LeFlore County, Oklahoma Genealogy Trails

CRIME NEWS ARTICLES

INDIAN JUSTICE - LEVI JAMES, A CHOCTAW, SHOT TO DEATH FOR MURDER
A Cripple who was a Terror to the Community and Got His Just Deserts at Last
Fort Smith, December 14 - Levi James, a full blooded Choctaw Indian, was shot to death yesterday at Buck Creek courthouse, in Scullyville county, Choctaw Nation, for the murder of James Fulsom, also a Choctaw on the evening of the 4th of July, 1882, having been convicted by a jury of his countrymen and sentenced to death, about the middle of November, 1883. He was ably defended by Colonel C. LeFlone, a prominent Choctaw lawyer, but his only plea being that he was drunk, could not be held up as a defense.
Jealous of His Wife
He said he did not fear to die, but what seemed to trouble him as much as his approaching doom was that his wife might take unto herself another husband after he was gone, this feeling probably being prompted by jealousy.
Between the conviction and execution James was guarded by Deputy Sheriff LaFlore at the latter's home in Scullyville. He made his will bequeathing his two children to his wife, and requesting that she kneel by his side and be shot with him - jealousy again.
Before the Fatal Hour
The execution was conducted by Sheriff R. J. Ward, of Scullyville county, assisted by deputies James Darnell, Wm. Kayser and J. W. Laflore. The wife of the condemned man, with her four little children, had been with him for about ten days and his sister and brother came up the day before the execution. About 1:30 o'clock Sheriff Ward entered the room where James and his family were and read the death warrant. Then followed a scene of the most touching character.
The Parting of Poor James
With his wife and little ones, which caused nearly every man in the assembly to shed tears, and turn from the scene to hide his emotion. Levi gave each of his little ones a fond, parting caress and then holding out both arms to his wife, and both moaned and sobbed pitifully, Levi telling her to be good and to make the children be good also. Then his relatives sadly left the scene and walked off down into the woods and his brother proceeded to dress him for the grave in a nice suit of black clothing. About the time he completed his toilet his wife came hurriedly back with her youngest child in her arms saying she must see him once more and then another scene followed of the most heartrending character, the little child seemed to realize the situation by joining its parents in their grief. Then Mrs. James left and preparations were commenced for
The Final Act
In the tragedy of the day. Rev. Mr. Gray sang a hymn, in which Levi joined singing loud and clear. Then a fervent prayer was offered by the reverend gentleman, at the conclusion of which a blanket was spread on the ground and the prisoner who could not walk was carried to it, remaining in a sitting position. A large handkerchief was tied over his eyes. Sheriff Ward held to his right hand and Deputy Laflore to his left and Deputy James Darell sat on a bench opposite with a pistol in his hand. At a signal he raised the weapon and for a moment everybody held their breath, or seemed to, and then a clear, ringing report followed and Levi James was no more.
He Fell Back
Struggled slightly for a moment and was pronounced dead in three minutes. The ball entered just below the heart and went clear through. The body was then placed in a rude pine box and covered with a blanket after which his wife and children, sister and brother returned and their grief was shown by demonstrations that commanded the sympathy and pity of every one present.
A Sad Home Going
The box was then nailed down and placed in a wagon to be taken to his home some eighteen miles distant, his family and his sister going in the same conveyance. Only about thirty or forty persons witnessed the execution, the day being cloudy and rainy and the roads leading to the courthouse being in a deplorable condition.
Two Weeks of Piety
For the past two weeks previous to the execution Levi has done little else but read his Bible and sing hymns. Let us hope that his efforts in behalf of his soul may avail for some good.

Biography of a Bad One

Levi James was born and raised near Hackett City, just inside the Choctaw boundary and was the son of a once prominent Circuit Judge of Scullyville county, Davis James, who died previous to the war. Young James received the benefit of a fair common school education, but during the war, when but a mere lad, was afflicted with rheumatism to such an extent that he lost the use of his legs entirely and has not been able to walk a step since. Despite his crippled condition he was always a holy terror when under the influence of liquor being an excellent horseman, a good shot and a very quarrelsome, blood thirsty dispositino always going armed. It is said that when drunk he would seek a difficulty with his best friend and would not hesitate to kill when the opportunity offered. He was compelled to have assistance to get on and off his horse, and being engaged in raising stock was almost constantly in the saddle. When he visited Fort Smith he never left the city in a sober condition, though he would seldom if ever dismount from his horse. Hackett City was his principal trading point, and he was known to every man, woman and child in that part of the country, having been arrested there time and again for disorderly conduct and on some occasions for shooting into other people's houses. About two years ago he got into a row with two of his countrymen out there - Bill Fulsom and Jack Nail - and they shot him severely in the shoulder and the supposition for a time was that the wounds would prove fatal; but frail as he was, he soon recovered and was ready for another fracas. In his business transacantions he was honorable and paid all debts promptly and when sober was a good quiet citizen. He was married at an early age to a white girl only thirteen years old, who survives him with two children. He also leaves one brother and one sister. He was about thirty years of age.

The Murder of Fulsom

The particulars of the crime for which part paid so severe a penalty are about as follows:

On the day of the tragedy he attended a celebration at Hackett City, and while there got on a spree. Late in the evening he started home, and young James Fulsom, with another young man, accompanied him to see that he got there all right. Arriving at James house Fulsom wanted to assist him from his horse, but he would not get down unless Fulsom would stay with him. This the young man would not do and after parleying a short time, rode off in the direction of him at a rapid gait, and when he got in pistol range drew a revolver and deliberately shot the young man off his horse, for no cause in God's green earth except to satisfy his blood thirsty nature, which was aroused by strong drink. Fulsom was the son of a prominent and influential ministor of the gosepl, Rev. Willis Fulsom and was a young man of good character and much promise.

James fled to Chickasaw Nation after committing the deed, but was arrested and brought back about four months aftewards and vigilantly guarded until his trial, but was never placed in jail. After his conviction and sentence, he remained under guard until the fatal day arrived when he was executed in the manner described above in accordance with the laws of the Nation. (Public Ledger, December 17, 1883, page 2)


Desperate Duel on Road

One of the Gang Riddled by Bullets from Sheriff's Rifle - Three Captured Without a Shot. One Escapes

Muskogee, Okla., March 24 - The county officers of Pushmataha and Leflore counties have succeeded in capturing the Johnson brothers one of the most dreaded gangs of outlaws that has infested the Klamitia country for a long time. One of them was killed in the capture, one escaped after he had been captured and two are now in jail.

There were four of the Johnsons - Sam, Grant, Buck and Dutch. For years they have lived in their home in the mountains near the line between Pushmataha and McCurtain counties. They went armed everywhere and were the terror of the mountain section. The old federal officers gave them a wide range. The chief charge against the Johnsons was horse stealing.

All of the Johnsons were under indictment for stealing horses, but they had never been arrested. A horse was stolen a few days ago from Raymond Wilson, and Sam Johnson was accused of the theft. The sheriffs of LeFlore and Pushmataha counties got together and with a posse went into the mountains and quietly surrounded the Johnson home. Three of the boys were there. The officers waited until they came out into the yard and got the drop on them. All three were captured without firing a shot. They were shackled and with one man they left to guard them. Sam Johnson was not present, but was located at the home of Chuck Blackwoods, near Big Lick. Johnson saw the officers coming and sprang out into the road and opened fire on them with a six-shooter. He ran up within fifteen yards of Sheriff Ellis, still shooting, when the latter dropped him with a winchester. As he lay on the ground he rolled over and again shot at Ellis. The latter then riddled him with bullets. Johnson had been married but two months.

The officers started to Talihina with their prisoners tied on their horses. They did not get through the mountains until far into the night and the trail was so rough that Sheriff Ellis was walking and leading one of the horses on which one of the outlaws had been tied. He struck a match to see the trail when he discovered there was no man on the horse he was leading. Grant Johnson had managed to slip his ropes, dropped off the horse and escaped without the officers knowing it. He has not been seen since.

The body of Sam Johnson was left where he was killed. (The Daily Ardmoreite, Wednesday, March 25, 1908, page 7)


Held for Running Still - Alleged Moonshiners Near Le Flore to Appear Before Grand Jury

POTEAU, Okla., May 16 – Jake Postell, his son Sam, and Frank and Will McManus were ?held to the United States grand jury yesterday by Commissioner Bagwell on charges of operating a moonshine still at Le Flore, this county. They were arrested last week in a raid by the internal revenue officers from Fort Smith who captured their still while the plant was in full operation. Upon failure to make bond the men were taken to jail at Muskogee.
(Source: Tulsa World – May 17, 1920 - Submitted and transcribed by Sandra Davis)

LeFlore County Man Found on Railroads After Being Killed -- Slayer Unknown

Fort Smith, Ark. May 26 -- Mystery surrounds the murder of Adam Wilkins at Howe, Leflore county, Oklahoma, whose body was discovered on railroad tracks near Howe about 2:30 o'clock this afternoon. Adams had been shot through the mouth, death being instantaneous. No weapon was found on or near the body. Deputy Sheriff Hale and the county coroner from Poteau went to Howe and conducted an investigation but declare they were unable to indicate the identity of the slayer of the officer. The officers report that Wilkins had been active against manufacturers and dealers in "choc beer" and the theory is advanced that those activities may have led to the shooting.
A special from Poteau says Wilkins was 42 (?) and had long served as interpreter for J.E. Irvine, Indian agent at Poteau. The coroner's jury at Poteau declared the man had been murdered by unknown parties. Testimony at the inquest was to the effect that the victim was last seen at his home at Howe about 8 o'clock Tuesday night. Other witnesses heard shots about 8:30 o'clock where the body was found today. The victim's head had been cut from the body which was then placed on the railroad track and had been mangled by passing trains. The face bore several marks made by a small knife blade, and through the head there were two bullet wounds. Automobile tracks were followed from near the victim's home to the place where the body was found. [27 May 1920; "Tulsa World" - Submitted by Kimmy T.]
Alleged Robbers Free - Two Accused of Raiding Postoffice in LeFlore Count Freed

Muskogee, Okla., July 14 -- Tom Ray and Frank Day were acquitted by a jury in the federal court today of the robbery of the store and postoffice at Williams, LeFlore county, Oklahoma. A broken knife blade found sticking in the door the morning after the robbery, fitted the broken knife taken from Tom Ray by the officers. This was the government's strongest evidence. Ray swore that he found the knife on the porch in front of the postoffice the morning after the robbery. The jury believed him.
[15 Jul 1920; "Tulsa World" - Submitted by Kimmy T.]
Murder Charged to Poteau Man - Ed Warring Suspected of Having Fed Poison to His Wife

Poteau, Okla., July 28 – Poison was found in the stomach of Mrs. Ed Warring, whose husband was arrested pending investigation according to a report received today from the state chemists at the university of Oklahoma at Norman. Warren was removed to the McAlester jail this morning as a matter of precaution as it is said feeling is running at a high pitch and the Poteau jail, a frame structure, offered little security.
Charges of first degree murder were filed against Warring by James Babb, county attorney of LeFlore county, alleging the Warring poisoned his wife.
Warring will be brought back for his preliminary hearing Friday. He maintains his innocence.
The death of Mrs. Warring, which occurred at Loving, aroused suspicion and the body was exhumed in order that an analysis of the stomach might be made.
(Source: Tulsa World – July 29, 1920 - Submitted and transcribed by Sandra Davis)


LeFlore Deputy Killed and Another Badly Injured in "Negro Town"

Fort Smith, Ark., Dec 6 -- Deputy Sheriff Art Pearson of Braden, LeFlore county, Okla., died in a hospital here at 8:30 tonight, after he and Special Deputy Bert McKenzie had been beaten to insensibility and left for dead in a street at Fort Coffee, a Leflore county Negro settlement, this afternoon. McKenzie, with a fracture skull is expected to recover.
Late tonight it was reported one of three Negroes charged with the assault had been captured and was being taken to Poteau, the county seat for safe keeping.
The officers who went to Fort Coffee to serve a warrant on two Negroes on charges of bootlegging, were brought to Ft. Smith hospitals. Both had fractured skulls. Pearson died a short time later.
The attack at Fort Coffee occurred about 4:30 o'clock.
The sheriff and a posse of five or six men, with bloodhounds, left Poteau tonight in search of Henry and A.D. Toney and a third Negro, who are alleged to have beaten the two officers.
Frank McKenzie, brother of the special deputy, who followed and discovered the wounded men, said the officers were struck down in the doorway of the Toney house. He said there was a bent and battered .22 caliber rifle there which had been used in the assault.
McKenzie is still unconscious and said to be in a critical condition.
[December 07, 1920, "Tulsa World" - Submitted by Kimmy T.]
Quarrel Ends Fatally - Young Farmer of LeFlore County Shot After Crop Argument.

Fort Smith, Ark., Aug 7 -- Thomas Spence, 22 year old farmer of LeFlore County, Oklahoma, is dead here and Arthur Phipps, another young farmer, is in the LeFlore county jail, Poteau, Okla., charged with his murder, as the result of a quarrel over a share crop which the men were making.
Spence was shot by Phipps in the abdomen with a Winchester shotgun at 8 o'clock Saturday night. He was brought to a Fort Smith hospital where he died early Sunday morning. The 16-year-old wife of Spence, a bride of eight months, was the only witness of the shooting.
Phipps gave himself up to officers after the shooting.
[1922-08-08; "Tulsa World" - Submitted by Kimmy T.]

INFANT  BOY  STAB  VICTIM
Mother Held, After Brother 10, Also Is Injured
WISTER, Okla. --- A 14-month-old boy was stabbed to death and his 10-year-old brother was injured at their Wister home today.
Their mother, Mrs. Dorothy House, 45, a widow, was arrested for investigation, Sheriff Jack Craig said.
Craig and Scott Houser, 10, ran from the house to his grandmother's home nearby.  Scott, Craig said, was cut in the left side of the throat, but apparently was not hurt seriously.
Craig said he had been called to the Houser home, where he found the body of Quinn Edward, the infant, dead with two stab wounds in the throat.  The body was on a bed.
Mrs. Houser was in the house, dressed in night clothing and a house coat, Craig said.
The sheriff said blood stains were found in three rooms of the house and that a hunting knife with a four-inch blade was lying on a dressing table.
Mrs. Houser's husband, Thomas S. Houser, died two months ago.
(Arkansas City, KS, Traveler ~ Wednesday ~ January 29, 1958 ~ Page 1 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)