She shot her man

On February 23, 1883, May Woodman was packing a Bulldog .38 nickel-plated revolver as she approached her lover, Billy Kinsman, in front of the Oriental Saloon in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. At first, the two talked, argued maybe. After a few minutes, she raised her gun, leveled it on him and pulled the trigger without a blink of her grey eyes.

The slug entered the left side of his body below the rib cage and passed straight through. He clutched at his wound as if to staunch the blood and staggered backward. A witness seized her arm just as she pulled the trigger again, causing the second bullet to drill into the wooden boards of the sidewalk. No matter. The first bullet had done its job. Billy would be dead within four hours.

May and Billy had been living together, but it was a tumultuous affair. Twenty-seven-year-old May was estranged from her husband and well-known to the other men of Tombstone. Billy, 25, was a miner-turned-gambler—or as they called it at the time, a sporting man—who frequented the Oriental Saloon on the corner of Allen Street and Fifth. His other haunts probably included the famed Bird Cage and Crystal Palace.

History cites two possibilities for May’s action. The most popular story has it that one of Billy’s friends pulled a prank by putting a notice in the Tombstone Epitaph that “William Kinsman was betrothed to May Woodman.” Billy did not think it was funny, so he put a notice in the next edition of the paper that he had no intention of marrying May. She was humiliated.

A lesser repeated story was that May was pregnant, but she had intimate knowledge about Billy, which caused her to doubt his ability to father a child. To make sure, they consulted a doctor, who after an examination assured the pair that Billy could indeed sire a child. The doctor claimed the two asked him for a potion that would end the pregnancy, but he declined. May’s version differed. She claimed Billy wanted her to have the abortion and it was she who refused.

Billy must have wondered who else May had been overly familiar with. Perhaps Billy’s friend who ran the ad in the paper knew of May’s condition and that is why he pulled the prank. If that was the case, Billy’s public rebuke must have been more than May could take.

May showed no remorse for killing Billy and was tried for murder a month later. On the witness stand, she claimed self-defense. It took the jury a mere thirty minutes to decide that she was guilty of manslaughter instead of murder. After striking down a motion for a new trial, Daniel H. Pinney, Associate Justice on the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court, sentenced her to five years in the Yuma Territorial Prison. “May God curse you forever,” she spat at him.

After that May attempted suicide in her Tombstone jail cell by taking an overdose of chloride hydrate and morphine. She had been prescribed the medicine to help her sleep. Dr. George E. Goodfellow saved her life. He also attended to her when she miscarried in her fifth month. At that time, he noted she had several bruises on her body. Her condition led him to believe Billy had beaten her. He also said her mental condition was quite fragile.

After May got to Yuma, she settled in to be a model prisoner. But she could not remain free from drama for long. Whispers that she was pregnant again spread into full-fledged rumors, but no evidence surfaced to substantiate the gossip. Prison authorities moved quickly to squelch the talk, insisting male guards could not gain access to either of the two female prisoners’ cells.

May’s mother, Ellen McIntyre, started a petition to have her daughter pardoned. At least two-hundred Tombstone citizens, including some of the jurors from her trial signed the petition. Secretary of Arizona Territory Hiram M. Van Arman, acting as governor at the time, pardoned her—provided she leave the territory and not return.

May Woodman walked out of the Yuma Prison gates in 1884 after serving less than a year for Billy’s killing. As far as anyone knows, she never set foot in the Arizona Territory again.

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Bonnie Parker – Outlaw Poet

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Bonnie Elizabeth Parker was just a 19-year–old nobody when she crossed paths with 21-year-old Clyde Champion Barrow in Texas on a January day in 1930. The two would become an explosive pair, destined to go down in history for all the wrong reasons.

More than one account has them first setting eyes on each other at a friend’s house. And it was love at first sight. Bonnie had been married since the age of 16 to an abusive jailbird, Roy Thornton. Clyde was single.

Their love affair suffered a delay when Clyde got put in jail just two months after they met. That didn’t deter Bonnie. She wrote him letters, visited him and even smuggled him a gun so he could break out. He was recaptured and sent back to prison, but the lovers reunited after his release in February 1932.

Together they sparked one of the most spectacular manhunts of the 1930s. Their 21-month crime spree took them across Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and New Mexico. Side by side they stole cars, robbed small banks, grocery stores and filling stations.

Clyde was credited with kidnapping, and some 13 murders, at least two of them police officers. At times he and Bonnie were joined by their brothers and other gang members.

Bonnie and Clyde met their end in a hail of steel-jacketed bullets on May 23, 1934, at dawn. They drove their Ford V-8 straight into an ambush of Texas and Louisiana lawmen that were hiding in the bushes along the highway near Sailes, Louisiana. They were killed instantly.

Their bullet-riddled car containing their dead bodies was towed to Conger’s Furniture and Funeral Home, where a crowd gathered to get a look. One witness said he could smell Bonnie’s perfume as he past the car.

Bonnie was still wearing her wedding ring when she died. Apparently she thought it wouldn’t be fair to divorce her husband while he was in prison. In reality, there would have been no way for her to file for divorce.

She was just four months shy of her 24th birthday.

She’s been shown in pictures toting guns and smoking cigars. But who knew that she wrote poetry? A few lines appear on her epitaph:

As the flowers are all made sweeter by the sunshine and the dew,

So this old world is made brighter by the lives

Of folks like you

And here are two of Bonnie Parker’s prophetic poems in full:

The Trail’s End                 

You’ve read the story of Jesse   James

of how he lived and died.

If you’re still in need;

of something to read,

here’s the story of Bonnie and   Clyde.

Now Bonnie and Clyde are the   Barrow gang

I’m sure you all have read.

how they rob and steal;

and those who squeal,

are usually found dying or dead.

 

There’s lots of untruths to   these write-ups;

they’re not as ruthless as that.

their nature is raw;

they hate all the law,

the stool pigeons, spotters and   rats.

They call them cold-blooded   killers

they say they are heartless and   mean.

But I say this with pride

that I once knew Clyde,

when he was honest and upright   and clean.

But the law fooled around;

kept taking him down,

and locking him up in a cell.

Till he said to me;

“I’ll never be free,

so I’ll meet a few of them in   hell”

The road was so dimly lighted

there were no highway signs to   guide.

But they made up their minds;

if all roads were blind,

they wouldn’t give up till they   died.

 

The road gets dimmer and dimmer

sometimes you can hardly see.

But it’s fight man to man

and do all you can,

for they know they can never be   free.

 

From heart-break some people   have suffered

from weariness some people have   died.

But take it all in all;

our troubles are small,

till we get like Bonnie and   Clyde.

 

If a policeman is killed in Dallas

and they have no clue or guide.

If they can’t find a fiend,

they just wipe their slate clean

and hang it on Bonnie and Clyde.

 

There’s two crimes committed in   America

not accredited to the Barrow   mob.

They had no hand;

in the kidnap demand,

nor the Kansas City Depot job.

 

A newsboy once said to his   buddy;

“I wish old Clyde would get   jumped.

In these awfull hard times;

we’d make a few dimes,

if five or six cops would get   bumped”

 

The police haven’t got the   report yet

but Clyde called me up today.

He said,”Don’t start any   fights;

we aren’t working nights,

we’re joining the NRA.”

From Irving to West Dallas   viaduct

is known as the Great Divide.

Where the women are kin;

and the men are men,

and they won’t “stool”   on Bonnie and Clyde.

 

If they try to act like citizens

and rent them a nice little   flat.

About the third night;

they’re invited to fight,

by a sub-gun’s rat-tat-tat.

 

They don’t think they’re too   smart or desperate

they know that the law always   wins.

They’ve been shot at before;

but they do not ignore,

that death is the wages of sin.

 

Some day they’ll go down   together

they’ll bury them side by side.

To few it’ll be grief,

to the law a relief

but it’s death for Bonnie and   Clyde.

 bullethole

The Story of Suicide Sal

We each of us have a good “alibi”

For being down here in the “joint”

But few of them really are justified

If you get right down to the point.

 

You’ve heard of a woman’s glory

Being spent on a “downright cur”

Still you can’t always judge the story

As true, being told by her.

 

As long as I’ve stayed on this “island”

And heard “confidence tales” from each “gal”

Only one seemed interesting and truthful-

The story of “Suicide Sal”.

 

Now “Sal” was a gal of rare beauty,

Though her features were coarse and tough;

She never once faltered from duty

To play on the “up and up”.

 

“Sal” told me this tale on the evening

Before she was turned out “free”

And I’ll do my best to relate it

Just as she told it to me:

 

I was born on a ranch in Wyoming;

Not treated like Helen of Troy,

I was taught that “rods were rulers”

And “ranked” as a greasy cowboy.

 

Then I left my old home for the city

To play in its mad dizzy whirl,

Not knowing how little of pity

It holds for a country girl.

 

There I fell for “the line” of a “henchman”

A “professional killer” from “Chi”

I couldn’t help loving him madly,

For him even I would die.

 

One year we were desperately happy

Our “ill gotten gains” we spent free,

I was taught the ways of the “underworld”

Jack was just like a “god” to me.

 

I got on the “F.B.A.” payroll

To get the “inside lay” of the “job”

The bank was “turning big money”!

It looked like a “cinch for the mob”.

 

Eighty grand without even a “rumble”-

Jack was last with the “loot” in the door,

When the “teller” dead-aimed a revolver

From where they forced him to lie on the floor.

 

I knew I had only a moment-

He would surely get Jack as he ran,

So I “staged” a “big fade out” beside him

And knocked the forty-five out of his hand.

 

They “rapped me down big” at the station,

And informed me that I’d get the blame

For the “dramatic stunt” pulled on the “teller”

Looked to them, too much like a “game”.

 

The “police” called it a “frame-up”

Said it was an “inside job”

But I steadily denied any knowledge

Or dealings with “underworld mobs”.

 

The “gang” hired a couple of lawyers,

The best “fixers” in any mans town,

But it takes more than lawyers and money

When Uncle Sam starts “shaking you down”.

 

I was charged as a “scion of gangland”

And tried for my wages of sin,

The “dirty dozen” found me guilty-

From five to fifty years in the pen.

 

I took the “rap” like good people,

And never one “squawk” did I make

Jack “dropped himself” on the promise

That we make a “sensational break”.

 

Well, to shorten a sad lengthy story,

Five years have gone over my head

Without even so much as a letter-

At first I thought he was dead.

 

But not long ago I discovered;

From a gal in the joint named Lyle,

That Jack and his “moll” had “got over”

And were living in true “gangster style”.

 

If he had returned to me sometime,

Though he hadn’t a cent to give

I’d forget all the hell that he’s caused me,

And love him as long as I lived.

 

But there’s no chance of his ever coming,

For he and his moll have no fears

But that I will die in this prison,

Or “flatten” this fifty years.

 

Tommorow I’ll be on the “outside”

And I’ll “drop myself” on it today,

I’ll “bump ’em if they give me the “hotsquat”

On this island out here in the bay…

 

The iron doors swung wide next morning

For a gruesome woman of waste,

Who at last had a chance to “fix it”

Murder showed in her cynical face.

 

Not long ago I read in the paper

That a gal on the East Side got “hot”

And when the smoke finally retreated,

Two of gangdom were found “on the spot”.

 

It related the colorful story

Of a “jilted gangster gal”

Two days later, a “sub-gun” ended

The story of “Suicide Sal”.

 

susal