|Formerly known as||Unknown. Submit info.|
|Colors||Black and white|
|Primary ethnicities||Latino (Puerto Rican)|
|Symbols||Shield, two shotguns, Reaper-monk like figure|
|Affiliation||People since 1978|
|Founding year||1962 perhaps?|
|Founding neighborhood||West Humboldt Park, Iowa and Springfield|
|Main neighborhood||West Humboldt Park|
Photo from a 1980s Chicago Police manual
Photo from a 1980s Chicago Police manual. There is recognition for the Spanish Lords in the tag back with the two were close.
The famous Leavitt and Schiller wall mural Wicker Park 1970s, this corner was big for the Unknowns to take and maintain.
Ashland and Wrightwood in Lincoln Park
An excellent 1980s tag, many Unknowns put up some impressive tags and murals back in the day
This is from a 1985 documentary about Chicago gangs.
Halsted and Wrightwood over in Lincoln Park
The Insane Unknowns’ history has been one of different stories about how all this started. There is some bullshit info floating around out there of how it all came together but I am hoping to get this at least 90% correct.
The story starts in 1964 when the Latin Kings moved into the West Humboldt Park neighborhood and began to aggressively recruit as many Puerto Rican kids as they could. It was in 1964 that Humboldt Park as a whole started getting the big floods Puerto Rican migration and white people began moving out more rapidly.
Sometime between 1964 and 1967 there was gang activity that started at the corner of Iowa and Springfield, either it was some Latin Kings that were on this corner or it was a small gang of very young kids that started their own gang called the “Unknown Souls.” No matter what, there was a gang that ran this corner no later than 1967 called the “Unknown Souls.” I am just not sure if they were a Latin King breakaway faction or if they simply were composed of kids that left the Latin Kings to join this gang, at any rate this gang appeared in about the mid-1960s.
The Souls were also said to be like the “little brothers” of the Latin Kings, and they basically were because they were generally younger than Latin Kings and they hung out with them. I am pretty sure the Latin Kings were hoping that one day the Souls would just absorb into the Latin Kings like so many other small gangs did, but as the years would pass the Souls would have no intention, instead they would become the “Insane Unknowns” in 1967, perhaps to give themselves a crazier sounding name, by now the Unknowns also had an established leader known as “Mr. Capone.” In the 1960s, the Unknowns battled white greaser gangs of Humboldt park such as Gaylords and Simon City Royals and their biggest Latino rival was the Spanish Cobras as the Cobras migrated into the area.
In 1973 the Insane Unknowns and Mr. Capone would no longer settle with only having territory at Iowa and Springfield. The Unknowns were traveling to the first major set on the north side at Leavitt and Schiller right outside of Sabin Elementary school at 2216 W Hirsch St. The Unknowns were making friends with neighborhood kids and began recruiting them at the playground. The Unknowns were even able to convince dedicated Latin Kings to flip from King to Unknown. This street corner was the prized mother land set of the Latin Kings that was taken into high regard, now the Unknowns were taking over through the method of recruitment and this angered the Latin Kings. At this point the Latin Kings and Insane Unknowns were in a state of a vicious gang war.
Now that Unknowns were at war with Latin Kings, they were able to squash their beef with Simon City Royals, yes there was a time when Unknowns and Royals were best allies and that was in the mid-1970s.
Back in the mid-1970s it looked like the Unknowns were well on the way to becoming a future Folk Nation gang due to being allies with Royals, Almighty Popes (Insane Popes), PBCs (Paulina Barry Community) and Black Gangster Disciples while they were at war with Latin Kings, Gaylords and Insane Deuces. Also at this point in time the Unknowns spread their influence deeper into the West Humboldt Park neighborhood opening territory in the K-Town section at Grand Ave to Cortez and Kostner to Pulaski Road. They also opened at Cortez and Kostner and Hirsh and Karlove. At Hirsh and Karlove they were right outside of Alfred Noble Elementary School at 4127 W Hirsch St, which would serve as great recruiting opportunity.
The mid-1970s would bring about expansion opportunities in the West Humboldt park and Wicker Park neighborhoods. One of the biggest new opportunities would come when the Unknowns landed in the Lincoln Park neighborhood at Orchard and Drummond right at the playground at Alcott Elementary School at 2625 N Orchard St. Another major set to open was over in the Bucktown section of the Logan Square neighborhood at Damen and Dickens.
By 1976, the Unknowns opened a set at Ashland and Wrightwood in Wrightwood Park at 2534 N. Greenview Ave in Lincoln Park which spawned from the Orchard and Drummond section. Ashland and Wrightwood brought in some of the first white members into the Insane Unknowns and also the first black members because members lived in the nearby Lathrop Projects which had a lot of black residents. When the Unknowns landed at Ashland and Wrightwood they were in close proximity to the Simon City Royals at Fullerton and Southport.
Back in 1976 the Simon City Royals were functioning with no leader, which meant each individual section had their own leader. Even though Unknowns and Royals were getting along in most sections the leadership of the S/P Royals did not want Unknowns moving into that area; therefore, they ordered one of their newer members “Deadeye” that had flipped from being a Gaylord to being a Royal, to invite Mr. Capone to hang out and party then kill him. “Deadeye” was good pals with Mr. Capone and the Royals feared he was going to flip again and become an Unknown, so in order to ease Royals’ fears the Royals said “Deadeye” needed to prove himself or die by killing Mr. Capone. Deadeye carried out the murder with another member of the Royals and now war was in full swing. The Unknowns wasted no time getting revenge when they killed a high ranking Royal named “Bulldog” in retaliation.
The war became harsh and bloody between these former allies, and since the Popes, PBCs and Black Gangster Disciples were pals with the Royals the Unknowns were battling it out with all these gangs as well. When this war broke out with the Royals, the Unknowns drew up a truce with the Latin Kings restoring their friendship. Insane Unknowns would also become allies with the Insane Deuces since they also hated the Royals badly. The Insane Unknowns were also in pretty close proximity to the Latin Eagles that operated in the nearby Lakeview neighborhood so bloody war would soon explode between these two gangs as well.
By 1978, the Insane Unknowns became well known for being the killers of the leaders of rival gangs. Basically they were known for cutting the head off of the snake, and viciously killed many rivals. In 1978 the Insane Unknowns hurt the United Latino Organization (ULO) alliance by killing top leaders.
In 1978 a 15 year old member of the Insane Unknowns named Miguel Vargas gunned down Ramon “Prince Chi Chi” Vasquez who was the leader of the Latin Disciples (MLDs). Vargas was convicted of the murder but only tried as a juvenile. The Latin Disciples would not get revenge on him until 1983 when Fernando “Prince Ferny” Zayas killed him in Andersonville on his front porch.
Another major blow to the ULO was on April 14, 1979 when the Insane Unknowns killed the leader of the Spanish Cobras Richard “King Cobra” Medina right outside his home. A major war ensued as the Cobras and Unknowns kept killing each other night after night. The string of murders caught attention of the news as everything about the Insane Unknowns and Spanish Cobras were in the newspaper. The front page of the Tribune in 1979 even published a photo of two detectives posed on the rooftop at Leavitt and Schiller next to very impressive gang murals that the Unknown had done. They even invited their allies the Future Spanish Lords to do some tagging at that spot.
On November 11, 1978 the Folk and People nation alliances were drawn up in the Pontiac Correctional Center that allied the biggest and/or oldest street gangs in the city. Right before this happened the Latin Kings, Insane Unknowns and a gang called the Chicago Players formed an alliance to battle the rival ULO and the UFO called the “Unknowns Player and Kings” or “UPK.” When the People nation was formed the Insane Unknowns were easily invited into the People Nation alliance. After these alliances were drawn up the Unknowns had to slow down their conquests at opening new sections because they wanted to maintain their alliance with Latin Kings, but in the 1980s the Unknowns began opening territory in the Chicago suburbs in Waukegan, Berwyn, Elgin and Rockford just to name some.
In 1992, the Latin Kings and Insane Unknowns broke out into a war over drug territory. The Latin Kings were of course trying to be the bigger brother and take over some of Insane Unknowns’ drug operations and that set off the Unknowns. The Spanish Lords were stuck in the middle; however, they ended up siding with the Latin Kings and now Unknowns were fighting wars with both gangs by 1994. The war only lasted about two years then the alliances were restored back to normal. For the most part Insane Unknowns, Latin Kings, Spanish Lords and Latin Brothers were very close allies in the 1990s but eventually their alliance with Spanish Lords and Latin Pachucos would crumble.
Over time the Insane Unknowns really did not lose any territory to rival gangs and engaged in any wars effectively due to their quick use of extreme violence to keep rivals out of their turf. The ones that would end up taking over all of Lincoln Park, Wicker Park and Bucktown territory were the yuppies and hipsters. After the 1990s, these neighborhood homes began to get rehabbed and sold for top dollar which would attract upper class yuppies and hipsters to buy out the properties or landlords that would only rent to bigger income types. Gentrification is a force that cannot be stopped and it does not matter how tough of a gang you have, money talks, and that is what brought about the demise of the fearless Ashland and Wrightwood and Damen and Dickens sections. If it was not for gentrification, those sets would still be poppin more than likely. West Humboldt Park has never been gentrified; therefore, the Insane Unknowns have not lost any territory there over the years except their first set of Iowa and Springfield.
Please send in old school pics. 1960s or 1970s pics will be especially appreciated!
- What exact year did the Unknown Souls form?
- What happened to Iowa and Springfield? What year did it fall?
- What year did each set disappear?
- What is the time line of leaders after Mr. Capone up to the year 2000?
- What caused the war with Latin Kings and Spanish Lords?
Zook Published: Updated: