Wagoner County

Crime News Articles

No Booze Found in Coweta by Deputy United States Marshals

Monday morning Will Ruble, Chas. McDonald and another Deputy U. S. marshal swooped down on Coweta from Wagoner for the purpose of impeding the liquor traffic which they supposed to be flourshing here, but their nasal appendages in this instance was at fault and they made a water haul.

The business men of Coweta are law abiding citizens and if liquors in small quantities are sometimes shipped here for medicinal purposes and they lynx-eyed federal authorities find it out, they arrest the parties to whom it is shipped and feel proud of their Carrie Nation stunt, no matter what reproach it may being upon the town.

Of course, the law upholds the U. S. marshals in going into business houses and nosing around to locate intoxicants, but there is something radically wrong with a law that will enforce this humiliation upon business men whose honor is unquestioned, and whose word their every day lives and their established integrity ought to be a sufficient guarantee that they are far above the illicit traffic in intoxicants.

The Ties believes in temperance and the law enforcement of the laws of the land, but it does not believe in a law that subjects, honored business men to the humiliation of being searched at any time a federal officer thinks that there is the remotest possibility of fastening a crime upon him.

Such intemperate zeal as displayed in the enforcement of the prohibitory law does the cause of temperance far more harm than good and one of the first laws to be enacted by the New State should provide that when a business man's house is searched for intoxicants that a failure to find it should subject the officer to damages, provided said business man has never previously violated the law and the officer had no properly executed warrant therefor. (The Tulsa Daily World, Saturday, September 1, 1906, page 5)

Race War is On at Coweta - Two are Killed, Many Injured

Muskogee, Okla., Oct. 22 - At nine o'clock Sunday night Company F, of the Oklahoma National Guard with headquarters at Muskogee, was called out to quell the race riot at Coweta near here. The company left here at 11 o'clock for the scene of the trouble. It was ordered out by District Judge W. R. Allen of Muskogee and Wagoner counties, who lives at Coweta.

Muskogee, Okla., Oct. 22 - One white man is dead, two fatally wounded, one negro dead, one shot and more trouble expected momentarily as a result of a race riot at Coweta, a town twenty miles northwest of Muskogee, Sunday afternoon. The dead white man is J. D. Beavers, city attorney of Coweta and a candidate in the last election for prosecuting attorney of Wagoner county. The two wounded men are Carmen Oliver and Stellar Thompson. Both were shot through the body and have little chance for recovery.

Ed Ruse, the negro who started the trouble was shot but not fatally wounded and Ed Suddeth, the negro who killed Beavers and wounded the other two men also was shot but not killed. After he had been shot he was strung up to the water tank at the railroad station, but the rope was cut before he was dead. Then cooler advice prevailed and under promise that Suddeth would be legally hanged within thirty days, the mob agreed to let the negro live if he does not die of his wounds.

Negro is Killed

At 7 o'clock Sunday night Suddeth, the negro who shot three white men, was turned over to Deputy Sheriff Flowers. Flowers had an automobile and endeavored to take Suddeth to Wagoner to get him away from the scene of his crime fearing a lynching. Just as the negro was lifted into the automobile the mob broke loose and the negro was literally riddled with bullets. There were probably fifty shots fired into  his body.

A state of terror existed in Coweta Sunday night. The sheriffs of Wagoner, Muskogee and Tulsa counties sent help to the town and every possible means is being used to prevent further outbreak, which the citizens fear is inevitable. Negro emissaries have hurried out to surrounding negro settlements swearing that they will bring in enough negroes to wipe the town off the map before morning. They propose to set it on fire.

Call in Negroes

One negro woman set out for Red Bird, declaring she would have all Red Bird down on Coweta before morning. Red Bird is an exclusively negro town. City Marshal Virgil Hurl started after the woman as soon as he found she had started to Red Bird, hoping to arrest her before she reached the town.

The trouble started late Saturday afternoon. A young man named Swazer, telegraph operator for the Katy railroad at Coweta, was walking along the street with a young woman. A negro, Ed Ruse, in passing pushed the girl off the sidewalk into the mud. Swazer immediately struck at the negro and another white man whose name is being kept secret, seized the negro and Swazer gave him a beating.

Sunda Ruse walked the streets of Coweta with a long knife in his pocket looking for the man who held him. City Marshal Hurl went to the negro in the afternoon and ordered him to give up the knife. The negro started to attack Hurl and the latter shot him. At that instant Ed Suddeth ran out of a house on the opposite side of the street and opened fire with an automatic revolver. D. J. Beavers was shot through the head and died instantly. Oliver and Thompson were shot through the body. All three were bystanders and had taken no part in the trouble.

General Riot Follows

The shooting became general and forty or fifty shots were fired. Suddeth, who had shot three white men, fled to a house and barricaded himself. A white posse opened fire on this house and set it on fire. Suddeth ran out and was shot, but it is not believed fatally. He then was taken to the railroad water tank, a rope placed about his neck and he was swung up. It was decided that to lynch him would probably bring on an instant war with the negro population of Coweta and he was cut down before he was dead. He is being guarded tonight in a vacant building.

Coweta is a town of 1,200. One-third of the population is negroes. It is located in a section of Wagoner county largely populated with negroes. A prominent business man in Coweta stated Sunday night over the phone that if the negroes organized they could have 2,000 armed negroes in Coweta before morning. He 'phoned Muskogee to state that the whites were neither well organized or armed. They have shotguns and sixshooters, but not enough Winchesters. They also are shot on ammunition.

"We have been expecting to have a fight for our lives now for two years and tonight I believe it has come," said this man. He also stated that he believed the night would bring a negro attack upon the town and that threats had been made that it would be set on fire. The town has no fire protection. (The Daily Ardmoreite, Monday, October 23, 1911, page 2)

Rage Riot in Oklahoma Town

One Negro and One White Man Killed, and Further Trouble is Threatened

Oklahoma City, Okla., Oct. 23 - Although it is quiet today at Coweta, Okla., where a race riot was threatened last night, on account of the killing of a white man and a  negro, it is feared that rioting will break out at night, as the big negro population of that section is reported strongly aroused. Sentinels will be kept on guard at Coweta all night.

The trouble started with the pushing of a young white woman off a sidewalk by a negro man. The negro was first beaten and after he had fatally shot the county attorney, he was riddled with bullets by the white people. (The Bryan Daily Eagle, Monday Evening, October 23, 1911, front page)

White Man's Slayer Lynched

Oklahoma Town Terror Stricken, Fearing Clash of Races

Coweta, Okla., Oct. 22 - Ed Suddeth a negro was shot to death tonight by a mob of citizens who armed themselves following a battle this afternoon between blacks and whites in which Suddeth killed J. D. Beavers, city attorney and wounded Carmen Oliver and Steller Thompson, white men. Both men have little chance to live.

Suddeth was wounded and then strung up to a water tank, but was later cut down and locked up. Tonight Deputy Sheriff Flowers attempted to take the slayer to the Wagoner jail. As the negro was being lifted into an automobile the mob fired upon him. Probably fifty bullets entered the body.

Large numbers of citizens came from the surrounding counties and a race war seems inevitable. The white men of the town were patrolling the streets and guarding their homes. They were afraid to take the women from the houses to send them to Muskogee on the last train out.

Pushed Girl Off Sidewalk

The trouble started yesterday. A telegraph operator named Swazer was walking with a young woman, when Ed Ruse, a negro, in passing pushed the girl from the sidewalk into the mud. Swazer struck at the negro, and another white man whose name is being kept secret, seized Ruse and Swazer beat him with his fist. Today Ruse has been walking the streets with a long knife in his pocket, seeking the man who held him. The city marshal ordered him to give up the knife and Ruse shot him. At this time Ed Suddeth ran out of a house across the street and opened fire, killing City Attorney Beaver and wounding Oliver and Thompson, all of whom were passing and had taken no part in the trouble.

Suddeth took refuge in a nearby house which was bombarded with guns and revolvers by several white men. The house was set on fire and Suddeth fired. He was shot but not fatally.

Killed Another Way

He was taken to the water tank, a rope placed about his neck and was swung up. It was then decided however that to kill him would precipitate a general race war and he was cut down. He was placed in a vacant building and guarded, but later it was determined to take him to jail. As he was being lifted into an auto, which was to take him to jail at Wagoner, a mob riddled him with bullets, probably fifty shots taking effect in his body.

Coweta is terror stricken tonight and it is feared an outbreak is inevitable. There are twelve hundred persons in Coweta, one third negores. The county is populated largely by negroes and it was today said that if the blacks were organized they could bring 200 men into town before morning.

Soldiers Sent To Coweta

Two Killed, Three Wounded in Race Riots

Muskogee, Okla., Oct. 23 - There is quiet in Coweta today, following the race riot there last night in which one white man and one negro were killed and two white men and a negro fatally wounded. The company of the State militia which was sent from Muskogee to the scene of the trouble at midnight last night is still at Coweta and will remain there all day. It is believed that their presence will prevent further trouble.

Early today John R. Thomas, section foreman on the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railroad, was found with his leg shattered beside the railroad tracks. Barely conscious, he told of having been waylaid and attacked by armed negroes during the night. He is in a desperate condition.

State militiamen today arrested twelve negroes and sent them in chain to jail at Wagoner. The negroes' houses were searched. In nearly every one the authorities say they found arms.

When news of the troops' coming spread among the negroes in Coweta and the surrounding country and villages - some of the latter almost wholly populated by negroes - quiet prevailed and the city marshal, talking over the telephone said that no trouble was expected later. However, further and more stringent measures were taken when the authorities assisted by soldiers, commenced searching the homes of negro suspects and this news spread presumably causing the arrival later in the day of strange negroes in Coweta. White men from the outlying districts also began to arrive in Coweta.

Herman Rea, white was halted he says near the outskirts of Coweta by two negroes carrying rifles. Rumors are afloat that the negroes will resist the search of their homes by the soldiers and these were met by the announcement that the troopers will brook no resistance, and that bullets will be used. Twelve negroes were arrested early today when the search of their homes disclosed arms. They were chained and sent to jail at Wagoner. A score or more of houses were searched. In many of them were found weapons. The occupants of several fled on the approach of the soldiers.

Unconfirmed reports at noon stated that two white farmers had been set upon and shot to death by negroes near Coweta. (TheBamberg Herald, Thursday, October 26, 1911, page 8)


Revolver Makers ThrowLight on Ownership of Fatal Weapon


Ambulance Driver Tells of Dispute Concerning Firearm

Tulsa, Aug. 16 --- The Tulsa Tribune announced today it had traced the revolver from which the shot was fired that killed Robert Hatcher, to a Sand Springs lumber concern that formerly was owned and operated by Birl O. Shepherd, who faces a murder charge in connection with Hatcher's death.

Shepherd, a real estate agent, is alleged to have killed Hatcher as a result of misunderstanding between the two men over Miss Alice Andrews, 22-year-old stenographer employed by Shepherd, and Hatcher's fiancee.

This important development came on the heels of other evidence that Shepherd had quarreled with an ambulance attendant over possession of the gun immediately after Hatcher was found mortally wounded.

It also followed two days of silence on the part of Shepherd and his attorney, Wash Hudson.  Shepherd pleaded not guilty to charge of murder following the shooting Tuesday which occurred when the two men met in an apartment Shepherd had rented for Miss Andrews and to whom she said her employer had made advanced after Hatcher had been successful in the same conquest.

By telegrams to makers of the gun, the Tribune established that it was sold to the Sand Springs Lumber company Dec. 1, 1924, through a Louisville, Ky., jobbing concern.  The lumber company three years ago became the Shepherd Lumber company, operated by Shepherd, and June 22, 1928, became the Vaughn Lumber company.


Last September a fire destroyed part of the lumber company's property, and it was believed that all records by which the gun's ownership might be traced further may have been destroyed in the blaze.

A short altercation between Shepherd and ambulance attendants over possession of the gun occurred in the apartment, Tom Wallace, assistant county attorney, was told.  The ambulance men, John Kennedy and Henry Schoeck were called by the manager of the apartment building when Shepherd reported he had seen Hatcher shoot himself.  "I told Shoeck to be careful with the gun beside Hatcher's body," Kennedy said.  "I wanted to wrap my handkerchief about it to keep from destroying fingerprints that might be on it."

"Shepherd asked me what business I had with the gun.  I told him I had a special commission and authority to take charge of the weapon.  I reached for the gun the same time he did, but managed to get it first.

"He tried to snatch it away but i put it in my trousers belt.  He tried to argue about the gun, but we didn't discuss it any further." (Miami Daily News Record ~ August 16, 1929, transcribed by Lori DeWinkler)

Roy Mannon Electrocuted

McAlester, Okla., March 1 (AP) – Protesting his innocence with almost his last breath, Roy Mannon was electrocuted at 12:17 a.m. today for the robbery-murder of Jake Skelly, 67 year old wagoner, Okla., resident.

McAlester, Okla., Feb. 29 (INS) – Disposition of a pet rat puzzled prison authorities tonight as preparations were made to electrocute Roy Mannon, condemned murderer at midnight.

Mannon was sentenced Feb. 13, 1939, for the murder of Jake Skelly, 67, of Wagoner, Okla.

Since entering death row at Oklahoma state penitentiary, Mannon spent his time in reading, sleeping and playing with his pet rat, which refused to enter any other cell in the death house. So tame was the rat that it would nibble on the end of Mannon’s pencil while he was writing pleas for clemency or letters to his mother.

Several days ago, the condemned murderer commented:

“If I have to go, I guess I’ll give the rate to my mother.”

Mannon was arrested after the body of Skelly with five bullet wounds, was found in an abandoned well thirty-five miles from Wagoner. At the trial Mannon contended he had purchased Skelly’s car and watch, traced to him from a man known as “Clarence.” Maintaining his innocence throughout the hearing, Mannon contended the murder was committed by “Clarence” and another individual known as Tom Colson.

The condemned man entered the death house still hopeful of a reprieve. He had heard, he said, that a “woman preacher” in Tulsa knew who committed the crime – that the actual murderer had confessed to her, and that she was attempting to obtain a stay of sentence. (Daily Illinois State Journal, Friday, March 1, 90, page 6)


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