Born: 1887, Salemi, Sicily
Died: 1957, Somerville, Massachusetts
Addresses: 330 North Street, North End of Boston, Massachusetts
275 North Street, North End of Boston, Massachusetts
Association: Early Boston and New England mob
Gaspare Messina arrived at Ellis Island in 1905 with waves of other poor Italian immigrants, all looking to trade the poverty of their homeland for a nation rich with the promise of a lucrative lifestyle and prosperity.With his wife, Francesca, his brother Philippi and Philippi’s wife, Giovanna, whom his brother would soon abandon. He settled in Brooklyn, likely in one of the tenement neighborhoods populated by other very poor Sicilians that had sprang up with the Italian and Sicilian immigrant influx into the United States, Argentina, Chile, and Canada.Father to a daughter Gasparina and three sons, Salvatore, Luciano, Vito, Messina and his wife, along with Giovanna, moved in about 1918 to Boston’s little Italy section called the North End Boston . North End storefronts filled with Italian and Sicilian delicacies and sidewalks leading into a labyrinth of strongly built brick tenements, He ruled during the early years of Prohibition as head of the Boston Mafia until 1924.
It was during those years that Messina hooked up with Frank Cucchiara, who was later to become a Consigliere to the Patriarca crime family, and Paolo Pagnotta to form G. Messina and Co., a wholesale grocery business on Prince Street in Boston’s North End.By the late 1920s, he had added another title to his name” president of the Neptune Oil Corporation.Although he assumed a businessman’s role, Messina remained true to his mob roots.While he gave up his role as Boston’s Don in 1924, by the time the decade ended, he was back in the game in full strength.
By the early 1930s, he had been named Capo Di Tutti Capi, “Boss of All Bosses,” by the mob membership who were trying to resolved a dispute among the Mafia’s New York, Buffalo and Midwest families.The disagreement turned into what was to become known as the Infamous Castellammarse War.Eager to end the bloodshed, Messina called a grand counsel meeting in Boston, but his efforts were futile.The bloody power struggle over control of the Mafia continued until about 1932, when fellow vicious Sicilian and former fight promoter Filippo “Phil” Buccola was named head of the Boston faction of the Mafia,Buccola rules until 1954.
Messina, who rose from the huddled Sicilian masses to start the Boston mob faction, died in 1957, his great American dream of success was fulfilled, as he was considered on the the founders of the Boston and New England Mafia.