Charlie Birger

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Our theme the Illinois History project for this year is reform, react, and revolution. The thing that took my interest that I chose was how people changed the face of Illinois. The person that took my interest the most was Charlie Birger. The thing about Charlie Birger that I chose for my essay to mainly focus on is how Charlie Birger helped over-turn the probation law. Charlie Birger has reformed the government of Southern Illinois after being a bootlegger, gambler, and a generous gangster.

Charlie Birger was born sometime in 1881 in Russia and was hanged on April 19, 1928. “Charlie Birger was best known for being as a 1920’s organized crime figure, but was also known for being a solider, cowboy, bronc-buster, and a reporter” (Davis). Charlie Birger (birth name Shachna Itzik Birger) born in Russia and moved to the United States. He started off in the state of Missouri where he worked as a reporter, went to the Spanish American War, went to South Dakota to work as a cowboy, and finally came to Southern Illinois (Charlie Birger: Scourge of Egypt).
When Charlie Birger arrived in Southern Illinois he was in love. He loved the mine fields, the school children, the rolling hills, and the people. He just loved it. He decided to live in Illinois so he moved to a town called Shady Rest Illinois. So when he decided to help the community he was the robin hood of the 20th century. I said Charlie Birger was an organized crime figure right? Well this is when it starts he formed his own gang of just like him organized crime figures (Davis). He along with his gang decided to deal with who they thought were the bad guys, but these people are crime figures not heroes. Although they helped the local community they sold liquor which at the time was illegal because of the prohibition law. Charlie Birger was to the point were he was living the high life and a criminal’s dream (Davis).

“The people of Shady rest thought Charlie Birger went too far because he had killed Mayor Joe Adams” (Carr). The people were mad and the result was prison for Charlie Birger he had finally went to prison in 1927 he stayed there for a year and was finally hanged on April, 19, 1928 his last words were “it’s a beautiful world” – (Davis). Right before he was hanged. Charlie was forty eight when he died, and the people thought he looked much younger. The story of Charlie Birger doesn’t end there. Charlie had to be declared dead dead dead because three doctors had to check the deceased. He along with some other people changed Illinois as well as the country and helped end the probation law (Lasol).





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