Since the early 1900s, there were many loosely organized hoodlum gangs active in the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
From these fledgling criminal groups would come the original seeds of what would later form the local Mafia Family, better known as the “Milwaukee Outfit,” that eventually gained control over the city’s underworld.
Along with the influx of poor Italian immigrants of Southern Italy and Sicily who immigrated to the United States and settled in Wisconsin were a small band of mafiosi from their native homeland who brought their “tradition” to America’s shores and continued to ply their dark trade.
One of the first and most important of these figures was an old-time Sicilian-born “Mustache Pete” named Vito Guardalabene, who is generally credited with having established the first vestiges of Milwaukee’s Mafia during the early 1910s.
After Vito’s death in 1921, his son Peter Guardalabene rose to power and headed the “borgata” for six years until 1927 when the leadership was then passed to Giuseppe (Piddu) Vallone.
Vallone remained the boss for more than two decades, from 1927 through 1949. Thereafter, an interim boss named Salvatore (Sam) Ferrara ruled for several years until he was deposed by the rank-and-file in favor of Giovanni (John) Alioto.
It was Alioto who is credited with again having stabilized the Milwaukee borgata over the following decade as its boss.
During his time as “Capo Familia” Alioto began “grooming” his son-in-law Frank P. Balistrieri to eventually fill his shoes once the aging Alioto finally retired from leadership. By 1961, with the blessing of his father-in-law, Frank Balistrieri was finally installed as boss.
In time, he became so well known to the public that the name Balistrieri would forever become synonymous with organized crime in Milwaukee. He ruled with an iron fist and remained in power for over thirty years, from 1961 through 1993.
Continue reading to learn more in this brief history of Milwaukee’s Balistrieri Family and view the Frank Balistrieri Family Leadership Chart.