Of all the funeral cards, that circulate out there, I wonder how many ever find their way back to the families of origin. A simple funeral card is the summation of a life lived.
Enjoy the discovery process.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sam De Stefano

Into the world, an innocent baby was born 13 September 1909, named Sam De Stefano by his loving Italian parents, Samuele and Roslina De Stefano. A translation of the De Stefano surname means "son of Stephen, crowned or royal." The given name Samuel translate to "heard God; asked of God."
"Mad Sam" left the world known as a once feared Chicago mobster.  On 14 April 1973, at the hands of another, with two shotgun blasts, his life ended. He died violently, as he is noted to have lived and delivered.  After the neighbor discovered his body on the garage floor, he lay in a pool of his own blood exposed to onlookers for hours.  His death was rumored to have been an inside hit and that very few people were reported to have acknowledged his last funeral rites.
With all celebrities, the first place to begin research is the archived newspapers. NewspaperARCHIVE and Chicago Tribune Archives provided great resources for locating historical events surrounding the boisterous, bullhorn toting De Stefano. 
In the Ancestry.com 1910 United States Census, index as Samuel Desteffine, age 7 months. With him are his parents and siblings-- Angelina, James, Mike.  Most likely to an error in indexing and misspelling of the surname, the family was not easily traced in 1920.  However, by the 1930 census, Sam De Stefano appears on line 90, age 21 residing at the Illinois State Penitentiary in Joliet, Illinois. Released and by the age of 24, Sam De Stefano was arrested for a New Lisbon, Wisconsin bank robbery. After he was sentenced 15 to 40 years, The Wisconsin State Journal of October 1, 1933 reports, "He left the courtroom in a rage, shouting, I have seen better jails than Wisconsin ever saw." By 1941, the Journal reports Mr. De Stefano to be "rehabiltated and reformed" and he is released from the Waupan Penitentiary. Rehabilitated, he was not.  In the span from 1941 until his death, he revisits the prison system several more times for numerous reasons, some of which include sugar ration forgery, voting fraudulently, death threats and loan sharking.  For those, that crossed Sam De Stefano, the penalty could easily result in severe torture or death.  The most heinous, the death of a 5 year-old, Bernhard McCluskie, Jr., who died in a West Tavern and apartment fire.
Mr. De Stefano tombstone and brief bio appear on Find-A-Grave.  However, the feature – a place to pay last respects – by leaving a message and flowers has been disabled due to misuse.  In this forum, it is not my place to level judgment but to share a few historical tidbits that have been tucked away.
At last look on Ebay, his funeral card was a whooping $55.00 ten times the average value. Who would have thought there was a market demand for Mafia related funeral memorabilia?  I wonder who purchased this card and why?  My thoughts turned to what kind of flowers would I choose and what message I would write?

1 comment:

laura said...

Hi, this brought to mind a story sort of folk tale told me by a good friend of mine in Ok.This man was famous for his crimes,murders,robberys,an all around criminal,but as she told me his story from her point of view,she cried tears of grief as her family knew him as a kind giving friend ! Amazing things can be learned from both sides of the fence! Cuz