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Pale Horse Revelations #45 - The Rufus Buck Gang

Hello readers and welcome back to Pale Horse Revelations. Let me begin with an apology for the long and unannounced hiatus. While there were a number of reasons for this, the primary one was the need to focus all my attention on the completion of the first draft of the Pale Rider's next adventure. With that goal accomplished, I am eager to return to our weekly exploration of significant people, places, and events in Old West history. While I make no promises, don't be surprised if some of these places, people, or events find their way into future Pale Rider adventures.

For this week's foray into the past, we will cast our collective gaze upon the notorious Rufus Buck Gang. In July of 1895 they launched a ten-day crime spree that terrorized the citizens of Indian Territory (modern-day Arkansas and Oklahoma). In that short time period, they managed to leave their own bloody mark on history.

The gang was named for its founder, Rufus Buck. Rufus was born to an African American mother and Creek father around the year 1875. By most accounts he was a troubled youth and had already spent time in the Fort Smith, Arkansas jail for minor offenses by the time he turned eighteen. In 1895 he joined with four other youths, all of African American, Native American, or mixed decent to form the Rufus Buck Gang.

Except for Rufus himself all the gang's members were teenagers. They're names were Lewis Davis, Sam Sampson, Maoma July, and Lucky Davis. After banding together, they took time to prepare by stockpiling weapons near Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Their first foray into violence came on July 30th, 1895 (or the 28th according to some reports), when they killed U.S. Deputy Marshal John Garrett when he attempted to stop the robbery that they were committing.

Over the next ten days the five disaffected youths committed a series of attacks on stores, ranches, and settlers. No one was safe. The gang's alleged crimes included robbery, rape, and murder. According to some accounts Rufus Buck was motivated by a desire to provoke a Native uprising that would drive the whites from the territory. This motivation seems unlikely given the fact that the gang's victims included African Americans, whites, and Creek Indians.

Just days after killing the U.S. Marshal the gang crossed paths with a white man and his daughter traveling by wagon. They allegedly held the man at gunpoint while kidnapping the girl who was subsequently raped and murdered. Sometime later they allegedly killed an African American boy. During one robbery the gang beat the elderly salesman, Ben Callahan, until they thought he was dead, then stole his boots, saddle, and mule. They robbed multiple stores in Orket, Oklahoma. At least three other women fell victim to the gang. Two of the three, a Miss Aryes and an unnamed Indian girl, died as a result of their treatment by the gang. The third victim, a Mrs. Wilson was reported to have survived and recovered.

The gang was finally apprehended on August 10, 1895, by a joint force that included the Creek tribal police, called the Creek Light Horse, and lawmen led by Marshal S. Morton Rutherford. The five young killers were eventually brought before "Hanging" Judge Issac Parker. As expected, all five were sentenced to hang. The sentence was carried out on July 1, 1896, at 1:00PM.

Thus ended the brief but bloody story of the Rufus Buck gang. And this brings us to the end of another edition of Pale Horse Revelations. I hope you found it to be both interesting and entertaining. As usual, I have tried to provide some interesting historical information while trying not to bog the casual reader down with too much detail. I encourage anyone interested in learning more to dig in and do a little research of their own.

As a reminder, I would love to hear your suggestions for topics to focus on in future editions of Pale Horse Revelations. If there's a particular location, person, or event that you would like to know more about, please let me know. Just fill out the Contact form found on the "Contact the Author" page of this website and indicate your desired topic in the message box at the bottom of the form. I look forward to hearing from you all.

Please be sure to check back next week for the next installment of Pale Horse Revelations and thank you for your continued interest and support.

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