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Now there’s a guy even Machine Gun Kelly would be scared to mess with.
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September 26, 1933.
It ain’t even dawn yet when Kathryn pokes me.
I groan and roll over; I’m sleeping off a bottle of gin.
“Someone’s in the house,” she whispers.
There’s a faint noise from the hallway.
I suddenly remember that I didn’t lock the door when I brought the newspaper in.
I untangle myself from the blankets and motion for her to stay put.
I’ve just gotten out of bed and picked up a pistol when the bedroom door flies open.
A police raid.
How do you rob a bank?
It ain’t just sticking a gun in the teller’s face.
You gotta have some panache.
Saunter in, dressed real smooth.
Wait until any old ladies leave the building.
Maybe tip your hat at a pretty dame.
Then nice as you please, pull out your convincer and inform the clerk that it’s a stick up.
I have a special holster for my Tommy gun, so I can draw it with style.
I always chuckle at the panic on the clerks’ faces.
I’m in charge, I have complete power over them and I’m gonna take their moolah.
Ma, God rest her soul would be so disappointed to see me robbing banks.
She wanted me to go to school, maybe become an insurance agent like Pop or some other
For kicks I used to shoplift and run liquor for bootleggers.
But because of Ma after high school I got on the straight and narrow and went to Mississippi
A&M College to study agriculture.
Dropped out after 4 months.
Books just weren't for me.
From the start, Pop and I didn’t get on much.
I never minded him.
Me leaving school was the last straw.
Pop turned his back on me, then Ma died.
Never again did I set foot back in my Memphis childhood home.
By then some coppers were sniffing around on account of my old activities.
I dropped the Barnes from my name and became George Kelly to beat the heat.
And also to keep my family out of it.
I couldn’t do anything right in Pop’s eyes, but I could change my name.
The only good thing to come out of my college days was meeting Miss Geneva Ramsey.
And she soon became Mrs. Kelly.
We eloped and had two boys.
I really did try to stay on the straight and narrow--I worked as a commissary clerk, drove
a taxi, farmed goats, but there never seemed to be enough money to keep us afloat.
I slipped back into a little petty theft and bootlegging on the side, all for the good
of the family of course, but Geneva didn’t like that.
She left - and took my sons with her.
That’s when I fell into bootlegging full-time.
My poor old heart was aching and you gotta fill your life up with something.
For me it was gin, girls, and guns.
I lived it up.
I had run-ins with the coppers here and there.
Caught some fines, and once I got a few months vacation at the state pen in Santa Fe, New
Hazards of the job.
When they caught me selling booze on an Indian reservation near Tulsa they finally were able
to make it stick.
In 1928, I was sentenced to 3 years at Leavenworth.
After that, I promised myself that the law would never lock me up again.
The police shine their flashlights in our eyes and point shotguns at us.
Kathryn bolts up in bed and screams.
I put down the postol.
‘Don’t shoot G-men!,” I say, as I raise my hands.
As much as I hated Leavenworth, I learned a lot of tricks there.
I made several acquaintances - mobsters, bank robbers, bootleggers, trigger men, cardsharks.
Not long after I got out, I met Kathryn.
I was at a speakeasy and there was this glamorous girl.
She was running around with some local big shot.
From the start, I aimed to take her away from him.
I had a good way about me where I could talk round people, especially girls.
Soon we were married - I was her fourth husband.
Many people said she did in her third.
Now I ain't sayin she killed her husband, but I ain't sayin she didn't kill him either.
If a man’s fool enough to let a pair of gams get one over on him, well then he got
what was coming to him.
Kathryn was the one who gave me my first machine gun, a .45-caliber Thompson.
There’s rumors that I never handled a gun before that, that Kathryn made my reputation,
but nobody made me, but me.
I’d been shooting since I could walk.
Even as a boy, I could knock a dime off a dead man's eye at 20 paces.
The recoil of the machine gun did take some getting used to though.
Kathryn and I stayed at her ma’s place for a while, the Shannon Ranch near Paradise,
We spent a lot of time roaming the fields and I practiced shooting nearly every day,
blasting walnuts and tin cans off fence posts.
I ain’t bragging when I tell you I got so good that I could write my name in bullet
Then I hooked up a couple of pals I met in prison for some stick-ups.
In less than two years, I did 6 bank robberies and a few other jobs.
I did stick ups from Texas to Minnesota, and back again, shooting my name into walls and
Sometimes Kathryn came along, but she wasn’t much use during a robbery.
But boy could she could spin the tale over drinks afterwards.
It was a good time, we were living high on the hog.
The coppers search each room in the house.
Kathryn is caterwauling, making up lies, telling them that I threatened to kill her, that I
made her come with me.
The police haul her off to the bathroom to let her get dressed.
I convince them to let me put on some clothes too.
Two feds in overcoats stand guard, aiming their shotguns at me while I get into my pants.
I reach for my nice coat, but a copper snatches it out of my hands.
In fact, they’re packing up all our stuff, taking Kathryn’s furs, fancy dresses and
the pearls I bought her.
I ask what they are arresting me for?
A copper punches me in the mouth.
“Charles Urschel ring a bell?” he says.
I taste blood.
“Oh yeah, that.”
I spent days plotting with my partner Albert, along with Kathryn, on how to kidnap the millionaire
oilman Charles Urschel.
I wasn’t gonna screw this up like last time.
About a year and a half before, my pal Eddie and me tried this scheme on a South Bend Indiana
banker named Howard Woolverton.
One night we forced his car off the road and kidnapped him and his wife.
Later we released Mrs. Woolverton with a ransom note, demanding $50,000.
We took Howard’s glasses, blindfolded him, and for the next 2 days drove him around northern
He kept pleading with us, telling us that he didn’t have the money.
And after a while we got to believing him.
We let him go on the outskirts of Michigan City, when he promised to raise the money
We never got a single dime, not even when we threatened him over the phone afterwards.
I went back to robbing banks for a while.
But things got hot, and a couple buddies of mine got gunned down.
One of the hazards of the job, I guess, but I still decided to give kidnapping another
This time Kathryn and I hooked up with my old bank robbing partner Albert Bates.
On the night of July 22, 1933, guns drawn, Albert and I paid a visit to the Urschel mansion
at 327 N.W. 18th Street in Oklahoma City.
The Urschels were playing bridge with another couple on their porch.
The ladies started to scream.
I pointed my gun at them and threatened to blow their heads off if they didn’t shut
That’s when we realized we didn’t know which man was Charles and wouldn’t you know
The men wouldn’t tell us.
So we snatched the both of them and drove a few miles outside of town.
We pulled over and made them give us their wallets.
We took $50 dollars from Walter Jarret’s wallet, before letting him go.
We blindfolded Charles and took him to Shannon Ranch where we kept him handcuffed to a chair.
Meanwhile we sent letters to his wife and some of his friends demanding $200,000 in
$20 bills in exchange for Charles’ safe return.
Our plan worked, per our instructions the ransom was packed in a leather bag and handed
over to one of our friends near the LaSalle Hotel in Kansas City.
9 days after we had kidnapped him, we drove Charles to a barbecue stand near Norman, Oklahoma
and released him.
After that, we returned to the ranch, divied up the ransom money and split.
I guess Mrs. Urschel called some newfangled national kidnap hotline and was able to get
in touch with none other than the head of the FBI himself, J. Edgar Hoover!
Apparently the Feds had been the ones who managed the response to our ransom.
They had marked the money and noted serial numbers before it was delivered.
Within a few days, three pals of mine who helped with the kidnapping got caught in St.
Paul, Minnesota when they tried to use the marked twenties.
When Charles made it home he was interviewed by FBI special agents.
We didn’t treat him badly at the ranch and he had kept his wits about him the whole time.
He couldn’t see, but by God could Charles listen and remember.
Somehow, based on the noises he heard, the feds were able to figure out he was kept at
the Shannon Ranch.
They went there looking for me and Albert there but we were long gone by the time they
got there The feds arrested Kathryn’s Ma and stepdad though.
Our plan had been to go somewhere nice--Cuba… maybe out to California… or even down to
I wanted to see Kathryn dip her pretty toes in the Gulf.
But that required a lot of money.
We now knew the ransom money was hot, so we buried most of our share - over $70,000 - in
Texas at a ranch owned by one of Kathryn’s uncles.
Hoover wanted media attention for the newly formed FBI so he decided to make an example
of us and started a nationwide manhunt.
We traveled to Cleveland, then Detroit, then Chicago.
I sent Charles Urschel a threatening letter telling him to get the feds to back off.
It wasn’t fair that the Feds were keeping Kathryn’s family locked up in an attempt
to lean on us.
We went to Davenport, Des Moines, then back to Chicago.
We wore disguises, sometimes Kathryn wore a red wig.
I dyed my hair red and then later bleached it.
We also traded cars along the way.
Everyday on the radio there were reports about me being a menace and a murderer.
A public enemy.
I had never killed anyone in my life!
All because I liked to carry around that machine gun.
Anything to turn the public in the police's favor.
We ended up in Memphis at the home of my old buddy John.
I was drinking heavily and fought a lot with Kathryn, it was stressful knowing that any
minute the whole thing might come down on us.
The Fed even found our buried share of the ransom money.
It’s getting light when the coppers lead me out of the house, my hands cuffed behind
My poor Caddy sits lopsided in the driveway.
Coppers let the air out of my tires.
The street is blocked with police cars.
They sent a whole army just to capture two people.
Some confused neighbors have come out to see what the ruckus is about.
“I’m Machine Kelly,” I say and then a copper pushes my head so I can duck down
and get into the model B.
Don’t forget, civilization is calling you to battle, immortalize your journey!
Download Rise of Kingdoms and get details on their upcoming giveaway at the link in