Old West Myth & Fact Archives

The Rufus Buck Gang

Rufus Buck was a Ute Indian living in the Indian Territory. The Rufus Buck Gang comprised of four Creek Indians and a combination Creek and black. All of them had served time in jail for minor offenses.
           
Buck supposedly boasted, “That his outfit would make a record that would sweep all the other gangs of the territory into insignificance.” And on July 27, 1895, the gang started a thirteen-day crime spree that did exactly that.
               
They killed Deputy Marshal John Garrett. They came across a Mrs. Wilson. She was kidnapped and violated. From there they saw Gus Chambers with some horses. When he resisted, the Buck Gang killed him. They next robbed a stockman, taking his clothes and boots. Fortunately, he was able to escape in a hail of bullets. Two days later, they invaded the home of Rosetta Hassan. She was violated in front of her husband and children.
 
The Rufus Buck Gang
The gang was arrested, and brought before Hanging Judge Isaac Parker, and they were sentenced to be hanged. He scheduled it for July 1, 1896 between nine in the morning and five in the evening.
 
Quite possibly Judge Parker should have stated an exact time, because, on the day of the hanging, one of the gang members said he wanted to be hanged at ten in the morning so his body could be on the 11:30 train. Rufus Buck protested, saying that if he was hanged that early, there would be a several hour delay before his body could be on the appropriate train. The Rufus Buck Gang then decided they wanted to be hanged separately.
 
Marshal Crump smiled, set the time for 1:00, and hanged them all at one time.

Wild Bill Hickok Fighting

Wild Bill Hickok fightingOn July 21, 1870 Deputy U.S. Marshal Wild Bill Hickok was in a bar in Hayes City, Kansas when two of a group of five Seventh Cavalry troopers suddenly attacked him from behind. It’s not quite clear what provoked the attack, but there is thought it might have had something to do with an encounter Wild Bill had seven months earlier with Tom Custer, brother of George Custer and a member of the Seventh. But one thing is clear, you didn’t want to be on the wrong end of Wild Bill Hickok fighting.
           
One soldier held Wild Bill’s arms so he couldn’t fight back. A second put the muzzle of his pistol to Wild Bill’s ear and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened.
               
Now Wild Bill is fighting with super human strength. He got one pistol unholstered and shot one of the soldiers in the wrist and the side. Finally able to point his pistol at the man holding him, Hickok shot him in the knee. Released, Wild Bill then did the old stuntman trick of jumping through the window, breaking glass, rolling on the ground outside, and hightailing it out of the area.
 
It was a good thing too, because when word of the shooting got back to the Seventh’s headquarters a number of soldiers headed into Hayes City looking for Wild Bill. General Sheridan even ordered Hickok’s arrested. But it never took place.
 
The event, just as it happened, was something most people would find an amazing feat. But as with most of Hickok’s adventures, it immediately took on even larger proportions. At first newspapers said all five soldiers attacked Hickok. And some ten years later Wild Bill had taken on 15 troopers, killing 3, and being wounded 7 times. Now that’s a story you could tell with pride.

Clay Allison Dies

Clay Allison DiesJuly 26, 1887, The Globe Live Stock Journal, Dodge City, Kansas – Reporting on Clay Allison Dies: Clay Allison, a brave, true-hearted and oft-times dangerously reckless man, when in his cups, has at last died with his boots on, but not by the pistol route. He fell from his wagon in Texas, some days ago, the wheels of the same running over his neck and breaking it. The career of Clay Allison is perhaps unparalleled in the western country and should be written up by some one conversant with it.

All of our old timers knew Clay Allison. He knew no fear, was a good looking man. To incur his enmity was about equivalent to a death sentence. He contended always that he had never killed a man willingly; but that the necessity in every instance had been thrust upon him. He was expert with his revolver, and never failed to come out first best in a deadly encounter. Whether this brave, genteel border man was in truth a villain or a gentleman is a question that many who knew him never settled to their own satisfaction. Certain it is that many of his stern deeds were for the right as he understood the right to be.

By 1883, Allison had sold his ranch and moved to Pope’s Wells (a landmark along the Goodnight–Loving Trail), purchasing a ranch near the Pecos River crossing of the Texas-New Mexico line (50 miles northwest of Pecos, Texas). Clay and his wife, “Dora,” had two daughters: Patti Dora Allison (born on August 9, 1885; Cimarron, New Mexico), and Clay Pearl Allison (born February 10, 1888; Pecos, Texas—seven months after her father’s death).

In a special ceremony held on August 28, 1975, Clay Allison’s remains were re-interred at Pecos Park, just west of the Pecos Museum. His grave marker (which has the incorrect birth date of 1840), reads:

ROBERT C ALLISON
CSA
CO F
9th TENN CAV
SEP 2 1840
JUL 3 1887
GENTLEMAN
GUN FIGHTER


A second marker was later placed at the foot of the grave (see below); with the added phrase: “He never killed a man that did not need killing”.

Clay Allison Dies

William Brady and Billy the Kid’s Regulators

Billy the Kid kills a sheriffThe Lincoln County War was going full tilt. William Brady was the sheriff of Lincoln County. Brady was known to be in the pocket of the Murphy-Dolan faction… the bad guys as far as Billy the Kid was concerned. The next sequence of events unfold as Billy the Kid’s Regulators come to the forefront.
           
During this time, Billy the Kid had formed his “regulators,” a semi-legal group to fight what he considered was the corruption in the county. And, for the most part, the average local looked favorably upon the regulators.
               
On the morning of April Fools Day 1878, Sheriff William Brady was walking down the Main Street of Lincoln with four of his deputies.
 
Then, from behind an adobe wall, guns started barking. It’s obvious that Sheriff Brady was the main target, because in a matter of seconds, he had more than a dozen holes in him.
 
Brady and Billy the Kid had history. Billy blamed Brady for the death of his friend John Tunstall, and in February of that year, Billy had tried to arrest Brady. But, Brady turned the tables on the Kid, and the Kid ended up in jail.
 
It was revenge through and through. When the shooting died down, Billy the Kid walked up to the body of Sheriff Brady. Some say Billy was looking for arrest warrants for Billy and the regulators. Others say Billy was looking for the Winchester rifle Brady had taken from him back in February.
 
When a bullet shot from hiding nicked Billy’s hip, Billy wisely returned to cover and the regulators left town.
 
Although Billy was able to get his vengeance, the outcome of the event wasn’t good for him. Because of the way it happened, Billy started losing the sympathy of the locals, and they began questioning the legality of his regulators. 

Dick Fellows – Bad Outlaw Horseman

Dick FellowsWe see outlaws in the movies riding at breakneck speed to chase down a stagecoach, and then jump from the horse to the stagecoach to encounter the driver and guard. All outlaws weren’t that good of horsemen. One such person got out of San Quentin Prison on this date back in 1881. His name was Dick Fellows.

Raised in Kentucky, Dick Fellows…An alias…came to California, and falling on hard times decided to rob stagecoaches. He picked the correct stage. It was carrying $240,000. However, as he was getting ready to go after the stage, the stolen horse he was riding threw him, and he was knocked unconscious.

Not one to give up, Fellows stole another horse and held up the next stage. He was successful. After the stage left, he tried to lift the strong box on his horse. The horse startled and raced off.

With night coming on he started walking with the strong box. Next he fell over a high bluff, knocking himself unconscious a second time. He woke up with a broken leg and foot.

Although the strong box has $1800 in it, he never got a chance to spend it, before Wells Fargo Detectives caught up with him.

When he got out of San Quentin, I believe most people would take the hint and go straight. But not Fellows. He went back to robbing stages, only to be caught again and sentenced to life in Folsom Prison.

Fellows devoted part of his time there to teaching a course in moral philosophy to his fellow inmates. Pardoned in 1908 at the age of 62, he returned to his home in Kentucky and faded from the historical record. It is tempting to lampoon Fellows for his inept horsemanship and astonishingly bad luck, but as one biographer noted, “For daring, he is the equal of any outlaws with whom I ever had dealings.”

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