SCAMS OUT OF CALIFORNIA
WESTERN MISSIONARY ARMY et-al.
There are scams and then there are scams; -- and then there were Reefer Madness scams! And California, you did us proud.
“Every day Someone Invents a new way to take your Money Away” – Bobby DylanWere these groups sincere or were they scammers? Perhaps it would best to simply present the facts (as per the files of the Bureau or Narcotics), then you decide!
BUREAU OF NARCOTICS
Subject of this memorandum
Publication by the Western Missionary Army
1. Attached hereto is a publication entitled, “Marihuana The Assassin of Youth". I have been unable to find a pamphlet which I believe was sent out by the Bureau some years ago with the same title and so far as my recollection serves, much of the material in the pamphlet attached seems to be lifted directly from the pamphlet put out by the Bureau.
2. The Western Missionary Army is located at 6801 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, California, telephone number WEbster 5-5311,. The founder and president is a man named Spencer Stovall and the organization claims incorporation under the laws of California.
3. At present little more than the above is known about this organization, except that solicitors calling on the public in Los Angeles for contributions have been dressed in semi-uniform style and some of them have worn official-looking caps with cap badges attached. These men have identified themselves at first as member's of the "'Anti-Narcotic Division” thus implying that they have some official status. Several persons, however, have made further inquiry of these solicitors, at which time the latter have, always. denied any official connection with any legally constituted Governmental Agency.
4. The title of this organization resembles very closely that of an organization reported in Memorandum Report of February 15, 1955, under General File title of “The Anti-Narcotic Auxiliary of The American Mission army”, which was organized and incorporated in California by one Roosevelt Milton Gosnell.
George R. Davis
George H. White
Philip P. Rose
George H. White
The Anti-Narcotic division of the Western Missionary Army
An examination should be made of the files of the "Better Business Bureau in Los Angeles, for whatever information they may have pertaining to the Anti –Narcotics Division of the Western Missionary Army.
You should also check the Los Angeles Police Department's files concerning Spencer Stovall for any other information they may have concerning this organization.
BUREAU OF NARCOTICS
Subject of this memorandum
Additional investigation of Spencer Stovall, president and founder of this organization
Reference is made to supervisor White’s office memorandum of April 10, 1956, directing additional investigation of Spencer Stovall and the Anti-Narcotic Division of the Western Missionary Army.
Attached to this report is a copy of the file of the Los Angeles Better business Bureau concerning Spencer Stovall.
Spencer E. Stovall has an arrest record at the Los Angeles Police Department. His aliases are: Spencer Stovaall, Orson Chappie and Spancer Erskins Stovull. His LAPD# is 220461; FBI #641635; LASWO #189477; CII #22081.7-345; San Quentin #55396.
May 5, 1926 -- 6 months suspended sentence for petty theft4. The address 6801 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, where the organization is located, is a battery shed in the rear of a filling station. Stovall lives at 313 So. Clark Dr., Los Angeles, California, telephone number BR 2-0998.
At the California State employment Service, Stovall requested that they furnish him with sales people to solicit from door to door at a salary of $12.00 per day plus commission. The employment Service felt that something was wrong with the request and have not fulfilled his request.
6. I talked to Mr. frank Kelly of the Los Angeles City Social Permit Department. He told me that he has had several complaints from citizens about this organization. He believes that Stovall has either borrowed or working in conjunction with Roosevelt Milton Gosnell of the Anti-Narcotic Auxiliary of the American Mission Army. Kelly said that he chased Gosnell out of the city sometime back when he was soliciting in the same manner. Gosnell is now located in Bell California. Kelly says that Stovall is represented by an attorney who has warned Kelly to leave Stovall alone and not violate his constitutional rights. The attorney tells Kelly that Stovall is a missionary and warns him not to interfere with his religious work. Kelly intends to gather enough on Stovall to put him out of the city. I notified Mr. Kelly of Stovall’s criminal record.
7. Attached is a photograph of Stovall.
OFFICE MEMORANDUM UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
TO: Mr. H. J. Anslinger,
Commissioner of Narcotics.
FROM: Dist. Superv. George H. White,
SUBJECT: The Anti-Narcotics Auxiliary of the American Mission Army.
DATE: July 20, 1956
There is forwarded herewith as self-explanatory a letter dated July 7, 1956 and enclosures, received from the above organization. We have made no reply to the communication.
Under date of February 15, 1955 narcotic Agent George R. Davis, Los Angeles, California, submitted a memorandum report on this organization, a copy of which was forwarded to the Bureau.
FRANK I. HOGAN
Professional Bldg Pacific & Florence
Huntington Park, Calif.
This is to inform you that the Anti-Narcotics Auxiliary is a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of California, with a charter and Board of Directors. Any citizen who is interested in good government can join. Naturally any organization to operate must have funds. These funds are turned into the organization and are not used for salaries but for printing literature. Under their charter they may appoint agents and solicitors. This is an Auxiliary of the AMERICAN MISSION ARMY, a religious organization which has for its object the betterment of society. Most all the municipalities in southern California have licensed them to operate. Chief Parker of the Los Angeles police has asked the help of religious organizations work. He in effect said that this problem is so large that it can only be licked by civic co-operation and that is just what this group is doing; educating the public by research and distribution of literature. This naturally costs money. It has the same purpose and in the same category as religious etc. They do not go on the air or TV and solicit funds. They have no high powered salaried groups. They work through membership and contributions.
As you know or probably read from your police manual and the Penal Code of California that the police power in a municipal corporation is delegated to a legally constituted police force; in the county to the sheriffs. All of them are peace officers. There is also known as a citizen arrest. If I saw a person committing a felony, I can arrest him and hold him for the police. If I see a person committing a misdemeanor, I can do the same thing. So that each citizen has a reserved police power which he can exercise where a crime has been committed and no police officer is present. If any one of these people who are members of this organization see someone selling narcotics or using the same, they have the right to apprehend that person and inform the police. By their educational campaign they are educating the public and particularly the youth that the use of narcotics is dangerous and they point out the danger. They use pictures, photographs, diagrams and such like to picture this evil. In that event, they are doing not only a great and constructive work but they are trying to eradicate the evil at the roots. Naturally any group of this kind will have opposition from the underworld and may in many instances take their life in their own hands. Personally, I would not have the time but the se people have the time and the energy. I think you should co-operate with them. The old gag of the monkey is: "See no evil; hear no evil; do no evil!." They see, hear and do good.
Further it is also stated by our Federal Bureau of Narcotics that "we cannot win this fight alone. It is incumbent upon all good citizens, educators, legislators, philanthropic associations, clubs, RELIGIOUS and CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS to join in the fight for the suppression of a "vice which is spreading and has become so serious in America".
Chief Parker of the Los Angeles Police Department says: “The final answer to the dope problem is not law enforcement. While the arrest and punishment of the drug peddler is both necessary and just, and while the detention and rehabilitation of the addict is a community responsibility, these acts treat only the symptoms of the problem. Experts agree that drug addiction in the teenage group has many causes. It is a result of human weakness and may have its beginning in UNHAPPY HOMES, FAMILY TENSIONS, cultural conflicts, LACK OF PARENTAL TRAINING OR CONTROL, adolescent personality maladjustment and a variety of other causes. This booklet is designed to inform the mature public of the facts of drug addition and associated problems. It is DIRECTED TOWARD EDUCATORS, recreation and YOUTH LEADERS, PARENT ORGANIZATIONS and other CIVIL GROUPS, but is not intended for use as a school text. Your police department hopes that it will provide some information necessary for a CO-ORDINATED COMMUNITY PROGRAM TO COMBAT THE NARCOTICS MENACE”. This is the purpose of the ANTI-NARCOTICS AUXILIARY of the American Mission Army. They are conducting a literature campaign designed to reach every home possible in Southern California. Their crusade against the illegal and harmful use of narcotics is facilitated by motion pictures and constructive talks held with youth groups, clubs, churches, etc. They are following the line suggested by the Federal Bureau and the Los Angeles Police Department which should be copied by other smaller police forces and departments.
BUREAU OF NARCOTICS
SUBJECT OF THIS MEMORANDUM
Gel. R. M. Gosnell aka Rev. Roosevelt Milton Gosnell
1. In the February 15, 1955, issue of the Confidential. Bulletin of the California Intelligence Bureau, a private credit agency, there is a write-up on the above-named organization.
2. This write-up reveals the following information with respect to the Anti-Narcotics Auxiliary and to Col. R. M. Gosnell: The article relates that this organization is making an intensive effort in Los Angeles to collect money. They are distributing “give--away-for-a-donation" literature and are working house -to-house. The American Mission Army, Incorporated was organized and incorporated in California in the early part of 1954 by the Rev. Roosevelt Milton Gosnell, its president. The “Anti-Narcotics Auxiliary”, Col. R. M. Gosnell, director, is a member organization of the American Mission Army, incorporated. The literature distributed, together with business cards, states that the organization supplies “Visual Education, Anti-Narcotic Crusade, Literature Campaign, Recording Studio, Research Department, Public Speaking”. However, this grandiose prospectus is not borne out by the headquarters of the so-called “Army”, since investigation by the California Intelligence Bureau discloses that one room in the residence of the Rev. or Col. Gosnell is also the national Headquarters of the Army, the National Headquarters of the Anti-Narcotics Auxiliary, and the auditorium which is mentioned in the literature. The equipment, existence of which is implied by the above organization, consists of a sound projector, a TV set, and a recorder cutter. Solicitors have told various persons in Los Angeles that they are receiving 33 percent to 50 percent commissions on collections made by them and that “pickings are very profitable”.
3. From the above, it will be seen that this organization is neither a religious one nor an effective force in combating the narcotic traffic. It appears to be another one of the various confidence schemes promoted in Southern California over the past few years. However, it is believed that the Bureau and District Headquarters will be interested in learning of the existence and nature of this organization.
GEORGE R. DAVIS
WM. J. CRAIG
AMERICAN MISSION ARMY
6210 Otis Avenue
Bureau of Narcotics
Los Angeles, Calif:
Upon inquiry to the Better Business Bureau relative to the recent establishment of the Western Mission Army and its unincorporated Anti-Narcotics division I was referred to your Office for more information.
As you possibly know We of the AMERICAN MISSION ARMY have been operating in Los Angeles for twelve years. We Incorporated the ANTI-NARCOTICS AUXILIARY two years ago and have been publishing and distributing thousands of copies of Anti-narcotic literature, exposing the harmful use of narcotics.
Since our Anti-Narcotics Auxiliary was Incorporated we felt it an injustice and confusing to the public for Mr. Stovall whom we at one time had working for us in this educational & religious ministry, but for his violation of our contract we dismissed him. A little later he Incorporated the Western Mission Army (This makes about seven who have Incorporated a work too similar to ours in the past twelve years, most of which are now inoperative) Thus, we feel he has been too much of a copy-cat and has been doing too little.
If you can furnish me with information concerning his kind of publications on narcotics I would appreciate it.
We have exposed narcotics in an intelligent manner on the radio for the past year as well as having published tens of thousand of copies of literature on the subject. Also show free motion pictures and lecture. Enclosed is a general letter from our attorney.
Respectfully, Rev. R.M. Gosnell, Pres.
6801 Melrose Avenue
July 15, 1955
Dear Mrs. Riley,
Hello there! We’d like to introduce ourselves. I’m Spencer Stovall and my wife is Lorna. We are enclosing our portrait so that you can see what we look like.
The reason for our writing to you is that we would like to take a trip to Europe, but can’t quite afford it. We told some friends of our desire and they said that they were in the same circumstance, but that maybe we could manage the trip if we could get enough friends to write to us every month and send two dollars. In return we could send them a letter telling of our experiences, what we see and do -- describe the various lands and send along some pictures. Photography is my hobby. I have a 4x5 Speed Graphic with flash attachment and Tessar 4.5 lens.
Would you like to join us on a trip through Europe on the wings of a postage stamp? We both love to write letters (and receive them too) so I’m sure we could enjoy each other’s company in words and pictures along the way.
Our plans are to tour Hollywood here and gather interesting material . . . pictures of stars or something that would be interesting and send them to you with a letter telling you about all we see and do each month. Would you like that?
Your kindness in answering this letter will help to give us a start toward a new friendship and perhaps the realization of our dreams to see Europe. Your answer, together with enough others, but especially yours, will indicate whether we can gather enough friends around the venture to make it come true.
Please write to us as soon as you can manage and tell us what you think of our plans and tell us if you would like to join us on our tour through film land with your letters and support.
Looking forward to your early reply,
Very truly yours,
P.S. Address your letter:
Spencer and Lorna Stovall
6801 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood 38, California
From the Book --- Hell's Kitchen, The Public Enemy, The Cuneiform
“I looked in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS, saw a listing that promised all kinds of money FAST, called, got the address and walked over twenty miles the next morning to the address I had been given turning around at once to leave as soon as I got there and saw written above the entrance, “The Western Missionary Army Of God.” As I walked away I reflected that I had not had breakfast and would have neither lunch nor supper.” \
WANT TO KNOW MORE:
Due to space / download time considerations, only selected materials are displayed. If you would like to obtain more information, feel free to contact the museum. All our material is available (at cost) on CD-Rom format.