Creek County, Oklahoma
Crime News



Curry's Awful Crime
Kills Wife and Sister-In-Law, Firing Nine Loads into Former
Bristow, Okla, march 2 - In a family quarrel John Curry, living south of Bristow, shot and killed his wife and the wife of his brother, then fled. Officers and posse of citizens start in pursuit. Curry fired nine loads of buckshot into his wife's body. [Bryan Morning Eagle.(Bryan, Tex.), March 03, 1908 - KT, Sub by FoFG]

Shoots Wife and Sister
Enraged Man Kills Two Women and Escapes – His Own Brother Pleads for His Life – Tragedy the Outcome of Bitter Quarrel – Posse in Pursuit and Lynching is Feared – Special Deputies are Sworn in
Bristow: With John Cerely, slayer of his own wife and brother’s wife, fleeing from a posse of Creek county officers, farmer neighbors of the Cerely’s are organizing a mob to take possession of Cerely, forcibly if necessary, when he is caught, and hang him.
Cerely’s brother, who escaped the assassin by begging for his life, is believed to be mentally deranged as a result of seeing his wife and sister in law brutally shot.
The Cerely tragedy which happened Monday after a bitter domestic quarrel, is the most atrocious ever committed in Creek county.
Details of the double killing conflict. John Cerely’s wife, it is said left home after a quarrel with her husband and took refuge with his brother. John followed her and demanded that she return home. At the brother’s house the quarrel continued the women siding together. John Cerely became enraged when his wife made a slighting remark about him and began to curse.
“I’ll kill you,” he shouted at his wife and as she began to smile he jerked a revolver from his pocket and started firing.
Maddened by the sight of blood Cerely turned the gun toward his brother’s wife and riddled her body with bullets. The brother dropped to his knees as Cerely began to reload the gun, and pleaded for his life.
He was spared by the slayer, who immediately saddler a horse and rode north. Telephone messages brought deputies to the scene and the chase, that bids fair to last for days, began.
Cerely and his wife have been married but a short time. Neither he nor his brother are well known in this vicinity. Both women were about 24 years old and comely.
Additional deputies are being sworn in at Sapulpa and Bristow to guard the prisoner should he be found. The farmers who live near the Cerely’s openly state that his capture will mean his death. (The Madill News, Thursday, March 5, 1908, page 7)

Was She Drugged? (Miss Wince Ward)

Police Arrested Young Man in Connection with Girl’s Death

Was Miss Wince Ward drugged and was her death due to poisoned beer? That is the question the police and county officers are now trying to solve. Miss Ward died night before last at the home of Mr. Mathena on East Lee Avenue in this city under very peculiar circumstances and the cause of her death was such a mystery that an investigation was started.

Since coming to Sapulpa about three weeks ago to visit her sister, Miss Ward became acquainted with a young fellow named Wiley Miles and he was with her for some time before she became ill and remained with her until she died. Just before she died Miles removed a ring from her finger and a necklace from her neck and refused to give them to her relatives saying the girl told him to keep them for as long as he lived. There is a rumor that a short time before the girl became ill, Miles gave her a bottle of beer to drink and it is the theory of the police that the beer was doped and caused her death. The girl’s stomach was removed for analysis. The body was shipped to her home at Chandler this morning for burial.

Early this morning Miles was arrested and is being held in the county jail for investigation. When taken before Justice Dye he said he knew nothing of the girl’s death and stoutly denied that he had given her any beer.

When asked about the jewelry he stated that he had given the necklace to the girl’s sister and a friend of his at Kiefer was keeping the ring for him. He did not deny having been with the girl that evening but was empathic in his statements that he had not given her anything.

Miles said he came here about a month ago and that he had worked in a restaurant about a week since his arrival. He claims to be a structural iron worker by trade. His statement of having been here only a month is contradicted the police who say they have been watching him for some time. He is the fellow who as given a few boxing exhibitions and has pulled off a fight or two between a bull dog and a badger.

The police also say that he is the fellow who purchased an outfit of clothing for Pearl Dow, the girl hobo arrested about three months ago, and had the clothes charged to Chief of Police Jones. He stated that he is twenty-two years of age. (The Sapulpa Light, Saturday, August 22, 1908, front page)

Too Familiar with his Better Half - Shooting Brings Family Dance to a Sudden End in Fashionable Supulpa Suburb

Sapulpa, Okla., Dec. 22 - It happened at a family dance in Forest park last night that Matt day conceived the idea that Bill Bynus, a beau of the neighborhood, not a day under 40 and safely married on his own account, was getting too chummy with Mrs. Day and plugged one helping of lead into the stomach of Bill aforesaid.

The incident almost broke up the dance.

Bill walked home immediately afterward.

Dr. Bone whose home is near, was called in to unload the load while Day with his gun still smoking was led away to be incarcerated.

Today Justice W. E. Root heard the charge of assault with intent to kill against Day and the hearing was set for December 26. Bond was fixed at $250. (Tulsa Daily World, December 23, 1911)

Underwood in Custody

To Face A Charge of Disposing of Mortgaged Property on the 2nd of April

Deputy Sheriff Hartman of Bristow landed one Henry Underwood in the court of Justice Root this morning where he was confronted with a charge of disposing of mortgaged property. He entered a plea of not guilty and the case was set for hearing on the 2nd day of April. (The Oklahoma Farmer and Laborer, Friday, March 27, 1914, front page)

Winters is in Jail

Sheriff King Back from Panama with Man charged with Murder – A Long Trip

Sheriff Henry Clay King returned Wednesday night from Panama, with George Winters, who was wanted to answer to a charge of murder. The crime was committed at Dropwright in the northwest part of this county last winter. A. Henesey, the victim, was held up and robbed in his pool hall and after the robbery was shot down in cold blood. Circumstances pointed to Winters as the murderer and the fact that he left the place the night of the shooting strengthened the belief that he was the guilty man. No trace could be obtained of him for several months but word was finally received that he had been arrested in Panama. Sheriff King in company with Hary Stege, a Bertillion expert from Tulsa, left about two weeks ago for Panama to bring him back for trial.

Winters gave the officers no trouble on the trip although he was sullen and defiant. Sheriff King states that the trip was a long and tiresome one and he was mighty glad when he had landed his prisoner safe in the Creek County Jail. (The Oklahoma Farmer and Laborer, Friday, May 29, 1914, front page)


Chester Taylor

Admits Killing His Wife

Negro Tells Sapulpa Officers that He Wanted Her Insurance

Sapulpa, Okla., Aug. 28 – Chester Taylor, a Sapulpa negro, pleaded guilty before Justice of the Peace A. P. Crawford to the killing of his wife, Millie Taylor with an ax in a tent at Oilton Tuesday night. Taylor was on the verge of a breakdown from the reaction of the deed and threw himself upon the mercy of the court. He was captured yesterday after a gun battle by deputy D. A. Jordan. He told Jordan that he committed the murder to collect his wife’s insurance, amounting to $150. Oilton negroes declare that the couple had recently quarreled. This is the second ax murder in Creek County within two weeks. (Tulsa Daily World, August 29, 1916, front page)

Sheriff’s Victim Pays crime Toll

Alva Taylor had a Record from Coast to Coast, as “A Bad Actor”

A bullet from Sheriff Wilder’s revolver, which tore its way into the body of Alva Taylor Thursday as he stood erect and pulled the trigger of an automatic which he had taken from a guard in the Creek County jail, cut short a career of desperation such as the police officers of the entire eastern part of the state have not had to oppose since the days of the Kidd gang, the Bell Starr outlaws and the Daltons.

The nerve and desperate chances which dominated the fight in the little corridor of the Creek County Jail Thursday which cost the life of Taylor and the serious injury of the sheriff has been the same throughout the series of events which has caused posters without number to be issued for the apprehension of Taylor. He was known as a dangerous man, resourceful, daring, cunning to that degree which marks a master of criminal life, and with an oversupply of never and ability to keep a clear head in the most trying “corners” in which his career often placed him.

Though he had selected the place of his boyhood as the scenes for his most desperate escapades, even that of his final fight with the law, he was no stranger to the arm of the law extending to the Pacific coast and on one occasion was found by a Tulsa detective after he had made preparations to take passage on a vessel plying between Seattle and Tacoma and a South American port.

Looked for Liberty

I’ll get away for good some of these days,” he said on one occasion when the officer had recaptured him following a desperate escape from the Tulsa county jail. But the time he looked forward to never came, and the liberty he secured through serving sentences of “good time” and by taking desperate chances to escape from bastiles in which he was held was only the liberty that found its bounds in his identification by officers, or capture after the completion of a new and desperate robbery.

It was this crime that had placed Taylor behind the bars in the county jail in his home town. Although known as a man who would kill he only murdered to rob out or to escape from the punishment brought on by robbery.

His first appearance on the blotters of the Tulsa police department was his bold robbery of the Grand theatre, a crime which was a spectacular end as the final of his life’s career.

Following the overture of a musical comedy at the Grand in 1908 Taylor walked into the manager’s office of the playhouse and behind a large revolver commanded the ticket seller to produce the receipts. After collecting approximately $1,000 he back out, closed the door and for a time was on the “scout.”

His capture and conviction for this crime followed but a sentence of five years slipped quickly by and again he loomed up at the police station for a part he played in a highway robbery in Tulsa. He was captured and placed in the county jail.

Although built along the same lines as that of the Creek county prison, it afforded him no more of a secure finement place than that from which he attempted to escape Thursday.

Within a week after he had been locked in his cell he had secured the gun from the jailer had locked the officer in a cell and headed a party toward freedom. (Drumright Evening Derrick, Saturday, October 14, 1916)

Did Not Attempt to Kill Officer

Both Tulsa Men are well connected and were city visitors

Sapulpa, Okla., Oct. 14 – The Argus is holding no brief for S. A. Reardon nor Lee Abbott, the men charged with the brutal and unwarranted attack on Officer Claud Tarr, but it believes in stating facts and not going off half-cocked on news of any nature. The facts about the shooting of Officer Tarr and Arrington were exactly as represented in yesterday’s Argus.

There was no indication that Reardon had been drinking at the time and a reputable physician who saw him said he had no odor of liquor on him. The man’s name is S. A. Reardon and not R. O. Bordine, and he is employed by a piano house in Tulsa.

Abbott, the young fellow who ran away when the fight started is a son of Abbott and junior partner of Scott Haliburton & Abbott, the dry goods firm of Tulsa.

The men are not bandits, have no “police” reputation and both are greatly worried over their arrest, quite unlike usual “bad ones.”

Officer Tarr is resting easily, but Mr. Arrington is pretty well beat up, and is sometimes delirious, showing that his wounds especially on the head, are very serious. Argus. (Drumright Evening Derrick, Saturday, October 14, 1916, front page)

Early Morning Arrest

R. L. Moore was arrested about five o’clock this morning by two of the duke’s private soldiers while on his way to the office, charged with carrying concealed weapons. After being taken to where the captain and another private was stationed nearby, he was taken to headquarters and a $25,000 bond was asked for his appearance before the duke at nine o’clock this morning. He was told by the captain that the duke had given orders to accept nothing but a cash bonus. He was allowed to go on his own reconnaissance. At first the mayor refused to a continuance, but after Judge Wagoner appeared as the defendant’s attorney, the case was finally continued until ten o’clock Monday, but the mayor did it grudgingly and made the statement before it was done that he was going to hear the case today. (Drumright Evening Derrick, Saturday, October 14, 1916, front page)

Caught Napping They’re Losers

Being caught napping is nothing uncommon with the best of people, but Newt Gardner and Fred Eally are now aware that sound sleeping is not a good thing, especially on a man’s financial resources. Last night while they slept at their quarters at the Model Laundry, where they are employed, a bold burglar entered their room and took there from $50, which he found in the pockets of the victims. The money was not missed until this morning.

Both Gardner and Eally occupy the same room at the laundry. They are both evidently good sleepers and it takes more than a stumbling burglar to awaken them from their peaceful “snooze,” for they were not aware of the fact that they had been victimized until they awoke this morning. Gardner, the elder of the two and driver of a wagon, was the heaviest loser. In his pockets was $50, which he had collected yesterday on his deliveries, but arriving too late at the laundry was unable to check in with the manager. Fred Eally, brother to W. J. Eally, owner of the laundry only had fifty cents in his pockets, therefore he is not out much.

The burglar evidently entered the room sometime after midnight, for it was about that time when both of the occupants of the room fell into deep sleep. He was very careful and extremely cunning in performing his deed, as the trousers which he rifled were in the same position this morning that they were last night when their owners retired. The case has been reported to the police, but little clew can be obtained as no one seems to have seen any suspicious characters around the laundry yesterday evening.  (Drumright Evening Derrick, Wednesday, January 3, 1917, front page)

Appeal to Governor For Life A Killer

Sapulpa, Feb. 16 – An appeal to Governor Williams to commute the death sentence of Chester Taylor charged with the killing of his wife at Oilton last August, to life imprisonment was made by Taylor’s attorney today. (The Guthrie Daily Leader, February 16, 1917, page 5

Triple Electrocutions Set for “Black Day” of This Week at State Penitentiary

Oklahoma City, April 8 – Next Friday, April 13, has been set for three executions at the state penitentiary, one of which has been affirmed by the criminal court of appeals, and two others set for execution then by the lower courts. The case of Willie Williams convicted of murdering a policeman in Muskogee, has been affirmed by the high court. Unless the governor commutes the sentence his electrocution will take place. Charles Young was convicted and sentenced in the Tillman county district court and Chester Taylor by the district court of Creek County. Their executions were both set for April 13. These cases, however, have not yet come on appeal to the high court. (Tulsa Daily Worl, April 9, 1917, front page)

M’Alester, April 13 – Three negroes, Chester Taylor from Creek County, Charles Young from Tillman County and Willie Williams from Muskogee county, were electrocuted at the state penitentiary here between 5 and 5:30 o’clock this morning. All had been convicted on charges of first degree murder.

The three doomed men were stolid last night in the face of death and accepted the ministration of Prison Chaplain A. B. Johnson. This is the first instance in which more than a single electrocution has taken place during one day at McAlester prison. All protested innocence. (Tulsa Daily World, April 14, 1917, front page)


Mayor to Review Sapulpa Scandel

Hearing for Alleged Bawdy House Keeper Awaits Return of A. K. Boggs - Executive Once Cast Hints - Berry Building was Named as Place Suspected of Law Violations - World Creek County Bureau

Sapulpa, Okla., July 19 - After the stage had been set for the trial of R. R. Shacklett, prominent Sapulpa business man and leader in reform movements, in the municipal court this afternoon on a charge of being the keeper of a house of ill fame, City Attorney Fairchild asked for and secured a continuance of the case until Wednesday, July 25.

It was said the continuance was asked by the city so as to bring the case of Shacklett before Mayor A. K. Boggs, who is now out of the city. During his absence City Clerk Dick Jenness is acting as municipal judge.

The mayor recently named the Berry building, which is now leased by Shacklett and which is stipulated as a bawdy house, as one of several buildings and rooming houses for which he would apply to district court for injunction writs to padlock and close on the grounds that they were houses of ill fame and nuisances. (Tulsa Daily World, July 20, 1917, page 3)


Thief Sneaks, Victim Sleeps

Sapulpa Man Woke Up Minus $31 in Coin and Checks Yesterday

Sapulpa, Okla., July 19 - While W. W. Caywood was asleep last night a housebreaker entered his bedroom and extracted his wallet containing $15 in cash and checks for $16 from his trousers. Caywood did not discover his loss until this morning when he informed the police. (Tulsa Daily World, July 20, 1917, page 3)


One of Sapulpa Trio is Taken to Tulsa for Hearing

Spaulpa, Okla., July 19 - George Nelson and C. L. Griffin, Frisco railroad brakemen, were arrested here last night in the Berry Building by Deputy Sheriffs acting under orders from Deputy United States Marshal John Moran of Tulsa. The federal officers say Nelson and Griffin escaped from a coach on a passenger train at Tulsa yesterday when they arrested Ed Walker, another rail-roader in possession of a quantity of liquor. According to the officers the three men were together.

Nelson and Griffin spent the night in the Creek County Jail and this morning were taken to Tulsa where they will be arraigned before United States Commissioner Wilkins on a charge of violating the bone dry law. The arrests were the first that have been made in Creek County since the law became effective July 1. (Tulsa Daily World, July 20, 1917)


Oilton Auto Stolen

Oilton, Okla., July 19 - Motor car thieves last night stole a large Studebaker touring car belonging to Deputy Sheriff M. P. Tippin. The officer discovered the theft shortly after the car disappeared and tracked it as far as Jennings where the trail was lost. (Tulsa Daily World, July 20, 1917, page 3)


Charge Two With Auto Theft

Seventeen Year Old Youths Unable to Make $1,000 Bond

Sapulpa, Okla., Aug. 10 - Blue George and Jim Lawson, Kiefer youths were bound over to the district court this morning to await trial on a charge of stealing an automobile belonging to L. B. Tutt of Kiefer. The boys, both about seventeen years old, were held under bond of $1,000 each after preliminary examination in the court of Justice Curt Edgerton and unable to make bond were taken to the Creek county jail. Robert Thurston, aged 13, also implicated in the charge of grand larceny preferred against the trio, was discharged and his case will be taken up in the juvenile court. (Tulsa Daily World, August 11, 1917, page 3)


Charged with Horse Stealing - Drumright Men Held in Creek County Jail

Sapulpa, Okla., Aug. 10 - "Cotton" Holmes, charged with horse stealing and Ulysses Sullivan, alleged highway robber, were brot (sic) here today from Drumright by Deputy Sheriff L. E. Gibson of that place and lodged in the Creek county jail to await trial.

Holmes was arraigned and pleaded not guilty. He could not make a $1,000 bond. Sullivan was arraigned yesterday at Drumright before Justice O. C. Murphy and was held under bond in the sum of $2,500. Both are white men. (Tulsa Daily World, August 11, 1917, page 3)


May Not Convict Davis - Creek County Prosecution Facing Tremendous Legal Task

Drumright, Okla., Aug. 10 - Despite the evidence in the hands of the county attorney that Buck Davis fired the shot that killed Mrs. T. R. Fraught, wife of the former deputy sheriff now held on a murder charge in the Creek county jail, the state realizes that it has a hard task to hold the man for trial on a charge of murder. Assistant County Attorney ? C. Speakman asked for and secured a continuance of the preliminary hearing in the court of Justice R. C. Clements yesterday.

The continuance was granted because the state declared they were not ready for trial and that important witnesses could not be found. Justice Clements set the hearing ahead until next Wednesday.

Occording (sic) to witnesses the last words of the dying woman were, that the shooting was accidental.

The legal firm of Elliott & Garrett of Tulsa have promised to produce Davis when the hearing is taken up. Davis disappeared at the time of the shooting and has not been seen by officials since. (Tulsa Daily World, August 11, 1917, page 3)


Pitched Battle in Creek County

Junk Thieves and Guards Exchange More than Twenty Revolver Shots

Two Horses are Killed

Pool of Blood Near Scene of Shooting Leads to Belief One Thief Wounded

Drumright, Okla., Aug. 24 - A pitched battle between four junk thieves and two guards in which more than twenty shots were exchanged and the thieves' horses, behind which they barricaded themselves, were shot and killed occurred before daylight yesterday morning on the Producers' Oil & Gas Co. lease, five miles east of here. The thieves finally made their escape under cover of darkness but a pool of blood near their wagon leads officials to believe that one of the bullets found its mark.

Special Guards Smith and Wilson discovered the junkers driving off the lease with a wagon load of eight inch pipe about 2 o'clock in the morning. When the officers shouted to them to stop the quartet fortified themselves by leaping behind their team. The officers opened fire and the first bullet dropped one of their horses.

The thieves returned the fire and sent four bullets whizzing past their heads. A second volley from the officers' guns killed the other horse and the thieves moved up and took shelter from the rain of bullets behind their wagon. After a scattering exchange of shots the junkers scattered and made their escape.

Undersheriff G. C. Whitehead and deputies are searching for the thieves but no trace of them has been found. The wagon and horses could not be identified as belonging to anyone in this part of the country. (Tulsa Daily World, August 25, 1917, page 5)


Draft Rioters Are In Hiding - Fugitives From Justice are Believed Plundering Creek County Farms

Sapulpa, Okla., Aug. 24 - With the finding today of the hide of a steer drying over some bushes near Depew, coupled with reports that have reached Sheriff John Woofter that scores of strangers have suddenly appeared in that community, that official declared he believed they were draft, resisting refugees from Seminole county who had escaped capture during the recent roundup of the revolutionists in and about Sasakwa.

It is reported that the resisters have been pouring into Creek County with a view to obtaining work in the oil fields, thinking they would be able to escape arrest. From Depew comes word that the refugees are making raids on farmers' chicken coops and stealing whatever they want to eat.

The resisters are said to hide out during the daytime somewhere between Depew and Shamrock and then do their pilfering at night. Several of them have been ordered off the Sinclair leases near Shamrock during the past week.

Sheriff Woofter and Deputy Sheriff G. C. Whitehead of Drumright held a conference this morning and are believed to have formed plans for rounding up the gang. (Tulsa Daily World, August 25, 1917, page 5)


One Loses Life in Razor Fight

Negro Women in Shamrock battle to Finish – Death and Jail

Addie Dorden, negro woman, is in the city jail here charged with murder and Laura Smallwood negro of Shamrock is dead as a result of a razor battle between the two women on the streets of Shamrock last night.

They’d been quarreling all day, eye witnesses say, but it was not until dark descended that they brought their razors into play.

Both were armed and the blade went swift and red until the Dordon woman succeeded with one terrible swipe in severing the juglar vein of her adversary, almost decapitating her. Death followed in a few minutes.

The victor was found to be suffering a number of deep cuts, including one about five inches long on her head. She was taken into Drumright by Undersheriff Jack Brunn. (Drumright Evening Derrick, Tuesday, June 20, 1922, front page)

Shamrock Girl Arrested for Robbery Will Be Kept at Citadel

Sapulpa, Nov. 29 - At the meeting of the advisory board of the Salvation Army this morning, plans were made for the Army to take care of Belle Mullins, 18 year old girl who was arrested here last week and charged with robbing a collector from a Shamrock bank. Because of her youth County Attorney Fred Speakman has decided not to prosecute the girl; so the Salvation Army is taking care of her, will provide her with clothes and help her to get a place to work and live. Plans were also made at this meeting to build two rooms at one end of the second floor of the Salvation Army citadel where people who are being cared for by the Army may stay temporarily. The board also took action on other important matters. (The Morning Tulsa Daily World, Tuesday, November 30, 1920)


Kelleyville Farmer Victim of Pro-Huns - Former Creek County Sheriff Loses Seventeen Cattle by Poisoning

Sapulpa, Okla., Nov. 30 - A report reached here today that 17 head of cattle belonging to Henry Clay King, former Creek County sheriff, residing near Kellyville, had died within the past two days and that several other head were sick as a result of poisoning. King has been active in breaking up pro-German meetings in his neighborhood recently and it is suspected his cattle were poisoned in an effort to "get even."

The county farm agent and a skilled veterinarian have investigated the sudden deaths of the cattle and both are agreed that in every instance poison was the cause. The stomachs of several of the animals have been sent to Kansas City for a thoro (sic) analysis. (Tulsa Daily World, December 1, 1917)

Game Law Arrested and Fined $25 Each

Orvell Fisher and Everett France, two young boys of Drumright, were arrested Sunday by Deputy and Assistant Game Warden A. W. Westover charged with hunting without a license.

They plead guilty before Judge Ray and were fined $25 each.

Hunting licenses cost only $1.25.

Deputy Westover is on the lookout for others who violate the state game laws by hunting without a license and says the law will be strictly enforced in every instance. (Drumright Evening Derrick, Monday, January 27, 1919, page 4)

Alex Hurst Dies: Result of Fight

Bristow, Okla., Jan. 27 – Last Saturday afternoon as the result of a quarrel, T. C. Martin struck Alex Hurst a blow with his fist, while both were standing in front of the First State bank. Reeling from the impact of the blow Hurst fell, his head striking the cement sidewalk. He was picked up and taken to Dr. Snodgrass’ sanitarium and Sunday afternoon he died of concussion of the brain, resulting from the contact of his head with the pavement, a blood clot having formed, according to physicians.

Saturday afternoon after the altercation, young Martin voluntarily pleaded guilty to fighting before Mayor Schrader and was fined $10, which he paid. Monday, following Hurst’s death, he was taken to Sapulpa, where on recommendation of the county attorney, he was admitted to bail in the sum of $5,000 on the charge of manslaughter. He quickly made this bond and was released.

The origin of the trouble between the men goes back to the Liberty loan drive in the summer. Young Martin was on the soliciting committee in his district. Hurst refused to purchase bonds and made derogatory remarks regarding the drive and the government. This act, Martin as his duty, reported to the chairman. Later Hurst meeting Martin in the road, attacked him (Martin) with a sweep. This action and his refusal of the loan, were reported to the council of defense at Bristow.

Hurst was given a lecture on loyalty and fined by the council. Young Martin at the trial by the council of defense, stated he had no personal animosity and offered to shake hands with Martin and forget the matter. This Hurst, after urging did. Later it is alleged Hurst was reported to have made further threats to “get” Martin.

Saturday they met in town and Hurst is alleged to have made threats against Martin and to have renewed the old quarrel. Spectators say he struck at Marti, who retaliated by striking Hurst in the face and he fell to the sidewalk with the results stated above.

Hurst lived 14 miles northwest of the city and Martin lives two miles east of town.

Mr. Hurst was buried at Forty-four cemetery, northeast of town, Monday. He leaves a wife and eight children. (Drumright Evening Derrick, Monday, January 27, 1919, page 4)


Debt Drives Starr to Try "Last Coup"

Noted Outlaw Trapped, Shot Down in Attempt to Rob Bank in Arkansas, Believes He Is Dying, Calls for Wife

Notorious Oklahoma Bandit Saves Life of Bank Cashier, Persuading Pals Not to Shoot; Posse Fails to Round Up Rest of Gang; Arkansas Officials Won't Return Outlaw to Oklahoma if He Lives; Young Bride of Less than A Year Hurrying to Side of Wounded Man

Loser in Claremore Poker Game, Starr Deserted the "Straight" Path; Two Gamblers Reported Missing

Claremore, Feb. 18 - Henry Starr, famous Oklahoma outlaw, shot down while leading a raid on a bank at Harrison, Ark., this morning, is believed to have planned his last coup here.

Sometime after 8:30 o'clock yesterday morning Starr slipped quietly out of Claremore. At that hour he and his wife ate breakfast as a local restaurant. Night Chief of Police L. M. Rutherford, who was well acquainted with Starr, sat at a table next to the Starrs. Rutherford says he talked with Starr about commonplaces at the time.

Starr had been in Claremore at irregular intervals for the last five months, taking the baths. According to reports to the police he had lost large sums of money in a poker game here.

According to the police two men, known in Claremore as gamblers, are missing tonight. They are known to the police but their names were not disclosed. These men, the police are informed, regularly "sat in" at the game where Starr is reported to have been a heavy loser. An effort to locate these men is being made by the police, who think they might have been with Starr in the raid at Harrison.

Night Chief Rutherford, who is well acquainted with Starr, said the "reformed" outlaw had spent most of his time in Claremore for at least the last three months. He had talked of promoting a wild west moving picture company, but details of his efforts along this line are lacking.

Harrison, Ark., Feb. 18 - That he was heavily in debt and turned bank robber again to get money, was the explanation given here tonight by Henry Starr, former Oklahoma bandit, for an attempt he and three companions made today to rob the People's State Bank of Harrison, and which resulted in the probable fatal wounding of Starr, and the escape of his companions.

Lying on a jail cot here with his spinal cord severed by a bullet which J. W. Meyers, former president of the bank, fired into his body, from the vault into which Meyers and several of the bank officials had been forced, Starr told his story to Dr. J. H. Fowler, attending physician.

"I have robbed more banks than any man in the United States," Dr. Fowler quoted Starr as telling him.

"It Doesn't Pay," He finds.

"It doesn't pay," the bandit continued. "I was in debt $2,000 and had to have money, so I turned bank robber again. I am sorry but the deed is done.

Starr, it was learned tonight, prevented his companions from returning the fire of Meyers, when the latter shot him down with a rifle.

Discussing that feature, Starr told him, Doctor Fowler said, that in all his bank robbing escapades he had never killed anyone, and because he was proud of that record he did not want his companions to shoot during today's robbery.

Physicians late tonight expressed the belief that Starr could not recover. While Starr was fighting his battle against death tonight posses were beating up the wooded regions about here in search of the three other participants. He is paralyzed from the wound.

Two of the men came into the bank with Starr while the third remained in their motor car.

Speeding through the snow on a Missouri & North Arkansas motor train, Starr's second wife, a bride of less than a year, was expected to arrive from her home in Sallisaw before midnight. Starr constantly called for her.

Starr's wounding was the result of the setting of a "bandit trap" 12 years ago by W. J. Meyers, 63 years old, and former president of the People's bank. Mr. Meyers had a rear door built into the vault of the bank at that time, "just so," he told friends, "if any fellows ever try to rob us, by locking one of us in the vault, we will have a way out." Then he put a rifle in a corner of the vault, and told bank employees to use it if the occasion ever demanded.

Meyers "Springs the Trip."

When Starr and two other men walked into the bank this morning shortly after 10 o'clock and demanded everyone present to "stick 'em up, and make it snappy." Mr. Meyers, unobserved slipped around the vault, into the rear door, took up the Winchester and shot Starr down.

Starr plunged on his face and bystanders leaped onto him. His companions, in fear they would shoot Starr, did not return Mr. Meyers shot, but turned on Cashier Coffman and threatened him. It was then that the Oklahoma bandit pleaded with them to escape.

Officers here tonight said that if Starr recovers from his wounds, he will not be returned to Oklahoma to serve the remainder of his life sentence, but will be tried here and at Huntsville, Ark., for the robbery of a bank there several years ago.

Fugitives Burn their Machine

Following the attempted robbery Starr's companions escaped in a automobile and were followed for several miles south of Harrison, when they set fire to their machine and dashed into the woods. A cordon was hastily thrown around the place and their capture seemed certain unless they should escape under cover of darkness.

Starr stoutly refuses to give any information as to the identity of his companions in the attempted robbery. Repeated efforts on the part of county officials to obtain information have resulted in failure. J. M. Wagley, president of the bank, quoted Starr as saying: "I cannot talk of them."

Robbers Got No Money

No money was obtained by the escaped bandits as Starr had stuffed all available cash into his pockets.

The robbery was evidently well planned, as all wires leading from Harrison had been cut.

Displays Iron Nerve

Henry Starr is a man of iron nerve, as hundreds of people in Oklahoma and Arkansas who know him will testify. On July 25, 1895, during one of his periods of confinement in the federal jail at Fort Smith, Starr proved his heroism and doubtless saved lives when he walked unarmed down the corridor of the jail and took a gun from Cherokee Bill, one of the worst of the old time outlaws who was then under sentence of death and later was hanged there.

Cherokee Bill had in some manner got possession of a gun. The mystery never was explained. As the guards started to lock up for the night Cherokee Bill opened fire, killing Larry Keating, a guard. A general battle between the guards and the outlaw ensued.

Starr, he was confined in a cell across the corridor from Cherokee Bill, finally prevailed on the guards to stop shooting and permit him to go after the gun. He walked down the corridor to Cherokee Bill's cell and returned with the gun. Just how he got it has never been clearly explained, but he got it.

"Pal" Seen in Checotah

Okmulgee, Okla., Feb. 18 - M. L. Larimore, member of the Okmulgee police force and formerly of Checotah, Okla., declared tonight that he saw Buck Berdoff, alias Buck Davis, former member of the Henry Starr gang, in Checotah four weeks ago.

It was previously reported that Berdoff, now is serving time in the Arizona state penitentiary.

Larimore who was an officer at Checotah at the time he says he saw Berdoff, declared that the former member of the Starr gang was under surveillance at that time.

"Crime A Losing Game" - H. Starr

Can't Succeed, Said Bandit in Interview Last

Mighty Hard to Quit

"One a Fellow Falls, Hard to Rise Again," He Told Muskogee Reporter

Muskogee, Feb. 18 - Crime cannot succeed.

Henry Starr, sole survivors of a band of outlaws who, under his leadership terrorized the southwest for many years, and who was shot down today in an attempt to rob a bank at Harrison, Ark., made that comment upon his 30 years of banditry in an interview granted here the fourth day of last July.

All young men should know crime is a losing game no matter who the players may be, he said. I would not take $17,000,000 to again face the agony I have endured.

Once Fallen, Hard to Rise

As he spoke Starr drew his chair closer to his interviewer. His voice sank almost to a whisper as he said in a voice far more solemn that he had used before: But once a fellow falls it's hard to rise again.

Three times before he was shot down today, Starr has walked in the valley of death. Twice he was sentenced to be hanged and his life saved by commutation of his sentences. A few years ago he was wounded by a boy at Stroud, Okla., during an attempt to rob a bank. Starr blamed a woman for his downfall then, after he had striven to beat back.

Dying. He Tells Ex-wife

Mrs. Oliver Starr, the bandit's first wife, who for years remained loyal to him in the hopes that he would reform and who even after their divorce, gained for him the parole he violated today, lives in Muskogee with their son. Theodore Roosevelt Starr. This afternoon she received a telegram from Starr, dictated from his cot in Harrison, Ark. The message read:

I am dying. Take the best care of Theodore Roosevelt if I do die and raise him as he should be raised.

It was his first wife whose personal pleading with Governor Robertson and whose supplications that he be given one more chance brought Starr a Christmas gift in 1919 in his parole. Even today after she had been told that he had again turned bandit, her love for him was not dead. I have been trying to get word from Henry, she said, and if he dies I intend to arrange the funeral myself.

Wants to Shield Boy

Mrs. Starr who is a quiet little woman, employed in the government offices here, asked that she be excused from discussing Starr's life. I cannot talk about it, she said. My only desire is to shield the boy from the taunts and whisperings that are sure to follow him now. I wish he had never learned of it. I sent him to a picture show this afternoon that he might get it off his mind.

Theodore Roosevelt Starr is a senior in the central high school here.

Starr was reported to have married again in San Antonio, Texas, on February 20, 1920, less than three months after his first wife won his parole. His bride, Lucille was said to have been a motion picture actress. The ceremony in the Texas city was performed by Justice of the Peace Ben S. Fisk.]

Another report reaching here today was to the effect that Starr had married Hulda Starr a boyhood acquaintance, eight months ago in Sallisaw, Okla.

Starr's Picturesque Career of Outlawry Dates Far Back

Henry Starr was born at Fort Gibson, Indian Territory, Dec. 2, 1873. His father was George Starr, known as "Hop" Starr, and was a half breed Cherokee Indian and his mother was one-quarter Cherokee. Henry Starr grew up in the Cherokee nation and at the age of 16 became a cowboy. He has many times made the statement that being arrested by deputy marshals for offenses he did not commit, drove him to adopt the life he has lived.

Starr's first notable bank crime was the killing of Floyd Wilson, a railroad detective, in 1893, near Lenapah in the Cherokee nation. Starr and Wilson rode up to each other on the road and fought a duel to the death. Starr proved to the best shot and Wilson fell.

Good at Whatever He Did

It may be said of Starr that he was most successful in all his undertakings. When only a youth he became known as a dead shot with the rifle and six-shooter. He has been arrested many times for bank robberies and when convicted became such a model prisoner that in a short time he always secured a pardon or a parole.

Starr was arrested with "Kid" Wilson at Colorado Springs and taken back to Fort Smith, Ark., where they were tried in the federal court for the many crimes they were alleged to have committed in that state. They were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment in the federal prison at Columbus, Ohio, for a term of 21 years. Through the influence of his mother, Starr was pardoned by President Roosevelt. He returned to the Indian Territory, married and for several years engaged in the real estate business in Tulsa.

Shot By Boy at Stroud

A conviction for bank robbery in Colorado followed after Starr had become convinced that he was about to be taken back to Arkansas for a second trial but he was paroled and returned to Oklahoma. The last affair in which he was engaged was a successful raid on the two banks at Stroud, Okla., on the morning of March 27, 1915, where he led a gang of men recruited in the state. He was shot by Paul Curry, a 16 year old boy as he and his companion were leaving town, and his hip was shattered. His capture was effected after he was wounded and he was taken to the county jail at Chandler.

The other members of his band who were tried with him at the time he was sentenced to 25 years in the Oklahoma penitentiary received terms of five and seven and a half years. This was said to have been taken into consideration when his parole was granted.

Prosecutor Urged a Parole

The last report from Starr on file at the pardon and parole office at the state house is a letter from Kansas City, written November 1, 1920, in which he said he was getting along well in a moving picture venture.

In recommending a parole for Starr in February, 1919, Streeter Speakman, county attorney of Lincoln county at the time of Starr's conviction said:
Considering the age and crippled condition of Starr, I believe he will bring his career as a bank robber to a close as soon as he regains his freedom. He is a man of unusual intelligence. He is not a low, depraved type of  humanity and a capable of making a good citizen. I believe that if the state deals fairly with him in this matter, in like he will be fair enough when he regains his citizenship to lead the life of a good citizen.

Starr and Ex-Tulsa Officer "Rustled" Cattle Here in 90's.

Henry Starr's first depredation or series of depredations, never came to the attention of a court or the public in his varied career and the story was known to but two men - Henry Starr and a retired Tulsa police officer, until the retired officer told it here.

It was nearly 30 years ago when the men were youthful, mischievous cowboy companions and lived near Tulsa, then a handful of shacks. A man who was later a prominent citizen, now dead, said the ex-officer, owned extensive pasture lands west of Main street which half the city now covers. He owned what was then considered a choice herd of cattle too.

One day Henry and I drove these cattle off about 20 miles, herded them in a gully and returned to Tulsa. Soon the owner offered a reward. Henry and I volunteered to hunt and brought the herd in after several days. We pulled this several times later, always thought it a good joke and always collected the reward.

The retired policeman began working for the first railroad that entered Tulsa at about the time Starr began his career of outlawry, he says.

(The above was all taken from The Morning Tulsa Daily World, February 19, 1921, front page, page 2 and page 13)

Their Home in the Open Woods (Wheeler’s)

Police Arrest Three Who Cannot Explain Methods of Camping – Found wandering in the woods close to the western city limits of Drumright three persons were arrested early this morning as a result of a complaint from a resident in the vicinity that they had stolen a bed quilt off a clothes line. They are now in the city jail held for investigation.

Taken to the police station they gave their names as J. L. Wheeler, Rachael Wheeler and a boy who is about 13 years old, Buster Wheeler. They had only a small bundle of old clothes and were sleeping out under the stars on the quilt alleged to have been “borrowed” from a nearby clothes line.

Questioned by the police they told widely divergent stories. Officers are making a full investigation to see if they can find any trace of former activities. They say they came into Oklahoma to work in the oil fields. (Drumright Evening Derrick, Tuesday, June 20, 1922, front page)

PROCTOR MCDONALD

Hold Up Slaying Case with Jury at Sapulpa

Sapulpa, March 21 – After a trial that lasted only a part of this afternoon, the case of Proctor McDonald, 23 year old Red Fork Oklahoma youth, charged with murder went to a district court jury early tonight.

McDonald was accused of the murder of 8 year old Raymond Butler, son of an Oilton druggist, who was shot to death during an attempted robbery of the Butler family.

Only six witnesses were heard during the trial, one of them McDonald who confessed he was one of the robbers, but blamed Elmer Higgins for the fatal shooting of the boy.

Higgins died of wounds received in a pistol and shotgun duel with M. B. Butler, the boy’s father. Mrs. Butler also was shot during the battle but was not seriously injured.

McDonald was arrested in a Tulsa hospital where he was treated for a bullet wound.

The robbers waylaid the Butlers as they went home after closing the drug store one night last October. (The Indian Journal, March 24, 1932, page 6)

Rightsell to Die in Chair

Criminal Court of Appeals Rules Proctor McDonald Also Must Die

Oklahoma City, Nov. 18 – The death sentence of Nathan Rightsell, convicted of murdering J. V. Buchanan, special railroad officer ag Hugo was upheld by the state criminal court of appeals today in an advisory opinion to Governor Murray. The date of execution is Jan. 27.

Rightsell, who escaped from the Louisiana penitentiary shot Buchanan to death when the officer attempted to search him. Escaping, he fled to Muskogee where he wounded another officer who tried to arrest him.

Governor Murray asked the advisory opinion when Rightsell who pleaded guilty, failed to appeal.

The court ruled another man must die in the electric chair Jan. 6 when it denied a petition for reharing in the case of Proctor McDonald convicted of slaying Raymond Butler 8 year old son of an Oilton druggist, during an attempted hold up in Butler’s garage. The Daily Ardmoreite, Friday, November 18, 1932, page 2)

Triple Execution Friday Morning

McAlester, Sept. 19 – Three convicted murderers prepared today for death in the electric chair at Oklahoma’s state penitentiary.

Only the slightest hope of executive clemency remained for Bun Riley and Chester L. Barrett, white men and Alfred Rowan, negro.

The triple execution – second in Oklahoma’s history – was set for shortly after midnight tonight.

Governor E. W. Marland indicated at Oklahoma City yesterday that he would not intervene.

I have refused to discuss those cases, he said. I have nothing to say now.

That appeared satisfactory to Barrett’s wife who at Tulsa expressed bitterness toward her husband convicted of murder in the death of one of his three children who died of poison. Mrs. Barrett wrote the governor a letter recently asking that clemency be denied Barrett.

Riley remained defiant; his air sullen.

I’m ready when they’re ready, he grunted.

Riley accused of the slayings of William Gann, Hobert Watkins and Homer Beasley as the aftermath of years of theft and bootlegging was condemned to die for murdering Gann in a lonely canyon near Canadian.

Rowan sentenced for killing Roy Gentry, an Altus relief worker as he slept with his wife and child has withdrawn from the death watch.

The three were measured for their last suits yesterday, then moved from eleven neighbors in death row to cells only a few paces from the electric chair.

Barrett has been baptized since his arrival in the prison. Riley and Rowan have refused the services of the prison chaplain.

In addition to the death watch in front of the condemned men’s cells, runners are on hand to provide almost any kind of service the men wish – food and beverages and reading matter.

Oklahoma’s previous triple execution took place May 5, 1932. The death penalty was exacted from Proctor McDonald for a Creek county murder; Joe L. Martin, for a murder in Noble county; and Albert Ellis, Carter county bandit. (Ada Evening News, September 19, 1935, page 16)

THREE MEN ARE ELECTROCUTED
Chester Lee Barrett, Bun Riley and Alfred Rowan Die in Electric Chair
M'Alester, Sept. 20 ---Three men, two of them accused triple slayers, were electrocuted at the state penitentiary here early today in the first executions directed by Roy Kenny, former Oklahoma A. and M. college track coach.
All three were pronounced dead within 30 minutes after the first was strapped in the electric chair.
Chester Lee Barrett, 36, of Sapulpa, who declared repeatedly he was innocent of the poison death of three of his eight children, was the first to die.
A moment after his body was borne from the execution chamber by four stalwart Negro convicts, Bun Riley, confessed slayer of three alleged partners in a rural "crime ring," in Pittsburg county was led to the chair and executed.
Alfred Rowan, convicted negro killer of Roy Gentry, a white relief worker in Altus, was the last of the trio to expiate his crime.
Kenny, white-faced and grim, shook hands with each man just before he was placed in the death chair. Each an walked slowly to his death unassisted. The current was applied by Rich Owen, veteran official executioner at the prison, who has thrown the switch for 46 of the state's 50 electrocutions.

BARRETT CLAIMED HE WAS FRAMED
Barrett, who claimed he was "framed," was the first to die. In a weak voice he told the warden and a crowd of about 175 persons who were jammed in the witness chamber:
"All I want to say is I hope God will forgive everyone for persecuting me." He was strapped in the chair at 12:05 a.m. and was pronounced dead by Dr. V. H. Barton, prison physician, at 12:10 a.m. after the current was applied 45 seconds.
Riley walked the few feet from his cell to the chair at 12:14 a.m. and was dead at 12:19. Rowan, the Negro, was pronounced dead at 12:26, four minutes after the switch was thrown.
With perspiration streaming down his face as he was strapped in the death chair, Riley, taciturn hillsman from Canadian, said in a voice barely audible:
"I'll advise every one of you to take Christ as a personal savior and if you follow Him you will have nothing to fear."
The Negro, asked by the warden if he cared to make a last statement, replied: "I want everyone to forgive me for what I have done. I want everybody to follow Jesus."
Negro prisoners lifted the bodies from the chair, covered them with sheets and carried them to three waiting hearses at the prison gate.

RILEY'S BODY GOES TO CANADIAN
Riley's body was taken to Muskogee. It later will be sent to Canadian for burial. The bodies of the other two were taken to a funeral home here. If unclaimed within three days they will be buried in the prison cemetery.
Barrett's case attracted wide attention and many appeals were made to Gov. E. W. Marland in his behalf. His wife protested clemency, charging she and her five other children also had been poisoned but had recovered. She told her Husband "deserved to die."
Baptised at his own request, Barrett ate a last dinner of pork chops, french toast, strawberry preserves and coffee. "I certainly don't want to die," he said.
Riley ate three raw eggs while the Negro called for a bottle of strawberry pop, two oranges and a glass of milk.
(Ardmore Daily Ardmoreite ~ September 20, 1935 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)




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