St Louis Police Veteran's Association 
 City of St Louis Metropolitan Police Department 
 City of Saint Louis Missouri 

Kiel Opera House and Four Courts
the story of
Frankie and Johnny

Photo of Map of 212 Targee in 1899 Saint Louis Missouri !
212 Targee Street

Targee Street was formely known as Johnson Street and was probably named for Charles P. Johnson,
a well-known St. Louis businessman and lawyer who defended political boss Ed Butler
in a bribery trial late in the 19th century .  Johnson Street began as an alley in 1858 .
It was called Breden Street between Poplar Street and Clark Avenue until 1893
and was later known as Targee Street between Clark and Market .
The latter of Targee name honored the
City of Saint Louis Fireman Captain Thomas Targee
who was killed in the city's great May 17th 1849 fire, the first recorded
City of Saint Louis Fire Department Firefighter killed by fire in the line of duty and saved the City of Saint Louis.
In 1900 the address, 212 Targee Street, was a four block street running north and south from Market on the North
to Poplar on the South and between Fourteenth and Fifteenth Streets
now where the Kiel Opera House is located at South West corner of Fourteenth and Market
and the Scottrade Center, the home of Blues hockey, is located at 1401 Clark.

This was the area of the Chestnut Valley Community in the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds,
once a 'red-light' district in St. Louis contains some most interesting best kept secrets.
This is where the legendary song "Frankie and Johnny" originated.
Most people don't know that the song is based on a true story about feuding black lovers
and Frankie ended up killing Johnny.   This spot marks the relative location
of an apartment complex that stood at 212 Targee Street in Saint Louis, Missouri.
It was at this location that 22-year-old Frankie Baker shot and killed 17-year old
Albert Britt on October 15, 1899.   The shooting apparently was over another woman, Alice Pryor.
The murder was one of crimes thought to be the basis for the murder ballad,
"Frankie and Albert", though the song had several of the facts wrong.
That song changed overtime to the better known name, "Frankie and Johnny",
which has inspired movies and books ever since.

A story appearing in the St. Louis, Missouri Globe-Democrat in 1899 says:
Allen Britt, colored, was shot and badly wounded shortly after 2 o'clock yesterday morning by
Frankie Baker, also colored.   The shooting occurred in Britt's room at 212 Targee Street,
and was the culmination of a quarrel.   The woman claimed that Britt
had been paying attentions to another woman.   The bullet entered Britt's abdomen,
penetrating the intestines.   The woman escaped after the shooting."
St Louis Globe-Democrat, October 16, 1899.

and on

A story appearing in the St. Louis, Missouri Republic in 1899 says:
After midnight, Sunday, Allen (Albert) Britt, Colored, was shot
and badly wounded by Frankie Baker, also Colored.
The shooting occurred at the woman's home at 212 Targee Street,
after a quarrel over another woman named Nelly Bly.
Britt had been to a Cakewalk at Stolle's Dance Halls,
where he and Nelly Bly had won a prize.
His condition at City Hospital is serious.
The Police, pending investigation made no arrest.
St. Louis Republic of Oct 16, 1899.

and on

A story appearing in the St. Louis, Missouri Republic in 1899 says:
Alan Britt's brief experience in the art of love cost him his life.   He died at the City Hospital,
Wednesday night from knife wounds inflicted by Frankie Baker, an ebony-hued cakewalker.
Britt was also colored and he was seventeen years old.
He met Frankie at the Orange Blossom's hall and was smitten with her.
Thereafter they were lovers.   In the rear of 212 Targee Street lived Britt.
There his sweet heart wended her way a few nights ago and lectured Allen for his alleged duplicity.
Allen's reply was not intended to cheer the dusky damsel and a glint of steel gleamed in the darkness.
An instant later the boy fell to the floor mortally wounded.
Frankie is locked up in four corners.
St. Louis Republic of Oct 19, 1899.

In the newspaper account of the incident, four corners refer to the 1900's
Four Courts Police Headquarters and Jail.

Apparently Frankie Baker was able to successfully plead self defense
and was acquitted of the charge of murder,
dying in 1950 in Portland, Oregon.

Photo of younger Frankie Baker from 1942 Saint Louis Missouri !

A cakewalker defined in 1900 was American entertainment having a cake as prize
the most accomplished steps and figures in walking or slow dancing.

Thus the song "Frankie and Johnny" is remembered inspired by this incident,
this is one of the versions sung by numerous and various singing artists.

Frankie and Johnnie were lovers
Lordy oh how they did love
Swore to be true to each other
True as the stars above
He was her man he wouldn't do her wrong

Frankie went down to the barroom
Just for to get her some beer
Said to the fat bartender
has my lover Johnny been here
he is my man he wouldn't do me wrong

I ain't gonna tell you no stories
I ain't gonna tell you no lies
I saw your Johnnie half an hour ago
Making love to Nellie Bly
He is your man but he's doing you wrong

Frankie went back to the hotel
She didn't go for fun
Frankie went back to get a hold of
of Johnnie's shooting gun
He was her man but he was doing her wrong

Frankie drew back her kimono
pulled out her lil 44
root to toot toot three times she shot
right through the hardwood door
She shot her man cos he was doin her wrong

Roll me over easy
Roll me over slow
Honey don't roll me on my left side
Cause the bullet hurts me so
I was your man but I was doin you wrong

Roll out your rubber tyred hearses
Roll our your rubber tyred hacks (?)
Twelve men goin to the graveyard
Eleven men coming back
He was her man but her was doin her wrong

The sheriff arrested Frankie
Threw her in jail the next day
Locked her up in a prison cell
And threw the key away
For shootin her man cos he was doin her wrong

This story ain't got no moral
this story ain't got no end
this story only goes to show
that there ain't no good in men
he was her man but he was doin her wrong.

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