Not Past It - The Notorious Ma Barker


When we walked in the door, I could not believe it.

This place looked like it was from another time period.

Retired Community College instructor.

Sue Sutton was a teenager in the mid-60s.


When her family moved to Concordia, Kansas soos father took her and her sister to the local bank to open bank accounts.

Yes, but when she walked in, she couldn’t believe what she saw.

The bank tellers were separated by bulletproof glass.


There were spikes.

There were electrical wires running over the top of the partitions.

It seemed over the top for a local bank and a small 5,000 person town in the Great Plains.


Even the employees were expected to protect the bank.

There was a shotgun behind the door and everyone who was in employee was encouraged to take target practice on their lunch, hour, down in the basement of the bank.


So, why was the small town bank?

So Tensley on lock these modifications all came about because of the bank robbery that took place in 1932. 89 years ago this week on the morning of July 26th, 1932 a gang of bank robbers walked into the Cloud County bank and Concordia Kansas and they walked away with more than two hundred thousand dollars without firing a single shot and the legendary Mastermind behind it.


All the notorious Ma Barker.

From gimlet media.

This is not past it a show about the stories would can’t quite leave behind every episode.


We take a moment from that very same week in history and tell you the story of how it shaped our world.

I’m Simone polenin.

We’re going to tell you the story of Ma Barker.

Well, maybe more like stories because it changes depending on who you talk to Ma, Barker is remembered as Of America’s most notorious crime Lords and she did it as a woman because we can do anything.


We set our minds to ladies.

But when you start digging into the real facts, things aren’t so black and white.

So, why is that Wise Guys?

After the break, the real Ma Barker and Big Time crime and the 30s, Charles stick around, she Ma Barker was just incredible woman who ends up being the matriarch to a family of Thieves Thugs and murderers.


This is Chris ends.

She’s a history writer and co-author of Ma, Barker America’s Most Wanted mother and for her book.

She tracked, Ma Barker back to her Origins.

Ma Barker was born, Arizona, Clark either in 1872 or 73.


They’re competing reports.

She lived with her family.

On a small farm in Greene County, Missouri, and the Ozarks, but Chris says Arizona, always wanted more for herself when she was growing up in the Ozarks with her sisters.

Her sisters, were content with what they had that Arizona always had dreams of having millions of dollars living in fancy homes and wearing minks and find Jules.


Then an 1892.

When Arizona Clark is around 19.

She marries George Barker.

Shoulder a little shy.

Quite handsome.

Arizona starts going by the name of Kate, Barker, not quite the oomph of a name like Arizona Clark, but that’s neither here, nor there over the next decade.


Kate and George have four Sons together who they struggled to raise on the little money from George’s endless.

String of low-income jobs.

Not exactly the cushy life.

Kate, had dreamt of and before her son’s even come of age with little education and Future.


Prospects, they turn to other opportunities.

Her boys, I’ve started very young being involved in a lot of petty thievery.

It started out simple as stealing a bicycle or stealing property from another person’s home.


And every time they would get in trouble and be hauled before the judge, ma was quick to be right there with them.

And make sure that the judges knew that they were boys that really weren’t understood that they would be good.

Boys, Kate shows up to court as a Mom, and this is where supposedly she starts to earn the nickname.



She helped Foster.

This whole notion of it doesn’t make any difference.

How much you steal mom’s gonna get you off George splits with my right before the Great Depression, allegedly, because George is fed up with all the crime.

His family’s getting involved with and Legend.


Has it that Ma doubles down encouraging her boys to graduate from Petty thievery into the big leagues.

Were the rewards were bigger but so were the risks.

So if you’re going to be shot at, if your wife is going to be threatened, let’s make sure that we do this on a grander scale.


And perhaps when you walk away, you don’t just walk away with maybe 20 30 dollars from grocery store, but maybe a larger Hall from a bank.

The boys start getting involved in robbery larceny, the list goes on, sometimes ma can get them off.


Sometimes not her sons are all in and out of prison, but then their family crime business.

Expands in 1931.

One of my son’s Fred Barker is doing a stint in prison for burglary when he meets a fellow inmate.

Alvin karpis, the two, hit it off and decide to join forces, and the Barker karpis gang is formed.


At once Fred and Alvin are out the gang, gets to work committing robberies across the Midwest and the South and setting up a slew of safe houses in st.

Paul Minnesota where it was reported.

That Ma would often cook up a nice warm meal for her boys.


Then the gang set their sights on one particular bank and a small town called Concordia, Kansas.

And on Tuesday, July 26th. 1932.

Members of The Barker karpis gang walk through the doors of the Cloud County Bank.


Blatant liar, what are you serious?

Any shots fired?

Oh, no, they took hostages.


Oh, no, yes.


Thank you, Lily.


I got a scoop for you.

Come here.

This is the opening of a play about that Infamous robbery and all its campy and Charming, Glory has just been robbed by a gang of six Outlaws.

They’ve taken your sister.

I’d a hostage it was written by Sue.


Sutton the woman from the top of the show who visited the bank as a teenager back in the 60s.

She researched that robbery inside and out for the play.

So she knows the events of that day.

Well, one of the robbers had pistol-whipped the director and as he faltered trying to give that Barrel, Vault open, he was being bashed.


Hi, the butt of the gun and bleeding and these female employees were seeing this and they were pleading stop stuff hitting him, but eventually they grabbed, what?


They could, they cleaned out teller windows with their guns drawn, but no shots fight.

Sue says, on their way out of the Cloud County Bank.

The robbers grabbed three hostages and make them stand on either.

Side of the getaway car, basically acting as human bullet Shields, they drive out to the edge of town, just past the railroad tracks, where they set the hostages free, then they dumped a box of roofing nails across the road.


So that if anyone tries to chase them down, well pop pop bitch with what tires.

After the success of the Cloud County bank robbery, The Barker karpis gang, get even more ambitious.


They go for higher paying crimes, like kidnapping for ransom and writer, Chris n says, it’s because of Mom, it’s Mom who kind of pulls them all together.

And says, here’s what we’re going to do guys.

We are going to quit this life of petty robbery.


We’re going to go right for the people that we know have the most money and we are going to Nap and that’s exactly the kind of thing.

They start doing in 1933.

They abduct a wealthy Minnesota Brewery owner, earning a hundred thousand dollars in Ransom and in 1934, they met two hundred thousand dollars after kidnapping.


A Minnesota millionaire.

Both hostages are released unharmed but the high-profile kidnappings.

Put the Barker karpis gang, right?

In the crosshairs of the FBI.

We must not fall moment.

Lose sight of our goal, to teach the criminal, you can’t get away with it.


That’s the voice of J.

Edgar Hoover, you know, the cross-dressing wiretapping abuse of powering long time director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation over at the FBI Hoover, was trying to track down America’s worst criminals the baddest of the bad guys and to him Ma Barker was it.


He reportedly called her the most vicious dangerous and resourceful criminal around and her face was plastered on FBI.

Most wanted posters and it’s on posters like this that the country gets their first real glance at Ma, Barker a middle-aged woman on the plump side, a short dark Bob grazing, her cheeks.


A bold lipstick painted onto her smirking lips and in capital letters on either side of her face, fugitive from Justice.

As the FBI intensifies their hunt for moms, boys.


The gang decide to split up and hide ma Parker and her son, Fred make their way South.

They hide out 70 miles west of Daytona Beach, and the quiet Central Florida, town of Ocklawaha.

Were they think they’ve gotten away?

But Fred makes the mistake of sending a postcard revealing their location.


To another member of the gang, the FBI agents find it and are hot on their tail and at 5:30 a.m.

On January 16th, 1935 FBI agents around the two-story house where Ma and Fred are hiding the agents demand, The Barker surrender, but Ma and Fred refuse FBI, agents, exchanged, gunfire, with Fred and Ma, Barker for hours.


And in the end after the hours long gun fight Ma and Fred lay dead clutching onto their tommy guns.

Ma supposedly with thousands of dollars tucked neatly away in her apron.

And here is the baccarat.


Seems in the center is the Tommy Gun found touched in the stiffening fingers of the 55 year.

Old ma images of her dead body spread across newspapers and movie screens for the world to see.

Just as Hoover wanted to prove Ma Barker could not escape the law.


The good guys stopped the bad guys.

But had they really because the story we’ve just told you it only became popular Legend after Ma Barker died.

When you look at the Historical records from the time, there’s no real evidence to suggest.


Ma Barker herself ever, committed a crime, her boys.

Yes, but her she was never arrested.

Never fingerprinted.

And yet, the FBI had gunned her down and touted it as a win.

What’s the deeper story?

Here was the infamous character of Ma Barker real or just a creation.


That’s after the break.

So I don’t go nowhere.


Before the break, we learned all about Ma Barker, and the bank robbing Barker karpis gang their famous Heist of the Cloud County Bank in Kansas and Moz bullet-riddled death at the hands of the FBI, but we also learned that there’s potentially a big gap here between the legend of Mana Barker, and the truth because there never was any hard evidence that Kate Ma Barker herself was ever involved in any crime ever.


So, how’d she get labeled one of the most notorious crime bosses of all time?

To answer that question.

We have to take a little trip to the movies.

Imagine it’s 1936 and you’ve just bought your ticket to the Talk of the Town short film.


You can’t get away with it.

You’re sitting and one of those incredibly uncomfortable old-school, hard back to movie theater, chairs.

You’ve got your popcorn and a cold soda.

The projector flickers on, let’s ask J Edgar Hoover, who has a young attorney became and soon FBI director J.



Hoover’s wide face takes up the entire screen, a special agent, must be a good Marksman and have the courage to shoot it out with the most venomous of Public Enemies.

And he’s talking at you about how freaking cool.

The FBI is mmm.


Sure, but you keep watching, here’s where the climb record, closes with a full stop. .

For these criminals, the camera zeroes in on an ominous looking filing cabinet, you’ll find notorious names that main evil headlines of crime.


And there you see, right there on the giant movie screen and name written on a file in all caps, Kate, Ma Barker.

This film and films.

Like it were straight out of the Mastermind of J Edgar Hoover.


His propaganda unit was responsible for shaping what people thought shaping perceptions and it did that through media control.

This is Steve Underhill.

He’s a professor of communications at Marshall University and he wrote the book, the manufacture of consent, J, Edgar Hoover and the rhetorical rise of the FBI, that meant speech, writing it meant.


Getting into the comic books, it meant getting into the movies.

It meant getting into all forms of symbolic expression, movies.

Like you can’t get away with it.

We’re designed to get out a specific message to the American public.

It’s a good guys versus bad.


Guys is the basic formula for propaganda, because propaganda requires a clear break, between good and evil, the first wave of information was Buganda made by the FBI in the sense of hey, look everybody, there’s supervillains in America.


Therefore you need superheroes.

Remember where we are in time.

America is recovering, from the depths of the Great Depression Hard Times.

Had ushered in a rise in criminal activity and really big name criminals, like Al Capone, John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly the gangster, not the rapper and the Barker.


Karpis gang.

And whoever wants more license to do whatever he deems necessary to these bad guys, but the bureau is less than 30 years old.

At this point.

Not the stronghold we see today and Hoover is trying to expand the bureau’s power.


But to do that he has to prove that the FBI is needed.

And the best option in the face of crime.

It’s nephew 35 Hoover was worried about losing out to the Bureau of Prisons.

It’s because of your own prisons, offered a different solution to Crime.


Their solution was record.

Reformed criminals, the Bureau of Prisons wanted to emphasize Rehabilitation but to Hoover this would undermine the need for the FBI and change the mission of its agents.

I mean think about this if you can rehabilitate a person it means you don’t need to kill them and if you can rehabilitate a person, good guys versus bad guys starts to get a lot Messier.


But when it comes to Kate Ma Barker specifically, Steve says Hoover needed to make her the bad guy because at the time she wasn’t even on their radar.

The FBI was looking for for son.

Who was a criminal, Steve says that Ma Barker was never the original Target, but was accidentally gunned down by the FBI.


Instead of saying we killed somebody on accident.

They slur the character of the victim for the sake of.

Then justifying the death, which I believe, is a common police tactic historically, and the propaganda of begins when they say, okay, let’s create language that justifies why we killed her.


We are going to say.

She’s now Kate Ma Barker.

One historical primary source that is quoted repeatedly.

And telling Kate Ma Barker story as a report that comes from the desk of J.

Edgar Hoover himself FBI report.


I see number 7-5. 7-6, it was circulated.

In November of nineteen.

Thirty six over a year and a half after Kate.

Barker was killed.

In this report Hoover says, things like Ma Barker like to live.


Well, she purchased expensive clothing furniture and other necessities from The Spoils of her.

Son’s depredations sounds a lot.

Like the story we told you in the first half that mob, Barker wanted her son’s to provide her this rich and lavish life, which turns out as more folklore than fact.


The report also says it is possible that Kate became loose and her moral life.

She was seen with a neighbor of hers who was having Outside dates with other men.

So he basically slut-shame skate making her out to be this immoral woman Hoover, had created this character of the maternal bad guy.


The whole mommy thing is to emphasize that maternal part and a kind of blame her for being maternal when her son was dangerous and just think about how smart of a character ma really is.


One is contesting that Kate Barker wasn’t a supportive mom.


Mom for Fred and the rest of her criminal boys.

She cooked and cared and fought for them.

But as Steve points out, Kate, Barker may not have had much of a choice.

I don’t think anyone believes.

She had the economic means to leave her son.


And I think it’s harder to blame her for poverty and easier to blame her for being a bad mom.

I’m sure she knew some of what was going on, but I don’t think that was her main role.


She was a mother first and concerned about the safety of her boys Community College instructor and playwright.

Sue Sutton, doesn’t by Hoover’s ma story.


She wanted her son’s to make their way in life.


And if they happen to be criminals, which they all were, then she supported them in that.

And if anything, maybe Kate Barker was just a woman doing the best with what life had given her.


She was a Survivor.

She grew up in Missouri, probably a poor family uneducated and did the best she could.

I’m fairly sympathetic to her.

She was proud of her boys, because they were her boys.


Kate Moss, Barker may have known her way around a Tommy Gun.

But she also cared for her family and worked hard to keep them safe.

She surely wasn’t Hoover’s dreamt up supervillain.

She was a person who only had her story told from the mouths of others and who stood no chance against the power Behind law enforcement trying to evade accountability.


If you live in America, it’s a story.

You’ve become all too familiar with.

Have you noticed?

There’s never a moment where the police go.

We totally killed somebody on accident.

Can you believe it?


That is so tough.

That we killed somebody that we did not mean to kill.


And we’re gonna have to live with it.

You would think in all the people who get killed.

That would have to be true at least once.

But that’s never the message you get because the boilerplate is never admit accountability and always blame the victim.

Bending the narrative.


So the good guys can stay the good guys as a tactic that’s far out, lift Hoover and his propaganda machine.

The error on the part of law enforcement can be minimized written off a press release notes.

That a man dies after medical incident during police interaction.


Conveniently omitting that the medical incident was the police officer suffocating the man to death or a victim is made the bad guy with that tried and true red herring of calling their character into Sharon an officer enters, the wrong apartment, kill someone in their own home and then reports back about the marijuana.


They found in that person’s possession.

So were they really totally innocent?

This was baked into the FBI from its founding.

It’s a part of how law enforcement Works in America.

This way.

Good guys.

Stay good.

No matter what.


Even when they do bad things.


Not passed it as a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp.

Media next week.

We’re headed to the Olympics with Jesse Owens after the fanfares of the Olympic opening comes the most amazing performance.

By America’s next week.

Jesse Owens in the hundred meters.


The world’s most superb Runner makes the others look as if there were This episode was produced by Ramon, A Philip.

Our show is produced by Kinsey Clark and Sarah Craig.

Our associate producer is Julie.

Carly are in turn, is Laura Newcombe.


The supervising producer is Erica, Morrison editing by Andrea be Scott and Zach Stewart Ponte a fact-checking by Jane, Ackerman sound design and mixing by Bobby, Lord, original music, by Sachs kicks, Ave.

Willie Green.

J bless Peter, Leonard and Bobby Lord.


And our theme song is Toko, Liana by cocoa with music supervision by Liz Fulton, technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show art by Elysee Harvin and Talia Rahman, the executive producer at CSP media is Zach Stewart Ponte.

The executive producer from gimlet is Abbie ruzicka special, thanks to sue.


Sutton for sharing, the recording of her play, The Cloud County bank.

Robbery, a real-life play.

And to Florence Gerard Lydia Pole, Green Jake.

Arlo Dan Behar and Clara.

Sankey Emily wiedemann list Styles and Nabil, cholan pot and thank you for listening.


Our voicemail is open.

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She went and hid it from me inside of a lamp and the next thing I knew started smelling smoke and you look to the land and my Beanie, Baby.


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Oh my gosh, damn.

Well, do you have a story about a Beanie Baby?

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We’ll see you next week.



It’s been fun and talk to you later.



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