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 formed around.

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.

Thank you,
Walter Russell



Tate's Museum Apache Junction



Homer working on one of his creations



Hi Walter


Thanks for your email,


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.



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 thirteen.

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 Cananea, Mexico.

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.

References: Family Records of Pearl Tate Sanders.


Jake the Alligator Man was a creation of Nelson Supply House NY.


Please follow these links you will find a great amount of information about him and his creation.


I hope you find this info helpful?



Sideshow World


Crocodile Boy Banner


Dorsey's Exhibition of Tate's Creations


Homer Tate the Wolf Boy and Catalog


Homer Tate Lectures for Pigmy Bodies


Mummies Holbrook Az


Grandpa and His Thing


Grindshow Shrine of Homer Tate





The Last of the Tree People

This 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...


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