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Ernest King - History


Ernest King

1878- 1956

American Admiral

Distinguished American Admiral Ernest King was born on November 23 1878 in Lorain, Ohio. He attended the Naval Academy, and saw action in the Spanish-American War. He was both a submariner and a naval aviator and as such, was a strong supporter of the growth of naval aviation.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt appointed King Commander- in-Chief of the US fleet. He was considered to be one of the greatest American commanders of World War II, successfully directing the US fleet to victory in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.


Ernest II

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Ernest II, (born June 21, 1818, Coburg, Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld [Germany]—died August 22, 1893, Reinhardsbrunn, Thuringia), duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, brother of Prince Albert (consort of Queen Victoria of England), and a strong supporter of German unification.

Ernest was the eldest son of Duke Ernest I and his first wife, Louise of Saxe-Gotha. In 1842 he married Alexandrine of Baden, and he succeeded to the dukedom upon his father’s death in 1844. During the years of reaction after the Revolutions of 1848, Ernest remained faithful to the liberal and national ideal, offering asylum to political exiles from Prussia and Saxony. In 1852 he gave Gotha a new constitution, which in part coordinated the administration of his two duchies.

In 1861 Ernest concluded a military agreement with Prussia, subordinating his troops to Prussian command in case of war. About this time he became patron of the Nationalverein (German: “National Union”) and allowed his court to become the centre of nationalist agitation. The democratic leanings of the Coburg court seriously embarrassed Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck, whose policy was further hampered when Coburg became the headquarters of the party in favour of Frederick, duke of Augustenburg (later Frederick VIII), during the Schleswig-Holstein crisis. In 1863 Ernest was present at the Fürstentag (Diet of Princes) in Frankfurt and began to correspond with the Austrian court, where his cousin Alexander, Graf (count) Mensdorff, was minister. During the Seven Weeks’ War of 1866, after vainly trying to mediate between Prussia and Austria, he put his troops under Prussian direction just before the decisive Battle of Langensalza.

His role in politics outside his own duchies ended when the German Empire was formed. That it had been important is shown by the comment of Emperor William I: “To him in no small degree was due the establishment of the empire.” A man of varied tastes, Ernest composed several operas and songs. He also was a keen sportsman. Because Ernest had no children, his title was inherited by his nephew Alfred, duke of Edinburgh, second son of Ernest’s younger brother, Albert. Ernest’s memoirs were published as Aus meinem Leben und aus meiner Zeit (“From My Life and My Time”), in three volumes (1887–89). Contained within are Ernest’s reflections on the creation of the modern German state, as well as his correspondence with his sister-in-law Queen Victoria. Ernest’s relationship with Victoria and the royal family remained close after the death of Albert in 1861, and he was an early champion of the marriage of Victoria’s third daughter, Helena, to Prince Christian of Holstein.


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About Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations

Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King (23 November 1878 – 25 June 1956) was Commander in Chief, United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations (COMINCH-CNO) during World War II. As COMINCH, he directed the United States Navy's operations, planning, and administration and was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the U.S. Navy's second most senior officer after Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, and the second admiral to be promoted to five star rank. As COMINCH, he served under Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and later under James Forrestal.

King was born in Lorain, Ohio, on 23 November 1878, the son of James Clydesdale King and Elizabath Keam King. He attended the United States Naval Academy from 1897 until 1901, graduating fourth in his class. During his senior year at the Academy, he attained the rank of Cadet Lieutenant Commander, the highest possible cadet ranking at that time.

While still at the Academy, he served on the USS San Francisco during the Spanish American War. After graduation, he served as a junior officer on the survey ship USS Eagle, the battleships USS Illinois, USS Alabama and USS New Hampshire, and the cruiser USS Cincinnati.

While still at the Naval Academy, he met Martha Rankin ("Mattie") Egerton, a Baltimore socialite, whom he married in a ceremony at the Naval Academy Chapel on 10 October 1905. They had six daughters, Claire, Elizabeth, Florence, Martha, Eleanor and Mildred and then a son, Ernest Joseph King, Jr. (Commander, USN ret.).

King returned to shore duty at Annapolis in 1912. He received his first command, the destroyer USS Terry in 1914, participating in the United States occupation of Veracruz. He then moved on to a more modern ship, USS Cassin.

During World War I he served on the staff of Vice Admiral Henry T. Mayo, the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet. As such, he was a frequent visitor to the Royal Navy and occasionally saw action as an observer on board British ships. It appears that his Anglophobia developed during this period, although the reasons are unclear. He was awarded the Navy Cross "for distinguished service in the line of his profession as assistant chief of staff of the Atlantic Fleet".

After the war, King, now a captain, became head of the Naval Postgraduate School. Along with Captains Dudley Wright Knox and William S. Pye, King prepared a report on naval training that recommended changes to naval training and career paths. Most of the report's recommendations were accepted and became policy.

Before World War I he served in the surface fleet. From 1923 to 1925, he held several posts associated with submarines. As a junior captain, the best sea command he was able to secure in 1921 was the store ship USS Bridge. The relatively new submarine force offered the prospect of advancement.

King attended a short training course at the Naval Submarine Base New London before taking command of a submarine division, flying his commodore's pennant from USS S-20. He never earned his Submarine Warfare insignia, although he did propose and design the now-familiar dolphin insignia. In 1923, he took over command of Submarine Base itself. During this period, he directed the salvage of the submarine USS S-51, earning the first of his three Distinguished Service Medals.

In 1926, Rear Admiral William A. Moffett, Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, asked King if he would consider a transfer to naval aviation. King accepted the offer and took command of the aircraft tender USS Wright with additional duties as Senior Aide on the Staff of Commander Air Squadrons, Atlantic Fleet.

That year, the United States Congress passed a law (10 USC Sec. 5942) requiring commanders of all aircraft carriers, seaplane tenders, and aviation shore establishments be qualified naval aviators. King therefore reported to Naval Air Station Pensacola for aviator training in January 1927. He was the only captain in his class of twenty, which also included Commander Richmond K. Turner. King received his wings as Naval Aviator No. 3368 on 26 May 1927 and resumed command of Wright. For a time, he frequently flew solo, flying down to Annapolis for weekend visits to his family, but his solo flying was cut short by a naval regulation prohibiting solo flights for aviators aged 50 or over. However, the History Chair at the Naval Academy from 1971-1976 disputes this assertion, stating that after King soloed, he never flew alone again. His biographer described his flying ability as "erratic" and quoted the commander of the squadron with which he flew as asking him if he "knew enough to be scared?" Between 1926 and 1936 he flew an average of 150 hours annually.

King commanded Wright until 1929, except for a brief interlude overseeing the salvage of USS S-4. He then became Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics under Moffett. The two fell out over certain elements of Bureau policy, and he was replaced by Commander John Henry Towers and transferred to command of Naval Station Norfolk.

On 20 June 1930, King became captain of the carrier USS Lexington – then one of the largest aircraft carriers in the world – which he commanded for the next two years. During his tenure aboard the Lexington, Captain King was the commanding officer of notable science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, then Ensign Heinlein, prior to his medical retirement from the US Navy. During that time, Ensign Heinlein dated one of King's daughters.

In 1932 he attended the Naval War College. In a war college thesis entitled "The Influence of National Policy on Strategy", King expounded on the theory that America's weakness was Representative democracy:

“ Historically. it is traditional and habitual for us to be inadequately prepared. Thus is the combined result of a number factors, the character of which is only indicated: democracy, which tends to make everyone believe that he knows it all the preponderance (inherent in democracy) of people whose real interest is in their own welfare as individuals the glorification of our own victories in war and the corresponding ignorance of our defeats (and disgraces) and of their basic causes the inability of the average individual (the man in the street) to understand the cause and effect not only in foreign but domestic affairs, as well as his lack of interest in such matters. Added to these elements is the manner in which our representative (republican) form of government has developed as to put a premium on mediocrity and to emphasise the defects of the electorate already mentioned. ”

Following the death of Admiral Moffet in the crash of the airship USS Akron on 4 April 1933, King became Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, and was promoted to Rear Admiral on 26 April 1933. As Bureau chief, King worked closely with the chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Rear Admiral William D. Leahy, to increase the number of naval aviators.

At the conclusion of his term as Bureau Chief in 1936, King became Commander, Aircraft, Base Force, at Naval Air Station North Island. He was promoted to Vice Admiral on 29 January 1938 on becoming Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force – at the time one of only three vice admiral billets in the US Navy.

King hoped to be appointed as either CNO or Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Fleet, but on 15 June 1939, he was posted to the General Board, an elephant's graveyard where senior officers sat out the time remaining before retirement. A series of extraordinary events would alter this outcome.

His career was resurrected by one of his few friends in the Navy, CNO Admiral Harold "Betty" Stark, who realized that King's talent for command was being wasted on the General Board. Stark appointed King as Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet in the fall of 1940, and he was promoted to Admiral in February 1941. On 30 December 1941 he became Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet. On 18 March 1942, he was appointed Chief of Naval Operations, relieving Admiral Stark. He is the only person to hold this combined command. After turning 64 on 23 November 1944, he wrote a message to President Roosevelt to say he had reached mandatory retirement age. Roosevelt replied with a note reading "So what, old top?".[25] On 17 December 1944 he was promoted to the newly created rank of Fleet Admiral. He left active duty on 15 December 1945 but was recalled as an advisor to the Secretary of the Navy in 1950.

After retiring, King lived in Washington, D.C.. He was active in his early post-retirement, but suffered a debilitating stroke in 1947, and subsequent ill-health ultimately forced him to stay in Naval Hospitals at Bethesda, Maryland, and at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. He died of a heart-attack in Kittery on 26 June 1956 and was buried in the United States Naval Academy Cemetery at Annapolis, Maryland.

[edit] AnalysisKing was highly intelligent and extremely capable, but controversial. Some consider him to have been one of the greatest admirals of the 20th century others, however, point out that he never commanded ships or fleets at sea in war time, and that his Anglophobia led him to make decisions which cost many Allied lives. Others see as indicative of strong leadership his willingness and ability to counter both British and U.S. Army influence on American World War II strategy, and praise his sometimes outspoken recognition of the strategic importance of the Pacific War. His instrumental role in the decisive Guadalcanal Campaign has earned him admirers in the United States and Australia, and some also consider him an organizational genius. He was considered rude and abrasive as a result, King was loathed by many officers with whom he served.

He was. perhaps the most disliked Allied leader of World War II. Only British Field Marshal Montgomery may have had more enemies. King also loved parties and often drank to excess. Apparently, he reserved his charm for the wives of fellow naval officers. On the job, he "seemed always to be angry or annoyed."

There was a tongue-in-cheek remark about King, made by one of his daughters, carried about by Naval personnel at the time that "he is the most even-tempered person in the United States Navy. He is always in a rage." Roosevelt once described King as a man who "shaves every morning with a blow torch".

It is commonly reported that when King was called to be CominCh, he remarked,"When they get in trouble they send for the sons-of-bitches”. However, when he was later asked if he had said this King replied that he had not but would have if he had thought of it.

Response to Operation Drumbeat

At the start of US involvement in World War II, blackouts on the U.S. eastern seaboard were not in effect, and commercial ships were not travelling under convoy. King's critics attribute the delay to implement these measures to his Anglophobia, as the convoys and seaboard blackouts were British proposals, and King was supposedly loath to have his much-beloved U.S. Navy adopt any ideas from the Royal Navy. He also refused, until March 1942, the loan of British convoy escorts when the USN had only a handful of suitable vessels. He was, however, aggressive in driving his destroyer captains to attack U-boats in defense of convoys and in planning counter-measures against German surface raiders, even before the formal declaration of war by Germany.

Instead of convoys, King had the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard perform regular anti-submarine patrols, but these patrols followed a regular schedule. U-boat commanders learned the schedule, and coordinated their attacks to these schedules. Leaving the lights on in coastal towns back-lit merchant ships to the U-Boats. As a result, there were disastrous shipping losses — two million tons lost in January and February 1942 alone, and urgent pressure applied from both sides of the Atlantic. However, King resisted the use of convoys because he was convinced that the Navy lacked sufficient escort vessels to make them effective. The formation of convoys with inadequate escort would also result in increased port-to-port time, giving the enemy concentrated groups of targets rather than single ships proceeding independently. Furthermore, blackouts were a politically-sensitive issue – coastal cities resisted, citing the loss of tourism revenue.

It was not until May 1942 that King marshalled resources — small cutters and private vessels that he had previously scorned — to establish a day-and-night interlocking convoy system running from Newport, Rhode Island, to Key West, Florida.

By August 1942, the submarine threat to shipping in U.S. coastal waters had been contained. The U-boats' "second happy time" ended, with the loss of seven U-boats and a dramatic reduction in shipping losses. The same effect occurred when convoys were extended to the Caribbean. Despite the ultimate defeat of the U-boat, some of King's initial decisions in this theatre could be viewed as flawed.

In King's defense, noted naval historian Professor Robert W. Love has stated that "Operation Drumbeat (or Paukenschlag) off the Atlantic Coast in early 1942 succeeded largely because the U.S. Navy was already committed to other tasks: transatlantic escort-of-convoy operations, defending troop transports, and maintaining powerful, forward-deployed Atlantic Fleet striking forces to prevent a breakout of heavy German surface forces. Navy leaders, especially Admiral King, were unwilling to risk troop shipping to provide escorts for coastal merchant shipping. Unscheduled, emergency deployments of Army units also created disruptions to navy plans, as did other occasional unexpected tasks. Contrary to the traditional historiography, neither Admiral King’s unproven yet widely alleged Anglophobia, an equally undocumented navy reluctance to accept British advice, nor a preference for another strategy caused the delay in the inauguration of costal escort-of-convoy operations. The delay was due to a shortage of escorts, and that resulted from understandably conflicting priorities, a state of affairs that dictated all Allied strategy until 1944."

Other decisions perceived as questionable were his resistance to employ long-range Liberators on Atlantic maritime patrols (thus allowing the U-boats a safe area in the middle of the Atlantic — the "Atlantic Gap"), the denial of adequate numbers of landing craft to the Allied invasion of Europe, and the reluctance to permit the Royal Navy's Pacific Fleet any role in the Pacific. In all of these instances, circumstances forced a re-evaluation or he was over-ruled. It has also been pointed out that King did not, in his post-war report to the Secretary of the Navy, accurately describe the slowness of the American response to the off-shore U-boat threat in early 1942.

It should be noted, however, employment of long-range maritime patrol aircraft in the Atlantic was complicated by inter-service squabbling over command and control (the aircraft belonged to the Army the mission was the Navy's Stimson and Arnold initially refused to release the aircraft.) Although King had certainly used the allocation of ships to the European Theatre as leverage to get the necessary resources for his Pacific objectives, he provided (at General Marshall's request) an additional month's production of landing craft to support Operation Overlord. Moreover, the priority for landing craft construction was changed, a factor outside King's remit. The level of sea lift for Overlord turned out to be more than adequate.

The employment of British and Empire forces in the Pacific was a political matter. The measure was forced on Churchill by the British Chiefs of Staff, not only to re-establish British presence in the region, but to mitigate any perception in the U.S. that the British were doing nothing to help defeat Japan. King was adamant that naval operations against Japan remain 100% American, and angrily resisted the idea of a British naval presence in the Pacific at the Quadrant Conference in late 1944, citing (among other things) the difficulty of supplying additional naval forces in the theatre (for much the same reason, Hap Arnold resisted the offer of RAF units in the Pacific). In addition, King (along with Marshall) had continually resisted operations that would assist the British agenda in reclaiming or maintaining any part of her pre-war colonial holdings in the Pacific or the Eastern Mediterranean. Roosevelt, however, overruled him and, despite King's reservations, the British Pacific Fleet accounted itself well against Japan in the last months of the war.

General Hastings Ismay, chief of staff to Winston Churchill, described King as:

tough as nails and carried himself as stiffly as a poker. He was blunt and stand-offish, almost to the point of rudeness. At the start, he was intolerant and suspicious of all things British, especially the Royal Navy but he was almost equally intolerant and suspicious of the American Army. War against Japan was the problem to which he had devoted the study of a lifetime, and he resented the idea of American resources being used for any other purpose than to destroy the Japanese. He mistrusted Churchill's powers of advocacy, and was apprehensive that he would wheedle President Roosevelt into neglecting the war in the Pacific.

Despite British perceptions, King was a strong believer in the Germany first strategy. However, his natural aggression did not permit him to leave resources idle in the Atlantic that could be utilized in the Pacific, especially when "it was doubtful when — if ever — the British would consent to a cross-Channel operation". King once complained that the Pacific deserved 30% of Allied resources but was getting only 15%. When, at the Casablanca Conference, he was accused by Field-Marshal Sir Alan Brooke of favoring the Pacific war, the argument became heated. The combative General Joseph Stilwell wrote: "Brooke got nasty, and King got good and sore. King almost climbed over the table at Brooke. God, he was mad. I wished he had socked him."

Following Japan's defeat at the Battle of Midway, King advocated (with Roosevelt's tacit consent) the invasion of Guadalcanal. When General Marshall resisted this line of action (as well as who would command the operation), King stated that the Navy (and the Marines) would then carry out the operation by themselves, and instructed Admiral Nimitz to proceed with the preliminary planning. King eventually won the argument, and the invasion went ahead with the backing of the Joint Chiefs. It was ultimately successful, and was the first time the Japanese lost ground during the war. For his attention to the Pacific Theatre he is highly regarded by some Australian war historians.

In spite of (or perhaps partly because of) the fact that the two men did not get along, the combined influence of King and General Douglas MacArthur increased the allocation of resources to the Pacific War.


Service in the Pacific States and Retirement

In 1947, King was appointed Senior Advisor to the President of the Pacific States of America, Douglas MacArthur. King was firmly opposed to the existence of the Pacific States and argued for reunification as soon as possible. When MacArthur rejected the Marshall Plan in 1948, King nearly resigned but was convinced to remain by several prominent government and business leaders who saw King as the last major counterweight to MacArthur’s influence.

In August of 1952, with the increasingly authoritarian policies of MacArthur leading to tensions with the United States, Admiral King and a cadre of officers entered the Presidential Office in Seattle and arrested MacArthur at gunpoint. MacArthur was interned aboard the USS Enterprise which, along with the Pacific Fleet, had blockaded Elliott Bay and deployed marines across the city. King would briefly head the provisional Pacific Military Government before the election of Earl Warren in November of that year.

After the election of President Warren, King retired from naval service and finally returned to the United States. He was recalled as an adviser to the United States Secretary of the Navy in 1954 but, after suffering a stroke only a few months after his appointment, left the position. In poor heath for the last few years of his life, King died in Kittery, Maine on the 25th October, 1959. After lying in state at the National Cathedral in Washington, he was buried in the United States Naval Academy Cemetery. A national day of mourning was observed in both the United States and the Pacific States of America.


Ernest Green

Ernest G. Green was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on September 22, 1941 to Lothaire S. and Ernest G. Green, Sr. His parents instilled in him confidence and self-respect that helped him to become a leader among his peers and a civil rights advocate. He was one of the first black students to integrate at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, following the Supreme Court ruling to desegregate in 1954. Green is the oldest of the "Little Rock Nine," a group of high school students who entered Central High School on the morning of September 25, 1957, with an escort of paratroopers. Governor Orval Faubus had summoned National Guardsmen to turn away the black pupils in direct defiance of the federal government, which had already approved a desegregation plan for the school. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, for the first time since Reconstruction, sent in federal troops to protect the rights of the beleaguered students, and the students ultimately prevailed.Green graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in 1962 and an M.A. in 1964.

In 1965, Green became involved in employment law with a building-trade apprenticeship for the Adolph Institute, a project to help minority women in the South find opportunities for professional careers. He then directed the A. Phillip Randolph Education Fund from 1968 to 1976. Between 1977 and 1981, he served as assistant secretary in the Labor Department under President Jimmy Carter. Since 1981, Green has worked in the private sector for consulting firms. He was a partner for Green and Herman from 1981 to 1985, owned E. Green and Associates from 1985 to 1986, and has been with Lehman Brothers since 1985.

Green has been on the boards of various organizations, such as the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, AfriCare and the African Development Foundation. He has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the NAACP Spingarn Award, the Rockefeller Public Service Award, and honorary doctorates from Tougaloo College, Michigan State University, and Central State University.

He is married to Phyllis Green and they have three children, Adam, Jessica and McKenzie.


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Ernest Augustus

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Ernest Augustus, also called (1799–1837) Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke Of Cumberland, Duke Of Teviotdale, Earl Of Armagh, (born June 5, 1771, Kew, Surrey, Eng.—died Nov. 18, 1851, Herrenhausen, Hanover [Germany]), king of Hanover, from 1837 to 1851, the fifth son of George III of England.

Ernest Augustus studied at Göttingen, entered the Hanoverian army, and served as a leader of cavalry when war broke out between Great Britain and France in 1793. When Hanover withdrew from the war in 1795 he returned to England, being made lieutenant general in the British army in 1799. In the same year he was created duke of Cumberland.

In 1810 Ernest Augustus was severely injured by an assailant, probably his valet Sellis, who was found dead subsequently two men were imprisoned for asserting that the duke had murdered his valet. Recovering from his wounds, the duke again proceeded to the seat of war as a British field marshal, he was in command of the Hanoverian army during the campaigns of 1813 and 1814. Back in England in 1815, however, the duke’s strong Toryism made him unpopular. He resented the refusal of Parliament to increase his allowance and retired for some years to Berlin. On the accession of George IV he returned to England but he ceased to play an important part in politics after the accession of William IV in 1830.

When William died in June 1837, the crowns of Great Britain and Hanover were separated and Ernest Augustus, as the nearest male heir of the late king, became king of Hanover. He cancelled the constitution that William had given in 1833, and the constitution that he sanctioned in 1840 was characteristic of his own illiberal ideas. His reign was a stormy one, and serious trouble between king and people had arisen when he died. He was succeeded by his son, George V.


Ernest King - History

Estimates vary, but approximately twenty-four Osage Indians died violent or suspicious deaths during the early 1920s. The majority of these crimes occurred in or near Fairfax and were rarely investigated by local authorities some were never solved. (The deaths of some alleged victims who lacked discernable wounds were simply ascribed to "indigestion," "peculiar wasting illness[es]," or "causes unknown.") The killings subsided after the arrest of William K. Hale in 1926. A native of Greenville, Texas, Hale, the self-proclaimed "King of the Osage Hills," was perhaps Osage County's most powerful figure. An affluent rancher with banking and business interests, he held political power and was active in Osage affairs. He was also the mastermind of a plot to acquire Osage wealth through murder.

In 1923, the height of the Osage oil boom, the Osage tribe earned more than $30 million in revenue. Under the Osage Allotment Act of 1906 all subsurface minerals within the Osage Nation Reservation (present Osage County, Oklahoma) were tribally owned and held in trust by the U.S. government. Osage mineral leases earned royalties that were paid to the tribe as a whole, with each allottee receiving one equal share, or headright, of the payments. A headright was hereditary and passed to a deceased allottee's immediate legal heir(s). One did not have to be an Osage to inherit an Osage headright.

William K. Hale encouraged his subservient nephew Ernest Burkhart to marry Mollie Kyle, an allotted full-blood Osage. Her mother, Lizzie Q. Kyle, resided with Mollie and Ernest in Fairfax. At the time of Lizzie's death in July 1921 (poison was suspected), she possessed three full headrights in addition to her own, having inherited those of her deceased first husband and two daughters. Lizzie had recently lost another daughter, Anna Brown, who had been shot to death during the early hours of May 22, 1921. Henry Roan, Lizzie's nephew, met a similar fate in January 1923. (It should be noted that Hale was the beneficiary of Roan's $25,000 life insurance policy). And, on March 10, 1923, Lizzie's daughter Rita Smith, Rita's husband William E. "Bill" Smith, and their housekeeper Nettie Brookshire died when their Fairfax home was destroyed by an explosion. With Rita's death, Mollie and Ernest Burkhart inherited a fortune from her mother's and sisters' estates. Had there been no intervention, in all probability Mollie, already ill from poison, and Ernest would have soon died, with the manipulative Hale receiving the Kyle-Burkhart estate.

In March 1923 an alarmed Osage Tribal Council sought U.S. government intervention in the growing number of Osage murders, including those of Joe Grayhorse, William Stepson, Anna Sanford, and others outside the Kyle family. In response, the U.S. Bureau of Investigation (today's Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI) sent agents to Osage County. Among them were special undercover officers who took the lead in the investigations. Their focus was the Roan murder that had occurred on restricted Indian land, giving federal authorities jurisdiction in the case. The agents met regularly to compare observations and noted the reoccurring names of William K. Hale, Ernest Burkhart, and John Ramsey.

Under interrogation Ernest Burkhart tied Ramsey to the Roan murder, and Ramsey, a local farmer-cowboy, admitted Hale had hired him to kill Roan. Ramsey also confessed his involvement in the Smith murders and not only implicated Hale as the ringleader in that crime too, but Henry Grammar and Asa "Ace" Kirby as well. (It should come as no surprise that Grammar and Kirby, both notorious individuals in their own right, died under separate but suspicious circumstances soon after the Smith murders.) Convinced of their case, the federal agents, assisted by state officers, took Hale, Burkhart, and Ramsey into custody in January 1926, and in April charged Kelsie Morrison and Byron Burkhart, Ernest Burkhart's brother, with the murder of Anna Brown. Ramsey later recanted his confession, but Hale maintained his innocence.

Between June 1926 and November 1929 the defendants were tried in state and federal courts at Guthrie, Oklahoma City, Pawhuska, and Bartlesville. The trials, with their deadlocked juries, appeals, and overturned verdicts, received national newspaper and magazine coverage. In June 1926 Ernest Burkhart pleaded guilty and received a life sentence in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester for the murder of William E. Smith. Turning state's evidence, Burkhart testified against Hale and Ramsey, who, in January and November 1929, respectively, were sentenced to life imprisonment in the Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, for the murder of Henry Roan. A petty criminal, Kelsie Morrison admitted he had killed Anna Brown at Hale's request. Morrison was already serving time in November 1926 when he received a life sentence for Brown's murder. Byron Burkhart, Morrison's accomplice, turned state's evidence and was not tried for the crime.

Despite Osage protests Hale, Ramsey, and Ernest Burkhart, were eventually paroled. More surprising, Burkhart received a full pardon from Oklahoma governor Henry Bellmon in 1965. To prevent another "Reign of Terror," as this dark period in Osage tribal history is often referred, after 1925 federal law prohibited non-Osages from inheriting the headrights of tribal members possessing more than one-half Osage blood.

Bibliography

Bill Burchardt, "Osage Oil," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 41 (Fall 1963).

Kenny A. Franks, The Osage Oil Boom (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1989).

Lawrence J. Hogan, The Osage Indian Murders (Frederick, Md.: Amlex, Inc., 1998).

Andrew L. Warren, "Earning Their Spurs in the Oil Patch: The Cinematic FBI, the Osage Murders, and the Test of the American West," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 84 (Summer 2006).

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Today in History, August 17: 1943 – Project Habakkuk, The First Quebec Conference and Pykrete. During WWII Geoffrey Pyke presented an idea to his superiors in the British military of building an enormous aircraft carrier out of a material he called pykrete, ice mixed with wood pulp, which turned out to be very strong. The ship, had it been built, would weigh in at 2.2 million tons and have space for 150 twin engine aircraft, and would be practically impervious to bombs and torpedoes. Experiments were underway in Canada. On today’s date, the First Quebec Conference (Codename Quadrant) began, involving FDR, Churchill and their military staff. Reportedly, during the conference, Lord Louis Mountbatten brought an ordinary block of ice and a block of pykrete into a meeting room filled with generals and admirals. Without warning he drew his pistol, aimed at the block of ice, and fired. The block shattered. He then aimed at the block of pykrete and fired at it. The bullet did not penetrate, but rather ricocheted, zinging around the room and going through the leg of Admiral Ernest J. King’s trousers. The ships, of course, were never built not due to the shooting incident, but because other alternatives were more easily available.


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