Mont (MJ) Tennes

Chapter 19 of the Illinois Crime Survey of 1929 begins with “The complete life history of one man, were it known in every detail, would disclose practically all there is to know about syndicated gambling as a phase of organized crime in Chicago in the first quarter century.  That man in Mont Tennes.”

Mont (MJ) was well known as “Chicago’s Gentleman Gambler” and a close friend of Edward Kelly, his Eagle River Catfish Lake summer home neighbor who would later become Mayor of Chicago.  MJ’s business empire, The General News Bureau, encompassed neighborhood gambling parlors, river boats, and horse racing wire betting services across the United States.  Although indicted twice for gambling operations (legal in that era), Mont was never brought to trial thanks to the talents of his personal friend and attorney Clarence Darrow.  After divesting of the business in 1927, MJ diversified into real estate including positions in such iconic properties as Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel and the famous Hotel del Coronado in San Diego.

Born in Chicago in 1873, MJ and his wife Ida had three sons Raymond, Mont Jr., Horace, and a daughter, Dorothy.  Youngest son Horace later maintained a beautiful summer home on Wheeler Island in Three Lakes, and saw fame in his youth as a world-class speedboat racer, Naval aviator and Gatsby-era gentleman.  Horace’s wooden experimental Bowlus BA-100 Baby Albatross sailplane resides today in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

Mont passed away in 1941 of natural causes, and the family later donated his summer estate Sunset Point to the Sisters of Mercy that they operated as a girls camp and retreat house from 1951 to 1974.

Mont Tennes with his dog Wolf at Sunset Point c. 1930s
Mont Tennes with his dog Wolf at Sunset Point c. 1930s