The Rufus Buck Gang

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.

BuckGang

Named for their leader, 18-year-old Rufus Buck, the gang had a total of five members. Sam Sampson and Maoma July were both Creek Indians. The brothers Lewis and Lucky Davis were Creek freedmen. Buck was the son of a black woman and Creek Indian father.  All of them had been apprehended on minor offenses and served time in the Fort Smith jail prior to their crime spree that summer. The rumored cause for the spree was that Buck “boasted that his outfit would make a record that would sweep all the other gangs of the territory into insignificance.”The gang began building up a small stockpile of weapons while staying in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

 It started on July 28, 1895, when they shot and killed Deputy Marshal John Garrett near Okmulgee. On their way from that murder, they abducted and raped a Mrs. Wilson. They killed Gus Chambers when he resisted the gang’s theft of his horses. They then robbed a stockman, taking his clothing and boots and fired at him as he fled naked. Two days later the gang raped Rosetta Hansen while they held her husband at bay with Winchesters.
The gang was finally apprehended, brought to Fort Smith and convicted in a rape trial. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court which upheld the verdict, and the gang was to die together. They were hanged on July 1, 1896 at 1 pm at Fort Smith

Rufus Buck [Founder – 1895-1896]
 07/01/1896) – Hanged, Ft. Smith, AR

Lewis Davis [member – 1895-1896]
 07/01/1896) – Hanged, Ft. Smith, AR

Lukey Davis [member – 1895-1896]
 07/01/1896) – Hanged, Ft. Smith, AR

Maoma July [member – 1895-1896]
 07/01/1896) – Hanged, Ft. Smith, AR

Sam Sampson  [member – 1895-1896]
07/01/1896) – Hanged, Ft. Smith, AR
Most men hanged in Fort Smith spent the morning of their executions deep in prayer or saying goodbye to friends and family. At least one member of the Buck Gang had more pressing concerns on his mind. That morning the execution was set for one in the afternoon. Immediately, Lucky Davis, a gang member, objected, saying he wanted to be hanged at ten in the morning so his body could be taken home on the “Cannon Ball” at 11:30. “Rufus Buck [then] said that if he were hanged at an early hour he would subjected to the inconvenience of several hours delay” before his body started home, and this would annoy him. Rufus and the three other gang members, including Lucky’s brother, sided together against him. Finally the gang decided to allow Marshal Crump to determine the time, which he set for one o’clock. At that point Lucky suggested that he might be hanged by himself, but Crump refused.

The execution proceeded at one o’clock with little incident. The Buck Gang were the only men to die on the gallows in Fort Smith for rape.

 Timeline for the Rufus Buck Gang (1895 1896)

In the end, there were four killings and numerous incidents.
Exact dates are a bit hard to come by, but here is the essence of their 13-day reign of terror…

07/30/1895 – U.S. Deputy Marshal John Garrett, Killed

07/31/1895 – rape and robbery

Ben Callahan beating; the gang taking Callahan’s boots, money, and saddle

Killing of a negro boy walking on the road

Killing travelers for their horse and property

Robbing of the Country Stores of West and J. Norrberg at Orket, Oklahoma

08/04/1895 – rapes involving the death of some victims

08/08/1895 – capture of the gang by an Indian-White posse

07/01/1896) – All hanged together at Ft. Smith, AR

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