In July and August 1895 the Buck Gang terrorized citizens of the Creek Nation, Indian Territory. Gang members Rufus Buck, Luckey Davis, Sam Sampson, Maomi July, and Lewis Davis joined forces after working individually as horse thieves and whiskey peddlers. All members were of American Indian or African American descent. Buck's motive for revenge on local citizenry was fueled by his hatred of white intruders in Indian Territory, and other gang members seemed to follow his lead. During their thirteen-day rampage the gang robbed general stores, shot and killed Okmulgee Marshal John Garrett, and assaulted several white women. They also shot Benton Callahan and killed his farmhand. Buck knew Callahan because Callahan's father, Samuel Benton Callahan, as superintendent of the Wealaka Boarding School, had expelled Buck from school.
On August 10, 1895, a gun battle ensued at Flatrock Creek, seven miles north of Okmulgee, between gang members and the law. After their capture, the gang was transported to the Federal District Court of Western Arkansas in Fort Smith, which had jurisdiction over crimes committed against whites in Indian Territory. They were tried and found guilty on charges of rape, and Judge Isaac Parker sentenced them to hang. After appealing to the Supreme Court, which issued no opinion, the gang was hanged on July 1, 1896, in Fort Smith.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: “Rufus Buck Gang,” Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Art T. Burton, Black, Red and Deadly: Black and Indian Gunfighters of the Indian Territory, 1870-1907 (Austin, Tex.: Eakin Press, 1991). Glenn Shirley, Thirteen Days of Terror: The Rufus Buck Gang in Indian Territory (Stillwater, Okla.: Barbed Wire Press, 1996).
Linda D. Wilson
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