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The Famous Blonger Bros.



4/15/2003 Returning to genealogical pursuits after a long hiatus, Scott makes a discovery. Armed now with Google and other online resources, he uncovers our great-great-grandfather Michael Belonger's military service, with the 3rd Wisconsin during the Civil War. But what of Michael's five brothers? They appear to have left Wisconsin after 1850, but searches turn up nothing.
4/22/2003 Searching on the surname variant Blonger turns up evidence of Lou's criminal past. The hunt is on! Michael's brothers didn't disappear after all; they adopted a modified spelling of Belonger and moved west.

A book written about Lou's downfall, Fighting the Underworld, turns up. Out of print since the Thirties, it's available from used book dealers on

4/24/2003 More information is mined from Google, evidence of a Blonger mining in New Mexico.
4/28/2003 Joe appears to be the Blonger in New Mexico in 1883.
4/29/2003 Sam was in California buying land in 1865. Sam & Lou are located in Cornucopia, Nevada, 1876, running The Palace.
5/12/2003 Tennis star Andy Roddick appears on the Michael Belonger branch of the family tree.
6/19/2003 Scott receives the Armstrong account, which details numerous Blonger Bros. exploits. But what is fact and what is fiction?
7/27/2003 Scott contacts the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Denver, whose former building served as a holding cell during the Blonger Gang arrest. Archivists at the church possess a collection of newspaper articles and memorabilia pertaining to the Blonger case.

Scott and Craig join brother Jeff in Colorado to research and recreate.

A visit to Lou's grave.

A visit to the Unitarian Universalist Church. Archivists share their materials concerning the case, including a small red chair from the classroom used to detain Lou's gang.

A visit to Leadville and its National Mining Hall of Fame & Museum. In the gift shop, an old reference book cites Simon's time in the Colorado House. Lunch and beer in a saloon.

A visit to Denver's Historic District and Seventeenth Street, where Lou's con men drank, gambled and trolled for gullible and greedy tourists. Lou's office, his saloon, and the office used for their big store con no longer exist, though numerous hotels and small shops are preserved, places where the bunks plied their trade.

Also a little time at the Denver Library. Bat Masterson: The Man and the Legend by Robert K. De Arment yields a reference to Sam & Lou in Dodge City. They supposedly joined the best of their bretheren there for a summer of sport.

It is decided that a website should be developed focusing on the Blonger boys and their exploits, rather than a wider site regarding our family tree as a whole. It is suggested that Blonger Bros. would make a good theme restaurant, or at least a website for one.

8/7/2003 Lou's link to the Forest Queen mine is uncovered.
8/23/2003 Scott receives a picture of Michael and his daughter Clara.
9/1/2003 goes online.
9/3/2003 Scott and Craig visit Shullsburg, Wisconsin. We identify the likely location of the Belonger homestead, and the field where Michael trained before the war.

Hilltop, Shullsburg, Wisconsin, 2003

11/11/2003 The website draws the attention of a relative of Len Reamey, who turned state's evidence in the Blonger case.
11/18/2003 We hear from a relative on the Whitechurch branch of Michael's family.
11/23/2003 A recent article about Tuscarora, Nevada puts "L. H. Blanger" in that town in the fall of 1877, running a saloon called The Palace. An earlier find confirmed that Sam & Lou were running The Palace in Cornucopia, about twenty miles away, in 1876.
12/1/2003 A link is found between Sam and Lou's Auraria Mining and a 1904 claim near Philipsburg in Granite County, Montana — which just happens to be where census records put Silent Marvin in 1900.
12/4/2003 Scott discovers a lot of more than one hundred unsold copies of Fighting The Underworld, second edition, at a bookstore in Englewood. Bought at auction on a dealer's whim, for a pittance, an old box of books meets its destiny.




Genealogy - History - Gang - Posse - Evening Review
The Grafters Club - Blonger Bros. Fake Restaurant