11/22/1921 - Mercifully for the citizens of Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa, in a rent-a-car garage, the short, but exceptionally violent, criminal career of Edward J. "Eddie" Adams is ended by three officers of the Wichita, Kansas Police Department.
Born as William Joseph Wallace on a farm in Hutchinson, Kansas when the area is still the stomping grounds for the Dalton Brothers, Bill Doolin, and a passel of other notorious outlaws, Adams earlier loses parental guidance when his father dies and his mother remarries a man the boy despises. Despite hating the man who changes him into an Adams, the future outlaw has a relatively normal country childhood, though he soon learns to despise manual labor due to the many farm chores he is assigned. Exchanging farm for big city, in the early part of the 20th Century, Adams moves to Wichita, where he becomes a barber and marries ... until one of his patrons realizes the man is open to other pursuits if nice paydays are available.
Downtown Wichita - 1920s
The snip and a shave customer is John Callahan, a Midwest thief and bank robber who moves up to underworld kingpin during Prohibition ... controlling bootlegging, narcotics, and money fencing ... and he also mentors young hoodlums (Pretty Boy Floyd will work for Callahan for a time as bootleg liquor delivery driver). Soon, with the guidance of the mobster, Adams is involved in bootlegging, petty robberies, partying and car theft to such a degree that his wife leaves him. Not enough, the former barber forms a gang of like-minded thugs, and takes down bank and train scores in Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa; his road to oblivion begins shorty after, in 1920, when Callahan introduces the outlaw to hoodlum brothers, Ray, Walter, and Dudley Majors, and the men convince Adams that a downtown Kansas City gambling den belonging to mobster Harry Trusdell is a plum, ripe for the picking. Wrong ... in the daylight robbery that ensues on September 5, 1920, a gunfight breaks out in the gaming establishment between the robbers and employees unwilling to release Mr. Trusdell's assets ... and the lead exchange leads to the death of a gambler and gunman Frank Gardner. Murder and hitting a protected gambling hall a big no-no, the gang is soon caught (Dudley escapes, only to end up serving time in Delaware) and goes on trial with the two Majors brothers both receiving five-year sentences, while Adams gets life.
Kansas City Gambling Den - 1920s
Criminal career seemingly over before it really got started, while being transported to the Missouri State Penitentiary at Jefferson City, Adams manages to get away from a guard and not break his neck jumping off the train taking him to prison ... and his bloody last crime spree is on.
The Missouri State Penitentiary
Hooking up with a bandit named Julius Finney, the men rob a bank and general store in the town of Cullison, Kansas, but are soon in custody when excessive speed causes Adams to crash a stolen car into a bridge and they are surrounded by a posse. Already under a life sentence in Missouri, Adams adds a ten to thirty year stretch at the Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing to his criminal resume ... but he is out again by August of 1921, after masterminding an escape that knocks out the power to the prison lights and allows the convict to flee over the pen's wall with fellow hooligans, Frank Foster, George Weisberger, and D.C. Brown (Brown is recaptured only days later), into a getaway car driven by a WWI vet turned louse, Billy Fintelman ... the makings of a new Adams Gang.
Kansas State Penitentiary - Lansing
Taking $10,000 from each of their next targets, the gang robs banks in Rose Hill and Haysville, Kansas ... and it is in Haysville that Adams pistol-whips 82-year-old James Krievell for no discernible reason ... an act that sends the man to the hospital, where he eventually dies from the trauma of having a fractured skull. The heat on, police try to trap the gang near Anoly, Kansas, but in the gun battle that ensues, the gang escapes, wounding Deputy Benjamin Fisher. The gang resurfaces eleven days later when they steal $500 in silver from a bank near Osceloa, Iowa (also called Cherokee). Resting from their escape on a gravel farm road just a few miles south of the town of Murray, Iowa, the suspicious owner of the nearby farm, C. J. Jones, contacts Sheriff Ed West, and a posse soon arrives at the site to investigate. Approaching the suspect vehicle, a revolver is shoved out a window into Sheriff's West's face, but fails to fire ... a problem the other weaponry of the outlaws does not have, and in the spray of lead sent out both sides of the bandit car, several posse members are wounded. Worse though takes place for Jones, hearing the sounds of gunfire from the area of the suspect vehicle he'd reported, the farmer grabs a shotgun and runs down the road to assist the posse, where he encounters the fleeing outlaws and is mortally wounded.
Downtown Osceola, Iowa - 1920s
Safely back in Kansas once more, the crime spree continues with the gang robbing eleven stores in Muscotah, Kansas, kidnapping and robbing two state motorcycle officers outside of Wichita (and setting both bikes on fire to send an "F-you" message to the Kansas authorities), followed by Adams killing Wichita Patrolman A. L. Young while the man walks his beat ... a cold-blooded murder not performed as part of a robbery or escape, but because a mutual love interest in town has chosen the lawman over the outlaw. That bit of bad business done, the gang then engages in its most successful robbery, taking over $35,000 off a Santa Fe express train outside of Ottawa, Kansas.
Wichita - Coleman Lamp Company
Ottawa, Kansas - Santa Fe Depot
Back in Wichita, the gang then stupidly decides to celebrate their successful train robbery by getting drunk, picking up some pliable women, and going joy riding about town ... in one car of fools is Adams, Foster, local madam Nellie Miles, a local bootlegger named George J. McFarland and two prostitutes, while in a following vehicle ride Fintelman, his wife, Weisberger, P.D. Orcutt, and two more prostitutes. Not surprisingly, the Adams vehicle is soon stopped by two motorcycle cops, and also not surprisingly, either Adams or Foster deals with the situation by gunning down patrolman Robert Fitzpatrick, before discarding the women passengers and fleeing south into Cowley County ... where another murder takes place. Running out of gas, the bandits go to steal the car of farmer George Oldham, and do such a poor job that the man comes out of his home to see what is going on ... and is gunned down by Adams (having enough, McFarland runs off into the woods). Returning to Wichita in the stolen car, the men go to McFarland's home, and instead, find two cops also looking for the man ... and Adams goes gunning again, severely wounding officer Ray Casner (while the other officer hides under a bed).
Laying low, Adams waits until the day of Fitzpatrick's funeral, figuring every cop in town will be at the officer's memorial, then goes into downtown Wichita to rent a car to leave town for good ... but he is recognized by the garage owner, who secretly calls the authorities. Confrontation, when three police officers enter the back door of the garage, Adams draws his weapon and is tackled by Detective Charles D. Hoffman, but able to free his pistol, the outlaw kills Hoffman, wounds Officer Charles Bowman, before looking to take down the third officer. But Officer D. C. Stuckey is no fool when it comes to dealing with armed felons ... stepping behind the protection of a pillar in the garage, the police officer takes careful aim as Adams breaks away from Hoffman, and ends Adams' fourteen month crime spree for good with three bullets placed fatally into the killer's chest. Adios Adams, out at the age of thirty-four, over 9,000 people come by the City Undertaking Parlor to see the badman off to Hell and celebrate the end of the maniac's spree, during which seven people have be murdered, over a dozen citizens and lawmen are wounded, and eighteen individuals are arrested and go to jail, including gang member Frank Foster, who gets life behind bars.
Newspaper Recreation Of The Final Gunfight
The death of Adams is one less bad apple for the citizens of the Midwest to be concerned about ... removed for good on 11/22/1921.