Patrick Madigan

Patrick Madigan
Sketch made of Patrick Madigan c1890

About Patrick Madigan and Bridget Thompson

About Patrick Madigan and Bridget Thompson

Patrick Madigan and his wife were both born in Ireland. Patrick was born April 1, 1850 in Coonagh, Killeely Civil Parish, County Limerick, Ireland, the son of Patrick Madigan (c1809-1884) and Margaret Fitzgerald (c1806-1886). Bridget, known for most of her life as Bessie, was born October 8, 1852 most likely in or near Limerick City, County Limerick, Ireland, the daughter of John (Thompson) Thomas (1831-1904) and Bridget Reidy (1831-1900). They both immigrated with their families to Chicago, Patrick in 1872 and Bridget in 1866. They married at Old St. John Church in Chicago on February 24, 1878. Together, they had seven children: Mary (Mayme) (1879-1955); Ellen [Sullivan/Madigan Blog] (1880-1966); Nanette (1881-1963); Thomas (1883-1898); Patrick (Harry) (1885-1956), John (1887-1983); and, James (1890-1909). Patrick was a laborer who died January 15, 1890 when he was only 39 and just a few months before the birth of his last child. Bessie ran a grocery store while raising the seven children as a single parent. She managed to own her own home on the west side of Chicago. She died from myocarditis on December 31, 1935.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hanging Prosecutor

The story behind the night Billy McSwiggin was killed in front of The Pony Inn:

"Back in Chicago at the beginning of 1926, Capone was in excellent spirits. Not only had he made his mark in New York, but his whiskey deal would change the face of interstate transportation. Young men with a thirst for adventure and the need for money made a good living working as one of Capone's truckers.

Klondike O'Donnell
"In the spring of 1926, Capone's run of good luck hit a snag. On April 27, Billy McSwiggin, the young "hanging prosecutor" who had tried to pin the 1924 death of Joe Howard on Capone, met with an accident. He left the home of his father, a veteran Chicago police detective, and went with "Red" Duffy to play cards at one of Capone's gambling joints. A bootlegger named Jim Doherty picked them up in his car.

"Doherty's car broke down and they hitched a ride with bootlegger "Klondike" O'Donnell, a bitter enemy of Capone. The four Irish lads went on a drinking binge in Cicero with O'Donnell and his brother Myles and ended up at a bar [this would be The Pony Inn operated by Harry Madigan] close to the Hawthorne Inn where Capone was having dinner. O'Donnell's cruising around in Cicero was a territorial insult.

"Capone and his henchmen, not realizing that McSwiggin was in the bar with Myles O'Donnell, waited outside in a convoy of cars until the drunken men staggered out. Then out came the machine guns and McSwiggin and Doherty were dead.

"Capone was blamed. Despite the blot on McSwiggin's integrity for keeping company with bootleggers, sympathy was with the dead young prosecutor. There was a big outcry against gangster violence and public sentiment went against Capone.

"While everyone in Chicago just knew that Al Capone was responsible, there was not a shred of proof and the failure of this high-profile investigation to return an indictment was an embarrassment to local officials. Police took out their frustrations on Capone's whorehouses and speakeasies which endured a series of raids and fires."

Source: Al Capone: Chicago's Most Infamous Mob Boss, by Marilyn Bardsley, Criminal Minds and Methods.

Photo Source: AP

Monday, September 30, 2013

Patrick Madigan, Gravesite, Calvary Cemetery

When I started genealogy more than 20 years ago I knew nothing more than my great grandparents' names - Patrick and Bridget Madigan.  I remember the day I learned the parents of my Mother's Mother were buried a little over a mile from where I live.  It was a Saturday and I was all alone in the house without a car.  So, I called a taxi and took it to Calvary Cemetery in Evanston. (This is how genealogists respond when they NEED to follow up on information.) It was probably the late 1990s.

I arrived at the Sexton's office and asked for the grave location of Patrick and Bridget Madigan.  I was surprised to learn that my great grandmother, Bridget Thompson Madigan, was buried with three of her sons, Thomas, James and Harry, but not her husband, Patrick. A separate location was given for him.  I thought it strange but assumed when I took off on foot to find the graves they would be close to each other. They were not!

After finding Bridget Thompson Madigan's grave, I nearly walked across the entire cemetery to an area that had very few markers.  With much traipsing back and forth over bumpy ground I still was unable to locate his grave so I went back to the Sexton's office.  He provided me with the name of an individual who was also buried in the same large plot and who had a military grave marker. Back I went and found the plot of land with the military stone but no other markers.  However, the Sexton had now provided me with was a copy of all the individuals who were buried with my great grandfather. Nine additional names. I thought "Wow" these must all be cousins or some other relations I don't know about. 

Over time I researched these individuals, many of whom were infants or very young children.  I found little information beyond date of death and no link to my Patrick Madigan.

I always felt sad my great grandfather had no marker on his grave. This past summer when my husband asked what I wanted for my birthday I said, "a gravestone for Patrick Madigan."  He had heard me speak of my great grandfather and the absence of a marker so it wasn't that much of a surprise.  He also does family genealogy and he truly understood why I even asked for such a gift.

On my birthday we went to Gast Monuments and picked out and designed the stone.  It was installed last week.  When I went to visit the grave this weekend it gave me such a warm feeling to know, after 123 years, Patrick Madigan's gravesite was now identified, but even more importantly, he was not forgotten.

And, what about all those others who were buried with him?  Well, while working with the cemetery and the monument company to install the marker, I was told Patrick's grave was a charity grave and  all the individuals buried with Patrick Madigan, like him, were individuals whose families could not afford to purchase a grave for their loved ones.  At the time of Patrick's death of pneumonia he was 39 with six children and one on the way. I'm sure his family had no money either.

At least now I know why Patrick is buried in a different location than his wife and children. I wish we had the money, I would have bought a huge monument and had all ten names inscribed.  But, I am happy my great grandfather has his stone.  Perhaps family members of the other interred individuals will someday put a stone on their relative's grave.  I know it would make them feel "real good" inside.

Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Illinois, Gravecard, Front and Back

Photo and images: Elaine M. Beaudoin

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Harry and John Madigan Remembered

How exciting. I was recently contacted by someone whose family knew Harry and John Madigan, two sons of Patrick Madigan and Bessie Thompson.  She told me her mother used to pack up her and her siblings and take them over to Harry Madigan's Restaurant and Saloon at Madison and Crawford in the evening.  The kids would sleep in the booths.

She also told me her mother loved to play "26," a dice game. When Harry closed the restaurant, since her mother had been such a good patron, he gave the dice game to her.  She remembers the dice had Harry's initials engraved in them.  Although Harry and John died decades ago, it is really terrific that the memory of them lives on.

She has promised to write up a few stories.   When she does, I'll post them on this blog.

A little bit about the game of "26" from the Chicago Tribune, March 16, 1986.

The dice game of ``26`` was Chicago-born, Chicago-bred and eventually Chicago-banned. It never caught on much in the rest of the country, but it was a familiar sport all the way from elegant Gold Coast and Loop spas (the Palmer House had its ``26`` tables) to family taverns on the farthest reaches of the West Side. 

And as integral to the game as the dice were the estimated 5,000 ``26 girls`` or ``dice girls`` who kept score. According to a 1962 story in The Tribune, "The game is played on small tables behind which the `26` girl stands, smiling and cooing, with a cup of 10 dice in her hand and a score pad by her elbow. The customer engages her in small talk and rolls out the dice 13 times." The high-rollers could risk anything from 25 cents to $1 on the game of chance that paid off in merchandise--drinks, to be precise.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Madigan Baptismal Records, Parteen and Meelick, Co. Limerick

I was in Limerick City at the Limerick Regional Archives in 1998 with the hope of discovering information on my great grandfather Patrick Madigan's (1850-1890) family.  However, when I spoke with the Archivist, I realized there were MANY Patrick Madigans born in the area and I needed to know who his parents were to trace down the rest of the family.  The Archivist provided me with a list of all the Patrick Madigans born in Limerick for the estimated time period and who the parents of each Patrick Madigan were.

After additional research in Chicago and Salt Lake City, learning who the siblings of my Patrick Madigan were, I was able to determine from the death certificate of Michael Madigan (my great grandfather's brother) that their parents were Patrick Madigan and Margaret Fitzgerald.

I then wrote to the Limerick Regional Archives with this information and the following is the reply I received on September 10, 1999.

Click on each page of the image of the letter to enlarge.

Images courtesy: Elaine M. Beaudoin

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Murder at 5615 W. Roosevelt - 1929


"William J. Vercoe, 51 years old, a credit expert who recently ventured into business for himself and met reverses, was shot to death last night at the bar of the Pony Inn cafe, 5615 Roosevelt road, Cicero.  Machine gunners killed Assistant State's Attorney William H. McSwiggin three years ago in front of the same resort, which was operated then, as it is now, by Harry Madigan and Michael Wendel.

"Hours after Vercoe died, when the county highway police had found no clues in the victim's apparently respectable past nor obtained enlightening statements from various witnesses, they declared there was only one credible theory in the murder.

"'What probably happened was that Vercoe strayed into a tough spot and spoke out of turn,' said Chief William Collins of the highway police.

Policemen Hear Shot

"Two highway policemen, James Howe and Eugene Majors, heard a single shot from the saloon as they rode past at 6:30 p.m.  Finding front and rear doors locked and observing a number of persons clambering out of the windows, they pursued two of the fugitives, who identified themselves as Wendel, one of the owners, and George McNally, the bartender.

"Inside they found the Negro porter, William Johnson. Bloodstains led from the bar to a stairway, where Vercoe's body, with a bullet wound behind his left ear, lay.

"McNally said Vercoe and two companions came in fifteen minutes before the shooting.  He served them a round of beer and busied himself at the bar until he was called to the women's parlor in the rear when he heard the shot, McNally said.

Attempt to Hide Body

"Wendel, who claimed he was in his office adjacent to the barroom at the moment of the shooting, joined him in attempting to remove the body, McNally said.  They dragged it to concealment, cleared the place of customers, locked the doors from the inside, and fled through windows.  Both men professed they had never seen Vercoe's companions before last night.

"In the slain man's pockets were cards naming him as president of the Vercoe Fuel Oil corporation, 711 (3?)1 South California avenue, and listing one Paul Freeland, 808 East 49th street, as vice president.  Freeland is Vercoe's son-in-law.

"Freeland said Vercoe purchased the oil company, an $80,000 concern, last February, and was lately attempting to obtain capital to rehabilitate it.  Mrs. Vercoe, he said, had been sent to Kankakee Insane asylum fourteen months ago, and Vercoe had frequented Cicero saloons since then, playing cards and endeavoring to interest his barroom acquaintances in the oil company.

"At the Rybski home it was said that for two weeks Reichel had been importuning Rybski daily to go with him to look at an automobile, but Rybski could not find time from his work to do so.  Yesterday morning about 10 o'clock, Miss Rybski said Reichel called for her brother and they left together 'to see that machine.'  He was not seen alive by the family after that.

"At the detective bureau, Reichel was grilled until late this morning.  He steadfastly denied that he had written the extortion notes."

Saloon in Front of which McSwiggin was killed again murder scene
"Madigan's Pony inn at 5615 West Roosevelt road, in which William J. Vercoe was found shot to death behind bar.  William H. McSwiggin, assistant state's attorney, was killed in front of the saloon, where the crowd is gathered."

Source: Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); March 20, 1929; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1890-1984), page 2.  Photo back page of newspaper.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This is a most peculiar report in the Chicago Tribune.  In the last sentence of the article "what" extortion notes are they talking about?  The whole story just sounds rather bizarre.

Overview of McSwiggin and Capone Relationship

The following Blog post from The Chicago Crime Scenes Project gives a "sanitized" version of the events of the night of April 27, 1927.

"William McSwiggin was Assistant States' Attorney in Chicago, and had vigorously pursued an indictment against Al Capone in 1924 for killing Joe Howard in a South side bar.  While unable to successfully prosecute Capone (despite the presence of several eye-witnesses), McSwiggin became known as a "hanging" prosecutor.  But there was more to him than met the eye.

"McSwiggin was also a card player, gambler, and drinker, and that naturally brought him into close contact with Capone and his associates on a regular basis.  In fact, with the passage of time, Capone began to consider McSwiggin a friend.  One night in late Spring, 1926, after dinner at his parents' house, McSwiggin and a few close friends went out for a night of gambling and drinks.  Shortly after leaving the house, their car broke down and they ended up joining a couple of other friends in their car. These friends were the O'Donnell brothers, rival bootleggers who had a growing feud with Capone.

"The O'Donnells' shiny new Lincoln went cruising through Cicero with McSwiggin and friends, hitting bar after bar, until they ended up here, at the Pony Inn, not far from Capone's Cicero headquarters.  When word came to Capone that his rivals were encroaching on his territory, he sent a convoy of Lieutenants, armed with machine guns, to make his displeasure known. No one told him his friend McSwiggin was with the group.

"As the drinking party left the Pony Inn, bursts of gunfire sent fifty rounds into the group, killing three, including McSwiggin (the O'Donnells, the targets of the attack, escaped unharmed).
Public outcry at the gangland death of a state prosecutor pushed the police into action.  Chicago police invaded Cicero, arresting Ralph Capone and raiding several Capone-owned joints.  Al fled the city, spending the summer of 1926 among friends in the Italian community in Lansing, Michigan, until the heat died down enough for him to return to the Chicago area.

"Never again, however, was Capone completely unmolested by the police.  Though he had never intended to hurt McSwiggin, he had lost his standing with the public, who began to put increasing pressure on the police to shut down gang operations."

Posted by Kendall, The Chicago Crime Scenes Project: Photographs of locations associated with infamous criminal incidents in Chicago. Thursday, September 30, 2008.

McSwiggin Assassinated in front of the Pony Inn - 1926

The following are excerpts from several books on the assassination of William McSwiggin, Assistant State's Attorney of Cook County, in front of Harry Madigan's Pony Inn, April 27, 1926.  The excerpts give you some background and insight on what it must have been like in Chicago in the 1920s - a time when our Harry and John Madigan ran a saloon.


Al Capone: The Biography of a Self-Made Man, Fred D. Pasley, Ayer Co., 1987, page 128

"The debacle of the police department may be said to date from a triple machine-gunning the night of April 27, 1926, when there died William H. McSwiggin, assistant State's attorney of Cook County; Thomas Duffy, barber, beer peddler, and precinct captain in McSwiggin's faction of the Republican party, and James J. Doherty, gangster, who McSwiggin had previously prosecuted for murder, Doherty being acquitted.

"They were riding about together, for reasons never satisfactorily explained, visiting the saloons and speakeasies of Capone's West Side territory.  Duffy and Doherty were henchmen of the brothers Myles and Klondike O'Donnell, the guerrillas of the bootleg war, aligned sometimes with the O'Banions, again with the Capones, depending on the financial advantages presented -- but generally going it alone.

"They had had a sort of entente with Capone when he entered Cicero, but had called it off.  Now they were his bitter enemies and business rivals.  For months they had been muscling in on the West Side beer trade while he was busy with Weiss, Drucci, and Moran on the north.  One of the customers they had taken away from him was Harry Madigan at 5615 West Roosevelt Road, Cicero.

" 'When I wanted to start a saloon in Cicero more than a year ago, Capone wouldn't let me,' Madigan told Chief of Detectives Schoemaker. 'I finally obtained strong political pressure and was able to open.' "


Capone: The Life and World of Al Capone, by John Kobler, New York, copyright 1971. Reprinted: Da Capo, a member of the Perseus Book Group, 2003, page 173

"Jim Doherty had driven only a few blocks when his engine began to sputter.  He left his car for repairs in a West Side garage, and the five men changed to Klondike O'Donnell's new Lincoln sedan.  A sixth man joined the party, Edward Hanley, a former police officer.  He drove.  They roamed Cicero for about two hours, drinking beer in several saloons.  Their last stop was Harry Madigan's Pony Inn at 5613 [sic] West Roosevelt Road.  A two-story, white brick building with a big weedy lot behind, it stood a mile north of Capone's Hawthorne Inn stronghold.

"Relations between Capone and the O'Donnells had deteriorated to the brink of open combat. The Irishmen grew daily bolder in their encroachments upon Capone's Cicero territory.  Harry Madigan later explained to Chief of Detectives Schoemaker how matters had stood: 'When I wanted to start a saloon in Cicero more than a year ago, Capone wouldn't let me.  I finally obtained strong political pressure and was able to open.  Then Capone came to me and said I would have to buy his beer, so I did.  A few months ago Doherty and Myles O'Donnell came to me and said they could sell me better beer than Capone beer, which was then needled.  They did and it cost fifty dollars a barrel, where Capone charged me sixty.  I changed, and upon my recommendation so did several other Cicero saloonkeepers.'"


Capone: The Man and the Era, Laurence Bergreen, Simon & Schuster, 1994, page 164

"... [He did] not know that among the men accompanying "Klondike" O'Donnell was Billy McSwiggin, the prosecutor Al like to call his friend.  The 'rifle with a big round magazine' that Capone had bestowed on his associate was, of course, a machine gun.  Several other Capone henchmen joined the man who had warned Capone.  Together they walked to the back of the hotel, entered their waiting automobiles, and formed a five-car convoy consisting of a lead car, two cars following to block traffic if necessary, Capone's chauffeured limousine tailing at a distance of fifty feet, and finally another car well behind the limousine.  The convoy arrived within moments at the Pony Inn.  At half past eight, McSwiggin, Hanley, Doherty, Duffy, and the O'Donnell brothers staggered out of the Pony Inn, heading for the Lincoln and the next stop on their spree, and as they did so Capone and his men watched from the safety of their five-car convey.

"That was when McSwiggin's night on the town with the boys ended, and the nightmare of blood and terror began.  As McSwiggin's group came into view, Capone's gunmen let loose, and the unmistakable rhythm of a machine gun firing split the night.  Whether Al himself had fired any shots was not clear, and it would soon become the matter of impassioned debate.  As the convoy rolled past, the victims fell to the street; the entire attack had taken only seconds to execute, and over fifty shots had been fired. ('I saw a closed car speeding away with what looked like a telephone receiver sticking out the rear window and spitting fire,' said one elderly witness of her first look at a machine gun in action." Red Duffy, his body nearly cut in two by the bullets, and Jim Doherty were gravely wounded.  The O'Donnell brothers and Edward Hanley were lucky to survive; they had reacted quickly enough to dodge the hail of bullets.  As for Billy McSwiggin, the 'hanging prosecutor' whom Al Capone had called his friend, he was writhing on the sidewalk, his body riddled with twenty bullets lodged in his back and neck.

"Fearing another attack, the O'Donnell brothers hastily dragged Duffy to a tree and left him. ('Pretty cold-blooded to leave me lying there,' he remarked just before he died the following day.)  They then carried Doherty and McSwiggin to their Lincoln sedan and sped to "Klondike's" house on Parkside Avenue.  By the time they arrived, both McSwiggin and Doherty were dead.

"Panicking, the O'Donnells hauled the bodies inside, removed the contents of their pockets, ripped the labels from their clothes, as if these precautions would change anything, and returned the corpses to the car.  The O'Donnells drove away from the city and its lights to the black prairie extending from the outskirts of Berwyn.  They came to a halt along a deserted stretch of road, shoved the remains of McSwiggin and Doherty out the door, and fled.  At ten o'clock that night, the driver of a passing car noticed the bodies.  He stopped to investigate and discovered they were still warm."