School for Murderers

Undated photo of Italian mobsters


Pennsylvania has a long history of organized crime, from the Molly Maguires of the 19th century to the violent street gangs of today.  In the early 1900s, there was the Black Hand Society- an offshoot of the mafia which terrorized citizens and law enforcement from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, and all points in between.  Unlike many gangs of the era, the Black Hands were highly organized; as you can see by the following article, they even operated a school for murderers.

From the January 9, 1909 edition of the Bloomsburg Columbian:


Notwithstanding that some people scout the idea that there is in this country an organization known as the Black Hand it is only necessary to read the newspapers to discover that such an organization exists and that it has its ramifications in every part of the Commonwealth where ignorant and debased foreigners reside.

The discovery in Pittsburg of a school in which young Italians were being taught to murder for profit or revenge ought to sufficient to prove that the Black Hand is a real thing and that it has been receiving recruits in large numbers constantly.

In the Pittsburg case nineteen young Italians were found in a club house, all of them under the tutelage of two older countrymen who were instructing the lads in the various methods of killing persons whom it was desired to get rid of.

(view the newspaper article in its entirety here)

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