Posts Tagged ‘Eliot Ness’

ATF Came Calling Today

March 6, 2012

Today, I received an email completely out of the blue from the United States Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The message was from an ATF historian wanting to know if I had any photographs of one-time agent William Gardner. What made the request all-the-more surprising was that, when I was researching Gardner’s life, the Department of Justice disavowed having any knowledge of him, even after I appealed their initial decision. Obviously, Justice does know something about the Untouchable who busted up breweries alongside Eliot Ness many decades ago.

While talking with the ATF historian, I learned that the Bureau had undergone several reorganizations over the years and the Untouchables’ files had been thought to be lost somewhere along the way. Recently, eight of the files were found, including Bill Gardner’s. Perhaps the person writing a definitive biography of Eliot Ness uncovered them while doing his research. Now, I must wait for copies to arrive to see what remains in his file and to learn some things I didn’t know about his time with the Justice Department.

Apparently, Eliot Ness, who was a physically small man who played in a very rough game with the likes of Al Capone, recruited Gardner, a large powerful man, for his muscle. Ness may have wanted Gardner for protection both when out on operations and to be with him should the thugs attempt reprisals against him. Ness has written that he initially intended to use Gardner in undercover work but, immediately after seeing him, changed his mind. A six-foot-tall Sioux with a muscular build would not blend in well in Chicago; he would definitely not blend into the background. Gardner’s experience on the football field probably served him as well as his Dickinson law degree when he was raiding those bootleggers. It will be interesting to see what is lurking in his file.

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1908 Flag Mystery

July 8, 2009

George Gardner’s granddaughter sent me a scan of a photo of the 1908 Carlisle Indian School band. George’s brother, William, was better known than George due to his exploits on the football field, the sidelines and alongside Eliot Ness. However, George was quite active at Carlisle and also played on the football team. In the photo below, he is in the second row from the top, third from the left.

George’s great-grandson doesn’t think the flag in the photo is a 1908 flag. My eyes aren’t good enough to determine whether it is or not. On Saturday, November 16, 1908 the areas that had previously been known as Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were admitted into the union as our 46th state. The flag necessarily changed as a result because a star was added.

Below are images of the 45-star flag that was used from 1896 to 1908 and the flag that was used from 1908 to 1912. My eyes aren’t good enough to determine which is in the photo, so I did a little detective work. This photo appeared on the front page of the January 31, 1908 edition of Carlisle’s school newspaper, The Arrow. The photo does not appear to have been taken in the winter. The photo had to have been taken before January 31, 1908 and in good weather. Therefore, it was likely taken when the flag had only 45 stars.

Perhaps someone with sharper eyes or a higher resolution photo can prove me wrong. Keep in mind that US flags never expire. It is always proper to display an older version of the flag provided it is in good shape.

 carlisle band 1908

US Flag 1896-1908

us-1896

US Flag 1908-1912

us-1908