Did Lee Harvey Oswald Have David Ferrie's Library Card?
Updated: Oct 10, 2021
Martens tells the FBI that "Gill stated he had gotten word that Lee Oswald, when he was picked up, had been carrying a library card with David Ferrie's name on it..."
Gill contacted Hardy Davis who "then informed him that he had learned through hearsay when Oswald was arrested by the Police Department in Dallas, Texas, he had in his possession a library card of DAVID W. FERRIE. DAVIS also informed him that his source of information, Jack Martin..."
Davis confirmed that the library card story originated with Jack Martin.
Martin confirms he talked to Hardy Davis about Oswald possessing David Ferrie's library card. So, the story started with Martin; he called Hardy Davis; who then called G. Wray Gill; who then told Layten Martens. And, as we know, Jack Martin was incredibly unreliable - and had a grudge against David Ferrie.
Ferrie showed the FBI his library card. After being questioned by the FBI, David Ferrie called Edward Voebel to ask him if he knew anything about Oswald. He told Ferrie about Oswald and CAP (which led to Ferrie calling the FBI back to tell them that Oswald might have been in the same CAP unit). But, Voebel might have told Ferrie something else - and it meshed with the questions about the library card.
And so Voebel probably told Ferrie that Oswald might have attended a party at Ferrie's apartment. Ferrie threw a lot of parties for the boys in CAP, might Oswald have been at one of them, and might he have taken a library card [don't forget we are talking about the party being in 1955] or other documents?
On November 23, 1963, the New Orleans Times-Picayune ran a story on Lee Harvey Oswald.
The story mentioned the neighbors who lived on either side of the Oswalds - Doris Eames, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Garner. It's quite probably that Ferrie saw this article, and he decided to pay them both a visit to ask them about his library card.
Here is a Garrison report of an interview with Doris Eames:
Garrison's investigators visited the Eames residence again in 1969 and here one page from that memo:
What's interesting is that Mrs. Eames said the visit by Ferrie was on November 26, 1963, well after the article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Mrs. Garner is not sure which night Ferrie visited - but we know it's impossible he was there on the evening of the assassination, or the next night, because he had driven to Houston. According to Stephen Roy: (unpublished manuscript Perfect Villain)
"While it is certainly possible that David Ferrie visited Garner and asked about the library card, her conviction that it was the night of November 22 is problematic. Ferrie's activities from about 4:00 PM through the end of that night are accounted for by his companions, Alvin Roland Beauboeuf and Melvin Stacey Coffey. Neither mentioned any such visit, and Beauboeuf is adamant today that no such visit occurred on November 22. It couldn't have been Saturday, November 23, because Ferrie was in Houston. Ferrie's activities on Sunday, November 24 are also accounted for by Beauboeuf and Coffey up to about midnight, and no such visit occurred. And on Monday night, November 25, Ferrie was in jail. So the earliest it could have occurred would seem to be the evening of Tuesday, November 26."
So, given the statement of Mrs. Eames, and the fact that Ferrie probably learned the identities of Garner and Eames from the Times-Picayune, it all fits that he visited them on November 26, 1963.
Before we get to the conspiracy books, I want to post what Stephen Roy posted on a bulletin board about this incident:
Presuming he was telling the truth about not recalling Oswald, put yourself in Ferrie's mind in November 1963. You just found out that the man who allegedly killed the president was in your CAP unit 8 years ago. Someone is alleging that he had your library card in his possession, but you have no other details. You have just been arrested and questioned by the police, DA, FBI and Secret Service. Your name has been mentioned in the press. Well, he couldn't have my current library card, 'cause it's in my wallet. Could he have one of my old library cards? (All through his 10-plus years with the CAP, Ferrie threw parties to which dozens of kids came, and they brought friends. Alcohol was served.)
Before he found out that Martin was the source of the story, he worried that it might be true, that one of his old cards had ended up in Oswald's hands, presumably from the time they served in the CAP.
This is what Ferrie told people. I am not endorsing it, but I don't find it silly or implausible at all, given the situation Ferrie found himself in.
Conspiracy theorists have had a field day with this story. Let's start with Jim Garrison. Here is what he told Dutch researcher William Oltmans in an interview from 1968.
What was Garrison's source?
In 1970, Jim Garrison discussed Ferrie's library card in his book A Heritage of Stone: (page 119)
"Oswald had a library card on him when arrested, but the card is not available for public examination. We must presume that the Secret Service agents were reasonable men and that that there was something about the card on Oswald which made them think that it belonged to David Ferrie. Otherwise it would be meaningless to place in its investigative report Ferrie's denial that it was his. If, for example, Oswald had a library card on him bearing the name George Washington, it would not be reasonable to state in an investigative report that David Ferrie denied lending his library card to Lee Oswald. It is fair to conclude that the Secret Service knew that a library card bearing Ferrie's name had been found on Oswald at the time of his arrest. Conceivably, the federal investigators believed that Oswald, not being built into one of history's greatest criminals, had crowned his achievements by stealing David Ferrie's library card."
While Oswald's library card might not have been in the Warren Commission volumes (they did publish his application for the card), Commission Document #75 lists the books taken out by Oswald using his own card.
Oswald's New Orleans Public Library card did exist. Here is a picture of his card:
Not surprisingly, the nonsense about the library cards disappeared in Garrison's book On The Trail of the Assassins.
James DiEugenio, in his book Destiny Betrayed, writes:
"For in the wake of the assassination, Ferrie was doing something that was more than faintly suspicious. In fact it could be noted that, as prosecutors like Vincent Bugliosi like to say, Ferrie was showing "consciousness of guilt." For it appears he was trying to confiscate the evidence that he was ever associated with Oswald. Within the space of five days, he did this at least three times, Oswald's former landlady in New Orleans told several sources, including the HSCA, that Ferrie was her door in search of his library card. He thought he may have loaned it to Oswald and wanted to retrieve it from his room. Even though Oswald had left New Orleans two months previous, Ferrie was looking for it now. But, as William Davy as noted, what is so startling about this testimony is that Ferrie was at her door on the day of the assassination, before he left for Texas."
It is true that Mrs. Jesse Garner did tell the HSCA that Ferrie visited her on the evening of the assassination. But when she testified in the Shaw trial, she was less certain of the exact date. And, the HSCA was skeptical of this part of her testimony.
DiEugenio also adds "But several researchers did talk to Mrs. Garner afterwards. She said that Ferrie had returned to search for his library card. He thought he had given it to Oswald and wanted to retrieve it from his room." There is no evidence that David Ferrie ever thought that at all - and not surprisingly, there is no footnote for that last sentence.
It wasn't consciousness of guilt that drove David Ferrie. It was just the opposite - he was trying to run down rumors that had started with Jack Martin, nothing more, and nothing less. There was nothing for him to "confiscate."
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