• By Kirk Gaw

Urban Legends 4 - Last Days At The Bloody Bucket Tavern

While, growing up in Walkerton I heard my share of urban legends. I'm certain that many of us have learned our own. This is one Halloween story that will intrigue your minds! Here is one of several to be included for Walkerton Page readers before Halloween 2020.

St. Joseph County Sherriff detectives investigate the scene of a murder at 1004 Roosevelt Rd. in Walkerton. 38 year old Ben Williams Jr. was killed one Friday night in 1977. Officer Frank Canarecci takes information while, Detective John McAllister examines distances.

The Bloody Bucket Murders At 1004 Roosevelt

It wasn't long ago while, Red Hot's was still operating that Walkerton folks referred to the place as "The Bloody Bucket" when arranging to meet up for drinks. It was as if the place built during the 1940's on the east side of town had a curse on it? Some townsfolk knew right away about the distinctive rap the joint across from the Hiler Casting Foundry got after the tragedies that happened there. For some families the reputed tavern hit close to home if ever they did pass by.

Do younger generations know why it was referred to as "The Bloody Bucket?" Its name wasn't from the nearby Chicago mafia. It certainly did not gain the notoriety from bike gangs? And certainly it wasn't because of robberies gone wrong. The legends of "The Bloody Bucket" Tavern came between bartenders and regular customers. Actually, there existed 2 separate, varied incidents at 1004 Roosevelt.

The first tragedy that happened there in 1949 was actually the time that the synonymous name for this legend began. 70 year old John Klingerman was an unemployed trucker who took up potato farming while he was drawing government relief. He kept a roadside stand where he sold the popular vegetable. He also, was a customer at the Star Cafe, a popular tavern across the street from the Charles O. Hiler Casting Foundry.

Workers would take lunches there or break after shifts were complete to have a snack and a drink. 72 year old lead bartender Ory Jackson was a former classmate with John Klingerman. They both attended Walkerton schools together. Ory frequently visited with his younger cousin, 53 year old Lester Jackson at the tavern and according to Star owner Emery Flaugher all three men were regular hunting partners!

John Klingerman attended the bar regularly to try to keep up with his friends for good standing and hoped for future employment. Until, one day the rumor spreading about John Klingerman being on welfare and as a loser took a toll on his self-esteem. He really felt Ory and Lester were his friends. They teased him very heavily one early July afternoon and were not aware that Klingerman had been depressed.

Klingerman had his family and wife Greta to think about. He was burdened from not being able to keep up with his peers. That July 8th had taken its toll on Klingerman. Ory Jackson and cousin Lester did not really know the extent of the sadness of John Klingerman.

According to St. Joseph County Sherriff, Stephen C. Hipsack the teasing about being on relief and selling roadside potatoes had been enough for Klingerman. He left the Star tavern very upset and drove off to get his rifle. He was gonna scare Ory and Lester Jackson! He ended up more than scaring them. He returned with the loaded rifle and began the shooting by hitting bartender Ory Jackson with one single bullet killing him instantly. At the same time while Lester was seated at his favorite bar stool, John Klingerman unloaded 3 more shots killing him too.

53 year old, Walkertonian, Edgar Asch was the only witness to the horrific scene. He managed to wrestle the gun away from John Klingerman. 53 year old Star owner Emery Flaugher who was not present during the shootings said he knew of no previous ill feelings between the men who were long time friends?

Edgar Asch described the terror. He said, "I was sitting at the table at the center of the room drinking beer when I saw John Klingerman enter through the doorway with a rifle in his hand."

"I heard a shot and saw Ory Jackson fall behind the bar."

"I started to get up until, I next saw Lester Jackson get shot up while he was sitting at the bar."

"I turned and wrestled the gun out of John's hand."

"First, I threw the gun towards the rear of the tavern on the outside."

"Then, I proceeded towards town for help while, holding Klingerman!"

"We waited for the cops. Then, I turned him over to the Walkerton Police who arrested him."

It was only a week that passed after the bar reopened that a regular patron, name unknown, had already coined the Star as the "Bloody Bucket" since, Ory Jackson was photographed shot lying over the well behind the bar. Marilyn Seiders-Brantley even remembered and said, "That is when the bar down there got the name of the "Bloody Bucket!" The address would wait another 28 years for the next dreadful moment to happen, reinforcing the already gory, calamatous fame that had taken hold.

Back during the year 1977 the Vietnam War had only ended 2 years earlier about April of 1975. Proud, 38 year old veteran Ben Williams a friend of my Mom and Dad, attended the same parties. He kept a rivalry with proud vet, 47 year old, Lewis Everly who lived down the street from Ben's sister Helen Harness. He also, attended the same American Legion and VFW places between Walkerton and North Liberty. Both Williams and Everly were veterans who served multiple tours of duty at Vietnam. They were known to argue over just about anything, including women and who served as bravest soldiers over in Asia?

One Friday night everything changed. Drinking heavily with Lewis Everly, Ben Williams charged him with flirting with his lady. He also, charged Everly with not being as good a fellow soldier overseas during Vietnam. Things got out of hand between both Williams and Everly. The bartender intervened breaking up the argument at the bar. He asked both men if they didn't like it to take their argument elsewhere because they were scaring other patrons. The passionate men did not quit their grudge. They exited through the front door.

Lewis Everly walked to his nearby pickup truck and grabbed his handgun. He took Ben Williams by surprise while, he stood in front of the tavern doorway looking at the gun in disbelief. Everly fired 9 shots into Ben Williams who did not have a chance. Ben Williams died at the scene. Lewis Everly was taken into custody at the parking lot by Walkerton Police. The homicide scene was investigated by St. Joseph County Sherriff's detectives.

All that is left of the structure once, known as "The Star Cafe" later to become "Red Hot's." Most people in the community know the site as the legendary "Bloody Bucket." The cause of the fire remains a mystery. Was it started by a ghost?

Today, the popular "All-Season's Sports Bar & Grill" continues to operate at the same address of the old Star Cafe tavern. The original "Bloody Bucket" that later became "Red Hot's Bar" was incinerated by a mysterious fire. Could a ghost have caused the fire?

Surviving, the COVID-19 pandemic was only one setback at 1004 Roosevelt Rd. aka "The Bloody Bucket." Today, All-Seasons Bar & Grill remains a popular local tavern, pool hall, and entertainment venue for the Walkerton community.

Is the new "All Season's Sport's Bar & Grill" located at 1004 Roosevelt haunted by ghosts from the gruesome past? The sought after new All-Seasons Sports Bar & Grill has a stage built for entertainment. As of yet, no stories have appeared in writing if the new building, bar, stage, and patio are witnessed for ghosts?

379 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All