Ma Barker in Oklahoma

    Next week I’ll be bringing you more about these two dead men but this week its all about outlaws in Oklahoma!        

                       Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.   This week I’ve been on the trail of two men who were placed in metal barrels and buried in an unmarked grave under suspicious circumstances. I’m working with professional grave finder Gerry Stover who has traveled coast to coast locating graves. From the graves of celebrities to those of long lost family members, Gerry has an impressive success rate and that’s where this week’s story begins.

According to her on-line biographies, Arizona Donnie Clark was born on October 8, 1873 in Ash Grove, Missouri. She married George and the two had four boys: Herman, Lloyd, Arthur, Fred. From 1910-1928 it appears that the family lived in Tulsa where George worked in a variety of jobs. By all accounts “Arrie” as she was known, was a devoted mother and did everything she could to protect her children as we all do. However these boys weren’t your normal kind of boy and their mother had a few problems herself. The real trouble started when Herman was arrested for highway robbery in Webb City, Missouri just 110 miles from Bartlesville.  Herman and his brother Arthur moved on to bank robbery and were picked up for robbing several banks in Tulsa. Before long their brother Lloyd was also involved in what was becoming the “family business.”

On August 16, 1921 Arthur got involved in the killing of a night watchman named Thomas J. Sherrill at St. John’s hospital. This was the start of a killing spree that lasted four years and involved all the brothers. I don’t have room to list the circumstances surrounding their deaths but these officers died in confrontations with what was becoming a gang: Captain Homer R. Spalding of Okmulgee, OK,  Sheriff’s Deputy Arthur Osborn of Cheyenne, WY, Policeman J.E. Marshall and Patrolman Joseph G. Marshall, both of Wichita, KS. Another gang which included brother Herman was responsible for killing five other officers including Chief of Police W.J. Meanally. From 1931-32.  The killing continued with the deaths of more officers in Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Missouri and Minnesota.

In addition to bank robbery, the boys were also involved in kidnapping and although there is no proof that their mother actively participated in their crimes, she certainly was aware of them and helped her sons avoid arrest. It is also believed that the family had dealings with Chicago mob boss Frank Nitti.

Years later in the 1950s TV depictions of the gang’s activities portray Nitti and the family in different episodes with The Untouchables’ Eliot Ness. In the FBI Story, Jimmy Stewart is also shown pursuing the gang. By this time the exploits of Arrie and her sons had become part of popular culture and a myth had developed around her  role as the mastermind of the gang.

It all started falling apart when Herman killed himself in 1927 after a shoot-out with police in Wichita, KS. That same year Lloyd was captured and sent to prison in Kansas. Then in 1935 Arrie and her son Fred were killed in a confrontation with the newly created FBI at their hideout in Ocklawaha, FL. The FBI claimed that a Tommy gun was found in Arrie’s hands after her death. Arthur was arrested and imprisoned at Alcatraz in 1935. In 1939 he was killed during an escape attempt.

The last surviving brother, Lloyd, redeemed himself with honorable service during World War II and went on to have a “straight” job working as the manager of a market in Denver, Co. Ironically, he was killed by his wife who was judged to be insane and sent to a state asylum.

After their deaths the bodies of Fred and his mother were put on public display in Florida.  Eventually the bodies were claimed by relatives and buried in the Williams Timberhill Cemetery in Welch, OK next to Herman’s grave. Arizona Donnie Clark or as you may know her, Kate “Ma” Barker had taken her last ride.

Gerry, who lives out of town, will be returning to the area this week to help me locate the graves of the other two dead men I mentioned earlier.  I will be bringing more on that story as it develops.

Till then I’ll see ya down the road…..






OSU’s Gallagher-Iba Arena

My work frequently takes me to interesting places which I write about in my weekly column.

                    Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.   This week with the college football season over and basketball going full speed I thought I’d bring you a little history on one of Oklahoma’s favorite venues for college games.

You may not be familiar with the name Ed Gallagher but I’m sure you’ve heard of Henry Iba.  Put their two last names together and that’s where I’m about to take you this week.  On New Year’s day Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater was rockin’ as OSU played Gonzaga in a battle between two elite teams. I was there for the game and it was a good one but the historic building stole the show.

The arena was completed in 1938 and the first game was played there on December 9th of the same year. It was OSU versus Kansas and OSU won 21-15. Initially the arena was called “Gallagher Hall” in honor of OSU wrestling great Ed Gallagher. 1n  1987, after a 3.8 million dollar remodel, the Board of Regents added Henry Iba’s name and renamed the facility “Gallagher-Iba Arena.”

Henry Iba coached the OSU men’s basketball team to 767 wins and when he retired in 1970 he was second only to Adolph Ropp. Over all Iba’s teams won 13 league championships, appeared in 8 NCAA tournaments and won the NCAA title twice, in 1945 and 1946.

In 2000 the arena was renovated again and seating capacity was expanded from 6,381 to 13,611. In 2005 the court itself was named the “Eddie Sutton Court.” By the way, the court still has the original white maple flooring.

Today Gallagher-Iba arena has 14 luxury suites that extend along the west side of the building. The suites offer premium views of the games and also overlook the adjoining Boone Pickens Stadium. Beneath the boxes is Heritage Hall which is like a museum with trophies and photos from all the sports offered at OSU. Heritage Hall highlights OSU’s prides in both the athletic and academic achievements of its students. It’s a must see the next time you’re at the university.

One statistic that I thought was particularly impressive is that over the past 74 years since the building was completed, the OSU Cowboys basketball team has a record of 724 wins versus only 200 losses. They have had 10 undefeated seasons and they have only lost three regular season non conference home games since 1987. Gallagher-Iba Arena is a building with a winning history and CBS Sports calls it the best  arena in the country, even surpassing Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. ESPN puts Gallagher-Iba a close second to Palestra Arena in Pennsylvania and CBS sportscaster Dan Wetzel says its easily the loudest arena in the nation.

My pre-game tour of the facility included the players’ locker rooms where everything is top of the line. There is a strength and conditioning area and several sports medicine suites which look like hospital facilities. The full time staff of six includes doctors and certified athletic trainers as well as seven graduate assistants in physical therapy and athletic training. I was so impressed I’m already planning another visit.

Bartlesville, Oklahoma

This is a little local history from our small western  town. And speaking of the west; if you are interested in the June 2013 Photo Workshop all of the rooms at the Express UUBar Ranch lodge are reserved but you can still book at the nearby St. James Hotel. Check out their website @ or call  (575) 376-2664. Be sure to mention the photo workshop on June 13th, 14th & 15th.

The St. James and the UUBar Ranch are both owned by Bob Funk and are only five miles apart.

                      Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.  This week marks the New Year and as always this is a good time to look back. On January 15, 2013 the City of Bartlesville will be 114 years old as this is the date of its official incorporation in 1897. I have been looking into my history books, including the programs from our 1997 Centennial Celebration and thinking about how far we’ve come.

Many of you history buffs will know that 1897  was the year that Jennie Cass, the daughter of George Keller, dropped the “go-devil” into the hole that started it all, the original Nellie Johnstone oilwell. 1897 was also the year that the first church was built in town. The following year a post office was established along with a new town to the north named Dewey after Admiral George Dewey. 1899 brought the Santa Fe to town and the first public school opened. By 1901 Bartlesville had electric street lights and telephone service. Banks opened, a brick plant was founded and H.V. Foster came to town.

In the early 1900s Bartlesville grew quickly. Huge oil storage “farms” were built and the Crystal Ice House opened where a young Boots Adams worked. The Tyler brothers started a cement plant in Dewey and the Star Theater opened. By 1906 there were 121 drilling companies in town and the city needed a hospital. By all accounts Bartlesville’s 11 barbershops and 6 pool halls also stayed busy.

In 1907 Frank Phillips built his historic house in town. This was followed by the opening of May Brothers in 1910 and the construction of the first high school, the first city hall and Douglas School. In 1917 Frank and his brother L.E. Phillips founded Phillips Petroleum Company. That was a turning point in the history of Bartlesville when growth really took off and the company grew to be the city’s largest employer and supporter.

Over less than 100 years the town grew from a little settlement along the Caney River in Indian territory with only 200 inhabitants to a thriving city with 40,000 residents by 1984.

1984 was a significant year because the Washington Park Mall and the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center both opened that year. It was also the first time many people had heard the name T. Boone Pickens, the corporate giant who tried unsuccessfully to gain control of Phillips. The following year Carl Ican also attempted a hostile takeover of the company. Phillips managed to thwart both attempts but the company was forced to lay off employees as a result.

1986 brought another big problem to Bartlesville when the Caney River rose 29 feet above normal and 800 homes were flooded.

1987 brought better things when the Indian Summer Festival was created and although the population of the city had dropped to 34,252 the mood was still optimistic. A beautiful new library opened in 1992 and in 1996 Phillips had its best year in a long time.

In 1997 a year long city wide celebration of the city’s Centennial was organized by H.T. Sears, Jr. and Bill Creel. Both men had extensive knowledge of Bartlesville and the contacts to pull off a great party to mark its accomplishments. The celebration included historical re-enactments, parades, concerts, a carnival and much more. To date it remains the biggest and most successful city wide celebration ever held. Bill and Tom and the hundreds of volunteers they recruited not only raised all the money for the Centennial events but they were also able to make a substantial contribution to the (then) new Bartlesville History Museum when the celebration was over.  My friends I hope you were there.

Now with Bartlesville’s future looking brighter than ever another birthday is coming up. I’ll leave this week by simply saying “Happy Birthday Bartlesville!”  Till next week I’ll see ya down the road….