Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pretty Boy Floyd: American Gangster

Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd (February 3, 1904 – October 22, 1934) was an American bank robber. He operated in the Midwest and West South Central States, and his criminal exploits gained heavy press coverage in the 1930s. Like most other prominent outlaws of that era, he was killed by policemen. While speculation remains among which officers were actually there, local or the FBI, known accounts prove that local officers Robert "Pete" Pyle and George Curran were present for not only the killing, but also the embalming. He remains a familiar figure in American popular culture, sometimes seen as notorious, but at other times viewed as a tragic figure, partly a victim of hard times.

Floyd was born in Bartow County, Georgia. He grew up in Oklahoma after moving there with his family from Georgia in 1911, and spent considerable time in nearby Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri. He was first arrested at age 18 after he stole $3.50 in coins from a local post office. Three years later he was arrested for a payroll robbery on September 16, 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri and was sentenced to five years in prison, of which he served three and a half.

When paroled, Floyd vowed that he would never see the inside of another prison. Entering into partnerships with more established criminals in the Kansas City underworld, he committed a series of bank robberies over the next several years; it was during this period that he acquired the nickname "Pretty Boy." According to one account, when the payroll master targeted in a robbery described the three perpetrators to the police, he referred to Floyd as "a mere boy - a pretty boy with apple cheeks." Like his contemporary Baby Face Nelson, Floyd hated his nickname.

In 1929, he faced numerous arrests. On March 9, he was arrested in Kansas City on investigation and again on May 6 for vagrancy and suspicion of highway robbery, but he was released the next day. Two days later, he was arrested in Pueblo, Colorado, charged with vagrancy. He was fined $50.00 and sentenced to 60 days in jail.
Floyd, under the alias "Frank Mitchell," was arrested in Akron, Ohio, on March 8, 1930, charged in the investigation of the murder of an Akron police officer who had been killed during a robbery that evening.

The law next caught up with Floyd in Toledo, Ohio, where he was arrested on suspicion on May 20, 1930; he was sentenced on November 24, 1930, to 12–15 years in Ohio State penitentiary for the Sylvania Ohio Bank Robbery, but he escaped.

Floyd was a suspect in the deaths of bootlegging brothers Wally and Boll Ash of Kansas City. They were found dead in a burning car on March 25, 1931. A month later on April 23, members of his gang killed Patrolman R. H. Castner of Bowling Green, Ohio, and on July 22 Floyd killed ATF Agent C. Burke in Kansas City, Missouri.

In 1932, former sheriff Erv Kelley of McIntosh County, Oklahoma, tried to arrest Floyd; he was killed on April 7. In November of that year, three members of Floyd's gang attempted to rob the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Boley, Oklahoma.

Despite his life of crime, he was viewed positively by the general public. When he robbed banks he would destroy mortgage documents, which freed many citizens of their debts. He was even protected by citizens of Oklahoma, who referred to him as "Robin Hood of the Cookson Hills".

Floyd and Adam Richetti became the primary suspects in a June 17, 1933, gunfight known as the "Kansas City massacre" that resulted in the deaths of four law enforcement officers. Though J. Edgar Hoover used the incident as ammunition to further empower the FBI to pursue Floyd, historians are divided as to whether or not he was involved. Another, more likely, suspect, was gang torpedo Sol Weismann, who resembled Floyd. Floyd adamantly denied his involvement in this fiasco (apparently a botched attempt to free bank robber Frank Nash, who was in police custody), and as he never bothered to deny many of his other crimes, including murders of policemen, it seems unlikely that he was a participant in the "massacre" at Kansas City.

The gunfight was an attack by Vernon Miller and accomplices on lawmen escorting robber Frank "Jelly" Nash to a car parked at the Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. Two Kansas City, Missouri, officers, Detective William Grooms and Patrolman Grant Schroder; McAlester, Oklahoma Police Chief Otto Reed; and FBI Special Agent Ray Caffrey were killed. Nash was also killed as he was sitting in the car. Two other Kansas City police officers survived by slumping forward in the backseat and feigning death. As the gunmen inspected the car, another officer responded from the station and fired at them, forcing them to flee. Miller was found dead on November 27, 1933, outside Detroit, Michigan, beaten and strangled.

Floyd and Richetti were alleged to have been Miller's accomplices. Factors weighing against them included their apparent presence in Kansas City at the time, eyewitness identifications (which have been contested), Richetti's fingerprint said to have been recovered from a beer bottle at Miller's hideout, an underworld account naming Floyd and Richetti as the gunmen, and Hoover's firm advocacy of their guilt. Fellow bank robber Alvin Karpis, an acquaintance of Floyd's, claimed that Floyd confessed involvement to him. On the other side of the issue, the bandit alleged to have been Floyd was supposed to have been wounded by a gunshot to the shoulder in the attack, and Floyd's body showed no sign of this injury when examined later. The underworld account identifying Floyd and Richetti as the killers was offset by equally unreliable underworld accounts proclaiming their innocence or identifying others. The Floyd family has maintained that while Floyd owned up to many other crimes, he vehemently denied involvement in this one, as did Richetti. It has also been contended that this crime would have been inconsistent with Floyd's other criminal acts, as he was not otherwise known as a hired gun or (especially) a hired killer.

Shortly after the attack, Kansas City police received a postcard dated June 30, 1933, from Springfield, Missouri, which read: "Dear Sirs- I- Charles Floyd- want it made known that I did not participate in the massacre of officers at Kansas City. Charles Floyd". The police department believed the note to be genuine. Floyd also reportedly denied involvement in the massacre to the FBI agents who had fatally wounded him. In addition, a recent book on the massacre attributes at least some of the killing to friendly fire by a lawman who was unfamiliar with his weapon, based on ballistic tests.

On July 23, 1934, following the death of John Dillinger, "Pretty Boy" Floyd was named Public enemy No. 1. On October 22, 1934, Floyd was shot in a corn field behind a house on Sprucevale Road between Beaver Creek State Park and East Liverpool, Ohio near Clarkson, while being pursued by local law officers and FBI agents led by Melvin Purvis. Varying accounts exist as to who shot him and the manner in which he was killed. He was carried out of the field by FBI agents and died under an apple tree.

Having narrowly escaped ambush by FBI agents and other law enforcement agencies several times after the Kansas City Massacre, Floyd had a stroke of bad luck. On October 18, 1934, he and Richetti left Buffalo, New York, and slid their vehicle into a telephone pole during a heavy fog. No one was injured, but the car was disabled. Fearing they would be recognized, Floyd and Richetti sent two female companions to retrieve a tow truck; the women would then accompany the tow truck driver into a town and have the vehicle repaired while the two men waited by the roadside.

After dawn on October 19, motorist Joe Fryman and his son-in-law passed by, observing two men dressed in suits lying by the roadside. Feeling it was suspicious, he informed Wellsville, Ohio, Police Chief John H. Fultz. Three officers, including Fultz, investigated. When Richetti saw the lawmen, he fled into the woods, pursued by two officers, while Fultz went toward Floyd. Floyd immediately drew his gun and fired, and he and Fultz engaged one another in a gunfight, during which Fultz was wounded in the foot. After wounding Fultz, Floyd fled into the forest. The other two officers enlisted the help of local retired police officer Chester K. Smith, a former sniper during World War I, and subsequently captured Richetti. Floyd remained on the run, living on fruit, traveling on foot, and quickly becoming exhausted.

At least three accounts exist of the following events: one given by the FBI, one by other people in the area, and one by local law enforcement. The accounts agree that, after obtaining some food at a local pool hall owned by Charles Joy, a friend of Floyd's, Floyd hitched a ride in an East Liverpool neighborhood on October 22, 1934. He was spotted by the team of lawmen, at which point he broke from the vehicle and fled toward the treeline. Local retired officer Chester Smith fired first, hitting Floyd in the right arm, knocking him to the ground. At this point, the three accounts diverge; the FBI agents later attempted to claim all the credit, denying local law enforcement were even present at the actual shooting. According to the local police account, Floyd regained his footing and continued to run, at which point the entire team opened fire, knocking him to the ground. Floyd died shortly thereafter from his wounds.

According to the FBI, four FBI agents, led by Purvis, and four members of the East Liverpool Police Department, led by Chief Hugh McDermott, were searching the area south of Clarkson, Ohio, in two separate cars. They spotted a car move from behind a corn crib, and then move back. Floyd then emerged from the car and drew a .45 caliber pistol, and the FBI agents opened fire. Floyd reportedly said: "I'm done for. You've hit me twice."

However, Chester Smith, the retired East Liverpool Police Captain and sharpshooter, described events differently in a 1979 interview for Time magazine. Smith, who was credited with shooting Floyd first, stated that he had deliberately wounded, but not killed, Floyd. He then added: "I knew Purvis couldn't hit him, so I dropped him with two shots from my .32 Winchester rifle." According to Smith's account, after being wounded, Floyd fell and did not regain his footing. Smith then disarmed Floyd. At that point, Purvis ran up and ordered: "Back away from that man. I want to talk to him." Purvis questioned Floyd briefly, and after receiving curses in reply ordered agent Herman "Ed" Hollis to "Fire into him." Hollis then shot Floyd at point-blank range with a sub-machine gun, killing him. The interviewer asked if there was a cover-up by the FBI, and Smith responded: "Sure was, because they didn't want it to get out that he'd been killed that way."

FBI agent Winfred E. Hopton disputed Chester Smith's claim in a letter to the editors of Time Magazine, that appeared in the November 19, 1979, issue, in response to the Time article "Blasting a G-Man Myth." In his letter he stated that he was one of four FBI agents present when Floyd was killed, on a farm several miles from East Liverpool, Ohio. According to Hopton, members of the East Liverpool police department arrived only after Floyd was already mortally wounded. He also claimed that when the four agents confronted Floyd, Floyd turned to fire on them, and two of the four killed Floyd almost instantly. Additionally, while Smith's account said that Herman Hollis shot the wounded Floyd on Purvis's order, Hopton claimed that Hollis was not present. Hopton also stated Floyd's body was transported back to East Liverpool in Hopton's personal car.

Floyd's body was embalmed and briefly viewed at the Sturgis Funeral Home in East Liverpool, Ohio, before being sent on to Oklahoma. Floyd's body was placed on public display in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. His funeral was attended by between 20,000 and 40,000 people and remains the largest funeral in Oklahoma history. He was buried in Akins, Oklahoma.



Sources: Wikipedia

This work released through CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons







Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chief Joseph: American Indian

Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, Hinmatóowyalahtq̓it in Americanist orthography, popularly known as Chief Joseph, or Young Joseph (March 3, 1840 – September 21, 1904), succeeded his father Tuekakas (Chief Joseph the Elder) as the leader of the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of Nez Perce, a Native American tribe indigenous to the Wallowa Valley in northeastern Oregon, in the interior Pacific Northwest region of the United States.

He led his band during the most tumultuous period in their contemporary history when they were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in the Wallowa Valley by the United States federal government and forced to move northeast, onto the significantly reduced reservation in Lapwai, Idaho Territory. A series of events which culminated in episodes of violence led those Nez Perce who resisted removal including Joseph's band and an allied band of the Palouse tribe to take flight to attempt to reach political asylum, ultimately with the Sioux chief Sitting Bull in Canada.

They were pursued by the U.S. Army in a campaign led by General Oliver O. Howard. This 1,170-mile (1,900 km) fighting retreat by the Nez Perce in 1877 became known as the Nez Perce War. The skill with which the Nez Perce fought and the manner in which they conducted themselves in the face of incredible adversity led to widespread admiration among their military adversaries and the American public.

Coverage of the war in United States newspapers led to widespread recognition of Joseph and the Nez Perce. For his principled resistance to the removal, he became renowned as a humanitarian and peacemaker. However, modern scholars like Robert McCoy and Thomas Guthrie argue that this coverage, as well as Joseph's speeches and writings, distorted the true nature of Joseph's thoughts and gave rise to a "mythical" Chief Joseph as a "red Napoleon" that served the interests of the Anglo-American narrative of manifest destiny.

Joseph was born Hinmuuttu-yalatlat (alternatively Hinmaton-Yalaktit or Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, Nez Perce: "Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain" or ',Hinmatóoyalahtq'it – “Thunder traveling to higher areas”) in the Wallowa Valley of north eastern Oregon. He was known as Young Joseph during his youth because his father, Tuekakas, was baptized with the same Christian name, later becoming known as "Old Joseph" or "Joseph the Elder."

While initially hospitable to the region's newcomers, Joseph the Elder grew wary when settlers wanted more Indian lands. Tensions grew as the settlers appropriated traditional Indian lands for farming and grazing livestock.
Isaac Stevens, governor of the Washington Territory, organized a council to designate separate areas for natives and settlers in 1855. Joseph the Elder and the other Nez Perce chiefs signed a treaty with the United States establishing a Nez Perce reservation encompassing 7.7 million acres (31,000 km²) in present-day Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. The 1855 reservation maintained much of the traditional Nez Perce lands, including Joseph's Wallowa Valley.

An influx of new settlers caused by a gold rush led the government to call a second council in 1863. Government commissioners asked the Nez Perce to accept a new, much smaller reservation of 780,000 acres (3,200 km2) situated around the village of Lapwai in Idaho, and excluding the Wallowa Valley. In exchange, they were promised financial rewards and schools and a hospital for the reservation. Chief Lawyer and one of his allied chiefs signed the treaty on behalf of the Nez Perce Nation, but Joseph the Elder and several other chiefs were opposed to selling their lands, and did not sign.

Their refusal to sign caused a rift between the "non-treaty" and "treaty" bands of Nez Perce. The "treaty" Nez Perce moved within the new reservation's boundaries, while the "non-treaty" Nez Perce remained on their lands. Joseph the Elder demarcated Wallowa land with a series of poles, proclaiming, "Inside this boundary all our people were born. It circles the graves of our fathers, and we will never give up these graves to any man."

The non-treaty Nez Perce suffered many injustices at the hands of settlers and prospectors, but out of fear of reprisal from the militarily superior Americans, Joseph never allowed any violence against them, instead making many concessions to them in hopes of securing peace.

In 1873, Joseph negotiated with the federal government to ensure his people could stay on their land in the Wallowa Valley. But in 1877, the government reversed its policy, and Army General Oliver Howard threatened to attack if the Wallowa band did not relocate to the Idaho Reservation with the other Nez Perce. Joseph reluctantly agreed. Before the outbreak of hostilities, General Howard held a council at Fort Lapwai to try to convince Joseph and his people to relocate. Joseph finished his address to the general, which focused on human equality, by expressing his "[disbelief that] the Great Spirit Chief gave one kind of men the right to tell another kind of men what they must do." Howard reacted angrily, interpreting the statement as a challenge to his authority. When Toohoolhoolzote protested, he was jailed for five days.

The day following the council, Joseph, White Bird, and Looking Glass all accompanied Howard to look at different areas. Howard offered them a plot of land that was inhabited by Whites and Native Americans, promising to clear them out. Joseph and his chieftains refused, adhering to their tribal tradition of not taking what did not belong to them.

Unable to find any suitable uninhabited land on the reservation, Howard informed Joseph that his people had thirty days to collect their livestock and move to the reservation. Joseph pleaded for more time, but Howard told him that he would consider their presence in the Wallowa Valley beyond the thirty-day mark an act of war.

Returning home, Joseph called a council among his people. At the council, he spoke on behalf of peace, preferring to abandon his father's grave over war. Toohoolhoolzote, insulted by his incarceration, advocated war. The Wallowa band began making preparations for the long journey, meeting first with other bands at Rocky Canyon. At this council too, many leaders urged war, while Joseph argued in favor of peace. While the council was underway, a young man whose father had been killed rode up and announced that he and several other young men had already killed four white settlers. Still hoping to avoid further bloodshed, Joseph and other non-treaty Nez Perce leaders began moving people away from Idaho.

The Nez Perce War was the name given to the U.S. Army's pursuit of the over 800 Nez Perce and an allied band of the Palouse tribe who had fled toward freedom. Initially they had hoped to take refuge with the Crow nation in the Montana Territory, but when the Crow refused to grant them aid, the Nez Perce went north in an attempt to reach asylum with Sioux Chief Sitting Bull and his followers who had fled to Canada in 1876.

For over three months, the Nez Perce outmaneuvered and battled their pursuers traveling 1,170 miles across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.

General Howard, leading the opposing cavalry, was impressed with the skill with which the Nez Perce fought, using advance and rear guards, skirmish lines, and field fortifications. Finally, after a devastating five-day battle during freezing weather conditions with no food or blankets, with the major war leaders dead, Joseph formally surrendered to General Nelson Appleton Miles on October 5, 1877 in the Bear Paw Mountains of the Montana Territory, less than 40 miles (60 km) south of Canada in a place close to the present-day Chinook in Blaine County.

Joseph's fame did him little good. By the time Joseph surrendered, 150 of his followers had been killed. Their plight, however, did not end. Although he had negotiated a safe return home for his people, General Sherman forced Joseph and four hundred followers to be taken on unheated rail cars to Fort Leavenworth in eastern Kansas to be held in a prisoner of war campsite for eight months. Toward the end of the following summer the surviving Nez Perce were taken by rail to a reservation in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) for seven years. Many of them died of epidemic diseases while there.

In 1879, Chief Joseph went to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Rutherford B. Hayes and plead the case of his people. Although Joseph was respected as a spokesman, opposition in Idaho prevented the U.S. government from granting his petition to return to the Pacific Northwest. Finally, in 1885, Chief Joseph and his followers were allowed to return to the Pacific Northwest to settle on the reservation around Kooskia, Idaho. Instead, Joseph and others were taken to the Colville Indian Reservation far from both their homeland in the Wallowa Valley and the rest of their people in Idaho.

Joseph continued to lead his Wallowa band on the Colville Reservation, at times coming into conflict with the leaders of 11 other tribes living on the reservation. Chief Moses of the Sinkiuse-Columbia in particular resented having to cede a portion of his people's lands to Joseph's people, who had "made war on the Great Father."

In his last years Joseph spoke eloquently against the injustice of United States policy toward his people and held out the hope that America's promise of freedom and equality might one day be fulfilled for Native Americans as well. In 1897, he visited Washington again to plead his case. He rode in a parade honoring former President Ulysses Grant in New York City with Buffalo Bill Cody but he was a topic of conversation for his headdress more than his mission.

In 1903, Chief Joseph visited Seattle, a booming young town, where he stayed in the Lincoln Hotel as guest to Edmond Meany, a history professor at the University of Washington. It was there that he also befriended Edward Curtis, the photographer, who took one of his most memorable and well-known photographs. He also visited President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington that year. Everywhere he went, it was to make a plea for what remained of his people to be returned to their home in the Wallowa Valley. But it would never happen. An indomitable voice of conscience for the West, he died in September 1904, still in exile from his homeland, according to his doctor "of a broken heart." Meany and Curtis would help his family bury their chief near the village of Nespelem.

The Chief Joseph band of Nez Perce Indians who still live on the Colville Reservation bear his name in tribute to their prestigious leader. Joseph is buried in Nespelem, Washington, where many of his tribe's members still live.



Sources: Wikipedia

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mary Read: Pirates

Mary Read (died 1721) was an English pirate. She and Anne Bonny are two of the most famed female pirates of all time; they are the only two women known to have been convicted of piracy during the early 18th century, at the height of the Golden Age of Piracy.

Mary Read was illegitimately born in England, in the late 17th century, to the widow of a sea captain.

Her date of birth is disputed among historians because of a reference to the "Peace of Ryswick" by her contemporary biographer Captain Charles Johnson in A General History of the Pyrates. He very well may have made an error, intending to refer to the "Treaty of Utrecht". Whichever it is, her birth was at 1691.

Read's mother began to disguise illegitimately born Mary as a boy after the death of Mary's older, legitimate brother Mark. This was done in order to continue to receive financial support from his paternal grandmother. The grandmother was apparently fooled, and Read and her mother lived on the inheritance into her teenage years. Still dressed as a boy, Read then found work as a footboy, and later found employment on a ship.

She later joined the British military, allied with Dutch forces against the French (this could have been during the Nine Years War or during the War of the Spanish Succession). Read, in male disguise, proved herself through battle, but she fell in love with a Flemish soldier. When they married, she used their military commission and gifts from intrigued brethren in arms as a funding source to acquire an inn named "De drie hoefijzers" (The Three Horseshoes") near Breda Castle in The Netherlands.

Upon her husband's early death, Read resumed male dress and military service in Holland. With peace, there was no room for advancement, so she quit and boarded a ship bound for the West Indies.

Read's ship was taken by pirates, who forced her to join them. She took the King's pardon c.1718-1719, and took a commission to privateer, until that ended with her joining the crew in mutiny. In 1720 she joined pirate John "Calico Jack" Rackham and his companion, the female pirate Anne Bonny.

Read remained dressed as a man at first. Nobody knew that Read was female until Bonny began to take a liking to Read thinking she was a handsome young fellow. That forced Read to reveal to Bonny that she was a woman. Rackham, who was Bonny's lover, became jealous of the intimacy between them and threatened to cut the throat of Bonny's new paramour. To prevent Read's death, Rackham was also let in on the secret; following, Rackham decided to break male seafaring tradition by allowing both women to remain on the crew.

During their brief cruise in late 1720, they took several prisoners and forced them into useful service. Read fell in love with one such victim who was surprised to learn that she was a woman and eventually returned the affection. When one of the pirates challenged her lover to a duel, Read contrived a secret duel to occur a couple hours earlier. She killed the pirate before he could bring any harm to her lover, whom she called "husband" as they made vows to each other in absence of a minister.

In October 1720, pirate hunter Captain Jonathan Barnet took Rackham's crew by surprise while they were hosting a rum party with another crew of Englishmen off the west coast of Jamaica. After a volley of fire left the pirate vessel disabled, Rackham's crew and their "guests" fled to the hold, leaving only the women and one other to fight Barnet's boarding party. Allegedly, Read angrily shot into the hold, killing one, wounding others when the men would not come up and fight with them. Barnet's crew eventually overcame the women. Rackham surrendered, requesting "quarter."

Rackham and his crew were arrested and brought to trial in what is now known as Spanish Town, Jamaica, where they were sentenced to hang for acts of piracy, as were Read and Bonny. However, the women escaped the noose when they revealed they were both "quick with child" (known as "Pleading the belly"), so they received a temporary stay of execution.

Read died in prison in April 1721, but there is no record of burial of her baby.



Source: Wikipedia

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