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Charles Birger sticker

Charles Birger sticker

Charles Birger "I`ve killed men, but never a good one"

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Charles Birger (1881 – 19 April 1928) was an American bootlegger during the Prohibition period in southern Illinois. His real name was Shachna Itzik Birger, and he emigrated to the United States as a child with his parents from the Russian Empire.

Army records show he enlisted in St. Louis on July 5, 1901, and was assigned to Company G of the newly formed 13th Cavalry Regiment, which was stationed in South Dakota. Birger was described as a good soldier and was honorably discharged on July 4, 1904, at Fort Meade, South Dakota. When he left the army, he became a cowboy. However, he eventually returned to Illinois, where he married and became first a miner in the quickly expanding mining community of Harrisburg, then a saloon keeper.

Following World War I, the United States adopted national prohibition, which banned the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcoholic beverages in the country. Charlie saw this as a business opportunity.

Charlie's initial base of operation was Harrisburg, in Southern Illinois. The authorities in Saline County eventually invited him to leave, after which he built a fortified speakeasy named Shady Rest just across the line in Williamson County. Shady Rest was located off old Highway 13, half way between Harrisburg and Marion. A small barbecue stand just off the highway served as the guard shack.

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