Ma and Her Boys:
One Family's
Life of Crime

Arizona Donnie Clark is born near Springfield, Missouri.
Arizona Donnie Clark hears of the killing of Jesse James by Bob Ford. It breaks her heart as she has admired James as he rode through Carthage, Missouri.
The Dalton Brothers end their reign of terror after trying to rob two banks in Coffeyville, Kansas. Another of Arizona's heroes end their careers.
Arizona Donnie Clark marries farm laborer George Barker and moves to Aurora, Missouri.
Herman Barker born in Aurora, Missouri.
Lloyd Barker born in Aurora, Missouri.
Arthur Barker born in Aurora, Missouri.
Fred Barker born in Aurora, Missouri.
Alvin Karpowicz (Karpis) is born in Montreal, Canada, to Lithuanian immigrants.
Webb City, Missouri police arrest Herman Barker for petty theft. He is released to the custody of his mother.
Herman and Lloyd Barker organize Tulsa, Oklahoma's Central Park Gang, a youth organization which dedicates itself to petty burglaries.
Webb City police pursue Arthur "Doc" Barker through a string of juvenile violations over the next several years.
Herman is arrested for robbery in Joplin, Missouri and is again released to the care of his mother who tells neighbors "They're marked. The cops here won't ever stop persecuting my boys."
"Ma" and the boys leave Webb City for Tulsa.
After Freddie visits ex-con and hideout operator Herb Farmer in Joplin, Missouri, the Barkers begin operating a safe house for fugitives such as bank robber Al Spencer; heist men Frank Nash, Ray Terrill, and Earl Thayer; and holdup men like Francis Keating and Thomas Holding.
"Doc" is arrested for stealing a Government car. He later escapes and is recaptured, several times.
Lloyd Barker botches the robbery of a rural Oklahoma post office and receives a twenty-five year sentence. He spends his time at Leavenworth, Kansas.
"Doc" Barker receives a life prison sentence for the murder of a Tulsa hospital night watchman. He and Ma insist that he is not guilty. Years later, a California thief confesses to the killing.
Freddie Barker receives a five to ten year sentence for robbing the Windfield, Kansas bank. Ma's favorite boy gets sent up to the Kansas State Penitentiary at Lansing where he meets Alvin "Creepy" Karpis.
After spending most of the Twenties in the company of the Kimes-Terrill gang, robbing banks in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, Herman Barker gets flagged down by policemen following the robbery of a Newton, Kansas store. Barker kills police officer J.E. Marshall, but is seriously wounded as he attempts to speed past a roadblock. He turns his Luger on himself, committing suicide. Ma never admits that Herman killed himself.
Ma leaves George Barker and pays for her sons' lawyers by harboring fugitives in her home.
Freddie paroled. He and Alvin Karpis move in with Ma and her lover, Arthur Dunlop, spending the first months of their freedom robbing jewelry and clothing stores throughout Kansas and Missouri.
Freddie and Karpis are picked up for stealing some jewelry in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They return the goods and are released.
Freddie is arrested for burglary in Claremore, Oklahoma. He escapes.
Two days after robbing a store in West Plains, Missouri, Freddie and Karpis are spotted by Sheriff C.R. Kelly. As Kelly strides up to investigate the robbery car, Freddie and Karpis give him everything they've got. Kelly dies on the spot.
Freddie, Karpis, Bill Weaver, and James Wilson knock over the Mountain View, Missouri bank to the tune of $7,000.
Freddie and Alvin Karpis move to Minnesota where they hijack cigarette and whisky shipments, steal clothing, and crack safes.
Freddie and Karpis shoot Pocahaltas, Arkansas Police Chief Manley Jackson five times in the back, killing him.
Freddie and Karpis realize $81,000 in cash and $185,000 in bonds when they hold up the Northwestern National Bank of Minneapolis.
Freddie and Karpis spend the winter months robbing banks with Larry Devol in Beloit, Wisconsin, Flandreau, North Dakota, and Redwood Falls, Minnesota.
The son of their west St. Paul landlady finds pictures of Freddie and Karpis in a detective magazine and notifies the police. Harry Sawyer, an underworld "fixer", hears of the impending raid and notifies the gang, which retreats to Kansas City.
Machine politician and bootlegger Jack Peifer kills Arthur Dunlop as a personal favor to the Barkers after Dunlop gets drunk one night and yabbers on about the gang's operations. His body turns up in Wisconsin's Lake Freasted.
The Fort Scott, Kansas Bank falls to Freddie, Karpis, Devol, Phil Courtney, and Harvey Bailey. $47,000 is the take. Three recent escapees from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary -- James Clark, Edward Davis, and Frank Sawyer -- are rounded up soon afterwards and receive sentences ranging from twenty to one hundred years for the robbery, which they did not commit.
"Mrs. A.F. Hunter and sons" move into a Kansas City, Missouri apartment. A few days later, the FBI pick up gang members Francis Keating, Thomas Holding and Harvey Bailey at the Old Mission Golf Course. Bailey carries a Liberty bond from the Fort Scott bank. The Barkers flee town.
Freddie, Karpis, Devol, Jess and Doc Doyle rob the Wahpeton, North Dakota Bank of $7,000.
The Cloud County Bank at Concordia, Kansas surrenders $250,000 to Freddie, Karpis, Devol, Jess Doyle, Frank Nash, and Earl Christman.
Freddie, Devol and Volney Davis pay a visit to Bixby, Oklahoma, where the take is a pathetic $1000.
Oklahoma Governor William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray pardons Doc on the condition that he leave Oklahoma and never return. The family uses their connections to free Doc's longtime friend Volney Davis from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Doc leads Freddie, Karpis, Jess Doyle, Bill Weaver, Verne Miller, and Devol in a $112,000 raid against Minneapolis's Third Northwestern Bank. The robbers gun down two policemen and wound a civilian.
Police raid the apartment of Larry DeVol who has $17,000 of the Third Northwestern Bank take in his possession. DeVol pleads guilty to the charge of murder and receives a life sentence in the Minnesota State Penitentiary.
The gang spends a luxorious winter in Reno, Nevada.
The gang returns to St. Paul where a rumor of another police raid send it into hiding in Chicago.
The Barkers invade Fairbury, Nebraska with Karpis, Jess Doyle, Nash, Davis, and Christman and remove $151,350 from the bank. The gang wounds the bank president and a guard who manages to shoot Christman. Christman dies the next day in Verne Miller's Kansas City hideout. The Barkers secretly bury him.
Ma decides that bank robberies pose too much of a risk to her boys, so she helps them plan the kidnapping of St. Paul brewer William A. Hamm, Jr. The Barkers, Karpis, Monty Bolton, Fred Goetz, and Charles Fitzgerald demand and get a $100,000 ransom. Hamm turns up three days after his abduction, alive and well, forty miles north of St. Paul. Chicago bootlegger Roger Touhy is apprehended by the FBI and tried for the crime.
The boys hijack the $30,000 Swift Company payroll in St. Paul with Karpis, Devol, and Fitzgerald. They kill one policeman and wound another.
The hijacking of a Federal Reserve mail truck in Chicago proves to be a bust: the Barkers, Monty Bolton, Bill "Lapland Willie" Weaver, and Goetz net only several sacks filled with useless checks. Bolton slays Patrolman Miles A. Cunningham and wounds a second officer.
Edward G. Bremer, a wealthy Minneapolis banker, disappears. He reappears after his family pays $200,000 to his kidnappers. A fingerprint check of a gas can dropped by a Wisconsin roadside reveals a print left by Doc. For the first time, the Barkers, who have thrived on anonymity, find themselves exposed as Public Enemies. Their pictures appear in national magazines and on thousands of FBI wanted posters.
Gang member Fred Goetz is murdered after losing the Barkers' trust. They fire several shotgun blasts into his face to make identification difficult.
The gang lure underworld contact William Harrison to an Ontarioville, Illinois barn. There they shoot him for talking, soak his body in gasoline, and set the barn on fire.
Freddie and Alvin Karpis go to Irving Park Boulevard in Chicago to employ Dr. Joseph P. Moran. Moran, a specialist in plastic surgery and fingertip alterations, botches the jobs. Moran also launders the gang's kidnapping money. He meets his end after he gets drunk and brags to the madam of a Toledo, Ohio brothel that he has the gang "in the hollow of my hand". The madam calls Doc and Freddie who, still bitter about the pain which Moran caused him, show up to take the physician for a ride from which he never returns. Freddie tells Karpis: "Doc and I shot the son of a bitch. Anybody who talks to whores is too dangerous to live. We dug a hole in Michigan and dropped him in and covered the hole with lime. I don't think anybody's going to come across Doc Moran again."
The FBI arrest "Boss" McLaughlin for laundering the gang's take from the Brewer kidnapping. Soon afterwards, Oliver A. Berg, an escaped Illinois State Penitentiary inmate, is arrested for serving as the go-between for the Barkers and McLaughlin.
Special agent Melvin Purvis and a team of FBI men captures Doc out walking in Chicago. A map at Doc's hideout shows the location of Freddie and Ma.
FBI agents led by Purvis arrive at the Oklawaha, Florida cottage where Freddie and Ma Barker have been laying low. The Barkers open fire as the G-men approach the house. The federal agents return the fire, stopping only when their ammunition gets low. No more shots come from the Barker cottage. The agents find Freddie and Ma dead in an upstairs bedroom, still clutching their Thompson submachine guns and .300 gas-operated rifle.
The FBI captures Harry Sawyer in Mississippi, Volney Davis in Chicago, and William Weaver in Chicago.
Doc receives a life sentence for kidnapping and bank robbery. He becomes Prisoner #268 at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary.
After eight months, the bodies of Ma and Freddie Barker are returned to George Barker, who lays them to rest next to Herman in Welch, Oklahoma.
Public Enemy Number One Alvin Karpis is intercepted by FBI agents in New Orleans. J. Edgar Hoover flies to the city, appearing to make his only arrest after FBI agents have safely apprehended Karpis.
Arthur "Doc" Barker dies after attempting to escape from U.S. Penitentiary Alcatraz.
Lloyd Barker finishes his sentence at Leavenworth, Kansas and is released.
Mrs. Lloyd Barker kills her husband in Colorado where he has been working as the assistant manager of a snack shop.
Alcatraz authorities arrange for Missouri to issue a detainer against Alvin Karpis for the murder of Sheriff Kelly. Karpis successfully fights the charges in a Missouri court and the detainer is dismissed with prejudice by the judge.
Karpis attempts to prosecute Warden Swope for illegally soliciting the detainer against him.
Karpis is accused of inciting a prison riot and thrown into isolation.
Karpis is allowed to rejoin the general prison population.
William Weaver collapses in the Alcatraz laundry and dies.
Karpis is transferred to Leavenworth. Six months later, he returns to Alcatraz, labeled a "disturbing element" by Leavenworth officials who had not wanted him in the first place.
Alvin Karpis is transferred from Alcatraz to McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary, Washington.
Karpis is paroled from McNeil Island and deported to Canada.
Karpis moves to Spain.
Karpis takes an overdose of sleeping pills in Torrelimos, Spain.
Karpis' prison memoir, On the Rock, (cowritten by Robert Livesey) appears.

Only two photos of the living Ma Barker exist. This one was cropped by the FBI from a picture of her sitting with her lover Arthur V. Dunlop.
Photo courtesy Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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