O'Banion and McErlane - Chicago's Other Tough Guys

Essay by bigmark77College, UndergraduateB, December 2006

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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...