Egan's Rats were formed in or around 1890 by two St. Louis Irish street kids from Kerry Patch by the name of Thomas "Snake" Kinney and Thomas Egan. The Rats were not a major player right away the gang started out as pickpockets, burglars and armed robbers. The gang became instrumental in helping the Democratic Party hold sway over St. Louis politics. Tom Kinney would eventually serve in the Missouri House of Delegates as the Fourth Ward's delegate and later served in the Missouri State Senate. The gang became the most powerful gang in St. Louis no later than 1904, because of their large numbers as well as the the gang's ruthless streak, they weren't afraid to kill anyone. By 1912 the Rats checked in with more than three hundred members and may have had as many as four hundred members. After the death of founding member Tom "Snake" Kinney, Tom Egan would bring the gang in to much more lucrative rackets including alcohol smuggling, unfortunately for Tom he would die in 1919 and not live to see Prohibition. The Rats were on a downward spiral after the death of Tom Egan. Tom's brother Willie was not a strong leader and because of this many of the younger gangsters went to armed robberies, kidnappings, burglaries and contract murders to earn money. Willie was killed in 1921 allow William "Dint" Colbeck to take over the gang. Colbeck's three year reign was a true reign of terror as Egan's Rats were to take part in numerous gang wars in the St. Louis area. Colbeck and other top members of the Rats were imprisoned in 1924 which led to the gang's ultimate demise. The Rats continued to have influence on the American Gangland however. Fred "Killer" Burke led a group of former Rats who partook in robberies, kidnappings and contract murders in the American Midwest, and may have even partook in the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Leo Vincent Brothers was convicted of murdering Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle in June 1930. Pete & Thomas "Yonnie" Licavoli created the River Gang which would dominate the liquor rackets in Detroit, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio. Elmer Macklin was the hitman behind the murder of Cesare "Chester" LaMare in February 1931 of the Detroit Partnership. Colbeck, as well as a few other members of the gang who had been imprisoned, attempted to muscle their way back in to the St. Louis criminal underworld, however any Egan's Rats members that were still active had mostly gone to work for Frank "Buster" Wortman, many ex-Rats were able to retire peacefully thanks to this. However Colbeck was murdered on February 17th, 1943.
William "Dint" Colbeck