Friday, July 12, 2013

Three Degrees of Separation from the CIA?

Paul Helliwell could have boasted, much to Kevin Bacon's chagrin, that there were closer to three degrees of separation between himself and every known money launderer or land fraud artist in Florida. It would be impossible to dispute such a claim, as we attempt to show here. Possibly by examining the earliest of Helliwell's relationships, we can understand the later ones where he serves as the link between U.S. intelligence agencies, drug running and money laundering.

NY Evening Post, 1909
One Degree of Separation

The earliest fraudster linked to Helliwell was Maude C. Fowler, mentioned in an earlier post. With only one degree of separation from Helliwell, Fowler's biography often states she was known in Kansas City, Mo. as the head of the Women's Athletic Club. Pure hogwash, as we can see here. The actual founder and head of that club was Viola Dale McMurray. In fact, Maude Cody Fowler never even lived in Kansas City! 

Maude Cody was married in rural Shelby County, Tenn. in 1890 and moved with her husband to Oklahoma in 1901 when their son was 9. Orin Scott Fowler, her husband, had grown up in St. Louis (not Kansas City), Missouri, where he and his father, Napoleon Fowler, both worked first for John V. Lewis and Co., a pioneer cottonseed oil producer, and later for the American Cotton-Seed Oil Company, known as the cotton trust, which bought Lewis' company. 

O.S. Fowler seems to have lost interest in cotton oil after moving to Tennessee. Instead he moved the family to El Reno, OK in 1901, started a bus line there, and then got into motor cars, founding "Fowler Auto Livery" in Oklahoma City. From there he spent some time in the Texas panhandle before he and Maude settled in Jacksonville, Florida by 1913. Their son had in the meantime attended law school in St. Louis, located 250 miles east of Kansas City, where the land scam connected to Security Underwriters allegedly originated.

Maude and her husband moved to Florida from Oklahoma and resided in Jacksonville, Florida, as early as 1913, managing the Artesian Farm Land Sales, a company incorporated in 1910 by Sherman Bryan Jennings, who helped to pass laws making land grants to people who would drain and develop what was then mostly swampland.

Maude and Orin Fowler's names next appeared in the Miami city directory in 1921, as shown to the left. The question is: Who was paying them?


Enter the Palmer Family

Home of Cody Fowler before Helliwell worked for him.
Mrs. Fowler moved to Tampa around 1921 and became one of the founding developers of Temple Terrace. ... On May 25, 1925, the City was incorporated, with D. Collins Gillette, one of the founding developers, serving as the first mayor, and Maude Fowler, serving as vice mayor. Her son Orin Cody Fowler relocated from Oklahoma City with his wife, also named Maude, at or before 1925, when his name appeared in Tampa’s directory, and he practiced at the firm of of Fowler, White in Tampa. Maude Fowler died suddenly in Tampa on April 7, 1942.” [See photos and history of Temple Terrace, Florida, in Temple Terrace by Lana Burroughs, Tim Lancaster, Grant Rimbey.]

D. Collins Gillette, the first mayor of Temple Terrace, was one of three men who bought the land that would become Temple Terrace in 1920 and 1921 from the Potter Palmer family following the death of the matriarch. One of his partners, Burks L. Hamner, had been a fruit farmer in Tampa. By 1926 Hamner used Jack Dempsey, the boxer, to help promote sales of the Palmer land, as a photo in Tampa, a book by Robert Norman and Lisa Coleman reveals. 

A review of Tampa states:
Henry B. Plant encouraged Tampa's growth by bringing the railroad to town and constructing the elaborate Tampa Bay Hotel, and he, along with other entrepreneurs, brought an economic boom to the region with new industries, such as cigars and citrus, and the promotion of tourism.
We have already explored how cigar manufacturing was introduced to the city by the family who founded MacFarlane, Pettingill, MacFarlane--the law firm for which Cody Fowler worked when he relocated to Florida from Oklahoma. It was while a member of this firm that Fowler and Paul Helliwell worked together in 1933 at Cuban Rum.

Palmer Development of Sarasota and Tampa Area

Bertha had visited the area in 1910 and purchased what she would name Meadowsweet Pastures in Manatee County for a mere $70,000. She built The Oaks on another tract acquired in Sarasota County to the south. Still another large acreage tract of 16,000 acres in Hillsborough County north of her other properties became a hunting and game preserve called “Riverhills Ranch,” which she planned to develop into a golf community. 

Citrus farming was first promoted by Bertha Honoré Palmer before her death. Mrs. Palmer had bought at various times a total of 140,000 acres of Florida land after first visiting Sarasota in 1910 with her father, uncle and brother, who had developed her husband's lands in Chicago and made a fortune off the land boom there. Following the death of her husband and, aware of how Henry Flagler had stimulated development of the eastern shore of Florida, she and her Honore family members determined to profit from the development of the western part of the state, bordering on the Gulf of Mexico. Upon her death, the land passed to her two sons in trust with provisions for her grandchildren.

Meadowsweet Pastures in Manatee County was left to her brother Adrian Honore, who was a real estate developer both in Chicago and Florida as well as being president of the Sarasota-Venice Company. Most of her property, however,  including the winter mansion near Osprey in Sarasota County passed to a trust for her two sons, HonorĂ© Palmer and Potter Palmer, Jr., and their wives.

Bertha's brother, Adrian Honore, was trustee for the estate, and it was he who sold the Hillsborough County land to Burks Hamner, Vance Helm, D. Collins Gillette, and Maude Cody Fowler (mother of Tampa Attorney O. Cody Fowler). Adrian kept a seat on the corporate board of Temple Terraces, Inc. in order to foster "the realization of Mrs. Potter Palmer’s citrus and golf course community vision." According to one historical website of the area, the new owners developed a golf course with residential areas surrounding it, as well as 5,000 acres of orange groves. Within that enclave, in 1922 Cody Fowler, son of Orin Scott Fowler of Oklahoma City, built for his family a five-bedroom home, where they resided until a similarly styled home was built on Baltic Circle, looking out on Hillsborough Bay.

The Fowler law firm (MacFarlane, Pettingill, MacFarlane and Fowler) was located at 706 Franklin in Tampa, on the 10th floor of the Citizens Bank Building. Fowler subsequently formed a firm with Morris White, later called Fowler White Boggs.


Gillette, a Tampa associate of Maude Fowler, thus had three degrees of separation from Paul Helliwell, who worked with Maude's son, Cody, in the Cuban Rum importing firm. Could there be a political or intelligence connection Helliwell may have acquired at this early point in his career? That question spurs us to dig deeper into the Palmer family.

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