O'banion And Mc Erlane Chicago's Other Tough Guys

2456 words - 10 pages

In today's era, Chicago is one of the world's great metropolises. It sits on the cusp of Lake Michigan in the corner of Illinois where Indiana and Wisconsin meet. Chicago is a conduit of the nation's traffic for commerce and culture that connects the northeast with the west. With all of Chicago's industry, culture, and history, it does have better historical moments outside the times of the 1920's. The passing of time has healed the wounds of gang wars and mobsters made famous by Hollywood. If you asked anyone to name a famous Chicagoan, you would invariably get the name Al Capone. Al Capone is perhaps the most notorious mobster ever. Many films and books have been created in his honor. Some are factual and historically accurate, others merely fiction or legend. But of all of Capone's fame and power, he wasn't the only mobster to control the streets of the Windy City. There were many other gangsters involved in the rackets, murder, blackmail, and the ever-present illegal liquor trade. To research even half of the big time mobsters would fill volumes of books.Chief among these Chicago mob men were Charles Dion O'Banion and Frank McErlane. The O'Banion gang chiefly controlled the north side of Chicago. O'Banion ran much of the bootlegging in the northern Chicago areas not controlled by the Torrio-Capone outfit. O'Banion's gang included famed gangsters Hymie Weiss and George "Bugs" Moran. Both of whom had powerful and violent stories of their own. O'Banion was described as, "Chicago's arch criminal, who has killed or seen to the killing of at least twenty-five men." Now, Frank McErlane was a different kind of mobster. He wasn't necessarily very powerful as far as mafia standards go, but he was known for his brutal and bloody reputation. McErlane has been credited with introducing the Thomson submachine gun (Tommie gun) to Chicago's bloody prohibition wars. The Illinois Crime Survey called him, "the most brutal gunman who ever pulled a trigger in Chicago."The son of Irish immigrant Charles O'Banion, Charles Dean O'Banion (known as Dion) was born on July 8th, 1892 in Aurora, Illinois. In 1898 his mother died of tuberculosis and Charles Sr. took his two sons to Chicago. Dion's father, who was a painter by trade, brought the boys up in Chicago's north side district known as Little Hell because of it's high crime and unemployment rates. As a child, Dion served as an alter boy in the Catholic Holy Name Cathedral. While serving as alter boy he also ran with a juvenile gang called the Market Streeters. He was sent to prison only twice. Once was in 1909 for robbery and the other in 1911 for weapons charges. This was the last time O'Banion would go to jail. He learned that lining the pockets of local police and politicians would keep him out of the spotlight. In 1913 O'Banion was hired by the Chicago Tribune as a "sales promoter." This translates to Dion strong arming vendors to carry only his paper. He would later transfer to Chicago's other popular...

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