Mr. Raifert is in General Hospital. Helen and Aunt Katie and Uncle Laten are coming over tomorrow to take us. Going to go swimming.
|Kate "Ma" Barker (October 8, 1873 – January 16, 1935)|
Born Arizona Donnie Clark in Ash Grove, Missouri
"Ma" and her husband, George Barker, had four boys named Herman, Lloyd, Arthur,
and Fred, all of whom were juvenile delinquents from an early age. In the early 1920s,
the family moved from Aurora, Missouri, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the four Barker boys
continued in their errant ways. Herman shot himself on August 29, 1927, after a shootout
with police that lasted hours; in 1928, Lloyd was incarcerated in the federal penitentiary at
Leavenworth, Kansas; shortly after Arthur went to the Oklahoma State Prison, and Fred to
the Kansas State Prison. At this point, George gave up on his wild family and left, and "Ma"
took up with a ne'er-do-well alcoholic named Art Dunlop.
Arthur and Fred Barker teamed up with Alvin Karpis and several other criminals to commit a
spree of robberies, kidnappings, and other crimes. In 1933, as the Barker-Karpis gang began to make
headlines, rumors spread that "Ma" was the gang's leader and its criminal mastermind. Some in the
FBI even worried that when they finally caught up with the gang, they would have to shoot the old
woman, too. The rumors were just that, however. Ma Barker certainly knew of the gang's
activities, and even helped them before and after they committed their crimes. This would make
her an accomplice, but there is no evidence that she was ever an active participant in any of
the crimes themselves or involved in planning them. In fact, notorious bank robber and Barker
cohort Harvey Bailey once said, "Ma Barker couldn't plan breakfast" let alone a criminal enterprise.
As the youngest, Fred was stuck with the job of caring for his mother. He hauled her and, sometimes,
Dunlop around the country with him. Eventually he and his mother wound up renting a house
on the northern banks of Lake Weir, near the town of Ocklawaha, Florida. The FBI tracked them there
and engaged them in the longest gunbattle 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 bodies of Ma
and Fred were held in a morgue for eight months in hopes of attracting criminal visitors before they
were transported to Welch, Oklahoma and buried alongside Herman in the Williams Timberhill Cemetery.