In 1895, in the Indian Territory that became Oklahoma, a teenage gang of black and mixed-raced boys went on a two-week spree of committing horrible crimes against white settlers. The gang robbed, raped, and murdered certain individuals who crossed their path.
The gang’s leader was 18-year-old Rufus Buck, along with members Lewis Davis, Sam Sampson, Maoma July, and Lucky Davis. Buck was the son of a black woman and Creek Indian father. His purpose of forming the gang was to trigger an Indian uprising that would expel the illegal white majority and reclaim the territory for its native people.
The gang began building up a small stockpile of weapons while staying in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, until killing deputy marshal John Garrett on July 28, 1895. They then moved on to holding up various businesses and ranches in the Fort Smith area for the following two weeks. Two women who were raped by the gang members died from their injuries.
On August 10, the gang was eventually captured outside Muskogee by a combined force of lawman and Indian police of the Creek Light Horse, led by Marshal S. Morton Rutherford. The Creek officials wanted the gang to be tried but the men were taken before Judge Isaac Parker, who was notorious for sentencing Black people to death by hanging. The men were lynched on July 1, 1896, at Fort Smith.
After the death of Rufus Buck, a photo of his mother was found in his jail cell along with a poem on back.
i, dremP’T i, wAs, in, HeAven,
Among, THe Angels, FAir:
i, d, neAr, seen, none, so HAndsome,
THAT TWine, in goLden, HAir:
TheY, Looked, so, neAT,
And; sAng, so, sweeT
And, Play, d, THe, THe, golden, harp
i, was, ABouT, To, Pick, An Angel ouT,
And, TAke, Her, To, mY HeaRT:
BuT, THe, momenT, i, BegAn
i, THougHT, oF, You, mY, Love,
THere, Was, none, I, d seen
On, eArTH, or, HeAven, ABove.
gooD! By, My Dear, Wife..anD MoTHer
All. so. My SisTers.
Rufus Buck Gang family of
Lewis Davis, Lucky Davis
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[…] the young men went to the gallows for rape on July 1, 1896, a poem was discovered in Buck’s cell, scribbled on the back of a photograph of his […]
Glad to see history is not being forgotten. The deputy Marshall they killed to start their rampage, was one of the few African American deputies in the territory and from everything I have seen was well liked and respected by everyone in the territory. In addition to the crimes you listed they also carried out attacks on creek Indians as well, and on at least one occasion shot and killed a young African American boy just to watch him die.