going into further details about the "Boy
Mayor of Burnham", Johnny Patton.Please have him contact me. Thanks  Once again GREAT JOB!!!!!!!

Subject: Re: Johnny Patton, the Boy Mayor of Burnham,IL"?
From: debbi-ga on 22 Sep 2002 09:35 PDT
There's not much more here but it may be of some help:

"Torrio opened his first whorehouse outside the Levee in the tiny
village, a hamlet really, of Burnham on the Illinois Indiana border
and about 18 miles from the heart of the Levee.

"The president of the village, which measured less than one square
mile, "The Boy Mayor" they called him, was John Patton having been
elected to office before age twenty. Patton was ready, willing, and
able to take as much graft as Johnny Torrio was willing to dole out."
Subject: Re: Johnny Patton, the Boy Mayor of Burnham,IL"?
From: debbi-ga on 22 Sep 2002 09:56 PDT
"While the gang wars were erupting throughout the city, Capone still
managed to gain a lot of power within political circles, thus
increasing his overall stronghold on Chicago and surrounding towns. In
fact, "the organization’s 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." As Capone began to have more and more political ties such
as with Mayor Patton of Burnham, the power just kept increasing,
because Capone’s gang was then able to buy off the police and run
their bootleg liquor through those towns."

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