Famous Family History Al Scarface Capone Parents Part 1

About the family of gangster Al "Scarface" Capone, biography and history of his mother and father.

ROOTS AND FRUITS: A FOREST OF FAMILY TREES

ALPHONSE "SCARFACE" CAPONE (1899-1947), U.S. gangster

The most famous U.S. gangster of the 20th century, Capone became head of the Chicago crime syndicate in 1925. Two years later, the 28-year-old gangster was grossing $105 million a year from his operations. He continued to dominate organized crime until 1931, when he was imprisoned for income tax evasion.

His Roots: The land of promise and golden opportunity lured Gabriel Capone (1868-1920)--born Caponi--from his native Italy. Unfortunately, the reality of Brooklyn's Navy Yard district differed drastically from his fantasies. The poor, illiterate immigrant failed miserably in his attempts to adapt to his new country. Working first as a grocer and then as a barber, Al Capone's father could barely pay the monthly rent, averaging between $3 and $4.50 per room in turn-of-the-century New York. Consequently, Teresa (1867-1952), his dour, horse-faced wife, added to the family coffers by working as a dressmaker. Their progeny--seven boys, two girls--were born at the rate of one every three years. Though the father of our country's most famous gangster could not read, write, or speak English, he was able to claim U.S. citizenship in 1906--a month before the laws required these skills.

At the age of 52, in poor health due to the day labor he had been reduced to performing, Gabriel Capone collapsed in a poolroom at 20 Garfield Place, where Al had played profitably in his early days. His heart simply gave out while he was watching the game, and he was dead before the doctor could arrive. Although Gabriel was originally buried in Brooklyn, Al later had his father's remains exhumed and reburied ceremoniously in the family plot he purchased at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Chicago. And being a loving son, he moved Teresa west to the two-story house he built on Prairie Avenue on Chicago's South Side. From Chicago, Teresa took great pleasure in nostalgic journeys back to her old neighborhood, and Al's cronies always provided her with a bodyguard and a chauffeur-driven Cadillac.

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