As a teenager Vincenzo Gebardi was a boxer working under the name “Battling” Jack McGurn because the Irish got better bouts. He managed to stay out of trouble until his father was murdered by three men. Jack went out hunted the men down and killed them. This act caught the eye of Al Capone who soon put put the youngster to work. Before long he was a top torpedo for Scarface and part owner of the legendary Green Mill jazz club on Chicago's north side.
McGurn has long been credited with being the mastermind behind the St. Valentines Day massacre. As it turns out this story may not be true. He was tried and acquitted and recently released FBI documents indicate the William “3 finger” Smith may have been the force behind that deed. This is a story for our next clip “Where 3 Finger Met His Demise” so let's get back to our current subject.
In 1927 McGurn slit the throat of entertainer Joe E. Lewis to “persuade” him not to leave the Green Mill for a rival club. He was left for dead but managed to survive the attack and eventually went back to performing. He was also a golfer and in 1933 played in the Western Open golf tournament south in suburban Olympia Fields under an assumed name. He played all of the first day but was spotted by the police and arrested on the course on the second day.
He was a top man in the Capone organization until 1930 when his notoriety started costing him friends and allies in the Capone organization. This probably explains the contrast of styles in the two houses I he owned in Oak Park. The first at 1014 Kenilworth is tall open and exposed as if owned by someone without a care in the world. The second one two doors north is a squat low bungalow/bunker with recessed entry's, small narrow windows and two extended turrets meant to shield the interior of the house. A home for a man under siege.
MyAlCaponeMuseum is a great resource on Chicago underworld history and has been used extensively in our series:
Another great resource is The Outlaw Journals:
This clip is part of a series produced by MindsiMedia and presented on ChiTownView 's YouTube station. We are getting some Chicago crime history in HBO's series "Boardwalk Empire" and more will be on display when the film version of Eric Larsen's "Devil In The White City". Our series shows some of the famous places in Chicago crime history as they exist today. While telling some of that history with each clip.
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Constansy Part 2 Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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