Reading articles from the past are so enlightening on the subject which was greatly debated during its time. Transcriptions of some of the articles have been completed and can be seen on the Pittsburgh Old Newspapers Project site.
Whether or not you have your roots in Western PA, these articles provide a glimpse in to our country's past- complete with raids, arrests, headless bodies, scandals, murders and more. Included in the articles are lots of names of Pittsburgh area residents who ran afoul of the law of the day.
Just one example is found over a number of days starting with the Apr 2, 1930 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article:
HEADLESS BODY OF GANGSTERS' VICTIM FOUND
Jammed Into Barrel and Rolled Over Hillside
Murder Makes 51st Killing in 51 Months in City, 78th in County.
Pittsburgh racket killers chalked up their fifty-first murder in 51 months in defense of their concessions yesterday. It brings the total of racket murders in Allegheny county to 78 for the same period.
The headless, mutilated body of the latest gang victim was found packed in a barrel along Grine run, Penn township, shortly before 5 o'clock last night.
County detectives, familiar with racket feuds declared last night that the barrel murder likely was in retaliation for the recent killing of Sam Monastero, corn sugar baron, garroted with his own necktie and left dead in his automobile along Jacks Run. Sam's killing followed by a few months the slaying of his brother Steve Monastero, king of the moonshine racket, who was credited with being the moving force behind more than a score of racket killings.
Head Is Missing
The head of the fifty-first victim is missing. The slayers ruthlessly slashed strips of flesh from the arm and shoulder of the dead man which detectives believed bore a tattoo mark, in order to hamper identification. The body was nude so that no telltale piece of clothing might aid detectives in establishing identity.
An examination showed that he had put up a furious struggle to save himself. Practically his entire body was discolored with bruises. The head was severed about an inch above the shoulders.
Slain In City.
The man, an Italian about 30 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall, and weighting about 130 po9unds, was apparently slain in the city, detectives said. Aside from the newspapers, on which finger prints may be found, detectives admitted they were without a tangible clue. One of the papers was of Monday, this week.
The corpse was taken to where it was found either late Monday night or early yesterday, it was learned. It was seen by Mrs. H. E. Damp, who resides a short distance away, at 6:30 o'clock yesterday morning. Mrs. Damp said she mentioned to her 11-year-old son that the barrel could be used for kindling and asked him to get it. However, the son neglected to do so.
Rolled From Road.
Thomas Kirk, 22, of 318 Forty-Fifth street, who was taking a short cut through the wooded section on his way home made the discovery.........
Read more about the thriller case and its final solution.
Ahh, genealogy. Just keep reading about the past and how wild those places which we hold near and dear could be.