The Citizens and the Assassins

“Red Buck” 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.

 

 

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.

 

Seven Intriguing Facts About Moman Pruiett

Moman Pruiett, 1872-1945

Moman Pruiett, 1872-1945

Moman Pruiett.

Criminal Attorney or just plain criminal?

And why on earth has a movie never been made about this man?  After all, he was one of the most successful defense attorneys in the United States.  Just read the following quote from Gerald F. Uelman, Professor at Law, Santa Clara University, California:

 

From 1900 to 1935, he defended 343 persons accused of murder.  Three hundred of them were acquitted.  Not one was executed.  But with rare exceptions, Pruiett tried all his cases in the Indian Territory which became Oklahoma.

Attorney Pruiett was an arrogant man who swaggered in the courtroom making sarcastic remarks when serious matters were being discussed and while smoking the smelliest cigars he could buy.   Having been arrested and convicted twice as a young man, he had a hatred for the justice system.  Upon his second conviction, he made this vow to the jury:

You’ll regret this.  . . .  As sure as I live, I’ll make you sorry.  I’ll empty your damned jails and I’ll turn thieves and murderers loose in your midst, and I’ll do it in a legal way.

He lived up to that vow.

In 1909 Moman Pruiett was hired by Jesse West and Joe Allen to represent them upon their arrest for the murder of Gus Bobbitt near Ada, Oklahoma.  But unless you have already read my book, here are 7 intriguing facts about Moman Pruiett which you may not know:

  1. Moman Pruiett was the son of a Confederate war captain of the Civil War.  He was born in 1872 on a steamboat named The Great Gray Eagle heading down the Ohio River.  He was named “Moorman” after his mother whose maiden name was Moorman.  After being released from prison, he changed his name to “Moman” due to a relative accusing him of shaming the Moorman name.
  2. Moman was sworn in as an attorney in 1895 at the young age of 23 with no more than a third grade education.  He was simply admitted to the bar by a federal judge who thought he had what it takes to be a good lawyer.
  3. In the beginning of his legal career, Moman Pruiett relocated from Texas to Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, where he found an abundant number of murder cases to be tried.  He fought cases in practically every county in Oklahoma.
  4. Despite his lack of education, Moman Pruiett was an intelligent man who used self-learned skills to practice tactics that abused the legal system.  He used both entertainment and fear to persuade juries to ignore the facts before them.  Using these tactics, he won many cases which set guilty men free and which earned Moman a modest fortune.
  5. Moman was fearless and maintained a distinguished appearance which made him stand out in the community.  Yet, he was cruel, hot tempered, and at odds with society.  He was quick to fight, shoot, curse, and was often consumed with fits of useless rage.
  6. After the height of Moman’s success, he moved to Miami, Florida, where he invested his modest fortune on the purchase of a small seaside mansion.  This mansion was wiped out by a hurricane and Moman returned to Oklahoma to resume his law practice.
  7. Moman Pruiett died of pneumonia in 1945 at the age of 73.  He spent his last years living on a meager pension.

 

James Brown Miller, a/k/a Killer Miller

James Miller with wife Sally.

James Miller with wife Sally.

James Brown Miller had many occupations throughout his lifetime.  He was a deputy sheriff, Texas Ranger, livery stable owner, real estate agent, stockman, swindler, and gambler.   But the two roles for which he was known best are church deacon and professional hired assassin.

Often referred to as “Killer Miller”, James Miller, on at least one occasion, boasted that he had killed up to 31 men with his shotgun.   It is believed he killed his first man . . . his brother-in-law John Coop . . . at the age of 22.  He was arrested and tried for many murders, but witnesses who were scheduled to testify at trial rarely made an appearance as they feared for their life if they were to testify against the killer.  The people who did appear at court were church members who depicted him as a respectable citizen.  James Miller walked away from each trial as a free man.  He was never convicted or punished for taking a single life . . . until the mob in Ada lynched the cold-blooded killer who was regarded by many as “the most dangerous criminal that ever lived in Texas.”

Fort Worth Daily Gazette, August 1, 1884.

Fort Worth Daily Gazette, August 1, 1884.

“I congratulate your citizens on having rid the country of one of the coldest blooded cutthroats that ever successfully defied the criminal laws of Texas.”    ~ J. B. Wilson, Pecos, Texas, in a letter to the Editor of the Ada Weekly News.

 

Honoring Two Oklahoma Marshals This Memorial Day

Allen Augustus Bobbitt

Allen Augustus Bobbitt

This Memorial Day weekend (May 27, 2013), I thought it appropriate to honor two Oklahoma Marshals mentioned in my book who were assassinated in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, just weeks before the lynching of 1909.

First, of course, is Allen Augustus (Gus) Bobbitt.  Though he was no longer serving as a marshal at the time of his death, he served as Deputy U.S. Marshal in Indian Territory during the years 1895-1897.   He was murdered/ambushed on February 27, 1909, by the widely-known cold-blooded assassin of the times – James Brown Miller.

Next, is Ezekiel (Zeke) Putnam who was killed on January 16, 1909.  Mr. Putnam was serving as city marshal in the town of Allen.  A resident named Mack Lee had Zeke killed after hiring an assassin whom he met at The Bucket of Blood named Daniel Scribner.

Ezekiel Putnam

Ezekiel Putnam

Both of these men were well liked and respected in their communities.   Both men are buried at the Rosedale Cemetery in Ada.