Famous Family History Al Scarface Capone Parents Part 2

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

When the tables were turned and Al was in prison, Mama Teresa took care of her boy, cooking his favorite foods and visiting him regularly. Little conversation took place between the pair, though, because she spoke only a few words of English, and foreign languages were strictly forbidden in the prison's visiting area. When Al was transferred to Alcatraz, Teresa baffled prison guards by setting off the alarm during electronic security checks. The cause was eventually found to be the metal straps of her old-fashioned corset! Teresa died at 85, outliving the son who had become Public Enemy No. 1. But until the end she maintained: "Al's a good boy."

More than one gangster emerged from Gabriel and Teresa's nest. Ralph (1893-1974) was so successful at convincing saloonkeepers to use the family's bootlegged whiskey that he was dubbed Bottles. Three other brothers, Frank, John, and Matt, were also involved in this family enterprise.

But there was a white sheep in this dark brood, James (1877-1952), who called himself Richard "Two Gun" Hart and was actually a law-enforcement officer. A teenage runaway, he traveled as a circus roust-about and finally settled down in Homer, Neb. (population 477) in 1919. There he became a government agent for Indian affairs and married a local girl named Kathleen Winch. They had four sons.

Hart's reputation as a man who could not be bribed grew steadily, and he was appointed commander of Homer's American Legion Post as well. A small, rounded man, he presented quite a sight with guns strapped to both hips. But in fact he was a crack shot from either side, which was what earned him his unusual middle name.

Two-Gun Hart served as town marshal, then state sheriff before trouble arose when he was arrested for murdering an Indian in a barroom brawl in Sioux City, Ia., while serving as a special officer for Indian Services. Though he was cleared of the crime, he lost an eye when the dead man's family attempted to even the score. Back in Homer, he was reappointed town marshal and given keys to the town's main-street shops in case he needed to search them during night patrols. This proved the beginning of the end for Hart, who was unable to resist the temptation the opportunity presented. Even his father-in-law's store turned up missing goods, and Richard Hart was relieved of his badge. Next the local Legionnaires asked him for proof of his war record. When he could produce none, he lost his post command. Broke and nearly blind, he asked for and received help from his famous brother Al. Not even Hart's wife of 21 years had been aware of the familial relationship.

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