Tag Archives: Fool Killer

FOOL KILLER THIRTY-SEVEN: JULY 1910

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE 

Fool Killer timelessLORE ADDITION: For the first time the Fool Killer added a hand-cranked chainsaw to his arsenal of weapons. The Fool Killer’s targets in James Larkin Pearson’s July of 1910 issue:

*** Preachers who smoked. Pearson and his version of the Fool Killer held smoking in such low regard that they felt people who indulged in it should not be trusted with ministering to people’s souls. Shooting the cigarettes, cigars and pipes out of the mouths of smoking preachers was going too far in my opinion, but what can you do?

*** Sid Beckwith of New York, who insisted that the best cure for insomnia was to buy a passenger balloon and take a trip through the skies. He said this would make an insomniac sleep like a baby after that. The clueless Beckwith also warned against spending more than FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS for such an airship. Well, okay, then.

*** Nebraskans who – incensed at the Fool Killer’s criticism of William Jennings Bryan – had taken to bashing and agitating against Pearson’s publication. The Fool Killer dubbed them the Independent Order of Self-Made Fools and proclaimed that their “double-barreled Devil-guns” would kick backward upon firing with more force than would propel their pellets forward. 

*** Writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard.

*** Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was considering flying one of his eponymous airships to the North Pole. After the Cook debacle Larson and his Fool Killer were fed up with what they called North Pole Yarns. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FOR APRIL FOOL’S DAY

Fool Killer illustrationIt’s April Fool’s Day! This time around Balladeer’s Blog will forego its usual Aleister Crowley item and holiday-themed slasher reviews for a breakdown on the assorted depictions of the neglected American folk figure called the Fool Killer.

A. THE MILTON CHRONICLE YEARS – Late 1840s (?) to 1880 (?) – In the earliest WRITTEN versions of American Fool Killer lore the homicidal vigilante wrote letters to Milton Chronicle Editor Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans regarding his victims and why he chose them. (Evans was the real author of the letters.)

              Fool Killer picSurviving Letter One (February 1857): The Fool Killer used his trusty club/ walking stick/ cudgel to slay trigger-happy slave hunting patrols, some “foolish” University of North Carolina students and faculty, a would-be lynch mob, a ruthless land speculator, a vain Southern Belle and her panting suitors plus political figures abusing their positions for partisan purposes. CLICK HERE 

              Surviving Letter Two (March, 1859): The Fool Killer whacked a turkey thief, some Don Quixote Invincibles, a fortune-hunting conman, partisan newspaper “journalists” and corrupt politicians in the North Carolina State Legislature. CLICK HERE 

              Surviving Letter Three (June 1861): In this last surviving Fool Killer Letter PRIOR to his Civil War hibernation period, the wandering killer bumps off slave-owning Democrats who avoided military service, war profiteers, General Benjamin Butler plus a phony “witch” and her clients who were trying to railroad some innocent victims. CLICK HERE   Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER THIRTY-SIX: JUNE OF 1910

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART THIRTY-SIX: Here’s a look at the Fool Killer’s targets in the June of 1910 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer publication:

*** Women who chewed snuff, whom Pearson and his Fool Killer called “snuff-dipping girls.” (Snuff-dipping girls, they make the rockin’ world go ’round! … Had to be said.)

*** Human traffickers. 

*** People who drank, since Pearson was oddly stuffy about alcohol consumption.

*** In a tongue-in-cheek bit he targeted Bronchitis itself, since stories were in the news about ex-President Theodore Roosevelt battling the illness. The Fool Killer implied that Bronchitis was a “fool” for daring to tangle with Teddy. He also made a joke about Teddy’s personality being so huge it took attention away from Halley’s Comet.

*** People who had predicted that the comet would hit the Earth, wreaking immense damage.

*** Scholars who thought they had discovered the Missing Link in Illinois.

*** Religious hypocrites who wore pointlessly expensive clothes to church just to show off their wealth. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER THIRTY-FIVE: MAY OF 1910

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART THIRTY-FIVE: Taking a look at James Larkin Pearson’s version of the Fool Killer and the mythic figure’s targets in the May of 1910 Fool-Killer four-pager. (There was no April issue that year.)

*** Democrat Duncan Brown Cooper and his son Robin. Cooper, who had served in the Confederate States Army during the Civil War, shot Edward W Carmack to death on the streets of Nashville over editorials Carmack had written criticizing Cooper’s preferred politician – Democrat Governor Malcolm R Patterson.

               So even THEN Democrats apparently grew violent with people who disagreed with their political opinions. Robin was granted a second trial and released. Duncan Brown Cooper was found guilty of 2nd Degree Murder … Then pardoned by Democrat Governor Patterson. Some things never change!

*** People who opposed the movement to grant women the vote. 

Mascot sword and pistol*** Pope Pius X. Pearson and his Fool Killer – like the folks at the iconic humor magazine Puck – adored ex-President Theodore Roosevelt and sided with him in the public feud between TR and Pope Pius X over the lack of respect the Pope felt Roosevelt had paid him. Luckily for Pius X the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea kept him safe from the Fool Killer’s wrath. 

*** In a fanciful and poignant vignette featuring a ghost he targeted unappreciative family members who allowed the graves of their forebears to become overgrown and neglected. 

*** The political bosses of Albany, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia for their notorious corruption.

*** Cotton millionaire Jim Patten for airily proclaiming that the loss of a million dollars over the past year of a down cotton market was no worse for him than the loss of a dime would be to working class people. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER THIRTY-FOUR: MARCH OF 1910

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART THIRTY-FOUR – The Fool Killer’s targets in the March, 1910 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s four-pager included:

*** John D Rockefeller and his Standard Oil monopoly. The Fool Killer fought  Standard Oil and its corporate tentacles almost as much as the real-life Ida Tarbell did.

*** Former Unitarian clergyman J.C.F. Grumbine, who claimed to be in correspondence with the late Elizabeth Barrett Browning. This was one of the earliest references to the Fool Killer’s enmity toward conmen spiritualists who claimed to contact the dead.  

*** The Sugar Trust established by Henry Osborne Havemeyer, which was still rolling 3 years after his death.

*** Dandified men who focused on their clothing to the exclusion of all else. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER THIRTY-THREE: FEBRUARY OF 1910

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE 

Fool Killer timelessPART THIRTY-THREE: This latest look at the Fool Killer centers on the February of 1910 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer. That month’s targets of the Fool Killer (I prefer no hyphen) included:

*** Crooked businessman Charles Wyman Morse, infamous for assorted financial crimes including fraud and corrupt business practices. The previous month Morse had begun his prison term in the Atlanta penitentiary, where one of his fellow prisoners was THE Charles Ponzi, originator of Ponzi Schemes.

*** Three fools in Swain County, NC who used a radiator in the courthouse building to “thaw” a stick of dynamite for blast-fishing. The dynamite “thawed” so well it exploded, destroying the courthouse.

*** News outlets in the pockets of the wealthy, who used those outlets to downplay their plutocratic abuses. (Some things never change.) 

*** People who were pushing locations in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina as “the official birth-place of Daniel Boone.”

*** The people involved in high-stakes card games in Saint Louis. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER PART THIRTY-TWO: JANUARY OF 1910

Fool Killer 1910-1929Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE 

Balladeer’s Blog’s readers have been asking me to back up a bit and cover the 1910-1917 run of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer publication before following it any further into the Roaring Twenties. As always, I aim to please the readers, so here we go:

Fool Killer timelessPART THIRTY-TWO: The targets of Pearson’s Fool Killer (I prefer no hyphen) in this debut issue from January of 1910:

*** A flim-flam artist called Grammar who was selling bogus “eternal youth” treatments via his book Perpetual Life, or Living in the Body Forever.

*** Frederick Cook, who, the previous December, had seen his claim to have reached the North Pole ruled invalid and possibly fraudulent by the University of Copenhagen. (The Fool Killer was unable to locate Cook, however.)

*** The “Idle Rich” who had never worked a day in their gilded lives. One memorable line: “A good deal of ‘the cream of society’ ought to be churned.”

*** A Professor Pickering who wanted to raise 10 million dollars to send a message to the planet Mars. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER PART THIRTY-ONE: JULY OF 1921

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE 

Fool Killer picPART THIRTY-ONE: Moving on to the July 1921 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s monthly Fool-Killer publication. The Fool Killer’s (I prefer no hyphen) targets this time around were: 

*** Politicians and pundits who were still pushing the notion that the World War which ended in November of 1918 really was “The War to End All War” and that the world was poised for an era of peace and tranquility with no more bloodshed.

*** Nations which were still trying to develop ever-deadlier chemical weapons, despite the uproar over the long-term consequences of such weapons in the war from 1914-1918.

*** In particular the Fool Killer targeted jingoistic U.S. War Department scientists and /or officials who spoke of a deadly gas that our country had just developed – a gas which could supposedly “depopulate a whole city in a few minutes.” 

              Mascot new lookPearson and his Fool Killer wondered if, despite official claims that the government was trying to prevent other nations from getting hold of the formula, the U.S. might wind up using the gas ourselves at some future time and therefore become “the Huns” of a new war. 

              Here in 2020 we are accustomed to the notion that our own elected officials – from both parties – may be as totalitarian and destructive as any others. That realization came after decades of real-life scandals plus fictional espionage and science fiction stories using (eventually overusing) the “Are we are own worst enemy? theme. 

              I find it incredibly intriguing to see a contemporary 1921 example of that justifiable suspicion. The image of the Fool Killer – homicidal vigilante though he’s always been – taking down scientists, military men or politicians gambling with such poisonous gasses is wildly ahead of its time.  

*** In a REALLY prescient bit, he targeted people who felt that Germany should be forced harder and harder to try to pay war reparations no matter what damage it did to that nation’s economy. We all know where that wound up taking the world. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER PART THIRTY: MARCH OF 1921

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE 

Fool Killer 1920sAs always part of the fun comes from the way the Fool Killer – in this case James Larkin Pearson’s version in his monthly publication – took aim at politicians from both parties and at other “fools” of the day. March of 1921’s targets:

** Newly-elected Republican President Warren G Harding, who was inaugurated this month. (The change to January inaugurations did not happen until Franklin Roosevelt) Pearson and his Fool Killer referred to Harding as “a steer that the (political) bosses have broke to faithfully pull Big Business’ yoke.”

** Outgoing Democrat President Woodrow Wilson, whom they referred to as a “mule who never did nothing but act like a fool.”

** Big Businesses from around the world. The Fool Killer blamed them for large-scale unemployment and starvation.

** The way boxers could earn $100,000.00 for a prize fight but Nobel Prize winners only got (back then) $40,000.00

** The series of Russian generals that the Allies supported as the leaders of the “official” Russian government against Lenin and the Bolsheviks. (The White – as in Tsarist – Russians against the Red – as in Communist – Russians) Four generals had been so designated and all four in a row soon went down to defeat as the Russian Civil War (1920-1922) still raged. (Sadly, Pearson’s anti-plutocrat sympathies made him support the Bolsheviks for a time.)  Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER PART TWENTY-NINE: FEBRUARY 1921

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Matthew as the Fool Killer would be perfectPART TWENTY-NINE – As always part of the fun comes from the way the Fool Killer’s opinions are a mix of today’s left-wing and right-wing attitudes. Some you’ll agree with, others you won’t but it’s always interesting. 

Here is a look at some of the Fool Killer’s targets from James L Pearson’s February of 1921 issue of The Fool-Killer.

** People who were fine with spending $23 million apiece on warships but who penny-pinched on contributions to feed starving children in Europe. Ironically given our 21st Century view of him, future president Herbert Hoover was working with the Literary Digest to raise money to send food to Europeans but came up with only $10 million – less than half their stated goal.

** Criminals who were using the military training they received in World War One to efficiently rob banks and armored cars. Continue reading

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