Paul Powell and Estate Papers, 1910-1976


Paul Powell and Estate Papers, 1910-1976


Powell, Paul (1902-1970) and Estate


Papers, 1910-1976


39.17 linear feet (39 archival boxes, 3 oversize volumes and 2 card boxes)


Illinois representative (Democrat) from fifty-first and fifty-ninth districts (1935-1964) and Secretary of State (1965-1970). After Powell’s death and the discovery of approximately $800,000 in cash, an investigation was begun by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.


Speeches, correspondence, financial summaries, legal documents, income tax records, and newspaper clippings documenting Powell’s financial affairs, political activities, and settlement of his estate. Collection contains material concerning Powell’s work as an insurance agent (1948-1965), other business dealings (1951-1970), his income tax returns (1942-1970), race track investments (ca. 1959-1970), his work as secretary of the Massac County Fair (1947-1970), speeches (1959-1970), and campaign finances (1964-1970), as well as estate assets, government investigations of the estate, legal claims against it, taxes due, and expenditures of the executor. Correspondents include Ford Rendleman, Robert Oxtoby, and Joseph Lowery (attorneys for the Powell estate); and Clark Brogan, vice president and trust officer of the First National Bank ofMattoon,Illinois.


Eight and one-half cubic feet of photographs, sixteen tapes, and five films were transferred out of the collection.


Access: Open for research


Acc. No.:78-65, 87-68


Processed by:  Laurel G. Bowen and Cheryl Schnirring, April 1981; Anne Shaughnessy

                        and Joanne Stutzman, June 1989





                                                            Paul Powell                                                                 Page 2                                                                   Biographical Sketch


Paul Powell,Illinoisrepresentative and Secretary of State, was born January 21, 1902, inVienna(JohnsonCounty),Illinois. He was educated in the Vienna public schools, worked with his father in a drug store, and later opened his own retail and service establishments. For six years he was a member of the Vienna High School Board and was later elected mayor ofVienna.


In 1934 Powell, a Democrat, was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives from the 51st District and later from the 59th District. He served continuously until 1964. Powell held a number of leadership positions: Minority Whip in 1945; Minority Leader in 1947, 1951, 1953, and 1963; and Speaker in 1949, 1959, and 1961. His committee assignments included the agriculture, appropriations, industrial affairs, and reapportionment committees. He was a member of the following commissions: Illinois Budgetary Commission, Legislative Audit Commission, State Personnel Administration Commission, Intergovernmental Cooperation Commission, State Revenue Laws Commission, Municipal Laws Commission, Commission to Study State Government, and the Legislative Council. Powell also played a leading role in establishing the Department of Mental Health in 1961-1962.


Powell’s political activities included directing the downstate Democratic State Central Committee from 1945 to 1953. He organized and led the downstate campaigns for Harry Truman in 1948 and John F. Kennedy in 1960.


In November 1964, Powell was electedIllinois’ thirty-first Secretary of State and won a second term in 1968. During his term the following new policies were implemented: adoption of reflectorized motor vehicle license plates; raising the minimum age for obtaining a driver’s license without parental consent from 18 to 21 years; raising the minimum age for securing a driver’s license with parental permission to 18 years (with exceptions for 16- and 17-year-old applicants who have completed an approved driver education course); establishment of a thirty-day notification system for the expiration of driver’s licenses; and requiring re-examination of drivers every nine years. As State Librarian, Powell assisted passing a law that provided for a network of public library systems.


Powell served as director of the Illinois Association of County Fairs, secretary of the Massac County Fair, and was a member of the Johnson County Democratic Central Committee (1944-1968), the Masons, the Elks, and the Eagles. He also operated an insurance business for a number of years.


Powell was married twice.  His first wife, the former Violet Price, was killed in a tornado in 1925.  In 1929 he married Daisy Butler who died in 1967.  There were no children from either union.

Powell died October 10, 1970. Shortly after his death, almost $800,000 in cash was found in shoeboxes in hisSpringfieldhotel suite. The unexplained cache prompted an investigation by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. In the ensuing lawsuits, the interests of the estate were cared for by John S. Rendleman, who was named Executor in Powell’s will. A settlement of the estate was negotiated in 1978 after ninety-three months of litigation.





                                                            Paul Powell                                                                 Page 3                                                       Scope and Content


The Paul Powell and Estate Papers, 1910-1976, consist of 39 cubic feet, three oversize volumes, and two card boxes of speeches, correspondence, financial summaries, business papers, legal documents, income tax returns, legislative reports, and newspaper clippings. The collection provides extensive documentation of Powell’s financial affairs and political activities. Two series comprise the collection: the Paul Powell Papers, 1910-1970; and the Paul Powell Estate Papers 1971-1976.


Series I: The Paul Powell Papers, 1910-1970 (Boxes 1-35), is composed of eight major files, and three oversize volumes plus two card boxes.

            The Income Tax File, 1952-1969 (Boxes 1-4), is arranged chronologically. Financial           summaries are the primary type of material contained in this file, although some           correspondence and income tax returns are included. The records appear to have been     saved in order to support tax deductions.


            The Banking and Finance File, 1947-1967 (Boxes 5-6), arranged chronologically, includes            receipts with some correspondence and financial statements used by Paul and Daisy           Powell in preparing their tax returns. Check stubs and banking records are also present.


            The Business File, 1928-1970, (Boxes 6-12), is arranged alphabetically according to           business. Horse racing is the major topic and includes information on the Aurora Downs,    the Cahokia Downs and other race tracks. Other topics include the Massac County Fair,            State Wide Tire Sales and the café and insurance business.


            The Personal File, 1910-1967 (Boxes 13-14), contains papers from family members, Daisy             Powell, her brother Edward Butler, Paul Powell’s mother, Vinna, his aunt, Lena Sultzer,          and his brother, Hartwell Powell. There are also personal receipts, mostly for purchases by       Daisy Powell.


            The Political File, 1934-1970 (Boxes 14-21), includes legislative research, reports, bills      and correspondence for the years that Powell served in the House of Representatives   (1934-1964). Correspondence, reports, and studies document his term as Secretary of State            (1964-1970). Constituent and complimentary correspondence, testimonials and news          clippings are also included. Scholarships given by the General Assembly (1951-1959) and     organizations (1965-1970) are listed. Other political figures, including Harry S. Truman            and John F. Kennedy are mentioned.


            The Speech Research File, 1948-1964 (Box 22), contains research material (newspaper and           magazine clippings, plus notes), drafts of speeches, annotated texts, some final copies and    correspondence. The material is arranged alphabetically by topic or type of speech. Labor,    political, and public service (Kiwanis and Rotary Club) speeches are included.


            The Speech File, 1959-1970 (Boxes 23-30), primarily includes final texts of speeches with            some correspondence and newspaper clippings about the speeches and the occasion upon           which they were delivered. The file is arranged chronologically.


                                                            Paul Powell                                                                 Page4                                                        Scope and Content


Series I: The Paul Powell Papers, 1910-1970


            The Campaign and Elections File, 1949-1970 (Boxes 31-35), contains bills,  receipts, bank            statements, deposit slips, cancelled checks, and correspondence relating to Powell’s      campaigns for Secretary of State. The material is arranged chronologically.


            Oversize volume 1 is a List of Employees in the Secretary of State’s Office, May 11, 25,   1970, and County Employees, May 22, 1970. The list gives the name, division or section,        position, salary, political sponsor, and date of employment for each person.


            Oversize volumes 2 and 3 are alphabetically arranged Vendor Listings documenting          contracts between vendors and the Secretary of State’s office. These volumes are marked       for grand jury exhibit.


            Card box 1 contains contributor’s cards for the 1964 Secretary of State campaign, one card          for each person or organization.


            Cardbox 2 contains RSVP cards for the Paul Powell Dinner in 1968. Each card containsthe name of the person or organization and the number of tickets purchased.


Series II: The Paul Powell Estate Papers, 1971-1976 (Boxes 36-39), is the best organized part of the collection. Included are several small files kept by John S. Rendleman, Executor of the Powell Estate.


            The Legal File, 1971-1974 (Box 36), contains correspondence and copies of legal documents concerning settlement of the Powell Estate and claims against it. Sworn            statements, summons, judgment orders, motions, petitions, briefs, and reports of court proceedings are included. The material is arranged alphabetically by subject, with major       legal cases filed at the end. Noteworthy items include an estate inventory; a sworn            statement of Powell’s personal secretary, Margaret Hensey, taken during the 1971 grand       jury investigation; and legal materials relating to the cases Lowe vs. Rendelman, et. al. and         People of the State of Illinois vs. Paul Powell Estate.


            The Financial File, 1970-1976 (Box 37), is arranged chronologically and contains copies    of paid bills, checking account statements, and a few cancelled checks.


            The Incoming Correspondence File, 1970-1976 (Boxes 38-39), contains original and          carbon copies of letters sent to Rendleman by lawyers, bank officers, and the Internal           Revenue Service. The file also contains copies of legal proceedings against the estate and     some summaries of taxes due, assets of the estate, and expenditures of the executor. The      file is arranged chronologically. Major correspondents are Ford Rendleman, Robert             Oxtoby, and Joseph Lowery (attorneys for the Powell estate); and Clark Brogan, vice-      president and trust officer of the First National Bank of Mattoon, Illinois.


            The Outgoing Correspondence File, October 1970-March 1976 (Box 39), contains             chronologically-arranged copies of Rendleman’s outgoing correspondence.


                                                            Paul Powell                                                                 Page 5                                                       Scope and Content


Series II: The Paul Powell Estate Papers, 1971-1976


The Estate Executor’s Annual Reports, 1970-1976 (Box 39), are financial reports   outlining disbursements on behalf of the estate. Copies of cancelled checks and checking account statements are included.


            The Estate Executor’s Journal, October 1970-January 1976 (Box 39) is Rendleman’s daily            log of his personal activities, expenses, and time spent in the settlement of the Powell estate.


            The Powell Estate Assets: Inventory Book (Box 39), is a detailed and number-coded        record of the estate assets. Assets listed and described in the book include certificates of          deposit, checking accounts, promissory notes, real estate, savings certificates, stock   certificates, and time certificates of deposit.


            The Powell Estates Assets: Income and Management folders (Box 39), are arranged by     asset numbers (corresponding to the inventory book described above). Included are copies           of interest and dividend statements and checks, notices of shareholders meetings, and          copies of correspondence regarding loans (promissory notes held by Powell). Income was       recorded in the inventory book cited above.


                                                            Paul Powell                                                                 Page 6

                                                          Container List


Series I: The Paul Powell Papers, 1910-1970



            Income Tax File, 1952-1969

1          Income Tax File: 1952-1960

2          Income Tax File: 1960-1963

3          Income Tax File: 1963-1969

4          Income Tax File: 1969


            Banking and Finance File, 1947-1967

5          Banking and Finance File, 1947-1967

6          Banking and Finance File, 1947-1967


            Business File, 1928-1970:

            Powell’s Café

            Horse Racing

            Aurora Downs, 1959-1966

            Cahokia Downs, 1961-1970

7          Egypt Stakes, 1957-1966

            Egyptian Trotting, 1959-1964

            Controversy, 1969

            Race Commission, 1964-1970

8          Regulations, 1940, 1957-1958, 1963

            Legislation, 1945-1969

9          Insurance, 1948-1969

            Marlin Hunt Club, 1951-1962

10        Massac County Fair, 1947-1960

11        Massac County Fair, 1960-1970

            State Wide Tire Sales, 1960-1962

12        State Wide Tire Sales, 1962-1970


            Personal File, 1910-1967:

13        Daisy Powell, 1937-1967 and Estate

            Edward Butler, 1937-1938

            Vinna Powell, 1938

            Lena Sultzer, 1944

            Harwell Powell, 1910

14        Paul Powell Receipts, 1953-1967


            Political File, 1934-1970:

            Legislative Research, 1934-1953

15        Legislative Research, 1953-1958

16        Legislative Research, 1958-1964

17        Secretary of State, 1964-1970

18        Scholarships, 1951-1970

            Political Figures

                                                            Paul Powell                                                                 Page 7

                                                          Container List


Series I: The Paul Powell Papers, 1910-1970



            Political File, 1934-1970

19        Correspondence, 1937-1965

20        Complimentary Correspondence, 1949-1970.

21        News Clippings, 1938-1964


            Speech Research File, 1948-1964

22        Speech Research File, 1948-1964


            Speech File, 1959-1970:

23        Speech File: 1959-1961

24        Speech File: 1962-1963

25        Speech File: 1964-1965

26        Speech File: 1966

27        Speech File: 1967-1968

28        Speech File: 1968

29        Speech File: 1969

30        Speech File: 1970


            Campaign and Election File, 1949-1970

31        Campaign and Election File: Finances, 1964-1967

32        Campaign and Election File: Finances, 1968-1970

33        Campaign and Election File: Campaign Material, 1962-1970

34        Campaign and Election File: Campaigns and Elections, 1949-1960

35        Campaign and Election File: Campaigns and Elections, 1960-1970


40        Card Box 1                 Contributors, 1964

            Card Box 2                 Paul Powell Banquet Reservations, 1968


            Oversize BV 1                        List of Employees in the Secretary of State’s Office, May 11, 25,                                                       1970; List of County Employees, May 22, 1970

            Oversize BV 2                        Vendor Listing, 1971

            Oversize BV 3                        Vendor Listing, 1971


Series II: The Paul Powell Estate Papers, 1971-1976


36        Legal File, 1971-1974


37        Financial File, 1970-1976

            Incoming Correspondence File, 1970-1976: 1970-1971


38        Incoming Correspondence File, 1970-1976: 1971-1974



                                                            Paul Powell                                                                 Page 8

                                                          Container List


Series II: The Paul Powell Estate Papers, 1971-1976


39        Incoming Correspondence File. 1970-1976: 1974-1976

            Outgoing Correspondence File, 1970-1976

            Estate Executor’s Annual Reports, 1970-1976

            Estate Executor’s Journal, October 1970-January 1976

            Powell Estate Assets Inventory Book

            Powell Estate Assets Income and Management


“Paul Powell and Estate Papers, 1910-1976,” Chronicling Illinois, accessed June 24, 2019,