Lost Opportunities

Whenever a book is published, it is more than likely that something the author wanted to include was omitted. Sometimes it is because there isn’t enough space; in other cases, it is because the author did not come across it at the time of publication. Men of No Reputation is no exception.

This photograph of Eddie K. Morris is one of the things that I wish had been included in Men of No Reputation. Why wasn’t it included? Bad timing, really.

While conducting research for what would become Men of No Reputation, I learned that there was a mugshot of Eddie K. Morris, a member of both Robert Boatright and John Mabray’s criminal organizations, at the National Archives in Kansas City. I was incredibly excited as it was difficult to locate images of men who were members of the Buckfoot and Mabray gangs.

Unfortunately, I learned that someone had stolen Eddie K. Morris’s mugshot. You cannot imagine the disappointment and frustration I felt, but the staff shared a thumbnail of the image. How amazing it was to see a face from the past! Unfortunately, the image file was not large enough for publication purposes. I checked with NARA-Kansas City’s director in 2018 to see if another image file existed, but she replied that only the thumbnail image was available.

 Shortly before publication I saw that NARA-Kansas City had a high-resolution image of Eddie’s mugshot on their website, but it was too late to incorporate it into my manuscript. I would have liked Eddie to be included because he was likely the only African American member of both the Buckfoot and Mabray gangs. He was an important figure who was not always appreciated by his fellow confidence men—like Roger H. Williams—who openly voiced their racist views in court testimony.

I am grateful, however, that I can at least include Eddie here. My hope is that someday his mugshot will be located and returned to the National Archives.

For more on additional mugshots that have been stolen and how to contact the National Archives in the event you may come across them:


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