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The Beginning of Tulsa
By J. M. Hall (1927)
(c) Karolyn Kay Garland (1997)
Nothing here is free for the taking. This book is reproduced here with the permission of the copyright holder - see copyright statement.
U. S. MARSHAL
RUSHED TO HIS DEATH
Most of the marshals were conscientious men. Others were unscrupulous. Some times it took a bad man to capture a bad man. Upon one occasion a marshal came to town with a warrant for an Indian living west of what is now Sand Springs. The marshal was drunk and pressed two or three other men into service to help him make the capture. When the little posse came within sight of the Indian's house the marshal spurred his horse into a run, jumped the animal over the fence into the Indian's yard, and created a scene. The Indian stepped to his front door, leveled his Winchester at the figure on the horse and shot him dead. The Indian was arrested later and taken to Fort Smith for trial. He was sentenced to 15 years in the penitentiary and served his term. He returned to this community where he still lives but his life has been ruined and is now one of dissipation.
On another occasion the marshals had a warrant for an old man who was accused of selling whisky. He lived in a shack near the present Frisco depot. After the warrant had been served the man asked to be permitted to gather some of his things. He went to the attic and in a few moments the marshals heard a fall. The man had taken poison and was dead when they reached his side. The Fort Smith court was held in deadly fear.
Bass Reeves, a negro deputy marshal, was one of the most noted officers of the early days. He was fearless. One night Bass went into the Hall store followed by a crowd of cowboys and others. The writer was talking to Reeves when a white man came in having all the appearance of an outlaw. Reeves asked him to give up his guns. The man threw his hands on them and Reeves did the same thing with his. The white man didn't draw but he refused to surrender the weapons.
"You are a white man and I am a negro," Reeves said quietly. "White men do not like to give up to a negro. You give your guns to Mr. Hall and when you are ready to leave town he will give them back to you" The white man complied.
HANGINGS WERE FREQUENT
Probably more men have been hanged in the same length of time at the order of the Fort Smith court than at the orders of any other court in the land. One hangman is credited with having executed 89 men there.
This court had much to do with instilling respect for the law in the new territory, and was a firm protector of life and property. Judge Parker was fearless, and could usually determine whether or not a witness was telling the truth.
Among the early marshals were Heck Thomas, Bud Trail, Bud Ledbetter, Joe Thompson, Lon Lewis, Ed Chapman, Grat Dalton, Marshall Wilkerson, Hy Thompson, Frank McLaughlin and Red Lucas.
Among the Indian police of the early days were Shawnee Hardridge, Bill Gurgess and Pugh Sunday.
U. S. COURT AT MUSKOGEE
By an act of congress in 1889 the United States court was established at Muskogee in April. By an act a month or so later certain laws applying to Arkansas were extended to cover Indian Territory. These were criminal as well as civil laws.
About this time a movement began in Tulsa that culminated in a demand for the location of a United States commissioner here. A number of Tulsans went to Muskogee to see Judge Springer about this. Senator Berry of Arkansas sent a letter with the committeemen in which he also urged the appointment. Judge Springer complied and named Judge Tollett from Tennessee to the position. Judge Tollett served for some years.
Later agitation began for the establishment of a United States court here. It met with a different reception, and gave early Tulsans an insight into one phase of national politics. The national committee man of that day told a man from Tulsa that a court was to be established either at Wagoner or Tulsa. He thought that if $500 should be paid the court could be sent to Tulsa. A meeting was held in Tulsa to consider his proposition and it was the sense of those attending that Tulsa should not be asked to pay anyone $500. The committeeman returned to Muskogee that same night. The next morning a few of the Tulsans met and reconsidered. They sent word to the Muskogeean that the $500 would be paid. It was too late, however, and Wagoner, only 14 miles from Muskogee, got the court. It was not until after 1920 that Tulsa was able to get a United States court.
For many years Muskogee had the United States Indian agent, the federal court, the Dawes commission and the townsite commission and everyone in the Indian Territory who had any business connected with either of these agencies
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