I ran into your site while I was looking for information on
some family history.
When I was a young man in Mesa Arizona, I helped my Dad in
his TV repair business.
I would go with him on service calls to fix people's TVs.
One particularly peculiar call was to an older gentleman's
home who lived in a trailer park.
This would have been maybe 1966 or so(?)...the man was
probably in his 60's at the time.
This guy formerly had a business making fake sideshow
items...I think he might have been the guy who actually made
the Fiji Mermaid, and, I think It might have been him that
also made "Jake the Alligator Man" from Marsh's Museum in
Long Beach Washington. He said he was a Mormon and said he
also worked at the Local LDS Temple.
My Father was paid in part for this service call with a fake
shrunken head and a fake creepy "Devil Boy".
He also explained how he made sculpted a lot of the items
out of a mash of newspaper mixed with casein glue.
He would add hair and other things to his creations to make
them appear more "real".
The "Devil Boy" was anatomically correct, was about 18
inches long, had fangs, hooves, and hair added to the head
and pubic region.
The shrunken head had hair added and actually had some
damage to the back, revealing the cardboard center it was
The guy also gave my dad an old catalog of his other Items.
This included fake severed gangrenous hand, a fake "giant",
and so many other very strange things.
Some were made from plaster and other materials.
My father had these items displayed in his shop in a glass
case for years...yea pretty weird...
When my dad got out of the business, these Items were kept
in a cabinet in our house, to the consternation of my mom
and my sisters.
They were kept until the 80's when my mom left my dad with
my sister who became a extreme fundamentalist Christians.
They disabled The remaining vehicle, burned the "Devil Boy",
and the head, anointed the truck they took off in with oil
to bless it, and off they were....the catalog was lost or
destroyed at that time.
I have been looking for any information on this guy and his
products for quite some time, and would appreciate anything
you or the visitors to your site could offer.
Museum Apache Junction
on one of his creations
Thanks for your
HOMER MARTIN TATE, birth.
September 07, 1884, Turners Point, Kaufman County, TX; death.
February 21, 1975, Pheonix, AZ; m.
(1) Married - EMMA PEARL
COOMBS, October 10, 1907, Copper Hill, AZ; b. February 23,
1888, Central, AZ; d. September 09, 1983, Pheonix, AZ;
(2) Married - PATRICIA IRENE
BOETTECHER, January 15, 1953; b. May 12, 1895; d. Unknown.
Notes for HOMER MARTIN TATE:
Excerpt from the Tate Families of Southern States, Volume
II, Laura Metzel and Ethel Speer Updike, 1984
He was a Sheriff of Graham County, AZ 1924 - 1929, a farmer.
Many may remember Homer as the practical joker of the town. He
moved to Central in the late summer of 1898 with his father,
Martin Van Buren Tate from Spanish Fork, UT at the age of
It seems Homer attended school in Central only a very short
time. He worked at odd jobs on the farms until he was
seventeen years old, when he began working in the mines. He
found work at such places as Pierce, Bisbee, Glove, AZ and in
Emma Pearl Coombs was born in Central, AZ, the eighth child of
George and Pauline Gulbransen Coombs, Jr. All Emma's formal
education was received in the Central schools.
Homer was working at Globe, AZ in 1906-07. At this time, Emma
left Central and went to work for the Tate's Boarding House in
Globe. During this time a courtship blossomed into marriage,
which took place in October of 1907. Homer and Emma began
their married life at the new town site of Copper Hill, which
consisted of a few 10 x 12 foot tents, boarded up on three
sides. Here they lived for about three years while both Homer
and Emma continued working, until very early in 1911. Emma
returned to Central early in 1911 as the first born of the
family was expected.
The Tates' first child, Martin Coombs Tate was born March 5,
1911. Since Central was a farming community, jobs were very
scarce and about the only work available was helping on
individual farms on a day or two, basis. So, in the early part
of 1915, Homer felt he should procure work that would provide
a better means of support for the family which now had an
additional member, daughter Pearl. Homer went alone to Bisbee
where he secured employment in the mines. Emma and their two
children followed later after housing was secured.
In 1916, the Tates were back in Central, a mining town was not
the best place to rear a family. Homer felt he should try
farming as a means of providing for his family, now consisting
of three children, as a second son, Goerge Vining, was born in
July of 1916.
The Tates secured a house and small acreage immediately west
of the railroad tracks on the old highway, known as the Thomas
place. Homer farmed in Central and Pima until 1921. At this
time, Homer was appointed by the Governor, G. W. P. Hunt, to
the position of Detail Officer at the Boys Reformatory at Fort
Grant. Emma served as Matron of the girls dormitory, located
on the same site with separate facilities.
After spending a year at Ft. Grant, the Tates moved back to
Central and purchased what was called the Thurman Place in the
Northwest part of town. There were only about eight acres
under cultivation. Alfalfa, vegetables and melons were the
main crops raised. Homer was Constable of Central until
December 7, 1924. During the elections of the fall of 1924,
Homer was elected Sheriff of Graham County.
During the summer of 1922-1923, Homer, accompanied by a dozen
Boy Scouts, climbed Mt. Graham for a week of encampment. Homer
spent a good portion of the time testing the bravery of the
boys, mainly by concocting ways to scare them. On one occasion
after visiting the old sawmill and on their return hike to
camp on Soldier Creek, Homer slipped ahead and concealed
himself in a rather dense thicket. Previously he had told the
boys that one of the men at the mill had wounded a bear, and
that a wounded bear could be pretty mean. From a thicket,
Homer made sounds of a wounded bear just as the boys came by
in a single file. Some track stars were born, all except for
Morgan Taylor. Fear set in, along with exhaustion, and after a
short sprint, Morgan yelled, "For Hell's sake Homer, wait!!",
thinking that Homer was farther up the trail. About this time
the "wounded" bear came out of the thicket.
The Tates moved to Safford, AZ in December, 1925 where Homer
assumed the duties of Sheriff.
Records of Pearl Tate Sanders.
Alligator Man was a creation of Nelson Supply House NY.
these links you will find a great amount of information
about him and his creation.
I hope you find
this info helpful?
Dorsey's Exhibition of Tate's
Homer Tate the Wolf Boy and Catalog
Homer Tate Lectures for Pigmy
Mummies Holbrook Az
Grandpa and His Thing
Grindshow Shrine of
Last of the Tree People
character was a Homer Tate creation and was featured in a
single-o grind show entitled "The last of the Tree People",
quite appropriate since Tate made all of his "little people"
out of sticks and mud...
If you have a question you would like
to submit email us at the
Back to Ask the
Back to Main