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Edward "Spike" O'Donnell
Spike O'Donnell timeline courtesy of historian Larry Raeder.
James Edward O'Donnell, known as "Spike" was the eldest son of Patrick J. O'Donnell and Ann Mahoney. He was born on Novemeber 29,1889, and died on August 26,1962, from a massive coronary thrombosis. He had eight brothers and two sisters as follows;
Ellen 11-7-1891. Baptized at St Rose of Lima
John Joseph 7-1-1894. Baptized at St Rose of Lima
Thomas Francis 1-24-1896. Baptized at St Rose of Lima
Stephen 8-5-1898. Baptized at St Rose of Lima
Walter Anthony 3-21-1900. Baptized at St Rose of Lima
Patrick Henry aka Percy 10-2-1902. Baptized at St Rose of Lima
Charles Basil aka Chauncey 7-6-1904. Baptized at St Basil
Raymond P 3-10-1906. Baptized at St Basil
Annabelle Joy 7-22-1909. Baptized at St Basil
Philip Leo 12-28-1911. Baptized at St Basil The only brother without an arrest record. Spike forbade his youngest brother from hanging around gangs.
(Birth dates and baptism info above courtesy of Mr. Charles Whalen)
Born on November 29 in Chicago's Canalport (McKinley Park) area
May 22, 1906
First known arrest for ghost payrolling at the Department of
April 1, 1912
Runs for the State Board of Equalization (a tax assessing office no
longer in existance). Arrested for possession of a billy club
during an election brawl outside a polling place at 48th-Hermitage. O'Donnell
finishes 4th out of 5 candidates.
Marries Elizabeth Barcal the daughter of Czech immigrants at St Agnes
of Bohemia RC Church in the South Lawndale area.
(No: 2) is Attorney Frank McDonnell, (No:3) is Walter O'Donnell, (No:4) is O'Donnell's longtime pal and bodyguard Sanford "Gimp" Rosenbaum, Spike O'Donnell (no:5) in court, (No:6) is George Bucher.
Bucher and Walter O'Donnell are later killed.
Now working for the Motion Picture Operators Union Number 10, he is
briefly a suspect in the bombing of the Boulevard Theatre at 1606 W
Garfield Blvd in February. On March 25, first known attempt on O'Donnell's life as he is shot at outside
a building at 5103 S Ashland. The following day he is suspected of having a hand in the murder of former union associate Hugh Coogan.
December 10, 1917.
Spike O'Donnell along with his brother John, are held on
S35.000 bond in connection with the December 5th armed robbery of the
Stockmen's Trust and Savings Bank at 5425 S Halsted. Though not one of the
gunmen, Spike is considered to have planned the robbery.
February 11 1919.
Begins serving his sentence for the Stockmen's robbery,
in Joliet Penitntiary. He is released in June of the same year on a writ of
Spike and childhood friend and future Hall of Fame boxer Patrick
"Packey" McFarland, become partners in two breweries in Joliet.
Spike O'Donnell's Joliet brewery.
( Photo courtesy of Mr. Larry Raeder).
After further exhausting the appeals process for over 3
more years, Spike O'Donnell begins serving a sentence of 1 to 14 years for his
involvement in the Stockmen robbery.
Released from Joliet Penitentiary after receiving a full pardon
from Governor Len Small. 5 State Senators and 5 State Representatives
petition the Governor on his behalf.
63rd and Western avenue. Site of first machine gun attack in U.S. history.
Sept. 25,1925 by Frank McErlane against Spike O'Donnell in front of the J.J. Weiss drug store.
(courtesy of Mr. Larry Raeder)
August - December 1923.
1st South Side Beer war. The South Side O'Donnells
unsuccessfully attempt to regain territory from 51st-St North in the Back
of the Yards and Gage Park areas. The Saltis-McErlane Gang, who control
the area, are aided by Johnny Torrio and the Ralph Sheldon Gang.
Spike purchases a large brewery in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.
It is shutdown by Prohibition agents who seize 14 beer
trucks and arrest 20 members of the O'Donnell gang, including Tom O'Donnell.
May 11, 1924.
Spike O'Donnell files a police report that he was pickpocketed
of $9.700 dollars while lifting his son Patrick on his shoulders to view
Cardinal Mundelein's parade at Ashland-Garfield Boulevard.
Spike O'Donnell's 1930 headquarter's called The Highland Building at 7845 S. Ashland.
( Photo courtesy of Mr. Larry Raeder).
Brother Walter O'Donnell dies in Auburn Park Hospital of
gunshot wounds he received June 7 during an altercation at an Evergreen Park
Spike O'Donnell survives the first machine gun attack in
US history when the shooter, believed to be Frank McErlane, firing from a
sedan, entirely misses his target. A shotgun is also fired at Spike, who
pulls a small boy to the ground during the shooting attempt.
Spike, his brother Tom and brother in law William Barcal
are ambushed by gunmen believed to be the Saltis-McErlane Gang at a railroad
crossing at 91st-Rockwell in Evergreen Park. Facing gunmen on both sides of
91st-Street, the O'Donnells return fire and escape from one of the largest
gun battles in gangland history with only a slight graze wound suffered by
Spike O'Donnell purchases a brewery for $60.000 dollars in
the town of Thornton, about 5 miles south of Chicago.
June 29, 1928.
The Saltis-McErlane Gang attempt to shoot Spike as he
stands outside his apartment at 2506 West 63rd-St. He dives to the ground though
and is unhurt. Minutes later he is arrested for assaulting Otto Kosteneck
alias George Darrow, alias George Hart, who he claims was directing the
October 9, 1928.
Spike and his brother Percy survive a double machine gun
attack by the Saltis-McErlane Gang at his brother Steve's garage at 5401 S
Wood. Evidence suggests that the machine gunners were Joe Soltis and Paddy
Sullivan. Neither of the O'Donnells is wounded in the attack that occured
shortly before midnight. The following day, Spike issues his famous
challenge to fight any member of the Saltis-McErlane Gang in a fist fight.
Spike O'Donnell almost fatally wounded here in 1943.
( Photo courtesy of Mr. Larry Raeder).
September 22, 1930
Spike is served with a vagrancy warrant and released on $10,000 bond after surrendering
to police at the Gresham District station
June 26, 1931.
The Danny McGeoghegan Gang machine gun Spike's home at 8145 S.
Honore as he and his wife sit in the parlor and his children are asleep
upstairs. No one is injured in the attack, though in the aftermath,
O'Donnell is charged with wounding a policeman as he pursues what he
believes is the gang's car. During the car chase, Spike dislocates his shoulder when he falls out
of the car, which is driven by an off duty Chicago policeman.
August 9, 1931.
Announces to police that he is leaving Chicago for London to pursue an acting career.
Spike alleges that he has been offered $15,000 a week to portray a Chicago gangster.
Later he adds that he has also been asked to play Robin Hood.
Edward "Spike" O'Donnell and police chief William Shoemaker
April 2, 1932.
Brother Charles O'Donnell dies in Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park of gangrene from gunshot wounds received in an attack outside of his apartment in Chicago on March 6. The shooters are believed to be members of the McGeoghegan-Quinlan Gang.
Also in April 1932.
Two men break into the O'Donnell home at 8145 S Honore in hopes of killing Spike, but find only his wife Elizabeth at home. Frustrated in their efforts, they throw her down the basement stairs, but she sustains only minor injuries. Speculation suggests that one of the men was former O'Donnell gang member Walter Zwolinski, who is now a member of the McGeoghegan-Quinlan Gang. Since his expulsion from the South Side O'Donnell Gang for killing Steve O'Donnell's pet goat in a fit of rage, increasingly unstable Zwolinski is suspected in seperate attacks on Steve and Spike as well as the fatal wounding of Charles O'Donnell.
May 13, 1932.
The Detective Bureau receives over 50 phone calls asking for confirmation that Spike O'Donnell has been murdered. September 2, 1932. The body of Walter Zwolinski who has been shot 6 times the head is found behind the wheel of an automobile parked in an alley in the Gage Park area. The South Side O'Donnells are the chief suspects.
Joe Saltis (Soltis).
Spike didn't mince words when he spewed disdain for Polack Joe. They both had one thing in common and that was that they both died from natural causes and not from gang bullets.
Spike's brother Steve O'Donnell.
June 3, 1934.
Spike fractures his hip during a traffic related altercation
with three men in the 7300 block of South Ashland. The incident occurs after
O'Donnell is cut off by the driver of another car. Spike's son Patrick 17,
and daughter Dorothy 15, both come to the aid of there father during the
April 15 1936.
John M Bransfield a contractor, testifies in court that he
paid Spike O'Donnell $16.000 dollars to serve as a detective for his company
and to determine why they were denied paving contracts with the State of
Illinois, and why Bransfield was indicted in a trucking conspiracy case.
After Bransfield is acquitted and then awarded paving contracts, he
attributes it to information that O'Donnell uncovered.
November 16, 1936.
Judge Michael Feinberg rules that Spike O'Donnell must
pay $35 a month to stay in his home at 8145 S Honore which has recently been
September 1, 1934.
Travels to London England to begin a lecture tour on
September 8, 1942.
The Internal Revenue Service files suit against O'Donnell
for failing to make returns or pay income tax for the years 1928, 1929,
1930, 1931 and 1934. The total amount claimed by the government is $247.601.
March 15, 1943.
Spike O'Donnell is shot in the back as he passes an alley between Ada and Loomis on 83rd St. The shooting is believed to be related to a $70.000 paving contract fee that O'Donnell has been trying to collect. His efforts to collect payment, within a 7 month period, O'Donnell has beaten up contractor Robert G McKay once and Superintendent of Streets; Joseph Butler twice. He will be hospitalized for 10 days at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, during which time he receives several blood transfusions, spends time in an oxygen tent, and has a 38 calIiber bullet, that passed within a half inch of his heart, removed from his chest.
Spike O'Donnell's car shot to pieces in an attempted hit on his life. Note the shotgun blast through the door that ripped through the passenger seat.
Edward "Spike" O'Donnell arrested in Los Angeles and qucikly deported.
Spike O'Donnell's grave at St. Mary's cemetary
( Photo courtesy of Mr. Larry Raeder).
First Posted March 2010