Sunday, May 28, 2023

The History of the Mafia in Ameria (to the 1890s) by Donna Schlachter

While researching my recent release, Claire, I uncovered several interesting facts about the mafia in America.

  • · For readers who have watched The Godfather, it comes as no surprise that the mafias we recognize it originated in Italy. However, similar organizations exist in many other countries, including Greece, Corsica, and Romania. Wherever there is a criminal element looking to take advantage of others, the mafia will be there, front and center.
  • · The American Mafia, or the Italian-American Mafia, arrived in America with the influx of immigrants. For example, in New York City alone, the number of Italians jumped from 20,000 in 1880 to 250,000 in 1890, to 500,000 by 1910. This comprised ten percent of the city’s population.
  • · While most Italian immigrants were law-abiding, simply having an Italian name often meant persecution from other ethnicities because of their perceived connection to the mafia.
  • · The first published account of the mafia in the US dates back to 1869, when the New Orleans Times reported that their Second District had become overrun with Sicilian murders, counterfeiters, and burglars.
  • · The Black Hand was not a group, but an extortion method used in Italian neighborhoods in the late 1890s. Businesses paid protection money to allow them to keep their shops open.
  • · The first known mafia member to emigrate to the US was Giuseppe Esposito. He fled here after he and six other Sicilians killed eleven landowners. Law enforcement arrested him in 1881 and extradited back to Italy.
  • · Some of the more famous gangsters of the 1890s to 1920s started out working for Paul Kelly in the Five Points Gang in Little Italy in NYC. Al Capone and Lucky Luciano were two of the then household names who both fascinated and horrified law-abiding folks.
  • · Every borough in New York City had their influential mafia family, and everybody in those neighborhoods either joined The Business, or lived in fear of their lives. For example, Brooklyn boasted The Neapolitan Camorra.
  • · New Orleans was the site of the first possible Mafia incident in the US. In October 1890, the city’s Police Superintendent David Hennessey was murdered execution style. Nobody was ever convicted.
In my book, Claire boards a train to flee New York after her mafia father is murdered and a contract is placed on her head. Toby, an undercover Pinkerton operative, heads for Denver, finding himself on a train with a woman who is vaguely familiar to him. Toby, to add to his cover story, has placed an ad for a mail-order bride. Claire replies to the ad, neither realizing their connection. Can they solve the mystery of who is trying to kill her? And will Toby open his heart to love?

You can check out the book here: and the other books in this multi-author Series:

About Donna:

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 60 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. She also coaches writers at any stage of their manuscript. Learn more at

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  1. Thank you for posting today. Your book sounds interesting!

  2. Hi Connie, thanks for stopping by. Happy Memorial Day!