Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ma Barker gang

Of all the gangs that roamed the country during gangster era of the 1920s and 1930s, none had stronger ties to the Ozarks than the Ma Barker gang. Bonnie and Clyde and others sometimes used the Ozarks hill country as a hideout, but the Barkers were actually from this area.
Ma herself was born near Ash Grove as Arizona "Arrie" Clark. She got married at Aurora and she her husband, George Barker, had their first three sons there. A fourth was born after they moved to Webb City about 1903.
The Barkers first got into serious trouble with the law when the oldest son, Herman, and a couple of young sidekicks robbed some men who were playing poker in the back of store in Webb City. The Barker family moved to Tulsa shortly after this incident, but members of the Barker gang continued throughout the gang's criminal career to return on occasion to the southwest Missouri region, where they had friends like Herb Farmer who would hide them out.
And several of the gang's noted crimes were committed in the Ozarks. Among the more notorious was the murder of the Howell County sheriff at West Plains by Alvin Karpis and Herman's younger brother Fred.
Most of the Barkers, including Ma, are buried at the edge of the Ozarks in a rural cemetery near Welch, Oklahoma.

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