Outline Bio

Key events in bold face

1891 – Gabriel Capone (age, 26) marries Theresa Raiola (21) in Castellammare, Italy. Vincenzo (Jimmy) born the following year

1893 – Capones immigrate to America, Theresa pregnant with Raffalo (Ralph), settle in Brooklyn. Salvatore (Frank) born, 1895. Gabriel a barber.

1899 – Tuesday, January 17 Al Capone born, baptized "Alphonsus" on Feb. 7. In fairly rapid succession, Theresa bears three more sons, Amadeo Ermino (John, nicknamed "Mimi"), Umberto (Albert John), and, in 1908, Matthew Nicholas (so baptized), then two daughters, Rosalia (Rose) and Mafalda.

1909 – Johnny Torrio goes from Brooklyn to Chicago at request of his cousin, Victoria Moresco, whose husband, "Big Jim" Colosimo, needs help against Black Hand extortionists. Torrio, born 1882 in Osara di Puglia, 60 miles east of Naples, brought to the U.S. at age 2, mentored in New York's Five Points by Paul Kelly (Paolo Antonini Vaccarelli), establishes himself in Brooklyn in the early 1900s when gang wars interrupt "business" in the Five Points.

1910 – (Approx.) Francesco Ioele Americanizes his name to Frankie Uale. Born 1893 in Calabria, brought to the U.S. age 9, becomes a power in the Five Points gang, and rules the rackets in Brooklyn. About 1917, begins calling himself "Yale" and opens the Harvard Inn, a large dive in Coney Island, making his young protege, Al Capone, the bouncer.

1917 – (Approx.) In the Harvard Inn, small-time hood, Frank "Galluch" Galluccio, drunk, scars Capone's face with three slashes of his knife over an insult to his sister, “Lena,” a pseudonym; Gallucio asked his interviewer to call her that, and not use her real name.
-(Approx.) Capone commits first of four personal murders when a stick-up victim threatens to ID him to police.

1918 – Capone meets Mary (Mae) Coughlin, marries her 18 days after Mae gives birth to their son, Albert Francis (Sonny) on Dec. 4, 1918.

1919 – Capone beats Irish "White Hand" gang member to pulp in saloon. Yale sends him to Torrio in Chicago when word circulates that gang lieutenant Bill Lovett, a psychotic killer, is looking for the Italian kid with the scars who beat up his subordinate Artie Finnegan.


1670s – Area's first bootlegger under protection of first corrupt official, establishing two Chicago traditions.

1779 – First permanent settler, Jean Baptist Point du Sable.

1837 – Incorporated as city.

1873 – Mayor Joseph Medill promises reform; saloonkeepers, gamblers and thieves combine to beat him for re-election.

1893 – "Bathhouse John" J. Coughlin (33) elected alderman; with Michael "Hinky-Dink" Kenna, they rule the First Ward, Chicago's red-light, gambling, anything-does district, "the Levee."

1900 – William Hale Thompson, Jr. wins key aldermanic seat on a dare and a $50 bet. "Big Bill" Thompson, scion of a rich, prominent family, would give new meaning to the word "corrupt" as applied to city government.

1902 – "Big Jim" Colosimo, bag man for Bathhouse John and Hinky-Dink, marries Victoria Moresco, owner of two brothels; establishes a modest vice and political empire.

1909 – Torrio arrives (see above).

1910 – Big Jim opens Colosimo's Cafe on the edge of the Levee, soon becomes center of Chicago cafe society nightlife.

1915 – Swedish immigrant Fred Lundin maneuvers Thompson into the Republican nomination for mayor; Thompson wins - and the lid's off in Chicago!

1919 – Thompson wins re-election.

CAPONE ARRIVES - quickly becomes Torrio's protege.

1920 – Eighteenth Amendment kicks in at midnight, January 16, after one year of temporary "wartime" Prohibition.
– Robert E. Crowe wins first term as state's attorney (DA), backed by Thompson.
– Colosimo divorces Victoria to elope with singer Dale Winter; refuses Torrio's pleas to move into bootlegging, fearing the consequences. Torrio turns over "arrangements" to Capone, who calls Frankie Yale.
– Yale comes to Chicago and kills Colosimo in the foyer of the cafe, Torrio now in charge.
– Gabriel Capone dies of heart attack, Al brings entire family to Chicago, buys a 15-room duplex at 7244 S. Prairie, near Torrio's 7011 S. Clyde apartment.

1921 – Thompson falling-out with Lundin over patronage; possibility of reform candidate in '23 election impels Torrio to open operations in the Chicago suburbs.
– Political/gang killings over challenge by Anthony D'Andrea to Alderman John Powers further convinces Torrio of need for gangs to cooperate, stick to own territories, pool political clout to weather reform.
– The Gangs of Chicago:
     Torrio (South Side)
     O'Banion (North Side)
     Genna Brothers (Little Italy)
     Druggan & Lake (the Valley)
     O'Donnell Brothers (West Side)
     Ralph Sheldon/Ragen's Colts (Richard J. Daley a member)
     Joseph ("Polack Joe") Saltis ("Back of the Yards"-i.e. stockyards)
     Edward J. ("Spike") O'Donnell (South of Torrio)
     Miller Brothers (far West Side)
     Plus two minor gangs, far north: Claude Maddox & Martin Guilfoyle

1922 – Despite later myth of his "relative obscurity" (see Myths), Capone now Torrio's second-in-command.

1923 – Thompson withdraws from mayoral race when Lundin is indicted for crooked land deal (next year defended by Clarence Darrow, acquitted).
– William E. Dever elected mayor, appoints as police chief honest Captain Morgan A. Collins; attempt at reform, showing wisdom of Torrio's plan for gang cooperation.
– Start of "Beer Wars" when Spike O'Donnell gets out of Joliet, refuses to go along with Torrio's plan; many killings, but Torrio's combine wins.
– Three seemingly minor and unrelated events will later hugely impact Capone: O'Banion pal Nails Morton killed in freak horseback riding accident; Harry and Alma Guzik pardoned by Governor Len Small for white slavery conviction as favor to Torrio; Torrio convicted and fined $2,500 for owning an illegal brewery: a second conviction will carry mandatory jail time.
– Torrio sends Capone to establish operations in Cicero, which starts at Chicago's western city line.

1924 – Torrio takes leisurely trip to Italy, Capone in charge until return in late spring.
– Capone moves headquarters to Hawthorne Hotel in Cicero to avoid heat from Dever and Collins.
– Frank Capone killed by police in Cicero election shoot-out.
– Capone commits second personal murder: small-time hood, Joseph L. Howard, who had beaten-up Jack Guzik, insulted Capone.
– O'Banion and Gennas scrap over territory; only Torrio and Mike Merlo, head of Unione Siciliana, keep Gennas from war; O'Banion claims to want to retire, sells Torrio Sieben brewery, a double-cross since he knows Collins plans raid; Torrio caught, faces jail for second conviction; Merlo still forbids killing O'Banion.
– When Mike Merlo dies, in November, Capone again calls Yale who - with the Gennas' top gunmen, John Scalise and Albert Anselmi - kills O'Banion in his flower shop.

1925 – In January, Torrio sentenced to nine months in county jail; before he surrenders to serve sentence, three of O'Banion's closest associates - Hymie Weiss, "Schemer" Drucci and "Bugs" Moran ambush Torrio outside his apartment, leave him for dead; but Torrio recovers and goes to jail in February. In March, tells Capone that when released, he will quit, turning everything over to his protege.
– The combination falls apart, Capone now battles the Gennas, lures Scalise and Anselmi away from them, and has two of the brothers killed (the cops get a third), the other three fleeing to Sicily; all the gangs are battling each other.
– First use of Thompson submachine gun in Chicago - by Frank McErlane, killer for Saltis.
– Capone takes Sonny to New York for mastoid operation; returns favor to Yale by orchestrating Brooklyn killing of Richard "Pegleg" Lonergan, White Hand gang chief, plus Lonergan's two best gunmen.

1926 – Killings on the South Side and in Little Italy make "Klondike" O'Donnell (West Side) think Capone has lost control and that his West Side gang can move in; Capone personally leads assault meant to kill Klondike and Myles O'Donnell; instead they kill two top O'Donnell gunmen and - by mistake - William Harold McSwiggin, star assistant state's attorney, who was partying with the O'Donnells; outrage (briefly) shuts down all Chicago vice.
– Hymie Weiss, O'Banion's successor, sends caravan of 10 sedans past Capone's HQ in Cicero's Hawthorne Hotel, Tommy guns and shotguns blazing; Capone, lunching in the restaurant next door, narrowly escapes harm largely thanks to his bodyguard Frankie Rio.
– Peace talks with Weiss break down when Capone refuses to let him kill Scalise and Anselmi, who pulled the trigger on O'Banion.
– Capone sets up signature ambush of Weiss, perfectly planned and executed.
– Schemer Drucci succeeds Weiss, agrees to peace conference that re-establishes gang territories; all agree to cooperate.

1927 – Big Bill Thompson runs again for mayor, beats Dever with support of Capone and State's Attorney Crowe; Drucci picked up in pre-election sweep, killed in police custody; George "Bugs" Moran succeeds him as head of North Side gang.
– Capone on top, gets national and international press
– Joseph Aiello leader of new gang in the far North, with remnants of Genna gang, and the backing of Bugs Moran, starts gunning for Capone, in part for helping install Tony Lombardo as Unione chief, a post Aiello craves; "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn, Capone's ace, kills most of the Aiello gunmen; Aiello flees town.
– Thompson, deluding himself into hope for presidential nomination in '28, has Capone leave town as PR gesture; Capone visits California and Los Angeles cops run him out of town; he returns briefly to Chicago; gets off train in Joliet to avoid press, arrested on weapons charge, fined; leaves for Miami.

1928 – Buys Palm Island estate, returns for contested "Pineapple Primary" in April; Thompson's candidates, including Crowe, lose, ending Thompson's (to be sure, nonexistent) chances for presidential nomination. Capone leaves Frank Nitti in charge, back to Miami to refurbish estate.
– Frankie Yale, furious at Capone's choices as Unione heads, starts hijacking Capone liquor; Capone sends McGurn and others to kill Yale in Brooklyn.
– Capone returns to Chicago, moves HQ from Metropole to Hotel Lexington, contracts syphilis from a teenage blond hooker.
– Frank J. Loesch, head of Chicago Crime Commission appeals to Capone to help keep the election clean; his own favored candidates having lost the primary, Capone agrees: result, says Loesch, "the only honest election that we had had in thirty years."
– Joe Aiello has Tony Lombardo murdered.

1929 – With Capone back in Florida, Aiello murders Lombardo's successor Pasquilino "Patsy" Lolordo, also Capone's friend and choice.
– Moran is the key; from Florida, Capone plans and sets in motion another signature killing - the St. Valentine's Day Massacre - but evidence suggests the "massacre" aspect of it was a mistake; seven are killed, but Moran (who arrived late) escapes; Chicago vice is really shut down for a while.
– Just after New Year's, in Miami, Capone contracts pneumonia; using that as an excuse not to return to Chicago while heat was still raging, he sends a doctor's affidavit that he is still too sick to answer a federal subpoena in March.
– Capone discovers Scalise and Anselmi plotting with Joseph "Hop Toad" Guinta, new Unione head, to kill Capone and take over; he personally bludgeons each at a banquet, then three or four gunmen shoot them.
– Capone attends gang summit conference in Atlantic City, is convinced to lie low in Philadelphia on a set-up concealed weapons charge; fix isn't quite in, and Capone gets a one year sentence instead of expected maximum of 90 days. – Ralph Capone, Druggan and Lake indicted on tax evasion charges.
– Eliot Ness starts operations

1930 – Nitti and Guzik indicted on tax charges; IRS investigating Capone, but can't develop case yet.
– Capone released from Eastern State Penitentiary; starts trying to settle tax issues with help of Torrio's tax attorney, Lawrence P. Mattingly, who proves incompetent, writes disastrous "Mattingly Letter" to IRS.
– Power elite of Miami hypocritically try to run Capone out of town; fail in a couple of comic-opera trials.
– Chicago Tribune legman (and secret gang figure), Jake Lingle murdered with mysterious aftermath (the wrong man is convicted) and consequences for Capone - though he had nothing to do with it; to cool the heat, he must arrange murder of man responsible, Jack Zuta.
– About one a.m., IRS agent Frank Wilson discovers a forgotten ledger, seized in a raid on a Capone gambling joint after McSwiggin killing: it leads to finding Leslie Adelbert "Lew" Shumway, a Capone bookkeeper, and is the key to getting Capone on tax charges.
– Capone finally catches up with Joe Aiello, has him killed in usual elegant set-up.
– Capone opens soup kitchens, feeds 3,000 a day.

1931 – Beats vagrancy charge, brought by "nutty" municipal Judge John H. Lyle, but convicted on federal contempt-of-court charge when doctor's 1929 affidavit is shown to be phony; sentenced to six months, deferred pending appeal.
– IRS puts together tax case, government indicts Capone.
– His lawyers arrange a plea bargain with U.S. Attorney George E. "Q." Johnson.
– Judge James H. Wilkerson, stung by press reports that 2 1/2-year sentence was done-deal, indicates that he will not be bound by sentencing agreement; Capone withdraws guilty plea, will stand trial.
– Just before trial, evidence suggest bribery of jury panel; Wilkerson switches panels with another judge at last moment.
– Tommy Nash, the courtroom wizard half of Capone's usual law team is mysteriously absent, leaving only his backroom, brief-writing partner, Mike Ahearn, and recruit, Albert Fink; they botch defense.
– Of 23 counts, Capone found guilty of three felony evasion counts and two misdemeanor counts of failing to file returns, not guilty of all others-a puzzle it takes the prosecution 15 minutes to figure out.
– Wilkerson sentences Capone to a total of ten years on felonies, extra year on each misdemeanor, plus the earlier 6-month contempt conviction, all concurrent; total 11 years.
– Bail denied during appeal

1932 – Supreme Court denies appeal, Capone starts sentence in Atlanta; corruption permits him to practically run the place.
– Transferred as one of first group of prisoners to new federal pen, Alcatraz; no more privileged status.

1939 – Transferred to Terminal Island (Long Beach, CA) for misdemeanor sentence on January 6; released November 13, train east, turned over to family and doctors in Gettysburg, November 16; treatment for tertiary syphilis.

1947 – Spends last years mostly on Palm Island and Wisconsin summer home; dies in bed at 7:25, Saturday, January 25, of cardiac arrest; buried in Mount Olivet cemetery, on Chicago's far South side, next to Gabriel and Frank.

1950 – All three moved to family plot, discretely shielded by bushes at Mount Carmel, far West side. Inscription:

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PHOTOS Top Row: mug shot at Terminal Island; the "Big Fellow"; giving "the Look"; the scars; late '20s; in car after release in '39.