Christmas Blessings

The highlight of the season has been spending time with the cast of A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Such sweet kids and a reminder that God is good.  The Magic of Christmas is not in the presents but in His presence.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Murder in Wisconsin

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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.

A dilapidated Ford Model T pickup slowed to a stop in front of the Barker home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in mid-May 1931, and Alvin Karpis climbed out of the bed of the vehicle. Alvin was a tall, self-confident man, well dressed but not flashy. He carried a small duffle-style suitcase containing all the belongings he had in the world. He studied the weathered house in front of him, taking notice of its state of disrepair. The homes on either side were not in perfect condition; it was a low-income neighborhood, and everyone seemed to be struggling, but the Barkers’ house was in a sorry state in comparison. A man and woman inside the Barker home were arguing. The exact nature of the disagreement was not clear, but the sound of doors slamming and glass breaking made it apparent that the fight had escalated into a war.

Alvin removed a cigarette from his suit jacket pocket and lit it while contemplating what to do next. Ma Barker exited the front door carrying a hammer and nails. She didn’t pay much attention to Alvin. Her lower lip was bleeding, but she didn’t pay much attention to that either. She was focused on fixing a portion of the screen that had been torn from the corner of the door. “Are you Mrs. Barker?” Alvin asked, walking toward Ma and taking a drag off his cigarette. “I am,” Ma said turning around to face Alvin. “I want to get ahold of Freddie,” he told her. Ma looked Alvin over suspiciously. “Who are you?”

“I’m the guy who called with Freddie in Lansing,” Alvin told her.

“Oh, yes, he told me about you,” Ma replied. “He told me you’d be getting out soon. He came to visit me when he got out. He’s a good boy.” Ma let her guard down, and Alvin stepped onto the porch. He told her he was a thief and that he’d been sent to the Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing for attempting to rob a pool hall. It was just one of many crimes Alvin told Ma that he’d committed.

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Barker Gang Kidnaps Bank President

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When the suggestion to kidnap Edward Bremer was presented to Ma, she ordered her crew to meet and discuss the proposal. In the summer of 1933, the Barker-Karpis Gang had kidnapped William Hamm, Jr., the president of Hamm’s Brewing Company. The caper was successful, yielding the gang $100,000 in cash for the return of the millionaire. News of the kidnapping was reported throughout the country. “Money or death was the ultimatum laid down by the culprits that absconded with Hamm’s Brewing Company executive,” the June 17, 1933, edition of the Albert Lea Evening Tribune read.

William had been captive near the same location in Bensenville, Illinois, where Edward Bremer was secured away. The police had withdrawn from the case at the request of the family. They were frightened of what might happen to William if law enforcement interfered. The ransom note from the abductors warned the Hamms that William would be shot and killed if the police were allowed any involvement. A note sent to William’s father instructed him to deliver the ransom money in “$5, $10, and $20 bills.” Payment of the ransom for the release of William, the kidnappers directed, was to be made using one of the company’s beer trucks. Not only did the Barker-Karpis Gang get the full amount they were asking in ransom, but when the authorities did begin investigating the kidnapping, a rival gang was arrested for the crime.

“J. Edgar Hoover himself announced from Washington that his men had put together a solid case against the Touhy gang,” Alvin Karpis wrote in his memoirs. “The scientific evidence left no doubt at all,” Hoover said, “that the Touhys were behind the kidnapping of William Hamm.”

The ease with which the Barker-Karpis Gang was able to get away with taking William and collecting the ransom was an argument for kidnapping Edward Bremer. In late December 1933, Ma’s boys convened at William Weaver’s apartment in St. Paul to talk through the details of the abduction. Who would trail Edward to learn about his habits, routine, friends, and work associates, who would write the ransom notes, who would deliver those notes to what contact, and when the job would be done were all determined. With the exception of Arthur, whom Ma suggested might have been a little too rough with the victim, everyone performed his duties as planned.

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Ma Barker: Ruthless and Daring

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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.

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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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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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.

cowboy and the senorita

 

Cowboy & Senorita

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The Cowboy and the Senorita.