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Al Capone in Wisconsin
Ralph and Al Capone, along with some hunting buddies hanging out in Wisconsin, 1944.




The Capone brothers, mostly Al and Ralph, had a passion for the outdoors and hunting. Wisconsin was a gangster's paradise. It was a place to have fun and to get away from the heat in Chicago. And by heat, I mean police harrassment, hits from rival gangsters or those pesky newspaper reporters. Ralph had been there many times before for hunting trips. In the early 1940's, he leaves Chicago behind, only going back as a visitor or as a defendant for his tax cases. He becomes a permanent Wisconsin resident.

Ralph Capone bought property and built a lodge in Mercer where the Capone family could reunite in private. As most things in common with his brother Al, Ralph made sure never to personally own anything on paper that the government could take away. The lodge in Mercer was one of these properties. When Vincenzo James Capone AKA Richard 'Two gun' Hart came back officially into the Capone family fold after living his life as a fearless lawman, he was sent to testify at the Kefauver hearings in 1950. During his testimony he was stated as saying the Wisconsin properties belonged to him. With little meager earning as an lawman the government interrogators wondered how he could afford this property. The convienient answer was the matriarch Theresa who had squirreled away a life savings enough to purchase the property and get the lodge built. This seemed to satisfy or at least placate the government officials. In later years, when Ralph Capone was again interrogated by tax investigators still wanting back taxes owed to the government, Ralph claimed now that all the properties belonged to his sister Mafalda.







Vincenzo James Capone, now Richard 'Two Gun' Hart with his wife Kathleen. In this photo they have arrived in Chicago and Richard is later to appear before a grand jury in order to answer questions pertaining to Ralph's income taxes and property in Wisconsin. The grand jury wants to know why Richard owns the title to Ralph's home. The government is seeking $96,679 in back taxes from Ralph.





Lots of confusion and smokescreens were put out in order to keep the properties 'in the family' and away from the government's greedy clutches. For many years Ralph managed to feign poverty and the lodge remained in the family until he was too old to take care of it himself.





The Rex and Billy's in 1991.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Jeff and Mr. Corey Hart)


The Rex and Billy's bar or tavern was a combination of a bar and some rooms that were originally rented out to travelers on their way (pit stop) to other places. It was originally owned by Billy Goudreau who hired Ralph Capone to later manage the place. The rooms were later talked about in some speculating if they were used for prostitution. Ralph Capone was still being hounded by the government. Back in 1930, Ralph headed off to prison for failing to pay income tax. In 1951, after a newspaper report in the Capitol Times the goverment set it sights again on Ralph Capone for income tax evasion. The newspaper had reported that Ralph was paying very low income tax per year, which immediately interested the IRS.





Early matchbook advertising the Rex Hotel.
(Mario Gomes Collection)








Rex advertising pen stand.
(Mario Gomes Collection)




Ralph claimed to have not made any money or very little of it managing the bar and hotel for it's shareholders. Ralph thanked the newspaper The Capitol Times for sabotaging his life and livelyhood by continuously printing false stories about him.
He told them he had left Chicago to find peace and quiet in Wisconsin and to be left alone. On August 22, 1951, Ralph Capone announced that he quit as bar and hotel manager for The Rex Hotel and Billy's Bar.
The bar and hotel were now up for auction to the public.




The Journal Times August 14,1951.



Asked what he would do now? Would he leave Mercer? His reply was Never! He loved it there! Loved the people and just wanted to be left alone. As for income, Ralph told them he would continue with his cigarette and candy vending machines. Ralph's nephew, Sherman Hart, will temporarily become the bartender and manager of the Rex Hotel and Billy's bar. Sherman will later open and tend bar at a bar / eatery called Skylawn which was north of Mercer near Highway 51.





The inside of Billy's Bar. Note the slot machines a the end of the wall (Right).






Advertisement from Cicero Life May 24,1946.






Ralph Capone with his signature top hat still making an appearance at the bar in the late 1960's early 1970. Mercer days was hosted by Ralph and beer was sold for a nickel. This is the same top hat he wore at his sister's wedding in 1930. Even in later years and out of the business Ralph could still command influence and respect. He once entered the bar and asked what beer brand the owner was supplying his customers with. He would chastise the owner if a particular brand did not meet his approval. The owner took note and stopped supplying that brand.
(Caponeestate.com)



While telling everyone he was not a rich man or making the higher income the government was accusing him of raking in, Ralph always found money when it came to helping out others. His participation in the Lion's Club from 1962-1971 helped him help others like needy children and others in his community. He helped with community Christmas parties,donating food / gifts to needy families, contributing to churches and financing high school class trips. Ralph always helped family, like helping to pay for great nephew Jeff Hart's honeymoon.









Left to right is Richard Hart's son Sherman Hart, Susan Hart (Jeff's wife), grandson Jeff Hart, Madeleine, and Ralph Capone.
The tall man in back is unidentified.
Richard Hart had 4 sons in total with Kathleen Winch Hart. They were Richard, William (Bill), Sherman and Harry.
Sadly,Richard was killed in WW2.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Jeff and Mr. Corey Hart)









Billy's Bar/Rex before it's demolition.
(2016)
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Jeff and Mr. Corey Hart)








Inside of Ralph Capone's bar being dismantled. Ralph never claimed to own it and said for many years he just managed it for a man named Billy Goodreau. (2016)
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Jeff and Mr. Corey Hart)











On to Raycap!
(Ralph Capone's Lodge)

Private road leading to RayCap. The name of the Ralph Capone lodge was a combination of Rayola and Capone.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Corey Hart)










The approaching lodge where the Capone's sought peace and quiet in their later years.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Corey Hart)












Mr. Corey Hart. Great grandson of Vincenzo James Richard 'Two Gun' Hart. (Capone)
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Corey Hart)











Ralph Capone admiring his house and the amusing sign that hung the doors.
 The sign reads
"Let no one say, and say it your shame. All was beauty here until you came."
(Mario Gomes Collection)









(Photo courtesy of Mr. Jeff and Mr. Corey Hart)










(Photo courtesy of Mr. Marc J. Wander)












The new owners have taken to sprucing up the cabin.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Marc J. Wander)












The fireplace or foyer as it is today.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Marc J. Wander)












The fireplace when Ralph Capone owned the lodge. One can just imagine the family gatherings in this room. Or even the moments of being alone, reading a book, listening to opera while smoking the pipe or cigar.










Ralph Capone's Meerschaum pipe with race horses. He used to smoke this favored pipe next to the fireplace in his Wisconsin lodge. This pipe was used either to smoke tobacco outright and it was also used to smoke a cigar by inserting the smoking end in the pipe bowl.
(Mario Gomes collection)









Wood bowl made from a tree. This bowl came from Ralph Capone's lodge.
(Mario Gomes collection)











Ralph Capone hanging out in the basement of his lodge. Below is a photo of the same room today.
Photos of his racehorse adorn the walls.





The bar. A place for friends and family to gather around for a drink and shoot the breeze.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Marc J. Wander)













Kitchen and dining area. Matriacrh Theresa would cook her famous Italian meals for her clan.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Marc J. Wander)










Capone Family Entertainment

The Capone family Victrola 78 rpm shellac records consisting of Enrico Caruso selections. All Italian songs such as La Donna mobile, Vesti la Giubba, Addio Napoli. These records were with the family from New York to Chicago and finally Wisconsin where Ralph played them on the console next to the fireplace. The records may have been originally purchased by the Capone boys to please the matriarch Theresa Capone, who spoke and understood minimal english. These were obtained from Ralph Capone's estate.
(Mario Gomes collection)





Relaxing and calm atmosphere.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Marc J. Wander)







Inside Ralph Capone's lodge looking out onto the lake.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Marc J. Wander)







Al Capone standing in front of Ralph Capone's home in Wisconsin, August 1946.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Jeff and Mr. Corey Hart)








Harry Hart (Al's nephew) and his friend Raymond posing with Al Capone.
Harry remained a level headed individual all his life, one who never bragged about his roots. He was proud of who he was, but was even more proud of his father Richard Hart. (Vincenzo Capone). The greeting on his phone recorder let the callers know that he was Harry Hart, the son of Richard 'Two Gun' Hart!
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Jeff and Mr. Corey Hart)






Homer, Nebraska's proud son, Richard 'Two Gun' Hart was a famous prohibition era lawman.
His many exploits are simply amazing! Circus performer, Wild west show performer, World War 1 veteran, war hero, wrestler, stuntman, showman, sharp shooter, Presidential bodyguard, and lawman. Mr. Hart did it all! He was also Al Capone's older brother!
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Jeff and Mr. Corey Hart)







Excellent book on Al Capone's brother Richard 'Two Gun' Hart







In back of Ralph's lodge near Martha's lake. A sincerely happy Harry Hart posing with his grandmother Theresa Capone.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Jeff and Mr. Corey Hart)







In back of Ralph's lodge. Martha's lake.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Marc J. Wander)








Theresa Capone and Vincenzo "James" Capone also known as Richard "Two Gun" Hart standing in the back of Ralph Capone's lodge in Mercer.
His life was simply amazing, if not more interesting than Al Capone's! Perhaps it was the lack of press that he wasn't in the forefront of his little brother's spotlight.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Jeff and Mr. Corey Hart)







Ralph with his dog standing in front of his home.
(Mario Gomes Collection)






Wanting to remain in Wisconsin, an ailing Ralph Capone lived in this modest apartment above the garage before being placed in a home. This photo was taken in 1972 and is situated along Echo Lake. Ralph had sold the lodge years previous after failing health. A newspaper reporter who wanted to interview was told by Ralph "Why do you want to do a story on me? I live just like everyone else."
After a year at the Skyview retirement home, Ralph will pass away in 1974. SEE RALPH CAPONE'S PERSONAL ITEMS
(Mario Gomes Collection)






Map showing Al's Cabin near Spider Lake, Ralph's cabin at Martha's Lake and the Rex near Mercer.







This is the real Al Capone cabin near Spider Lake where Al and Mae would stay when visiting Wisconsin.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Jeff and Mr. Corey Hart)







No, not the supposed Al Capone cabin called 'The Hideout' in Couderay. This is the real Al Capone cabin. This is where Al came to sleep and relax in the 1940's.
The one called 'The Hideout' in Couderay has the only Capone connection in that it was indeed a gangster cabin, but not for what it's being misrepresented as for all these years, as being Al Capone's personal cabin. Capone himself may have only actually set foot in 'The Hideout' only one time or twice at best.
The trail of paper work shows that 'The Hideout' cabin at one time was rented out or purchased by Capone connected gangsters (American Boys) in order to plan the St. Valentine's Day massacre of 1929.
Read the excellent and interesting article about 'The Hideout' by Steve Shukis HERE
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Jeff and Mr. Corey Hart)

This web page was made possible by generous and kind permission of the Hart family. My special thanks goes out to two amazing people. Mr. Corey Hart and Mr. Jeff Hart. Without them this would have not been possible. This page is dedicated to the memory of Sherman, Harry, William and Richard Hart Jr. and Sr.
Thank-you to Mr. Marc J. Wander for the current inside photos of Ralph's lodge.