Legend indicates that Schiro was the aging and timid 1930 leader of a Brooklyn Castellammarese Mafia group. He reportedly folded under pressure by Joe "the Boss" Masseria.
As the Castellammarese War approached, Joe Masseria sought to humiliate the Brooklyn group and demanded cash tribute from Schiro. Schiro paid and subsequently vanished, leaving the organization to Masseria's arch-enemy Salvatore Maranzano.
So little information about Schiro can be confirmed that some revisionist Mafia historians now insist he never existed.
Ellis Island records show that a number of Nicola Schiros were processed there. Several of those were equivalent in age to the Mafia Schiro, at least one settled in Brooklyn and at least one was born in the Castellammare del Golfo area of Sicily.
Messick and Goldblatt, drawing from the memoirs of Nick Gentile, decided that "Nicholas Schirio" was the name of the Brooklyn group leader. Adding to the case for Schiro's existence is the fact that Mafia boss Joe Bonanno personally remembered Schiro in his autobiography.
Bonanno's treatment of Schiro and his discussion of the events which followed Schiro's disappearance could lead one to believe, however, that Schiro was not the true boss of the Castellammarese clan. He might only have been keeping the boss's seat warm from the time that gang heads Gaspare Milazzo and Stefano Magaddino fled Brooklyn for Detroit and Buffalo, respectively.
© 2007 T.Hunt
The American "Mafia"