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.
I liked Mathematics in school and I was pretty good at it, but I can’t say that I had the mind of a great mathematician. As to being able to invent something, or create something of great mathematical value, I don’t know if my mind worked in that direction. The really great inventions take an extraordinary mind…one like that of Gladys Mae West (née Brown), an American mathematician who was known for her contributions to the mathematical modeling of the shape of the Earth, and her work on the development of the satellite geodesy models that were eventually incorporated into the Global Positioning System (GPS). I doubt if anyone alive today can say they don’t know about GPS. It has been a fundamental part of life since 1973, although most of us knew nothing about it then.
West was born in 1930 in Sutherland, Virginia, south of Richmond. Her family was an African-American farming family in a community of sharecroppers. Her mother worked at a tobacco factory, and her father was a farmer, who also worked for the railroad. West knew she did not want for follow in her parents’ footsteps, and she knew that the only way out was to get a really good education. Family money was not going to be her way to college, so she knew she would need scholarships. Fortunately, the high school she attended gifted the top two students each year with a full-ride scholarship to Virginia State College (University at that time), a historically black public university. West worked hard and graduated in 1948 with the title of valedictorian. With the goal of graduating as one of the top two students behind her, West was a little unsure of just what to do next. She had never given much thought to what she would study…if she got to go to college, but she really had her pick, because she had excelled in all of her courses. Her teachers and counselors encouraged her to major in science or math because of their difficulty. West chose to study mathematics, a normally male dominated subject at her college. She also became a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. In 1952, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. Following her graduation, West taught math and science at Waverly, Virginia for two years. Then returned to VSU to complete her Master of Mathematics degree. She graduated in 1955, and briefly took another teaching position in Martinsville, Virginia.
Her big break came in 1956 when she was hired to work at the Naval Proving Ground located in Dahlgren, Virginia. These days it’s called the Naval Surface Warfare Center. West started her job as the second black woman ever hired and one of only four black employees. West was a programmer in the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division for large-scale computers and a project manager for data-processing systems used in the analysis of satellite data. While she was working there, she was also in the process of earning a second master’s degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma.
West was dedicated to her work. In the early 1960s, she participated in an award-winning astronomical study that proved the regularity of Pluto’s motion relative to Neptune. She also began to analyze data from satellites, putting together altimeter models of the Earth’s shape. She became project manager for the Seasat radar altimetry project, the first satellite that could remotely sense oceans. West consistently put in extra hours, cutting her team’s processing time in half. This extra time spent, earner her a commendation in 1979.
In the mid-1970s she began working on an IBM computer to deliver increasingly precise calculations to model the shape of the Earth…an ellipsoid with irregularities, known as the geoid. She generated an extremely accurate model which required her to employ complex algorithms to account for variations in gravitational, tidal, and other forces that distort Earth’s shape. West’s data ultimately became the basis for the Global Positioning System (GPS), which we all know about today. She was inducted into the United States Air Force Hall of Fame in 2018. Today, West lives quietly with her husband, Ira. They have 3 children and 7 grandchildren.
I’m sure that most people who are from Wyoming have heard it said that Wyoming is about 20 years behind the times. I suppose that in some ways we are, and I don’t think that is always a bad thing. If we are twenty years behind everyone else on crime, for instance, I’m happy. I’ll admit that for anyone who is looking for the latest styles or latest gadget…well, it can take a little longer to get to Wyoming. Nevertheless, Wyoming hasn’t always been 20 years behind the times. In fact, on this day, December 10, 1869, Wyoming stepped out ahead of the pack, when the Wyoming territorial legislators passed a bill that was signed into law, giving women the right to vote.
Many people have speculated that the legislators did not have the best motives for passing the piece of legislation. People speculated that while everyone knew the importance women played in the settlement of the west, they felt that it was really to bolster the strength of the conservative voters. Others will tell you that it was done because the 6,000 adult men were lonely. By making it legal for women to vote, they hoped it would bring in more women, because the 1,000 women in the territory was not a good number when it came to courting. They hoped that the right to vote would be a big draw to women who wanted equal rights.
I can’t say for sure what the real reason was to pass the legislation, but if you ask me, Wyoming was ahead of its time for once. Another group of people who wanted women’s rights wanted it simply because it was the right thing to do. William Bright, who was one of the territorial legislators, who was in his mid-forties, and had a very persuasive wife, was convinced by his wife that denying women the right to vote, was a gross injustice. The other major backer, Edward M. Lee, the territorial secretary who had championed the cause for years, argued that it was unfair for his mother to be denied a privilege granted to African American males. I’m not sure if he should have used that analogy exactly, but the truth is that he was right. If one citizen is allowed to vote, then all citizens who are of age should be allowed to vote.
I don’t really think that the reasons behind the move to give women the right to vote matter so much as the fact that it happened. I don’t believe in one citizen having for rights, and others who should really have that right too, but are denied. Maybe Wyoming is behind the times in many ways, but is some of the most important ways, they are ahead of their time.