Saturday, July 11, 2015

Follow the Yellow Brick Road (Part I)

Years ago the author of this blog, Quixotic Joust, Linda Minor, published a long, winding treatise about her analysis of the world based upon  historical research she conducted, called "Follow the Yellow Brick Road: From Harvard to Enron." What follows is an edited excerpt.


Part I: 
  From Cutthroat Competition,
to Charity, to World Government--
The Morgan Syndicate 

By Linda Minor ©2000

Professor Carroll Quigley states that the Rhodes Trust controlled huge amounts of capital which the trustees had the obligation to invest for the purposes set out in the Rhodes Will, including "the extension of British rule throughout the world ...[and] the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of a British Empire." Such purposes required the utmost secrecy. 

Rhodes wrote his first Will in 1877 (final one written in 1899), so we know his goal was already in the working stages by those at Oxford who motivated him at the time. The ultimate trustees were close to Oxford University, having been ingrained with the same devotion to the perpetuation of the Empire, through chartered companies like Rhodes' British South Africa Company and Hudson's Bay Company, which returned a high percentage of profit to the British Government.[See Marvin Perry, Sources of the Western Tradition: Volume II: From the Renaissance to the Present.

The trustees, who had control of Rhodes' gold and diamond mines, already had their eye on the oil that had been discovered in Pennsylvania in 1859. According to Eustace Mullins, in The Rockefeller Syndicate, the Rothschilds banks, which controlled 95% of American railroads through their agents, sent Jacob Schiff of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. to John D. Rockefeller, who had ruthlessly acquired control of 95% of American oil refineries. They worked out an elaborate rebate deal for Rockefeller, through a dummy corporation, South Improvement Company. These rebates ensured that no other oil company could survive in competition with the Rockefeller firm.

Investments were then made through secret nominees with the aim of acquiring control for the British Empire of what was then the most strategic resources throughout the world, including the old colonial empire in the Americas. Loans made to finance new business in the United States may have been conditioned on the borrower's agreement to set up a charitable foundation upon death or retirement, and the assets of the foundation would then be placed in the hands of trustees approved by the Rhodes group. Thus the trust would be administered in accordance with the goals set out by Rhodes in his will. This scheme was followed until after the end of World War I and the decade leading into the second World War. By that time Americans began to believe they could replace European investors with their own home-grown banking establishment, whose investments in the petroleum industry was superseding the need for foreign investments.

Thomas A. Scott

As it turns out, South Improvement Co. was a holding company scheme designed in 1871 by Pennsylvania Railroad magnate, Thomas A. Scott. South Improvement Company was a secret alliance between the railroads and a select group of large refiners aimed at stopping "destructive" price-cutting and restoring freight charges to a profitable level. According to the pact, the railroads would raise their rates, but would agree to pay rebates to Rockefeller and other large refiners, thus securing their steady business. In addition, the latter were to receive the proceeds of the "drawbacks" levied on nonmembers, who as a result would end up paying much higher prices for their shipments of oil. 

In April of 1872, the South Improvement Company's charter was repealed by the Pennsylvania legislature before it had even conducted a single transaction. Eager to consolidate the refining industry, Rockefeller set out to eliminate what he called "ruinous" competition from his most immediate rivals. In less than six weeks, between February and March of 1872, he used the threat of the big new alliance and a sophisticated range of tactics to buy up 22 of his 26 Cleveland competitors.

Scott was first-vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in 1860, and served as president from 1874 until 1880. Scott's allies pushed through the Pennsylvania state legislature a series of bills creating the nation's first pure holding companies--two of which were the Pennsylvania Company and the Southern Railway Security Company. The Southern Railway Security Company held the stock of the southern feeder route for the Pennsylvania that Scott envisioned, to stretch from Washington, D.C. to the Mississippi River. The company had been purchased from James Roosevelt (FDR's father) in 1873--just seven years before Roosevelt married into the Delano family of "former" opium traders. 

Andrew Carnegie

Scott's assistant until 1865 was Andrew Carnegie, who left the Pennsylvania Railroad to start his own company, but who maintained his ties to the railroad. In 1875 Carnegie founded his first steel plant, the Edgar Thomson Works, in Braddock, Pennsylvania. The plant was named for the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was his first customer; he made 2,000 steel rails for the Pennsylvania Railroad. 

In 1901 Carnegie sold his entire company to J.P. Morgan for $480 million, allowing Morgan to create US Steel. Morgan would have been acting in this transaction as an agent for investors, but we do not know whose money he used to purchase Carnegie's stock. With his proceeds from the sale Carnegie established the Carnegie Institution to provide research for American colleges and universities. 

Daniel Coit Gilman

The first president of Carnegie's new institution was Daniel Coit Gilman, trained at Norwich Academy, who had entered Yale in 1848, forming an intimate friendship with his fellow student, Andrew Dickson White. In 1852, had Gilman studied for a few months at Harvard College, living in the home of Prof. Arnold Guyot, a Swiss national educated in Berlin. Gilman and White sailed the following year to Europe as attach├ęs of the American legation at St. Petersburg, Russia; he also spent the winter of 1855 in Germany. For the next seventeen years, his life revolved around Yale. 

According to Antony Sutton, Gilman's first task in 1856 was to incorporate Skull & Bones as a legal entity under the name of The Russell Trust. Gilman became Treasurer and William H. Russell, who had been the co-founder with Alfonso Taft (the father of president William Howard Taft) in 1832, became President. Russell received permission to form a chapter of the German secret society, while he was studying for a year in Germany.

Gilman became president of the University of California in 1872 and of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1875. As a result of the Panic of 1893, dividends were suspended on the common stock in the the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (founded by George Brown of Baltimore), which stock composed the bulk of the university's endowment. The railroad was bought out of 1896 bankruptcy by the Pennsylvania Railroad. Gilman remained in Baltimore until the 1890s. It is interesting to note that the B&O was largely financed initially by Barings Bank, which issued 6% bonds worth 1 million pounds sterling before 1880. The B&O also sold 2 million pounds of its securities through J.S. Morgan's London office and almost that many more at a reduced price a few years later--still before 1880. Most of the B&O creditors, therefore, were British, and they demanded that the interest on the bonds be guaranteed by Barings and Morgan.

By March 1896, according to railroad financing historian, Dorothy R. Adler:
J.S. Morgan; Brown, Shipley; and Baring Brothers, Ltd. announced that they had agreed to cooperate to protect the British holders of securities issued through their houses [according to Burdett's].... On the other hand, the Economist commented on this announcement:
In many instances, however, the protection thus accorded to English holders of American railroad securities has been a very costly piece of business, and has materially added to the losses which the general proprietary bodies have had to sustain. Of course, we do not expect issuing houses to work for nothing, but there is a moral responsibility attaching to their position which should weigh with them, and induce them to use their best endeavours in the protection of the interests which they have helped to create, without reference to the fees to which their services may entitle them. And when these services are volunteered, there is all the more reason why their cost should be kept within moderate limits. [Source: Dorothy R. Adler, British Investment in American Railways: 1834-1898, p. 164.] 
A partial list of notable trustees of Andrew Carnegie's Institute, listed alphabetically, reveals the names of the most well-known men appointed. In 1910 Carnegie created another group called the Endowment for International Peace. This was a forerunner to Woodrow Wilson's vision of a League of Nations which eventually became the United Nations. The international problems to be settled were disputes over territory, claims and monetary crises presented to the businessmen who conducted trade across national boundaries. The names marked by an asterisk had participated in some way or inherited their wealth from trade in opium or the China trade:
Robert O. Anderson, 1976–1983; 
Robert S. Brookings, 1910–1929; 
Vannevar Bush, 1958–1971; 
*Frederic A. Delano, 1927–1949; 
Cleveland H. Dodge, 1903–1923; 
Simon Flexner, 1910–1914; 
*W. Cameron Forbes, 1920–1955; 
James Forrestal, 1948–1949; 
Hanna H. Gray, 1974–1978; 
*Henry L. Higginson, 1902–1919; 
Ethan A. Hitchcock, 1902–1909; 
Herbert Hoover, 1920–1949; 
*Henry Cabot Lodge, 1914–1924; 
Alfred L. Loomis, 1934–1973; 
Robert A. Lovett, 1948–1971; 
*Seth Low, 1902–1916; 
Andrew W. Mellon, 1924–1937; 
William W. Morrow, 1902–1929; 
Walter H. Page, 1971–1979; 
James Parmelee, 1917–1931; 
William Barclay Parsons, 1907–1932; 
John J. Pershing, 1930–1943; 
David Rockefeller, 1952–1956; 
Elihu Root, 1902–1937; 
Elihu Root, Jr., 1937–1967; 
William H. Taft, 1906–1915; 
William S. Thayer, 1929–1932; 
Juan T. Trippe, 1944–1981; 
Andrew Dickson White, 1902–1916.
When the stock market crashed in 1929, more than a decade after the the Federal Reserve System act was passed by Congress in 1913, the same year John Pierpont Morgan died, another group of financiers stepped in to buy up the major stockholders in the private banking system. Their actions would usher in a totally different emphasis on the direction the United States was to take in investment and in what "charities" would be rewarded in future years.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

As the Byrd Flies--Virginia to Texas

In a previous post we discussed D.H. Byrd's claim that he was a cousin of Admiral Richard Byrd, Jr., the Polar explorer of the 1930's and made only a possible connection to a common ancestor 300 years or so earlier. Admiral Byrd's line of descent seems to have no other common links to the line from which D.H. Byrd stemmed. D. H. Byrd's heritage is traced below from his ancestor Andrew down to Abraham Ruddell Byrd, who died in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in 1857:




To Cape Girardeau, Mo. in 1799
 
D.H.'s branch of Byrds arrived in Missouri in 1797, before that territory (then called Upper Louisiana) became part of the Louisiana Purchase. Amos and Sarah Ruddell Byrd were progenitors of the clan which had started out in disputed territory of the Watauga Valley near the Proclamation Line of 1763. Heading west, they crossed the line into what is now Knox County, Tennessee and settled there long enough for three of Amos' sons to find wives among a family named Gillespie. Amos' family, including Stephen and Abraham, were born in Knox County 1768 and 1772, respectively. They remained there until almost the end of the century before the entire family headed west for the Spanish territory. They acquired land grants from Spain near what was to become Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.

Unfortunately for the settlers, however, in 1800 Spain ceded the land to France shortly after the Byrds arrived there, so they were forced to prove the validity of their land grants after the United States purchased the land from Napoleon in 1803.

Author Louis Houck, 1908, page 185
We are told that the Byrd men became prominent in the government of the area--Amos as a judge, Abraham and Stephen as colonels in military regiments. Amos and Sarah died in 1818. Sarah's maiden name, however, would continue to be passed down to descendants, including D.H. Byrd's eldest brother, Ruddell Jones Byrd (called R.J., or Leo), who was born in 1888.

Stephen died in 1830, and his brother, Abraham Byrd, remained in Missouri until his death in 1857. Abraham had a son born in 1815, whom he named Stephen, and it is through that ancestor that D. H. Byrd springs.

From Missouri to Texas after 1900

Continuation of D.H. Byrd ancestry, indicating his mother's family link to John Nance Garner. Click to enlarge.
Stephen Byrd II married Nancy Moore in 1844 and farmed his land in Missouri until his death occurred in 1866, leaving their two youngest sons--Abraham (born 1852) and Edward (born 1854) --along with some daughters, as orphans, their mother having died in 1861. Edward was then only 12, but he had his oldest brother, William, to look after him. In his autobiography published in 1978, D. Harold Byrd stated that Edward had set out for Clarksville, Texas, in a covered wagon in 1873. After exploring the destination for awhile, he returned home on a horse and prepared to move permanently --relocating to Blossom Prairie and a settlement four miles south of it called Byrdtown.

William Charles Byrd (born 1845) married Mary Jane Evans at the age of 23, just as the civil war was waning. Three of his sons relocated after 1900 to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, later enticing their parents to move to this promised vegetable-growing  paradise in Dimmit County at Winter Haven, situated between Crystal City and Carrizo Springs (Zavala County), just above the border with Mexico.What could have possessed them to move to that part of Texas at that particular time?

Most likely it was a railroad advertisement that prompted the move, such as this one which appeared in 1907:








Herbert Hurd of Kansas City, Mo. was promoting his Texas lands near South Padre Island that year from his office in the original Union Depot (built in 1878 and demolished in 1915), by advertising in magazines such as the Western Fuit-grower. He gave prospective purchasers a ride from Kansas City on his private railway car parked at Union Depot to view the land which would later become a citrus paradise. Real estate all over the region had been skyrocketing in price ever since the railroads arrived in the most southern regions of Texas.

At some point around 1901, Ed Byrd moved from Detroit, Texas to Ardmore, Oklahoma--which at that time was still part of the Indian Territory, having been opened up in the 1880's to homesteaders. The local newspaper in the latter city declared on June 13, 1901:
Ed Byrd, Bob Easley and F. C. Dollins [Ed and F.C. were married to Easley sisters, and Bob Jones Easley was married to Ida Dollins] from Detroit, Texas, are prospecting in the city.
Ed Byrd married Mollie Easley.
Mollie's brother, Robert Jones Easley, married Ida Dollins.
Ida's brother, Francis Clinton Dollins, married Maggie Easley, sister of Mollie and Bob Jones Easley. Another sister, Linna Easley, in 1891 married David Erastus Waggoner (no relation to Dan Waggoner, the rancher), a Dallas banker and insurance executive, who ran for governor as a Republican in 1934.

On October 10, 1905 an item appeared in the Ardmore, Oklahoma Ardmoreite:
A. R. Byrd and William Byrd of Jackson, Mo., accompanied by their nephew, E.R. Byrd of St. Louis, have been in the city the guests of their brother, Ed Byrd. These gentlemen have made considerable investments here and have gone to West Texas to see about their business interests there.
S.A., Uvalde & Gulf RR, 1918
We learn of their investments in West Texas from an item that appeared in the San Antonio press in 1918 (see clipping at left).

Three Byrd men (A.R., William, Jr., and E.R. Byrd) in 1918 were directors of a short line that became part of the Missouri Pacific in 1925--the San Antonio, Uvalde & Gulf Railroad. Two years earlier directors and officers of this railroad, with offices in San Antonio, were listed on page 481 of the 1916 Official Railway Equipment Register. The preceding page shows officials of four other Gulf Coast Lines. Then at page 482 another Gulf Coast Line branch is shown--the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico, with offices in Kingsville, Texas.

Two of the Byrds' fellow directors--Buckingham and Groos--were real estate promoters and were mentioned in a book by Beatriz de la Garza, A Law for the Lion: A Tale of Crime and Injustice in the Borderlands, published in 2009. De la Garza describes Crystal City as being in 1917 a "modern, 'planned community,' barely ten years old." It was one of the "new towns, created out of the old ranches, the Cross S:
See also a 1910 ad  and 1911 ad for Cross S ranch lands.
The International and Great Northern railroad, part of the Gould system, in 1906 had begun building a 45-mile extension in Southwest Texas, from Carrizo Springs to Artesia, through the heart of the "Bermuda onion belt." This railroad (sometimes called the Artesian Belt) went into receivership in 1914, possibly a result of overextending itself into less populated areas with little traffic. Thus these uncles and cousins of D. Harold Byrd, while young Harry was still in short pants, were making inroads into an industrial network of railroad tycoons who would later play politics as though it were an untuned violin.

We will pick up there in the next post.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Richard E. Byrd, Cousin of D.H. Byrd or not?


In 1937 David Harold Byrd had his photograph published in numerous newspapers across the country in which he was depicted receiving a flag that had flown on both the North and South Poles, carried by George Hamilton Black, a Byrd-Frost employee who  in 1930 claimed that he had been a garage man from Brooklyn, New York when he went to work for Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, then planning his first Arctic exploration to the South Pole in 1929 with private funding. According to the Admiral's archived papers (Box 27 / Folder 1152), he had corresponded with G. H. Black as early as 1926, the same year he wrote to Van Lear Black, publisher of the Baltimore Sun and a close friend to Mr. and Mrs. J. Walter Lord, who had an office in the Maryland Trust Building in Baltimore.

Cousins?
As stated in "Tale about a Tail Number (Part II)":
Even though a photograph of D. H. Byrd appeared in numerous Texas newspapers in December 1932, showing him receiving a flag given him by his "cousin," Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr. of Virginia, genealogical records did not at first indicate there was any kinship between the two men. However, as I dug deeper into Byrd's family background, some amazing facts came to light.

Black procured the ship for the Byrd expeditions and later went to work for Byrd-Frost Oil Co. in Texas. Records appear to show that Black was born in Massachusetts in 1896, moved to New York where he enlisted in the Navy in 1917 and served in the military from 1912-1962. [See George Hamilton Black's death certificate, 1965.]

Numerous questions were continued to circle around in my mind:
  1. Was D.H. Byrd really closely related to Richard E. Byrd and Sen. Harry Byrd of Virginia?
  2. Was there any significance to the fact that D.H. Byrd was born in the same small town as John Nance Garner, the former Speaker of the House and Vice President under FDR 1932-41?
  3. Was there any significance to the fact that the family of Mac Wallace, former University of Texas student body president and convicted murderer of Douglas Kinser, came from this same area of Texas? Was Mac a tool of Byrd and Garner before becoming an assassin?
We begin with Question 1.

Texas Roots of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr.

The short answer is that they definitely were not first or second cousins on the Byrd side of the family. The closest possible link dates back to a common ancestor named John Bird, a London goldsmith, born in 1620. One genealogist says this ancestor had families by two different wives, one son being Andrew and another being William Evelyn Byrd. However, a different source says that D. H. Byrd descends from Andrew Bird/Byrd, son of a John Bird, allegedly born in Long Island, New York in 1631. This line migrated first to Raritan, New Jersey, where another Andrew was born in 1695. He married Madelene Jones in Chester County, Pennsylvania, another Andrew Bird was born in  and eventually to Augusta County, Virginia. Richard and Harry Byrd descend from John Bird whose son William Evelyn Byrd, arrived in Virginia.

Nevertheless, Admiral Byrd, born in Maryland in 1888, did have a Texas-born father, Richard Evelyn Byrd, Sr., who was actually born in Austin, Texas, in 1860. That is a story in itself.

Richard E. Byrd's Texan ancestor, Robert Jones Rivers
Richard E. Byrd, Sr.'s father, William Byrd, had been born to an earlier Richard Evelyn Byrd and his wife, Anne Harrison, in Winchester, Virginia. William became a Confederate officer and lawyer, first attending the Old Winchester Academy, then graduating from the Virginia Military Institute, and finally having received a law degree from the University of Virginia.



William Byrd, Texas Lawyer, with Political Connections

Soon thereafter he went to Texas, where in 1853 he became the law partner of Thomas Scott Anderson of Austin. Anderson held the office of secretary of state under Governor Hardin R. Runnels until his defeated by Sam Houston in the election of 1859. Anderson saw to it that his law partner, William, was appointed treasurer for the City of Austin in 1856, only eleven years after the former Republic of Texas had become a state. In those days there were very few adults who were native Texans.

Anderson's bro-in-law
Byrd's partner, T. Scott Anderson married a widow, Mary Walker McNeill Harper, whose father, Angus McNeill, arrived in Texas from Natchez, Mississippi. There he met the famed Jim Bowie, who was destined to die in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836 as Texas began its revolution again Mexico. Angus McNeill sold a Massachusetts textile mill to Bowie before they all set off for Texas. McNeill appears to have been a trader in land claims and had also acquired a great deal of land in Texas through his partnership in Wilkinson, McNeil [sic] & Co. located in Shreveport, La. (See also American State Papers). Angus moved first to Houston in 1837 but eventually settled 70 miles to the west, around Eagle Lake in Colorado County, where he continued to engage in his former real estate speculation business. His son, Col. Harry C. McNeill, a West Point graduate, joined Tom Green’s Brigade of Texas Rangers.

William Byrd married Jennie Rivers, daughter of Robert Jones Rivers, a lawyer in practice with former Virginian, William Jefferson Jones, an old friend of U.S. President James Monroe. After leaving Virginia, Rivers lived in Georgia, working for a newspaper owned by Mirabeau B. Lamar, who enticed him to Texas to run Lamar's campaign for President of the Republic of Texas. W.J. Jones served on the Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas, a job which disappeared in 1845 when Texas was annexed as a state in the Union. At that point Jones became a law partner of William Byrd's father-in-law, R.J. Rivers, who lived in Austin and Georgetown. In 1852 he moved to Columbus and later to Galveston County, in order to help promote the Galveston, Houston & Henderson Railroad at Virginia Point. After two foreclosures by bondholders, the railroad was absorbed by Jay Gould's empire.

When the civil war began, Governor Edward Clark appointed Byrd Adjutant-General of Texas Troops. Clark had been lieutenant governor under Governor Sam Houston, who was forced to resign from office when he refused to take the Confederate oath. As lieutenant colonel in the 14th Texas infantry, Byrd commanded Fort DeRussy in Louisiana, and in March of 1864 was forced to surrender the fort to the Union army. He returned with his wife and children to Virginia after the war. while his superior officer, Edward Clark, and many other Southern Confederates fled to Mexico, led by Gen. Joseph O. Shelby of Missouri, and remained there until Emperor Maximilian was overthrown in 1867 by Benito Juarez.

Jennie Rivers Byrd lived the remainder of her days in the East. Her father, who died in Georgetown, Texas in 1854, had known Sam Houston and his children, one of whom exuded praise for his wit and eloquence. Jennie's two brothers were killed in the civil war, and a sister married and moved to South Texas.

We will explore the other questions set out above in upcoming posts.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Etiology of the Red Bird Getaway Plane Story

Researched and written
by Linda Minor

D.H. Byrd's CAP outfit flew from Red Bird.
This post is a sidenote to research I've been doing previously, but it relates only tangentially to the DC-3 plane which Wayne January was selling at the time he was told in advance about the assassination of President Kennedy. January himself had no knowledge of or connection to the group planning the assassination, but the story he revealed to author Matthew Smith sheds light on one small piece in the puzzle as a whole. Possibly the reason so many of us "conspiracy buffs" spend so many years of our lives digging into the 1963 Kennedy assassination is that we can dedicate years of study to it and never solve the puzzle to anyone's satisfaction. It is my opinion that we may be trying to solve the wrong puzzle. We have to broaden our context.

The FAA Report to FBI--1967

I began delving into a simple question asked me by a reader about the Wayne January incident, not remembering that Daniel Hopsicker had dealt with one aspect of that question in his book Barry & 'the Boys', originally published in 2001. Daniel has also mentioned what has been referred to as the "getaway plane" at Red Bird Airport at his website, The MadCowNews, under the subheading, "Three men in suits at Redbird Airport," dated November 20, 2013. Keep in mind, however, he was not talking about N-17888, but a different aircraft from the one we have been investigating. Nevertheless, the "getaway plane" was also part of what had been of interest to Matthew Smith in describing events that took place at Red Bird Airport in 1963.

Ferrie's mugshot
Garrison's New Orleans investigation had zeroed in on David Ferrie, and he sent an employee to Dallas with Ferrie's photograph (possibly his mugshot) to inquire whether anyone at Red Bird Airport had seen him there in November 1963. Louis Gaudin had not seen Ferrie, but he did disclose a separate suspicious incident he witnessed the afternoon of the assassination. Three men in suits boarded a "Comanche-type aircraft" just over an hour after President Kennedy had been gunned down. Gaudin had not called the FBI at the time because by then Lee Harvey Oswald was in custody, with officials claiming he was the "lone" assassin. Why did Gaudin and Bowles wait to contact the FBI until two weeks after Ferrie's dead body had been found on February 22?

Daniel Hopsicker tracked down Gaudin, 37 years after the FBI report (dated March 10, 1967), and recounted in his book what the FAA air traffic controller told him:
“The FAA had its general aviation headquarters there, said Gaudin. “Howard Hughes had a huge old WWII hanger there, with heavy security. People from Wackenhut all over the place. And there were the Porter planes from General Harry Byrd’s outfit.”
General D. Harry Byrd’s links to the Kennedy assassination begin with the fact that he owned the building, the Texas School Book Depository, from which Kennedy was supposedly gunned down.

Then, too, he founded an aircraft company that became one of the largest U.S. defense contractors during the Vietnam War, Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV), which also—and perhaps not coincidentally?—tested missiles at the Venice Airport in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

“What had happened was this,” he continued. “I was an air traffic controller working in the tower at Redbird [sic] that day. When I came on shift at 2 PM, we received a bulletin to report any suspicious activity immediately to an FAA Security number. And we kept calling that number all afternoon, but got nothing but a busy signal. And then, after we heard they had caught the ‘lone gunman,’ I guess they called it, we stopped calling, and let the matter drop.”
From his perch atop the control tower, Mr. Gaudin, between handling twenty or thirty flights into and out of the airport an hour, had noticed something suspicious about three well-dressed men in business suits standing, along with several suitcase, beside a Comanche painted green-and-white.

So suspicious was he, Mr. Gaudin related, that when the plane took off on runway 17, he asked the pilot if he needed any assistance. The pilot said no. Gaudin asked which way the plane was heading. The pilot stated south.

Gaudin watched as the plane flew south for two miles, then made a hard left, and then flew north to Love Field.

The pilot had lied.

Suspicions aroused, Gaudin went over to the control tower’s receiver and listened as the plane made an approach and landed at Love Field, eight miles north of Redbird.

An hour later, the plane was back at Redbird. This time only two people were aboard. The third passenger—let’s call him the shooter–had been left at Love Field.

And that’s where the matter rested until Garrison’s investigator’s came calling.

Then, after Gaudin became alarmed at the death of a man whose picture he had just recently been shown, he called the FBI, and filed the report which, he said, became something of a burden to him for the rest of his life.

“There was no Freedom of Information Act back then,” he says today. “That’s what’s created some problems for me.”

This would be just a ‘suspicious sighting’ except for something that happened later, which clearly indicated to Gaudin that he was a witness to something he had no business seeing.

From the control tower, he says, he was too far away to be able to identify anyone who boarded the plane. But there was one person who could: Merrit Goble, who ran the fixed-wing operation, TexAir, at Redbird Field.

“Merrit and I were friends,” Gaudin relates. “So one day, after filing the FBI report, I went down to see if the FBI had been by to visit him as well. They hadn’t, he told me. So I asked him if he had anything, any gas receipts, any record of the fueling of the plane in question. And Merit acted very strangely. He told me, in effect, that it was none of my business. He said, ‘I will only answer questions from a bonafide law enforcement authority.’”

“I always thought that was strange: ‘I will only answer questions from a bonafide law enforcement authority.’ Because like I said, we were friends.”

Merrit Goble died last year, taking any secrets he possessed about the suspicious plane to his grave.
Bowles worked with LBJ's bro-in-law.
It is not clear to me from reading Hopsicker's work whether it was Gaudin who told him about Byrd's use of Red Bird for Civil Air Patrol planes, or whether he gleaned that information from another source. "Harry Byrd" usually refers to the Virginia Senator of that name, the brother of Admiral Richard Byrd, Jr., whom D. Harold Byrd claimed as his cousins.

I also have to ask whether, before calling the FBI, Bowles may first have contacted his own superior at the FAA, who, by 1967 was the President's brother-in-law, Birge D. Alexander, husband of Lucia Huffman Johnson since 1933. Birge rose to the position of Area Manager for the Southwest Region of the F.A.A. not long after brother-in-law Lyndon was himself "promoted". Bowles and Alexander had been officials together at C.A.A., later F.A.A., for many years.

Birge, Lucia and Rebekah (Libby Willis)
Birge and his siblings were reared in Sabinal, a tiny town in Uvalde County from 1908 until leaving for college in Austin. Before 1908, home had been at Manchaca Springs, in south Travis County, where Birge's grandfather is buried.

Robert Carogoes into more detail.
Alexander played center for the Sabinal football squad and was named all-district center in 1929. A few years later Birge was off to the University of Texas to study engineering. Graduating in 1939, he immediately went to work for the Lower Colorado River Authority, a job for which he unquestionably had his brother-in-law, the newly elected Congressman Johnson from the district, to thank.

Within a short time, however, Birge transferred to a different government job at the Civil Aeronautics Administration, in charge of building and inspecting airport runways. He would no doubt have come into contact with Bowles, who was in charge of air traffic control--both men with offices in the same building in Fort Worth.

Sabinal, coincidentally, where Birge grew up and where his father's siblings all lived, was where John Nance Garner's wife, Mariette "Ettie" Rheiner, was born in 1869. According to Ettie, she was taking a secretarial course in San Antonio when she met Garner on a train. They married as soon as she finished the course in 1895. His story was, with a big wink, that she was running for county judge, opposing him, so he married her to win the election.

Was Cactus Jack, as Garner was nicknamed, as prickly as his name implies? Was he just an innocent curmudgeon? Only more research will tell. We do know he had power, but all we ever saw of it was just the tip of an iceberg. What lay beneath that icy peak?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tale about a Tail Number (Part II)

This is a story about how people involved in intelligence operations hide behind corporations, and about how corporations disguise covert ops behind the guise of business. When I began this research project, I had no pre-conceived notions about what I might find. After a few delays and one accidental deletion, things are finally becoming clearer. After years of doing this sort of research it has been my experience that accidents--such as inadvertently deleting material that was almost complete--are gifts rather than mistakes. Starting over without groaning, following new instincts, usually leads in a direction that would have been missed otherwise. In this case that new direction led me to David Harold Byrd, as you will see below.

In Part I we reviewed briefly the title to Tail Number N-17888, set out in documents provided to me by Alan Kent. Larry Hancock wrote that, according to what Wayne January told author Mitchell Smith, N-17888 was one of several airplanes he sold which were to be used in secret government projects, after "being processed through companies at Red Bird and Houston Air Center." Thus it appears someone within those companies was a witting accomplice with the Central Intelligence Agency. Our aim in this segment is to answer the question of who was involved in creating and operating Houston Air Center.

NAvion Aircraft History

Refer back in Part I to the section under the heading "Background Title on N-1788," where we reviewed the title to the Red Bird airplane. Before coming to Wayne January's company, its previous long-time owner had been Navion Aircraft Co., a division of TUSCO. Here we will explore who that was and what that fact represents.

The first airplanes called NAvions were built for the Air Force during the final years of WWII at the former Hensley Field, created in 1940 as a training base for Army and Navy pilots. North American Aviation was a defense plant operated by the federal government there, just east of Grand Prairie. Along with it was a housing development (called Avion Village) set up to provide housing for the almost 40,000 workers this plant and others in the area employed until 1945.

Eventually, this same Grand Prairie plant would be operated by Texas Engineering and Manufacturing Company, known by its acronym, TEMCO, a company which by 1947 was making B-25 bombers for South American countries, including Brazil and Mexico, under its president and general manager, Robert McCulloch. By the end of 1948, Temco would roll out its first "reconditioned" airplane for the Chinese Nationalist government, backed by the Office of Strategic Services during the closing days of WWII.

In a previous post at this blog, QJ reported on how the Nationalist Chinese army had financed its purchases of military hardware, using CIA bankers as middlemen in converting opium into airplanes by quoting from The Marcos Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave:
[Paul] Helliwell’s first major assignment after the war was to find a way for the CIA to subsidize the airline, Civil Air Transport, owned by Major General Claire L. Chennault, which had been used to furnish materiel to the anticommunist Chinese in Southeast Asia. In 1951 Helliwell set up Sea Supply as the CIA’s first proprietary company in order to transport weapons to the Nationalist Chinese troops in Burma and to Thailand police, whose Chief was involved in the opium trade. The planes were not returned empty after the guns were unloaded; they were filled with drugs destined for the United States — usually Florida. The money derived from the sale of the drugs had to be laundered for the CIA, and Helliwell figured out how to do it.
Neil Mallon of Dresser joined Temco Board.
At this same Grand Prairie plant, Temco would soon be building a variety of aircraft in the light twin market throughout the post-WWII and Korean War years, but NAvcon's single-engine four-seater "type certificate" had been sold in late 1948 to Ryan Aeronautical Co. Temco had ceased making this design for civilians in order to fulfill an Air Force contract awarded it that year for the military version (L-17) used in the Korean war.

Gerard P. Moran, at his website celticowboy, has written a concise history of Navion aircraft. The "type certificate," was the abstract design of the plane approved by CAA, and not the business entity authorized to manufacture the design. According to Moran:
By 1949 Ryan began introducing changes to improve the Navion (the capitalization of the 'A' was dropped as it was an abbreviation of North American). Auxiliary fuel tanks, improved instrumentation were popular options, as were colorful paint schemes. Ryan produced another 158 upgraded L-17Bs ordered in 1948 by the United States Air Force and a final order of 5 L-17Bs in 1949 for the Hellenic (Greek) Air Force....
Even though Ryan's order books were full, Ryan had to face an undeniable truth -- they lost money on every Navion they built. Each plane cost about $15,000 to make, and basic models were selling for as little as $9,500. At the end of 1952 Ryan ceased all Navion production. A total of 2,350 had been completed (1 prototype, 1,109 by NAA and 1,240 by Ryan).
While the Navion was still in production, the USAF returned (in 1948) to place another order, this time for 163 upgraded L-17Bs. A further 35 L-17As returned to the factory for the same upgrades, becoming L-17Cs. In 1952 the USAF deployed L-17s to the Orient in the first wave of the Korean War....
For some time, going back to the North American Aviation days, there had been interest in converting the single engine Navion into a more powerful twin engine version. Neither North American or Ryan were able to divert resources to such a project because of increasing military demands.... [O]n November 10, 1952, one full year after starting, with their Twin Navion, the plane, designated D-16 (D for Daubenberger) received its CAA certification. Interestingly, before the Twin Navion the Civil Aviation Authority had no way of certifying modifications as extensive as those done for Daubenberger (all were approved using the Major Repair and Alteration Form). This, plus a couple of other major conversions led the CAA to develop the Supplemental Type Certification [STC] process that is still in place today.
Almost immediately word of the D-16's existence spread across the United States, and in Florida, Jack Riley entered the Twin Navion story. Jack Riley was a self-made millionaire in the oil business and a natural salesman. He had formed a company, Riley Aircraft Corporation, to sell, refurbish, upgrade or modify general aviation aircraft in Florida. He obtained licensing and or certification from original manufacturers.... He took a trip to see the Navion manufacturing facility in California. After only a couple days in California, the businessman returned home with the Twin Navion's production rights....
Eager to sell his new twin Jack Riley took his plane to Dallas, Texas, where he demonstrated it to some 30 or 40 potential customers. Riley admitted that owners of single Navions were his primary customers, since they already knew the plane and could continue to expect the same performance, handling and ruggedness that they'd come to expect from their own planes. That tour resulted in the company's first sale, with two more following. Within a couple months the books were filled with orders for more than three dozen planes....

As production began, prices increased from $20,000 (initial sale price) to $24,850. This was nearly three times the price of a used single Navion but with Jack Riley's salesmanship there were always customers. In March 1953 a production agreement was entered with TEMCO Aircraft Corp., a well known subcontractor, maintenance provider for the USAF and small plane manufacturer. The next month, TEMCO purchased the exclusive production rights to the 'Riley Twins.' Jack Riley meanwhile returned to Florida where he remained responsible for marketing and sales. It also appears that Riley Aircraft served as a broker for Navions, buying them on the used market and then reselling them to TEMCO when an airframe was needed. [Italics added. Keep in mind the old type certificate (TC) for the single-engine Navion was still owned by Ryan.]
A new corporation was formed to purchase the single-engine design from Ryan Aeronautical. Navion Aircraft Co., later changed to NAV Corp., was initially set up in 1958 as a division of Tubular Service & Engineering Company (TUSCO).

Who Created TUSCO?

When I first saw this name, I was struck by its similarity with the name TEMCO, with capital letters used as an acronym for a descriptive name for what the company did. Could the two companies have been created by the same individuals perhaps? I decided to do some digging along this line, comparing the two acronymic manufacturers.

We look first at a chapter entitled "Byrds, Planes, and an Automobile" from Richard Bartholomew's classic work, Possible Discovery of an Automobile Used in the JFK Conspiracy - Part 4, in which he mentions Temco. The implication is there that Lyndon Johnson had enough influence over Temco's hiring practices to obtain a job with the company which would morph into E-Systems for his favorite assassin, Malcom Everett "Mac" Wallace. Temco began simply enough as a WWII era airplane manufacturer, helped along with financial backing from D. Harold Byrd, Dallas oilman. Byrd, who helped establish the Civilian Air Patrol (CAP), sought out electronics expert James Ling to turn Temco into a conglomerate which added electronics and missiles to balance military and civilian sales. Then Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) "sorta got outa control," as we say in Texas.

Back in 2011 QJ looked into D. Harold Byrd's foray into uranium mining, exploring his connections in that field, as well as his ownership of the building in Dallas which was to become known as the "Texas State Schoolbook Depository Building," even though it was only leased to that business six months prior to the November 1963 assassination. That curiosity ate up the next year while we examined connections to Israelis in Canada, Roy Cohn and eventually Florida real estate development, not to mention the history of the pseudononymous author of the Torbitt Document. Understanding history is a time-consuming endeavor!

Even though a photograph of D. H. Byrd appeared in numerous Texas newspapers in December 1932, showing him receiving a flag given him by his "cousin," Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr. of Virginia, genealogical records did not at first indicate there was any kinship between the two men. However, as I dug deeper into Byrd's family background, some amazing facts came to light.

Stay tuned for the next installment.