“He was a charming man”, said Agnes Ross to her grand-daughter. Who was she taking about? None other than Al Capone!
So how did Agnes (1891-1983 née MacKenzie), an island girl from Stornoway, Lewis, come to meet the famous gangster? The link is her husband, Andrew Ross, first cousin of my grandfather, John.
Andrew Ross (1890-1977)
Andrew emigrated from Orkney to Canada in 1910 and my father visited him and his family in Winnipeg, Manitoba, while he was in the RAF during WW2. Dad recalled that Andrew (and his brother Hugh) worked for Cran, Mowat and Drever, a fruit canning business in Winnipeg. From his grand-daughter I learned that Andrew was a driver for that firm, taking loads to Chicago among other places.
Andrew once took Agnes on a delivery trip to Chicago and that is when they met Al Capone and even had lunch with him.
But was it just canned fruit he delivered? Or was this quiet, discreet man also entrusted with a much more valuable load, liquor? We will never know, and possibly he never knew either. From what his family said, he would probably not have asked too many questions and he would not have drawn attention.
The story reminds me of one of the reasons why the Hudson’s Bay Company favoured an Orcadian workforce; they were “more sober and tractable than the Irish”.
This post was written on St Andrew’s Day 2018 for the #52ancestors challenge whose theme for the week was “last but one”. Andrew’s father, Sam, was last but one in the Upper Seatter family. I am very grateful to Andrew’s grand-daughter for permission to use this story.