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William Lorimer’s story

To the Editor:

The May 13 Northwest Herald published two related articles – one about the Josephine and William Lorimer Jr. House and one about the direct elections of U.S. senators.

Perhaps readers missed the connection. An impetus for direct election was the fact that William Lorimer Jr.’s father, William Lorimer, was the only U.S. senator ever thrown out of the Senate for bribing his way into his seat.

In 1909, the Illinois House, led by House Speaker Ed Shurtleff of Marengo, voted to send Lorimer to the U.S. Senate. In 1910, a Senate investigation, based on accusations in the Chicago Tribune that Lorimer had conspired to “grease the skids” for his election, began a close scrutiny of the vote in Springfield. This investigation gave much ammunition to the direct election movement. Lorimer was removed from his position by the vote of the U.S. Senate in July 1912.

Lorimer, known in the 1910s as the “Blonde Boss of Chicago,” was deeply involved in the lumber business, along with wealthy Edward Hines and their social and political pal, Shurtleff. He retired to Crystal Lake.

The Tribune reported in 1934 that William Lorimer Sr. had “left his summer home in Crystal Lake” and took the train into the city. He was found dead in the washroom of the old Chicago and Northwestern train station that morning by his son, Leonard.

The current Lorimer home stands on the site of William Lorimer Sr.’s summer home.

Craig Pfannkuche

Wonder Lake


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