Ma Barker: Ruthless and Daring

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In a time when notorious Depression-era criminals were terrorizing the country, the Barker-Karpis Gang stole more money than mobsters John Dillinger, Vern Miller, and Bonnie and Clyde combined. Five of the most wanted thieves, murderers, and kidnappers by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the 1930s were from the same family. Authorities believed the woman behind the band of violent hoodlums that ravaged the Midwest was their mother, Kate “Ma” Barker.

Kate Barker marched her fifteen-year-old son, Herman, through the remains of a cornfield outside Webb City, Missouri. Using the collar of her boy’s shirt as a lead, she steered him past bent and weathered stalks of corn. It was a hot, humid, September afternoon, all white light and glare. Herman chanced a look back at his mother, hoping the scowl on her face had softened. Kate wore a gray sweater embellished with rhinestone buttons and a blue- and- white plaid rayon dress with a sashed belt and bow collar. Her hair was nicely coiffed with spit curls on each temple in the style of the times. Although she had been born and raised in the rural Ozark Mountains and married a miner from a nearby town, she was no house Frau. She carried her plump, five-foot four-inch frame with a confidence generally relegated to those with a wealthy, sophisticated background.

Herman was dressed in jeans and an old shirt two sizes too big for him. He was barefoot and occasionally grimaced when his toe connected with a jagged rock on the ground. His mother was furious with him and disinterested in how uncomfortable their fast-paced walk made him. Herman had been caught with a few wallets he’d stolen from the deacons of the local Presbyterian church. The preacher had graciously contacted Kate about the matter after he had informed the police. Mother and son now had an appointment with the Jasper County judge, and Kate was determined not to be late. Herman stumbled a time or two, but his mother jerked the boy to his feet and urged him on.

Webb City in 1910 was a rough and wild mining community with a population of more than eleven thousand. The majority of the people living there were excavators who worked in the numerous galena ore mining companies in the area. Galena is the chief ore of lead. Wages were low but steady. There was nothing opulent about the businesses and homes in Webb City. They were modest in design, dusty, and uninspired. Among the enterprises that flourished in town were the mercantile businesses, courthouse, and numerous taverns that lined the main thoroughfare. Railroad tracks cut through the center of town, and trains announced their passing with loud blasts from their horns.

A train was making its presence known as Ma and Herman reached the courthouse. Without saying a word, she pulled open the door of the building and escorted her son inside. She led Herman to a pair of empty chairs in the courtroom, and the two sat down to wait for the judge.

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To learn more about the life and violent death of Ma Barker and her sons read

Ma Barker: America’s Most Wanted Mother

 

This Just In…

We interrupt our regular monthly book giveaway to Giveaway a copy of

Tales Behind the Tombstones and

More Tales Behind the Tombstones.

 

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a copy of these two titles.

 

Tales Behind the Tombstones: The Deaths And Burials Of The Old West’s Most Nefarious Outlaws, Notorious Women, And Celebrated Lawmen tells the stories behind the deaths (or supposed deaths) and burials of the Old West’s most nefarious outlaws, notorious women, and celebrated lawmen. Readers will learn the story behind Calamity Jane’s wish to be buried next to Wild Bill Hickok, discover how and where the Earp brothers came to be buried, and visit the sites of tombs long forgotten while legends have lived on.

More Tales Behind the Tombstones: More Deaths and Burials of the Old West’s Most Nefarious Outlaws, Notorious Women, and Celebrated Lawmen tells the stories behind the deaths (or supposed deaths) and burials of even more of the Old West’s most nefarious outlaws, notorious women, and celebrated lawmen. Readers will learn the stories behind these legendary characters and visit the sites of tombs long forgotten while legends have lived on.

Read about the lives (and deaths) of fearless, famous lawmen such as Bass Reeves, Chalk Beeson, Bill Tilghman, and Pat Garrett; learn about the dauntless women who blazed new paths for their sex in medicine, journalism, entertainment, and voting rights; and discover the intriguing facts and myths that continue to circulate about these and other infamous characters long after their grave markers have become worn down or simply lost to time

 

 

 

Tales Behind the Tombstones

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Enter now for a chance to win

Tales Behind the Tombstone and

More Tales Behind the Tombstones.

 

Losing Herman

Take Ma home for the holidays.

Enter to win a copy of

Ma Barker: America’s Most Wanted Mother.

In a time when notorious Depression-era criminals were terrorizing the country, the Barker-Karpis Gang stole more money than mobsters John Dillinger, Vern Miller, and Bonnie and Clyde combined. Five of the most wanted thieves, murderers, and kidnappers by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the 1930s were from the same family. Authorities believed the woman behind the band of violent hoodlums that ravaged the Midwest was their mother, Kate “Ma” Barker.

The monument placed on Herman Barker’s grave was a massive, granite stone that stood more than four feet high. The deceased’s name was carved into the marble along with his date of birth and the date he died. In the beginning, Ma regularly visited the site near Welch, Oklahoma, bringing flowers and some of Herman’s belongings from when he was a boy. She laid his things neatly on the mound of dirt that covered his remains. Detective Harrison Moreland, a writer for the Master Detective magazine, reported that Ma “turned her back entirely on morality once Herman was gone.” There had been a time when she might have lied to George about their sons’ criminal activities or tried to dispel the rumors she was spending time with other men, but that all stopped when she saw Herman’s bullet-ridden body lying on a slab at the morgue.

George Barker had taken time away from his job at the filling station in Webb City, Missouri, to attend Herman’s funeral. Ma paid little attention to her estranged husband. Any comfort she needed during her time of grief was handled by the man who accompanied her to the cemetery, Arthur W. Dunlop, also known as George Anderson. Ma had met Arthur at a club in Tulsa. He had been a carpenter and painter for

Sommers Sign System. Ma never let Arthur stray too far from her side; even when George approached her for what he hoped would be a private conversation about where the money for Herman’s headstone came from, Arthur was milling around close behind the pair.

Ma dismissed George’s question about the headstone but informed the timid, grieving man that Herman and their other boys regularly sent money home for her support. She gushed over how considerate the Barker boys were and cursed those who argued that her sons were anything less. “If the good people of this town don’t like my boys,” Ma was often heard saying, “then the good people know what to do.” George returned to Missouri with the full knowledge that he and his wife would never reconcile and that his sons could never be respectable citizens.

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To learn more about the life and violent death of Ma Barker and her sons read

Ma Barker: America’s Most Wanted Mother.

 

Arizona in Florida

Take Ma home for the holidays.

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Ma Barker: America’s Most Wanted Mother

 

“I’ll never have a close relationship with anyone other than my boys. After all, they know what my heart sounds like on the inside.” With that being said, Arizona Barker, Ma Barker to the world, set out to raise four sons to be criminals. It’s believed by many that the Ma Barker image was originated by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI in an effort to justify the killing of an old lady. She has been portrayed as the mastermind of the Barker-Karpis gang, while surviving gang members absolutely denied the allegations. However, evidence indicates that she was much more involved in criminal activity than some think, whether she was the “mastermind” or not is debatable.

To say the least, she was a willing accomplice, if nothing else. Arizona Donnie Clark was born near Springfield, Missouri, the exact year is not known, though most agree that she was born on October 8, 1873. In 1892, she married George Barker and in time gave birth to four of the meanest examples of humanity ever to exist! The boys were named Herman, Lloyd, Arthur and Fred. After the birth of Fred, George Barker left the family, though it may have been at the insistence of his wife. At some point, she began using the name Kate Barker. On several occasions Kate faced the authorities on behalf of her sons, trying to keep them from serving jail time. She was usually successful. It all came to an end for Ma in early 1925.

Posing as J.E. Blackburn and wife, Ma and her son Freddie rented a house on the northern banks of Lake Weir, near the town of Ocklawaha, Florida. The neighbors thought they were an odd couple with him being so young and her being so much older. They didn’t associate with the neighbors and frequently large cars were seen entering and leaving the place. Unknown to the Barkers, the FBI had the map they had taken from Doc’s apartment and had been checking their mail through the postal service to positively identify them.

Disguised as county road workers, the FBI kept surveillance on the house. Upon seeing the Blackburns, the FBI positively identified the Barkers. The FBI was under the impression that several members of the gang were in the house. Just before daybreak on January 16, 1935, the FBI arrived outside the two-story house. There were agents from Jacksonville, reinforced by agents who had been flown in from Chicago and Cincinnati. A call for their surrender was met with no response. After a few moments, Agent Earl Connelly of Cincinnati yelled, “Unless you come on out, we’re going to start shooting!” Ma replied, “Go ahead.” What followed was the longest gun battle the FBI was ever involved in; it lasted four hours and there are reports that a minimum of 1500 rounds of ammunition were poured into the house. The FBI requested that the bodies of Ma and Freddie be held in a morgue for an extended time, thinking that other gang members would show up to pay their respects – and be captured. Eight months later, they were removed from the morgue, transported to Welch, Oklahoma and buried alongside Herman, in the Williams Timberhill Cemetery.

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To learn more about the life and violent death of Ma Barker and her sons read

Ma Barker: America’s Most Wanted Mother

 

The Cowboy and the Senorita

cowboy and the senoritaIn 1944 Roy Rogers and Dale Evans lit up the silver screen in The Cowboy and the Senorita, making their names – and lives – inseparable. It was the start of a fifty-six-year partnership that included thirty motion pictures, a long-running hit television series, and a family of nine children.

The Cowboy and the Senorita tells the heartbreaking yet ultimately triumphant story of the “King of the Cowboys” and “Queen of the West.” In this new, authorized biography, the Rogers family shares the inside story of these beloved Western heroes, detailing Roy’s and Dale’s struggles and rise to stardom, the lives of their children, their professional triumphs, and the personal tragedies that befell their family.

Over their long careers, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans came to represent truth, justice, and the American way. Their story will take you back to a simpler time, when wholesome entertainment ruled Saturday matinees and the good guys wore white hats both on and off the screen.

The Principles of Posse Management

Pat Garrett and Wyatt Earp, management experts?  Expert management skills were necessary to quickly organize a group of law enforcement officers able to effectively keep the peace and pursue and arrest felons.

The actual work of transforming the frontier into farms and cities was carried on by the stream of settlers, but working with, or sometimes ahead of them were the business people who directed the conquest of the wilderness and law enforcement officials who helped protect their interests.

The business people brought capital and labor together, sent logging crews into the forests; built bridges, canals, and railways; bought, sold, and transported commodities; laid out town sites and planned cities; started industries; developing mines; and nearly always speculating in land.  Often times their efforts were thwarted by criminal elements who kept the goods, services, and funds from their appointed destination.  Posses were formed to make sure fleeing desperados were brought to justice.  In the process civility was brought to the lawless territory as well.