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Carl Ray Shelton
Birth: Feb. 7, 1888
Death: Oct. 23, 1947

Organized Crime Figure. The second eldest son of Agnes and Ben Shelton, Carl was born in Wayne County, Illinois in 1888. He and his brothers Earl and Bernard would eventually grow to become three of the most powerful gangsters in the Midwest. Growing up on the family farm, Carl and his brothers would soon leave in search of vocations. In the years before Prohibition they ran a taxicab company in St. Louis and a saloon in East St. Louis. With the new booze laws, Carl Shelton and his brothers realized the financial bonanza to be had in the illegal liquor business, and they jumped in with both feet. Shelton distributed booze throughout southern Illinois, mainly in East St. Louis and in Wayne, Williamson, Jackson, Franklin, and Hamilton counties. His activities brought him into conflict with both rival bootleggers and the local KKK element. On one such occasion in Herrin, Illinois in August 1924, Carl and Earl Shelton were both wounded, and six others killed in what was termed the “Herrin Massacre.” The Sheltons also fought with Charlie Birger for control of bootlegging and land in southern Illinois. Their conflict cost many lives and developed novel methods of gang warfare. In one instance, the Sheltons customized a gasoline tanker truck to act as a huge armored “tank”, and even went so far as to hire a crop duster to drop bombs on Birger’s Shady Rest roadhouse in one of the few instances of offensive aerial bombing on American soil. The Sheltons won out in the war and Birger was convicted and executed for murder. The Sheltons themselves were convicted of mail robbery but won out on appeal after serving only three years. During the 1930s Carl Shelton and his brothers dominated gambling and bootlegging in southern Illinois, successfully defending their territory against both the Chicago and St. Louis mobs. They also acquired vast land holdings across Illinois and became noted as some of the wealthiest men in their community. By the end of World War II, Carl Shelton was living in Peoria, where he controlled just about all of the town’s gambling interest. At this time, a change in political and criminal climate brought about his downfall. Forced out of Peoria by a reform mayor, Shelton went back to his home at Wayne County. Then the Chicago and St. Louis mobs, tired of competing with the Sheltons, decided to eliminate them. Carl Shelton was ambushed and killed along the Pond Creek Road near Fairfield, Illinois on October 23, 1947. The prime suspect in his murder was Charlie Harris, a former associate and neighbor who had turned into one of Carl’s worst enemies. His younger brother Bernie was assassinated a year later outside his Peoria tavern. The eldest Shelton , Roy, who had little involvement in the criminal activities, was shot off his tractor in June 1950. Earl Shelton, after surviving two attempts on his life, moved himself and the rest of the family down to Florida. He passed away in 1986 at the age of ninety-six. Carl Shelton and his brother Roy are buried with their parents in Fairfield, Illinois. (bio by: Dennis Rice) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Benjamin Marsh Shelton (1861 - 1944)
  Agnes F Gaither Shelton (1862 - 1957)
 
 Spouse:
  Pearl Vaughn Shelton (1912 - 1997)*
 
 Siblings:
  Nora Shelton (1883 - 1896)*
  Roy Shelton (1885 - 1950)*
  Carl Ray Shelton (1888 - 1947)
  Earl Robert Shelton (1890 - 1986)*
  Dalta Shelton (1896 - 1960)*
  Bernard Shelton (1899 - 1948)*
  Lulu Shelton Pennington (1909 - 1980)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Maple Hill Cemetery
Fairfield
Wayne County
Illinois, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Dennis Rice
Record added: Dec 21, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial# 8199087
Carl Ray Shelton
Added by: Dennis Rice
 
Carl Ray Shelton
Added by: Mickey
 
Carl Ray Shelton
Added by: Mickey
 
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