Mount Carmel

The "Terrible Gennas":

The Genna brothers lived in the South Side's Little Italy, on Taylor Street. Originally they made their fortune as a "Black Hand" gang - that is, extortion. When Prohibition came, they naturally turned their abilities toward bootlegging.

The Gennas began by obtaining industrial alcohol with a license from the government. Contaminated with poisons such as wood alcohol, it was only minimally filtered and redistilled before being flavored and sold as whisky. Although capable of causing blindness or death, Genna liquor was still in high demand, and they turned to their South-Side neighbors to provide more. Well over a thousand stills were set up in private apartments. A still-tender would earn $15 each day, far more than he could through honest labor.

The typical home still produced 350 gallons of alcohol a week, at a cost of 50 to 75 cents a gallon. The Gennas then sold it for $6 a gallon, making a profit of $150,000 each month.

Sam was the gang's business manager. Jim and Pete involved themselves with the bootlegging, while Angelo and Mike handled enforcement and assassinations. Tony the Gentleman was an advisor, seldom involving himself directly. Genna assassins included Samoots Amatuna and the team of John Scalise and Albert Anselmi, Sicilian killers who smeared their bullets with garlic in the belief that it would cause gangrene.

The Gennas did not take well to the Torrio-imposed peace, and sought to expand their territory. Their move into O'Banion's north-side territory resulted in a seris of reprisals that culminated in O'Banion's assassination.

In May of 1925, newlywed Angelo Genna set out to make a cash payment on a new house. His car was followed by another, thought to have included O'Banion's men Weiss, Drucci and Moran. Angelo attempted to flee, but crashed. He was shotgunned to death.

Only weeks later, Samoots Amatuna was approached by O'Banionites with a request to betray Scalise and Anselmi to them. He pretended cooperation, then told Mike Genna, and the four set up an ambush. Genna's men wounded Bugs Moran and Schemer Drucci, then fled the scene. Mike Genna was recognized by police, who pursued them down Western Avenue. When their car crashed, the gangsters fled on foot, exchanging gunshots with police. The others escaped, but Mike was mortally wounded, dying in the ambulance.

Ironically, Scalise and Anselmi had secretly turned traitor and gone over to Capone. Even if the police had not killed him, Mike Genna would have been executed that day.

On July 8th of that same year, "Tony the Gentleman" was asked to meet with one of his men, Guiseppe Nerone ("The Cavalier"). As Nerone shook Tony's hand in front of a grocery store, an unidentified man stepped forward and shot Tony five ties in the back. He died in the hospital without being able to name his killer. Nerone had set up Tony in much the same way O'Banion was killed. He himself was gunned down in a barbershop days later.

The Genna mausoleum is not far from O'Banion's grave. When Tony was interred, one mourner was heard to remark "When Judgment Day comes and them three graves are open, there'll be hell to pay in this cemetery."

The power of the Genna clan was broken. Jim, Sam, and Pete fled Chicago. Eventually, they all did return, but lived the remainder of their lives in obscurity. - copyright 1996-2002 Matt Hucke