Sideshow outlaw. A notorious outlaw in the early 20th century, who's events in death have become more famous than anything he did in life. He was born in 1880 to an unwed teenage mother whose family gave infant Elmer to her brother George and his wife to raise. He was later told the news which he did not take well. He began to drink heavily and eventually ran away. He tried several jobs working as a plumber and a miner and even tried to enlist to go in Theodore Roosevelt's occupation of The Philippines. McCurdy missed the expiration dated and didn't get to go. His tour of duty in the Army lasted only three years. After leaving the Army, McCurdy had no luck finding work and tried making his fortune as a robber. He and friend Walter Shapelrock were arrested for possession of tools used for burglary. Awaiting trial he met a man named Walter Jarrett. After being found not guilty, McCurdy was released and met up with Jarrett. Jarrett gave McCurdy the nickname "Missouri McCurdy. The two were not very successful as bank robbers, often blowing up the money with the nitroglycerin used to blast open the safe. In 1911, the two tried to to steal the safe from a Kansas train. The safe contained only a few dollars so taking their meager shipment, the gang headed into Oklahoma where McCurdy would meet his match. On October 7th, drunk and in need of rest, he fell asleep in a barn and later awoke to find that a small posse had tracked him down. Holing himself inside the barn he shot it out with the posse for better than an hour. When the shooting stopped, McCurdy was dead at the age of 31. No family or friends came to claim the body and the undertaker refused to give the body to the sideshow carnies who asked to have it for display. Sometime later two con men (one claiming to be his brother) showed up and claimed it and took it back to California where they encased it in painted wax. McCurdy was an outlaw doomed to fade into historical obscurity until his story took a bizarre twist some 65 years later. In 1976, a film crew went to Nu Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach, California to film an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man. One of the technicians came across a wax dummy hanging from a rope. Trying to move it, the arm came off and sticking out of the wax was a bone. The dummy was taken to a forensics laboratory for an autopsy but it was so petrified that the doctors had to use a hacksaw to get through it. They learned that this was in fact the body of Elmer McCurdy and that he had died of a .32 caliber gunshot wound. He was soon after buried in a formal ceremony and cement covered the coffin of a man who's body had made a 65 year journey to the grave.
Bio by: Savannah Mason
Sadie A. McCurdy