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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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.

 

Today and tomorrow only enter to win

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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Tales Behind the Tombstone and

More Tales Behind the Tombstones.

 

Losing Herman

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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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Arizona in Florida

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“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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Take Ma Home for the Holidays

Take Ma home for the holidays.

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Ma Barker: America’s Most Wanted Mother

She began with a hymn book in her hand; she died clutching a gun. That was “Ma” Barker, mother of four outlaw sons whom J. Edgar Hoover, chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice described as the real “public enemy No. 1.”

Kate Barker – “Ma” as she was known to her criminal associates was the “brains” of the Barker-Karpis gang – kidnappers, bank robbers, and murderers. And she died as most criminals wanted by the federal government do. Ma Barker began her public career in Kansas City, Missouri. In either an attitude or assumed or real piety she was the leader of a small band of religious zealots who used to hold meetings in the street near city hall. Whenever one of her followers was arrested for picking pockets, vagrancy, or street walking or casual misdemeanor, she would go before the police judge, shed tears and claim that she alone was left in the world to befriend the poor defendant. In most cases the defendant went back to more and bigger crimes and “Ma” Barker’s friendliness and a slight ability as a defense witness soon became a racket.

“Ma” and her boys were responsible for kidnapping two of the country’s wealthiest men and holding them ransom. The Barker-Karpis gang murdered police officers and federal agents and any outlaw who double-crossed them. Ma Barker’s life ended at a home she was renting in Florida on January 16, 1935.

 

 

Ma Barker

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The Roy Rogers Show

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The Cowboy & the Senorita: A Biography of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

 

 

On December 30, 1951, The Roy Rogers Show debuted on NBC. Children across the country were poised in front of their parents’ television sets on Sunday nights at 6:30 to watch their favorite singing cowboy fight for law and order in the contemporary West. The theme song for the program, written by Dale Evans, was “Happy Trails.”

Dale joined Roy in the series, as did actor-singer Pat Brady, who played a bumbling sidekick. In addition to the human actors, the show featured Roy Roy’s horse, Trigger; Dale’s horse, Buttermilk; her dog, Bullet; and Pat’s cantankerous jeep, Nellybelle.

Critics believed the show was popular not only because audiences loved the mix of action and comedy, but also because of the high morals it brought to light. Roy and Dale’s faith in God and their desire to live according to His ways were evident in each episode. (Roy read the Cowboy’s Prayer at the Riders Club meetings at theatres that featured his movies and television shows.) The programs struck a positive chord with children and parents alike. The show remained on the air for seven years.

Evangelist Billy Graham invited Roy and Dale to perform at his crusades and give their testimony. New attendance records were established wherever they appeared. Dale went on to record her testimony in a series of books about her life and faith. Each one was a popular seller for the publishing house, the Revell Company.

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Cowboy & Senorita

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The Cowboy and the Senorita.

Monarch on Horseback

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The Cowboy & the Senorita: A Biography of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

 

 

Early in Roy’s career as a western star, Republic Pictures created a fictitious promotional campaign to introduce him to the public. Press agents decided it would add to Roy’s appeal if they told potential moviegoers that he was a real cowboy born in Cody, Wyoming. Citizens in Wyoming and Ohio wrote to the studio protesting the false reports. Within a few days an accurate biography of Rogers was released.

The studio sent Roy on press junkets after each of his films was released. According to Republic executives, Roy came across much better in person than on the screen. They felt his eyes were more expressive and his shy smile more appealing. Fans agreed, and his personal-appearance tours proved to be profitable ventures.

Roy was grateful for his success and went out of his way to show his gratitude to his family and friends. With a portion of the money he earned, he purchased his parent’s home in California and got the Sons of the Pioneers a contract working with him in all his westerns. He felt a deep sense of satisfaction to be doing something for those he loved and those who had befriended him in the lean years.

 

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Cowboy & Senorita

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Cowgirl Dale Evans

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A few quotes by Dale Evans.

 

 

Time and experience have taught me a priceless lesson: Any child you take for your own becomes your own if you give of yourself to that child. I have born two children and had seven others by adoption, and they are all my children, equally beloved and precious.

 

Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.

 

Cowgirl is a spirit, a special brand of courage. The cowgirl faces life head on, lives by her own lights, and makes no excuses. Cowgirls take stands. They speak up. They defend the things they hold dear. A cowgirl might be a rancher, or a barrel racer, or a bull rider, or an actress. But she’s just as likely to be a checker at the local Winn Dixie, a full-time mother, a banker, an attorney, or an astronaut.

 

Every day we live is a priceless gift of God, loaded with possibilities to learn something new, to gain fresh insights.

 

If we never had any storms, we couldn’t appreciate the sunshine.

 

cowboy and the senorita

Cowboy & Senorita

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The Cowboy and the Senorita.

False

These days men are being accused of sexual misconduct and assault at a rate that rivals the number of times the Skipper blamed Gilligan for the millionaire, his wife, the movie star, the professor, and Mary Ann’s inability to get off that tropical island. Every day the deviant kinks of men in political office, newsrooms, on television shows, and running film companies are exposed.  Pun definitely intended.

With all the accusations being leveled on a daily basis it’s easy to believe every accuser without question. That’s a dangerous practice.  Some accusers lie and their reasons vary.  It’s easy to forget that a person is innocent until proven guilty.  Rushing to judgement is costly.

Statistics show there is a 97% conviction rate for anyone accused of sexual molestation. Lawyers generally encourage clients to take a plea amend such allegations because they know a jury moves to convict 97% of the time even with compelling evidence proving the accused innocence.  Juries refuse to believe anyone would make such a heinous claim if it weren’t true.  A legal battle is hugely expensive and most people can’t afford it so they take a plea.  But even if you had an unlimited amount of cash, the best legal defense in the nation, and you happen to win your case the stink from such an accusation will never leave you.  A false accusation is the perfect crime.

Years ago I volunteered to be a mentor for a local organization to help a teenage girl write a short story. The first day I met with the young woman to discuss her work she shared with me that her science teacher was “giving her grief” about her homework and if he didn’t stop she was going to say he molested her.  The teenager knew exactly what she was doing and could not be talked out of such an action.  The science teacher had never touched her, but she was well aware that it didn’t matter.  She knew he would have to take a leave of absence pending an investigation and that her homework problem would cease to be at that point.

I recently heard an accuser make a statement about the difficulties in coming forward with claims of sexual harassment or assault because their entire lives are then exposed and subject to question. People who claim they saw a person murder another human being are held to the same scrutiny.  A good investigator will want to know if the witness wears glasses, is on hallucinogenic medications, if they’re prone to seeing things, if they knew the accused, etc., etc.  And shouldn’t it be that way?  Don’t you want authorities to fully investigate such claims?  What investigator simply takes the word of anyone accusing someone of a crime?  An accusation of sexual misconduct or rape takes from the alleged perpetrator everything they are and everything they are ever going to be.  Women making claims should be questioned like any other witness should be questioned.  It ridiculous to think the accuser should get a pass because of their gender and frightening to know that there are those who think all an accusers should be required to provide is the accusation.

I’ve been in situations as a grown woman where grown men in position of authority act like idiots and make unwanted, sexual advances. I regard them as bullies.  I’ve told them so and I kept my distance from them.  And that’s my next point.

Everything isn’t a criminal act. Someone shoving his tongue down a person’s throat during the rehearsal of a skit for a USO Tour is inappropriate and a good kick to the groin is called for, but it isn’t a crime and shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same category with someone who has been assaulted.  The legal definition of assault is as follows:  An assault is carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm. Poor taste and bad manners are not assault.

These are frightening times.