Friday, November 23, 2012

Lincoln movie omissions

Something you won't find in the new Lincoln movie: The significant roles played by Lincoln, the Civil War and Reconstruction in the development of the first American Mafia organization, based in New Orleans.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

144 years ago: Innocenti control the streets

144 years ago: Returning home from a meeting of Joseph Macheca's paramilitary Innocenti organization, a prominent member is shot to death by an unknown assailant. The Innocenti direct their anger at African American neighborhoods in New Orleans. They take over the streets around the Treme Market, pushing out police patrols. Federal officials later send two companies of soldiers to the area to restore order.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

144 years ago: Innocenti raids begin

144 years ago today (Oct. 24, 1868): Joseph P. Macheca, a native Louisianan engaged in importing and selling Central American fruit, begins leading a Democratic Party-aligned paramilitary group known as the Innocenti on violent anti-Republican marches through New Orleans. The marches are repeated over several days and lead to bloody clashes in some of the city's African-American neighborhoods. Macheca's role as director of the marches is screened somewhat by the Innocenti selection of Pascalis Labarre, a local official, as president of the organization.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

131 years ago: Escaped brigand captured in NOLA

131 yrs ago today: Two cousins named Hennessy - members of the New Orleans detective force - captured Giuseppe Esposito, alias Vincenzo Rebello. Esposito had escaped Italian authorities while headed to trial for homicide and other crimes. Late in the 1870s, he crossed the Atlantic and settled briefly in New York before moving on to New Orleans, where he became recognized leader of the Sicilian underworld. His July 5, 1881, apprehension and the legal maneuvers that followed it were international news.
Though the Hennessys became instantly famous for the incident, both of them were murdered within a decade of Esposito's capture.

Friday, April 20, 2012

140 years ago: End of Joseph Agnello

140 years ago today: New Orleans Mafia leader Joseph Agnello is shot to death during a gunfight at the Picayune Tier. Successor to the leadership of his brother Raffaele's underworld organization, Joseph Agnello was wounded in several attacks in 1870-72. He met his end after gunmen cornered him on the dock on April 20, 1872. Agnello tried to escape by jumping aboard the moored schooner Mischief but he was struck in the midsection by a large-caliber horse-pistol slug fired by Joseph Maressa (reportedly also known as Vincent Orsica). The slug passed through his body and ripped a gaping hole in his back.

Friday, April 6, 2012

122 years ago: Underworld feud flares up

122 years ago today (April 6), a New Orleans underworld feud between the Matranga and Provenzano factions flared up. A wagon carrying Matranga-aligned stevedores from work to their homes was ambushed at the intersection of Claiborne and the Esplanade. Two men - one was the older brother of local Mafia chieftain Charlie Matranga - were seriously injured in the nighttime attack. New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy, who had recently brokered a ceasefire agreement between the two groups, became personally involved in the investigation of the incident.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

121 years ago: Eleven murdered

121 years ago today: The largest lynching in American history occurs at Orleans Parish Prison as eleven Italian-American men, suspected of Mafia membership and of involvement in the 1890 assassination of Police Chief David Hennessy, are murdered.

While the raid on Parish Prison is generally regarded as the work of a mob, in researching Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia, we found evidence that the mob was no more than a smokescreen. Political powers had determined in advance which of the prisoners would be slain and had handpicked teams of assassins to do the work. Thousands were present, but only those assassins actually gained access to the prison. Organizers claimed that the lynchings were intended to correct the jury verdict of the previous day. However, the list of those killed does not match the list of nine defendants in the Hennessy assassination trial. Most interesting, Charlie Matranga - regarded as the leader of the local Mafia - and his right-hand man, both unconvicted defendants in the trial, were spared.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

121 years ago: None convicted

121 years ago today: The trial of nine men accused of the assassination of New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy concludes March 13, 1891, without a conviction. Much of the city is enraged as the jury acquits six defendants - Joseph P. Macheca, Charlie Matranga, Bastiano Incardona, Antonio Bagnetto, Antonio Marchesi and Asperi Marchesi - and announces a deadlock on the remaining three - Manuel Polizzi, Antonio Scaffidi and Pietro Monastero.
The defendants, all widely suspected of membership in the Mafia criminal society, are held at Orleans Parish Prison overnight on a legal technicality. Their release is expected the following day.
City political leaders hastily arrange for a morning gathering of New Orleans residents on Canal Street.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Strange True Tours - New Orleans

Jeffery Holmes, who conducts Strange True Tours New Orleans, wrote to let us know that the Macheca family burial site in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 will be incorporated into his tours this summer.