Dixmoor

Settled by Charles Special;
Year infiltrated 1964
Crime impact Whole
Worst areas Provide info

The land that is now the suburb of Dixmoor was very barren while most of Cook county was developed.  The area first was discovered in the 1820s as Bison began to migrate through the state of Illinois starting in Chicago all the way down to Vincennes, Indiana.  This left a trail known as the “Vincennes Trace.”  Eventually horses and stagecoaches would travel this trace and use it as a path.

No more activity happened in this area until the year 1907 when Grand Trunk Western Railroad laid tracks for a route from Chicago to Kankakee.  In the year 1915 construction began on the Dixie Highway which would connect the Chicago area all the way down to Florida, this highway was dug through the area that would become Dixmoor and this brought passing motorists through to notice the area especially by the early 1920s when the road became more developed.

In the year 1922, Charles Special, a Chicago Heights man and land developer became interested in turning this area into a village of his own.  He had to fight with the nearby communities like Blue Island and Harvey to prevent them from taking over these lands for annexation.  Special ended up winning his fight to develop his own village as he owed 70 lots of land here.  The old Buffalo Trace now became a road called Blue Island-Thorton Road. On January 15, 1923 the new town achieved incorporation and became the village of “Specialville.”  Charles Special was the first village President until he passed away in 1928.

In the year 1929, villagers petitioned to the Secretary of State to change the name to “Dixmoor” since the Dixie highway cut straight through their community.  In the year 1930, sewers, street lights, electricity and water services were provided.  The community now thrived as many residents were employed by the many industrial metal factories in nearby Harvey including Anchor Harvey Components as an example.

In the year 1953, construction began on a new subdivision called “Forest Manor” which was opened up for residency in the year 1954.  This community now had its first African American residents in this subdivision.  This subdivision is the area bounded by 141st Street on the north, 144th Street on the south, Marshfield Avenue to Ashland Avenue on the east and Hoyne Avenue to Harvey Avenue on the west.  Unlike other communities across Chicagoland Dixmoor was more welcoming of having black neighbors.  Much of the racial strife mainly came from nearby Harvey.

The first racial incident was the Gin Bottle Riots of 1964 (pictured below) that occurred on August 16, 1964 when police arrested Blondella Woods for stealing a bottle of gin from Foremost Liquors (pictured below) at 2240 147th Street in Dixmoor.  There were claims that the store owner Michael Lapota beat the woman for stealing from the store because she was black but Lapota said he struggled with the woman because she would not let go of the liquor bottle.  400 protesters then showed up at 11 A.M. on August the 16th to protest the incident because they felt the liquor store owner should have been arrested as well.  By 8 P.M. the protest turned violent as protesters began smashing windows of the store, burning nearby buildings then began hiding in the bushes and between houses as they hurled bricks and stones at passing cars that were driven by white people which lead to 37 injuries.  The police arrested 25 people involved in the incident and needed 225 police officers to stop the rioting that was not put down until 2 A.M. (Chicago Tribune Page 1 August 17, 1964).

Besides the gin bottle riot of 1964 Dixmoor became a mixed race community without racial strife as most residents of the small town had in common that they were a part of the lower income scale and all a part of a high rate of poverty.

I am not positive if the Blackstone Rangers were involved in the Gin Bottle riots but I don’t doubt it because this was the year that the Rangers infiltrated the south suburbs.  The Blackstone Rangers arrived in the Harvey Dixmoor area because of the racial strife between blacks and whites as whites in Harvey didn’t want blacks moving in as the community was changing color.  A race war was about to be brewing and the Rangers were there to guide young black youths to fight back, especially a group called the “Black Elephants.”  The founder of the south suburban Rangers and the Harvey Dixmoor Ranger founder/leader was 15 year old Jerome “General Jake” Crowder.  These Rangers took on the name of “Harvey Dixmoor Rangers.”

It is very likely that Harvey and Dixmoor is the motherlands of all Black P Stone suburban activity then operations spread to other south suburban communities after Dixmoor but all in 1964, the town of Phoenix was next to have Rangers. The Rangers first made their presence known when they participated in a race riot in August of 1966 and sprayed Ranger graffiti all over the walls of an electronics store in Harvey.

Sammy Davis Junior

The Stones of Dixmoor got some notoriety for trying to shake down singing sensation and well known celebrity Sammy Davis Junior.  Davis purchased the old Foremost Liquor Store at 147th and Oakley in 1968 that was the site of the Gin Bottle Riots on 1964.  The liquor store was only opened for about one year, and then the liquor license was taken away after underage teenage boys were spotted buying liquor in the store (Jet Magazine Page 59 May 29, 1969).  The problem is the Black P Stones were allegedly guarding and operating this liquor store for Davis and expected him to pay the Stones $160,000 to refinance the liquor store but Davis had no interest in doing so and called the police for protection from the Stones (Chicago Tribune page 7 March 6, 1970).

I am not exactly sure when Black Disciples came to Dixmoor but I believe it was the 1960s, perhaps the same year the Stones arrived.

The suburb of Dixmoor would continue to experience growing gang influence and violence in the 1970s and 1980s this was apparent in January of 1983 when two high school aged gang members went to rob people in the parking lot of the Western Health Spa and Adult Book Store located at 14511 Western Ave.  The two youths targeted Donato Gentile as they pointed a gun at him and demanded money, Gentile instead laughed at the two of them and this apparently angered the gunman who then shot Gentile dead, the shooter was a known gang member according to the Tribune article (Chicago Tribune page 16 January 31, 1983).

Latino migration eventually came to the suburb in the 1980s and among the migration came Latin Kings, Latin Counts and Satan Disciples.  The Dixmoor suburb still has higher than normal crime and is considered one of the more dangerous suburbs in comparison to the majority of Chicago suburbs.