1903 – The Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden

We know a bit about Chicago history here at the Huntington home because we've always found it uniquely fascinating given its notorious, often dark, reputation which sees elements persisting even to this day.

Probably to the chagrin of it's political and business leaders, it's still known as a gangster town.  One where Al Capone, corruption and graft reigned supreme and, by many accounts, those traits have never been fully abandoned by the City's political apparatus.

It was known as a rough and tumble, frontier, town well before the Capone days however.  Which brings us to 1903 and the closing of the Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden by, then, Mayor Harrison.

The Lone Star Saloon was situated at South State Street and Harmon Court in an area that was then known as Satan's Mile.  The location being very different today, you would probably never find the exact spot.  But Harmon Court was just north of Roosevelt Road, with the saloon most likely on the east side of the street. 

Opposite the saloon was the old Third Avenue School which served as the principal gathering place for Chicago's mute students for a short time after the great fire. 

Here's an old map of the showing the intersection.  It's not in the best of shape, but have a look. 

State St. And Harmon Court Chicago

 State Street & Harmon Court, Chicago, Illinois

Now, perhaps we'll talk more about the Third Ave. School on another day, as it deserves some comments on its own.  Getting back to the saloon, however, the proprietor was a man known as Michael Finn.  We'll call him Mickey, for short.  Of course, most people have heard of the term "Mickey Finn" at one time or another, and some even know that it was a form of knockout drop.

And, now you'll know that Michael Finn of the Lone Star Saloon was the man who invented the art of "slipping a Mickey".  His alledged practice was to slip the drug to unsuspecting patrons and then drag them to a back room where they would be cleaned of their money and posessions.  They would wake up in an alley, some time later, after the effects started to wear off.

I couldn't attest to how the victims felt as they came out of their unexpected slumber.  Not exactly anyway.  Suffice it to say that once, in my wreckless youth, I lost a few days after inadvertently chasing some Poteen with a hefty portion of Stout.  A horrible experience although, thankfully, one that I went through in the security of my own home and not in some dive on Satan's Mile in Chicago.

The City ultimately put an end to Michael Finn's shenanigans.  His downfall being a woman or, rather,  two of them.  "Gold Tooth"  Mary Thornton and Isabelle Fyffe, women in his employ (and I'll use that term "loosely",  if you know what I mean), testified against him and it was enough for Mayor Harrison to order the place shuttered in December, 1903.

Phineous Zivick Huntington
March 4, 2010


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