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James Butler Elkins
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Birth: Mar. 13, 1901
Arizona, USA
Death: Oct. 10, 1968
Gila County
Arizona, USA

From the 1940's through the early 1960's, Jim Elkins was the "Tony Soprano" of Portland Oregon. At the height of Elkins career running vice in Portland's Rose City, he was a central figure in all manner of gambling, prostitution. booze, muscle and drugs. If Jim Elkins gave an order, it was carried out by a rotating crew of local thugs with checkered pasts. His success was owed to the generosity and regularity of payoffs to street cops and politicians. "Big Jim" did business in the dim light of warehouses, nightclubs, strip joints and parked cars. Few people remain alive who can say how deep and dark the waters were when the orders were given. Elkins was 36 years old when he was released from the Arizona State Penitentiary in July, 1937 after serving only five years for assault with intent to kill during a botched robbery. He and his brother Fred Elkins came north to Portland where they found a more fertile environment for their interests. Over the next 20 years, Elkins and his employees took over lucrative coin operated slots, pinballs and vending operations and operated several concerns as storefronts for illegitimate and criminal operations. Elkins kept a network of payoffs to police, politicians, labor bosses and businessmen in order to ensure a cooperative endeavor. By 1957, things were getting sloppy and corruption had grown out of control. Criminal activities in Portland became a major part of the focus of the McClellan Senate Committee Hearings into corruption and illegal activities of labor unions. Chaired by Senator John McClellan, the committee included Senators John F. Kennedy and Barry Goldwater, along with Robert Kennedy as chief counsel. Jim Elkins testified to the members of this committee and revealed a network of illegal operations, payoffs and scandal that involved Portland's mayor, its chief of police and its district attorney. Two references of further reading that chronicle this time era of Portland's history are THE ENEMY WITHIN by Robert F. Kennedy, New York: Harper and Row, 1960, and PORTLAND CONFIDENTIAL: SEX, CRIME AND CORRUPTION IN THE ROSE CITY by Phil Stanford, Westwind Press, 2004. With the details revealed from this investigation, Elkins life as a crime boss was essentially over. Portland went through a political reform. The last ten years of his life, Elkins could not as much as light a match without being under routine observation. Elkins knew no other life, but his empire was vanquished and his glory days over. Author Stanford claims in his book that a newspaper in Globe, Arizona reported the death of Elkins in October, 1968 as being involved in a fatal traffic accident, but that further investigation revealed the possibility that Elkins was shot in the chest twice in photos that mysteriously never materialized. The truth may never be known as Elkins was cremated before any autopsy was performed. Thus, closed the chapter on Jim Elkins, Portland's most notorious crime figure. 
Tempe Double Butte Cemetery
Maricopa County
Arizona, USA
Created by: anonymous
Record added: Jun 15, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 53730392
James Butler Elkins
Added by: anonymous
James Butler Elkins
Added by: anonymous
James Butler Elkins
Added by: anonymous
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Thank you for doing this for Jim. Jim was a good friend of my husbands. He would love to get in contact with Jim's existing family to talk about his memories of Jim. He was a very kind man to my husband and made a huge impact on his life. My e-mail is...(Read more)
- Deb
 Added: Jan. 4, 2015
Adelley,We are long lost relatives. Jim was my moms second cousin. He was the son of my great grandmother's sister. Gran was my great grandmother. Jim looks like Gran and my mother cringes every time I tell her she does. Where do you live? I would lo...(Read more)
- Heather Banks
 Added: Nov. 7, 2014
Big Jim was my great, great grandfather. I wasn't alive yet when he was, but I will never forget him. He may have been into some pretty bad things, but he was family. -With love, your great, great grand-daughter, Adalley.
- Adalley
 Added: Jan. 8, 2014

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