When George Remus died on January 21, 1952, the headline in the Cincinnati Times-Star read, “Another Gatsby Passes.” George Remus, the King of the Bootleggers, spent the last twenty years living in Covington, Kentucky, and working as a real estate developer, although there is some evidence that he also tried his hand at the patent medicine field, though he didn’t realize too much success in either endeavor, compared to his careers as a criminal lawyer in Chicago and a bootlegger in Cincinnati.
What became of the fortune he amassed as a bootlegger in the 1920s is a matter of great speculation. It is said that some shady characters showed up when his Price Hill home was demolished—for an upscale planned housing development that never quite worked out. Were they looking for any “buried treasure” that might have turned up? It’s hard to say; the only treasure associated with Remus that has been dug up in the area where his home once stood have been tiles from his sumptuous swimming pool.
However, at one time his third wife, Blanche Watson, owned a piece of property right in the middle of a street in the subdivision. Did she know something about the true worth of that apparently worthless piece of property? If she did, it remains a mystery. Other property in the subdivision that eventually sprung up on the former grounds of the Remus estate was owned by the notorious Johnny Torrio, a New York-born gangster who was Al Capone’s boss in Chicago before Capone decided to strike out on his own.
Though no one knows if or where any of Remus’s wealth is buried, we do know that Remus himself is buried in a cemetery in Falmouth, Kentucky, and of course there’s an interesting and controversial story about his grave, too. He is buried in the Watson family plot there, and his wife Blanche is buried next to him in this small town cemetery about 45 miles south of Cincinnati.
The grave is easy to find because it stands out among the mostly modest headstones around it. There is a sculpture of a woman attended by two other figures atop the Remus gravestone, which also marks the burial place of Blanche’s parents, Taylor and Belle Watson. It’s been said that the sculpture was one of the few things left after Imogene sold all the contents of Remus’s Price Hill mansion while he was in prison.
The figures supporting the central sculpture atop the grave once had wings. But, according to a story about the grave, someone wrote a letter to Blanche Remus that objected to the idea of “angels” on Remus’s grave. Then Blanche, in a fit of pique, broke off the wings, according to the story.
It’s just one in many stories that have sprung up about Remus’s life—and dealth—but as you can see in the photograph above, the supporting statues are clearly patched on the back shoulders, just where wings once sprouted.
To find out more about the life and times of George Remus, visit the Price Hill Historical Society website or the Delhi Historical Society website.