“What does the word “Mafia” bring to mind? Murder, car bombs, bootlegging and other devious crimes. The back alleys of Chicago and New York. Al Capone and John Gotti. What the word rarely brings to mind is Milwaukee. This book will change that — Milwaukee, though smaller, had its streets flowing with blood and illicit booze.
Dozens of people were shot, stabbed and blown apart in the streets of Milwaukee, their bodies left to rot in the ditch until discovered by unsuspecting passersby. Milwaukee is internationally known as a beer capitol, and this hardly stopped in the 1920s just because alcohol became illegal. It was a drink many were willing to kill for.
In the pages that follow, you will be introduced to turn of the century Milwaukee, its underworld, and its first Mafia boss: Vito Guardalabene.
Guardalabene grew up in Santa Flavia, northern Sicily, in an era of unrest. His village was a crucial commercial center — nothing was imported or exported without going through the hands of dock workers.
The local Mafia controlled the nearby orchards that supplied the world with grapefruit. One strike and the whole region could grind to a halt.
Sailing from Sicily to Milwaukee, Guardalabene also brought his trusted crew, who you will get to know better in the pages that follow:
* Peter Bellant, who brought with him wife Josephine Amato and three children: Angela, Anthony and Rose. The Guardalabene and Bellant families were close, with two Guardalabene children married into the Bellant family, and the merged families also ran a small bank that provided loans for immigrants when they reached the new world.
* Sons Giovanni Battista and Angelo. The former came over in June 1900, meeting up with his brother-in-law Anthony Bellant on Chicago Street in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. Angelo arrived later, in July of 1902, moving in with his brother.
* Isadore Aiello, Vito’s son-in-law through daughter Antonina. Aiello emigrated in May 1902.
* Nunzio Maniaci left for Milwaukee in December 1902, and when he arrived, he married the sister of a Republican Party official with Giovanni Battista as his best man. At least three of Maniaci’s ten sons later joined up with the Milwaukee mob.
* The Balistrieri family, from the neighboring village of Aspra, were also part of this crew — at least five of the men in this family were Mafia members in Milwaukee.
Welcome to the world of the Milwaukee Mafia. Let’s turn back our calendars and let our story begin.”
This is an excerpt from the book The Milwaukee Mafia available on www.amazon.com