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James 'Big Jim' O'LearyBig Jim O'Leary was a powerful Irish mob boss in Chicago for over a decade, controlling gambling on the city's South Side with an iron fist.
His criminal career started as a teenager, when O'Leary worked for bookies in Long Beach, Indiana. He later began operating his own illegal gambling ring on the steamship The City of Traverse on Lake Michigan. Both of these early operations failed to gain traction, largely because of O'Leary's refusal to pay off local police. He only found financial success following the death of Chicago crime lord Michael Cassius MacDonald, which led to O'Leary's assuming control of gambling in Chicago's South Side in the 1890's.
And yes, if the O'Leary/Chicago connection seems familiar, it should: Big Jim's parents, Patrick and Catherine O'Leary, owned the barn where the infamous Great Chicago Fire in 1871 is thought to have started. Though it's never been proven, their cow was supposedly the arsonist responsible.l< << PREV 1 of 14 NEXT >>
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