Adaline “Ad” Cole was a well-known figure in Peoria’s early wide-open days on Washington Street. A larger-than-life character, she was one of Peoria’s first “colored” madams and had no compunction when it came to local laws or general efforts to contain her.
Her boldness was legend. She loudly raced her team of black horses through the city streets. She disguised herself as a woman in a veil, then as a man, in order to enter a fair where “questionable characters” were forbidden. (The second disguise worked.) She flouted the authorities by offering to pay a $28 fine with a $1000 bill.
Beyond her audacity, she also demonstrated what a lucrative business being a madam could be. The fortune she left behind at her death would have made her a millionaire by today’s standards.
These clippings derive from a “Peoriana” column that appeared in Peoria’s Daily Record in the 1940s (and perhaps before and after), and were helpfully collated by subject at the Peoria Public Library.