In pop culture the mafia begins with Joe "The Boss" Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano fighting over control of the underworld of New York and the rest of the country. Everyone knows what happens after this so i'm not going to into it. I recently bought a book titled "The First Family" and was introduced to a whole other list of people that i had never heard of or only heard of briefly. The underworld had existed in New York for centuries but was controlled by the Irish and Jewish gangs of the city, making New Orleans the city most Italian and Sicilian mafioso ended up in after brief stays in New York. Some others went to Detroit, Chicago , and other cities across the country. New Orleans is the setting for the first major organizations of mafia, as well as the first mafia war, and the first major headlines involving the mafia to sweep the nation. The first man to begin a mafia type gang was born in New Orleans and his name was Joseph Macheca. He started this group sometime prior to 1868 and at first was not a mafia group. He and his thugs actually kept early Sicilian gangs from gaining a foot hold in the New Orleans area. In 1868-1869, Macheca's group battled with and defeated a Mafia organization led by Raffaele Agnello. Macheca not only defeated this group but learned its ways and customs and afterwards used these Sicilian Mafia traditions to make his group better in every way. Best of all for Macheca was the connections he gained in Sicily, failing under the influence of a new Mafia group called The Stuppagghieri based in Monreale, Sicily. Things went well for Macheca for years until Sicilian gang leader Giuseppe Esposito and a few followers entered New Orleans in 1879 (fleeing from Sicilian justice and unhappy with their brief experiences in the Irish and Jewish dominated underworld of New York), Macheca welcomed Esposito and allowed him to share leadership of the new New Orleans underworld. The New Orleans police began to realize that there was a underworld in the city as Espostio lieutenant Joe Provenzano began dominating rackets on the docks. The police, in particular David Hennessey and his cousin Mike, were able to move against Esposito in 1881. The Sicilian fugitive was sent to New York City in July of that year and deported to Italy on Sept. 21. After Provenzano's boss was out the way be started his own family and the rest of his his force was led by Charles and Tony Matranga with Macheca their trusted adviser. Over the next 6 years they both brought in new gang members, Provenzano's recruits being sicilian mafioso imported from Palermo and Macheca's from his Stuppagghieri connections. War broke out between the two group in 1888. Over this same span of time reform was sweeping the city and David Hennessey was elected police chief. He tried to use his postion tokeep peace between the two mafia groups but ended up siding with Provenzano(most likely due to blackmail or a large payoff). In April of 1890 Provenzano's men shot two of Macheca-Matranga's men and they did the unthinkable and gave up the shooters, leading to the arrest of many of Provenzano's men. The gang member were convicted but the charges were eventually throw out. In this time Hennessey begins to investigate with Roman authorities into the Macheca-Matrainga mob gaining damaging on Macheca. Oct. 15, 1890 on the orders of Macheca the Matranga gang shoots and kills the police chief his dying words "the dagos kill me." Joseph Macheca and the rest of his mob was then arrested and were tried on March 13. After not being able to come to a verdict for some and giving others not guilty verdicts the public was outraged. Leading to the first major headlines about the mafia when all the defendants were seized from there jail cells in a raid and killed on the street. However Matranga managed to survive the attack and rose up to be the supreme boss of the city after Provenzano flees the city worried he would be killed as well. Until the 1920s Matranga controlled the city when he retire and let Sylvestro "Sam" Carolla run the show. Sam was in firm charge of the city for 30 years until he handed control over to Carlos Marcello, but don't let me get to far ahead of myself. Lets get back to New York, where until around 1900 was dominated by the Irish and Jewish gangs who had been there for many years. There were many Sicilian and Italian gangs but there was no cooperations between these groups and were very bitter rivals. Many parts of the city would have two or three major gangsters in it that fought until one was left who would then control that neighborhood. Most of the time he would be killed very quickly as well and so on and so on. Giuseppe Morello is widely regarded is the first man to form a mafia family(which would eventually turn into the modern day Genovese crime family) in the city of New York and is also considered the first man the have the title of "boss of bosses", a title that would be fought over for years and was eventually done away with in 1931. Morello started this family with his brothers Ciro, Vincenzo, and Nicholas Terranova and was later joined by the leader of mafioso in Little Italy Iqnazio "the wolf" Lupo. Together with his associates Morello led a gang the controlled extortion, loan sharking, Italian lottery, robbery, and counterfeiting. His gang start the practice of protection money by extorting small amounts of money from stores that they knew the owner would be able to afford and not bankrupt them. He invested the gangs profits into many store and became the first man to create a network for laundering his ill gotten gains. By 1905 he was considered the most respected mafioso in the nation and his empire had arms that reached to almost every major city. In 1909 Morello and Lupo were both sentenced to 30 years for counterfeiting, while in jail Morello held his postion as boss for the next year until his appeals ran out and he knew he would be in jail for the years to come. His brother Nicholas took control of the crime family and tried his best to bring the Italian underworld together and end all of the fighting, leading the family until he was setup to be killed by being invited to a peace meeting in 1916 after being at war since 1914 with the Brooklyn Comorra Pellegrino Morano. Due to this murder though all of the leaders of the Comorra were arrested and jailed leading to their empire being absorbed in the Sicilian Mafia by 1919. After the death of Nicholas his brothers Ciro and Vincenzo took control of the family and led it till Vincenzo was killed in 1920 and Joe "the boss"(then a capo in the Morello family) took over there operations in Manhattan and Salvatore D'Aqula did the same in Brooklyn. After Morello was released from jail early he and former family solider Umberto Valenti took up the fight against Joe "the boos" attempting to kill him twice and failing. After the failed attempts Morello settled for being Masseria top advisor and war chief in his fight to win over the underworld of New York and in doing so he had to give up Valenti so he summoned him for a peace meeting where a young Charlie Luciano shot and killed him. After these events the beginnings of the Castellamarese war had started. With all this history it is easy to see why the Genovese crime family is the oldest and most powerful family in New York. The Bonanno crime family is the almost goes back as far the Morellos and was first headed by a man named Cola Schiro, a man so little is know about some say he never was the leader of this gang. When Joe"the boss" realized this group was operating he demanded $10,000 tribute from him and Schiro quickly paid the the tribute and then was never seen again. After Schiro left his seat empty it was quickly filled with a Masseria ally, who was quickly killed by the gang and leadership was gained by Salvatore Maranzano. The family with the most bosses prior to the Castellamaese War is the Gambino's and its roots actually began with Enrico Alfano and his Camorra gang of Brooklyn. This is the man who was responsible for the death of Joe Petrosino after he had hunted him down for the Italian authorities so he could stand trial for a murder he committed before going for the United States. After convicted he turn over control of his gang to fellow Camorrist Pellegrino Morano who them went to war with the Morellos to gain control of the underworld of New York. Eventually he managed to kill then boss Nicholas Morello which ended up sending him to jail and started the end of the Camorra in NewYork. The rest of his gang went to the control of then "boss of bosses" Salvatore D'Aquila who was also fighting with the Morellos for control of the city after there boss had been put in jail. He would reign supreme until Joe "the boss" took over the Morello family and sought the title of "boss of bosses". He managed to last until October 1928 when he was killed by Masseria gunmen. Alfred Mineo, who had been D'Aquila underboss for years after starting his owning family and then joinied up with D'Aquila when offered such a high postion by the "boss of bosses", took over the family and quickly aligned himself with Masseria thinking it the best decision since he had the biggest family in the city at that time. After Morello was killed Mineo became Masseria's war chief, a position that he would hold until killed by the forces of Maranzano. Now 1930 a former capo to D'Aquila by the name of Frank Scailise swore his friendship to Maranzano and was named boss of the family but was only boss until 1931 when Maranzano was killed and he had to step down due to his connections with Maranzano. He eventually would serve as underboss for Albert Anastasia from 1951-1957 when he was murdered most likely due to the rise of Carlo Gambino. Vincent Mangano took over after Scailise stepped down and led the family for the next 20 years until his under boss Anastasia had him and his brother killed so he could take control of the family. Gaetano Reina started the family that would eventually begin the Lucchese family and was centered in the Bronx peacefully beside the Morellos due to his following of Joe "the boss" until Maranzano came to power and he switched sides believing Maranzano would win the war. Masseria was unaware of this move until 1929 when he had the 40 year old boss shotgunned to death coming out of his girlfriends house. Most consider this the death that started the war. After Reina's death Masseria put Bonaventura Pinzolo in charge of the Reina organization, a move that infuriated Gagliano and Lucchese and forced them (and virtually the whole of the Reina gang) into the Maranzano organization. Shortly afterwards in 1930 Gaetano Gagliano setup Pinzolo and had him killed so he could take over the organization. The last family to be organized is the modern day Colombo family that started as the Profaci family. The don being Giuseppe Profaci was brought in to bring together the gangs of Brooklyn after D'Aqulia was killed and the Brooklyn gangs needed a leader. This loosely knit band of gang where ran by Profaci who solidified his power and had the family named after him once the Castellamarese War was over.
No comments? lets talk folks
I'd like to get some discussion going and improve on this blog post i wrote. If anyone has something they would like to add or thinks there are things that need to be took out please tell me. I know there are a few names i left out.