Friday, September 16, 2011

"C" stands for Cemetery, Chicago, and Capone

Last Sunday two of my sisters, Pam and Linda, and I, picked up our last remaining aunt, Aunt Lee, and went to visit our relatives graves. It wasn't so gruesome, really. I've mentioned before my love of cemeteries. Some of our relatives are buried in a couple of old, fabulous ones - Queen of Heaven and Mount Carmel, both located in Hillside, Illinois.

They are filled with very ornate and beautiful tombstones. I could have spent a whole day there wandering around but since we had our aunt with us, I only got a chance to grab a few photos.

Here are some large crosses that caught my eye. Enlarge the photos to see the details.

This cross TOWERED above all the rest of the grave sites; I imagine that it was about 10 feet tall at least. My aunt said that the family had owned a funeral parlor, so they could afford such a large stone!

Another beautiful stone.

We first went to my grandparent's grave. My Aunt Doris is buried alongside them.

After some searching, we found my Great Grandfather's grave. It was leaning forward a bit, but otherwise, no worse for wear. Although my aunt SWEARS up and down that the grave stone was smaller and had been moved. She even felt that it really wasn't his! Pam reassured her that the date of death on the stone was the same as our great grandfather's.

We visited one other grave site of relatives, which, ironically, again my aunt had said was moved. I took pictures of all the graves for my siblings and me.

When we went across the street to Queen of Heaven Cemetery to see my Aunt Nell and Uncle Tom's grave site, Aunt Lee told us that they had been buried to the right of the St. Thomas statue.

So Linda and I got out of the car and began to search for their graves. We walked up and down the aisles searching. It was very warm that day, and the sun was beating down on us. We could NOT find their graves. Linda gave up and went back to the car. I continued to search. Pam got out of the car and searched to the left of the statue and immediately found their graves.

Aunt Lee said (you guessed it), that the statue had been moved! My sisters and I had a good laugh about that!

But back to Mt. Carmel cemetery.

I had recently stumbled upon a great website, quite by accident, called You can find if and where a person is buried in a particular cemetery anywhere in the world, and the part I really like is, if there are any famous people at that cemetery. This is going to be my newest quest: To take pictures of famous people's graves. Odd, no? Illinois actually has some famous people buried here, like John Belushi, Michael Todd, Burl Ives, just to name a few.

I knew we were going to Mount Carmel so I looked to see if anyone famous was buried there.

Lots of gangsters. (24)

Religious figures.(7)

Baseball players.(3)

What a combination!

The most famous gangster, of course, is Al Capone. This is the family monument.

Surprisingly, Al Capone's grave stone was small. People constantly visit his grave and leave coins, cigars, flowers or even a bottle of alcohol. There was only a penny on his grave when I took this photo.

      You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.  - 
                                                          AL CAPONE

Capone was crime boss of the Chicago Outfit, which made their money smuggling and bootlegging liquor, and through prostitution. Capone was quoted as saying, "When I sell liquor, it's called bootlegging; when my patrons serve it on Lake Shore Drive, it's called hospitality."  Although he engaged in illegal activities, he also contributed a lot of money to charitable organizations and was considered a modern day Robin Hood. His reputation with the public tarnished after the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and after the photos were made public of the seven victims (from the rival Bugs Moran gang) that were slaughtered.

Ironically, Bugs Moran was late for the meeting with his gang members and escaped being killed. He was quoted as saying, "This looks like Al Capone's work." Although Capone wasn't charged for the murders,the FBI was brought in, and the now famous Agent Elliot Ness. Capone was later charged with tax evasion and sentenced to federal prison for 11 years, most of which he served at Alcatraz. 

Official mugshot



Did you know that Al Capone claimed to be haunted by a ghost? Although Capone was responsible for the deaths of over 500 people, only one of them, James Clark, brother-in-law to Bugs Moran, AND a victim of the St. Valentine's Massacre haunted him from 1929 to his death. In 1931 Mr. Capone even hired a psychic to try to get rid of the ghost, but to no avail. His bodyguards would hear Capone talking to someone in the room and bust the door open, just to find him all alone.

Ralph, older brother of Al, was known as "Bottles" Capone because he lobbied the Illinois Legislature to put into law that milk bottling companies had to stamp the date that the milk was bottled on the bottle.

Ralph was placed in charge of the Chicago Outfit's bottling plants during Prohibition. The Outfit was attempting to monopolize non-alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (specifically ginger ale and soda water, commonly used in mixed drinks) during this period when the sale of alcohol was banned. Ralph Capone made large profits for the Outfit and became the dominant soft drink vendor other than Coca-Cola during the 1933 World's Fair. In April 1930, the elder Capone was included in Frank J. Loesch's Chicago Crime Commission "Public Enemies" list. He was Public Enemy #3. His older brother Al, was Public Enemy #1. (Wikipedia)

Salvatore, a.k.a. "Frank", older brother of Al, and a member of Capone's gang. Was killed by police officers near a polling place on election day, April 2, 1924, where he had been intimidating voters who were opposed to the party that was backed by the Capone mob.

Youngest sibling and only sister to Al, named after an Italian princess.

My great Uncle Tony worked for Al Capone as a bodyguard; but many people worked for Capone back in the day.



Brian Miller said... going to the city cemetery here in town some cool graves but nothing like what you got you can fuggedaboudit

otin said...

One of the most interesting posts that I've read in a while.

Weird to see such a tiny grave marker for him. Even though he was a gangster, you would expect something more extravagant.

Gail said...

Very interesting...great history. Love your aunt!

Eva Gallant said...

What an interesting post! Thank you so much for sharing.

Rita said...

Great monuments and love the story of Capone and family. I had never heard that he was haunted by a ghost the last years of his life. Makes you wonder what they were talking about in his cell?!
Can hardly wait to hear more. Great video, too. :)

Anonymous said...

you know I am like you and can spend days in a cemetary with my camera, such great shots you got :)

SUGAR MOON said...

Good post! I love cemetaries too. There is one close to us that has Davy Crockett's wife buried in it. Thanks for sharing.

Snowflake said...

And another C word to add to the list...Canada. The city of Moose Jaw Saskatchewan claims that Al Capone visited the city that is known for its bootlegging and rum-running during prohibition. They have tours of the underground tunnels and tell the story of his visits. I think one of the hotels was called Capone's Hideout at one time!!
Thanks for the interesting post!!

Valerie said...

Brilliant post, Pat. The graveyards are well maintained and the statues are terrific. Our cemeteries are dull by comparison. Grateful for the link to 'findagrave' - I'm wondering if my Mom's grave will be registered (Australia) ... I never got to see it.

DesertHen said...

Fascinating recount of history! Loved reading it! Your photos are wonderful!

Saun said...

I like to walk through old cemeteries and read the tombstones. Very interesting post :)

Chickadee said...

Wow! Interesting stuff on the Capones. :)

If you really like cemeteries you may want to visit the Bellefontaine and Calvary Cemeteries (they are across the street from each other)in St. Louis. Old old cemeteries with a few celebrities and beautiful headstones.

Lynda said...

I love the old cemeteries where you are allowed to have the beautiful stones and statues. Most of the cemeteries around here only allow the plates in the ground with a metal vase attached for fake flowers.
LOVE that website! That is cool someone took the time to do the photos. THANKS for telling us about it.