Texas in the Morning Imagination

 

"The simplest explanation is probably the right explanation."
  Occam's Razor
   
Before I begin, let me first explain I considered myself a friend of Madeleine Duncan Brown. I first met her in the early 1990s. We were at some event, most probably having to do with the Kennedy assassination. During the course of the evening she engaged in a lively retelling of her story for several guests including myself and my wife, Nikki. Later, Nikki expressed that although Madeleine was a "very nice person," she found the story of Madeleineís relationship with LBJ and in particular his fathering of her son, Steven, quite improbable.

In the mid-90s my son Randy, then in his early twenties, acted as navigator and cameraman for Harry Moses and Gus Russo. They were in Dallas looking into the possibility of a Kennedy assassination television special. Randy videotaped interviews of both Madeleine and grassy knoll "witness" Jean Hill a.k.a. "The Lady in Red." Harry Moses asked Randy what he thought of Madeleine. He replied "I think sheís a nice old woman." Conversely, Randy had little complementary to say about Jean Hill.

In July of 1997 Madeleine sent me a copy of her book Texas in the Morning. Actually authored and published by Harrison Edward Livingston, the front leaf bears the inscription:

Best always, Dave
Madeleine Brown
July 18, 1997

Madeleine Brown died on June 22, 2002. For me her death brought a renewed interest in her story. This together with the urging of a couple of friends made me decide to look into the account and see if I could prove once and for all that she was a mistress [1] of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Additionally, I would try to discover if LBJ and Madeleine were the parents of Steven Mark Brown. Steven died of lymphatic cancer on September 28, 1990.

Madeleine often claimed that many people had conspired to prevent the truth from coming out. As far as I know, the first time she presented the story in public was on Friday, November 5, 1982. At a press conference, Madeleine alleged she "was the mistress of Lyndon Baines Johnson" and decided to "clear the record." [2] Curiously, as she would reveal over four years later, she made no claim concerning Lyndon Johnsonís fathering of Steven.

Because of her allegation of cover-up I decided to limit my research to public records and statements made in the book. I recognized that while Mr. Livingston was responsible for the text, Madeleine would have proofed the book and had the right to make preemptive changes due to potential inaccuracies both historical and personal. Eliminating the use of government records forestalled charges of a cover-up on my part if the results turned out to be unfavorable.

[1] The possibility of Johnson having an affair with Madeleine is not unique. LBJ had a long term affair with Alice Glass who would later marry Austin American Statesman publisher, Charles Marsh. He also had an affair with Helen Gahagan, who later became the wife of movie actor, Melvyn Douglas.

[2] "Dallas woman claims she was LBJís lover," The Dallas Morning News 6 Nov. 1982

The seminal event of Madeleine Brownís life is described on page three of Texas in the Morning. It is important as it details how Madeleine first met her prospective paramour and future President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson.

"Glenn Advertising. This is Madeleine Brown."

"Madeleine" I immediately recognized the familiar voice.

"Jesse Kellam here. I figured youíd still be hanging around the sweatshop."

Jesse was a close friend of Lyndon Johnsonís, and now managed the congressmanís radio station, KTBC, in the Texas capitol, Austin. Glenn Advertising frequently purchased blocks of airtime from KTBC for its many varied clients and since my promotion to the position of "media buyer" Jesse and I had developed a close, mutually beneficial business relationship.

"Listen," Jesse continued, "I know itís late notice, but I would love for you to be my guest this evening at a party KTBC is throwing at the Adolphus Hotel to celebrate Johnsonís senatorial victory over Coke Stevenson." This election came to be known as the infamous "Box 13" scandal, and Johnsonís credibility was forever after questioned.

Visions of a lavish party at the grande dame of great hotels with women in fashionable, elegant gowns and oil-rich men in western-style tuxedos made my blood rush, but I answered in a cool, measured tone of professionalism.

"Jesse, I would be honored. What time should I arrive?" "Eight oíclock sharp at the Crystal Ballroom." [3]

Reviewing pages nine through eleven, Madeleine arrives at the event and is totally intoxicated by the "elegant but chaotic party", is engaged in conversation with "the tall, creamy-skinned socialite Alice Glass from Marlin, Texas", and finds LBJ so taken with her beauty that he declares:

"Duty calls and I must leave you now and join Bird in making social appearances around the room. But I would be absolutely delighted if you could see fit to attend Austinís Box 13 victory campaign at the Driskill in three weeks." [4]

My investigation began by backtracking the "three weeks" from the date of the "Box 13 victory campaign at the Driskill" Hotel in Austin. On page 12 Madeleine reproduces the formal invitation which gives the date of "October 29, 1948." Check a calendar and the 29th was a Friday. Three weeks prior would be Friday the 8th or possibly Saturday the 9th. This then could be the date(s) of the "lavish party" held at the Adolphus. It was now a simple matter to check the local newspapers for their take on the gala. The three were The Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Times Herald and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

[3] Madeleine Brown, Texas in the Morning (Baltimore, MD: The Conservatory Press, 1997), 3.

[4] Ibid., 9.

Almost immediately I found the Adolphus "victory" party could not be held three weeks prior to the Driskill affair because Johnson was in Washington, DC. On that weekend (October 8th through 10th) victory had not been secured. It wasnít until Tuesday, October 12th that:

"Rep. Lyndon B. Johnson, certified as the Democratic nominee for United States Senator, will make a few speeches in Texas prior to the general election he said here Tuesday."

They will not be campaign speeches, but are engagements that were made some time ago.í Johnson explained." [5]

Wishing to be fair, although somewhat dumbfounded that Ms. Brown got the date of this very important event wrong, I continued searching the newspapers. It turned out that LBJ did return to Texas via Dallas but not for the purpose Madeleine describes.

The day of Johnsonís visit to Dallas was actually Friday, October 22, 1948 just one week before the date on the KTCB invitation. He was in town to give a luncheon speech before the Dallas Reserve Officers Association. His pre-speech comments to the media are most revealing. A detailed account is found in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram of Saturday, October 23rd.

Not Talking Politics

He arrived here Thursday night, but he wasnít talking politics, either in private or before the reserve officers.

Johnson said he would make several speeches next week, all non-political, before groups which have invited him to speak. No radio broadcasts and no political rallies had been planned for the next 10 days before the Nov. 2 general election.

Johnson had nothing to say about his Republican opponent, Jack Porter of Houston, or about a Senate subcommitteeís action in sending an investigator to Texas at the request of his primary opponent Coke Stevenson. [6]

Using Madeleineís own words and timeline, she attended a "victory" party at the Adolphus when Johnson was in Washington. Additionally, the celebration she claims to have attended was held at least two days before LBJ was certified as the Democratic nominee!

Madeleine indicated that LBJ invited her to Austin for the ". . . Box 13 victory campaign at the Driskill. . ." LBJís choice of words is rather strange. Why did LBJ invite Madeleine to a "victory campaign" instead of a victory celebration or party? The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines campaign as "a connected series of operations designed to bring about a particular result i.e. election campaign." LBJ made it clear that, "No radio broadcasts and no political rallies (have) been planned for the next 10 days before the Nov. 2 general election."

Madeleine is the one who decides that the "victory campaign" is a party.

[5] "A Few Texas Talks In Johnsonís Plans," The Dallas Morning News 13 Oct. 1948: A1

[6] "Soviets Await Striking Day, Says Johnson," Fort Worth Star Telegram 23 Oct. 1948: A1-2

"I handed him (Ward Wilcox ~ her boss) the invitation. ĎIíve been invited to a party KTBC is throwing in Austin in three weeks.í Then my heart quickened as I asked, ĎDo I have permission to attend?" [7]

There is also a problem with the term "Box 13" as used in context with LBJís verbal invitation.

At that time, Johnson was keeping a low profile because of an investigation of improprieties in voting records for Jim Wells, Duval, and Zapata Counties (see Dallas Morning News October 13, 1948, Front page). Box 13 was a term used later with reference to inconsistencies with voting records in Jim Wells County only.

Madeleine admits as much in her book.

"An FBI investigation months after the election uncovered that 202 of Lyndonís South Texas supporters had voted in alphabetical order in the ĎBox 13í precinct" [8] (emphasis mine)

Would Johnson actually know in advance that voting problems in Jim Wells County would be called the "Box 13" scandal and would he really want to celebrate this budding predicament with a gala at the Driskill on the 29th?

As of October 13th, Johnson was being verbally and legally assaulted with claims of fraud from his Democratic opponent Coke Stevenson, a group of "Statesí Righters" led by John Spann of San Antonio, and The Dallas Morning News. On October 16th The Dallas Morning News endorsed Johnsonís Republican opponent, Jack Porter. Under the caption "Shadow of Doubt Covers Johnson" The Dallas Morning News stated, "Mind you, no court has held that Mr. Johnson has been nominated either legally or honestly."

I felt I had discovered enough to dispel the notion of a lavish party at the Adolphus celebrating LBJís "victory." Just to be sure I decided to check all three papers for evidence of the party. Madeleine claimed the guest list included the likes of John Connally, Alice Glass, Jesse Kellam, Charles Marsh, Clint Murchison, and Sid Richardson. [9] I was sure at least one newspaper would cover the affair.

I reviewed each paper, page by page, from Thursday, October 21st through and including Monday, October 25th. There are stories with photographs of society teas, club meetings of the wives of local attorneys, and the usual wedding announcements. However, not one word, not one picture appears in any of the three papers of the "large crowd of socially prominent Texans (that) had crammed themselves into the ballroom" [10] or the "women in fashionable, elegant gowns and oil-rich men in western-style tuxedos." [11]

[7] Brown, 13.

[8] Brown, 12-13.

[9] Brown, 7.

[10] Brown, 6.

[11] Brown, 3.

Sadly, the whole scenario appears to be a complete fabrication.

Having discovered this incongruity I decided to press onward and find out if other claims in the book were misleading, inaccurate, or false.

Most notably I felt the celebration at the Driskill Hotel must now be called into question. No photograph of the invitation appears in the book. She received the invitation with ". . . a bouquet of two dozen red roses. The floristís card said only, ĎHereís to New Beginnings.í" [12]

Madeleine more than implies the roses, card, and invitation came from LBJ. It was a direct result of LBJís verbal invitation given at the non-existent party at the Adolphus. Under the circumstances I should think Madeleine would have kept the actual item rather than rely on printing what purports to be the invitation on page 12 as shown below.

Radio Station KTBC Ė Austin
Requests the Pleasure of Your Company
At the Maximilian Room

The Driskill Hotel

Dinner will be served 8 P.M.
Dancing to Midnight

October 29, 1948 Ė RSVP Letís review some of the problems:

  • Madeleineís apologists could claim the invitation, although not actually produced, would prove Madeleine had some contact with LBJ. Not so. The mere possession of the invitation does not mean that Madeleine or Johnson, for that matter, attended. I have invitation No. 1042 to the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast given for John F. Kennedy. The event took place on the morning of November 22, 1963, but I was not a member of the audience.

Since the Adolphus party never occurred, how, if at all, did LBJ deliver his verbal invitation? Could there be another reason why Madeleine received the flowers, card and invitation? Did any of this happen exactly as was claimed?

  • Johnson specifically told the press that nothing of significance would take place until the "Nov. 2 general election." A gala celebration would be contrary to Johnsonís declaration to the media. Also remember The Dallas Morning News threw itsí support to his Republican opponent as the paper felt Johnson was not a legal candidate. If The Dallas Morning News found anything negative about LBJ, they would certainly report it.
  • Madeleine claimed LBJ personally invited her and, as a result, she received a formal invitation to the "Box 13 victory campaign at the Driskill." If true why does the invitation fail to name the event? Why doesnít Johnsonís name appear? If the invitation is reproduced accurately then it is merely an invitation to a party given by radio station KTBC.

[12] Brown, 12.

One might consider Madeleine was really invited because she was a "media buyer" with "a spacious new office, complete with (my) own personal secretary." [13] Supporting this contention is the fact that when asked in 1982 the Johnson family indicated that Brown, ". . . had purchased radio advertising time from the Johnsonís stations in Austin." [14]

  • Madeleineís arrival at the party is also questionable.

"The flight from Dallas to Austin was smooth. Only my stomach was turbulent, and soon the pilot announced we would be on the ground in seven minutes. As I stole a quick glance out the window, I saw KTBCís mobile news unit awaiting my arrival as Jesse (Kellam) had prearranged." [15]

What purpose does this serve? I canít think of any reason why the radio station would send a mobile news unit. Now some might contend it was a television mobile news unit. There is a problem with this theory.

"From 1948 - 1952 there were no construction permits issued for TV stations while the FCC decided how it was going to assign channels for the new medium. Ladybird Johnson received the first permit after the freeze was lifted in 1952." [16]

  • There was no KTBC television at the time of Madeleineís trip on October 29, 1948.
  • Since Madeleine indicates it was KTBCís mobile news unit, what sort of news did they expect her to provide? What was she going to say? Certainly KTBC staff, if they knew, would not want her to reveal the bossí secret affair.
  • I believe what is more likely is the news unit was in reality a vehicle sent to drive her to the hotel. Why would KTBC waste a news crew when a car or limousine would do?

Another explanation is that Madeleine recently started buying advertising time from the station. The invitation, "Hereís to new beginnings" card and flowers could be interpreted as nothing more than the station inviting a new customer to a promotional party for their advertisers.

I concluded she had expanded a KTBC radio station party into a full blown "victory campaign" leading to an affair with LBJ!

Madeleine seems to have a continuing problem with festivities involving the rich and powerful of Texas. Here is a quote from the preface to the book.

"Most startling of all, we hear in Brownís own words about the party she attended the night before President Kennedyís terrible murder - a party at Clint Murchisonís home in Dallas attended by Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, John J. McCloy, and others of his rich, famous and powerful friends. Only John Kennedy wasnít there.

[13] Brown, 26.

[14] "Dallas woman claims she was LBJís lover," The Dallas Morning News 6 Nov. 1982:

[15] Brown, 14.

[16] http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Set/1459/ktbc.html

It was at that party, on November 21, 1963, that the men were drawn aside to a private meeting, and given the outline of the assassination of President Kennedy the following day. When LBJ emerged anxious and red-faced, he told Madeleine Brown, ĎAfter tomorrow those goddamn Kennedys will never embarrass me againó thatís no threatóthatís a promise!í" [17]

To dispel any doubts about the nature of this event, one must understand that Madeleine always referred to the party taking place at the home of Clint Murchison Sr. It is good theater but it never happened. As with the Adolphus gathering there is not one mention of this party in any newspaper. Gary Mack investigated the scenario many years ago. I have added notes in bold to expand the report.

Madeleine has claimed over the years that she attended a party at Clint Murchisonís house the night before the assassination and LBJ, Hoover and Nixon were there. The party story, without LBJ, first came from Penn Jones in Forgive My Grief III (pp. 84 Ė 86) In that version, the un-credited source was a black chauffeur whom Jones didnít identify, and the explanation Jones gave was that it was the last chance to decide whether or not to kill JFK. Of course, Hoover used only top FBI agents for transportation and in the FBI of 1963, none were black.

Actually, there is no confirmation for a party at Murchisonís. I asked Peter OíDonnell because Madeleine claimed he was there, too. Peter said there was no party. Madeleine even said there was a story about it in the Herald (Dallas Times Herald) some months later (which makes no sense), but she had not been able to find it. Val Imm (Society Editor of the Dallas Times Herald) told Bob Porter (of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza staff) recently she had no memory of such an event and even looked through her notes - in vain. [18]

Could LBJ have been at a Murchison party? No. LBJ was seen and photographed in the Houston Coliseum with JFK at a dinner and speech. They flew out around 10pm and arrived at Carswell (Air Force Base in northwest Fort Worth) at 11:07 Thursday night. Their motorcade to the Hotel Texas arrived about 11:50 and LBJ was again photographed. He stayed in the Will Rogers suite on the 13th floor and Manchester (William Manchester - author of The Death of a President) says he was up late.

Could Nixon have been at Murchisonís party? No. Tony Zoppi (Entertainment Editor of The Dallas Morning News) and Don Safran (Entertainment Editor of the Dallas Times Herald) saw Nixon at the Empire Room at the Statler-Hilton. He walked in with Joan Crawford (Movie actress). Robert Clary (of Hoganís Heroes fame) stopped his show to point them out, saying ". . . either you like him or you donít." Zoppi thought that was in poor taste, but Safran said Nixon laughed. Zoppiís deadline was 11pm, so he stayed until 10:30 or 10:45 and Nixon was still there.

[17] Brown, Preface

[18] Val Immís oral history with respect to this episode appears at the end of this paper.

Depending on which version of her story she has told, Madeleine claims it was at the party or the next morning when LBJ supposedly said "After today those damn Kennedys will never embarrass me again," That, of course, meant Kennedy was going to be killed. (So where was Madeleine while LBJ was with Lady Bird?)

Actually, there were only two potentially "embarrassing" events IF LBJ ever made such a statement. The most likely was the not-so-secret talk about dumping LBJ from the Ď64 ticket. Nixon commented about it in an interview at his hotel the afternoon before the assassination and both papers mentioned it. Another possibility was the continuing Yarborough-Johnson squabble in which Ralph (Yarborough) wouldnít even ride in the same motorcade car with Lyndon. JFK said to Connally, as he has testified, "You tell him heíll ride, or heíll walk." [19]

Even Jim Marrs considered "a celebrity on the conspiracy circuit" [20] has trouble with the story.

"Madeleine Brown, reported to be Johnsonís mistress for twenty years, has publicly stated that Johnson had foreknowledge of the assassination.

But did Johnson really have enough power to initiate the assassination and force literally dozens of government officials and agents to lie and cover up that fact?

Probably not." [21]

There is more. I was contacted in mid-August 2002 by Greg Jaynes as he knew I was working on the Madeleine Brown story. His research on Clint Murchisonís life resulted in another avenue for me to follow. Greg informed me he had the telephone number of Clint Murchisonís personal chauffer, Warren Tilley. On August 21, 2002 I called the Tilley residence. Unfortunately, I was unable to speak with Mr. Tilley as he is totally disabled and unable to speak. I was able to talk with his wife, Eula. Mrs. Tilley informed me both she and her husband had worked for Mr. Murchison for many years, up to the time of his death (in 1969).

I asked her if she remembered anything about Mr. Murchison giving a party at the time of the Kennedy assassination. Her response was as follows:

"Both Warren and I worked for Mr. Murchison for a long time. He had seven houses, you know. He had one in Acapulco and we would go there to take care of him. I know he wasnít at any party when Kennedy was shot. He did not have a home in the Dallas area. He was at his Glad Oaks Ranch between Athens and Palestine (Texas). Iím not sure how long before the assassination we were at the ranch but it was more than a few days. I remember because I was serving lunch to Mr. Murchison and his neighbor Woffard Cain. One of them said Kennedy had been shot."

Mrs. Tilley went on to explain that several years before Mr. Murchison had a stroke and was "very sick." He would have not been able to host such a "party" if he wanted to.

[19] Gary Mack, Memo of May 14, 1997.

[20] Robert Wilonsky, The Truth Is Way Out There (The Dallas Observer, 07/06/2000), 5.

[21] Jim Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy (New York, NY: Carroll & Graf, 1990), 298.

Her comments are verified and amplified by a September 20, 2002 article authored by Dallas Morning News reporter, Alan Peppard. Peppardís research for, Familyís history in estate indicates,

"After Clint Sr.'s 1958 stroke, he traded houses with his son John (who died in 1979), and the estate became a showcase for the eye-popping contemporary art the younger Murchison collected with his wife, Lupe (who died last year from cancer)."

Not only do we now have at least two "parties" that could not be documented by Madeleine but we have the situation that Mr. Murchison Sr. had moved out of the home in question at least four years prior to the assassination!

Chapter 4 is entitled "Minks, Flowers, and Loneliness." It opens as Ray Glenn, Madeleineís current employer, stops by to tell her Fred Florence, her old boss, was inquiring about her success. Glenn informed Florence that Madeleine was doing very well indeed. Although Glenn knew Madeleine worked for Fred he wanted to know how they met.

"I explained that when I was a student at Dallasí W.H.Adamson High School, Mr. Florence [22] had initiated a unique introductory program to banking in all the Dallas-area schools. Every Tuesday was "Banking Day" and a student could bank an amount as small as a dime. (Thatís when a dime was really worth ten cents.) After passing several tests, I was selected by the principal, H.A. Allen, to serve as an administrative assistant to aid other students in making their weekly deposits." [23]

Madeleine Duncan graduated from W.H. Adamson High School in 1943. The schoolís yearbook is the "Oak." She is not listed on any superlative page. However, she is one of twelve other girls who assisted "Mrs. Geraldine Holloway, Mr. Allenís secretary, by answering telephones, making transcripts, and running errands." This is a far cry from the Administrative Assistant for Banking Day.

More to the point, the term administrative assistant is a modern one, not used in 1943. There is no reference in the yearbook to a Banking Club. However, there is one photograph of the Savings club. You can clearly make out an adult female advisor along with at least sixteen students either seated or at the blackboard. Madeleine is not shown as a standout nor is she mentioned in the caption which reads:

"This group is one of the smallest in Adamson, but the part it plays is great. No one needs to be told the value of that part. The picture tells only a bit of the complete story. Since April 1, 1943, savings have increased perceptibly and the War Bond and Stamp sales have grown extensively."

This caption shows the schoolís interest was not in banking as Madeleine claimed but "War

[22] Fred Florence was the President of Republic National Bank of Dallas.

[23] Brown, 23.

Bond and Stamp" sales. Furthermore, the War Bond program was not unique to Dallas schools nor invented by Fred Florence. Schools throughout the nation participated in purchasing US Government savings stamps or placing dimes in pre-printed punch cards. The purpose was to save the stamps or dimes and redeem them for United States War Bonds.

I was now convinced much of what the book offered was either embellished or just plain made up. So what of the stories about Steven being LBJís son?

On June 1, 1987 Steven Mark Brown filed a 10.5 million dollar lawsuit against Ladybird Johnson claiming "My legal birthrights have been violated and a conspiracy was formed to deprive me of my legal heirship." He accused two friends of Johnson, Jess C. Kellam of Austin and Jerome T. Ragsdale of Dallas, of participating in the conspiracy. [24]

Much of what is claimed does not come from Steven but from Madeleine, who the article quotes more extensively than Steven. Madeleine had filed an affidavit and was providing the newspaper with a synopsis. She indicated "Ragsdale later claimed to have fathered the child himself." She declared this was to shield Johnson from adverse publicity.

I was now faced with attempting to prove a negative. Ragsdale said he was the father while Madeleine claimed it was LBJ. And I was becoming not only annoyed but very distrustful of this claim. How convenient that all parties needed to prove or rebut the charge save Madeleine were long dead.

Lyndon Johnson, 01/22/73 ~ Jesse Kellam, 10/11/77 ~ Jerome Ragsdale, 04/08/78

It was also obvious Steven was filing the suit based solely upon what his mother had told him.

"In February of 1987, I was hospitalized after a heart attack and called Steven to my bedside. I wanted to get everything ready so I could go to the other side peacefully.

ĎSteven, I know there are things you have worried about,í I said, Ďand I feel I have done you a great injustice. I want to ask your forgiveness for allowing something

like this to happen.í

He looked at me intently and asked, ĎMother, who really is my father?í

ĎLyndon Baines Johnson was your father.í While in one sense blissful tranquility overcame me, I winced in agony, awaiting his reaction." [25]

He was also representing himself!

"Steven prepared to take the state bar exam in order to legally represent himself in his own lawsuit. It would be his first case, in fact, and he felt his success would be overwhelming." [26]

[24] "Man claims to be LBJís son," The Dallas Morning News 19 Jun. 1987: 34A

[25] Brown, 227.

[26] Brown, 228.

Are we to believe that Steven is capable of taking the state bar exam without legal schooling?

He did graduate from Texas A&M University in June, 1975 but contrary to his motherís assertion there is no proof "he aspired to be an attorney." [27] His goal actually lay in the direction of military service. In high school, coincidentally W.H. Adamson, he was a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) instructional staff, Texas A&M is a military based university boasting a corps of cadets of "more than 2,000 members; the nation's largest uniformed student body other than the service academies" [28], and after school he was a United States Naval Operations Supervisor. So we end up with a legal neophyte preparing and filing a 10.5 million dollar lawsuit against Lady Bird Johnson!

The case never came to much for it was dismissed in 1989 ". . . when Mr. Brown, then a naval operations specialist, failed to appear in court." [29] This, however, was not the case in Madeleineís view. She felt Steven was being pressured to drop the lawsuit.

"Then on a Saturday afternoon, I received a devastating letter from the Grand Prairie Naval Air Station. This base was approximately ten minutes from our home, and was the same base Steven had received his military discharge from ten years earlier.

They claimed Steven was a deserter!" [30]

[27] Ibid.

[28] Texas A&M University, http://www.tamu.edu/

[29] "Man who claimed to be LBJís son dies at 39," The Dallas Morning News 3 Oct. 1990: A33

[30] Brown, 229.

On page 230 Madeleine indicates two Vietnam veterans appear at her doorstep shortly thereafter, apparently to arrest Steven. She has to defend her son. "I donít know where he is. Why donít you check his home or call him on the telephone?í Then I added, ĎHe was discharged from the Navy ten years ago!"

"I showed them the mailgram; and also a copy of Stevenís medical report indicating a diagnosis of lymphatic cancer. I defended my son, pointing out that he had never been a deserter."

I promised I would not use government documents to support or refute any of Madeleineís claims. I have done this because the more mistrustful researchers would claim the appropriate records were altered or destroyed as part of a cover-up. I can, however, use logic to ask questions.

If Steven, "received his military discharge ten years earlier." based upon the language in the book this means ten years prior to the filing of the lawsuit on June 18, 1987. The date of discharge would be sometime during 1977. If true, since Steven graduated from Texas A&M in June of 1975, why would his discharge come only after 2Ĺ years of service?

One might consider this a possibility when Madeleine explains that Steven was given a "humanitarian" discharge, "because of family emergencies involving his invalid and blind grandmother, and crippled aunt suffering from a series of strokes."

Here are the questions/problems:

Why would Steven need a discharge for "family emergencies" when he was working at a base not more than ten miles from home? And donít think he was confined to the base:

"While stationed with the US Navy in Dallas, he was Republican Party precinct chairman and election judge in Precinct 4434.

He also helped restore the Oak Cliff Historical District and was project manager for the Jefferson Avenue Beautification Project, said his mother, Madeleine Brown" [31]

[31] "Man who claimed to be LBJís son dies at 39," The Dallas Morning News 3 Oct. 1990: A33

Why would Madeleine claim Steven was discharged when The Dallas Morning News reported he was still working for the Navy?

Why would he be subject to arrest ten years after the alleged discharge?

Madeleineís discussion of Stevenís desertion from the Navy does not match the information she supplied for Stevenís obituary.

To continue ~

Outside of Madeleineís word, the proof of the relationship with LBJ rests on a somewhat dubious picture of "Madeleine brown (sic), son Steven, and his father, Senator Johnson (back to the camera) at a party." in the photographic section of the book.

Then there is an ill defined letter from Jerome T. Ragsdale dated May 18, 1973 and reproduced below. As you read the Ragsdale letter remember that Steven was twenty-two years of age when it was written. Legally the terms of any agreement should have been reviewed when Steven reached age eighteen, not twenty-two.

 

Jerome T. Ragsdale
Attorney and Counselor at Law
1807 Mercantile Bank Building
Dallas, Texas 75201
May 18, 1973

Mrs. Madeleine Brown

218 South Windomere Avenue Dallas, Texas

Dear Madeleine:

Thanks so much for breaking your plans and meeting with Jess and me in Houston last week. I sincerely hope we did not inconvenience you in any way. Those of us that were close to Lyndon are saddened by his recent death. It is fortunate that he died at the ranch; he would have wanted it that way. It is unfortunate, however, that he died so bitter and tormented.

As we discussed in Houston, you have my personal assurance that I will continue with the financial arrangements that Lyndon provided for you and Steve throughout the past. I know you were very concerned about this and I simply wanted to relieve your mind.

As always, if you need additional funds for you and Steveís living expenses, please do not hesitate to call me. Of course, I will continue to make weekly home visits to verify you and Steveís welfare.

Sincerely yours, (Signature Jerome R?)

Jerome T. Ragsdale

JTR:mm

Enc.

Based upon the bookís continued occurrence of questionable claims, this letter made no sense. The only connection to Johnson was that it was written shortly after his death on January 22, 1973.

How could this letter be of any importance?

Sometime after March 27, 1950 Madeleine tells LBJ she is pregnant. Johnson responds, "I'll arrange it so that this lawyer, Jerome Ragsdale, takes the fall for the pregnancy." [32] Shortly thereafter, Jerome Ragsdale arrives with a contract. "I would receive $200 cash per week for living expenses, which would increase to $500 upon birth; a raft of joint charge cards with accounts listed in the names of Jerome T. Ragsdale and Madeleine Duncan Brown; a new sixroom house, a live-in maid to assist in the care of the baby; and, in addition, all bills were to be presented to Mr. Ragsdale for payment." [33] Madeleine is very happy with the agreement and it looks like Lyndon has covered all the bases by assigning Stevenís paternity to Jerome Ragsdale.

Why then, as the letter shows, is it necessary for Jerome Ragsdale to bring her to Houston to meet with her in the presence of Jesse Kellam? Where is her copy of the original agreement? Why the need to explain the terms of an agreement already in place? Where, since she had possession, is any of the ". . . raft of joint charge cards?" What is the name of the "live-in maid?" Why the need to provide such a generic non-legal letter as proof?

There are still more questions. Since the "agreement" began sometime in April of 1950 and was still in force in May of 1973 why was there the need for Madeleine, sometime in 1961, to enter into a "paper marriage" with Mr. Charles G. West?

"(J. Edgar) Hoover knows Iím fucking around and it is causing heat in Washington and especially with Bird. He knows about you and Steven and heís calling in his marker," Lyndon said, lowering his head. "If I donít get Kennedy to waive his mandatory retirement, Hooverís threatening to go public about our relationship. Iíd rather have Hoover inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in."

I knew that Hooverís blackmail threat was intimidating Lyndon, an unlikely and uncomfortable position for the master intimidator himself.

"So I need your help, Madeleine." "What can I do, Lyndon?"

"Iíve talked it over with Jesse and Ragsdale and we think you should get married so it would take some of the heat off me. People, especially my Bird, donít suspect married women."

[32] Brown, 60.

[33] Ibid., 61.

"In a few weeks, Charles G. West (who later committed suicide) [34], and I were married "on paper" in a very short, unceremonial civil service by a justice of the peace. Evidently our charade was successful in derailing Hooverís blackmail threats, as President Kennedy took immediate steps to make Lyndon the most active vice president in history." [35]

If anyone can make any sense out of this, they need to let me know. Back in 1950, Johnson had already arraigned for Jerome Ragsdale to "take the fall" for the birth. We are now informed that eleven years later the charade has fallen through? Madeleine, who is prone to identify every big name in Texas society she socialized with, fails to provide documentation for this marriage. She never gives the date, place, or name of the Justice of the Peace. Based upon previous "stories" she tells about her life I wonder if the "paper marriage" ever took place. The reason for it is, in my view, her allegation is beyond belief. Also the claim that "Lyndon (became) the most active vice president in history." is historically inaccurate.

So what do I make of the Ragsdale letter? Could it, as the Adolphus party, be a fabrication? In my life I have seen many letters written by attorneys. This one looked a little suspect to me.

Some curiosities are contained in the two sentences, "As always, if you need additional funds for you and Steveís living expenses, please do not hesitate to call me. Of course, I will continue to make weekly home visits to verify you and Steveís welfare."

Why is it necessary to point out that she can call if she needs additional funds when Ragsdale is making weekly visits to check on her and Stephenís welfare? And why is it necessary to stop by the house on a weekly basis anyway?

Another problem is found with the ENC at the end of the letter. For those with little business experience it means ENCLOSURE. Something was enclosed with the letter. It is highly unusual for anyone, particularly an attorney, not to reference the subject of the enclosure in the body of the letter.

I decided not all attorneys are members of Mensa. I needed additional proof. It came to me in a strange way.

Checking the Dallas courtís computers at the suggestion of Gary Mack and from information he supplied, I noticed nine, thatís right nine, court cases involving Madeleine Brown. Three were of real interest in relationship to the book. They are:

  • 7802246T Jerome T. Ragsdale vs. M. Brown IND EXTRX estate status DECD (July 27, 1978)
  • 8007818D O CL B&T Co vs. M. Brown etal Debt Note (etal details indicate Steven Mark Ragsdale) (July 29, 1980)
  • F9103481 M. Brown vs. State of Texas (November 6, 1992)

[34] Another individual who cannot verify Madeleineís version of events.

[35] Ibid., 139-140

The first two are old cases and I have ordered the files. I will be notified when they arrive. The third was most revealing.

F9103481 M. Brown vs. State of Texas (November 6, 1992)

The State asserted "Appellant, acting through her attorney, filed wills purporting to be those of Guy and Jessie Duncan on January 3, 1989."

Guy Duncan died on September 21, 1988 and his wife Jessie died November 28, 1988. The probate court subsequently discovered the true will was filed by Gary Dalton. The State then prosecuted Madeleine Brown for the offense of FORGERY.

There was a jury trial. During the trial Deborah Abbe testified, in November of 1988 after Guy Duncanís death, she typed the will for Madeleine. Earnest Mason testified he signed the will as a witness but did not, at the time, know the document was a will. Opal Miller, probate clerk of the Dallas County Clerkís office, testified she received Madeleineís version of the will from Attorney Miles Brown (no relation). Fundamentally, through Attorney Miles Brown the Probate Court received Guy Duncanís will forged by Madeleine along with his signature, also forged by Madeleine.

The jury concluded, "It is therefore found and adjudged by the court, that the said Defendant is guilty of the offense of forgery, a 2nd degree felony as charged in the indictment." The punishment "as has been determined by the Court, (was) confinement in the Texas Department of Corrections for 10 years and a fine of $500.00." Possibly because of her advanced age (She was 67 at the time.) the sentence was modified to "a period of 10 years" probation. [36]

Now there are some who I assume already know about this particular case. They realize that the case was appealed and they will no doubt claim Madeleine was found not guilty. That is not true. The appellate court merely reversed the decision of the lower court on a technicality. Madeleine had an attorney file the will rather than doing it herself. Based solely on that fact, the appellate court reversed her conviction. But none of this discounts the reality that Madeleine Brown had Deborah Abbe prepare a forged instrument and then forged Guy Duncanís name for presentation to the probate court.

As the additional cases come in I will provide synopses of each.

Joe Nickell, author of Crime Science: Methods of Forensic Detection, has investigated this type of claim many times before. He has discovered, ". . . the historical evidence diminishes as we work backward to the alleged hoax, whereas, conversely, details of the story increase the farther they are from the supposed event." [37]

There is an old saying that "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." Texas in the Morning provides nothing but refutable anecdotal evidence. For me personally, I have concluded that from beginning to end the story of Madeleine Brownís romantic and sexual relationship with Lyndon Baines Johnson cannot be verified using public records.

I extend a challenge to anyone to refute with documentation the information contained in this paper.

[36] Cause No. 07-93-0230 Ė CR, styled MADELEINE BROWN V. THE STATE OF TEXAS

[37] Joe Nickell, Real-Life X-Files (Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2001), 100.

I will make any material I have collected available to researchers for the photocopy and postage costs.

Dave Perry

October 26, 2002

Copyright © 2002 by David B. Perry All rights reserved