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The North Side Gang was established by Dean O'Banion, George "Bugs" Moran, Vincent "The Schemer" Drucci, and Earl "Hymie" Weiss. The foursome then collected various henchmen and notorious gunman to keep control of their territory. The gang was mostly made up of Irishmen, although it included a number of Germans and Polish members as well. The Northsiders practically owned the whole North Side of Chicago, the largest territory without a doubt next to John "Johnny The Fox" Torrio's southside territory of Chicago. The North Siders and Torrio's Chicago Outfit would always be at odds. The bootlegging wars of Chicago put the North Siders in their prime and had Torrio, Capone and many of the outfit gang members constantly looking over their shoulders and in constant fear. The North Siders were probably one of the strongest mafia families of their time and were matched only by Torrio and Capone's gang. The two sides were equally matched in power as well as skill and both lost gang members as well as friends because of their rivalry.
Like many other Chicago-based Prohibition gangs, the North Side Gang originated from the Market Street Gang, one of many street gangs in Chicago at the turn of the century. The Market Street Gang was made up of pick pockets, sneak thieves and labor sluggers working in the 42nd and 43rd Wards. The gang especially distinguished itself during the newspaper "Circulation Wars" of the early 1910s between the Chicago Examiner and the Chicago Tribune. As sluggers for a newspaper, the Market Street Gang would beat up newsstand owners who didn't carry that publication. It was during the Circulation Wars that future North Side leader Dean O'Banion, then a member of the juvenile satellite Little Hellions, who would develop valuable contacts with politicians and journalists. O'Banion and other members of the North Siders would be mentored by safecracker Charlie "The Ox" Reiser. Upon the passage of the Volstead Act (Prohibition) in 1919, which banned the sale of alcoholic beverages, O'Banion was one of the many Market Streeters to become bootleggers. Prohibition With the start of Prohibition, the North Siders quickly took control of the existing breweries and distilleries in the North Side of Chicago. This gave them a near monopoly on the local supply of real beer and high quality whiskey; their rivals only had supplies of rotgut liquor and moonshine. Based on the North Clark Street restaurant McGovern's Saloon and Cafe, the North Side Gang would soon control the working class neighborhoods of the 42nd and 43rd Wards within months. In addition to bootlegging, the gang continued to burglarize local stores and warehouses and run illegal gambling operations. Unlike the rival South Side Gang however, they refused to traffic in prostitution. O'Banion strengthened his political protection by helping his politician friends commit election fraud. O'Banion also ran a publicity campaign in the North Side with large scale donations to orphanages and charities as well as food and loans to the poor and unemployed. The North Siders soon faced powerful Sicilian and Italian gangs on Chicago's South Side. These gangsters included the Genna family and later John "Johnny The Fox" Torrio and Al Capone. The old hostility between Irish and Italian gangs combined with O'Banion's refusal to sell portions of North Side distilleries to the South Siders, raised tension between the North and South Siders. During several meetings arranged by Torrio, O'Banion would often insult the Italians. O'Banion was also secretly hijacking South Side beer shipments and selling them back to their owners. However, the North Side Gang also ran into trouble with other ethnic gangs; in 1921, O'Banion shot Ragen's Colts member Davy "Yiddles" Miller after he insulted a North Sider at a local opera. Although O'Banion and Weiss were arrested and charged with burglary in 1922, the North Side Gang enjoyed considerable protection from the Chicago police department. At one point, O'Banion threw a lavish banquet for Chicago politicians and police officials. Attendees included Chief Detective Michael Hughes, Police Lieutenant Charles Evans, County Clerk Robert Sweitzer, Public Works commissioner Colonel Albert A. Sprague, and a host of both Democrat and Republican politicians. Dubbed the "Balshazzar Feast" by the press, it was later investigated by reform Mayor William E. Dever. In 1924, Chicago police assisted the North Side Gang in robbing the Sibly Distillery, which had been under federal guard since the beginning of Prohibition. Escorted by Police Lieutenant Michael Grady and four detective sergeants, North Siders looted the distillery in broad daylight, taking 1,750 bottles of bonded whiskey worth approximately $100,000. Although Grady and the other police officers were later indicted for this crime, they were quickly dismissed. Relations between the North and South Side gangs continued to fester. In early 1924, O'Banion agreed to an alliance with Torrio and Capone that was brokered by Mike Merlo. However, the alliance began to founder when O'Banion demanded that "Bloody" Angelo Genna pay a $30,000 gambling debt from losses at the co-owned gambling casino The Ship. This demand contravened an agreement allowing Angelo and other gang members to run up debts there. In the interest of maintaining harmony, Torrio persuaded Genna to pay his gambling debt. However, Torrio himself would soon lose patience with O'Banion. It happened when O'Banion offered to sell Torrio the valuable Sieben Brewery. On May 19th 1924, while Torrio was inspecting the property, O'Banion arranged for the police to raid the place and arrest Torrio. After his release from custody, Torrio acceded to demands from the Gennas to whack O'Banion. On November 10, shortly after the death of Merlo, three unidentified men entered the Schofield Flower Shop owned by O'Banion and shot him dead. This was to be the beginning of a five year gang war between the North Side Gang against Johnny Torrio's Chicago Outfit that would end with the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929.
After the death of Dean O'Banion, Hymie Weiss assumed leadership of the North Side Gang and immediately struck back at his rivals. On January 12, 1925, Weiss, Bugs Moran, and Vincent Drucci, attempted to kill Torrio's lieutenant, Al Capone at a Chicago South Side restaurant. Firing at Capone's car, the men wounded chauffeur Sylvester Barton, but missed Capone entirely. Capone, startled by the shooting, ordered his famous armoured car to be created. Moran then decided to kidnap one of Capone's trusted bodyguards, torture him for information before finally executing him and dumping the body. On January 24, shortly after the assassination attempt on Capone, Weiss, Moran, and Drucci ambushed Torrio as he returned from shopping with his wife. Both Torrio and his chauffeur Robert Barton were wounded several times. As Moran was about to kill Torrio, the gun misfired; the gang members were forced to flee the scene as the police arrived. After narrowly surviving this attack, Torrio decided he wanted out. Retiring to Italy, Torrio passed leadership of the Chicago Outfit to Capone. Weiss and the North Siders then went after the Genna Family, allies of the Chicago Outfit. First, "Bloody" Angelo Genna was shot to death after a car chase by Moran. Next, Mike "the devil" Genna was shot down by police when he turned his gun on them after a fierce shootout with the Northsiders. Then Drucci went and killed Samuzzo "Samoots" Amatuna, a Genna family backer trying to hold the Genna's intact. Then finally Tony Genna was murdered (although it was rumored that Capone, not Weiss, ordered this hit). At this point, the remaining Genna family fled Chicago. The North Siders and Capone took the spoils. Francis Cavanaugh was a big part in many of the murders that landed within the mob. He was a hired hitman for Moran. He was ordered by Moran to get rid of Torrio (which he nearly did) and is a suspect by police in Tony Genna's murder.
Soon after Dean O'Banion's death, the North Siders had formed a "governing council" with Hymie Weiss emerging as leader. Although the loss of O'Banion was a great shock, the gang had now reached its zenith of power: the Genna family was destroyed, Torrio had been scared out of the rackets, and Capone was on the run. The North Siders expanded their business and strength and plotted another attack on Capone. The second North Side attack on Capone shocked the police, fellow gangsters and especially Capone. A fleet of North Side cars, with Moran in the lead car, drove to Capone's hotel in Cicero. While Capone and his bodyguard were drinking downstairs, the North Siders drove by the lobby and opened fire with their Thompson submachine guns. The shooting reduced the hotel to shreds and left everybody running for cover. Capone and his bodyguard were left cowering on the floor. Once the attack was over, Capone, terrified and aching for a moment's peace, sent word to the North Siders that he wanted a truce. A truce was made, which did last for a while, but inevitably began to come apart. Some time later, Capone struck back at the North Siders by gunning down Hymie Weiss and several associates. Drucci and Moran now assumed joint leadership of the North Side Gang. The two gangs traded killings and bombings for several more months until a peace conference was held. Moran and Capone both appeared at the meeting along with many other mob bosses. During the conference, Capone complained that "they were making a shooting gallery of a great business". He also stated that "Chicago be seen as a pie and each gang gets a slice of the pie." The two gangs agreed to make peace. This peace would last for a while. It was the only time in Chicago when gunfire ceased and calmness occurred. No killings occurred that were a result of gang war. Vincent Drucci was killed during this time, but it resulted from a brawl with police. Moran now became the sole boss of the North Side Gang. The gangland peace soon turned into a Cold War as both sides fell victim to temptation. Moran would regularly hijack Capone's beer shipments, naturally aggravating Capone. Capone retaliated by burning down Moran's dog track. A few days later, Capone's own dog track went up in smoke. Moran was the prime suspect. Open warfare started again between the two gangs. Moran ordered the execution of two union leaders who were powerful allies and personal friends of Capone. This act prompted Capone to order a decisive blow against Moran that would turn into the most memorable gangland killing in American history: the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
On February 14, 1929 four unidentified men, two of them dressed as Chicago police officers, stormed into a North Side Street garage and ordered six members of the North Side Gang and a friend of a gang member to stand against a wall. The gunmen then pulled out machine guns and gunned them all down. The only survivor, Frank "Tight Lips" Gusenberg, died hours later at a nearby Chicago hospital refusing to name his attackers. However, the primary target of the gunmen, Bugs Moran, leader of the North Side Gang, was not at the garage and escaped harm. Strong circumstantial cases can be made for almost a dozen individuals as being one of the four gunmen, but it remains unknown to this day exactly who those four gunmen were. Known as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, the attack effectively left the five year gang war between Al Capone and Bugs Moran in a stalemate. The brazenness of this crime resulted in a Federal crackdown on all gang activity in Chicago that eventually led to the downfall of both Moran and Al Capone.
Although Bugs Moran survived the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, several experienced North Side gunmen had been lost. The North Side Gang continued to control the 42nd and 43rd Wards and managed to thwart a takeover attempt by Frank McErlane in 1930. As the decade progressed, the power of the North Side Gang slowly declined. In 1936, Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn, mastermind of the massacre, was killed and Moran was one of the prime suspects, along with Frank Nitti of the South Side mob, as McGurn had become more trouble than he was worth to protect to the former "Capone Gang". Moran and the North Side Gang eventually lost control of their gambling operations to the new National Crime Syndicate . Since the repeal of Prohibition, gambling had been the main source of North Side income. The gang limped along until the end of the 1930s when Moran left the Chicago underworld. The North Side gang disappeared and the Chicago Outfit, successor to the old South Side gang, took control of the North Side territories.
In 1947 Lucas Cavanaugh adoptive son of Moran and biological son of Francis Cavanaugh took seat at the command post of the long time nonexistent North Side Gang after Moran had fled from Chicago underground. Lucas brought back many of the old families and faces of the past and brought in many of his own new faces including longtime friend Alexander O'Shea. After hearing his father was killed he had sworn to serve the family for Moran, but when Moran's business was taken by Frank Nitti he swore revenge for Moran. He took on the family name and kept working for the family even though Nitti was changing it into the Chicago Outfit. After Nitti had been at a meeting with many of the bosses of the area such as Joe Capagna, Ralph Pierce, John Roselli, Nick Circella, Phil D'Andrea, Paul Ricca, and Charles "Cherry Nose" Gioe. Nitti was being forced by them to go to jail and take the fall for the Outfit, but Nitti had, years earlier, spent 15 months in prison, where he had immediately realized he was horribly claustrophobic. Being unable to bear the thought of a long prison term because of his claustraphobia, and rumored (never proven) to also be suffering from terminal cancer, Nitti shot and killed himself in a Chicago railroad yard. Lucas after hearing about Nitti's death he wanted to take out the rest of the outfit. His first official kill was murdering Joe Capagna and Ralph Pierce at a Chicago meeting. Lucas entered the meeting as a waitor helping them but eventually pulled out a gun killing Capagna and Pierce and their men by a machince gun. Lucas fled the seen before anyone had any idea of who did it. Later it was out that another waitor had seen this and reported it but to a cop that Lucas had already paid off. Lucas started after more of the bosses now heading for Nick Circella. Circella was walking out of his house to go to a meeting with Paul Ricca, but as he ventured to the car and started it a bomb exploded and killed Circella and blasting most of the house containing his wife and children. Lucas was ready for Phil D'Andrea at a local bar the next night. When D'Andrea went into the bathroom followed by his guards at the door. Lucas disguised in a waitor's outfit ventured in after him. The guards not expecting anything let him through and Lucas snuck behind D'Andrea and choked him to death. Lucas ended up leaving and after 20 minutes of waiting the guards went in to check on D'Andrea and found him lying on the floor dead.
Lucas then brought the rise to power for the Northsiders. Lucas had gotten into a scuffle with Johnny Circella. Lucas and O'Shea ended up murdering Circella in his home after Circella had crossed his family. Lucas had ordered O'Shea to take out Roselli after conflicts erupted. Roselli and his man saw O'Shea and broke into gunfire. Lucas took the hit as success even though Roselli was alive, Giancana wasn't healthy and many of Roselli's men had fallen. Sam Giancana was later murdered by his higher affiliates due to distrust in the family. He was shot in the head then several times in the face. Lucas and Roselli had competed at war for many years all the way into 1976 when Roselli was put into prison. Charles Nicoletti one of Roselli's hitman had learned of Lucas's involvement and went after him. Lucas got wind of this and told higher boses that he was questioning the killing of Sam Giancana. Those boses whacked Nicoletti by shooting him in the head many times.
In 1976 Frankie Cavanaugh took control of the family workings. Frankie had a call from Michael DeStefano, one of the Outfit's main hitmen, telling him to meet DeStefano in a rural area. Many of the "workers" started firing upon them. Frankie was protected by his body guards and ended up killing DeStefano. The police arrsted Frankie but after a two month trial he was released on self-defense. Joseph Aiuppa ended up having to meet with Frankie to tell were the boundrie would be drawn for the two rivals. Frankie took the North and part of the east side and the Outfit took the south as they had prior. Aiuppa was getting worried about not having enough territory and the growing power of the young Frankie at 25. Aiuppa was worried and hired a hitman to take him out. On September 6th, 1985 Frankie was leaving his North Side home and was being shot at although the bullets missed him. George Cavanaugh, his brother, now was getting used to his brothers business and made a place for himself. Frankie told his brother of the war and said he had to take out a boss of the Outfit and he chose Charles Inglese. On August 13th,1987 Frankie found out that Inglese was going to a coffee shop in a subburb of Chicago to do business. Inglese was also doing business on Frankie's area of rule. When Frankie got there he found Inglese there dealing drugs to the shop manager and pulled out a gun and shot at him. He had shot Inglese twice in the head and twice in the chest, a stray bullet also struck the manager in the head. Both men had died and police were on the scene in moments. Frankie was sentenced to 20 years in jail on September 10th,1987 at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.
George Cavanaugh and the North Siders were moving in new shipments into the upper Lake Michigan harbor. When Joseph Ferriola found out this was happening he investigated the shipment and ended up rigging the transport ship with a bomb. The ship had blown up on its path from Chicago to Connecticut. George caught wind of this and found out it was Ferriola. George had sent three men to pose as waitors at a meeting between Ferriola and Samuel Carlisi and other bosses. George sent James "Jimmy O" Oshea and Narshall Lanahuew and another man to take out Ferriola and Carlisi. On December 15, 1988, Ferriola and Carlisi arrived at a privately owned restaurant in west Chicago. Jimmy O and Lanahuew seated the two and the other man posed as a waitor and brought them food. When Ferriola wanted the check O'Shea and Lanahuew came out and had guns in their coat jackets. Ferriola handed O'Shea money and Lanahuew opened fire on them. Two of their guards were killed and Carlisi was shot in the arm. O'Shea, Lanahuew and the other man left the restaurant and police arrived minutes later. In February 1989, Ferriola acquired information introducing George as the leader of the hit he wanted to strike back. George was in New York with employers though. Ferriola sent Gill Valerio and two others to George's home and they had kidnapped Andrew and the pregnant Mary. When George arrived home that evening he heard from his guards that it was Ferriola and George sent men to negotiate with him. The next morning he found them to be dead. George confronted Ferriola in person and ended up having a gun to Ferriola's head as O'Shea and Lanahuew detained his guards. Ferriola released Andrew and Mary to him. Ferriola was furious and was getting ready to retaliate but started feeling pain and health issues occurred. A month later Ferriola had died in the hospital trying to receive a heart transplant. Carlisi took command of the Chicago Outfit but didn't retaliate on Ferriola's behalf.
George Cavanaugh assumed command of his brothers business and had help from Jimmy O'Shea. The two lead the Northsiders to a war in 1992 against the Cuerez Brothers (Little Known gang in New York). George Cavanaugh ordered Jimmy O to take out Armando Cuerez (Leader) and Jimmy fled to New York. New York police found Armando dead at his home the next morning and Jimmy was already home. A month later Jimmy and George were meeting with Antonio Cuerez to sign for peace between the rivals and the meeting broke in to gunfire wounding Jimmy and killing Antonio. George Cavanaugh and Jimmy O had gotten cleared of all charges on a self-defense case and were aloud to leave. George Cavanaugh ran the gang through October 2007 when his brother Frankie Cavanaugh was released on the 18th from prison. Frankie reassumed power and George took over as his underboss and Jimmy as a guard. Crime towards the family In July 2003, Joseph Cavanaugh 16, brother Lucas Cavanaugh 14, and Cousin Andrew Cavanaugh 17 were walking down a street when a car went by and men shot at them. Lucas was shot in the arm but was stabilized in the hospital. Lucas recovered after 3 weeks and was fine. Andrew had told this to his father and Andrew was sent away to Private school away from the crime. August 2003, Joey was seen near a coffee shop in Schaumburg and he had shot three men accused of being the shooters of his brother. Joey had taken off on foot but police found him and he was put in prison. While on trial Joey was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which included 2 in Juvenile Detention and 8 in prison. Andrew was spotted in 2005 returning to Chicago meeting his father after he had allegedly been gone for 2 years in private school. Its rumored that Andrew now 22 has been helping his fathers business regulating many of private North Side territory shipments along with Lucas Cavanaugh 19. In March 2008 Joseph Cavanaugh was granted parole and is now out of the state penitentiary system. Bosses of the North Side Gang
1919–1924 — Dean O'Banion (1892–1924)
1924–1925 — Henry Earl Hymie Weiss (1898 –1925)
1926–1935 — George Bugs Moran (1896–1957)
1935–1947 — Disbanded, no one recorded
1976–1987 — Frank Cavanaugh (1960–present)
1987–2007 — George Cavanaugh (1967–present)
2007–present – Frank "Fierce Frankie" Cavanaugh (1960–present)