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Minnie Clark (July 1887-Nov. 20, 1959)

"Jew Minnie" Clark

Minnie Leventhal was born in Europe in July 1887 to Barthart and Rose Leventhal. Documents do not agree on the family's origin. The earliest points to Germany, while later documents indicate Russia. Minnie had two older sisters, Lillian and May. The family arrived in the U.S. in 1889 and was settled in Cheektowaga, NY, by the time of the 1900 Census. Barthart worked as sexton of a Jewish cemetery.

Minnie married Charles Zifle Clark in Chicago on Oct. 15, 1908. The marriage certificate listed her birthplace as New York. She and her husband returned to Cheektowaga, where they lived with the Leventhals. A daughter, Verna, was born to Charles and Minnie Clark the following year.

Minnie Clark

By 1920, the Clark family moved to Best Street in Buffalo. Charles was proprietor of a hotel but was earning a reputation as an inveterate gambler. Minnie Clark and daughter Verna were on their own by the following year. They lived at the Auto Inn in Williamsville, NY, where Minnie served as manager.

Auto Inn and other similar establishments in the area were repeatedly raided during the early days of the Prohibition Era. Minnie was arrested in the summer of 1921 when she was found in possession of a dozen bottles of whiskey.

During this period, "Jew Minnie," as she was widely known, was believed to be romantically involved with Giuseppe DiCarlo. After Giuseppe's death, similar rumors circulated about Minnie Clark and Giuseppe's son, Joseph DiCarlo.

An FBI report written in 1952 recalled the situation:

"At one time [Joseph DiCarlo] was engaged in business with, and apparently had as his paramour one Jew Minnie Clark, and with this woman for several years prior to 1924 operated a road house and speak-easy known as the Auto Rest in Williamsville, New York. It has been reported that this woman was formerly the paramour of DiCarlo's father."

Joseph DiCarlo became the principal owner of the road house in March 1922 and renamed the business Auto Rest. Clark, Joseph DiCarlo and two employees were arrested at the road house during a raid of Prohibition agents on Sept. 11, 1922. Newspapers reporting on the event described DiCarlo and Clark as man and wife, addressing Clark as "Minnie Clark DiCarlo." Though not legally married, the two reportedly were living together at Auto Rest at that time.

Minnie Clark and
daughter Verna

at the Auto Inn, 1921.

Later that year, Minnie Clark's name was mentioned by the press for a different reason: She won a silver cup for the most beautiful gown at the third annual ball of the Thomas J.B. Dyke Association.

Auto Rest was raided by the Ku Klux Klan on March 15, 1924. Red flares were ignited around the building and dozens of white robed and hooded men entered the road house to deliver a warning against the continued sale of alcohol.

Joseph DiCarlo did not remain in Minnie Clark's life. Late in 1924, he married Elsie Pieri. The next spring, he began a sentence in Atlanta Federal Prison for witness intimidation.

In February of 1927, Clark became manager of the Silver Slipper, a night club located at 560 Pearl Street in Buffalo. The night club was owned by Dan Rogers, manager of boxer Rocky Kansas and a close friend of the DiCarlo family. The 1930 Census found her living on Kensington Avenue in Cheektowaga with her daughter Verna and son-in-law Americo Bono. Clark reported that she was married and worked as a hotel proprietor.

The next year, she returned to the Auto Rest, and operated the business as a night club/restaurant under the name Mayfair Club. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Mayfair Club became Colonial Inn, operated by Minnie Clark and her husband Leo Brown.

Minnie passed away Nov. 20, 1959, at the age of 71.


[Sources include interview with Clark Bono, other interviews, U.S. Census records, marriage certificate, business certificates, newspaper reports.]


Minnie Clark obituary



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