January 22, 1914: “Madame Gain” testifies to grand jury investigating police corruption

On this day in Duluth in 1914, “Mary Le Flohic, alias Madam Gain, erstwhile habitue of Duluth’s halfworld” (as described by the Duluth News Tribune) testified before a grand jury investigating corruption within the Duluth Police Department. Gain faced prostitution charges in a trial scheduled for later that month, but before that, according to Duluth historian Heidi Bakk-Hansen, “State Attorney General Lyndon A. Smith began a probe into Duluth police misconduct, including an investigation into possible malfeasance by Commissioner of Public Safety William A. Hicken.” Since first elected in 1913 Hicken had been on a controversial crusade to clean up prostitution, gambling, and saloons in Duluth. A grand jury was called on to to investigate the police department. On January 22 Madam Gain “slyly revealed the existence of her account books, and the list of police officer names who received her payouts totaling a whopping $40,000. Neither Hicken nor Police Chief Chauncy Troyer denied her claims outright.” Gain’s trial started on the 29th, and the next day the grand jury’s finding’s were released. It said that no money was paid to police and prostitution in Duluth was “rare.” Duluth’s prostitution problem. The News Tribune called the results “an abundant, copious, dripping whitewash.” A few days later Gain was found guilty and sent to prison for seven years. She was paroled after one, perhaps due in part to a petition for her release containing 4,000 signatures. Read Bakk-Hansen’s biography of Madame Gain and her notorious exploits in Duluth and elsewhere here.

This stone marks Marie LeFlohic’s final resting spot at Duluth’s Calvary Cemetery. It reads “Marie LeFlohic, Born in France in 1853, Died at Duluth, Minn. March 2 1917. (Image: John C. Harrison)