Research

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.

 

A Petition To Abolish The Corner Saloon

Corners a hell hole

A vigilante is a person who takes the law into his own hands to avenge a crime.  This usually occurs when that person feels the justice system has failed him.  The good guy gets the bad guy.  And, often times, the vigilante is considered to be a hero.

In the case of the hanging in Ada, Oklahoma, in 1909, a group of citizens took it upon themselves to form a vigilante justice committee, and they then made the decision to hang four men awaiting trial for the murder of a local rancher.  This decision had been made after numerous murder cases went to trial preceding this one, all of which the courts and the juries failed to convict.  The citizens in Ada had at least 20 assassins-for-hire living in their community.   And no one was safe . . . not even the assassins themselves.

Many people would argue that the mob wrongfully took the lives of these four men.   They would be right.  Vigilante justice is never the right thing to do.  But sometimes, maybe, it is the only thing left to do.

“The Corners consist of the saloon and a big corral, with not another building nearby, located on a high hill just above the South Canadian River, with the Chickasaw nation on the opposite bank, and the Seminole nation just to the east.   . . . “

In July 1905, the citizens of Ada prepared a Petition which they sent to their governor requesting he abolish the Corner Saloon.   The Petition cited in detail 15 assault to kill cases and nine murders which were currently on the U.S. Court’s docket in Ada and of which were noted to have come directly from the Corner Saloon.   Said Petition was signed by “every business man and seven-eighths of the professional men of Ada,  I.T., a small city of 5,000”.

Why is this Petition important?  Because it shows that the citizens sought help from their state government in an effort to force the assassins to move.  Yet, it appears as though their pleas were ignored as nowhere have I found any response to this Petition.  The Corner Saloon remained open until statehood and prohibition forced all saloons in Oklahoma to close in 1907.  This is when the criminals began to congregate on Main Street in Ada.  It would then be two years before a mob in Ada would take matters into its own hands.  The citizens wanted governmental justice.  What they got was vigilante justice.

. . . .   “A feud between two factions has raged there for years and the saloon furnishes a meeting place and bad booze to stir up the courage and emnity of the two sides, hence the murders are of frequent occurrence, but the perpetrators are seldom if ever punished.”

(The Guthrie Daily Leader, July 17, 1905.)

 

A Visit To The National Archives

National Archives in Fort Worth, Texas.

National Archives in Fort Worth, Texas.

The National Archives’ website claims:

“Laid end to end, the sheets of paper in our holdings would circle the Earth over 57 times!”

And that doesn’t include the photographs, films, maps, charts, or 3.5 billion electronic records they have stored.  Yet, after a whole day of scrolling through rolls of microfilm in Fort Worth, Texas, I was unsuccessful in finding a copy of a signed Petition which is referenced in my book.  I was told by a woman who works there, and who is very familiar with the archives, that said copy probably does not exist.   I was also informed that of all the records created in the course of business by the United States Federal Government, only 1 to 3% was considered important enough to be kept forever.   I’m trying to imagine how many times their holdings would circle the Earth if 100% of the records had been kept.

The trip to Texas wasn’t a total loss, however.  I gained another valuable lead and had a great time hanging out with two of my kids in Texas.  And, of course, we took a little detour to Ada on the way home.

While my book is officially finished, my research continues on.

 Said one British woman to another during breakfast at the hotel in Fort Worth:

“They HAVE grape jelly in America!  In America.  They haaaaave grape jelly!!!”