Dion O'Banion: Chicago Gangster

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O’Banion was born into an Irish Catholic family as Charles Dean O’Banion on July 8, 1891 in Maroa, Illinois. When O’Banion’s mother died, he, his father, and one of his brothers moved to Chicago where they settled in Kilgubbin, a very Irish area on the North Side that was known citywide for its crime. He served as an altar boy and sang in his church’s choir but music nor religion held O'Banion's interest. Instead the street life of Kilgubbin caught his eye. He and his friends joined the market gang, where they specialized in theft and robbery for the black market. They later became sluggers for the Chicago Tribune but then switched to Chicago Examiner, where they would beat newsstand owners who did not sell their newspaper. O’Banion was arrested a few times between 1909 and 1911 but those were the only times he would ever spend time in jail. He then worked as a waiter at McGovern’s Liberty Inn, where he would sing at night while his friends would steal from customers’ coat pockets in the coatroom. O’Banion also drugged his customer’s drinks so that when they would leave the club drunk, he and his friends could rob them. In 1920, O’Banion started a bootlegging operation. He made deals with beer suppliers in Canada and also gin and wiskey distributors. On December 19,1921, Dion was part of Chicago’s first liquor hijacking. His mob was now known as the North Side Gang where they ruled the North Side and the Gold Coast by eliminating all their competition. O’Banion was making one million dollars in income from all his liquor. In one famous robbery, O’Banion and his men stole over one hundred thousand dollars worth of Canadian wiskey from the West Side railroad yards. In 1921, he married Viola Kaniff and bought William Schofield’s Flower Shop on North State Street because he needed a place for his criminal operations and he really liked flowers and arranging them. He

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