There are many still living who have important historical recollections of the early G-Men who served the FBI and their country.
This section is devoted to their remembrances. Whether you're a son, a daughter, a distant relative, retired FBI Agent or just a friend, we'd love to have your thoughts here. If you'd like to post your reflections here, send them through the email contact for this site. We'll then incorporate them onto the page.
On FBI Special Agent Chris Callan, Brady Gang Investigation
"My father, Chris Callan, graduated from Georgetown Law School in 1932 and found a job with the FBI in 1934. He was an excellent athlete, having lettered in basketball and tennis during his undergraduate years at Georgetown. His first office was Philadelphia, where he became totally smitten with a nurse at Hahnemann Hospital. They married in his hometown of D.C., and he was immediately transferred to Boston.
It was there that he found his first major challenge. He was the case agent on the Brady Case. This resulted in a nationwide press event, when FBI Agents destroyed the Brady operation on 10/12/37. I asked him about his role in the take down. He said that he and others covered it from a store above the take down. He was never sure about his abilities with firearms but he was damn sure about how to organize a shoot.
He transferred to the Trenton RA, where he said that he had a good relationship with a local chief trying to do things right, but shortly after that , he was transferred to Springfield, Ill. and assigned to the Danville RA. He was happy as an RA and gave his son - me - one bit of advice. The life of an Resident Agent (RA) is the best there is in the Bureau. Be your own boss and stay away from the suits. I followed it." (Submitted By: Retired Special Agent, FBI Dave Callan - Florida)
On Special Agent Daniel Sullivan, Dillinger & Other Investigations
Your Name: Mike Sullivan
Message: My grandfather is Dan Sullivan. My sister told me about this website. I wanted to let you know that I have been looking for old photos and info on my grandfather. As you are probably aware it is very difficult seeing as how the web was not around then. I have several books that mention my grandfather in them. My dad passed away last year and I have been working very hard to learn as much as I can about the history of his father, my grandfather. I want to be able to pass this history on to my children when they get older.
Thank you very much for putting this together.
On Brady Gang Members, James Dalhover and Clarence Shafer
Hello,my name is Cathy and I have been doing research on the Brady Gang. James Dalhover was my grandfather and Clarence Shafer was my uncle. They weren't talked about too often because of the embarrassment to my family.I have learned that there are some things written that were not true. When I came across your site and read about them, I thought it interesting and the repercussions from my grandfather went down the line in the family. My mother was teased and my sister was refused a job due to him. I also would like to state for the record that they all got what was coming to them. My grandmother lived by this mantra: If you can lie,you can steal and if you can do that, you can kill. She was quite a lady, nothing like Life magazine's protrayal of her or her sister. Thanks for talking to me Larry. Cathy (Pennsylvania)
On San Antonio gun dealer, Harold Lebman:
Thank you for the materials on Harold Lebman. As a first office agent in the San Antonio Division in the period 1969-70 I got to know Mr. Lebman. He operated a shop on Flores St in San Antonio that was known as "Lebman's Saddlery ". It manufactured custom saddles, holsters, belts and related items, in addition to selling a wide range of firearms.
Shortly after reporting for duty I was taken to Lebman's by another first office agent, Ed Tickel. A number of agents used to drop by his establishment to look at the guns, occasionally buy a holster and listen to Mr. Lebman's stories of times past. The store had not changed in decades and was located on an old dirt street that had wooden side walks. There were pictures in the store that were taken in the 1930's and the shop in the late 60s and 70s had not changed much. There was one photograph I recall seeing
that had a rack of Thompson's sitting at the entrance to the store.
Mr. Lebman told some of us about his selling Thompson's and other automatic weapons to all sorts of characters but I do not recall him mentioning those listed in the letter that you posted. He was a very colorful figure from the past. When I met him he had to be in his very late 60s or early 70s. He had two sons that worked with him that seemed like nice fellows but were dull by comparison to the father. During that time I learned from some old time San Antonio residents that Mr. Lebman was quite wealthy, having over the years acquired thousands of acres of land that he leased out as feedlots to cattle ranchers.
I did have him make me a holster which I carried for many years.
Thanks again for digging up such interesting incidents in the Bureau's history.
Jay Grodin, Retired SA, FBI
George Franklin in 2008 On His Father, FBI SA George H. Franklin (Notes On Elfego Baca)
According to his son, SA George H. Franklin (1932-1954) worked the Southwest as a local law enforcement officer before the FBI and after joining the Bureau played a role in some high profile cases, including the chase/shootout & capture of Buck Barrow, older brother of Clyde Barrow. SA Franklin had once owned Buck Barrow's shotgun.
According to George, his father was also close to "Jelly" Bryce and was instrumental in convincing Bryce to join the Bureau in 1934. Bryce had saved George's life as a young teen by shooting a bear that was chasing him. His father was also close to legendary lawman, Elfego Baca. With that regard, George Franklin notes:
"Elfego Baca was indeed a lawman at times (self-appointed on at least one occasion) including sheriff of Socorro County, NM. He was involved with Doroteo Arango (aka Pancho Villa) and other notable characters of the day. My dad served as a Bernalillo Co. NM deputy sheriff in 1921 before moving to the Alb. PD."
In 1921 my dad was 18 years old and Elfego was a notorious character and gunman practicing law in Albuquerque (approx. 57 years old). Elfego was known to get drunk and disorderly at times and since he had many unsettled scores he always carried a sidearm and had dispatched several men in his time. A complaint was phoned in re Elfego's being drunk in an oldtown bar and my dad was dispatched to bring him in. Because of his reputation my dad was careful to approach Elfego from behind with his gun drawn. Elfego was disarmed and taken to the old court house for booking. After sobering up Elfego looked up my dad and told him "I was never so scared - I knew you were just a green kid and I thought you would shoot me before we got to the jail".
"In the years after that incident Elfego would walk with my dad when he had the downtown foot patrol and blessed him with many stories of the "wild west" - many true and many "embellished".
"Shortly before Elfego died he gave my dad a colt .45 made in 1882. Many years later my dad drew up documents certifying the pistols origin and passed it on to me. Of all the known, authentic Baca firearms it is the only one old enough to have been one of the two Colts he used in the Frisco, NM shootout of 1884. My dad and Elfego formed a bridge between two very interesting eras - wish we had their stories on tape! Feel free to share this and I'd like to hear more about Baca and my father if anyone knew them or has information. "
George Franklin, New Mexico
On SA Charles Winstead In 2008 From A Former Neighbor
Your Name: guy seaborn
Your Email: email@example.com
Subject: Charles W Winstead
Message: Hello, I have enjoyed greatly finding info about " Charley" Winstead. As a youngster in the 50s and 60s I knew Charley well. A friend of mine who lived across the street from him. He still has in his garage Charles 1961 Chevrolet and a Model 94 30-30 rifle. We have talked many hours about him and our experiences with Charley. Everybody knew he had been at the Dillinger shooting, but he would never say what his role was. Just that there were a lot of people involved. Thank you for putting all this togather. It means a lot to us that Mr. Winstead now can be read about. The picture of him with Rinky his dog and horse ; which I have forgotten, is hangin my friends home . We stood there last night looking and remembering. Thanks again. Guy Seaborn
On SA William L. Buchanan In 2008 From His Son, William - The Karpis Famous "Tie Story"
Dear Mr. Wack,
My father was William L Buchanan,who was originally Chief of Detectives in Waco,Tx.,joined the FBI in 1934 or 1935 and was a dear friend of Clarence Hurt and D.A.”Jelly” Bryce. He was with Mr. Hurt on many of the famous cases of those times including Pretty Boy Floyd, Ma Barker, Roger Toughy, and Alvin Karpis.
I have many letters both professional and personal written to my father by Mr. Hoover. The official letter from Hoover after the apprehension of Karpis and Fred Hunter in May of 1936 congratulated my father for his “fearlessness” and recommended an increase in his grade from Caf-9 at $3300 per year to Caf-10 at $3600 per year.
Apparently at the time the apprehension of Karpis, none of the agents had their handcuffs and so my father removed his new tie and tied up Karpis’s hands. In 1940, my dad wrote Mr. Hoover and stated that he had been on many “necktie” parties but none more memorable than the Karpis case and he included with the letter, the same tie. Mr. Hoover replied a few days later that he had received the tie and stated that he was looking forward to his visit to Oklahoma in June of 1940 and he hoped that he could join my dad and the boys on a fishing trip.
My dad lived through a number of tense and dangerous situations,but died at the age of 46 from renal failure as the result of post streptococcal nephritis acquired in the pre-penicillin era. I have very nice letter from Mr Hoover dated July 24th,1947 that was sent to my mother thanking my father for his service to his country and included my dad’s official badge. I was 2 years old. Following my dad’s death, we had a steady stream of FBI agents including Hurt and Bryce, and Federal Marshals, state and local officials, coming to our house to make sure we were okay. I’m very sorry that I never really knew my dad. By all accounts, he was very gregarious, but at same time very modest. Throughout my life I have met numerous individuals who have described him as one of the “nicest but one of the bravest son-of-a bitches I have ever met”.---I think this is a compliment! I would be very happy to hear from you.
Reflections of SA Richard Pranke From A Retired Special Agent Colleague:
I had the pleasure, no, the honor, of working with Dick Pranke when I was a brand new FOA in Minneapolis in 1951 and he was a mentor to me as he was to all of the other rookies. I, now at 83, remember him as though we had just talked together yesterday.
Dick was a true gentle giant, unassuming, quiet, soft spoken, impeccably groomed justkindasolid steel behind an iron curtain. Pleasant to a fault, meticulous in his case work, persistent in his investigations and, most of all, a man who you would love to have watching you back throughout your entire bureau career.
Despite his image, he was not someone you would like to have as an opponent and he of was a living example of the old adage "still water runs deep". He took time to explain the nuances of a case to you and to help you stumble through the thickets of being a new agent.
It is a great thing that you are doing to preserve the memories of these "real pioneer FBI Agents" who are fading fast, much as the old black and white photographs that some of us had from the old days. If I can find a photograph of Pranke I will let you know and will send it along if you so wish but the hopes of finding one are also fading.
The best to you, Joe Prasek, Retired SA, FBI (1951-79)
On Special Agent James Metcalfe - From His Son, 2009
Your Name: Don Metcalfe
Message: My father was James J. Metcalfe...one of the 17 special agents at the Biograph when John Dillinger was killed. I just discovered your website. While I have not looked at the entire site yet, what I have seen is a credit to your efforts and to the Bureau. Thanks for your work. I may have some items Dad left me that I could send you by copies.
Best. don metcalfe
On Special Agent W. E. "Bud" Hopton - From His Grandaughter, 2009
Your Name: Margie QuinSubject: W.E. "Bud" Hopton
Message: Mr. Wack - A friend sent me a link to your web site and I was thrilled to read all the entries. I am the grandaughter of SA W.E. "Bud" Hopton. My grandfather was involved in a number of high profile cases during his tenure with the Bureau. He graduated from Washington University Law School in St. Louis in 1933,was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and was a charter member of the Knothole Gang. He was also an avid hunter.
He hung out his shingle, but during those tough economic times, he couldn't earn a living. The Dean of his Law School, Wiley Rutledge (who later became Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court), advised him to look into the F.B.I. He hired on with the Bureau in 1934 and his first assignment was Ohio. That assignment put him in a position to participate in the shooting of Charles Aurther Floyd. I've heard him tell those stores many times and have nothing to add besides what is already on the web site. He also participated in the interviews of Alvin Karpis, worked on the "Great Brinks Robbery", particapted in the shootout with the Irish O'Malley Gang, was the F.B.I. supervisor on duty at HQ the night the German U-boats landed off the coast of Long Island, and many more. He left the F.B.I. in 1955 to become the Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, a position he held until 1971. He died of natural causes on July 3, 1998 at the age of 93.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
Rita Traub On Her Father, SA Morris Traub, One Of The First FBI Agents - 2009
Your Name: rjtraub
Your Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Early FBI Agents -- our father
Message: Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Dear Mr. Wack:
Thanks so much for your splendid website (plus a way to contact you). I came upon it quite by chance. It's so good of you to remember those early FBI agents, too many of whom are, like our own dear father, lost in the mists of history.
My older sister and I are daughters of an FBI agent whose name we didn't see on your list.
He was Morris D. Traub, who joined the Bureau of Investigation way back in January 1913 and resigned in 1936. He was a charter member of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI. In his day, he was very well-known and worked on many of the famous cases of the era. He was a shy person and kept a low profile. My sister and I feel deeply that he should be remembered, especially since we will be leaving no descendants. We want you and others to know about him.
We commend you on establishing this website and also on the nostalgic and apt name you selected: "For the Honor of Our Fathers -- Dusty Roads of an FBI Era."
I'd very much appreciate your contacting me.
R. J. Traub
Mary Beth Heydt On Her Great Uncle, SA John Madala - 2011
Subject: John Madala
Message: Hello, found your site while doing an internet search to find information on line about my great uncle, John Madala (i.e. my Uncle Johnny). Uncle Johnny was married to my Grandmother Meta's sister, Emmy, who was my great aunt. My parents may have some additional press clippings, photos and things at their home from my Grandmother's collections of clippings. I do remember some stories my grandmother told me about Uncle Johnny. He was a very private man and did not discuss his work and never considered himself a hero. My aunt Emmy and other family members, like my grandmother, helped keep his legacy alive. I remember receiving a copy of a newspaper article about his interview for the TV documentary about Ma Barker and her gang right around the time that he died. For me, Uncle Johnny was a friendly, funny, happy man whom everyone adored. Some of my best memories of childhood include visiting Aunt Emmy and Uncle Johnny's house in Coral Gables and sitting in his favorite chair with him and eating what he called "Red, White and Blue" ice cream (neapolitan), and his certainty that I would be the first woman president of the US. (smile)
It is my understanding from family stories that he also worked for the FBI in New Jersey and that he and my Aunt were closed to being shot in a mafia stakeout when a gun battle broke out in the apartment they were staking out. My aunt and uncle were living in the apartment next door and my aunt was pregnant with one of my cousins (probably Jay). Johnny brought Emmy down to the ground and covered her with his body to prevent her or the baby from being hit by stray bullets. It is also my understanding that after the FBI, he also worked as head of security for Howard Hughes, but couldn't deal with his demands and paranoia.
Thanks for doing this! I hope that you keep it up so more people can learn about the unsung heroes of this era. MaryBeth Heydt