This paper explores the unstudied subject of Canton Ohio's place in the history of organized crime during the age of prohibition. While it is widely accepted that Canton was a center for criminal activity, little has been written on any specifics. Many works that mention organized crime within Canton make reference to a gangster by the name of "Jumbo" Crowley. It is apparent that Crowley is a significant figure when it comes to organized crime in Canton, yet he is not studied or documented. This paper seeks to study Crowley and his operations within Canton, and in doing so write a history of the biggest name in crime in Canton. By examining newspaper stories, police reports, and court cases that involve both Crowley himself and his subordinates, it becomes possible to determine what Crowley's influence was within Canton. This paper will argue that Crowley, more than any other individual, was the driving force for organized crime in Canton.
The historiography of Canton's history of organized crime is small, mainly focusing on the killing of Donald Mellett, and the corruption that existed within Canton's police force. This paper will approach the question of corruption from a different point of view. Where the history of Donald Mellett looks at the uncovering of corruption through Mellett's work, this paper will investigate the corruption that existed in the local government that was connected to Crowley. This paper will construct a narrative of Crowley's criminal career, and in the process shine a light on Canton's connection to organized crime, and the corruption that came along with it.