" HE WAS LIKE A REGULAR FATHER. HE ALWAYS HAD SOME PUPPIES OR OTHER
PRESENTS FOR ME. WHAT I KNEW ABOUT HIM DIDN'T
KEEP ME FROM LOVING HIM,"
---- Charles Dempsey Floyd, son of Charles Arthur Floyd
Nicknames: Choctaw, Choc, Charley, Pretty Boy
Aliases: Floyd Schmitt, Frank Mitchell, Joe Scott, Charles Douglas
Birth: February 3, 1904 Family farm, Georgia
Death: October 22, 1934 Conkle farm, outside East Liverpool, Ohio
Wife: Ruby Hardgraves (divorced)
Children: Charles Dempsey Floyd, born December 29, 1924
Crimes: Vagrancy, Murder, Armed Robbery, Evading Police, Escape
Charles Arthur Floyd, also known as Choctaw or Choc Floyd and Pretty Boy Floyd was Oklahoma's most notorious and glorified folk bandit. Floyd became a celebrated criminal and was immortalized in pop culture. Floyd was known as a Robin Hood figure, beloved by an America that had become despondent by the Great Depression. He was a bank robber and a father.
Floyd was known to be a bright child who was very spirited and had a penchant for mischief. As he grew up on the farms near Sallisaw and Akins, Oklahoma, he worked long hours in the fields of cotton and corn. He grew weary and like many other youths wanted to find a more exciting life. He found solace in the tales of the heroics of Jesse James. He learned how to make liquor from corn in his early teens. He was very fond of Choctaw beer (a popular home brew of hops, tobacco, fishberries, barley, and alcohol) and thus he earned his nickname Choc.
At sixteen, Floyd had already had a few minor run-ins with the law, and he decided to take to the road as a hired hand on the wheat harvest circuit that spanned through Oklahoma and Kansas. Soon, he became tired of farm work again and started bootlegging. In Wichita, Floyd met John Callahan. Callahan operated one of the largest fencing operations in the Midwest.
John Callahan was an American outlaw and notorious bank robber during the Old West.
He became a leading figure in Wichita, Kansas during Prohibition.
He was a big time bootlegger and narcotics dealer. He was also considered a top fencer in the Midwest.
(Meaning he bought negotiable bonds and laundered money.)
He was partners with crooked officials in the Wichita Police Department.
Callahan was convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He served seven years before
release, but died in his sleep in 1936 at the age of 70.
Floyd got his criminal jumpstart from Callahan. He transported Callahan's bootlegged liquor. Floyd, however, left Callahan and returned to his family in Oklahoma. There, he met and married Ruby Hardgraves in 1924. She was the daughter of Ben Hardgraves, a tenant farmer, and his wife, Sarah. She gave birth to their son and Floyd's only child, Charles Dempsey Floyd, later that same year.
Floyd was devoted to his family, but loathed be a farmer. He traded five gallons of corn whiskey for a pearl-handled pistol and ran in 1925. He hopped a freight train with a friend and left behind his wife, son, and home.
In St. Louis, Missouri, Floyd took his pistol and robbed a bank on September 11, 1925. He netted $11,929. However, he was caught and convicted. He was sentenced to 5 years in the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri.
On January 4, 1929, Ruby Floyd filed for divorce citing incarceration of husband and neglect. Floyd decided not to contest. Ruby took full-custody of their son, who was four at the time. Throughout the rest of Floyd's life, he kept in contact with his ex-wife and son, even living with them at different times.
In March of 1929, following his release, Floyd had no family to go to so he headed to Kansas City, Missouri and straight into crime. He had met several veteran convicts during his stay at the penitentiary. During a card game at Mother Ash's Boardinghouse (where Floyd was staying), he met his girlfriend, Beulah Baird.
Almost immediately, Floyd began robbing banks and carried out an estimated 30 robberies and several murders, as well as numerous gunfights across the Midwest into the Eastern part of the United States.
IT LATER BECAME KNOWN, AFTER HIS DEATH, THAT FLOYD DID NOT COMMIT MANY CRIMES ATTRIBUTED TO HIS NAME.
Floyd's whirlwind life began to unravel on June 17, 1933 when he and his friend, Adam Richetti, became suspects (many scholars believe fallmen) for the Kansas City Massacre. The bloodbath resulted in the death of three police officers, one FBI agent, and a gangster.
On October 22, 1934, Floyd was killed on a farm outside of East Liverpool, Ohio. It is widely disputed as to how he died. His body was returned to his family in Oklahoma.