The Madams

Minna Everleigh

The outspoken co-proprietor of the Everleigh Club handled promotion, disciplined courtesans, and mingled in the parlors with her “boys.”

Vic Shaw

The established queen of the Levee until the Everleighs’ arrival resented the sisters’ success and did everything in her power to ruin them.

The Ministers

Ernest Bell 

A reverend who opened his “Midnight Mission” in 1904, he preached against segregated vice districts and held nightly open-air sermons outside the Everleigh Club.

Dean Sumner 

Head of the flock at the Episcopal Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul and chairman of the Chicago Vice Commission.

Melbourne Boynton 

The pastor of the Lexington Avenue Baptist Church and one of Bell’s main “saints” helped to escalate the war against the Levee district.

The Lords of the Levee

Hinky Dink Kenna

Bathhouse John’s diminutive, quiet First Ward partner. His shrewd political machinations kept Chicago’s Democratic machine running smoothly and profitably.

Ike Bloom

The clownish yet menacing owner of the notorious Freiberg’s Dance Hall, he organized graft payments on behalf of the aldermen and was a frequent visitor to the Everleigh Club.

Ed And Louis Weiss

The Everleighs’ neighbors on either side hatched several schemes to lure clients away from the Club—and ultimately became the sisters' greatest threat.

The Politicians

Clifford Roe

The young, ambitious Chicago Assistant State’s Attorney used a note tossed from a brothel window to launch America’s obsession with white slavery—and his own career.

Edwin Sims

The U.S. District Attorney in Chicago entered the fray by raiding French brothels in the Levee, and persuaded the federal government to take action.

James R. Mann 

A U.S. Congressman and sponsor of the White Slave Traffic Act, otherwise known as the “Mann Act.”

Mayor Fred Busse

Dunne’s successor, a Republican who served from 1907-1911, was sympathetic to saloonkeepers and eager to stay on good terms with Hinky Dink and Bathhouse John. 

Ada Everleigh

The quiet, older Everleigh sister interviewed prospective courtesans, balanced the books and was considered the brains of the operation.


Zoe Millard And Georgie Spencer

Two prominent madams in Vic Shaw’s league who shared her dislike for the Everleigh sisters.

IN THE CENTER OF THE INFERNO The Reverend Ernest Bell prayed nightly outside the Everleigh Club. "I wish I had you in a closet," one Levee thug told him, "where I could murder you."

Bathhouse John Coughlin

This powerful alderman of Chicago’s First Ward ordered graft payments, threw an annual Ball for denizens of the Levee, and wrote famously awful poetry.

Big Jim Colosimo

A prominent First Ward henchman and brothel keeper, “Big Jim” was a close friend of the Everleigh sisters despite the fact that he ran an interstate white slavery ring.

Maurice Van Bever

TInfluential French brothel keeper and Big Jim’s partner in the white slavery ring.


John Wayman

Chicago's State's Attorney tried to placate both reformers and Levee leaders—and paid the ultimate price.

Mayor Carter Harrison II

The son of Chicago’s favorite mayor, Harrison II, a Democrat, succeeded Busse in 1911 and planned to protect the Levee district—a task that proved more difficult than he'd expected. 

Mayor Edward Dunne 

Chicago’s Democratic mayor from 1905 to 1907, Dunne faced the public’s growing anxiety about dance halls, nickel theaters, saloons, and the “social evil.”