O'Banion and The Chicago Outfit

Topics: Al Capone, North Side Gang, Chicago Outfit Pages: 4 (1488 words) Published: October 5, 2008
O'Banion was born to Irish Catholic parents in Aurora, Illinois and spent his early boyhood in the small town of Maroa in Central Illinois. In 1901, after his mother's death, he moved to Chicago with his father and one of his brothers (a second brother, Frank, remained in Maroa). The family settled in Kilgubbin, otherwise know as "Little Hell," a heavily Irish area on the North Side of Chicago that was notorious citywide for its crime. Years later, Kilgubbin became the site of the infamous Cabrini-Green public housing project. As a youngster, "Deanie," as he became known, sang in the church choir at Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral. However, neither music nor religion held O'Banion's interest; instead the street life of Kilgubbin caught his eye. An early nickname for O'Banion was "Gimpy" due to short left leg, but few people had enough nerve to call him that. O'Banion and his friends (Earl "Hymie" Weiss, Vincent "The Schemer" Drucci, and George "Bugs" Moran) joined the Market Street Gang, which specialized in theft and robbery for the black market. The boys later became "sluggers," thugs hired by a newspaper to beat newsstand owners who did not sell the paper. The Market Street Gang started out working for the Chicago Tribune. However, they later switched to the rival Chicago Examiner due to a more attractive offer from newspaper boss Moses Annenberg. Through Annenberg, the gang met safecracker Charles "The Ox" Reiser, who taught them his trade. In 1909, O'Banion was arrested first for safecracking and then for assault. These would be the only times O'Banion would ever spend in a correctional institution. O'Banion worked as a waiter at McGovern's Liberty Inn, where each evening he would wow patrons with his beautiful Irish tenor voice as his pals were picking pockets in the coatroom. O'Banion also drugged his patrons' drinks, known then as "slipping a Mickey Finn". When the drunk patrons left the club, O'Banion and his pals would rob them. The boys also met the...
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