|Doors from the time period|
Although it had been around for at least ten years, in 1903 'Big Ann's Place' became the recognized center of evil in early Oklahoma City. A court case which made it to the state supreme court forever sealed its place in the more colorful side of history and presented numerous mysteries as a result. In the court records it is called a 'recruiting station for hell.' A clever turn of phrase given an area in Oklahoma City, just west of the rail deport and Reno was known as "Hell's Half Acre." The current convention center and gardens cover the same general area.
'Big Ann' was known variously as Annie Wynn, Annie Wynne, and Annie Bailey. The reason for the sudden notoriety was the occasion of charges filed against Annie and her employee Maud Davis and George Garrison, concerning the alleged rape of two young Dutch immigrant girls, Ann and Lucy Patt (filed February 1903). The crime was charged to have been done by a couple of small time would be hooligans, George Garrison and Jim Harman, aka the Arkansas Kid. The location was Big Ann's Place on west 2nd street.
The girls said Annie herself had served them small glasses of beer which was strangely bitter and resulted in almost immediate illness. As they were led away by the young men they thought they were being taken somewhere to be sick, when instead they were taken to two different rooms and were, they said, raped by their male companions and possibly others. Yet, later court records seem to paint a different picture of these girls. Another man was also considered in the rape case, Jim Harman.
Annie Wynn Bailey, or whatever her real name may have been, by this time was well known for having avoided several serious episodes, avoided the long arm of the law, and was flagrantly operating in violation of the law. Since most of Hell's Half Acre was similarly functioning beyond the law it was not too surprising. It was suspected the money coming into the brothels, gaming dens, and saloons paid law and judges to look the other way.
This single year would see Annie's name in the news almost every month. There were numerous reasons for this. It was time of growing anti-drink movements with people such as Carrie Nation who was ramping up her activities (she would visit Oklahoma in 1904). It has been alleged some people were becoming aware that a lot of real estate in Oklahoma City and elsewhere (such as Lawton) was being purchased by this venal entrepreneur. It has been alleged it was this wealth that allowed Annie to have a pass for so many years. She may have, however, been up against a two pronged attack beginning in 1903 and ending (perhaps) in 1909 when it is believed she left the City for California. This attack may have been from some of the women she had supervised and trained to help her with her OKC operations, possibly aided by OKC men with a desire to acquire the real estate owned by the notorious Madam.
--Marilyn A. Hudson