“Red Buck” Waightman

George "Red Buck" Weightman (aka George Waightman)

George “Red Buck” Waightman (aka George Weightman)

On September 25, 1889, prisoner George “Red Buck” Waightman (aka Weightman), charged with horse theft, was en route by train to Fort Worth, Texas, accompanied by Deputy-Marshal Nestor and fellow prisoner George Lee.  During the train ride, the two prisoners were granted permission to visit the “water-closet”, wherein Red Buck soaped his hands, slipped off his handcuffs which bound him to his fellow prisoner, raised the train window, and jumped out.  This was Red Buck’s third escape in three months.  (As reported in the Fort Worth Daily Gazette on Sept. 26, 1889.)

Red Buck Waightman became one of the cruelest of the outlaws of the Wild West.  He joined the Doolin-Dalton Gang, but was ousted from the gang by Bill Doolin himself due to Red Buck’s vicious desire to kill.  But Red Buck would go on to form his own gang.  One of his gang members was George “Hookey” Miller, a Texas lawman turned outlaw.  In February 1896, however, U.S. Deputy Marshals in Custer County, Oklahoma Territory, had formed a posse and were tracking down these two men when Red Buck and Miller had stopped at a residence owned by W. W. Glover to seek shelter during a bitterly cold winter night.  Glover welcomed the two men into his home, but then rode into town to inform the posse as to Red Buck and Miller’s whereabouts.  Glover’s intent was to collect the bounty that was on the outlaws’ heads.  Glover only agreed to lead the posse to the outlaws with the assurance that he would be protected.  The posse promised Glover protection, but then failed to provide it when needed.  A shootout occurred, during which Glover was killed.  Red Buck and Miller escaped, and the posse followed them to Custer County.

On March 4, 1896, again to escape a bitterly cold winter night, the two renegades stopped for the night at the residence of a man named Adolphus Picklesimer.  The posse had somehow been informed of their new location, and the posse surrounded Picklesimer’s residence and waited throughout the night.  A violent shootout took place in the early morning hours, once the two outlaws emerged from hiding inside the residence.  Miller’s gun hand was shattered by shots fired, and Red Buck, having received several bullets, lost his life.  Picklesimer survived the shootout, but he was arrested for harboring fugitives.  Miller, in excruciating pain, was arrested for the murder of W. W. Glover.

The Guthrie Daily Leader.  March 17, 1896.

The Guthrie Daily Leader. March 17, 1896.

As reported by The Guthrie Daily Leader on March 17, 1896, Buck Waightman, “one of the boldest criminals that was ever in the territory”, was wearing a fine gold watch when he was killed.  This watch belonged to C. E. Noyes and was taken by Buck and his gang during a robbery at Mr. Noyes’ general store.  Hookey Miller claimed, as reported by the newspaper, that he had taken the watch off Buck’s dead body and hid it in the dugout where they were captured.  With his hand being shot off, Miller said he removed the watch with his teeth and buried it in the dugout with his feet.  The reporter went on to say that Miller talks freely about his partners who have been killed, but refuses to tell anything on those still living.

George “Red Buck” Waightman was buried in Arapaho, Oklahoma, Cemetery.  George “Hookey” Miller, having charges dropped against him for the death of W. W. Glover, was and remained one of the fastest shooters of the West despite the fact that he was now one handed.

 

 

Ada, Oklahoma Monument Placed In Far Off Location

Ada Lynching Memorial

Ada Lynching Memorial

The monument pictured above memorializing the Ada, Oklahoma, lynching of 1909, has been put in public view once again.  It was first erected in 1997 on private property in downtown Ada (close to the lynching site), at the expense of historian Bill James.  However, the monument was removed by city workers and placed into storage during the aftermath of a fire in a nearby building in 2009.  It was there the black granite stone remained until October 2014.

The memorial briefly describes the lynching of four men and it displays the infamous picture taken by photographer Noah B. Stall of the four men hanging.   There is one detail on the monument, however, that no longer holds true.  That is, “The four were taken to the Frisco Livery Barn only a few feet from this marker and lynched.”  Unfortunately, this stone monument now sits in Box X Cemetery, which is located between Oil Center and Beebe.  The Ada, Oklahoma, lynching memorial now sits more than 11 miles away from the location of the lynching and away from Ada.

Yes, I do realize that the organization (OKOLHA) which placed the memorial in Box X Cemetery most likely chose this location due to citizens’ opposition to having the monument in public view.  And Box X Cemetery is certainly a respectable cemetery.  But we are now living in a time in which history is being removed from our school books, flags are being burned, and monuments are being destroyed and/or removed from public view (as is happening in Oklahoma City).  Bad events, such as the lynching in Ada, have certainly happened in the past, but shouldn’t memorials of these events be reminders to all of us and lessons to our children which help ensure history does not repeat itself?  I would hope Ada residents would not join in with the, “That offends me!  Take it down!” crowd that seems to be so prevalent these days.  These fights which these monuments memorialize were fought in the past.  We were supposed to learn from them and grow closer.  We shouldn’t still be fighting them.

It’s history, folks! And history can’t be changed, but only respected and learned from.  So leave it alone.  And put the monument back in Ada, where it belongs.

Ada Lynching Photo

 

Heavener Runestone Park, Heavener, Oklahoma

For my 50th birthday, my two daughters arranged a tandem paragliding flight for me in Oklahoma.  This is something I have been wanting to do for quite sometime.  And it is a gift which I will always remember.

Heavener Runestone Park

Heavener Runestone Park, Oklahoma.
Photo by TravelOK.com

We took flight off Poteau (pronounced po-toe) Mountain which is located just outside the city limits of Heavener and which provides a wonderful view across the Arkansas border.  (Watch the video in full screen to view the scenery!)

This area from which we took flight is an interesting place to visit as it is also the location of Heavener Runestone Park, a beautiful state park which sits on the edge of the Ouachita Mountains.  The park has mysterious ancient stone carvings which many believe to be evidence of Vikings traveling through the area in the 1700’s, or perhaps even earlier.  Some people, however, doubt this to be true and question the authenticity of these carvings.   A well-established trail leads hikers down into a wooded canyon surrounded with steep rock walls and which provides a close examination of the runic stones.  A beautiful place to visit, and a place to be enjoyed by both the young and the old.

Oklahoma City Bombing, April 19, 1995

Firefighter holding one-year-old "Baylee" after Bombing at Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.  Iconic photo by Charles Porter IV.

Firefighter holding one-year-old “Baylee” after bombing in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.  Iconic photo by Charles Porter IV.

Today (April 19, 2015) marks the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in which 168 U.S. citizens were killed and more than 680 people suffered severe burns, bone fractures, and abrasions.  The ages of the victims ranged from 3 months to 73 years, with 19 of the deceased victims being babies and children.  Using a Ryder truck to explode a bomb which was manufactured from stolen materials in Kansas and transported to Oklahoma City, the blast could be heard and felt up to 55 miles away from the bombing site.  This was the worst act of domestic terrorism in American history.

The bombing was carried out by anti-government co-conspirators Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.  McVeigh, having been stopped on a routine traffic violation just an hour after the bombing occurred and taken to jail for unlawfully carrying a weapon, was identified as a bombing suspect two days later.   He was executed in 2001 by lethal injection.  Nichols is serving multiple life sentences with no possibility of parole in Colorado at a federal penitentiary.

On a side note:  April 19 is also the anniversary date of the lynching that occurred in Ada, Oklahoma, in 1909.

Lynching in Ada, Oklahoma, April 19, 1909.

Lynching in Ada, Oklahoma, April 19, 1909.   Iconic photo by Noah B. Stall.

 

 

 

The Ada Lynching: A Descendant’s Point of View

It was just a matter of time before I heard from one of the descendants of the four men lynched in Ada, Oklahoma.  During my research, I had occasionally run across articles written by descendants of the four accused men which tell of the Ada lynching as seen from their family’s view.  It is usually portrayed in such a way stating that their loved one, who had been accused of murder and hung from the rafters, had been terribly wronged.  Well, they would be right.

My first question is, however, to whom should the anger and the blame for the hangings have been directed?  Should it have been directed towards the mob?  I have no doubt that the four men lynched were entitled to have their day in court.  The fate of the four men hung should never have been decided by angry citizens, but rather by an honest jury.  And their demise should not have occurred at the force of fellow citizens masked in the dark night.  But again, is it accurate to put the blame on the mob?  After all, this is the hand the citizens were dealt.  Known assassins congregated in and around Ada because they knew they could.  They were even provided a saloon to be used as their gathering place.  Having already killed an unknown number of men, there was no adequate law enforcement available to the community so as to deal with the many assassins.  And at times when they were dealt with, the court system allowed assassin after assassin to be tried as murderers yet released back onto the streets free to continue roaming among good citizens.

When a system fails to protect its citizens, eventually the citizens will take a stand and protect themselves.   And when one of the most cold-blooded assassins arrived in town, the citizens did just that.  Were they right in doing so?  There is no right that has occurred here, and there are no winners in this story.  None whatsoever.  There are only those who have been wronged by a failed system.

Perhaps I could take the suggestion of the descendant (below) and tell his untold story of the four men lynched.  But in all fairness, I should also include the untold story of descendants of the innocent men who were murdered by assassins living in Ada at the time the story took place, whose families never received justice for the murders of their loved ones.  I have personally heard from a couple of them as well.  It appears to me that families – from all sides of the story of the Ada lynching – are still seeking closure.  They didn’t find it in 1909.   And most likely, they won’t find it now.

My own book review:  If you are looking for a story with a happy ending, then this book is not for you.

Descendant's view of Ada Lynching

About That Book Review

Ah, yes.  That lonely book review.

First, I want to express my gratitude to “sherifmd” for providing my first book review on Amazon.  I have no choice but to acknowledge that he only gave me two stars (one certainly can’t overlook that), but the review itself was fair, positive, and polite.  For that I am grateful.  Here is what he had to say:

Concise coverage of events.  If you have read much on the lynching, then pass on this book.  Nothing new is covered in this book.  If you have not read much on the lynching, this book provides all the known detail and is a good read.

When the majority of your readers consists of older men who are already well acquainted with the facts behind the lynching and who purchased the book through a local individual, it is difficult to get any online review at all.   So, therefore, I will be grateful for this one lone review.  But still, I can’t help but wonder why only two stars while claiming the book to be “a good read”.  It appears as though he gave my book a low score due to the fact that he already knew the story.

This book, Citizens and Assassins, was written for people with an interest in history who are not familiar with the Oklahoma lynching of 1909 and for those who want to call to mind the events leading to the hanging.  It was written in an effort to see that the story is never forgotten.  Even the city of Ada seems to have intentionally allowed the story to wane as they have taken out of the public’s view nearly all references to the lynching.   When I became interested in learning about the hanging of four men which took place in Ada, I had a difficult time finding a book that accurately told the story.  There are two known books which were written about the Ada lynching; one titled, Four Men Hanging, by Welborn Hope, and the other one, well, not even worth mentioning.  Both of these books are out of print and were written with a fictitious narrative making it difficult to determine facts from fiction.   I spent a great deal of time looking for these books, and was terribly disappointed once I was finally able to read them.

Upon a visit to the local historical society in Ada, I inquired about information on the lynching.  A kind lady referred me to Four Men Hanging.   While this book was “a good read” (borrowing sherifmd’s words), it failed to cover the history of the people associated with the lynching.  Once I mentioned to the kind lady that I had already read the book, she replied, “Well, that book has all there is to know about the lynching.  There is nothing else to know.”  Just a quick internet search told me this was not correct, as there was much more to the story than what this book had to offer.

For these reasons (and for others), I was compelled to write a book on the subject.  While Citizens and Assassins may not provide new information for “sherifmd” (though I feel I have a good argument against that point), I encourage him to show me where one can find a “concise coverage of events” of the lynching in one single location as has been provided in this book.

Amazon Review Screenshot

Screenshot of “sheriffmd” review on Amazon.

 

Gravestone: “Murdered By Human Wolves”

Katherine Cross In Violet Springs Cemetery near Konawa, Oklahoma, sits a 1917 gravestone with an epitaph that reads, “Murdered by human wolves”.  This is the grave site of an 18-year-old woman named Katherine Cross who died while under the care of Dr. A. H. Yates.   Dr. Yates was charged with performing a “criminal operation” on the young woman who was expecting a child.  Dr. Yates was a married man and father of four.

Miss Cross was Dr. Yates second victim, as a woman named Elise Stone (also 18-years-old) died at the hands of Dr. Yates just two months prior.  Dr. Yates claimed that Elise’s death was due to a “congestive chill.”  But an investigation by the Attorney General (as was requested by suspicious citizens) resulted in a court order being obtained to have the body exhumed and an autopsy performed.  It then became known that Elise’s death was the result of a “criminal operation.”   Dr. Yates was arrested for the death of Elise.  Also arrested for Elise’s death was a man named Fred O’Neil.   O’Neil was a teacher in his 30’s, married man, and father of three who had (it is believed) impregnated Miss Stone.  Yates performed an abortion, with O’Neil as his assistant, in an attempt to keep the pregnancy from becoming public.   Although news reports are hard to find, it appears as though Dr. Yates and Fred O’Neil were both acquitted.

This story had been forgotten over the years, and the epitaph on Katherine Cross’s stone would lead local legends to arise claiming that the young Katherine Cross was killed by werewolves (among other stories).  However, news reports printed at the time indicate that both Miss Cross and Miss Stone were the victims of botched abortions performed by a local doctor and a teacher.  Miss Cross is buried next to her grandmother, and her accused killer (who died years later) is buried only a short distance away in the same cemetery.  The words carved on Katherine’s gravestone were requested by her grieving parents.

Katherine Cross

Blake Shelton and Bringing Back The Sunshine

Bringing Back The SunshineI am thrilled to see “Ada” shown on Blake Shelton’s newest album cover, “Bringing Back The Sunshine”.  Ada, Oklahoma, is Shelton’s birthplace, and a great little town it is!  This album will be released by Warner Bros. Records on September 30, 2014.

Way to go, Blake.

A Man Called “Hookey” Miller

George Hookey MillerThere were many fast-draw gunfighters of the Wild West, but few (if any) of them compared to a man called “Hookey.”  And there are many past stories to tell about this man, George “Hookey” Miller  — the good, bad, and the ugly.  But this article is meant to briefly detail this man’s amazing skills as a gunfighter.

Hookey lost his right hand and the first joints of three fingers on his left hand during a shootout in Oklahoma Territory on March 5, 1896, with U.S. Deputy Marshals who were hunting down a cold-blooded killer named “Red Buck” Waightman.  Hookey himself was a cattle rustler at the time.  Later, after being released from prison, he was fitted for a steel hook in place of his amputated hand, which gained him his nickname, “Hookey.”  (This story is told in much more detail in my book.)

Before the shootout of 1896, Hookey was considered to be quick fingered and one of the fastest draw in the entire Wild West.  This was a skill he maintained after his amputation, despite the fact that he wore a steel hook strapped to his right arm and he had partial fingers on his left hand.  Hookey mastered drawing a pistol with his left hand and shooting a rifle with his right arm while pulling the trigger with his hook.  Eventually, with this skill in place, Hookey became a bodyguard and bartender at Jim McCarty’s saloon near the Canadian River in Pottawatomie County.  Hookey was hired by McCarty to protect him from outlaws who frequently visited his saloon.  Certainly one of the best gunfighters of his time.

 

Remains Of Sacred Heart Mission Near Konawa, Oklahoma

Bakery

Bakery house built in late 1800’s.

“May 12, 1877, three strangers descended a bald hill in the then Pottawatomie Nation, Indian Territory, and took possession of what was to be the future Sacred Heart Mission.” (The Indian Advocate, June 01, 1902.)  This Mission would become a monastery which would be the center for Catholicism in the Indian territory.

The Mission consisted of a church, a boarding school for Indian boys, a convent for the Sisters, a school for girls, and a college which trained students for seminary.  A beautiful self-sustaining community, it had a farm with orchards, gardens, vineyards, herds of animals, and agriculture to supply food for the institution.  It had its own bakery (pictured above) wherein the Sisters baked 500 French loaves of bread each day.  The Mission had its own publication (The Indian Advocate) which was a quarterly review printed in the bakery house.  In addition, it had stables, a tool house, a carpenter shop, and a blacksmith shop.

Two-story log cabin.

Two-story log cabin.

But on the night of January 15, 1901, fire broke out and destroyed Sacred Heart Mission.  The Indian Advocate reported that the fire began in the dinning room of the boy’s school and then spread first to the chapel, then to the monastery, and finally the college.  No lives were lost.  The light from the blaze could be seen 60 miles away.  The community that took nearly 25 years to build was destroyed in just three hours.

This weekend I went on a guided tour of the remains of Sacred Heart Mission.  Leading the tour was a member of Oklahoma Outlaws Lawmen History Association who had a wealth of knowledge to share.  While a church was rebuilt atop the hill, only two of the original buildings remain standing today — the bakery and a two-story log cabin — which are in excellent condition.  Also still in existence next to the Mission is a cemetery for the Priests and Brothers and a cemetery for the Sisters of Mercy which contains an old crucifix of Jesus.  While I found Sacred Heart Mission to be a beautiful place, I also found it to be quite grim.

 

The priests cemetery.

The priests cemetery.

 “Dear old Sacred Heart!  Where art thou?  What has become of thee?  If these crumbling walls could speak, they would tell us what they have witnessed of holy prayers, self denial and hard labor, during the lapse of twenty-five years.  . . .  If the courageous and noble hearted pioneer, Rt. Rev. I. Robot, whose remains rest in peace near the sad ruins, would stand up and speak, he would tell us many a thrilling story of the early days of what fatigues and hardships ‘Sacred Heart Mission’ cost him.”   

(The Indian Advocate, March 01, 1901.)

Crucifix in Sisters of Mercy cemetery.

Crucifix in Sisters of Mercy cemetery.