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Parmelee Part II
F. Parmelee & Co.; Parmelee Transfer Co.; Frank Parmelee Co.; Parmelee System Inc.; Parmelee Taxicab Co.; Parmelee Transportation Co.; Parmelee Motor Fuel Co.; Parmelee Parcel Service Inc.; 1853-1969; Chicago, Illinois
Associated Builders
Yellow Cab Mfg. Co., Checker Cab Mfg. Co.

Continued From Page 1....

A temporary cab war truce coincided with the start of Al Capone’s reign as head of the Chicago underworld. However even Capone’s influence couldn’t stop the violence and during the second week of December, 1926 the brother of the current president of the Checker Cab association was implicated in the shooting death of its former president. On December 10, 1926 the Associated Press reported:


“Chicago, Dec. 9.—(AP)—Joseph Wakril (Wokral), 48, former president of the Checker Taxi company here, was shot three times and probably fatally wounded tonight as he was preparing to enter his car, in front of a friend's house.

“Wakril (Wokral) told police he recognized one of the assailants as Eugene McLaughlin, brother of the present president of the taxi company, Robert McLaughlin.”

John H. Lyle, a Chicago attorney, Judge and Alderman was directly involved in incident which is detailed in his 1960 memoir, ‘The Dry and Lawless Years’:

“There was strife between the Checker and Yellow Cab companies. Drivers fought in the street and the battle had seen sluggings and several murders. Adding to the disorder was an internal struggle within the Checker organization that had resulted in thugs gaining control. At breakfast I had read of the arrest, the previous evening, of taxi gunmen outside the Great Northern Hotel. I knew the prisoners would be arraigned before me. When Wokral identified himself I cut him short.

“‘Anything you have to say must be said in court,’ I warned. His hands were trembling. ‘I didn't know that coming here was wrong,’ he pleaded. ‘I've got to have help. They're going to kill me . . . and nobody is stopping them. I’ve read about you. I was glad when I heard it was going to be in your court. They've got everybody on their side.’ His abject misery stirred my sympathy. ‘Mr. Wokral, if you are in the right you will get justice in my courtroom.’

“I walked away a few steps and then I heard his tremulous voice calling: ‘If those fellows go free I'll be a dead man in 30 days.’

“Wokral and three other ousted officials were conferring in the hotel on legal action to regain their positions. A friend telephoned that rivals were waiting on the street. Wokral phoned the Detective Bureau.

“A squad appeared commanded by Sgt. Ray Crane, a fine officer who rose to chief of the uniformed force. At one entrance they found the McLaughlin brothers, Gene and Bob, with sawed-off shotguns under their coats. Two men similarly armed were arrest at the other entrance.

“The hoodlums had two cars. In one a mobster waited with a sub-machine gun. The set-up suggested an intention to take Wokral and his associates for a one-way ride.

“The McLaughlins were redheads, young men of good appearance, smart and articulate. Outwardly they did not at resemble gangsters. Gene, a thoroughly vicious outlaw, was the driving force behind the plot that had ousted Wokral and installed Bob as Checker President. The other prisoners, all with police records, were among the new officers of the company.

“Gene had killed two men, one a police officer, and had been the ringleader in two kidnappings for ransom. He had been arrested for these crimes but managed to evade imprisonment.

“The five were released in $10000 bonds. This was not cash bail. A professional bondsman posted real estate valued supposedly at $50,000.

“Several nights later Workal’s home was bombed. He and his family had to find lodging elsewhere. Not long afterward his auto was curbed by another car and he was shot four  times in the back. He signed a deathbed statement that he recognized Gene McLaughlin as one of the gunman. Within an hour his struggle with gangland was over. Joseph Wokral had been optimistic in the prediction he had made to me. He did not live 30 days.”

Eugene ‘Red’ McLaughlin was well-known to Wokral and had worked as a Checker cabbie after being released from a Pontiac, Michigan prison.

Although McLaughlin and Robert “Frisco Dutch” Schmidt, both known associates of Al Capone and Bugs Moran, were indicted for Wokral’s murder in April of 1928, both were acquitted as the only evidence against them was Wokral’s deathbed accusation.

“Frisco Dutch” Schmidt was a Minneapolis-based enforcer connected with the Karpis-Barker (Alvin Karpis –Barker Bros.) and Keating-Holden (Francis Keating & Thomas J. Holden) gangs whose actual name was Robert Jones. Known primarily by the moniker “Frisco Dutch”, he also went by Robert Schmidt and Robert Steinhardt and later worked at White Bear Lake Minnesota’s Plantation night club, a favorite mob hangout.

Despite the fact that his brother was directly implicated in the murder of his predecessor, Robert McLaughlin remained in charge of Checker Chicago operations into the early thirties. As Markin was heavily invested in the association it’s presumed he was aware of the character of those in charge, but likely found it in his best interests to accede to their management decisions. It’s unknown if the Chicago mob had any influence on Markin’s Kalamazoo operations, but it’s likely they got a commission (kickback) on sales made to members of the Checker taxicab association.

One benefit of having the mob in charge of Checker Taxi was a noticeable decline in cab driver violence. McLaughlin managed to stay out of the papers for almost 18 months, but in May of 1928 he was indicted for jury tampering:

“Report Four Named As Jury Tamperers

“Robert McLaughlin, Head of Checker Cab, Brother of Convicted Robber, Among Quartet.

“Chicago, May 18, 1928—(A P.)—A true bill was reported to have been voted by a grand jury today naming four men in connection with jury tampering at the trial of Eugene (Red) McLaughlin, convicted of highway robbery. The charge was conspiracy to obstruct justice and to do an unlawful act, and was said to cover the bombing of the home of one of the jurors, Fred W. Eicke.

“Named with Eugene were his brother Robert, president of the Checker Cab company, Gus Steinweg, an official of the chauffeurs and teamsters union, and John Donohue, said to have attempted to influence Eicke.”

The original charges against Eugene McLaughlin stemmed from his robbery of New York jewelry salesman Walter J. Neumann which netted him $85,000, a substantial take for that time.

On May 14, 1928 Eugene McLaughlin was put upon trial based upon an indictment charging him with assault with intent to commit robbery. Two days later the jury returned a verdict of guilty and McLaughlin was sentenced to 1 to 14 years.

That evening, May 16, 1928, the home of Fred W. Eiche, one of the McLaughlin jurors, was bombed:

“Bomb Tears McLaughlin Juror’s Home

“Occurs While Owner Is Identifying Bribe Attempter

“Chicago, May 17, 1928 – (AP) – The home of Fred W. Eiche, one of the jurors who convicted Eugene (Red) McLaughlin of highway robbery two days ago, was bombed last night.

“Eiche himself was not at home. His wife, their three children, a sister and six guests at an informal party being held in the two-story frame structure were severely shaken.

“The bomb, which was no. 36 since Jan. l. was tossed on the Eiche front porch, just below a bedroom window. No one was in the room, a wall of which was torn away by the explosion.

“Shortly after the bombing, Eiche was at the Detective Bureau identifying Gus Steinwick, secretary treasurer of the chauffeurs and teamsters Local No. 742, as one of two men who last Monday attempted to bribe him. Steinwick and another man, according to Eiche, came to him with a request that he ‘give Red a good break.’

“Steinwick's companion was introduced to Eiche as Robert McLaughlin, brother of Red and president of the Checker Cab Company. When confronted by McLaughlin in court yesterday, however, Eiche said he could not be sure if it was the same man.

“Eiche was positive in his identification of Steinwick. Although the bombing of the Eiche home occurred shortly before Steinwick was brought in, the news was kept from Eiche for fear it might influence him against identifying the prisoner.

“Actual damage done by the bomb was about $500. The explosion was felt for several blocks around.

“The bombing was the second evidence of intimidation in the McLaughlin case. A few hours earlier police had learned that Walter J. Newman (Neumann), the New York diamond salesman who was the chief witness against McLaughlin had disappeared. Newman (Neumann) in court yesterday had told Judge McGoorty that the defendant’s brother, Robert, had urged him to testify falsely.

“Red McLaughlin has been a thorn in the side of Chicago police for several years. He was arrested in Hayward, Wis. Several weeks ago after being shot down by the mayor who commented afterward that ‘he may be tough in Chicago, but he can; get tough here.’

“One of the charges on which Red was sought was the slaying of Joseph Wokral, former president of the Checker Car Company. The charge was later dismissed for lack of evidence. His conviction for highway robbery by the jury of which Eiche was a member carries a sentence of one to 14 years.”

Judge John P. McGoorty was outraged, and the following morning called for an investigation into McLaughlin’s arsenal of intimidation:

“Chicago Lawlessness Denounced by Judge

“Aroused by Bombing of Jurist's Home He Orders Gathering of Intimidation Evidence.

“CHICAGO. May 17, 1928—(AP)—An ominous echo to the bomb that wrecked the home of Fred W. Eicke, one of the jurors who dared gangland by voting to send Eugene ‘Red’ McLaughlin to the penitentiary, was heard today in the court room of Judge John P. McGoorty.

“Aroused by what he termed a ‘ruthless and fiendish assault.’ on his court, the judge ordered assistant state's attorneys to gather all evidence of intimidation and present it to the grand jury.

“‘Chicago is confronted by a new battle,’ he declared as he climbed to the bench to hear the state's petition to increase McLaughlin's bond and to hear arguments for a new trial Saturday instead of May 26. ‘We must determine whether law or lawlessness is to be supreme. The situation at present seems to this court to be unprecedented in the history of

Cook county.'

“McLaughlin was convicted of highway robbery two days ago and the bomb, tossed on the front porch of the Eicke home last night, tore away part of a bedroom wall. No one was injured.”

Later that day McGoorty issued orders of protection for himself, Eicke and his family, and for Frances Hedy, attorney for a jeweler’s association. He also quadrupled McLaughlin’s bail to $100,000. It had originally been a reasonable $5,000, but during the first day of testimony the Judge had raised it to $25,000.

“Judge, Juror Guarded In Gang War

“Chicago Pair Protected By Police After Approach by Alleged Gangster Seeking Verdict To Free Pal

“CHICAGO, May 18, 1928 - (AP) – A judge and a juror slept last night under protection of the police department after each had challenged the power of gangland to subvert the law.

“John P. McGoorty of the criminal court was the judge. It was in his court that Eugene (Red) McLaughlin was convicted of highway robbery earlier this week. Fred W. Eicke was the juror. He was one of 12 who found McLaughlin guilty.

“The hidden acting in McLaughlin’s behalf already had struck at Eicke, bombing his home Wednesday night. The bomb followed a few hours after Eicke had told Judge McGoorty that two men had sought to influence his verdict in favor of McLaughlin.

“Police Called In

“Eicke said that one of the men who visited him in the defendant’s behalf was Robert McLaughlin, brother of Red and president of the Checker Cab Company.

“Judge McGoorty called upon police for protection for Eicke after uncovering evidence which convinced him the lives of several persons involved in the McLaughlin case were endangered. Patrolman were assigned to accompany the three Eicke children to and from school, to watch the Eicke home and to act as a personal guard to the juror himself.

“Fear of gang reprisal was the reason police assigned for the disappearance of Robert Newmann (Neumann), New York jewelry salesman, who was the principal witness against McLaughlin. Newmann (Neumann) also testified that Robert McLaughlin had attempted to influence him to change his testimony.

“Fear For Lawyer

“Frances Hedy, attorney for a jeweler’s association, was another for whom fears were expressed. Police said Hedy had been ‘put on the spot’ by one or Red McLaughlin’s friends who pointed out to several gangsters as ‘the man responsible for all this.’

“In view of the developments Judge McGoorty ordered McLaughlin’s bond increased from $25,000 to $100,000 – a record high figure for such a case, lawyers said.”

Although Robert McLaughlin was subsequently found guilty of contempt by Justice McGoorty, the decision was reversed on appeal due to a technicality. Although McLaughlin was found in contempt for threatening a witness, the ruling was discharged by the Supreme Court on the basis of his sworn denial of the incident. The unusual Illinois law allowed that in a criminal contempt committed outside the presence of the court, a sworn answer under oath denying the alleged incident is sufficient to dismiss the charge.

In less than a year Robert’s brother Eugene was released from prison under a $15,000 bond on a writ of error obtained from the Cook County Supreme Court Chief Justice Cyrus Dietz. The May 1, 1929 Chicago Tribune reported:

“Chief Justice Cyrus Dietz of Moline ‘In Bad’ for Freeing Notorious Convict

“Attorney Cyrus Dietz of Moline, who some months ago was elected a member of the Illinois supreme court, succeeding Floyd Thompson who resigned to enter the campaign for governor, is "in bad" with the good and law abiding citizens of Illinois for his action in freeing ‘Red’ McLaughlin, a notorious criminal, on $15,000 bonds. His action is also severely condemned by the law enforcement bodies of the state.

“Censured by Crime Commission.

“The Chicago Crime commission yesterday detailed the circumstances under which Eugene (Red) McLaughlin, notorious gangster, has gained his liberty from the Joliet penitentiary on $15,000 bail. Henry Barrett Chamberlin, operating director of the commission, in a report to its president, Frank J. Loesch, described these circumstances as ‘scandalous.’

“‘McLaughlin, indicted and tried for murder, gunman, jewel robber, ex-convict, fugitive from justice, bail jumper, and one of the most dangerous criminals in the United States, is again at liberty to menace society,’ said the Chamberlin letter. ‘He was released by order of Justice Cyrus Dietz, of the Illinois supreme court following the issuance by that jurist of a writ of error and the fixing of bail at $15,000.’

“Clerk Called From Home

“‘It is interesting to note that the bond was presented at the clerk’s office of the supreme court at 7:30 o’clock on Saturday night, it being necessary to ask the clerk to go to his office from his home. This bond was signed by Robert E. McLaughlin (president of the Checker Cab Company), a brother of the defendant, who claims to possess property of the value of $18,000 with a mortgage of $3,000; Victor Cozzi, who claims to own $22,000, with a mortgage of $1,500, and Jacob N. Schwartz, claiming ownership of $30,000 realty with a mortgage of not more than $12,000.’

“‘I am unable to find any schedules in the office of the clerk of the supreme court,’ Mr. Chamberlin continued, ‘and as far as I know the bond was accepted on affidavits only.’

“Jenkins McLaughlin’s Lawyer.

“‘It is of continuing interest to know that the attorney representing McLaughlin in this matter is Chauncey Jenkins of Springfield, former director of public welfare during the administration of Governor Small and concerning whom the executive committee of the Chicago crime commission said in a statement to the governor in 1926 that he was unfit for his position and that he had forfeited the confidence of the public and should be removed.’

“‘Of further interest is the fact that the papers were rushed thru and McLaughlin released from the penitentiary at about 8 o’clock Sunday morning.’

“Denied Bail Twice By Court

“‘It is difficult for me to understand why this procedure should have been stage at Springfield at a time when the chief justice of the court was in Chicago where the trial occurred and who was entirely cognizant of all of the circumstances pertaining to this matter, and after the supreme court had twice denied bail to McLaughlin.’

“‘McLaughlin was received at the penitentiary on June 29, 1928, having been sentenced for a term of one to 14 years for assault with intent to commit robbery, a crime committed on March 22, 1926. The history of the case is a record of bond forfeitures, judgments, vacation of judgments, bombing of a juror’s home, new bail, evasion of arrest, perjury, jury tampering, and intimidation.’

“Bond Raised To $100,000.

“‘On June 15, 1928, the supreme court refused to release McLaughlin on bail pending a supersedeas and on June 18 it refused to reconsider its decision. Judge John McGoorty raised McLaughlin’s bond from $5,000 to $100,000.’

“‘McLaughlin forfeited one bond of $50,000 and another of $5,000 in Cook county and a bond of $10,000 in Philadelphia, where he was arrested for robbery, burglary, and assault to kill.’

“‘Indicted for murder in Chicago, wanted for murder in Detroit, involved in the Omar Fitch murder in 1924 and the shooting of Harry Morely, a Checker Cab superintendent, the same year, suspected of robbery of $100,000 diamonds in 1926 – his release at this time on a $15,000 bond after conviction and while serving a term in the penitentiary is something that I am unable to understand.’”

Despite the ‘mysterious’ circumstances surrounding McLaughlin’s release he remained a free man. Six months later the high court remanded McLaughlin for a new trial, but it never came to pass. Prosecutors appearing at the February, 1930 hearing stated they had insufficient evidence and requested the case be dropped.

On June 16, 1928 Checker Cab Manufacturing issued new stock that was underwritten by the NY banking and brokerage house of J.A. Sisto & Co., 68 Wall St., one of Manhattan’s most respected brokers.

Just as the memory of Checker’s internal cab war had faded, the original Yellow vs. Checker battle resumed in September of 1928:


“Gun-Play Concludes Free-for-all Participated in by Chicago Drivers

“CHICAGO, Sept. 22, 1928—(AP) Taxicab warfare which police say has been brewing for several days broke out today at a cab stand at Cottage Grove avenue and 68th street, near the Granada cafe. Eugene Thivierge, 35, a driver for the Checker Cab company, was shot dead.

“Bernard Reishter (Reister), a Yellow Cab driver, was arrested shortly afterward. His face and body bore the marks of recent battle, police said. He told officers he had seen the fight but had no part in the gunplay.

“Word reached Checker Cab company headquarters last night that some of their drivers had been threatened when they attempted to park their cabs at a stand near the cafe. Several drivers, armed with automobile nacks, went to the scene, police were told. The dispute continued until there was a general fight, terminating only when Thivierge had been shot down.

“Police Lieutenant Dubach said the first indication of trouble between the cab drivers came a week ago when several drivers of the Checker company were arrested after a pistol fight with police who had sought to question them. Three drivers were arrested and charges of assault with intent to kill were placed against them.

“The trouble is attributed by police to the desire of rival cab drivers to keep to themselves cab stands advantageously located.”

Within the week Checker henchmen retaliated by dynamiting two Yellow Cab garages:

“Chicago Taxicab War Is On


“Chicago, Sept. 30, 1928— (AP)—Two Yellow Cab company garages were bombed simultaneously tonight. Police fear the outrages are reprisals for the fatal shooting last week of a Checker taxicab driver by a Yellow cab chauffeur.

“No close approximation of the damage could be obtained from the Cab Company, the explosion of the bomb at the garage in the 5400 block of Broadway was heard as far north as Evanston and shattered windows in nearby buildings. Guests at the Edgewater Beach Hotel, three blocks away, were alarmed by the detonation. Several cabs stored in the garage were damaged though Company officials said the loss would not be considerable, only a few employees were in the building when the dynamite, placed at the rear entrance, exploded, and none of them was seriously hurt.

“It was 15 minutes later that a bomb exploded at the rear of the Yellow Cab Company's garage and repair shop at 3300 North Halstead Street. Police believe the same hands that placed the Broadway Garage bomb, hurled the dynamite that damaged the building on Halstead Street. Two men were seen to run from both places and drive away in a roadster.

“Thomas Hogan, vice president of the Yellow Cab company, immediately issued a statement denying the report that the bombing indicated a renewal of the taxicab war which swept Chicago four years ago. "Absolutely nothing to it," said Hogan. "I haven't any idea of the reason for those bombings. We have no labor troubles and there's no reason to suspect business rivals. As a matter of fact, the only damage done was the shattering of the glass in four or five cabs."

“Score of Cabs Wrecked.

“Police, however, reported that 17 cabs were wrecked, and detective bureau squads were dispatched to search for friends of Eugene Thieverge, 35, Checker taxi driver, who was fatally shot September 21 in a row over parking space on the south side.

“Following the shooting, Bernard Reichter, a Yellow Cab driver, was arrested and charged with the crime. Reichter admitted being in a fight at the scene of the shooting but denied firing the shot. Police were seeking Robert Mooney, another Yellow Cab driver, in connection with the affair.

“Only a portion of the dynamite placed at the Broadway garage exploded. Two bundles of the explosive, one containing 16 sticks, and the other 18, were found in the alley. A sputtering fuse attached to them was stamped out by a company employee.”

Unfortunately Checker’s henchmen didn’t know when to quit and on the night of October 3, they bombed John D. Hertz’ prized stables in suburban Cary, Illinois, destroying 11 of his wife’s prized racehorses.

Checker attorneys put the blame for the Yellow bombings on “race track rivals of Hertz”. Hertz was not amused and soon after Robert E. Crowe of the Illinois attorney general’s office announced an official inquiry into the affairs of Checker:


“Checker’s Concern Says Attorney Unqualified to Conduct Cab Inquiry.

“CHICAGO, Oct. 4, 1928- (AP) — Charging that Robert E. Crowe, state's attorney, is unqualified to conduct an inquiry into a taxicab war here because he is a stockholder in the Yellow Cab company, officials of the Checker Taxi company today appealed to Judge John L. Sullivan, chief justice of the criminal court, for a special grand jury and a special

prosecutor to investigate the trouble.

“The Checker company acted after Mr. Crowe yesterday ordered all its records seized and its officials to appear before the grand jury following two bombings of Yellow Cab company garages and the burning of the racing stables of John Hertz, head of the Yellow company, with a loss of more than $200,000 through the death of 11 race horses.

“Charles Dougherty, assistant state's attorney, told Judge Sullivan that neither Mr. Crowe nor any members of his family owned Yellow Cab company stock. The hearing was continued until tomorrow. Checker company lawyers said they expected to present evidence of graft and corruption on the part of the public officials, aimed, they declared, at destroying all rivals of the Yellow company in Chicago.

“The petition charged that many public officials owned Yellow Cab company stock. Trouble between the two companies came to a head a week ago, when a Checker driver was shot to death during a quarrel over cab stand privileges. A Yellow driver was arrested for the shooting.

“Judge Harry Fisher ruled today that seizure of the Checker company's books and records by the state's attorney constituted virtual "theft and larceny" and said he would instruct attorneys what steps to take to regain possession of them if the records were not returned by tomorrow.”

Checker’s henchmen clearly didn’t know when to quit and midway through October Hertz reported that his life had been threatened:

“Yellow Cab Head Threatened With Death, He Says

“CHICAGO, Ill., Oct. 17, 1928 (AP)—John Hertz, president of the Yellow Cab Company, reported to police today that his life had been threatened and that he had been warned his grandchild would be kidnapped.

“Acting State's Attorney George E. Gorman, following the complaints of Hertz, prepared subpoenas for Robert McLaughlin, head of the Checker Taxi Company, and attorneys Arthur Albert and Edgar Cook, representing the Checker Company.

“Two weeks ago Yellow Cab garages were bombed and racing stables of Hertz were burned, destroying 31 thoroughbred racehorses at a loss of $200,000. The trouble was described as outgrowth of a taxi war after a Checker driver was shot and killed.”

The very next day subpoenas were issued to Checker Cab’s president, Robert McLaughlin:

“'Bomb Trust' Under Probe; Checker Taxi Head Summoned by Jury

“Chicago Oct. 18, 1928 (AP) —A threat against the life of John Hertz, president of the Yellow Cab Company, has stimulated Grand Jury action to rid Chicago of its "bomb trust" and taxicab war.

“Hertz told police yesterday he had received warnings that his life would be taken. Subpoenas were prepared at once for Robert McLaughlin, president of the Checker Taxi Company, and two Checker Company attorneys.

“A Grand Jury will question them concerning alleged disputes between employees of the two companies. Following the fatal shooting of a Checker driver, two Yellow Cab garages were bombed three weeks ago.

“A few days later the Hertz racing stables at Cary, Ill. were destroyed in a $200000 fire in which 11 thoroughbred horses were burned.

“The Grand Jury, whose work is to begin tomorrow, will investigate not only the reputed taxicab war, but all bombings of the past few weeks. An appeal has been made to inaugurate a drive to curb outbreaks or violence, which have included 73 bombings so far this year.”

Checker Cab’s henchmen responded by placing a bomb in front of a Hertz’ subsidiary:


“Chicago ‘Warfare’ Continues; Takes New Angle.

“CHICAGO, Oct. 18, 1928 (AP)—An unexploded dynamite bomb was found today in an alley back of the Chicago Motor Coach Company offices. The Motor Coach Company is affiliated with the Yellow Cab Company of Chicago, of which John Hertz is the head.

“Police expressed the belief an attempt had been made to blow up the offices.

“Mr. Hertz yesterday reported that threats had been made against his life and that he had received warnings his grandchild would be kidnapped.

“A grand Jury investigation has been ordered into an alleged taxi war between the Yellow Cab Company and the Checker Taxi Company of Chicago, as a sequel to the bombing of two Yellow Cab garages and the burning of racing stables owned by Mr. Hertz. The bombings followed the slaying of a Checker Taxi driver.”

Three days later Checker’s attorneys withdrew a motion to investigate Yellow Cab’s alleged scheme to put Checker out of business:

“Checker Company Withdraws Motion for Investigation In Chicago

“CHICAGO Oct. 21, 1928 (AP) —An investigation of rivalry between the Yellow Cab Company and the Checker Taxi Company of Chicago by the grand jury was dropped Saturday when attorneys for the Checker Company withdrew the motion before the chief justice of the criminal court asking for the inquiry. The chief justice John J Sullivan said there was little evidence that could be presented to the jury falling within its jurisdiction and advised the Checker Company to wait until the states attorney had been elected next month before going ahead with any inquiry.

“The Checker Taxi Company charged attempts were being made to force it out of business. A Checker driver was shot to death and subsequently two Yellow Cab garages were bombed and racing stables owned by John Hertz, president of the Yellow Cab Company were burned and 11 race horses valued at $200000 were destroyed, but the stables were located outside Cook county and an investigation of the fire would not come under the jurisdiction of the Cook County grand jury.

“It was at first reported the grand jury would investigate reported threats on the life of Mr. Hertz but no steps were taken to do so.”

Within the week Checker’s attorneys were back in court asking for an investigation into the misappropriation by City officials of $6,000 paid in 1926 as the Checker company's vehicle license fees. Chief Justice John J. Sullivan responded by impounding Checkers books:

“Records of Checker Cab Are Impounded

“Chicago, Oct. 30, 1928—(AP)—Books and records of the Checker Taxi company showing its business transactions since 1925 were impounded by Chief Justice John J. Sullivan of the criminal court as evidence in the grand Jury inquiry into the company's charges of corruption in the city government. Attorneys of the company had accused city officials of diverting $6,000 paid in 1926 as the Checker company's vehicle license fees. The grand Jury subpoenaed the books last Friday.”

On June 16, 1928 Checker Cab Manufacturing issued new stock that was underwritten by the NY banking and brokerage house of J.A. Sisto, 68 Wall St., New York.

On December 26, 1928 Checker Cab Manufacturing purchased their New York-based distributor, the Checker Cab Sales Corp., the successor to the Mogul-Checker Cab Sales Co. a firm organized by the firm’s original Manhattan distributor on September 22, 1922. Included in the December acquisition was the Fisk Discount Corp, a Manhattan-based taxicab finance company.

Markin’s acquisition coincided with the ousting of McLaughlin and his henchmen from the Checker Cab Company. At the association’s December board meeting McLaughlin voluntarily stepped down as president and was replaced by a less newsworthy replacement, Thomas J. Healey. The official announcement was made on December 29, 1928:

“Thomas J. Healy, south side banker and political leader, will today become the czar of the Checker Taxi company by action of the concern's board of directors, it was announced yesterday by Arthur F. Albert, general counsel for the company.”

Healey was an attorney who helped found Chicago’s Southwest Trust and Savings Bank in 1912, serving as its first president. From 1910 he was a member of Illinois’ Republican Central Committee, and served as an Illinois delegate to the 1912 and 1928 Republican National Convention.

Healey only remained as president until the heat surrounding McLaughlin had died down and at the association’s December 1929 board meeting McLaughlin and company were re-elected to their previous posts.

In 1928 Ernest H. Miller, president of Yellow Taxi Corporation, New York, which operated Yellow Cabs in New York City, initiated negotiations which led to Parmelee’s formation. These negotiations, commencing in 1925, took place against a background of voluntary withdrawal commencing in 1925 by substantial interests of the Yellow organization in Chicago. He entered the taxicab business in 1919 by organizing the Yellow Cab Company of Newark, N. J. serving as it president for the next decade. In 1921 Miller helped organize the American Yellow Taxi Operators Inc. a Manhattan operator which was subsequently merged into the Yellow Taxi Corporation in 1922. Fifteen months later (November 9, 1923), the Yellow Taxi Corporation was merged into a new firm, the Yellow Taxi Corporation, New York whose capital stock was issued through the Seaboard National Bank of New York. In 1926 Miller was elected president of the Yellow Taxi Corporation, New York. He was also a director of the Alamo Coal Co. as well as the Reliance Casualty Insurance Co., a Newark, N.J., firm that specialized in automobile liability and commercial insurance.

In 1925 Hertz sold the Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company to General Motors Corporation, who merged it with their truck manufacturing operation and reorganized them as the Yellow Truck & Coach Corp. Although its corporate headquarters remained in Chicago, all manufacturing was subsequently relocated to Pontiac, Michigan.

The sale to General Motors did not involve the Chicago Yellow Cab Company, nor the Yellow Taxi Corporation of New York, two totally separate firms controlled by Hertz that operated taxicabs in their respective communities.

The Yellow Cab Company of Chicago was a subsidiary of the Chicago Yellow Cab Company, a public holding company that also included a maintenance subsidiary and insurance company. The shares of Chicago Yellow were equally divided amongst Hertz, Parmelee and a small group of other investors.

For a number of years Ernest H. Miller had been partners with Morris Markin and two others in a scheme to slowly take control of the independently-owned Checker Taxicab Company of Chicago.

1928 Autobody Magazine:

“Yellow Taxi Corporation, New York, has changed the seats of more than 200 of its 1200 cabs to cane seats, instead of the leather or plush which has heretofore been used. This change was made because the cane seats are both cool in appearance and in fact. The company has just ordered 100 new Model O6 cabs from General Motors Truck Company to replace some of their present cabs.”

By 1928 Hertz had grown tired of having to deal with Chicago mobsters and wanted out of the taxi business. He was aware that Markin was interested in acquiring it and as Miller was a friend of Markin’s he asked him to try and put together a deal. Chicago attorney Paul C. L'Amoreaux, a business partner of Miller and Markin’s, was asked to come up with a business plan that would suit all interested parties which would have to include Charles A. McCulloch, the head of the Parmelee Transfer Company. (Although their last names were similar, Parmelee’s McCulloch was unrelated to Checker Cab’s criminally-minded McCullough brothers.)

While L’Amoreaux worked out the details, Markin began looking for the money that would be required to finalize the transaction. He turned to the New York investment firm of J.A. Sisto & Co., the underwriters through whom Checker Cab Manufacturing had recently effected its second public issue of stock.

After weeks of preparation L’Amoreaux presented a complicated plan that was eventually approved by all three principals. It involved a carefully planned sequence of events whereby the minority shareholders of the four firms wouldn’t be alerted to the ultimate goal of the transaction until after it had occurred, thereby keeping the value of the various shares as stable as possible.

Hertz and McCullough were longtime friends and business partners. Both were early investors in the Chicago-based Balaban and Katz movie theater chain and in 1929 had helped form the Manhattan-Dearborn Corp., a real estate investment firm. McCulloch was also an early Yellow Cab investor and John D. Hertz had similarly invested in Parmelee stock.

At the time of the acquisition, McCulloch was vice-president of Chicago Yellow Cab and both men owned approximately 30% of each other’s shares. McCulloch was also friends with Markin and had been investing in shares of Parmelee’s preferred stock since the mid-twenties.

L’Amoreaux presided over lengthy private negotiations amongst Miller (representing Hertz), McCulloch, Markin, and J.A. Sisto & Co. and it was decided that the first transaction would involve the sale of Hertz’ share of Yellow Cab to McCulloch, whereby McCulloch would become Yellow’s chief stockholder. That transaction didn’t take place until April 12, 1929 but was publicly announced on January 7, 1929 in the hopes of ending the violence that had recently been directed towards Hertz:



“Organized Business In Chicago in 1915 Which Has Brought Him Immense Wealth

“Chicago, Jan. 8, 1929 (AP) — John Hertz, who was peddling papers not so many years ago, has retired from business, his wealth rated in millions. His retirement from the chairmanship of the Yellow Cab company board yesterday was accompanied by announcement that his control of that organization had been sold to another one time newsboy — Charles A. McCullough, president of the Parmelee Transfer company.

“Hertz disposed of his entire holdings in the cab company. Those that did not go to McCullough were either given to about 60 employees who started in business with him or sold to them under an arrangement of deferred payments.

“Plans Few Years of Play.

“Still under 50, Hertz plans to cap years of work with play. A few months in Florida then a summer in Europe are among his immediate plans. In England Mr. and Mrs. Hertz will watch their horse, Reigh Count, winner of the Kentucky derby, in competition with the best thoroughbreds of the old world. Hertz, who was born in Ruttka, Austria (now Czechoslovakia), founded the Yellow Cab company of Chicago in 1915. The Chicago Motor Coach company and the People's Motorbus company of St. Louis followed in the next seven years. Later he effected the merger of the Yellow Cab Manufacturing company and the truck division of General Motors.

“Started with Old Cars.

“It is related that after a varied career selling papers, driving a delivery wagon, promoting events and writing of sports for newspapers. Hertz became an automobile salesman. During his first year Hertz made $15,000 in commissions. Only about $800 of this was in cash, however, the remainder being taken out on old limousines. These automobiles, his friends said today, were the nucleus of the company which for the year just closed had net earnings of approximately $1,825,000, equivalent to $4.56 a share of the capital stock.

“Stables House Famous Horses.

“Many famous runners are housed in the Hertz racing stables near Cary, Ill. Several months ago the stables were swept by fire which destroyed horses valued at $200,000. The fire, presumably of incendiary origin, was blamed upon a ‘taxicab war’ in Chicago.”

Checker Cab Mfg. also acquired control of Checker Cab Sales Corp. in New York in January of 1929. This company handled all the Checker business in and around the New York City area. By the end of January, 1929 there were 21,000 taxis in New York City, and, of this total, over 8,000 were Checkers.

By April J.A. Sisto & Co. had finished arranging for the financing of the Yellow-Parmelee deal and in conjunction with L’Amoreaux had finalized the financial and operating structure of Parmelee.

One of the subscribers to Checker’s 1928 stock offering was John J. Raskob, the current head of the Democratic National Committee and the financial chairman of DuPont and General Motors. Raskob had been an early investor in General Motors and had engineered DuPont's ownership of 43% of GM, purchased from the financially troubled William C. Durant.

Raskob had supported Democratic presidential candidate Al Smith in the 1928 election, and Smith invited him to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Sloan, a supporter of Herbert Hoover, insisted Raskob resign either from GM or the DNC. He left GM after the board supported Sloan, sold his GM stock, and used the proceeds to build the Empire State Building.

Raskob began acquiring stock in Checker Cab Mfg. in 1928 and by 1930 he held a reported 200,000 shares. Although he claims he acquired Checker stock as an innocent personal investment, as early as 1930 Business Week reported that skeptics believed that he was trying to force Markin out.

Raskob sold DuPont 8,000 shares of Checker Cab Manufacturing Co. stock on December 12, 1929. DuPont confirmed the sale in a letter to Raskob on January 6, 1930 (8000 shares Checker Cab at 31 = $248,000). Dupont had recently purchased other shares of Checker stock on November 15, 1929 through a broker.

Ernest H. Miller was elected president of the newly organized Parmelee Transportation Co. (aka Parmelee System) in April of 1929, serving as President for the next two years. He retained his interest in Newark’s Yellow Cab Co. until February 20, 1930, when he sold his majority share of the firm to the Public Service Co-ordinated Transport Co.

Miller passed away on December 24, 1932, and was succeeded as Parmelee president by attorney Paul C. L'Amoreaux, the architect of Markin’s takeover of Parmelee and Yellow Taxi. Unfortunately L’Amoreaux served less than a year in office, passing away the following September (September 2, 1933). Levin Rank, Parmelee Transportation’s secretary and treasurer, became its next president.


“New York, Mar 10, 1929 - The latest Checker taxicab, reported to be one of the newest taxicab models and a precedent for luxury in this type of conveyance. It is a long black town car, finished in nickel and silver, and presenting a most dignified, yet strikingly smart note.

“‘Two hundred and fifty-one of them have already been delivered," Mr. Weiss, president of the Checker Cab Sales Company, revealed in an interview at the sales office yesterday.’”

Three weeks before the upcoming Parmelee - Checker Cab Mfg. merger was publicly announced the AP reported:

“Taxi Cab Merger Seen

“Chicago, March 13, 1929—(AP)—A merger of the Chicago Yellow Cab Co., the Parmelee Transfer company of Chicago and the Yellow Taxi corporation of New York, possibly involving a working agreement with the Checker Cab Manufacturing of negotiations under way and likely to be completed shortly.”

The second phase of L’Amoreaux’ plan was publicly announced on April 5, 1929, although the Checker Cab Manufacturing’s involvement was significantly overstated:


“Checker Cab to Take in Yellow Cab and Parmelee Transfer Company.

“New York, April 5, 1929—(INS) - Taxicab operating interests of Chicago and New York are to join with the Checker Cab Manufacturing corporation In the largest merger in the history of the business. An official announcement of the deal probably will be made within the next few weeks.

“According to the plans as revealed today, New York banking interests, representing Checker Cab, have arranged to acquire the Chicago Yellow Cab company, the largest operator in that city, and the Parmelee Transfer company, which has the concession for handling baggage between the many railroad terminals there. The purpose of the merger is said to transfer replacement business to Checker Cab.”

The Parmelee Transportation Company, a Delaware corporation, was organized in 1929 to acquire a controlling interest in the shares of the Parmelee Company, similarly a Delaware corporation doing business in Chicago.

On April 12, 1929, a new corporation was organized under the name of Parmelee Transportation Company and its common stock and debenture bonds which were later listed on the New York Stock Exchange were sold to the public. All of its preferred stock was sold to Checker Cab Manufacturing Corporation. With the funds provided by the sale of these securities the Parmelee Company, then operating, was purchased as a nucleus of an integrated transportation system to furnish taxicab and limousine service in some of the larger cities. In 1934, Chicago’s Parmelee Company was liquidated into the Parmelee Transportation Company.

The Parmelee Transportation Company was formed April 12, 1929, with a capitalization of $10,600,000, consisting of $5,000,000 of debentures, $1,000,000 of preferred shares and 250,000 common shares of the value of $4,600,000. Only the common shares possessed voting power. The $5,000,000 of debentures and the 250,000 common shares were publicly issued through J. A. Sisto & Co. and White Weld & Co. as underwriters. The $1,000,000 of preferred shares were purchased by the Checker Cab Manufacturing Co.

In purchasing the $1,000,000 of Parmelee preferred shares, Checker Cab Manufacturing hoped to receive, in addition to a profitable investment, the continuing good will of Parmelee as a potential customer for cabs. Checker Cab declined, however, an offer to purchase common voting stock rather than the non-voting preferred shares because they desired a safer investment.

The formal announcement was made in a short press release on April 18, 1929:

"The financing of the new Parmelee Transportation company, holding company for a corporation which will operate some of the principal motor transport and cab companies of the United States, was announced last night."

Since Parmelee’s first incorporation in 1919, McCulloch had been investing his profits into a large number of transportation businesses outside of Chicago. He owned the Motor Cab Transportation Co. of New York, which operated about 2,000 in an around Manhattan. He also held a controlling interest in the Transportation Management Corp., a holding company whose subsidiaries included the Deluxe Cab Co. of Cleveland, the Yellow Cab Co. of Pittsburgh, the Yellow Taxi Co. of Minneapolis, and the Pittsburgh Transportation Co., a transit bus operator. McCullogh also supplied his own fuel through the Parmelee Motor Fuel Co., and self-insured all of his vehicles through the Transportation Adjustment Co.

Shortly after its formation, Parmelee acquired 26 per cent of the stock of Chicago Yellow, 68 per cent of the stock of Yellow Taxi Corporation, New York, and 96 per cent of the stock of the Parmelee Company. In connection with Parmelee’s formation and the preceding negotiations, Markin, aside from discussions concerning Checker Cab Mfg. Co.’s purchase of Parmelee’s preferred shares, acted in his personal capacity. Markin personally bought for himself and an associate 6 per cent of Parmelee’s common shares. He also entered into an employment contract with Transportation Management Corporation, a newly formed and wholly owned subsidiary of Parmelee, to act as an advisor to Miller, president of Transportation Management Corporation. Markin’s salary as such adviser was $25,000 per year and Miller’s salary as such president was $50,000 per year.

Subsequent to Parmelee’s acquisition of stock of Yellow Taxi Corporation, New York, and Chicago Yellow, Parmelee acquired the stock of two Pittsburgh taxicab operating companies, and later organized as a wholly owned subsidiary a Minneapolis taxicab operating company. These Pittsburgh acquisitions occurred in 1929 and neither Markin nor Checker Cab Mfg. Co. participated in them. The organization of the Minneapolis taxicab operating company occurred in 1931 and followed the receivership of a prior Minneapolis taxicab operating company owned by a local street railway company. Parmelee supplied $16,305 to purchase the receivership assets which subsequently were transferred to the Minneapolis corporation organized by Parmelee.

Parmelee held control of Chicago Cab Company, the Parmelee Company and the Yellow Taxi Corporation of New York. It later acquired interests in the Yellow Cab Company of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Transportation Company. In 1930 the New York  law firm of Cravath deGersdorff, Swaine & Wood represented it in a transaction under which control of its stock was acquired by the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, which in turn transferred to Parmelee Transportation control of companies operating taxicabs innumerous cities, including Motor Cab Transportation Company, operating more than 2,000 cabs in New York City.

“Yellow Cab of Chicago has placed an initial cash order for 1000 taxis with Checker Cab Manufacturing corporation.”


“KALAMAZOO, April 24, 1929 (AP)—The Checker Cab Manufacturing corporation has announced a million dollar expansion program in this city. A new structure containing 260,000 square feet of floor space is to be erected immediately adjoining a present main assembly building. The new structure will be devoted to body manufacture and will permit of sale of the old body unit.”

Parmelee’s ambitious plans for expansion were announced two weeks later:

“New Taxicab Fleets Result of Merger

“Chicago. April 30, 1929 (AP)—New fleets of taxicabs for Chicago, New York and other cities will result from the recent merger of the Chicago Yellow Cab Company, Inc., the Yellow Taxi Corporation of New York, and the Parmelee Company of Chicago, officials of the Chicago Yellow Cab Company have announced.

“Montreal, Pittsburg, Washington and Cleveland are among the cities in which the Parmelee Company plans to establish taxicab concerns in the near future. Thomas B. Hogan, vice president and general manager of the Chicago Taxi company, said.

“One thousand new taxicabs for Chicago and 1,300 for New York are planned immediately. After that Montreal probably will be the first city entered by the Parmelee Company, it was said.”

Although the third and final step of L’Amoreaux’ plan was slated to take place in the fall of 1929, the stock market crash postponed the merger until the following September.

For close to a decade Yellow and Checker Cab and their affiliates held a vast majority of the Chicago taxicab licenses. Of the 5289 licenses outstanding in the City of Chicago on January 1 1929, Yellow held 2,335 (44%) medallions and Checker 1,750 (33%). A third Markin controlled firm, the DeLuxe Motor Cab Company, held approximately 400 (7½ %) licenses.

In September, 1929, the City of Chicago adopted an ordinance to the effect that no more licenses should be issued, except for renewals, unless it should be found that the public convenience and necessity required otherwise. The ordinance was reaffirmed by the City Council in 1934.


“New York, June 7, 1929 (AP)- The Checker Cab Manufacturing Corporation reports 1928 the most profitable year in its history, with net profits of $816,809, or $2.18 a share on the outstanding common stock. Morris Martin, president, said that earnings for the first 1929 quarter were at the rate of $4.18 a share, compared with 54 cents a share for the same period last year.”

“New York, June 14, 1929 - Checker Cab Manufacturing company has sufficient unfilled orders to take care of entire production until about September 30, says Morris Markin, president. Orders now on hand will force the company to increase by 30 per cent its original program for the year, which called for 7500 units.”

“New York, July 20, 1929 - Morris Markin, president of the Checker Cab Manufacturing company said at the annual stockholders meeting today that the directors were studying a dividend policy, He reported earnings for the first six months of 1929 at $2,270,067.”

“New York, Aug. 1, 1929 - The Philadelphia Rapid Transit company has ordered 500 taxi cabs from the Checker Cab Manufacturing company.”

Between October, 1929, and June, 1930, Parmelee acquired all the taxicab companies operating in Pittsburgh; it now operates the cabs through two wholly owned subsidiaries. Early in 1931, Parmelee formed a company to operate cabs in Minneapolis; a wholly owned subsidiary now operates 125 of the 214 cabs licensed in that city. Beginning early in 1929, Parmelee acquired certain companies operating cabs in New York City; it later consolidated them in a wholly owned subsidiary now holding 2,000 of the 13,000 licenses outstanding in that city.

When the heat died down in Chicago, Robert A. Mclaughlin returned as president of Checker Cab. The violence returned as well, although this time it appeared that it was directed at Checker Cab Co.’s officers, rather than instigated by them. On January 30, 1930 the Associated Press wire service reported:


“Chicago, Ill., Jan. 30, 1930 (AP).—The underworld was searched today for the perpetrators of three crimes which left two men shot, to death, another dying of bullet wounds, and a mass of debris to mark the place where a powerful bomb played havoc with a wholesale grocery firm.

“The slain men were Barney Mitchell, treasurer of the Checker Taxi Company, and George Jackson, a Checker cab driver. Both were found dead in Jackson's bullet-splintered cab.

“As the slayers of the taxi company official and cab driver, Police suspect a gang of hoodlums who had served as bodyguards for the taxi officials during recent troubles. When federal receivership proceeding's placed the taxi company under the supervision of a lawyer, the hoodlum bodyguards were cut off the pay rolls. Police said it appeared the hoodlums shot Mitchell because he refused to meet their demands for money.

“Robert McLaughlin, president of the taxi company, was sought for questioning, but police could not find him and thought perhaps he had gone into hiding in fear of his life. Max Raifman, secretary of the cab company, also was sought after Deputy Police Commissioner Thomas Wolfe announced he had learned that the cab in which Mitchell's body was found had called at Raifman's home. Mitchell and Jackson were found in the cab with, nearly a dozen bullet wounds in their bodies. The killers apparently had been passengers in the cab since all the shots appeared to have been fired within the taxi.”


“President and Secretary of Checker Taxi Company Missing


“Treasurer of Chicago Concern Was Killed on Tenth Wedding Anniversary

“CHICAGO, Jan. 31, 1931 — (AP)—A party at the home of Robert McLaughlin, president of the Checker Cab Co., 15 minutes before the company treasurer, Barney Mitchell, and a company driver, George Jackson, were killed early yesterday, has given detectives a new but meager lead in their investigation of the double slaying.

“Everyone at the party is to be questioned. McLaughlin was missing early today as was Max Raifman, secretary of the company and neighbor of McLaughlin's, police believe he may have gone into hiding, fearing death from the same source responsible for the killing of Mitchell and Jackson.

“The two men were found shot to death in Jackson's cab in Rogers park early yesterday. The party was held in observance of McLaughlin's birthday and also of the tenth anniversary of the wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell. Just before party time, however, Mitchell telephoned his wife, suggesting that she remain home as he would not reach the party until late. Mrs. Mitchell wanted to go ahead, with her husband joining the party when he could, but Mitchell vetoed this.

“When the party broke up, Mitchell phoned for a cab and Jackson's cab answered. Mitchell entered the cab alone, police were told. Ten blocks away he and Jackson were killed.

“Police today sought Robert Schmidt, known as "Frisco Dutch." Schmidt who with Eugene (Red) McLaughlin was tried and acquitted of the slaying of Joseph Wokral, former president of the cab company and the man "Red" Mclaughlin's brother, Robert, succeeded.

“Wokral's dying statement named Schmidt and "Red" McLaughlin as his attackers.”

Formed in 1929, the Black Beauty Cab Corporation was a short-lived Parmelee System subsidiary headed by Samuel Katz (unrelated to John D.Hertz’ Chicago business associate, Samuel Katz, president of Paramount Publix Corp.) Their fleet of 250 jet-black taxis featured a red speed stripe down the side and Black Beauty Cab Co. lettered in red on the door. Black Beauty’s Manhattan garage was located at 613 East Thirteenth Street, New York, NY.

Another little mentioned Parmelee subsidiary was the Hamilton-Peters Operating Company, Inc., a New York City-based firm that operated approximately 250 cabs in and around Harlem. The firm catered to well-to-do African-Americans and was staffed by 750 African American employees.

Hamilton-Peters dates back to 1916 when William H. Peters and Samuel Hamilton started a taxicab and car rental company, beginning with two Packard automobiles, one for rental and one for taxi service. By the mid twenties Hamilton-Peters was credited as being “the largest Negro taxi-cab operators in the United States” and employed “a working force of more than 550 persons” who operated “around 150 specially built taxi-cabs”.

The entire operation was purchased by Parmelee in 1930 and reorganized as the Hamilton-Peters Operating Company, Inc. At that time it was reported that ‘Their business is said to represent a half million dollars investment. The firm has 250 special built taxi cabs and a working force of more than 750 persons.’

A period account describing the dinner given by Parmelee in honor of the event follows:

“The business acumen and energy of two young colored men of Harlem, W.H. Peters and Samuel Hamilton has been rewarded by the incorporation of the taxi cab company which they founded into the great nationwide Parmelee System. At a dinner in honor of the event great figures in America’s taxi cab industry were present, including; E.S. Higgins, vice-president and general manager of the Parmelee System and A.W. Moore, president, Chicago Yellow Cab Company. The Hamilton-Peters Taxi Cab Company employs 1000 men, all of whom are Negroes. The new company announces there will be no change in the personnel.”

Hamilton-Peters survived the early stages of the Depression but was forced into bankruptcy in March of 1937. Black Beauty had been long out of business by that time.

“New York, Feb. 14, 1930 - Checker Cab Manufacturing Corp. has obtained a five year contract from Checker Taxi company of Chicago for the latter's cab requirements.”


“PITTSBURGH, Feb. 27, 1930 —(AP)—A secret ballot by Pittsburgh's' striking cab drivers tomorrow will determine whether the seven weeks old strike will be ended or will continue. The strikers are to vote on proposals for settlement offered by the Parmelee Transportation company, owner of the Yellow, Green and Checker Cab companies. There was no hint as to what the proposals were. Representatives of the company and of the strikers said they pledged secrecy. A vaudeville show was given for the benefit of the strikers tonight in a downtown theater.”

“Checker Cab and Parmelee May Merge

“NEW YORK, March 14, 1930 — Asked concerning reports that negotiations for a merger were under way between Checker Cab Mfg. Co. and Parmelee Transportation Co., Francis L. Haveron, a director in both companies and treasurer of Parmelee, said the question of merging the two companies has never been officially considered. There has been some informal consideration of possible benefits of such a merger but not official action has been taken.”

Haveron, a trained accountant was also a director of J.A. Sisto & Co.


“Chicago, June 7, 1930—(AP)—Passing tugboat churned up the beaten bullet-punched body of Eugene "Red" McLaughlin from the Chicago drainage canal today, and newspaper files turned up the revelation that the sixth of Margaret Hamilton's sweethearts has graced gangster's graves.

“Feet and hands bound with wire and head tied in a sack, the corps of the nationally notorious gunman kidnaper, robber and killer was dragged from the water where he had apparently lain about two weeks and was taken to the morgue to be identified by "Red's" brother Robert McLaughlin, president of the Checker Cab company of Chicago.

“Murder of Bates

“And then came word from police, hunting a motive, that underworld gossip blamed McLaughlin for the killing of Earl "Jew" Bates in Cincinnati about two months ago. Delving into their records further they found that Bates and McLaughlin — once pals — had quarreled over the Hamilton girl known also as Collins and referred to grimly by hoodlums as the "Death Lily of Gangland."

“He held up Walter J. Nuemann New York Jewelry salesman, and took $85,000. He was tried and sentenced to 1 to 14 years, but after serving less than a year, was released under $15,000 bond on a writ of error from the supreme court. Civic organizations complained bitterly — said ‘one of the most dangerous criminals in America’ had been turned loose ‘to murder rob and extort.’ After six months of consideration, the high court remanded McLaughlin for a new trial—hut it never came to pass. Prosecutors appeared in February — said they had insufficient evidence — asked and obtained, a nolle prosse.

“Jumps Bond

“Bonds meant little to McLaughlin —he jumped a $50,000 bond once in Chicago and one for $10,000 in New Jersey in 1927.”

At the time McLaughlin was associated with George ‘Bugs’ Moran’s gang and it’s believed he was killed by gangsters associated with Al Capone, who had recently severed ties with Moran. Red was also romantically linked with Margaret ‘Mad Meg’ Collins’ (aka Hamilton) the debutante of gangland Chicago, whose great beauty was thought responsible for the death of at least six mobsters.

In 1926 Robert McLaughlin, the surviving McLaughlin, had succeeded Joseph Wokral to the presidency of the Chicago Checker Cab Company after Wokral was shot in the head while seeking re-election. Wokral survived for a few days, naming Red McLaughlin as his slayer. In April, 1928, Red was indicted for Wokral’s murder but was eventually acquitted on the charge.

In an interview with the retired mobster Doc Graham, Chicago historian Studs Terkel uncovered the reason for McLaughlin’s rise to power at Checker:

(Terkel) “I once asked a casual acquaintance, the late Doc Graham, for a resume. Doc was, as he modestly put it, a dedicated heist man. His speech was a composite of Micawber and Runyon:

(Doc Graham) “The unsophisticated either belonged to the Bugs Moran mob or the Capone mob. The fellas with talent didn't bother with either one. We robbed both.”

(Terkel) “Wasn’t that a bit on the risky side?

(Doc Graham) “Indeed. There ain’t hardly a one of us survived the Biblical threescore and ten. You see this fellow liquidated, that fellow — shall we say, disposed of? Red McLaughlin had the reputation of being the toughest guy in Chicago. But when you see Red run out of the drainage canal, you realized Red’s modus operandi was unavailing. His associates was Clifford and Adams. They were set in Al’s doorway in his hotel in Cicero. That was unavailing. Red and his partners once stole the Checker Cab Company. They took machine guns and went up and had an election, and just went and took it over. I assisted in that operation.

(Terkel) “What role did the forces of law and order play?

(Doc Graham) “With a $10 bill, you wasn't bothered. If you had a speaking acquaintance with Mayor Thompson, you could do no wrong. (Laughs.) Al spoke loud to him.”

Aside from the McLaughlin brothers, a handful of other Chicago mobsters were associated with the city’s taxicab operators. Daniel Stanton, an early twenties Checker “slugger” rose through the ranks of Chicago’s underworld as an enforcer for John Torrio and later Al Capone. Frank Nitto, Al Capone’s second in command, was a large Yellow Cab stockholder and it is alleged he supplied them with “enforcers” to help keep competing Checker drivers in line.

“Parmelee-Checker Cab Merger Rumored in N. Y.

“NEW YORK, Sep. 7, 1930—(UP)—Acquisition of Parmelee Transportation company by the Checker Cab Manufacturing corporation, to form the world's largest maker and operator of taxicabs with assets of $30,000,000 was rumored here today. Reports that the companies would merge have been current since March when officials of both companies intimated that informal discussion concerning the proposed merger had taken place.”

“Checker-Parmelee Merger Discussed

“CHICAGO. Sept. 8, 1930—A proposed plan by which Raskob interests, who control a majority of the 375,000 shares of Checker Cab Manufacturing Corp. Stock, proposed to acquire control of the Parmelee Transportation Co., may meet opposition from Parmelee bondholders as well as from minority stockholders of Checker Cab according to a report in local circles.”

9-8-1930 NY Times:

CHECKER CAB SEEKS PARMELEE CONTROL; Raskob Concern Plans to Get 60% Interest in Transportation Company. ACTION LIKELY TOMORROW. Corporation to Be Acquired Has Subsidiaries Operating 7,500 Taxicabs, Buses and Trucks.

“The Checker Cab Manufacturing Corporation, in which John J. Raskob owns about 200,000 out of 375,000 shares outstanding, is planning to acquire a controlling interest in the Parmelee Transportation Company, in which it already owns an important interest, it was learned yesterday.”

“Control of Parmalee To be Taken Over by Checker Cab Company

“NEW YORK. Sept. 10, 1930—(AP)—Directors of both companies have agreed upon a plan for acquisition of control of Parmelee Transportation Co. by the Checker Cab Manufacturing corporation, in which John J. Raskob is one of the largest single stockholders.

“The transaction also contemplates acquisition of the capital stock of Motor Cab Transportation Co. operating 2,050 cabs in New York City in exchange for 58,447 shares of Checker Cab Manufacturing common stock.

“Checker Cab already owns 1,442,000 of outstanding debentures of Parmelee Transportation, all of the $l,000,000 of preferred stock, 23,000 shares of common stock and warrants for the purchase of 93,425 additional shares of common,

“It is planned to transfer the stock of Motor Cab Transportation, as well as debentures, preferred stock and warrants of Parmelee which Checker Cab now owns, to Parmelee in return for 422,787 shares of common stock of Parmelee.

“Such a transfer would reduce Parmelee's outstanding debentures of $3,389,000, with a consequent reduction in annual interest and sinking fund charges; retire all its preferred stock and increase the common to 721,905 shares.”

9-11-1930 NY Times

“CHECKER-PARMELEE MERGER APPROVED; Directors of Both Companies Endorse Plan Involving Exchange of Securities. MUTUAL BENEFITS SEEN Transportation Unit Will Have 10,000 Taxicabs--Larger Outlet for Manufacturing Concern.

“The directors of the Parmelee Transportation Company and the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company have approved the plan under which Checker will obtain control of the majority of the stock of Parmelee, while the latter company will…”


“NEW YORK, Sept. 11, 1930—(AP) —Directors of both companies have agreed upon a plan for acquisition of control of Parmelee Transportation Co. by the Checker Cab Manufacturing Corp. in which John J. Raskob is one of the largest single stockholders. The transaction also contemplates acquisition of the capital stock of Motor Cab Transportation Co., operating 2,050 cars in New York City, in exchange for 58,447 shares of Checker Cab Manufacturing common stock. Checker Cab already owns 1,442,000 of outstanding debentures of Parmelee Transportation, all of the $1,000,000 of preferred stock, 23,000,000 shares of common stock and warrants for the purchase of 93,425 additional shares of common.”

The September 22, 1930 issue of Time Magazine reported:

“In Parmelee, Checker has long had a large investment through debentures and preferred stock. Last week it was arranged to return these holdings to Parmelee in return for sufficient common stock to give Checker control. Likewise, Parmelee will be given control of New York's Motor Cab Transportation, operating 2,050 taxis. Altogether, the fleet under Checker's control will now come to 10,000 taxis (operated by Parmelee), one-tenth of the total in the U. S., enough to insure the company of a large replacement business.”

In the latter part of 1930 Markin’s ownership of Parmelee shares declined to less than 1 per cent  and his ownership of Checker Cab Mfg. Co. shares to 5 per cent, which contrast with an ownership of Checker Cab Mfg. Co. shares of more that 34 per cent by the Raskob-duPont group.

The Checker-Parmelee acquisition was one of the last offerings underwritten by J.A. Sisto & Co. before they declared bankruptcy on September 30, 1930. Emil C. Walzer, financial reporter for United Press reported:

“Failure of the firm of J.A. Sisto and Co. announced from the rostrum in the afternoon caused an avalanche of unloading just at a time when the list had steadied from an early bear drive. This is the first major failure since the market crashed a year ago, and it brought excited trading into the market.

“Traders throw their shares overboard.

“Prices crashed 1 to 10 points. Sisto sponsored shares gave way first and then the whole list on the Curb and Stock exchange followed. Tickers were hard pressed to keep pace.

“The Sisto company

“The Sisto company did a banking and brokerage business in New York city. Among the issues which the company has been connected in the past five years are Parmelee Transportation. Checker Cab, Hygrade Food Products company, Sisto Financial Corporation, Cuneo Press, National Rubber Machinery. These shares broke sharply.

“In connection with the Checker Cab sponsorship, Morris Markin, president of Checker Cab Manufacturing company, stated that J.A. Sisto & Co., have not been bankers for the company for several months.”

As a direct result of the depression that followed the October 1929 stock market crash, J.A. Sisto & Co. was in serious financial difficulties and was left holding $1,442,000 of Parmelee debentures plus some Parmelee common shares and warrants. As the sale of the securities to an outside investor was unlikely, it sold them at a discount to the Checker Cab Mfg. Co.

The Parmelee story is continued here.

© 2004 Mark Theobald -


Parmelee Is Continued




United States v. Yellow Cab Co., 332 U.S. 218, 221-222, argued 1947, pub 1948

John Hertz - The Racing Memoirs of John Hertz, pub 1954

B.C. Forbes & O.D. Foster - Automotive Giants of America: Men Who Are Making Our Motor Industry , B.C. Forbes Publishing Co., 120 Fifth Ave. NY, published 1926 by the Plimpton Press, Norwood, Mass.

Christopher George Sinsbaugh - Who, me?: Forty years of automobile history, Arnold-Powers, Inc., pub 1940

June Skinner Sawyers - Chicago Portraits: biographies of 250 famous Chicagoans - Pub 1991

Gorman Gilbert and Robert E. Samuels - The Taxicab: An Urban Transportation Survivor, pub 1982

Josiah Seymour Currey - Chicago: Its History and Its Builders, a Century of Marvelous Growth, Volume IV, pub 1912

Alfred Theodore Andreas – History of Chicago, From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, in Three Volumes, Volume III — From the Fire of 1871 Until 1885. pub. 1886

John A. Heilig - The Checkered History of the Cab from Kalamazoo - Automobile Quarterly v. 30, no. 2, Winter 1992 issue

An Essential Link in American Transportation, 1853-1953: 100 Years of Parmelee Transportation Co., self-published 1953 

Bobby Lowich - The Great Chicago Taxi War, The Checkerboard, Official Journal of the Checker Car Club of America, October, 1995 issue

Edmund W. Kitch - The Yellow Cab Antitrust Case, Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 15, No. 2, Oct., 1972 issue

Richard J. Whalen - The Founding Father: the Story of Joseph P. Kennedy, pub 1964

David E. Koskoff - Joseph P. Kennedy: a Life and Times, pub 1974

Doris Kearns Goodwin - The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, pub 1991

Ted Schwarz - Joseph P. Kennedy: the Mogul, the Mob, the Statesman, and the Making of an American Myth, pub 2003

Robert J. Schoenberg - Mr. Capone, pub 1993

Robert D. Parmelee - Chicago's Railroads and Parmelee's Transfer Company: A Century of Travel, pub 2003

Edwin Black - Internal combustion: how corporations and governments addicted the world to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives, pub 2006

John Bright - Hizzoner Big Bill Thompson: an idyll of Chicago, pub 1930

John H. Lyle - The Dry and Lawless Years, pub 1960

Paul Maccabee - John Dillinger Slept Here: a Crooks' Tour of Crime and Corruption in St Paul, 1920-1936, pub 1995

Roger Matile - John Frink and Martin Walker: Stagecoach Kings of the Old Northwest, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. Summer 2002 issue

James S. Black - The Street Railroad Situation in Chicago, pub 1898

Samuel Wilbur Norton - Chicago Traction: A History Legislative and Political, pub 1907

J. Seymour Currey - Chicago: its History and its Builders, a Century of Marvelous Growth, pub 1912

Charles H. Hermann - Recollections of life & doings in Chicago from the Haymarket Riot to the end of World War I, by an Old-timer, pub 1945

Alan A. Block - East Side, West Side: Organizing Crime in New York, 1930-1950, pub 1983

Yellow Truck & Coach – Fortune, Vol. XIV No. 1, July 1936 issue

George Ade - John Hertz, An Appreciation, pub 1930

Bradford C. Snell, American Ground Transport: A Proposal for Restructuring the Automobile, Truck, Bus and Rail Industries. Report presented to the Committee of the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly, United States Senate, February 26, 1974, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1974

Harold M. Mayer - Location of Railway Facilities in Metropolitan Centers as Typified by Chicago, Journal of Land and Public Utility Economics #20, pub 1944

Cliff Slater, "General Motors and the Demise of Streetcars," Transportation Quarterly, Vol. 51. No. 3 Summer 1997

Glenn Yago - The Decline of Transit: Urban Transportation in German and U.S. Cities, 1900 -1970 pub 1984

Lisa Damian Kidder - Trout Valley, the Hertz Estate, and Curtiss Farm, pub 2008

Myron H. Fox - Through the Eyes of Their Children, pub 2001

Carter Godwin Woodson, Rayford Whittingham Logan - Journal of Negro History, published by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, pub 1933

Jessie Parkhurst Guzman - Negro Year Book - An Annual Encyclopedia of the Negro; 1931-1932 edition, pub 1931

John Melancthon Hickerson - Ernie Breech: the story of his remarkable career at General Motors, Ford and TWA pub 1968

John Cunningham Wood, Michael C. Wood  - Alfred P. Sloan: critical evaluations in business and management

Jim Klein and Martha Olson - Taken for a Ride - 55-minute documentary originally aired August 6, 1996 on Point of View, a PBS documentary series. 

Andrew D. Young, Eugene F. Provenzo - The history of the St. Louis Car Company, "Quality Shops"‎

Golden Opportunity - Chicago Tribune Magazine, Nov. 25, 2007 issue

Russell A. Christ - GMC Truck History, 1900-1950, pub 1956

Arthur Pound - The Turning Wheel, pub 1934

Edmund W. Kitch, Marc Isaacson and Daniel Kasper - The Regulation of Taxicabs in Chicago, The Journal of law & economics, Volume 14, University of Chicago Law School, pub 1971

Daniel Alef - A Road Well Traveled: Profiles of America's Great Automobile Pioneers, pub 2008

William A. Luke - Yellow Coach Buses 1923-1943 Photo Archive, pub 2001

Oliver J. Ogden - New York Fifth Avenue Coach Co 1885-1960, pub 2009

Ben Merkel & Chris Monier - The American Taxi: A Century of Service pub 2006

Douglas Gomery - Shared Pleasures: A History of Movie Presentation in the United States pub 1992

James J. Fitzgerald - Burnham's manual of Chicago securities, pub 1917, John Burnham & Company

Twelfth annual report of the State Board of Arbitration of Illinois, pub. 1910, by Illinois State Journal Co.

Harry W. Perry - A New Relief To City Traffic: The Success of Motor Cabs and Buses in London and Paris - The World's Work, Volume 14, pub. 1907.

Harry Wilkin Perry - Taximeter Cab Service In New York – Motor Traction, May 2, 1908 issue.

Sleeve Valve Coaches, TaxiCabs and Trucks (3-part series) Issue #s 103, 104, 105 (1st, 2nd & 3rd quarters 1988) The Starter, Quarterly Journal of the Willys-Overland Knight Register

Stanley K. Yost & Kathryn Bassett - Taxi! a Look at Checkers Past, pub 1990

James Hinckley - Checker Cab Co. Photo History, pub 2003

Bobby Lowich - The Great Chicago Taxi War, The Checkerboard, Official Journal of the Checker Car Club of America, October 1995 issue 

Richard J. Whalen - The Founding Father: the Story of Joseph P. Kennedy, pub 1964

David E. Koskoff - Joseph P. Kennedy: a Life and Times, pub 1974

Doris Kearns Goodwin - The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, pub 1991

Ted Schwarz - Joseph P. Kennedy: the Mogul, the Mob, the Statesman, and the Making of an ‎American Myth, pub 2003

Chicago's Early Buses – Motor Coach Age, December 1973 issue

Chicago Motor Coach Co. - Yellow Z-67, Motor Coach Age, August 1975 issue

Chicago Motor Coach Co. - Early Buses, Motor Coach Age, December 1973 issue

Chicago Motor Coach Co. The Boulevard Route, Motor Coach Age, March 1972 issue

Fifth Avenue Coach Corp. - Motor Coach Age, July 1971 issue

Comprehensive Omnibus Corp. - Motor Coach Today, January 2004 issue

Carlton Jackson - Hounds of the road: a history of the Greyhound Bus Company‎ - Pub 1984

History of Greyhound Pts. 1-3 - Motor Coach Age, March, May & June 1954 issues

Yellow Coach Part 1 - Origins; General & Corporate History, Motor Coach Age Jul 1989

Yellow Coach Part 2 - Conventional Buses 1932 to 1937, Motor Coach Age Sep 1990

Yellow Coach Part 3 - Integral Buses 1931 to 1942, Motor Coach Age Jul 1991

Yellow Coach Part 4 - Monocoque Transits 1940 to 1959, Motor Coach Age Jul 1992

Yellow Coach Part 5 - Monocoque Parlors 1939 to 1980, Motor Coach Age Jul 1993

John Gunnell - GMC: The First 100 Years

Jim Klein and Martha Olson - Taken For A Ride (PBS Movie)

Cliff Slater - General Motors and the Demise of Streetcars - Transportation Quarterly vol 51, 1997

Bradford C. Snell - American Ground Transport: A Proposal for Restructuring the Automobile, Truck, Bus and Rail Industries. Report presented to the Committee of the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly, United States Senate, February 26, 1974

Modern Marvels: Buses - History Channel program

David O. Lyon - The Kalamazoo Automobilist 1891-1991

Massie and Schmidt – Kalamazoo: The Place Behind the Products

Auburn and Cord In Connersville - Cars & Parts, May 1986 issue Vol 29 No 5

David O. Lyon - A Century of Automobiling in Kalamazoo - Museography Vol. 3 No. 3 Spring 2004 Issue (Kalamazoo Valley Museum)

Mighty Michigan – The Horseless Carriage - Vol. 52, No.1, Jan-Feb 1990 issue

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists ISBN 8096897403

Patrick J. Martin - Professional Cars from Kalamazoo – The Professional Car, Issue #103, First Quarter 2002

Karl Ludvigsen - Chubby Checkers - Special Interest Autos, August-October 1973

Rod J. Walton - Checker: The Rolls-Royce of Taxis - 1991 Cars & Parts Annual

John A. Heilig - The Checkered History of the Cab from Kalamazoo - Automobile Quarterly, Winter 1992 

Michael Lamm - The Checker King - Collectible Automobile, August 1998

Michael Lamm - 1947-82 Checker: Rugged to the End - Collectible Automobile, June 2000

Checkerboard News - Checker Car Club of America 

David O. Lyon - The Kalamazoo Automobilist 1891-1991 - ISBN 0-932826-83-0, published by New Issues Press, Western Michigan University.

Massie and Schmidt – Kalamazoo: The Place Behind the Products

James Hinckley - Checker Cab Photo History

Auburn and Cord In Connersville - Cars & Parts, May 1986 issue Vol 29 No 5

1922 Checker Cab: Featured Vehicle - Collectible Automobile, December, 1993

Jim Hinckley – Checker: Urban Legend - Hemmings Classic Car, August 2005 issue

Automotive Industries - August 8, 1931 issue

Kalamazoo Gazette - April 8, 1982 issue

Cord In Control – Time Magazine, March 27, 1933 issue

Time Magazine - August 16, 1933 issue

Farley’s Deal - Time, Magazine, April 23, 1934 issue

Cord out of Cord - Time Magazine, Aug. 16, 1937 issue

SEC’s Next Round – Time Magazine, Jan. 10, 1938 issue

Jeff Huebner – Kalamazoo Cab – Michigan History, November/December 1985 issue

Checkerboard News - Checker Car Club of America

Jon Tuska - The Vanishing Legion: A History of Mascot Pictures, 1927-1935

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