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Al Capone. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114627).

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Capone, Al (17 January 1899–25 January 1947), Chicago bootlegger and symbolic crime figure, was born Alphonse Capone in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Gabriel Capone, a barber, and Teresa Raiola, both immigrants from the Naples region of Italy. At age fourteen, Capone dropped out of school, joined the gang life of the streets, and soon worked as a bartender and bouncer on Coney Island. In 1917, in a brawl with a customer, he received the knife wound that earned him the media nickname “Scarface” (although his friends called him “Snorky”). In December 1918 he married Mary “Mae” Coughlin, the daughter of a laborer....

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Guzik, Jack (between 1886 and 1888–21 February 1956), bootlegger and gambling entrepreneur, was born probably in Russia, the son of Max Guzik and his wife (name unknown). Guzik was brought to Chicago in 1891–1892 and became a U.S. citizen through the naturalization of his father in November 1898....

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Meyer Lansky Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114645).

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Lansky, Meyer (28 Aug. or 4 July 1902–15 January 1983), bootlegger and gambling entrepreneur, was born Meyer Suchowljansky in Grodno, Belorussia (then Russia), the son of Max Suchowljansky, a garment presser, and Yetta (maiden name unknown). Lansky’s father emigrated to New York City in 1909 and brought the family over two years later. Meyer, who left school in 1917 at age fourteen, was fascinated by the street life and crap games of the Lower East Side and while still a teenager associated with other hustlers, such as ...

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Mason, Samuel (1750– July 1803), outlaw and pirate, was born in Virginia of unknown parents. Virtually nothing is known of his early life, although historian Samuel Draper noted that he was “connected by ties of consanguinity with the distinguished Mason family of Virginia, and grew up bad from his boyhood.” Mason first appeared in historical records during the American Revolution, during which he served as a captain in the Ohio County, Virginia (now West Virginia), militia. He fought in several engagements against Native Americans in 1777 and served at Fort Henry in the upper Ohio Valley until the autumn of 1779. Retiring from active service, he retained his captaincy in the militia until at least May 1781 and apparently also ran a tavern in the vicinity of present-day Wheeling, West Virginia....