The Rufus Buck Gang was a multiracial group of African American and Native American outlaws, notorious for a series of murders, robberies, and assaults. They were a brutal bunch, and they considered anyone fair game…men, women, and children. Headed up by Rufus Buck, the gang also consisted of Lucky Davis, Maoma July, Lewis Davis, and Sam Sampson. The men had no scruples and no respect for life. Their criminal activities took place in the Indian Territory of the Arkansas-Oklahoma area from July 30, 1895, through August 4, 1896.
Before they started their crime spree, the gang began while staying in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, by building up a small stockpile of weapons. Then, on July 30, 1895, they killed Deputy US Marshal John Garrett. With the lawman out of the way, they began holding up various stores and ranches in the Fort Smith area over the next two weeks. Then, the brutality began. During one robbery, a salesman named Callahan, after being robbed, was offered a chance to escape…if he could outrun the gang. Callahan was an elderly man, and they thought an easy mark, but he successfully escaped, which angered the men, so the gang killed his assistant in frustration. At least two female victims who were raped by the gang died of their injuries.
In all, the gang, Killed Deputy US Marshal John Garrett. Then on July 31, 1895, they came across a white man and his daughter in a wagon, the gang held the man at gunpoint and took the girl. They killed a black boy and beat Ben Callahan until they mistakenly believed he was dead, then took Callahan’s boots, money, and saddle. They robbed the country stores of West and J Norrberg at Orket, Oklahoma. They murdered two white women and a 14-year-old girl. Then, on August 4th, they raped a Mrs Hassen near Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Hassen and two of three other female victims of the gang…a Miss Ayres and an Indian girl near Sapulpa, all died; and a fourth victim, Mrs Wilson recovered from her injuries. Continuing attacks on both local settlers and Creek indiscriminately, the gang was finally captured outside Muskogee by a combined force of lawmen and Indian police of the Creek Light Horse, led by Marshal S Morton Rutherford, on August 10. While the Creek Light Horse forces wanted to hold the gang for trial, the men were brought before “Hanging” Judge Isaac Parker. The judge twice sentenced them to death, the first sentence not being carried out pending an ultimately unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme Court. They were hanged on July 1, 1896 at 1pm at Fort Smith.
When you have a family member in a nursing home, and you visit them often, the other residents of the nursing home soon become…almost like your family members too. You get to a place where you know their names, their personalities, and their funny little quirks. Of course, I’m not going to tell their names, even though I know them, but there are the two old ladies that didn’t know each other until they went to the nursing home and became roommates. Now everyone calls them the twins, because they are inseparable. They may not know where they are going, but they will be going there together…and together, they wander the hallways, always smiling and totally happy.
There is the little old lady who is often the first one to tell you hello when you walk in the door, and she doesn’t mind giving medical advice if you have a cough or some other simple ailment, because “she raised 7 children, so she knows what to do for a cough” and for just about any other ailment. She isn’t pushy though, she just wants to be helpful. There is the little old lady that walks down the halls and out of the blue, she just starts dancing a jig, and can even click her heals. While her mind doesn’t work as good as her body, she is perfectly happy and content in her surroundings. Of course, every nursing home has the sad ones and the grouchy ones, but many of them are happy and cheerful, and they always put a smile on my face.
The one that really surprised me the most though, was my mother-in-law’s roommate. She is a happy little lady and quite talkative when you get to know her. She will tell you that she was “born in Oklahoma 94 years ago, and that is the place where the tornadoes are…you know”. It wasn’t the things she said or the way she acted that surprised me, but rather…the way she looked. I mean, who would have guessed in a million years that my mother-in-law would end up sharing a room in a nursing home with a woman who looks so much like her mother-in-law. Yes, grandma was 10 years older than mom’s roommate, and Grandma never made it to 94, but I can easily imagine that she might have look just like her if Grandma had made it to 94. It makes me feel kind of good about mom’s roommate, because when she talks to her, it seems like she knows her, and maybe she thinks she is her mother-in-law. The other day she told her, “I was wondering if you were coming in.” It was just like something she might have said to her mother-in-law…like she thought her roommate was her mother-in-law, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she did.