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
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
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
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
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
between Pushmataha and McCurtain counties. They went armed everywhere
the terror of the mountain section. The old federal officers gave them
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
from Raymond Wilson, and Sam Johnson was accused of the theft. The
LeFlore and Pushmataha counties got together and with a posse went into
mountains and quietly surrounded the Johnson home. Three of the boys
there. The officers waited until they came out into the yard and got
on them. All three were captured without firing a shot. They were
with one man they left to guard them. Sam Johnson was not present, but
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
six-shooter. He ran up within fifteen yards of Sheriff Ellis, still
when the latter dropped him with a winchester. As he lay on the ground
rolled over and again shot at Ellis. The latter then riddled him with
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
night and the trail was so rough that Sheriff Ellis was walking and
of the horses on which one of the outlaws had been tied. He struck a
see the trail when he discovered there was no man on the horse he was
Grant Johnson had managed to slip his ropes, dropped off the horse and
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
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
(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
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.]
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.
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.
body was on a bed.
Mrs. Houser was in the house, dressed in night clothing and a house
coat, Craig said.
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
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)