Monday, June 17, 2019

The Reverend William R Cole part 1

Between July 1971 and April 1972, a Missouri newspaper wrote four articles about a new organic farming venture that had moved into the area.  The farm was operated by what locals referred to as hippies and they wanted the press to find out more about the new residents.  This was the very early 70s and hippies in the farm belt were not a welcome sight.

The three people operating the farm were William Rex Cole aka Bill Vance, Claudia Leigh Smith aka Linda Baldwin and Madaline Joan Cottage aka Little Patti.

Stanberry and McFall are located in Gentry County in the northwest corner of Missouri.   McFall is about 82 miles north of Kansas City.  According to the 1970 census there were 203 residents in McFall.  There are currently 93 residents in the town.

The reporter/editor, Neal Sheehan, who I suspect wore many other hats related to the paper, has a quirky and quaint way of writing a story which lends itself to the contents of the articles.  You might find yourself chuckling and snorting as you read!

The Stanberry Headlight
Stanberry, Missouri
July 22 1971

They Work Too Hard to Be Hippies

A rumor that a group of “hippies” was living it up on a farm just south of McFall was more or less nullified when a representative of this newspaper visited the scene last Friday afternoon, approximately 11 months after the Rev. William R. Cole, formerly of Kansas City, and members of his Youth-for-Life organization leased two farms and began raising organic foods for sale in Kansas City.  Pictured above checking for insects in some of their 4,000 tomato plants are Linda, 22, at the left, who is a native of Pennsylvania, and has travelled much and calls the United States home, and John Weaver, 19, of Simi Valley, Calif. Who is working at the Nubian farms this summer and will return in September to his second semester at Morepark Junior College in Ventura, Calif.  The story is below.

(the pictures accompanying the articles are too dark to post)

Youth-for-Life Flock Raises Food Organically Near McFall

A rumor that a group of “hippies” was living in their traditional style on a farm just south of McFall sent the editor of this newspaper scurrying to the scene last Friday afternoon- just 11 months late.
The rumor wasn’t without a certain amount of foundation, but it certainly didn’t lead us to what we expected to find.  It wasn’t anything like we’ve read about the Haight-Ashbury area in San Francisco or other hippy-lands.

The first thing we found was a large “No Trespassing” sign.  That we ignored.  Then we found a run-down, ramshackle farm house, an old school bus, one goat, two pigs, one sheep, three rabbits, 100 “crazy” chickens, numerous dogs, two women and a young man.

That was our introduction to Nubian farms, which is supervised by the Rev. William R. Cole, pastor of the Youth-for-Life organization, which was chartered in January 1970, in Kansas City, Mo. by the Calgary Grace Christian Church of Faith at Fort Lauderdale, Calif. And the Rev. Mr. Keck.  The latter church is approximately 20 years old.

(note:  Fort Lauderdale is in Florida, there is no Fort Lauderdale in California)

Arrived Last August

The Rev. Mr. Cole, who was not present last Friday afternoon, and a group of his followers arrived in the McFall area in August 1970, with the express aim of making a living by putting organic farming on a paying basis.  They leased two separate farms, approximately 200 acres, and two farm houses then had a pretty rough time getting through a hard winter.  They sold wood in Kansas City to make ends meet, so we understand.

Now apparently things are looking up for the Youth-for-Life members, the changing population of which usually runs around 10 adults and two or three youngsters. They can’t be hippies because they’ve put in too much labor in their non-profit enterprise of raising food organically.  They were working when we arrived which we’ll admit surprised us.  A hippy and work just aren’t compatible.  They don’t go together.

Furnish Information

With the Rev. Mr. Cole away, we had to gather our information from Linda, 22, who neglected to furnish us a last name, who has been on the project since it started last August, and the young man, John Weaver, 19, of Simi Valley Calif., who is working at Nubian farms this summer before returning for his second semester at Morepark Junior College in Ventura, Calif.  The other young woman didn’t care much for the “press” and made no secret of the fact.  She did, however, relent long enough to borrow one of our tailor-made cigarettes.

The organic farmers are obviously rolling their own cigarettes until their crops begin producing some revenue.  We share their hope this won’t be long now.

They put in 4,000 tomato plants which was less than they hoped to raise this season; five acres of sweet corn, sweet potatoes, soybeans and field corn.  The plan is to market their crops in Kansas City, but local purchasers will be welcome.  Just ignore the “No Trespassing” sign if you’re a customer.

Chemicals Excluded

Organic farming, as mystery to this writer, doesn’t sound too easy.  The Rev. Mr. Cole and members of his small and ever changing flock use only manure for fertilizer and only organic pesticides, which excludes DDT and most of the accepted chemical products of that nature.

The Nubian farm group is working on a pesticide of their own, which apparently uses tobacco that might someday be marketed on a commercial basis.

The energetic group is not overly supplied with farm equipment.  They have a horse-drawn plow, an old Allis-Chalmers tractor, a manure spreader and a few other minor pieces of equipment, such as a chainsaw.  The group would be interested in receiving any old farm equipment, especially horse-drawn, that anyone in the area is planning to “junk”.  They realize, of course, that antique dealers are latching on to most such items.

Two Other Such Farms

There are two other such organic farms operated in much the same manner, minus the religious affiliation, according to Linda.  One is near Gallatin; the other in Oklahoma.

This writer did not delve too deeply into the religious aspect of the Youth-for-Life movement.  It’s easy for us to get in over our head in that phase of our culture.  Linda was kind enough to sum it up for us, “Total acceptance of all churches and beliefs with no prejudice at all.”

Look to 1972

It was easy to see that the young woman was more interested in discussing organic farming- and the good year they hope to have in 1972 with the crops they plan to grow on a much larger scale.  The land was far from productive when they leased it but they’re enriching it with plenty of lime, we learned.  So, the group is planning ahead.

The only “grass” we saw, incidentally, was being used to mulch the tomato plants, which may or may not prove something.  We commented upon leaving that we had not exactly found what we expected in conjunction with the rumors we had heard.

“What did you expect to find, wild parties and nearly nude women,” Linda asked with a twinkle in her eye.

“Nope, not exactly,” we lied like a trooper.  We just didn’t expect to learn so much about organic farming and horse-drawn plows and that sort of thing.”

Different Outlooks

There is no doubt in this writer’s mind that the Nubian farm folks live differently than we and most of our readers.  Their outlook is different.  Their philosophy on life is different.  They dress a little differently, but not much.  And they seem to work much harder than most of us.  Television is on their “taboo” list, by the way.

The McFall businessman who directed us to the unusual organic farm commented that the Rev. Mr. Cole and the members of his constantly changing flock mind their own business and don’t bother anyone and work like the very dickens to scratch out a living from the soil.  He was all for them, we gathered.

So is this writer.  Rumors or no rumors we have to remove them in our mind as the “hippy” class.  They’ve worked too hard with too little to fit that classification.

Indications are what little trouble this small “commune” has experienced is when friends, usually from the Kansas City area, drop by for a weekend visit- like 35 persons did one Sunday.

“That was just too much,” Linda declared with a grimace.  “Just too many people.”
The Youth-for-Life group address is McFall, Mo. If you’re interested.

This next article is an outtake from an editorial column about taking photos and conducting interviews with people who don’t really want to cooperate.

The Stanberry Headlight
August 19 1971

It Happens Every Thursday

By Neal Sheehan

Seems like we’ve been running into all sorts of trouble and hazards in our camera capers lately.  Getting photos and facts is becoming rougher than some of our city streets, many of which are mildly bumpy at best.

Trouble, of course, is the one thing you can borrow without references and the supply always seems to exceed the demand.

Take the time several weeks ago, for example, when we dashed off to the McFall area to get a hot story on the alleged “hippies” who had taken over the community to the consternation of several residents.

That’s when we found out that public opinion lots of times is what people think other people think- or gossip which has reached the proportion of an epidemic.

We didn’t find any hippies, semi nude females, wild parties or anything like that.  We found a small commune of church-affiliated amateur farmers who had for 11 months been attempting to scratch out a living raising organic foods for sale in Kansas City and locally if possible.

We figured we obtained a pretty good, honest story on the activities of the Youth-for-Life flock, but we’ll have to admit that we didn’t get the “expose” type of story we figured on when we took off on a mad rush for McFall shortly after we heard rumors emitting from that area.  Little did we know the unusual farming operation began last August.  There was no hurry.

As we reported several weeks ago, we found only three members of the “flock” present when we timidly crashed the “No Trespassing” sign and invaded the privacy of the Youth-for-Life flock.

There was Linda, a 22-year-old young woman who had been on the project since the beginning; John Weaver, 19, who was farming between semesters at a California college and another young woman, a brunette, who obviously detested the “press.”

After a little fast-talking Linda and John overcame their initial disapproval of our surprise visit and gave us some facts on farming organically with horse-drawn plow, etc.

The other young woman, however, never relaxed and became neighborly.  She did relent long enough to mooch one of our cigarettes, but she did that somewhat grudgingly and reluctantly.

We could see she didn’t take kindly to Linda and John furnishing us information and a picture for our story.  “If the S.O.B. gets too nosey,” she declared flouncing off into the house, “throw him out!”

“What do you mean, me or him?” we inquired innocently, nodding in John’s direction.

“You know who I mean, Buster,” she snapped as she continued to split the scene and entered the house.  Naturally we knew who she meant, but we didn’t sob about it.  We just kept interviewing Linda and John- and eventually hocus-focused them into a picture among their 4,000 tomato plants.  The picture appeared in this newspaper.

Seeing how we had invaded the privacy of the Youth-for-Life flock we mailed their leader the Rev. William R. Cole, formerly of Kansas City, a proof of the story we wrote for his approval before publication.

We immediately received a nice reply from the Rev. Mr. Cole in which he included an invitation ??????? if you’re ever in McFall, please drop by and see us.”

This is somewhat beside the point but we checked with Sheriff Benny Rainey and Deputy Sheriff Dallas Wright shortly after our visit concerning the Youth-for-Life organization.

We gathered from them that if all the county residents were as cooperative and as little trouble as the flock, we wouldn’t need Benny and Dallas.

We were glad to hear this because it substantiated our opinion of the situation, which was reached after we visited the farm.  How do these rumors get started?

The third article was written just after it was discovered that the Rev. Mr. Cole and his flock were Manson Family members!   LASO deputy sheriffs Gleason and Whitley paid a visit to Gentry County Missouri a scant two days after the flock decamped the farm in a big hurry.  Think they were tipped off to the LASO visit ?

The Stanberry Headlight
March 9 1972

The Stanberry Headlight published three photos at the top of the article.  The photos were the mug shots of Claudia Smith, William Cole aka Bill Vance and Madaline Cottage.  I have substituted mug shots from for the newspaper pictures which were barely identifiable. 

Manson ‘Family’ Members Leave County

(by Neal Sheehan)

The three persons shown above were instrumental in connecting Gentry county and the McFall community with one of the most bizarre, bloody and grotesque multi-murder cases in the annals of this country.

It’s a fantastic story, really, spanning from Aug. 9, 1969, when the Sharon Tate murder cases occurred in Los Angeles, Calif., area until late Friday, Feb, 25, 1972, when two of the persons above evaporated from their Youth-for-Life religious organization’s organic farming project at the south edge of McFall.

The hasty departure of the nervous, apprehensive pair came just two days ahead of the arrival of two Los Angeles county deputy sheriffs, William Gleason and Paul Whitley, who were anxious to question two or three of the former members of the notorious Charles Manson “family” in California.
Pictured, left to right, by the names they traveled under in Gentry county when they arrived in McFall in August 1970, are Linda Baldwin, 21; the Rev. William R. Cole, 37; and Patricia Baldwin, 25, who actually left the Youth-for-Life farming headquarters in McFall for Memphis, Tenn., late last August, but has not been seen or heard from since.

The investigating officers disclosed their fear that Patricia Baldwin may have met with “foul play” because “she knew too much.”  Life apparently was and is dirt cheap to the Manson “family” and the motorcycle clubs with which they hobnobbed in California.  Two of the cycle gangs closest to the “family” included the Satan Slaves and the Straight Satans.

It seems, according to written reports, that Manson provided the cyclists with the feminine members of his family- and they furnished him a mobile “infantry” force for his fiendish plans.

The pictures shown above, incidentally, were obtained from the official California files on the Manson “family,” compiled by Sheriff Benny Rainey and Deputy Sheriff Dallas Wright of Stanberry in co-operation with the visiting Los Angeles county deputies.  The sweater worn by Cole in the picture taken in California is now in Sheriff Rainey’s possession.  It was overlooked in Cole’s hurried get-away from McFall.

The three temporary Gentry countians were not directly implicated in the blood-curdling Sharon Tate case in which the lives of the attractive and pregnant movie actress and four others were abbreviated by a revolver and several knives handled by four of Manson’s “family” at his orders.

Involved in the actual murders at the Tate home were one man, Tex Watson, and three young women, Linda Kasabian, Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins.

Millions of words have been printed on the Tate case and the other murders in which the hippy “family” was implicated.  So, this newspaper will sidestep of the gruesome story that has shocked millions of readers for many months.

Formed New Church

Our interest, naturally, is in the three members of the infamous “family” who landed in Gentry county after forming a new “church” in Kansas City and who attempted to eke out a frugal living for almost 18 months via organic farming at the south edge of McFall.

There is no doubt that Linda, Patricia and Cole were members of Manson’s “family” and resided at least part-time at the Manson headquarters on the Spahn “movie” ranch at Chatsworth, Calif.

Official police records show that Patricia Baldwin, who also used other names including Claudia Leigh Smith, gave her address as the Spahn ranch at Chatsworth when she was arrested on a narcotics charge Sept, 20, 1969, in Los Angeles county.  At that time, she was listed as 5-foot-3, weighing 120 pounds, had brown hair and green eyes.  She told officers that she was born Aug. 11, 1950, in Culver City, Calif., and that her occupation was “baby-sitting in Topanga Canyon, Calif.”  She was released on bond on that charge, the records show and the outcome on the “narco” charge is not listed in the file on Linda.

Present at Murder

The records show that Patricia Joan Baldwin, also known as Little Patti and Madaline Joan Cottage, received several citations for traffic violations in the summer of 1968.  Her file also shows that she was present when another member of the “family,” John P, (Zero) Haught, was killed at No. 28 Clubhouse in Venice, Calif., on Nov. 5, 1969.  Little Patti also is known to have been driving a Volkswagen owned by another member of the “family,” Gary Hinman, on Aug. 1, 1969, which was just a few days before the Tate murders.

Patricia is listed in the files as 5-foot-2, weighing 110 pounds, and having brown hair and green eyes.  She was born May 7, 1946, in Ohio Valley, PA., according to the records.

William Rex Cole, who also used the names of William Van Sickle and David Lee Hamick in his travels, and had several nicknames, Duane, Bill, Vance and Buck, his file shows.  He is charged with forging a check while residing at Spahn ranch on Feb. 26, 1970, which was quite a time after Manson and many of his “family” had been apprehended.  It is possible that the money derived from the forged check was used for “traveling funds” to get him to Missouri.

Cole is shown in his file to be 6-foot-2, weighs 175 pounds, has brown hair and eyes and was born at one of two places, Memphis, Tenn., or Kingston, Mo., on Apr. 17, 1935.

Visited the Farm

It was last July that this writer visited the Youth-for-Life Nubian farms in the McFall area and finally, after much coaxing, extracted a story on the organic farming project from Linda- after initially receiving very cold shoulders from both Linda and Little Patti.

Little Patti, as we vividly recall, mooched a cigarette from us, then entered the ramshackle farm home with pertinent advice to Linda: “If he gets too nosey, throw the S.O.B. out!”

We realize now, of course, why we had to talk so fast to get the story- and we’ll always wonder how we ever managed to get Linda to pose for a picture for us in the nearby tomato field.  It was not easy, believe us.  That story and picture, by the way, appeared in the July 22, 1971, issue of this newspaper under the heading, “They Work Too Hard to Be Hippies.”

The Rev. Mr. Cole was not present that day, but we later received a nice letter from him and Linda, describing how much they liked the article-and would we please send them 20 copies and bill the cost to the farm.

Put in Hard Work

They also invited us to drop by and see them if we were in the McFall area, something we always planned to do until now that it’s too late.  We have always wondered how they did on their 4,000 tomato plants.  Obviously, they were hiding out in Gentry county, but they certainly put in a lot of hard work while “lying low.”

It probably was because Linda refused or neglected to tell us her last name during our interview that we missed mention of her and Little Patti in an article, “Charlie and the Devil,” written by Ed Sanders, which appeared in the November, 1971, issue of Esquire magazine.

It was on Oct. 9, 1969, that officers arrested a number of the Manson “family.”  According to Sanders: “They arrested Linda Baldwin, also known as Little Patti, and Squeaky, using the name Elizabeth Elaine Williamson.  Some of the girls were nude.”

This indicates that Little Patti was using the name Linda at that particular time, which was about “par for the course.”  They were reported at various times as being half-sisters.  Anyway, Linda was using another name at the time.

‘Escaped Arrest’

“Quite a few of the family members escaped arrest in the Oct. 10 raid,” Sanders reported in his article.  “Among them were Dianna Lake and Claudia Smith, also known as Sherry Andrews.  Both of these girls hid under a canvass not far from the front gate of the Barker ranch when the raid occurred.”

Claudia Smith, as mentioned before, was one of the nom de plumes used by Linda- and it could well be her real name, according to investigating officers.

Charles Manson, himself, was one of eight “dirty hippies” arrested the evening of Oct. 10 by officers, according to Sanders’ account, which apparently put a halt to his fanatical plans for more fiendish murders of certain persons he did not happen to like.

California authorities are not only interested in apprehending Cole, Linda and Little Patti, if she is still among the living, they are vitally interested in obtaining a king-sized tape recording believed to be in Cole’s possession- the only such tape in existence.

Tape is Valuable

On good authority, the tape is believed to have been recorded by Manson and members of his “family” between the date of the Tate murders and his capture on Oct. 10, 1969.  It could shed new light on other activities of Manson and his faithful flock.  One officer estimated the value of the unique tape at $50,000.  Another officer’s conjecture the tape has kept and is keeping the Rev. Mr. Cole alive.

Thanks to Sheriff Rainey and Deputy Sheriff Wright, this newspaper has copies of two letters pertaining to Cole and members of his “flock.”  One letter apparently was received by Cole and Company from California.  It was written Aug. 27, 1971.  The letter is hand printed and the scrawled signature is impossible to decipher, although it apparently was written by a male.

The letter mentions the “family,” a “chick on acid,” and the following comments concerning Little Patti: “I got your letter yesterday.  That’s really something Patti leaving.  I sure as hell hope she keeps her mouth shut… Don’t take any chance with Patty.  I don’t know the whole story but from what you wrote in the letter it doesn’t sound too safe… You take it easy.  Be careful.  I don’t know what Patty’s trip is.  Don’t take the chance.  She could (blank) you up.”

Wrote the Clevengers

The second letter was written by Linda Baldwin and William R. Cole to Mr. and Mrs. Clare Clevenger of McFall, owners of the farm where the group lived for 18 months.  The Clevenger letter, received Feb. 28, three days after the pair left McFall, said:

“We suspected this for quite some time.  I’m sorry that we cannot make personal amends.  Clare, you have all rights distributing the property for debts owed by us.  As soon as we are able, we will make things straight with you.

Thank Popplewell, George Gist, Floyd Parks, Jim Bob Woodard and Clifford Pierce.  We appreciate and love you all for everything you’ve done for us.”

That letter, written two days after Linda and Cole left the McFall scene could very well be Gentry county’s last connection with the Manson “family.”

It should be pointed out that while Cole and his “flock” were Gentry countians, as far as is known, they operated more or less as model citizens, according to most of their neighbors and the sheriff’s office.

Despite the venomous glances Little Patti aimed in our direction last July, we hope nothing drastic has befallen her.  We also hope that Linda, who impressed us with her sincerity concerning her religion, comes out alright “in the end.”

The rundown on each person from Deemer's list:

This fourth and final article appeared in an editorial by Sheehan about six weeks after the visit by Los Angeles County sheriffs Whitley and Gunther.  It answers a couple of questions about things in the previous articles.

The Stanberry Headlight
April 20, 1972
By Neal Sheehan

It Happens Every Thursday

Early last month this newspaper featured a story in depth on three former members of the “family” of the murderous Charles Manson in the Los Angeles, Calif., area.

The story became a story when it was revealed that three members of the Youth-for-Life religious organization, which had been operating an organic farming enterprise at the south edge of McFall since August 1970, were former members of the infamous Manson family.

Involved under the names they used here in the county were the Rev. William R. Cole, 37; Linda Baldwin, 21; and Patricia Baldwin, 25.

Patricia, or Little Patti, as she was known, left the McFall commune last August.  Linda and the Rev. Mr. Cole were still on the scene early in March when they were “spooked” and departed hastily for parts unknown just before two Los Angeles county deputy sheriffs and an attorney for the defense of Manson members in California arrived in Gentry county.

Apparently, Cole and Linda were wanted as witnesses in cases still pending against members of the Manson family.  The visiting defense attorney, who arrived a day before the officers, wanted to prevent them from testifying.

The two deputies feared that Little Patti may have met with foul play because she knew too much- and they were vitally interested in a large master tape recording known to be in Cole’s possession.
This writer, who visited the Youth-for-Life farming headquarters last summer and met Linda and a reluctant Little Patti, knocked out a story on organic farming for this newspaper at that time.

Our next story on the group appeared in the Mar. 9, 1972, issue explaining their records, their connection with Manson, their quick evaporation from this scene- and the conclusion that this was the last Gentry county would hear from the Youth-for-Life group.

The Kansas City Star also featured a lengthy story on the former Manson family members, which began on page 1.

Well, we were wrong in our conclusion in our story.  Last Tuesday morning’s mail included a letter from California signed “Linda and Bill” and addressed to “Dear Mr. Sheehan and citizens of Gentry county”:

“Bill and I have read the articles in the Stanberry Headlight and for the most part found them very nice.  We realize the news media sees anyone ever connected with Charles Manson as a murderer.  That was not our trip.  Our trip is our religion.

“Our religion is one of all religions.  Our goal is to bring people together in harmony and love.  Everybody can join together under the three necessities of life- food, shelter and clothing.  Regardless of anyone’s opinions for his wants and needs, we can identify with these three necessities.

We knew we would be discovered and we also knew of the emphasis and value that would be placed on the music (tape) in our possession.  We now feel the time has come when the music should be published.

This music should not be regarded as entertainment.  We extend an invitation to all media of publication interested in the music to write to: C. Smith, PO Box 3077, Simi, Calif. 93065

“Bill and I would like to express our deepest thanks to Clair and Kathy Clevenger, Tank Popplewell and family, George Gist, Clifford Pierce, Floyd and George Parks, Floyd Reed and mother, Gene Lupier, the Stanberry Headlight and everyone who liked us.  Thanks for just being our friends.

“Linda and Bill”

This newspaper was extremely happy to hear from Linda and Bill.  It’s obvious they are in no danger from the “law” at this writing.  We didn’t meet Bill, but we were deeply impressed at Linda’s faith in her religion and the fact that the Youth-for-Life folks caused no trouble to anyone, according to Sheriff Benny Rainey of Albany.

Their industrious attitude also impressed us.  It was like our headline pointed out last July; “They Work Too Hard to Be Hippies.”

Editor’s note: Linda, please let us know what became of Little Patti- if you know.  We sincerely hope noting drastic has happened to her.