Gangsters and Ghosts

Author: Enid Cleaves

ISBN 978-1-62137-095-6 (softcover)

139 pages

During the Prohibition Era gangsters from the Greater Chicago Area such as John Dillenger, Baby Face Nelson, and Al Scarface Capone visited Wisconsin’s Northwoods, where they found solace and secrecy in remote lodges nestled amongst lofty pines and sky-blue waters. Many residents considered these men to be folk heroes, enthralled by their charisma, intrigue and generosity. Many were “on the payroll” so to speak, employed in moonshine stills, speakeasies, and as scouts or whiskey runners.

Ghosts are said to have unfinished business in places where their spirit lingers. Perhaps they need to clear their name, avenge their perpetrators, or search for something left behind. Not all ghosts in the Northwoods were gangsters. Yesteryear’s lodge owners or residents, maids, waitresses, tribal warriors, family members, and law-abiding citizens from many walks of life roam about in restuarants, residences, lighthouses and islands.

This book contains stories about mobsters who frequented the area, malevolent ghosts with dark secrets, but mostly benevolent ghosts, pranksters perhaps, who cause no harm. Local residents share stories of mobsters, moonshiners, personal spectral experiences, and the excitement generated from filming scenes at and near Little Bohemia in Manitowish Waters for the 2009 movie Public Enemies, which starred Johnny Depp.


“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” When authorities closed in on Chicago Area Prohibition Era gangsters such as John Dillenger, Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, they headed for secluded getaways in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

Gangsters and Ghosts of the Northwoods captures input from dozens of local people. Their stories add to the fascinating tales of gangster exploits as well as personal experiences with ghosts and supernatural activities.

Enid combines the subjects of gangsters and ghosts into short stories in her latest book to provide an insight to when, where, why, and how these characters provided excitement, intrigue, audacity, and admiration in the eyes of those men and women who lived in the Northwoods – many of whom “were on the payroll.”

Since retiring and moving to northern Wisconsin, Enid has written two other books regarding ghostly tales around Lake Superior and Lake Michigan respectively, as well as several humorous cookbooks. She has been a contributor to national and local magazines and newspapers as well as Wisconsin tourism publications.

Enid loves nature and wildlife photography, but also uses her pictures to illustrate her writing. Other favorite activities include traveling, boating, biking, hiking, and skiing.

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