Nell Donnelly and her chauffeur, George Blair, were kidnapped on December 16, 1931. Donnelly had become famous after her 1916 founding of the Donnelly Garment Company, which sold stylish but affordable dresses for daily wear by ordinary women. Backed by the sales of “Nelly Don’s,” as the dresses became known, the company grew into a multi-million dollar business with over 1,000 employees in the 1920s.
One of Kansas City's most sensational and ultimately tragic crimes began on May 27, 1933 with the kidnapping of Mary McElroy, the daughter of controversial city manager Henry F. McElroy, who had close ties to the political machine operated by “Boss” Tom Pendergast. She was released after 34 hours of captivity, following payment of a $30,000 ransom, but she never recovered from the emotional turmoil that ensued.
On June 17, 1933, four law enforcement officers and their prisoner, Frank Nash, were fatally wounded in a botched rescue attempt outside Union Station. The story of the Union Station Massacre, as it became known, centered on Frank Nash, who had been convicted of three separate crimes of a serious nature: murder, armed burglary, and then assault.
A reprint of an article clipped from defunct Kansas City newspaper, The Kansas City American. This clipping documents the shift in local and national politics in which black voters begin to support Democratic candidates. Felix H. Payne and the Central United Democratic Committee provides an endorsement for Judge James V. Billings for Judge of the Supreme Court, urging readers to "join us August 2, [1938,] primary election day, to go to the polls in your community..."
Complaint for Criminal Case No. 12126: United States vs. Walter H. McGee, Wendell Johnson, Clarence Stevens, L. R. Gilbert, Hazel Johnson, Lenora Gilbert, Clarence Click, and George McGee, Defendants. In this document, Thomas J. Layson calls upon the court to charge the defendants with the kidnapping of Mary McElroy, daughter of Kansas City, Missouri city manager Henry Francis McElroy. Layson also charges the defendants with ransoming Mary McElroy for $30,000.00.
Indictment for Criminal Case No. 12126: United States vs. Walter H. McGee, Wendell Johnson, Clarence Stevens, L. R. Gilbert, Hazel Johnson, Lenora Gilbert, Clarence Click, and George McGee, Defendants. The defendants are charged with the kidnapping of Mary McElroy, daughter of Kansas City, Missouri city manager Henry Francis McElroy, and ransoming Mary McElroy for $30,000.00.
Warrant to Apprehend for Criminal Case No. 12126: United States vs. Walter H. McGee, Wendell Johnson, Clarence Stevens, L. R. Gilbert, Hazel Johnson, Lenora Gilbert, Clarence Click, and George McGee, Defendants. This document calls for the arrest of the defendants charged with the kidnapping of Mary McElroy, daughter of Kansas City, Missouri city manager Henry Francis McElroy, and ransoming Mary McElroy for $30,000.00.
Draft of an editorial for True Detective Mysteries, a true crime magazine, about the political corruption in Kansas City and how it is being brought down.
Unsigned letter to Governor Lloyd C. Stark, including a clipping from the Kansas City Times, regarding the demand to prosecute violations of election laws. The letter also mentions that Prosecutor Tom Graves intends to marry the widow of John Lazia.
Resolution passed by "a body of Republicans and other patriotic citizens" repudiating First Ward Committeeman Ray Horton "because of his many acts in aiding and abetting the Lazia-McElroy-Pendergast machine," voter fraud, and demanding that Governor Guy Park take steps to clean up the Board of Election Commissioners in Kansas City.
Letter from Edgar Shook to Governor Lloyd C. Stark, discussing potential legal action against Kansas City, Missouri as well as "the present controvery respecting the County Court's refusal to pay our employees compensation which we have certified for them." Shook writes that "McElroy has seen fit to abuse the Board and its employees at meetings of the City Council."
Letter from J. William Smith to Governor Lloyd C. Stark concerning the inadequacy of police protection in past Kansas City elections and other political and economic problems in the city. He also writes that he "would like to add ... that this is the most Wide 'open' town I was ever in."
Pamphlet describing how Pendergast, "King of Kansas City, Emperor of Missouri," and his machine gained power in Kansas City and its role in statewide election fraud.
Letter from Olive Turner to Governor Lloyd C. Stark saying "it seems a shame that law abiding, tax-paying citizens have to get under cover and write to their Governor in order to live in this town." She expresses concerns about corruption, particularly at the state cosmetology board and the County Home for the Aged.
Letter to Claude Lambert asserting that gubernatorial candidate Lloyd Stark is not beholden or affiliated to the Kansas City political machine, and making complimentary remarks about Matthew S. Murray and Henry McElroy.
Letter from Charles Matthews to Claude Lambert asserting that Lloyd Stark will not be beholden to Tom Pendergast's interests, regardless of garnering his endorsement. This letter is a near replica of SHSMO-C0004-F08113-0001.
Newspaper article reporting on a speech given by Frederick E. Whitten in which he rails against the corruption of the Pendergast organization.
Clipping and brief note encouraging Gov. Stark to crack down on illegal gambling and slot machines in Kansas City. The clipping quotes city manager Henry McElroy as saying he'll feed a Stark Brothers' Nursery Golden Delicious apple to his dog.
Letter from A. D. Gresham to Governor Park offering support and encouragement to his administration. Gresham offers his thoughts about alcohol policy and taxation, implying that he would be interested in a position on a control board.
Letter from F. E. Whitten to Jesse Barrett describing the atmosphere in Kansas City in response to federal investigations into the Pendergast Machine.