KMaaMatMaeMa Ma‚MaÄMaúMaMMaaMa‚MaÄMaĚMa MaBMaaMarMakMaeMarMa (Kate Barker)

Kate “Ma” Barker

Criminal. Known as “Ma,” she and her sons, Herman, Lloyd, Arthur and Fred, teamed up with Alvin Karpis (whom Fred had met in the penitentiary) and several other criminals to lead a life of crime. Born in Ash Grove, Missouri, her given name was Arizona Clark, but her close friends knew her as “Arrie” or “Kate.” ¬†On September 14, 1892, she married George E. Barker in Ash Grove, Missouri, and they spent their impoverished early married life in Aurora, Missouri, where their four sons were born. ¬†About 1904, the family moved to Webb City, Missouri, where the two older sons graduated from grade school. ¬†In 1915 the family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Kate Barker’s sons were to begin their life of crime. ¬†A poor family man, without much formal education, George Barker, separated from his family and later made his living running a filling station in Joplin; he never participated in his wife and sons’ criminal activities. ¬†Ma Barker, as she later became to be known, liked to live well, and purchased expensive clothing, furniture and other necessities of life from the proceeds of her sons’ crimes. ¬†More intelligent than her sons, she ruled them with an iron will, discouraging them from having any girlfriends or normal law-abiding friends, apparently planning their many crimes. ¬†Arthur served time in 1921 for killing a night watchman, James Sharrill, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, while burglarizing a warehouse. In 1931, while Fred was serving time in Kansas Penitentiary for burglary, he met Alvin Karpis, who was serving time for auto larceny and safe cracking. On September 10, 1931, they were paroled, and by December, the two men had begun robbing banks in Missouri. ¬†In December 1931, Fred and Karpis killed Sheriff C.R. Kelly, who had recognized the stolen car used in the robberies. ¬†The Barker gang fled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they continued their life of crime. During their years of crime, their gang ran from two to as many as twelve persons; they lived close together, but often committed crimes in small groups of two or three in different locations, to make it difficult for the law to track them. ¬†Continually moving from city to city, from California to Ohio to Florida to Texas to Havana Cuba, the Barkers and their associates racked up numerous crimes ranging from murder to kidnapping to robbery to burglary, using the automobile and Tommy gun to good effect. ¬†Herman died in Wichita, Kansas, on August 29, 1927, where police had cornered him after he killed a police officer during a bank robbery. ¬†Lloyd was sentenced to 25 years in Leavenworth Penitentiary for robbing the United States Mail. ¬†Arthur “Doc” Barker was arrested in Chicago on January 8, 1935, and a map found in his possession indicated that the other gang members were in Ocala, Florida. ¬†FBI Agents quickly discovered the hideout of Ma Barker and her son, Fred, and surrounded the house the morning of January 16, 1935. ¬†Ordered to surrender, the two Barkers decided to fight it out, and were killed in the subsequent gun battle. ¬†According to the FBI, a Tommy gun was found lying in the hands of Ma Barker (many believe this to be a fabrication by the FBI in order to justify her violent death). ¬†Their bodies were abandoned until October 1, 1935, when they were buried in Welch, Oklahoma, by some family relatives, next to the body of Herman Barker.Date of birth possibly October 8, 1873 ¬†(bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson) ¬†Family links: ¬†Parents: ¬†John Clark (1833 – 1877) ¬†Emmaline Eliza Parker Reynolds (1847 – 1942) ¬†Spouse: ¬†George Elias Barker (1859 – 1941) ¬†Children: ¬†Herman Barker (1893 – 1927)* ¬†Lloyd William Barker (1898 – 1949)* ¬†Arthur R. Barker (1899 – 1939)* ¬†Fred Barker (1903 – 1935)* ¬†Siblings: ¬†Jesse Clark (1870 – 1956)* ¬†Kate Barker (1873 – 1935) ¬†Eva Mae Clark Hays (1877 – 1947)* *Calculated relationship


  • October, 08, 1873
  • USA


  • January, 01, 1935
  • USA


  • Williams Timberhill Cemetery
  • Oklahoma
  • USA

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