Public Enemy #1 - (1931-1935)



George and Arizona "Ma" Barker

Our great-grandfather Lieutenant Elias Barker is also the great-grandfather of the notorious Barker brothers (Herman, Lloyd, Arthur, and Fred).  In the early nineteen-thirties (1931-1935) the brothers along with Alvin Karpis formed the nucleus of the Barker-Karpis Gang.  The Barker brothers were noted gangsters and reached the position of Public Enemy #1 on the FBI "Most Wanted List."  Their father George Barker was a hard working, lead miner who never had trouble with the law.  According to his son Arthur (Doc) in his admission record at Leavenworth prison, Mr. Barker "was always moderate in his discipline."


Ancestors - Relatives - Surnames


The Coffeys

Coffeyville, Kansas

Stephen Crane

Carl William Demarest

Frank Nelson Doubleday

Nelson Doubleday

Thomas Alva Edison

Captain Thomas Graves

Meriweather Lewis

Robert Treat Paine

David Ogden

Peter Skene Ogden

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

Elizabeth Swaine

Robert Treat

The Barker Family
The Barker-Karpis Gang
Arthur "Doc" Barker
Freddie Barker
Ma Barker

Internet Links

Alcatraz - Famous Prisoners

Bloody Mama (1970)

Cops and Robbers

Court TV - Crime Library

Depression Era Dead Girls

"Doc” Barker in County Jail

FBI Files

Ma Barker

Psych Central

The Untouchables Trivia

Return to the Top





The Barker-Karpis Gang

Ma Barker, whose sons Herman, Lloyd, Arthur ("Doc"), and Freddie used her as a cover, maintained that her boys were driven to crime by poverty. Along with Freddie, she was killed in a Division of Investigation (D.O.I.) shoot-out near Oklawaha, Florida. Fearing a scandal when the public found out his agents had killed someone's mother, J. Edgar Hoover invented the myth of Ma Barker as the evil mastermind of the Barker-Karpis gang, who had led her sons astray. Karpis later said that she had nothing to do with her sons' crimes. (2)


For a few years in the early and mid 1930’s there were several outlaws, and outlaw gangs, running wild in the American Midwest. Memories of the Wild West were vivid enough to frequently refer to them as “desperadoes.” Some of  these Depression-day criminals became infamous nationwide through both media and law enforcement attention to their crimes. It was the era of the “Public Enemies;” they robbed banks with machine guns, kidnapped rich people for ransom , engaged in furious shootouts with lawmen, and when apprehended, often made spectacular jail breaks. Everything they did was considered newsworthy by prominent publications like the New York Times down to pulp magazines such as Startling Detective. It was exciting, escapist  “cops & robbers” entertainment for the public of the grim 1930’s - unless the innocent people being shot, robbed, and killed were friends or family members.


A few of  these criminals are still known today by their colorful names: Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie & Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, and the Barker- Karpis Gang..


The Barker-Karpis gang was not the least of these. FBI Director J.Edgar Hoover, in the book The FBI In Action said, “Ma Barker and her sons, and Alvin Karpis and his cronies, constituted the toughest gang of hoodlums the FBI ever has been called upon to eliminate…Looking over the record of these criminals, I was repeatedly impressed by the cruelty of their depredations…murder of a policeman …murder of two policemen ….machine gun murder of an innocent citizen who got in the way during a bank robbery …kidnapping  and extortion…train robbery…mail robbery ...the protection of high police officials bought with tainted money…paroles bought.” (1)

Return to the The Barker Family




Relationship to the Braker Brothers

The Barker Brothers our 3rd Cousins


Family Tree - Direct Descendants - Barker

Ancestors & Relatives

  Relationship To The Barker Brothers

1. Elias Barker (1740) Virginia - Rachael (1745) Virginia


  } Great-Grandfather3

2. Stephen Barker (1779) Virginia - Elizabeth Allumbaugh (1779) Virginia


  } Great-Uncle2

3. John A. Barker (1802) Kentucky - Mary Ashcraft (1797) Kentucky


  } 1st Cousin Twice Removed

4. Overton Butler Barker (1849) Missouri - Joanna (Georgie) Sumnern (1857) Missouri


  } 2nd Cousin Once Removed

5. Andrew E. (Alexander) Barker (1879) Missouri - Lulu Coffey (1881) Oregon



} 3rd Cousin

6. Loretta Hilda Barker (1910) Oregon - Donald Dixon Fletcher (1903) Washington


Picture } 3rd Cousin Once Removed
7. Stephen Richard Fletcher3 (1931) Washington - Picture } 3rd Cousin Twice Removed
     (Father) 1Eleanor Marie Rogers McKay (1931) Washington
  2LaRae June Hoss (1926) Washington
  3Kathryn Delores Runkle (1931) South Dakota

   William (Bill) Dixon Fletcher (1927) Washington


Picture } 3rd Cousin Twice Removed

   Donald Dixon Fletcher2 (1929) Washington - Katholeen Hollenbeck, Washington


Picture } 3rd Cousin Twice Removed
             Children - Donald Dixon Fletcher3, California   } 3rd Cousin 3rd Removed
             Children - John Allen Fletcher, Washington     3rd Cousin 3rd Removed

8. Stephen Richard Fletcher4, Washington - Karen Lorraine Davidson, Colorado


Picture } 3rd Cousin 3rd Removed
            Children - Stephen Jay Fletcher, Oregon Picture } 3rd Cousin 4th Removed
            Children - Amanda Marie Fletcher, Oregon Picture } 3rd Cousin 4th Removed

   Susan Marie Gasaway,  Washington - Duane Gasaway, Washington


Picture } 3rd Cousin 3rd Removed
            Children - Matthew Gasaway, California Picture } 3rd Cousin 4th Removed

   Valanta Renee Fletcher, Washington - Frank Henry Melenudo Garcia, California


Picture } 3rd Cousin 3rd Removed
            Children - Angel Dawn Hansen, California Picture } 3rd Cousin 4th Removed
  1George Moreno, Kansas
  2 Butch Robert Hanson, Kansas
                           Children - Karisa Michelle Moreno, California   } 3rd Cousin 5th Removed
                           Children - Tiana LaRae Hanson, Kansas   } 3rd Cousin 5th Removed

   Lisa Ann Roberts (1963) Nevada - Gregory Lynn Roberts, Michigan


  } 3rd Cousin 3rd Removed
            Children - Gregory Michael Roberts, California   } 3rd Cousin 4th Removed
            Children - Trisha Rae Roberts, California   } 3rd Cousin 4th Removed
            Children - Bryson Anthony Roberts, California   } 3rd Cousin 4th Removed

   Theresa Christine Roberts (1964-1998) California - Ronald Blake Roberts, Michigan


  } 3rd Cousin 3rd Removed
            Children - Heather Lee Roberts, California   } 3rd Cousin 4th Removed
            Children - Blake Roberts, California   } 3rd Cousin 4th Removed
            Children - Charles Jay Roberts, Michigan   } 3rd Cousin 4th Removed

Return to the The Barker Family





Arthur "Doc" Barker


Return to the The Barker Family





Freddie Barker


The youngest of the Barker brothers, Freddie led the Barker-Karpis gang along with Alvin Karpis in their Midwest crime spree. Wanted for many robberies, two murders, and two kidnappings, Barker underwent plastic surgery, which did not successfully alter his appearance. Along with his mother, Barker was killed by D.O.I. special agents near Oklawaha, Florida.

Alvin Karpis described Fred Barker as a natural killer and said about his brother Doc, “Doc Barker didn’t look dangerous, but he was a lethal operator.” One childhood acquaintance of the Barkers recalled them as violent and unmerciful.



Fred, Ma Barker killed in gun battle
By GENE CURTIS Former Tulsa World Managing Editor
Jan. 17

The family that robs and kills together, dies together.

That somewhat-altered adage fit Tulsa outlaw Fred Barker and his mother, Kate (Ma) Barker, who were killed by machine-gun fire in a six-hour battle with federal agents in Olawaha, Fla., in 1935.

They had been on a long spree of robbery, kidnapping and killing as part of the Barker-Karpis gang.

The Jan. 17, 1935, Tulsa World told about their final gunbattle that started shortly after daylight when the federal agents surrounded the Barkers' hide-out and called for the occupants to surrender. Machine-gun fire was the answer and the gunbattle was on. Residents said it sounded like a war.

When the battle was over, Fred Barker's body was found sprawled on the floor with 11 slugs in his shoulder and three in his head. Ma Barker's body had one slug in her head but she died with a machine gun in her hands.

There were rumors that Alvin Karpis, identified as the co-leader of the gang, also was in the house but a search did not turn up his body. When he was arrested later, he took offense that Ma Barker had been identified as the other co-leader. "She didn't have the brains" to lead the gang in a robbery, he said.

Fred Barker, 32, and his mother, 55, were wanted for the kidnapping of a St. Paul, Minn., banker. Fred's brother, Arthur (Doc), was arrested later for his part in the kidnapping and was killed Jan. 13, 1939, trying to escape from Alcatraz. Two other Barker brothers had been killed by police gunfire earlier.

Fred Barker's criminal career began when he stole a car in Tulsa at the age of 15. He had been a member of the Central Park mob, a group of 22, more than half of whom were killed by police gunfire.

Return to the The Barker Family






Arizona Donnie (Kate) Clark Barker

"Ma" Barker 1871-1935


Alvin Karpis wrote in his autobiography, The Alvin Karpis Story, many years later, "The most ridiculous story in the annals of crime is that Ma Barker was the mastermind behind the Karpis-Barker gang ... She wasn't a leader of criminals or even a criminal herself. There is not one police photograph of her or set of fingerprints taken while she was alive ... she knew we were criminals but her participation in our careers was limited to one function: when we traveled together, we moved as a mother and her sons. What could look more innocent?

Harvey Bailey, a veteran bank robber that sometimes worked with the Barker-Karpis group, said of the issue, “the old woman couldn’t even organize breakfast.”


Ma Barker (Arizona Clark)



Kate "Ma" Barker had four sons by her loser husband George. Herman, Lloyd, Arthur and Fred began their careers with petty crimes, then auto theft, then bank robbery, and then murder. Finally, they hit the big time with kidnapping.


According to the FBI and Hollywood, Ma was the brain behind the Barker-Karpis mob. Edgar Hoover called her "a veritable beast of prey."


However, underworld sources say that Ma was just a dumpy little old lady who took care of her family. Gangmember Alvin "Creepy" Karpis said, "Ma was always somebody in our lives. Love didn't enter into it really. She was somebody we looked after and took with us when we moved from city to city, hideout to hideout…It's no insult to Ma's memory that she just didn't have the brains or the know-how to direct us on a robbery. It wouldn't have occurred to her to get involved in our business, and we always made a point of only discussing our scores when Ma wasn't around. We'd leave her at home when we were arranging a job, or we'd send her to a movie. Ma saw a lot of movies."



After a four-hour gun battle, their corpses were found inside the house. The FBI called her "Bloody Mama."

Many, including Karpis, have suggested that the myth was encouraged by J. Edgar Hoover and his fledgling FBI to justify his agency's killing of an old lady. She was shot dead when the FBI raided the cottage she was renting with her son Fred at Lake Weir in the Ocala region of Florida on January 16, 1935. It was Fred, who was also killed in the raid, that had been the Bureau's main target.

An FBI internal memo summarizing the history of the Barker-Karpis gang up to early 1936, contains the statement, “Kate Barker was killed for resisting arrest.” This should be amended to “killed while her son was resisting arrest.”

Return to the The Barker Family


  (1) Court TV - Crime Library
  (2) Depression Era Dead Girls
  (3) Psych Central