Launius Birthplace Revealed

Ron was born in Shawneetown, Ill. This is not to be confused with Old Shawneetown, which got wiped out by the Flood of 1937. Old Shawnee is still around but has a scanty population and few businesses and fewer homes. The newer Shawneetown was set up about 3 miles NW of the old river town and far enough away from the unpredictable Ohio River.


New Shawnee sports around one-thousand folks and it is your typical small Midwestern town, a lot smaller when Ron was born there though. Today there is a quik-mart, gas station, pizza joint and one complete neighborhood of mixed-size homes and few zoning laws. It is completely surrounded by farmland.

For it was here in May, 1944 that Ron was born. His mother was about 17 or 18, and dad was in the US Army Air Corps, probably stationed at Scott AFB or one of the others nearby or off in a foreign land. Shawneetown is where Betty grew up in Gallatin County, Ill. She lived with her mom and stepdad and had two step-brothers, no blood-siblings that I could find. They may have lived on a farm.

After having three boys together, Betty left Arlin for a forklift operator named Marvin Bryson. She fell in love with him in the early 60’s while she was working at a hospital; he was a patient there. But they were divorced in 1967. Arlin Launius died in 1964 in an alcohol-related car accident, allegedly after drinking at the “Stockton Club” bar near Betty’s house in Stockton. It was a bar at the end of a strip mall. The old Stockton Club location is now a Latino bar. Betty lived across the street. For it was at this house in 1973 that the FBI and cops went looking for Ron after the Mexico business, when he initially fled the country amidst smuggling charges. Betty was handcuffed, roughed up, the whole nine-yards. It is no wonder Ron was the coldest person that that one cop had ever met.

This info comes from a friend who lived near the Launius family in the late 1950s/early 60s.