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song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL

Art Thieme 25 Jul 99 - 09:54 AM
John of the Hill 25 Jul 99 - 11:13 PM
GUEST 23 Jan 09 - 10:56 PM
GUEST,DWR 24 Jan 09 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,cindy 04 Mar 09 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,DWR 04 Mar 09 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,cindy 16 Mar 09 - 04:59 PM
GUEST,cindy 16 Mar 09 - 06:08 PM
GUEST 29 Jul 09 - 09:19 PM
GUEST,DWR 29 Jul 09 - 10:26 PM
Art Thieme 29 Jul 09 - 11:22 PM
GUEST,Ruthie Shelton 02 Aug 09 - 10:10 PM
Art Thieme 03 Aug 09 - 12:21 AM
Amos 03 Aug 09 - 12:28 AM
Amos 03 Aug 09 - 12:38 AM
GUEST,Ruthie Shelton 03 Aug 09 - 09:00 AM
Amos 03 Aug 09 - 02:07 PM
Art Thieme 04 Aug 09 - 01:52 PM
Art Thieme 04 Aug 09 - 06:44 PM
GUEST,Ruthie 10 Aug 09 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,cindy coleman 06 Sep 09 - 09:55 AM
Art Thieme 06 Sep 09 - 10:01 PM
Art Thieme 06 Sep 09 - 10:16 PM
GUEST,cindy 07 Sep 09 - 04:50 PM
Art Thieme 07 Sep 09 - 11:05 PM
GUEST,cindy 11 Sep 09 - 09:19 AM
GUEST 11 Sep 09 - 09:36 AM
Art Thieme 12 Sep 09 - 10:23 PM
katlaughing 12 Sep 09 - 10:57 PM
Art Thieme 15 Sep 09 - 08:53 PM
katlaughing 15 Sep 09 - 10:08 PM
nickp 16 Sep 09 - 07:10 AM
GUEST 16 Sep 09 - 09:47 AM
Art Thieme 17 Sep 09 - 03:46 AM
Art Thieme 17 Sep 09 - 01:19 PM
Joe Offer 17 Sep 09 - 05:18 PM
Joe Offer 17 Sep 09 - 05:46 PM
Art Thieme 18 Sep 09 - 12:17 AM
GUEST,cindy coleman 20 Sep 09 - 11:39 AM
Art Thieme 20 Sep 09 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,cindy coleman 20 Sep 09 - 04:18 PM
GUEST 21 Sep 09 - 09:23 AM
GUEST,cindy coleman 21 Sep 09 - 01:10 PM
GUEST 23 Sep 09 - 10:26 AM
katlaughing 23 Sep 09 - 02:48 PM
Joe Offer 23 Sep 09 - 03:59 PM
Art Thieme 23 Sep 09 - 08:05 PM
Art Thieme 23 Sep 09 - 08:24 PM
GUEST,cindy coleman 26 Sep 09 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,cindy coleman 26 Sep 09 - 12:59 PM
Art Thieme 26 Sep 09 - 11:35 PM
GUEST 28 Sep 09 - 10:28 AM
BK Lick 01 Oct 09 - 01:57 AM
BK Lick 01 Oct 09 - 03:41 AM
GUEST,Ruthie Shelton 01 Oct 09 - 10:33 AM
Ruthie Shelton 01 Oct 09 - 11:47 AM
Ruthie Shelton 07 Oct 09 - 10:12 AM
GUEST,cindy coleman 07 Oct 09 - 05:37 PM
Art Thieme 08 Oct 09 - 06:20 PM
katlaughing 08 Oct 09 - 07:44 PM
Art Thieme 09 Oct 09 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,Bridget 23 Oct 09 - 06:50 PM
GUEST,Josh shelton 24 Oct 09 - 03:36 AM
GUEST 25 Oct 09 - 10:59 AM
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beeliner 29 Apr 10 - 07:58 PM
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Joe Offer 05 May 10 - 07:41 PM
Art Thieme 11 May 10 - 04:56 PM
Art Thieme 13 May 10 - 11:11 PM
Art Thieme 13 May 10 - 11:25 PM
Art Thieme 21 May 10 - 06:48 PM
GUEST,Ruthie Shelton 25 May 10 - 05:31 PM
katlaughing 25 May 10 - 11:44 PM
GUEST,Ann Wallace 19 Jun 10 - 02:21 PM
BK Lick 20 Jun 10 - 03:38 AM
GUEST,cindy coleman 12 Jul 10 - 12:33 PM
Art Thieme 07 Sep 10 - 08:08 PM
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Art Thieme 28 Sep 10 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Shane Tyler 29 Sep 10 - 03:02 PM
Art Thieme 29 Sep 10 - 07:40 PM
Art Thieme 01 Oct 10 - 11:31 PM
GUEST,Ruthie Shelton 04 Oct 10 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,Shane Tyler 05 Oct 10 - 07:51 PM
GUEST 22 Oct 10 - 09:27 PM
GUEST,ask 21 Nov 10 - 11:21 PM
GUEST 05 Jan 11 - 12:28 AM
GUEST,Ruthie Shelton 05 Feb 11 - 12:08 PM
GUEST,Bill 13 Feb 11 - 10:36 PM
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Subject: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 Jul 99 - 09:54 AM

In the 1920s the Shelton Bros. gang fought it out with the Charlie Birger gang for control of the illicit booze biz in S. Illinois---mainly Williamson County.

I'm lookin' for a song that was sung then specifically about the SHELTON BROS. GANG. The one about Charlie Birger, "The Hanging Of Charlie Birger", was done by Vernon Dalhart & I've already got that one.

The one I am looking for is the one about the Shelton Gang.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: John of the Hill
Date: 25 Jul 99 - 11:13 PM

I'm down here in Union County, and knew a few old-timers who had contacts with the Sheltons, but unfortunately I can't help you with the song. I'll try to ask around at some of the local jams, and maybe I'll get lucky. John


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 10:56 PM

There was a recording titled "The death of Carl Shelton". I have been unable to find a copy. jrdubya206


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,DWR
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 10:19 AM

When I saw the subject, my first thought was "Go ask Art Thieme." Then when I open the thread, I see he was the one asking. After that, I saw it was drawing on ten years ago that he asked! I just don't know where the time goes.

Anyway, I looked through my file of oldies, but I just don't have it, sorry. The intervening years have taken away all of my contacts who would have known as well.

Dale


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 01:32 PM

i wrote here a couple of weeks ago but i don't see it listed. i remember several verses and the tune if that will help. cindy


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,DWR
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 02:16 PM

Certainly would, Cindy.   Just drop it in here and Art will be along directly to pick it up!


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 04:59 PM

okay, here's the problem. i'm old enough so that i don't really know how to negotiate these things. i don't know what you mean by "drop it here"---i'll be glad to, but i need to know what to do.
thanks.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 06:08 PM

by the way---i forgot to say in the second message i sent that i knew
about this because my father, who was a writer, wrote an article and later a chapter of a book of his about the shelton brothers, and earl, i believe an elder brother, sent my dad a privately empressed copy of the song. that's how i learned it as a child, because we had the record. i no longer have it, obviously, but remember much of it, i hope.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 09:19 PM

I'd like to know more about the song about the Shelton gang. I've heard "The Death of Carl Shelton", but I didn't know there was another song. My dad, Little Carl, was brought to tears when he heard the song about the death of his Uncle Carl.
If anyone has any info they'd like to share with me, my e-mail address is: ruthieshelton@comcast.net
Thanks, Ruthie Shelton


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,DWR
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 10:26 PM

Ruthie, I am sorry that we can't be of more help. As you can tell from the age of this thread, we've been thinking on the subject for over 10 years, and have little to show for it.

I'll try to do a little more research, but the prospect is bleak. As I said earlier, I used to know a few people who could have told you exactly about it, probably even produced the recording, but it's too late for that now.

I've looked through Tony Russell's Country Music Discography, but found nothing there.

We have on occasion dredged up something long after the original request. If the right person happens to see this thread, you may still get what you want. We'll see.

Dale


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 11:22 PM

Ruthie,

I'm Art Thieme, the fellow that started this discussion on July 25, 1999---ten years ago. I didn't realize my old question about the Shelton brothers had drawn folks attention again. Really, I'm amazed.

Once upon a time I was a singer of the old songs, the ones we called folk songs. I did record Vernon Dalhart's song 'The Hanging Of Charlie Birger' on an album called SONGS OF THE HEARTLAND on Kicking Mule Records out of Berkeley, California. That was 1979 I think.

But I'd heard about the feud between the Charlie Birger gang and the Shelton brothers gang in Williamson County; that they outfitted 1920s era cars with sheet-metal armor and literally jousted up and back on Highway 13, blasting away at each other with shotguns and whatever! I wondered if the songs about the Sheltons were more graphic than the actually rather bland song that Dalhart recorded in 1928 after Birger was hanged in Benton, Illinois.

The song Dalhart did was supposedly the work of Carson Robison--a songwriter and singer from the 1920s. But my friend, the folklorist, Harlan Daniel told me he was fairly certain that the song had been written by Blind Andrew Jenkins---another singer of that era. Jenkins songs often had a verse that was a religious moral ending to the song. He wrote his songs from historical events and would sell them for five or ten dollars to Carson Robison who often made more money off of them.---- At least, that's what Harlan Daniel thought.

But I did have higher hopes for the songs I had heard about that concerned the doings of the your relatives. As luck would have it, I'm now unable to play music---but I definitely would like to see the words to the songs about the Sheltons.

If you could type out the words to the songs you have, it would be truly appreciated,

All the best to you,

Art Thieme
Peru, Illinois


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Ruthie Shelton
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 10:10 PM

Art,
   I'll try and get the words for you as soon as I can. You spoke of armored cars and highway 13. Where is highway 13? Do you have any pictures? Any old time stories you could tell me about my family?
I would appreciate anything you know. You can e-mail me :
ruthieshelton@comcast.net
Thank you so much,
    Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 12:21 AM

Ruthie,
I will do that. Give me a few days.

Highway 13 runs East and West in Southern Illinois. Mostly it is in Williamson County. But Charlie Birger's combination clubhouse and hideout, which he named Shady Rest, was right there on the highway. Last I saw it, in the 1970s, there was a granite stone marker commemorating the spot--but the hideout was gone. The stone inscription was heavily damaged and pockmarked from shotgun blasts. Those feelings from the other times do seem to die hard.

One tale I heard there was that the first bomb ever dropped on U.S. soil was a load of dynamite that the Shelton guys dropped on Shady Rest trying to kill Birger. It wasn't well done and they missed the house, but they did succeed in destroying a pit where Birger's gang had their cock fights.

All the best,

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Amos
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 12:28 AM

Here's a fuller rendition of the story with some in put from one who knew them. What an interesting story it is!

A
    In a hail of gunfire, Shelton Gang was driven out of Illinois
    By Phil Luciano
    GateHouse News Service
    Thu Jul 03, 2008, 10:54 AM CDT

    Editor's note: The Shelton Gang, which terrorized Peoria for years, came to a violent end when several members were shot to death. The murders have never been solved. In this, the second of a two-part series, Peoria Journal Star columnist Phil Luciano finds that there may be an answer to this mystery after all.

    Farm life was peaceful in Wayne County - until Ben and Agnes Shelton's boys grew up.

    The couple raised 10 children on a 120-acre farm near Fairfield, in Wayne County. Three of those children would help turn southern Illinois into a criminal war zone, so much so that the Saturday Evening Post would dub the Shelton Gang as "America's Bloodiest Gang."

    Of the inglorious trio, Carl was the soft-spoken brains. Earl was shrewd but reckless. And Bernie was big and explosive.

    As teens, they piddled around in small-time criminality: theft, robbery, larceny, and getting short prison stays for meager rewards. But in 1920, just after Prohibition began, they decided to step up to a bigger stage - and payoff.

    They ventured to East St. Louis, where the Volstead Act did nothing to slow locals and visitors from kicking up their heels. The Sheltons got a toehold in the speakeasy trade and eventually formed a gang of at least 50 minions. The Sheltons became friendly with Charlie Birger, a criminal ringleader who had bootlegging interests not only in East St. Louis but also in southern Illinois, not far from the Shelton family spread.

    Over time, the Sheltons tried to move into Birger's southern Illinois territory. The two gangs engaged in a protracted war that involved armored, homemade tanks and at least one aerial bombing. The battles triggered a triple-digit body count, but the near-lawless setting resulted in rare indictments and even rarer convictions.

    Birger proved an exception. For ordering the slaying of a small-town mayor friendly to the Sheltons, Birger in 1927 earned the least favorable position at Illinois' last public execution.

    Though the Sheltons did not have to deal further with Birger, East St. Louis became a problem. They had racked up enough business enemies to earn the attention of the governor and the FBI.

    The Sheltons departed East St. Louis, regrouping in Wayne County. They looked north and targeted Peoria - already a wide-open town - as a ripe plum.

    Between Carl's brains, Big Earl's moxie and Bernie's muscle, the three befriended Peoria's gambling bosses, wiggled in as partners and confidantes, then eventually took over the town. Gambling and prostitution flourished, with the Sheltons wise enough to ensure cooperation by giving generously to aldermen as well as the city treasury.

    The operation became so entrenched that not even the Chicago outfit, not even Al Capone, dared try pushing into Peoria. As old-timers later would recall, "You couldn't spit in Peoria without asking Carl Shelton."

    Though the Sheltons enjoyed a nicely profitable run in Peoria, by 1945 many locals had grown weary of the town's far-and-wide reputation as a haven for whores, slots and lawlessness. Longtime Mayor E.N. Woodruff, who believed most Peorians wanted him to look the other way, was stunned to lose re-election to reform candidate Carl Triebel.

    Triebel immediately and plainly told the Sheltons that gambling no longer would be tolerated in Peoria. The Sheltons, keeping with their policy of not quibbling with noncompliant authority, simply moved their trade to Peoria County. For the base of their ventures, Bernie Shelton bought The Parkway Tavern, on Farmington Road, just outside city limits.

    That same year, word filtered out of Chicago that the syndicate had put a $10,000 bounty on Carl and Bernie's heads. One day, five men with machine guns came down and surrounded the Parkway, with Carl and Bernie inside. Carl Shelton made a call, and two carloads of Shelton men raced over, wordlessly prompting the group to slink back to Chicago.

    Still, the episode apparently weighed heavily on Carl Shelton. In the spring of 1947, he announced he would retire to the family farm in Wayne County. Though few believed he gave up all control, Bernie Shelton took over as the visible head of the gang.

    ---

    On the morning of Oct. 23, 1947, Carl Shelton - who coincidentally had an appointment later that day to make out a will - was driving his Jeep near the family farm with a friend. At a rise in the road, they spotted a car hidden in the brush. Gunfire screamed, and Carl Shelton fell out of the Jeep. He died minutes later. His funeral was said to be the biggest ever in Fairfield, with more than 1,200 attendees.

    That was the first of two big blows to the Shelton empire. The next came July 26, 1948, at the Parkway. Bernie Shelton walked outside toward his car, which he planned to take to a mechanic. He heard one rifle crack and fell to the ground. The lone bullet had ripped through his torso, right under his heart.

    An ambulance sped the conscious Shelton to St. Francis Hospital. But he died a half-hour later.

    Soon, other gangland capitalists would take over the Shelton's Peoria-area interests. But that didn't mean violence had ended for the family.

    On May 24, 1949, Big Earl Shelton, who had retreated to the family farm, was playing poker at his Farmers' Club nightspot. An unknown gunman shot three bullets through a window, one of them plugging Shelton in the back. He suffered blood loss, but survived.

    Two months later, nephew Little Earl Shelton, bodyguard for Big Earl, was attacked in a firestorm of bullets at his home. Amazingly, he escaped unharmed. There were no witnesses regarding the trigger man.

    In 1950, Big Earl Shelton was shot in the right arm as he inspected family property, which by then included oil fields. Two weeks later, Little Earl Shelton, while sitting in his parked car in Fairfield, was nicked by a bullet to the arm. No one was charged in either shooting.

    Still later that year, another Shelton met his end at the wrong end of a gun. Roy Shelton, whose younger-days criminal endeavors had nothing to do with his brothers' gang, had spent his latter years farming. As he plowed a field, five rifle shots blew him off his tractor. He was dead before he hit the soil. No one saw a suspect.

    Early the next year, Big Earl's swank barn - built for $7,000, a princely sum back then - was torched. The arsonist escaped unnoticed.

    Three weeks later, in broad daylight in Fairfield, an assailant with a machine gun blasted at Guy and Lula Pennington, the latter the sister of the Shelton brothers. They survived, but no one faced charges for the shooting.

    During those times, others reported bullets whizzing by their heads upon occasion. Invariably, the intended victims were friends of the Sheltons or sharecroppers renting Shelton land.

    The Sheltons had had enough. The survivors - including matriarch Agnes, Big Earl Shelton, sister Lula Pennington and her husband, Little Earl Shelton, and a handful of others - sold the farm, packed their belongings and moved to Florida. They never were bothered again. There, Big Earl Shelton, the last of the three Shelton Brothers, died peacefully in 1986 at the age of 96.

    Nothing remained in southern Illinois to remind anyone of the Sheltons, save the original family homestead and two buildings on the family farm. In early 1952, those structures were burned to the ground.

    Who lit the match? As with every mishap regarding the Sheltons, that has remained a mystery.

    But one man knows. And he's ready to tell what he knows.

    ---

    In 1965, John "Peck" Smith of Peoria was serving time at Menard Correctional Center for a failed robbery in Edgar County. He was a prison trusty, in charge of the commissary, a position of privilege for someone like Smith willing to make behind-the-scenes dealings. Still, Smith didn't lord his power over the other inmates; rather, he was liked as much for his position as his amiable demeanor.

    "I was pretty well liked," says Smith, now 78. "I was considered trustworthy."

    Late that year, he got word that the prison soon would be home to a new prisoner with a notorious reputation: Black Charlie Harris. Though 69 years of age, he still commanded fearful respect.

    Smith had known of Harris from his teen years, when Smith worked for a Shelton Gang member who ran the Red Onion roadhouse outside Peoria. Though Smith had never met Harris - known as "Black Charlie" not for his skin, but his coal-dark hair - Smith knew of his ruthless renown.

    So a curious Smith was waiting for Harris when he came to the pen to serve a lengthy term for killing his girlfriend and her paramour.

    "I'm looking for a guy 6-foot-8, 280 pounds," Smith says. " . . .In comes this guy, 5-3, about 110 pounds."

    Indeed, for all of his foreboding, Harris was a man of small stature and genteel manners.

    "He was the politest person," Smith says. "Everyone was 'sir.'"

    By all accounts, Harris was the same way outside prison - except when it came to making a living. He was known as a ruthless gunman, in Peoria and southern Illinois, one so harrowing that his triggerwork almost never prompted anyone to step forward as a witness. Thus, for all his misdeeds, alleged and bona fide, he rarely saw the inside of a prison.

    One exception came in 1927, when he was bootlegging in East St. Louis and was a close associate of the Sheltons. Harris got a 10-year federal term, but earned parole in 1932.

    But he quickly violated parole, because of his implication in a counterfeit-money scheme. Harris ended up serving the 10 full years - and at Leavenworth penitentiary, where he spent endless days under a roasting sun, cracking rocks with a sledgehammer.

    He wouldn't go back to prison until 28 years later, when he went to Menard. By that time, many people - in law enforcement and otherwise - had pegged Harris as the man behind at least some of the Shelton attacks. Just after Carl Shelton was shot off his Jeep, his companion heard Shelton lament, "Don't shoot me any more, Charlie. It's me, Carl Shelton. You've killed me already." But a grand jury refused to indict him.

    With some of the other Shelton shootings, Harris was alleged to have been in the area. But no witnesses could be found to testify.

    Bernie Shelton's murder has remained the most murky. Theories have abounded, variously fingering gangsters, the Mafia and wayward elected officials.

    Harris would never say anything. Even in prison, he mostly kept quiet.

    "He wasn't a real talkative person," Smith says.

    ---

    One day, the two struck up a conversation. Smith isn't sure why Harris decided to open up: maybe because of their common bond of Peoria. The two started chatting about the town, and the conversation veered toward the Sheltons.

    With anger, Harris recalled his back-breaking stint in Leavenworth. He said that he took the counterfeiting rap for the Sheltons.

    Harris told Smith, "Every (expletive) time I busted those rocks, I thought of the Sheltons. And I thought of busting their heads."

    Worse, when he got out, the Sheltons never showed their appreciation for Harris. So for the next 10 years, Harris bided his time, waiting for revenge, Smith says.

    According to Smith, Harris admitted to killing Carl and Bernie Shelton. With the latter, he discussed details that have spilled from other accounts. He said that an unnamed accomplice from Fairfield waited in a green Chevrolet - like the one spotted by witnesses later - near St. Joseph's Cemetery.

    Harris crouched in the woods on a hill between the cemetery and Parkway Tavern. He waited long, but got impatient, Smith says.

    "He was about ready to go in," Smith says.

    After Bernie emerged from the tavern, Harris needed just one shot to fell him. He then scrambled up a hill footpath and got inside the waiting Chevy. They then drove back to Fairfield.

    Harris didn't volunteer details for his scheme, such as why he waited so long or how he picked particular days. But he did say that he was behind every one of the Shelton shootings, all the way until the family cleared out of Illinois.

    "He ran the whole family out of there," Smith says.

    After that, the two didn't talk again of the Sheltons. Smith didn't dare get pushy with a man as scary as Harris.

    Plus, Harris soon was transferred to Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet. Apparently, Menard officials did not like the idea of Harris being housed in southern Illinois, where he had so many criminal contacts.

    Smith never saw Harris again. After getting out in 1967, Smith returned to Peoria and worked labor and construction, never again returning to prison.

    Meanwhile, Harris served just 15 years of what was supposed to be a 60- to-75-year term. In 1980, At age 74, he apparently earned the sympathy of the parole board and was let loose.

    To the best of anyone's knowledge, Harris never bothered anyone again. He moved in with a niece in Elkhart, Kan. - a healthy 400-plus miles from the hated Leavenworth pen - and helped run an antique shop. He died of natural causes in 1987 at the age of 91.

    Says Peck Smith, "I would never say anything about him, unless I knew he was dead."

    Sources for this two-part story include "Brothers Notorious: The Sheltons," by Taylor Pensonau; and "The Shelton Gang: They Played in Peoria," by Bill Adams.

http://www.macombjournal.com


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Amos
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 12:38 AM

Another piece of the gang's history. Strange times.


A
    Note from Joe Offer (17 Sep 2009): I added the text of the newspaper article in the message from Amos above. I also fixed the link in this message, but the text is too long to post in this thread. It's a fascinating story, though - if you're interested in this saga, be sure to follow the link.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Ruthie Shelton
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 09:00 AM

That was an amazing story! The parts about the Sheltons are the kind of stories I've been looking for. My dad, Carl Shelton, Little Carl, told me just a few years ago about his life as part of the Shelton gang. He passed away Feb. 12, 2009.
Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Amos
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 02:07 PM

Wow, what a slice of history to inherit, Ruthie. I hope you manage to collect all the loose ends and weave it into a coherent whole with your Dad's stories included.


A


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 04 Aug 09 - 01:52 PM

Ruthie,

I just sent you a longer e-mail.

According to Paul Angle's fine book about Williamson County and environs (Knopf 1979), titled "Bloody Williamson" your father had 2 assassination attempts on his life. It wasn't said whether or not he had been injured or not. I hope you folks made it away from the violence of that sad era -- violence that had begun much earlier by decades and had continued on into the 1950s.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 04 Aug 09 - 06:44 PM

Once again, I'm gonna hafta mention the site where all of my photos are stored.

There is a good, clear picture there of the marker stone in front of where Charlie Birger's Shady Rest once was. You can easily see the damage to the granite that was done by Shelton supporters, I suspect, when they blasted away at the stone with shotguns.

http://rudegnu.com/art_thieme.html

When asked for a 'user name' and a 'password' just put in the word mudcat for both. That will allow you to enter.

Art


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Ruthie
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 07:57 AM

I'm sorry it's taking me so long to get the words for you, I'll get them soon. I promise I haven't forgotten.
Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy coleman
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 09:55 AM

i wrote back in march 2009. i remember a complete verse and the chorus to the death of carl shelton---and i know the tune.
these are the words that i remember:
    He had 3 loyal brothers, 2 sisters and a wife,
    To mourn his sad departure, the day they took his life,
    dah-dah-dah,etc.
    Carl Shelton was his name.

    (chorus)
    He left his dear old mother, in sorrow there alone,
    Living down in Merriam in a little country home,
    May the angels hover over her, for she has not long to stay,
    And I hope she'll meet her darlin', in a better world some day.

    At the county seat in Fairfield, they could not find a bill,
    But we all know that it's not right, our fellow man to kill,
    They even shot him when he fell, and left him there to die,
    Some day this mystery will be solved, in a courthouse in the sky.

the song was produced privately on a red plastic record as i recall,
and i believe it was produced by Earl Shelton, an older brother of Carl's, who sent the record to my father, a writer who had written about the Shelton gang in his book called Butcher's Dozen, published in the late '40s I think.

If I remember any more of the words, I'll add them here---and if anyone knows more parts of the song, I'd love to hear it, which might jog my memory of the words. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 10:01 PM

his is s-l-o-w-l-y coming together. Fascinating. An aside I would like to add:

The fine guitarist/instrumentalist and songwriter, JOEL MABUS has written and recorded, on his newest CD, an amazing and brilliant song about Charlie Birger. The Sheltons are mentioned obliquely, but as we have seen, their activities might be drawing more historical attention than when Birger grabbed the headlines in Williamson and Franklin Counties in southern Illinois, and Capone's doings got a lot more ink devoted to his doings in Chicago and environs.---

Joel's song (Charlie Birger) is eight minutes long but it seems like three to me.

The CD is called Joel Mabus--No Worries Now. On-

Fossil Records
PO Box 306--
-Portage, Michigan 49081
www.joelmabus.com

Every song on this CD is an intellectual and poetic gem that makes serious, and often comic points as well, with almost every verse/line. And simultaneously His picking is simply great too. A fine musician.

Ruthie, I'm glad your husband is doing well now. I will surely be in touch soon. If, as you said, would like to see who this guy (me) is, Google me--and the whole sordid tale ;-) will unfold.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 10:16 PM

Cindy Coleman,
Thanks for your input.

I believe that the name of the town you mentioned in the verse you posted is Marion, Illinois.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 04:50 PM

art---(may i call you that?)
i always thought it was marion too, and always sang it that way. but last spring when i looked up the chapter in my dad's book, i
thought it said "merriam". i'll check it again tomorrow. but so
far as my memory serves me, you're right.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 11:05 PM

Cindy, Whatever way you sing it is fine--of course. It's the traditional way! ;-)
Art


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 09:19 AM

art---do you know the tune to the death of carl shelton? if not, how do i get the tune to you? i have a friend who plays with the local symphony, and he says he can transcribe the notes for me onto
a piece of paper. that's the only way i can think of if you don't already have it, unless i call someone and sing it. any suggestions?


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 09:36 AM

Art,
   Did you get it yet, I mailed it the other day?
   Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 10:23 PM

Ruthie,
YES, I got it!!! And I've managed to put the two songs on a CD from the cassette you sent to me.

Folks, Ruthie has informed me that the singer is FRED HENSON. She says, "His son, Randy, tells me that his dad recorded the song in 1948." also: Ruthie Shelton said that she listened to it once with her dad, but it made him cry so she put it away until she found out that I was looking for it.

Amazing things happen in this good forum. Thanks to all for helping to track this song down.

I'm putting together a box of related stuff to send to Ruthie right now!

Will be back with the transcribed words as soon as I can desipher 'em.

Art


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 10:57 PM

Thanks for telling me about this thread, Art! I love Mudcat precisely because of these kinds of connections. How incredibly interesting. Isn't the internet incredible...bringing together Art, Cindy, and Ruthie at this one spot out of millions and voila! There's two songs and all kinds of sharing. Art, you know what I always say, "you are a Treasure!"

Cindy and Ruthie, thanks to both of you, too, for sharing with us.

kathappy


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Subject: ADD: The Death of Carl Shelton
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 08:53 PM

Here is the song:

THE DEATH OF CARL SHELTON
(as sung by Fred Henson in 1948)

Near a little country schoolhouse in the county known as Blaine Wayne,
Was down in Pine Creek bottom Pond Creek Bottoms one day a man was slain,
He was riding on the highway to see about some grain,
When they shot him from an ambush -- Carl Shelton was his name.

Now little did he know that morn he started out,
These hoodlums would be waiting there along this murder route,
He had no one to warn him and he feared no rude man's harm,
As he drove his jeep that morning to work down on the farm.

----He left his dear old mother in sorrow there alone,
----Living down near Marion in her little country home,
----May the angels hover over her for she hasn't long to stay,
----In hopes she'll meet her darling in a better world some day.

At the county seat of Fairfield, they could not find the bill,
But we all know that it's not right our fellow man to kill,
They even shot him when he fell and left him there to die,
Some day this mystery will be solved in the courthouse in the sky.

He had four loyal brothers, two sisters and a wife,
To mourn his sad departure the day they took his life,
In Maple Hill they laid him so peacefully there at rest,
But his presence, it still lingers, with the ones that knew him best.

---He left his dear old mother in sorrow there alone,
---Living down near Marion in her little country home,
---May the angels hover over her--for she hasn't long to stay,
---And hopes she'll meet her darling in a better world some day.

(A MILLION THANKS to Ruthie Shelton!!! May her uncle Carl, her dad, Little Carl, and all the rest from those sad hard times Rest In Peace...)

Click to play


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 10:08 PM

Wonderful, Art! Thanks for this wonderful thread!


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: nickp
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 07:10 AM

Wow fascinating. Mudcat strikes again.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 09:47 AM

Thanks for the words, Art. Now I know why it made my dad cry when he heard the song. It was in Wayne County, Il. in what they call the Pond Creek Bottoms that my great Uncle Carl was shot from his jeep.
I got to visit the area when I took my dad back to his hometown a few years ago, after he told me about his former life.
Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 03:46 AM

As you've indicated in your last post, Ruthie, there are a couple of corrections that anyone saving the words of the song I posted ought to take note of.

The name of the county in the first line of the song ought to be:

"Wayne County"---- not Blaine (as I mistakenly heard it.)

The second line of the first verse ought to read: "Pond Creek Bottoms ---- not Pine Creek Bottoms.

I do hope I didn't mis-hear anything else. While making the CD from the tape you sent me, I tried to clarify the sound as well as I could. Still, because the original record (probably 78-rpm) was quite worn from repeated playing over time, it wasn't possible to achieve the clarity I wanted.

P.S.---The software I use to create CDs is the Roxio Easy Media   Creator. I use basic settings, and that is easier to use than other difficult aspects of this same software. I'm quite happy with it.

Art
    Corrections made. -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 01:19 PM

As mentioned, there are TWO songs on the cassette Ruthie Shelton sent to me.

I assume that they were originally the two sides of a 78-rpm record--circa 1948--sung by Fred Henson.

The other song is fascinating and quite different from The Death Of Carl Shelton. I will post it here in this thread when I have the chance.

Art


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Subject: ADD:Death of Charles Burger/Hanging of Charlie B..
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 05:18 PM

Here's a pertinent post from Art from another thread:

    Thread #7829   Message #47539
    Posted By: Art Thieme
    01-Dec-98 - 06:01 PM
    Thread Name: Ben Dewberry's Last Ride
    Subject: RE: Ben Dewberry's Last Ride

    Andrew Jenkins was a fellow who went under the name of Blind Andy or Blind Andrew Jenkins. Harlan Daniel told me a long time ago that he was pretty sure Jenkins had written "The Hanging Of Charlie Birger" which was recorded by Vernon Dalhart. Jenkins would sell his songs to singers for $5.00 sometimes. He almost always had a verse at the end of his songs making a moral value judgment and/or a religious link.
    Art


Hi, Art-
I was going to ask you to post the lyrics to "The Hanging of Charlie Birger," but I found it. Can you post what's different in your version of the song?

This is from American Murder Ballads and their Stories, by Olive Woolley Burt (1958, Oxford University Press, pp 214-216):

During the days of Prohibition a new kind of outlaw was spawned— the modern gangster who sought to control the illicit liquor traffic, vice, and gambling, and thus to build up a fortune from crime. By this time Tin Pan Alley had discovered the bonanza offered by folk songs, especially those about outlaws, so Tin Pan Alley was turning out ditties about Pretty Boy Floyd, Dillinger et al. Although there are a number of professionally produced songs, they do not belong in this collection. One, however, which I received through the good offices of Harry E. Pratt, state historian of Illinois, seems to be less commercial than most.
The Birger gang fought the Shelton boys for the control of the bootleg traffic in southern Illinois and succeeded in driving them out of the area and down into East St. Louis. After several years of operations, during which murder was never permitted to interfere with profit, Charlie Birger, leader of the gang, was convicted and hanged on April 19, 1928, for the murder of the mayor of West City. The 'Death of Charlie Burger,' (sic) as the ballad is called, indicates that even the rather new-fangled gangster can find a minstrel to recount his story.

    THE DEATH OF CHARLIE BURGER
    (Attributed to Carson Robison)

    I'll tell you of a bandit
    Out in a Western state,
    Who never learned his lesson
    Until it was too late.
    This man was bold and careless,
    The leader of his gang,
    But boldness did not save him
    When the law said, 'You must hang.'

    This bandit's name was Burger;
    He lived at Shady Rest,
    And people learned to fear him
    Throughout the Middle West.
    'Twas out in old West City
    Joe Adams was shot down,
    And then the cry of justice,
    'These murderers must be found.'

    Then Thompson was captured
    And turned state's evidence.
    Burger was found guilty,
    For he had no defense.
    He asked for a rehearing,
    But this he was denied;
    In the county jailhouse
    To take his life he tried.

    On the 19th day of April
    In 1928,
    Away out West in Benton
    Charles Burger met his fate.
    Another life was ended,
    Another chapter done;
    Another man who gambled
    In the game that can't be won.

    The Ten Commandments show us
    The straight and narrow way,
    And if we do not heed them
    Sometime we'll have to pay.
    We all must face the Master,
    Our final trial to stand,
    And there we'll learn the meaning
    Of houses built on sand.

The Shelton boys, rivals of Charlie Birger's gang, also have won the attention of the minstrel. 'The Death of Carl Shelton,' by a Fairfield, Illinois, singer, tells of the killing of one member of the gang by an unknown assassin, on October 23, 1947, but I have been unable to locate the ballad.*


American Murder Ballads and their Stories, by Olive Woolley Burt (1958, Oxford University Press, pp 214-216)

Woodbox Gang recording here (click)
Pushin Rope Recording here (click)

*But we have "The Death of Carl Shelton," thanks to Art and Ruthie.


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Subject: ADD Version: The Hanging of Charlie Birger
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 05:46 PM

Here's my transcription of Art Thieme's recording:

THE HANGING OF CHARLIE BIRGER
(Attributed to Carson Robison, As sung by Art Thieme)

I will tell you of a bandit
In a great midwestern state,
Who never learned his lesson
Until it was too late.
This man was bold and careless,
And the leader of his gang,
But boldness did not save him
When the law said, 'You must hang.'

This bandit's name was Birger;
He lived at Shady Rest,
The people learned to fear him
Throughout the Middle West.
It was out in old West City
Joe Adams was shot down,
Then the cry of justice said,
'The murderers must be found.'

Then Thomason was arrested,
He turned state's evidence.
Charlie Birger was found guilty,
For he had no defense.
He asked for a rehearing,
But this he was denied;
And in the county jailhouse
To take his life he tried.

On the 19th day of April
In 1928,
Away out west in Benton
Charlie Birger met his fate.
Another life is ended,
Another chapter done;
Another man who gambled
In the game that can't be won.

Oh, the Holy Bible shows us
The straight and narrow way,
And if we do not heed it
Sometime we'll have to pay.
We all must face the Master,
Our final trial to stand,
It's there we'll learn the meaning
Of houses built on sand.


from the Art Thieme LP, Songs of the Heartland

And I gotta say, the banjo playing on this recording is terrific.


I also found this tidbit at Arnevet Beth Olam - St. Louis:
    Shachna Itzik Birger (aka Charlie Birger) was born on February 5, 1881 in Lithuania. His family arrived in Glen Carbon, IL (near East St. Louis) when he was about 8 years old. After a stint in the army from 1901-1904, he returned to Illinois and became a miner and a saloon keeper. When Prohibition happened, he became a bootlegger in Southern Illinois.

    As a bootlegger, one of his largest rivals was the local branch of the KKK, which actively supported prohibition, viewing alcohol as an evil allegedly introduced to the US by immigrants. Birger's gang, and a rival gang, The Shelton Brothers, managed to run the KKK out of town. After this success, though, the two gangs fought over who would control the bootlegging in the area.

    In June of 1927, Birger was arrested for ordering the murder of a small town mayor named Joe Adams, in connection with his feud with The Shelton Brothers. April 19, 1928, Birger was the last man to be executed by a public hanging in the state of Illinois. Birger asked to be accompanied to the gallows by a Rabbi, and he asked to wear a black hood rather than a white one, so no one would mistake him for a Klansmnan. His final words were, "It's a beautiful world."

    Shachna Itzik Birger is buried at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, in Section 28, 5th row, 3rd grave.

    Arnevet Beth Olam - St. Louis
    Charter Member of the Association of Graveyard Rabbits
    [Arnevet=Rabbit; Beth Olam=Cemetery]


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 12:17 AM

Joe,
Thanks for posting that good info! The song about Birger was printed in Charles Neeley's (Possibly spelled Neely's) Songs Of Southern Illinois--1933, or maybe it was Songs And Tales Of Southern Illinois. (memory problems again.) I think Neely listed it as traditional---and had no author or tune for it. He, also, had heard of the Shelton song but was never able to find it.

Folklorist Harlan Daniel, sent Dalhart doing "The Hanging Of Charlie Birger" to me on a cassette in the late 1960s. I tried doing it with a guitar for a few years, and then I quit doing it altogether. But when I was in the studio recording Songs Of The Heartland -- on a whim -- I tried playing it on the banjo -- one time only. The tape was rolling and that was the single take I did of it. I thought of the song as a good historical document but not a great song. The basic details of the story were there, but it didn't contain good vivid emotion like "The Death Of Carl Shelton." -- Actually it bored me.

By the way, Vernan Dalhart (actually Marion Try Slaughter) recorded under 60 different names. Harlan Daniel did an article for a one-issue-only folk magazine called "The Folk Music Occasional." The article listed a huge number of 1920s and 1930s era old-timey performers alphabetically---along with ALL the other names they recorded under. It seems it was done quite a lot back then. --- Vernon Dalhart, himself, took his own name from two Texas towns. (Vernon, Texas and Dalhart, Texas.) --- So Dylan wasn't the first.

Onward and upward,

Art


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy coleman
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 11:39 AM

this is absolutely fantastic! almost all of the words are as i now remember them---one small pedantic note---i always thought it was
"ruthless harm" instead of "rude man's harm" but i could very well be wrong.
thank you SO much for this.
p.s. you're right--there was another song on the flip side of the 78rpm,
but it didn't get much play in our house. thanks again. cindy


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 01:32 PM

Cindy,

Since Ruthie Shelton is the source of the song we've now got posted here, it can hardly be said that we are, as you said, Ruthless. (little joke ;-)

Also:
Folks, as we now know, the song was recorded by Fred Henson in 1948. That was just a short time after Carl Shelton was killed!

Art


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy coleman
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 04:18 PM

scratch ruthless---i sang it to myself without looking at the words to that verse and sang "earthly"---which makes more sense anyway.
p.s.--i made the same sorry joke myself when i typed ruthless. but whether it is rude man or ruthless or earthly, it's a terrific song.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 09:23 AM

Please call me Ruthie, that's what my friends call me (not Ruth).
Does anyone remember or know of any stories about the Shelton Gang?
My dad only told me a few years ago about his "past life" so I'm still finding out very interesting things.
Ruthie Shelton
E-mail- ruthieshelton@comcast.net


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy coleman
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 01:10 PM

yes, ruthie, there's a whole section about your ancestors in my dad's book. his name was john bartlow martin. he was primarily a journalist who wrote for harper's, redbook, the saturday evening post, etc. but also wrote 16 books during his lifetime. this book was his third. The book was called Butcher's Dozen and other murders, published in 1950 by Harper and brothers. it's out of print now, but i'm sure you could get a copy from Abe books or another used book company. the section of the book about your family is called
The Shelton Boys, and was copywritten in 1950. the section is 52 pages long. it does not have an isbn #---apparently they didn't start the isbn system until some years later. i hope this helps.
cindy


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 10:26 AM

Cindy,
   Thanks so much. I'll try to find the book. I've found in some of my research there were articles published in some magazines about the Shelton gang. I think one was the Saturday Evening Post. Did your dad write that one?
   Again, thank you,
    Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 02:48 PM

Ruthie, if you go to this page at ADDALL.COM you will find several copies available.

Still following this thread. It is wonderfully engaging! Thanks, again, Art, for telling me about it!


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 03:59 PM

Art, I wondered if I made any mistakes in my transcription of your recording. Your diction is near-perfect, so it's very easy to understand what you're saying in a song.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 08:05 PM

Joe,
What you posted is how I sang it on the record. My rendition of the song IS different in a few respects from the Dalhart/Robison/Jenkins? version. I suspect I didn't know my song well before I bagan singing. -- to paraphrase B. Dylan. Also, it is an example of the folk tradition messing things up yet again.

'Ten commandments' became 'holy bible.'

'...out in a western state' became 'I will tell you of a bandit in a great midwestern state.'

Hope this helps,

Art (Joe, What about those 'rabbits'?)


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 08:24 PM

Folks, my recording of the song "The Hanging Of Charlie Birger" is available to be heard here at Mudcat along with all the songs I considered my favorites off of those first two LP albums I had out in the 1970s.

Bruce Kallick made it possible to hear the songs here -- but I can't, for the life o' me, remember where they are located

Art.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy coleman
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 12:57 PM

hi, ruthie. if the saturday evening post article was written in the late 1940s or the early 1950s, then the answer is yes, it was written by my dad. but the account of your ancestors in the book i mentioned is much more complete, back to the migration of your great grandfather from kentucky to southern illinois.
i found two different editions of his book--the one i talked about before, and an abridged version in paperback published in 1952. i haven't seen the abridged version, but the one you would want is the hard backed book published by harpers in 1950. that would hold the complete account of what he wrote.
the article i read earlier in this thread, written in 2008 by phil luciano, looks like a lot of the information was gleaned from dad's book.
art---fyi---there's also a lengthy account of charlie birger's life in my dad's book, which might interest you.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy coleman
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 12:59 PM

ruthie--i forgot to ask you---was your grand father dalta or roy shelton?


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 11:35 PM

...and from Alfred Knopf (publisher) Paul Angle's fine book---Bloody Williamson--covers so much -- and very well;--the family feuds and the Herrin, Illinois massacre. That was some of the worst labor violence I have ever read about. There was a tradition of violence, going way way back, that the Sheltons and the Birger gangs were only one chapter of in the big picture.

Cindy, I'm sure it would be of interest. We will see.

Art


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 10:28 AM

Cindy,
   My grandfather was Dalta. I believe he died before I was born.
Thanks, Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: BK Lick
Date: 01 Oct 09 - 01:57 AM

So Art says
"Folks, my recording of the song 'The Hanging Of Charlie Birger' is available to be heard here at Mudcat
  along with all the songs I considered my favorites off of those first two LP albums I had out in the 1970s.
  Bruce Kallick made it possible to hear the songs here -- but I can't, for the life o' me, remember where they are located."
Well, clicky here now.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: BK Lick
Date: 01 Oct 09 - 03:41 AM

The Jun 19, 1950 isue of LIFE has an article titled "Gunfire Lays Low One More Shelton"
with many photos, of course, including one of the recording -- and quotes these lines:
He left his dear old mother in sorrow there alone,
Living down near Merriam in her little country home.
May the angels hover over her for she hasn't long to stay,
And I hope she meets her darling in a better world some day.
as well as the third and fourth lines of the fourth stanza
and states "© 1948 by Earl Shelton and Fred Henson."
—BK


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Ruthie Shelton
Date: 01 Oct 09 - 10:33 AM

BK,
   Thank you so much for the link to the Life magazine article about my family.This is the kind of information and pictures I've been looking for.
    Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Ruthie Shelton
Date: 01 Oct 09 - 11:47 AM

Cindy,
   I've ordered your dad's book online. I can't wait to get it!
Thanks, Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Ruthie Shelton
Date: 07 Oct 09 - 10:12 AM

Cindy,
    Your dad's book came yesterday. Wow! He's a great writer!
    Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy coleman
Date: 07 Oct 09 - 05:37 PM

thanks, ruthie. i thought you would enjoy it. no pictures, but oh well---pretty descriptive---and gives you a lot of family history, places, thumb nail sketches of your ancestors, etc. i read the stuff in life magazine and although dad wrote for life during those days, i don't think he wrote that article because there were popular words (at the time) in it that he never would have used. i suspect that his article originally appeared in the saturday evening post no earlier than a year before the life article, and the life piece was a follow up by another writer as an update to the post article. cindy


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Subject: LYR ADD: ALONE AWAY OUT THERE sung by Fred Henson
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Oct 09 - 06:20 PM

Here, folks, are the words to the song as sung by Fred Henson   on the flip side of the "Death Of Carl Shelton" 78-rpm record. It is a good song; one I might've done tied in tandem with a good tall tale and/or another appropriate song. --- Art

ALONE AWAY OUT THERE -- 1948

Way out on an old sheep ranch while herding sheep one day,
Old Shep and I were all alone a-rounding up the strays,
We met a man upon a horse; he said, "Sir, what's your name?"
"I've come out west all for my health, and I want to buy your claim."

"The price", he said,"all for your spread?"-I said, "I hardly know."
He said, "I'll give you 20 grand."---And he counted out the dough,
So we rode back to the adobe shack I used to call my own,
He paid me off, I signed the deed, and started on to roam.

CHORUS)
Alone away out there,
Where skies are always fair,
Old Old Shep and I, we loved our home,
Alone and way out there.

I landed in a western town where all was on a boom,
I went into a gambling den they called the Silver Moon,
I placed my bets upon the dice---the house man, he was tall,
The money that Shep and I had earned--- soon I lost it all.

I chanced to meet upon the street a girl so young and fair,
She said, "Young man, come along with me--I'll drive away all care."
So I played around about a week with a dame I thought was true,
But when she found that I was broke and bid our love adieu.

Alone away out there...

So I went back to the adobe shack not knowing what to do,
Deciding that I'd find Old Shep and start my life anew,
I looked around for my old dog, but nowhere could I see,
The wagging tail and smiling eyes that meant so much to me.

The man came out that bought the place, said "Listen while I tell,
About how he met his death down by the sheep corral,
He laid around and wouldn't eat---could hardly get his breath,
He howled all night like he was lost--and grieved himself to death."

Alone away out there--
The skies are always fair,
Old Shep and I -- we loved our home--
Alone--and way out there.

Click to play


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: katlaughing
Date: 08 Oct 09 - 07:44 PM

Thanks, Art!


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 03:48 PM

60


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Bridget
Date: 23 Oct 09 - 06:50 PM

I just did a google search and ran across this page. My grandmother recently passed away. While sorting her personal belongings, we ran across a hand-written paper with the words to this song. Grandma grew up in southern Illinois and my mother remembers Grandma and Grandpa talking about the Shelton family - they actually knew them. Here are the words as Grandma had written: Near a little country schoolhouse, in a county know as Wayne, it was down on Pond Creek Bottoms, one day a man was slain. He was riding on the highway to see about some grain, when they shot him down from ambush, Carl Shelton was his name. How little did he know the morn he started out, these hoodlums would be waiting there, along this murder route. He had no one to warn him, and he feared no earthly harm, as he drop his jeep that morning to work down on the farm. At the county seat of Fairfield, they could not find a bill, but we all know it's not right, our fellow man to kill. They even shot him when he fell, and left him there to die. Some day this mystery will be solved, in a courthouse in the sky. He had four loyal brothers, two sisters and a wife, to mourn his sad departure, the day they took his life. Maple Hill they laid him, so peacefully there to rest, but his presence it still lingers, with the ones that knew him best. He left his dear old mother, in sorrow there alone, living down near Marion, in her little country home. May the angels hover over her, for she hasn't long to stay, and I hope she meets her darling, in a better world someday.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Josh shelton
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 03:36 AM

hi mt name is josh shelton i am a direct disentdant of the shelton brothers gang my grat grandfater was part of the shelton gang and they ran al capone out of illinois!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 10:59 AM

Hi Josh, I am Ruthie Shelton. My dad is Carl (Little Carl) Shelton.
Please e-mail me at ruthieshelton@comcast.net. I'd like to ask you some questions.
    Thanks, Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Jon Musgrave
Date: 03 Feb 10 - 11:06 PM

Josh, Bridget and Cindy, I would like to correspond with you. I'm working on some Bloody Williamson era projects.

Jon Musgrave
jon.musgrave@mchsi.com


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,brandon flemming
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 10:06 AM

hey ruthie. im in relation to the shelton gang. im tring to find the connection. my grandfathers name is leeroy shelton and my father had his last name changed to flemming at young age. were in illinois and do you happen to know all of the shelton brothers names?


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,donald myers in missouri
Date: 29 Apr 10 - 12:13 AM

while trying to research my family history I came across this posting. As I am a grandson of Sidney Shelton, and have been told bits and pieces of stories about my ancestors. Sidney was born in Ill. in 1894 a son of John and Lilly Mae Shelton. He is buried in Eastwood cemetery, near Winona, Mo. along with several other Sheltons. I would like to hear from anyone willing to share their knowledge of the Shelton family.I can be contacted at don.g.myers@gmail.com Thank's to all!


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: beeliner
Date: 29 Apr 10 - 07:58 PM

I never knew until now that the songs existed, bur Bernie Shelton was killed just a couple of miles from my home in Peoria, and it was big news at the time, July of 1948.

I don't know if anyone was ever brought to trial for the murder.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 12:05 PM

If I could do it, I would post a link to the song "The Death Of Carl Shelton" as done by Fred Henson in 1948 on his 78 rpm record. I did send it to Mr. J. Offer and Kat Laughing. Possibly they might know how to make it available to Mudcatters who are interested.

Ruthie Shelton sent me her cassette of the song and I put it on a CD and sent the cassette back to her.---- We will see if it is possible...

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 12:34 PM

I'll see what I can do, Art. It might take me a day or two.:-)


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 May 10 - 07:41 PM

Here are the recordings Art sent me, both recorded in 1948 by Fred Henson:


Click to play (Death of Carl Shelton)

Click to play (Alone Away Out There)



I'll leave them up for at least a while. Thanks for sending them again, Art. They were somewhere on my computer, but I couldn't find them.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 11 May 10 - 04:56 PM

Joe,

Thanks for putting those up in an accessible format. I'll strive to get the word out to interested ones.

Thanks so much!!

Mudcatters:
As with many historical songs, they are important to scholars looking passionately for insights into those other times. The Death Of Carl Shelton is a song I've been looking for a LONG old time--ever since I saw it mentioned almost in passing by Neely in his book. Ballads And Songs Of Southern Illinois. And to find Ruthie Shelton coming into this thread adds a poignancy I'd never imagined. Thanks to Ruthie for sending me her only cassette tape of these two songs done in 1948 by Mr. Henson. It is the end of a long search for me--and a good thread to boot. My intent was only to find a good song that is palpable and a real document of people living their lives out in other times and places. That has always been my reason for being in this folk music world---to find and bring forth these hidden treasures!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 13 May 10 - 11:11 PM

refresh


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Subject: DeathOf Carl Shelton hearable in thread
From: Art Thieme
Date: 13 May 10 - 11:25 PM

The 1948 recording of "The Death Of Carl Shelton" is now available for listening (thanks to Joe Offer.

Click on the link in Joe's post (or here) to hear it!!
The whole sad and violent story is there in that thread

Art Thieme

Click to play (Death of Carl Shelton)

Click to play (Alone Away Out There)


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 May 10 - 06:48 PM

Folks,
We have had some activity at BKLick's website where my folk scene photos can be seen. If you click on the thumbnail photo of the shotgun-blasted granite stone marking the site of Shady Rest--the hideout for rival gang leader Charlie Birger -- you will enlarge the photo. SCROLL DOWN and I have written a summary paragraph for the photo. Today I've added a comment there to tell another Shelton family member about this thread. I do hope that by refreshing this thread those people can find the thread easier.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Ruthie Shelton
Date: 25 May 10 - 05:31 PM

Hi Brandon,
Sorry it took me so long to answer you, I haven't checked this site in a while. I'll make sure I keep checking more often.
The Shelton brothers were Roy, Carl, Earl, Bernie and my grandfather Dalta.
Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 May 10 - 11:44 PM

Art, this continues to be one of the best and most interesting threads in all my years at Mudcat. Thanks for keeping us up to date and thanks to Ruthie and other family members for posting.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Ann Wallace
Date: 19 Jun 10 - 02:21 PM

There was a little town of Merriam that was south of Rte. 15 in
Wayne County. It may no longer be on all maps. Enjoyed finding
these songs. Thanks for sharing this local history.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: BK Lick
Date: 20 Jun 10 - 03:38 AM

To easy find the photo Art is talking about, click on the "Search" link
near the top of every page and then search for "shady rest" (without the quotation marks).


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,cindy coleman
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 12:33 PM

i just came back to this site after 6 months away and found the recording of the death of carl shelton. thank you joe for putting
it up here. hope it will be here awhile so that i can listen to
it from time to time.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 08:08 PM

Folks, I just listened to 'The Death Of Carl Shelton' another time and, whew, Fred Henson only seems to know ONE BASS RUN --- and he uses it over and over---and over. Some of the time it even fits the song, but, boy, when it doesn't fit, it sure is annoying. If, at this late date, I could locate Mr. Henson, I would quickly set him straight.

Such is life--I guess!
Art


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,p.k. cravens
Date: 26 Sep 10 - 07:01 PM

I am looking for information regarding a murder at an outdoor skating rink in the 1930's. I think it is Shelton related. Both of my parents spoke of this event. Who, what, when, where?


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Shane Tyler
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 07:13 PM

This is a great thread! Very interesting. I had heard the song of Charlie Birger before but never one of the Sheltons. I've been to the Sheltons grave site in Fairfield, Illinois. It kind of surprised me when I stopped at a locale convenient store and the older lady wasn't familiar with the Sheltons brothers. I'm from Benton Illinois, this history has always interested me. Thanks for all the input.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 07:24 PM

Shane Tyler,

Benton, Illinois !! That was quite a day---gathering there, I do suspect, April 19th, 1928 ---- the day Charlie Birger was hanged there in Benton.

Good hearing from you----and thanks for giving this thread a real connection -- a human face, so to speak, on these sad doings.

Best Regards,
Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Shane Tyler
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 03:02 PM

Art,   I checked out your picture of the Shady Rest stone, do you know if that is still there? I used to drive route 13 about once a week to Harrisburg but never seen anything about the location being marked. I always imagined the Sheltons flying overhead dropping what is called the "first aerial bomb on U.S. soil" over Shady Rest. I work in Mt. Vernon Illinois, a town about 20 miles west of Fairfield. Been talking to some of the older guys about the Sheltons brothers. They have been telling me the location to Pond Creek Bottoms and that Fairfield has a place in town depicting the Sheltons era. Benton has the Franklin County jail house that they have turned into a museum and it has information from the Charlie Birger days. I would say the day of his hanging was quite an event. With all this history so close I think I will make a day of finding out and seeing more of it. Thanks for keeping the history alive!


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 07:40 PM

Folks, I was sure it was Neely's book where it was stated that he couldn't find the song about the Shelton Bros. BUT possibly it was Olive Burt's book, the one Joe Offer cited as the source, that I was remembering. Me and memory don't do too well these days.

Art


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Oct 10 - 11:31 PM

Shane,
I don't know if that Birger hideout marker stone -- granite I think--at least "I took it for granite" (little pun)is still there or not. It has probably been 30 years since I was down there and took that photo. Judging how it it was partly blasted away by shotguns, it's probably just a little pile of gravel now. ;-)


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Ruthie Shelton
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 12:24 PM

Hi Shane,
I'm Little Carl Shelton's daughter. In Fairfield, Il. there is a museum called "Hannah House." There is a very interesting display about the Shelton Gang. I thought you might enjoy seeing it.
Ruthie


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Shane Tyler
Date: 05 Oct 10 - 07:51 PM

Thanks Ruthie and Art for the information. The granite pun was quite funny. Hannahs house may be the place across from the library that I had been told about. I will definitely have to check that out. Once I make this trek I will repost with my adventures. I seen Al Capone is buried a short drive from here too in Mt Carmel Illinois. History all around. Thanks again


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Oct 10 - 09:27 PM

Has anyone found the song song-the death of Carl Shelton

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Subject: RE: song search: Charlie Birger - Shelton Gang
From: GUEST,ask
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 11:21 PM

I'm looking for songs about Charlie Birger, and/or the Shelton Gang. My dad's family knew Charlie, thought this would make a good Christmas gift... any ideas where or how to get the music (albums, cd's)?


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jan 11 - 12:28 AM

Hello I to am related to the Shelton Brothers. Carl was my mothers uncle. I remember her telling me stories about her sitting on Little Carls and Big Carls lap at an old brick home that sits just north of route 45 just south of Cisne illinois a little town just north of Fairfield. She is originally from Fairfield and she also told me stories how my grandfather her dad use to run around with the sheltons and my uncles did also. Everytime we would go to Fairfield to visit my grandparents she would sing that song to us. Wow what great memories. Would love to talk and find more out about relations to me and possibly the sheltons. My uncle was with one of the shelton boys when he got shot not for sure which one i will check into it and see if he will tell me he dont talk to much about much anymore.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Ruthie Shelton
Date: 05 Feb 11 - 12:08 PM

The house you mention is on the Cisne curve. It belonged to my grandfather, Dalta Shelton. It's still there but it's in very bad condition. My dad is Little Carl. Please e-mail me- ruthieshelton@comcast.net


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Bill
Date: 13 Feb 11 - 10:36 PM

that was a sad song


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Bill
Date: 13 Feb 11 - 10:41 PM

all the brothers, sisters and nephew's were completely lost with the death of Carl, they were like a ship without a rudder, doom ed they were


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 06:02 PM

Fred Henson was my great uncle: his brother John was my grandfather, who married my grandmother Ruth Ann Webb Henson. John was a drifter who abandoned his wife Ruth and my father, Darold, in Lincoln, IL, where my father stayed. I have much enjoyed this thread and was happy beyond words to find the links to Fred Henson's folk songs. Here is part of the story of the family John Henson left behind:

http://findinglincolnillinois.com/ruthhensons.html

Leigh Henson


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST,Donna J. Bean
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 01:54 AM

Hello People
I couldn't but read your posts on this board and I felt compelled to post that my grandmother is Martha Elizabeth Henson-McDowell and she originated from Fairfield IL and her cousin was Fred Henson she has a casssette tape recording of the song of The Death of Carl Shelton. She also loves to talk about the old days. So If anyone wishs to contact her she is 84 years old happily married to William Wayne McDowell of Mattoon. Again, anyone interested in talking to her can do so through my email of dkpbbprafan@yahoo.com or call her at 217-234-4330
wayne and martha this year will be celebrating 65 years of wedded bliss and they love to chat so be prepared if you call for a long call.


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Apr 11 - 03:15 PM

Steve Suffet---could this twentieth century Shelton Gang violence be tied to LEE SHELTON killing Mr. Lyon--which you say is the basis for the song about "Stacker Lee" ????????????? (1890's killing of Billy De Lyon ??)

What do ya think?

(I'll P.M. you about this.)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Apr 11 - 03:20 PM

Steve,
Seems you aren't a Mudcat member. Hell, I thought you were.

Art


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Subject: RE: song search: 'The Shelton Bros.Gang'--S. IL
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Apr 13 - 08:19 PM

I just want to let everyone know my book has been released.
Inside the Shelton Gang One Daughter's Discovery.
It can be ordered at Illinoishistory.com/books


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