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The Chauffeur Hire Of Choice For Al Capone

Feb 29, 2008
It would seem that chauffeur hire is a lot safer today than in days gone by.

The early 1920's were a notoriously dangerous time to be living in Chicago. Mob rule was the order of the day with rival Mafia gangs running different parts of the state. The North Side Gang, run by Dean O'Banion and the South Side Gang hosted by John Terrio, or Johnny the Fox, were the main gangs to be feared.

The North Side Gang, it has to be said, were the side to be feared the most. Controlling the whole liquor trade during the prohibition, many battles were fought with the South Side gang over this. Sylvester Barton was the chauffeur hire of choice for O'Banion and they enjoyed a period of relative safety.

Johnny the Fox and his sidekick, Al Capone, used Robert Barton (no relation to Sylvester) for chauffeur hire and this was a job to be nervous of. Travelling with Terrio and Capone was a precarious job at the best of times and it is possible that to be their chauffeur hire of choice was not the most sought after position.

The North Side Gang were mainly Irish and they would have looked to the Irish community to enlist, probably forcefully, their chauffeur hire. They were by far the strongest Mafia family of their time, although Torrio and Capone gave them a good run for their money.

The South Side Gang were Sicilian and Italian and were more into prostitute trafficking than protection rackets, although they were known to dabble. Due to the North Side gangs control of liquor, the South Side were often left with nothing more that gutrot liquor and moonshine and many shoot outs were to gain some control over the flow of this commodity.

Through the early twenties, attempts were made to bring about a form of peace between the gangs, mostly led by the South Side who were always looking over their shoulders in fear. It is said that Capone travelled unarmed but always flanked by bodyguards and his chauffeur hire for protection.

Peace treaties were short lived and on November 10th 1924, the North Side leader was shot dead, signalling the start of a very bloody five year war between the two gangs. January 12th, 1925 saw a retaliation on the South Side gang with the attempted murder of Al Capone. Capone escaped unhurt but his chauffeur hire was obliged to take time off with shotgun wounds.

This was the event that led to the ordering of Capone's famous armoured car, which I'm quite sure pleased his chauffeur no end!

With no let up in the bloodshed, 12 days after this shooting saw the North side make another attempt on the hierarchy of the South Side with an attempt to gun down Torrio. He and his chauffeur hire, Robert Barton, were wounded but neither fatally.

This event was enough to scare Terrio into retirement, passing leadership of the South Side gang to Al Capone. The St Valentine's Day massacre of 1929 saw the end of the five year war between the gangs and the imprisonment of Al Capone, swiftly followed by the downfall of the South Side gang after a take-over by the Chicago outfit.

The 1930's saw the repeal of prohibition and the North Side lost their biggest source of income and their status, leading to their disappearance from feared society. The Chicago Outfit took control of the north side making them a massive Mafia family to be reckoned with.

Right up to the current day, Mafia gangs still operate around the world but at least, with armoured car their choice of chauffeur hire have no need to worry so much.
About the Author
History expert Catherine Harvey looks at how gang members use chauffeur hire for protection. To find out more please visit http://www.vennards.com/
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