Monday, May 10, 2010

Wiley Haines, Deputy US Marshal

Judge Isaac C. Parker, well-known as the "hanging" judge, held forth in Fort Smith, Oklahoma, from 1875 to 1896. Parker's court had only 200 marshals to police 74,000 square miles of territory; the Indian Nations where outlaws hid from the law.

According to Wikipedia, In 21 years on the bench, Judge Parker tried 13,490 cases, 344 of which were capital crimes. Guilty pleas or convictions were handed down in 9,454 cases. Of the 160 (156 men and 4 women) sentenced to death by hanging, 79 were actually hanged. The rest died in jail, appealed, or were pardoned.

Wiley Green Haines was born in Monroe County, Oklahoma, in 1860. My interest in him stems from a cattle drive from Oklahoma to Arizona in 1876. Haines, 15 at the time, was a drover for the operation, which delivered 150 head of cattle to the army at Camp Verde. This army fort shows up in my first novel, Vulture Gold, so I have a personal interest. Camp Verde was not one of the posts that took care of reservation Indians, so I can only surmise that the beef was for soldiers.

Haines then spend two years cowboying in Arizona before returning to his native Oklahoma. There, he graduated from college, spent some time actually teaching at Southwest Baptist College, which had been established by his father, and then moved to California. His heart, however, seemed to have remained in Oklahoma, because as soon as Indian lands were opened up for settlement, Haines was there, running a real estate agency.

He became a Deputy U.S. Marshal in 1890 at the age of 30. His career as a lawman continued for 38 years. Thanks to great grandson, Dr. Joe D. Haines, the marshal's diaries and some of his letters have been preserved.

Of the territory he was asked to cover, the Osage Nation, Haines said, "The country was teeming with whiskey peddlers and horse thieves. What few were not following this living were cowed by the lawless and many failed to cooperate with the officers. This made it hard for the officers to discharge their duties." Master of the understatement, Deputy Haines.

Here's how Haines handled horse thieves. Note that this time frame is much later than those we use in our novels (or at least what I use).

February 4, 1900 Am notified that horse thieves have again made a raid on Indian horses. Perry King tells me they are on a trail north of Hominy Post.

I go north of Hominy post about one half mile and strike the trail. Ho-ke-os-ah and Perry King follow the trail, being joined by Tom Gilliland. With some difficulty we follow the trail near J.L. Freeman's. He joins us. We follow about eight miles east of there and discover the parties have quit the trail. But two of them have come back, evidently on look out. We find the trail again and soon discover the horses.

After having ridden the trail 35 miles we advance afoot. I send Perry King across branch. Tell Freeman to watch to the left and Tom Gilliland to go to my right. We advance. I observe several objects through the brush of the blackjack trees. I call, "Hey there! Hold up your hands!" I see a commotion but no sign of obeyance to the order. I fire and advance two or three steps. Call again, "Hold up your hands!" Am not obeyed. I fire again and advance and see two persons with hands up.

I discover that I have fatally shot two horse thieves, one namde Aruther Brooksher and the other gave his name as Henry Myers. I send for Dr. Unick. He advises that we remove Myers to a house. We go to (the) house, but when we arrive Myers is dead. Brooksher having died very soon after being shot. I go with corpese to J. L. Freeman's place. Stay all night, next day.

February 5, 1900 Take bodies of parties killed yesterday to agency. Acting Agent Wm. Leonard had them taken charge of by undertakers. They had five head of Indian horses with them.

Haines served long and well, once being very severely wounded. Just off his sickbed, he arrested Walter McLain, the last of the famous Doolin gang.

The deputy died of a heart attach on September 24, 1928. His obituary in the Tulsa World said:

There was in the time of Haines, Bud Ledbetter, and Frank Canton, no elaborate law organization. An officer was then literally the law and nothing but his judgement and his trigger finger stood between him and extermination. He had nowhere to pass the buck, no alibi, no reinforcements. It was often a case of a lone man against a pack of cunning devils long used to the brush and the cave. These men of law had no brass bands, typewriter, or press agents, and they had to be deadly as rattlesnakes.

Haines, like most of the real officers of his time, was rather modest and unpretentious. Practically none of the old-time officers -- with the exception of Heck Thomas -- had the courtly manner, the dramatic look, or the towering presence. They were the forerunners of our civilization and the job was a grim one. They were just as far from the movie type of gunfighter as possible. They were direct representatives of the United States, and they acted directly.

The passing of these unromantic men constitues the passing of a romantic era. it was a rough and ugly era, but in the light of that which came after, it was heroic and exciting.


  1. Fascinating! I know Dr. Joe Haines and especially his sister Kay. I went to high school with them. I am from Hominy, Oklahoma. I knew Joe's grandmother. She was the sweetest woman. Funny, growing up, I never knew any of this history. What a shame! Hominy should have some kind of memorial to this man.
    Oh, another interesting fact. A relative of my mom's was the last man to be hung in Denton County, Texas, John Quincy Adams Crew. He must have been an evil man. He killed a farmer and his wife and son. Then two lawmen. I'm not too proud of my kinship with this character! :)

  2. What an amazing story. Thank you so much for this exposè. I love the history of Our Great Nation.

  3. If you are looking for a heating and air conditioning company in the Tulsa County area, Our professional technicians can help you select, install, and maintain equipment to assure efficiency, reliability, and comfort over the lifetime of your products
    cadastro unick