Al Capone’s connection to the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Al Capone was a notorious mobster who, surprisingly enough, has ties to Mississippi.

For context’s sake, Capone was born in 1899 in Brooklyn, New York. He quit school in the 6th grade and eventually became a member of a notorious street gang under the leadership of Johnny Torrio. With the invitation of Torrio, Capone went to Chicago in 1920, where they would engage in illegal brewing, distilling, and distribution of beer and liquor. These activities were a part of the Colosimo mob, which Capone took over as boss in 1925. Over time, Capone developed a fearsome reputation partly due to the elimination of rival gangs. On February 14, 1929, the St. Valentine’s Day massacre happened, where seven members of the “Bugs” Moran mob were gunned down. This event was ascribed to Capone, even though he was not in Chicago at the time. In October of 1931, Capone was convicted of tax evasion and prohibition charges. He served seven years and was released on November 16, 1939. During his time in prison, he deteriorated from paresis (due to syphilis). Ultimately, Capone went on to live in his Florida home, where he died in 1947.

During all of Capone’s escapades, he spent some time on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Gulf Hills Hotel in Ocean Springs was a hideout for Capone. This hotel was built in 1927 by the Branigar Brothers, who were based out of Chicago. Reportedly, the hotel was built from laundered money and for Al Capone. During Prohibition, bootleg alcohol was shipped out of Canada to Chicago and then to Ocean Springs. From there, the alcohol was shipped east and west by train.

The Gulf Hills Hotel in Ocean Springs (Picture from www.gulfcoast.org)

Al Capone and his mobsters would meet at a round table outside. So, if the feds would come after them by land, they had two boats on the water that were ready to go. On the other hand, if the feds came by water, they had two cars gassed up and ready for them to leave. Thus, this hotel has an interesting history and was in danger of being demolished in 2019 (but luckily, new owners bought it).

One home in Ocean Springs also reportedly has ties to Al Capone. The home was known as Del Castle and was thought to be a “port of entry” for Capone’s contraband liquor during Prohibition. Thus, Al Capone was thought to have used this house as a hideout. Unfortunately, the house was demolished in 2007, and a new house was built in its place.

Those are some of the ties between Al Capone and the Mississippi Gulf Coast that I know of. Did I miss any?

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Written by Tamra Cater

I am married, and I also have a 4-year-old daughter. I earned my Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi, and I have been teaching psychology classes over the past 10 years. As a professor and as a parent, I grew to love learning anything about child development. I recently turned that into a passion for helping other parents by starting my own blog at http://www.nurturingtamra.com.

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