Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Rufus Buck Gang & Reflections

Before we begin, I wanted to make a quick A-to-Z announcement. There will be an optional Reflections post in May, where anyone who wishes to can post their thoughts on the A-to-Z. Because I had sort of done that on my "Z" post last year, I did not participate, but I definitely will be this year! The sign-up for the reflection post will go up May 7. The post will occur the following week, and participants can post any time during that week.

I hate to do two bloodthirsty posts in a row, but today's post took me by surprise when I started my research. I do feel I should warn you that these guys committed heinous crimes. Please be aware of this as you proceed.

ufus Buck Gang.

This is another one you might not have heard of. The Rufus Buck Gang was a group of robbers, murderers and rapists, who exercised their reign of terror over the course of thirteen days, for the most part. They were a mix of African American and American Indian (Creek) men. Their leader was Rufus Buck.

Buck's fellow gang members included Lewis Davis, Lucky Davis, Maoma July and Sam Sampson.

Rufus started out committing robberies on his own, but he so impressed Davis, Davis, July and Sampson that they joined forces with him in the summer of 1895. Despite their uniform hatred of the white man, they exacted their vengeance on anyone who crossed their path, be they white, Creek or black; man or woman; adult or child.

On July 28, 1895, they killed U.S. Marshal John Garrett. They then proceeded to rob stores and homes around Creek Territory. One robbery victim, Callahan, was told if he could outrun them, he could live. He successfully outran them, but the angry gang killed his assistant instead. He was able to get into town and tell the Creek Light Horse Police, who set out after the gang, to no avail.

Having left a swath of violence behind them, they stopped by a home and asked for supper. They allowed the wife to wait on them until after they'd eaten, and promptly tied the husband up and took turns with his wife as he watched.

In one day they robbed several stores and killed several men after asking to trade horses with them (when they refused, they were shot and their horses taken anyway). That same day, they shot a young black boy who happened to cross their path. As you can see, it really didn't matter who it was, they were going to pay for having been in the presence of the Rufus Buck Gang.

The people of Indian Territory were up in arms now. Not only were the police searching for the Rufus Buck Gang, but several posses were out looking, too. When winter came, the gang disappeared. Though they kept searching, the gang was not found.

When spring came around, the U.S. Marshals at Fort Smith sent out S. Morton Rutherford to hunt down the gang. He and his men, which included members of the Creek Light Horse Police, found them camped out near Muskogee. Rutherford and his men took them by surprise, and a gun battle ensued which lasted several hours. Once the gang ran out of ammo, they were taken into custody. Rutherford and his men had to deal with a mob several hundred strong, who wished to take the law into their own hands and deal with the men who had so terrorized them over the last year. The Principal Chief of the Creeks, General Pleasant Porter, addressed the crowd first, trying to get them to disperse. When they refused to listen, Rutherford tried. Eventually, the crowd did leave, and the prisoners were successfully taken to Fort Smith in the morning, to await trial.

Judge Isaac Parker (also know as the Hanging Judge, like Roy Bean), sentenced them to hang. They appealed, but lost out, and were hanged July 1, 1896 in front of spectators.

Were these guys scary or what? Ever heard of them?

On a lighter note, come back and read about Belle Starr tomorrow. I have a little story from my grandfather about her.

May you find your Muse.

*Letter R courtesy of Mae Templonuevo at
**Photo from, Public Domain, "Little-Known Black History Fact: The Rufus Buck Gang," Erica Taylor


Rebecca said...

another great trip into history

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And we thought gangs were bad now.

Jeremy [Retro] said...

i am going to comeback and read all the ones i have missed... this a great history.

Right On... to the challenge "R" is for Refreshing Post!
Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
A to Z Co-Host
My New Book:
Retro-Zombie: Art and Words

Sarah Allen said...

The original gangsters. Kids today need to pull their pants up.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Ruth said...

Never heard of them. Very interesting!

Gossip_Grl said...

WoW on this gang they were pretty vicious and as it sounds was probably deserving of the hanging as punishment.

Chuck said...

Well sounds like some "gangs" of today. I guess this kind of activity has been around forever. Great tale of the old west...and I can't wait for Belle Starr.

Jemi Fraser said...

Yikes! What a heinous crew - glad I live now and not then!

Beth Camp said...

This entry reminded me of some family history. Keep these stories coming! My grandmother's father was stationed at Fort Reno, Oklahoma (Indian Territory) right about this time.

Sara Hill said...

Never heard of the Rufus Buck gang before, but I know about Belle Star. Coming back tomorrow.

Andrew Leon said...

I don't remember ever hearing of these guys, but John Garrett sounds familiar. I'll probably have to break down and look him up.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Becca, thanks!

Alex, no kidding!

Jeremy, what a compliment, thanks!

Sarah, haha, indeed!

Ruth, thank you!

Gossip Grl, I agree, quite vicious. I went into it with the attitude that their lives caused it, but they were pretty brutal, and they were killing their own. True psychopaths in their behavior.

Chuck, I'm curious how long gangs of this sort have been around. As long as there have been groups of people living together?

Jemi, heinous they were!

Beth, interesting history! I had family there at the same time, as well, but they were part of Indian Territory, save a territorial marshal, who I believe was Caucasian.

Sara, thanks!

Andrew, I wonder if you are thinking of Pat Garrett, of Billy the Kid fame, or if it is truly John Garrett?