THE CHEROKEE STRIP OUTLAW
by Michael Koch
One of the most well known outlaws of the Territory of Oklahoma was Zip Wyatt,
also known as Dick Yeager and Wild Charlie. The outlaw was born Nathaniel
Ellsworth Wyatt in the year of 1864 or 1868. Some writers have listed his first
name as Nelson and the exact date of birth or location is unknown. He was
probably born in Indiana.
His father, John T. Wyatt, served in the war between the states in the 85th
Indiana Volunteers. He married Rachel J. Quick, then just 16 years of age, in
Clay County, Indiana in 1860. Their first born was known as "Six Shooter
Jack" and was apparently an expert gambler. Jack Wyatt was killed over a
gambling table at Texline, Texas in 1891.
In all, 8 children were born to the family, seven boys and one girl named
Mollie. The family appears to have moved around a lot and lived in seven states
before settling on Antelope Creek on Cowboy Flats northeast of Guthrie, Oklahoma
Territory in 1889. Nathaniel's parents were poor and almost illiterate. Young
Wyatt acquired the nickname of Zip from a man named Myers who lived near Ft.
Smith, Arkansas. Two of the children of John and Rachel attended the Victory
school in what is now Logan County, Oklahoma.
Zip's mother, Rachel Wyatt, died on February 3rd, 1890 on their farm fourteen
miles northeast of Guthrie. The next year, Zip married Annie Bailey near Mulhall,
Oklahoma. Zip and Annie had one child, a girl.
Wyatt Becomes a Killer
On June 3, 1891 Zip shot up the town of Mulhall and wounded two citizens. He
escaped north into the Cherokee Outlet, then into Kansas. Sheriff John Hixon of
Logan County, Oklahoma now had a warrant for the arrest of Zip Wyatt.
At Greensburg, Kansas on July 4, 1891 Zip stole pieces of riding equipment from
a livery stable. Deputy Sheriff Andrew W. Balfour trailed Zip about ten miles
north to Pryor's Grove, where a plug-horse race was in progress. When Balfour
attempted to arrest the outlaw, Zip whipped a revolver from his coat and shot
Balfour in the stomach. The bullet passed into the spinal column and broke
Balfour's back. He died within minutes. Zip had been shot twice, receiving flesh
wounds in the hand and in the left side of his body.
Kansas now had a $1,000 reward out for Zip, so he fled to his native Indiana. He
stayed with an uncle in Indianapolis for a while. Later, Zip went to visit an
aunt near Cora, Indiana. Several months later Terre Haute police finally
captured him. After a long extradition proceeding, Zip was brought back to
Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory for a fighting case against him in Muhall based upon
"right of first warrant." The governor of Kansas was also holding a
writ of habeas corpus charging Zip Wyatt with murder.
Zip escaped briefly, but was captured. However, on December 31st, 1892, he
escaped again in a mysterious manner. He apparently crawled through a sewer pipe
in an unfinished section of the jail during a Salvation Army service. Some
people at the time believed Zip bribed his guards to let him go or was assisted
by the Salvation Army. They even claimed his wife Annie brought him a hacksaw
blade in a cake to help him escape.
A short time later, Zip joined with Isaac (Ike) Black. Black's wife, Belle - and
a couple by the name of Matt and Jenny Freeman - had provided Zip refuge before
his flight to Indiana and after his jailbreak in 1892. The women aided the newly
formed gang by carrying messages and supplies to their various camps in caves
and canyons of the "Gypsum Hills." Both women frequently travelled in
male attire, and it was believed the gang were those responsible for the
Hightower Store and post office robbery at Arapaho in November of 1893. Zip and
his gang were blamed for evey crime that was committed in the territory. He was
now wanted in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas with a $5,000 reward for his capture.
On January 20th, 1895 word came from Hennessey claiming that Zip Wyatt had
joined forces with Bill Doolin. A dispatch had claimed that Deputy Sheriff Abel
Washburn had shot and killed Zip Wyatt and Tulsa Jack Blake. It also reported
that a posseman had shot and killed Bill Doolin. However, a newspaper report on
January 22nd reported this dispatch to be untrue and that no such battle had
That same day, Fred Hoffman, the treasurer of D County (now Blaine County)
Oklahoma was killed and his body was found in a sand bank. Deputy U.S. Marshal
Chris Madsen and a posse arrested three men for murderer. All the men were
cleared of charges or acquitted in a trial. It was never proven who was actually
the murder of Mr. Hoffman. Mrs. Hoffman identified a revolver that was stolen
from Hoffman at the time of his murder. The gun was reportedly traced to Zip
Wyatt, who had given it to a farmer as a bribe to aid Zip in eluding officers in
August of 1895.
The local newspaper in Enid offered a suggestion to hang the next individual
that reported any false information concerning the deaths of Bill Doolin or Zip
Zip Joins Doolin Gang
On April 3, 1895 the Rock Island train was held up at Dover, Oklahoma by the
Doolin gang. This led to a massive manhunt by Chris Madsen and twelve other
deputy U.S. marshals. Tulsa Jack (William Blake) was the first of the gang to be
killed. It was just after this that Zip Wyatt and Ike Black are believed to have
joined the Doolin gang.
They all met at Vilas in southeastern Major County, which was Wyatt-Black
country. Madsen and his posse returned to El Reno on April 5th after losing the
trail near the Glass Mountains. It was here that the Doolin gang split up, never
to be together again as a gang. At the time, it was felt that Wyatt and Black
had helped the Doolin gang in the Dover train robbery. The truth may never be
known for sure.
The Terror Begins
On June 3rd, 1895, a gang of outlaws raided a store and post office at Fairview.
They took everything of value and three horses. Deputy Marshals Gus Hadwinger
and J. K. Runnels, riding with Sheriff Clay McGrath and Deputy Marion Hildreth
of Woods County, took pursuit after the robbers. The next day, June 4th, they
apparently surprised the gang in a cave near the county line.
The lawmen fought the outlaws for the entire day, killing a horse, and capturing
another. Zip was shot and wounded in the left arm and Ike Black was hit in the
left side of his right heel. The two wounded men escaped into the hills. One of
the saddles from the dead horse belonged to Zip. It had nine bullet holes in it
where previous lawmen had come within inches of Wyatt in the past.
The next day, the two women who had been with Wyatt and Black attempted to
escape from a dugout near the outlaw cave. They were caught, and when searched
were found to have money and valuables taken from the Fairview post office. The
hunt for Wyatt and Black now reached its peak, with a posse of over 200 armed
men looking for the two desperate outlaws.
The Rope Tightens
On July 26th, the two outlaws stopped at the Oxley post office in Blaine County.
A. B. Laswell, postmaster and proprietor of the store, recognized Wyatt and
Black. The two outlaws took food, tobacco and $35 in cash from the post office
and store. A courier went to Okeene, twelve miles to the north, to tell of the
By daybreak, a posse of farmers from Homestead found Wyatt and Black six miles
northwest of Oxley, near Salt Creek. When the posse demanded a surrender, the
answer was a volley of bullets. A man named Richardson was hit in the left
shoulder. Black was hit in the head but it was only a flesh wound. Both bandits
were bare footed and bleeding from apparently walking over rough terrain. Their
horses got scared during this gun battle and ran off.
On Saturday, July 27th, the outlaws had walked about five miles west of Okeene
and took some horses and a cart from a farmer. That evening, an Anti-Horse Thief
Association meeting was being held at Lacey, thirteen miles west of Hennessey,
when word came of the outlaws stealing a horse and cart and heading north.
Robert Callison, the constable of Forrest Township, and Jack Ward - an old
soldier and excellent shot - were attending the Anti-Horse Thief Association
meeting too. Callison organized a party of nine men to go after Wyatt and Black.
The posse found the two outlaws in a canyon the very next morning, July 28th.
John Suit went into the canyon with Jack Ward guarding him. The bandits opened
fire on Ward and some other men holding the horses. Frank Pope was shot in the
right leg. The gunfight lasted about 25 minutes. When the bandits ran out of the
canyon near Ward's position, they shot at Ward. Ward fired three times at Zip
Wyatt, who was evidently wearing a shield over his body. Ward felt sure that he
had hit Wyatt twice because Zip had fallen two times. Both bandits escaped on
the horses that had broken loose from the possemen. By this time another posse
from Alva arrived, led by Deputy Sheriff Hildreth, with five men. They continued
the chase for Wyatt and Black. Both bandits headed southeast across Cottonwood,
Elm and Gypsum creeks.
Battle at Cantonment
Late in the day on Thursday, August 1st, the two outlaws decided to stop at a
shack, due to their horses being exhausted. Inside the shack was a widow and her
son named Jones. The place was located about four miles east of Cantonment. Soon
the posse rode up and saw the horses of the bandits hitched near the shack. When
Wyatt and Black came out they were ordered to throw up their hands, however they
reached for their guns. The posse opened fire, hitting Ike Black in the head.
Zip ran into a nearby corn field, however he too was hit near his left nipple.
Zip ran east into the sand hills and escaped the posse.
Black's head wound killed him. He had $1.50 in silver on him and a picture of
Belle Black, his wife. The body was taken to Alva and buried at the county's
Wyatt, menawhile, had found a doctor's house a mile away and had forced him fix
his wound and give him a horse. Zip rode off and went northeast for about seven
miles when he had to stop. The pain of riding a horse was too much for him. He
let the horse go back to the doctor. Zip was now on foot again and a very
desperate man. Near Homestead, he jumped into a cart a boy was in, and forced
the boy to drive him 25 miles northeast and crossing the Cimarron River before
letting him go. Zip continued in the cart.
At around 4:00 pm on Saturday, August 3rd, Zip was seen crossing the Rock Island
railroad at Waukomis, just five miles south of Enid. He was travelling east.
The Capture of Zip Wyatt
Garfield County Sheriff Elzie Thralls got word of Zip's location and put
deputies S. T. Woods and A. J. Poak, along with many volunteers, to capture the
elisive bandit. Zip had now deserted the horse and vehicle about 14 miles east
of the railroad at Skeleton Creek valley. Here he was tracked south through a
cornfield and then the trail was lost.
By sundown, Wyatt ran to a shack owned by John Daily, who lived alone on
Skeleton Creek. Here he picked a horse and ordered Daily to mount another horse
and accompany him. A mile down the way, Zip spotted a big roan draft horse in a
pasture owned by Will Blakely. Zip told Daily to catch the horse. Zip mounted
Blakley's roan, and the two men went southeast until they came to the home of
John Pierce. It was now night time and nobody was home, but they pressed on
until they stopped late in the night. Zip then decided to let Daily go. Daily
galloped south to spread the alarm. He came upon the home of Horton L. Miles and
a group of men who had just adjourned a local meeting of the Anti-Horse Thief
Association, Daily told them Zip Wyatt was near, and plans were made to capture
him. A posse was mustered consisting mostly of men from Sheridan. They decided
to take the trail at daybreak on August 2nd.
The posse went along a trail three miles southeast of Sheridan. By 10:00 am,
they were joined by the Enid posse. Wyatt apparently had been trying for a ranch
owned by a man named Taylor, where he could get a fresh mount. However, he
missed his mark, going about one mile east where a road crossed Skeleton Creek
into Logan County. Here the posse found Blakely's roan grazing in a bend of the
stream and the outlaw's footprints were followed into a cornfield on the Alvin
G. Ross farm, five miles southeast of Marshall.
The posse now divided and surrounded Zip. Enid deputies Poak and Wood, plus Tom
Smith of Sheridan, were picked to track Zip through the cornfield. Finally,
deputy Poak saw the bandit sprawled on his stomach near a sand patch with his
Winchester on his right and a revolver on his left. Poak signalled Smith to come
up on the left. Then Poak called to Zip to "throw up your hands!"
Wyatt grabbed for his guns as Poak and Smith fired at the same time. Both
bullets struck Zip, one shattering his pelvis, the other tore through his
stomach. Zip could only raise one hand in surrender.
It was a hot Sunday morning on August 4, 1895 when Zip was finally captured.
Poak, Smith and Wood cared for the wounded bandit as best they could, for it was
an hour before they got him into a wagon. They took him to a small church at
Sheridan, where doctors C. R. Jones and Frank Love gave Zip first aid. Sheriff
Elzie Thralls and his posse arrived to take the prisoner to Hennessey. There the
deputy marshals from both Kingfisher and Guthrie found them. Several men wanted
jurisdiction and to claim the rewards. It was finally agreed to take Zip to Enid
and that Daily and the Sheridan men would share in any rewards.
A Long Time To Die
On the evening of August 4th, under heavy guard, Zip was jailed in Enid and
charged with felonies committed in Garfield County. Local jurisdictions
continued to argue over who would try him, but doctors told them Zip was a dying
Deputy marshal Ed Kelley was one of Zip's first visitors. Kelley came to
identify the outlaw for the federal government. Kelley knew Zip well, since he
had arrested him several times while serving as police chief of Guthrie. Wyatt
recognized Kelley as soon as he saw him from his jail cell, and they shook
hands. Hundreds of others came to see the now notorious outlaw, and Zip seemed
to enjoy all the attention. He told people of killing eleven men in the Cherokee
Outlet, along with various other crimes. His cell was extremely hot in the
August sun and his wounds began to smell of gangrene. Doctors kept him under the
influence of morphine and hung wet blankets around him to reduce the heat. Zip
was 5 feet 10 inches tall, and weighed about 190 pounds. He had a medium build.
He stated that he was 27 years old, but to many he looked to be around 35 years
John T. Wyatt, Zip's father, arrived to visit him on Wednesday, August 7th. He
told the reporters from the Enid Daily Wave that his son was not in the Dover
train robbery. He told the reporters that Zip had been with him that very night.
The elder Wyatt stated that his son was 24 or 25 years old and that his son was
not a regular companion of Bill Doolin or Bill Dalton. However, Zip knew them
when he saw them. The old man talked quite freely of the Doolin, Dalton, and
Cooks gangs whom he met at different times. It appears even the elder Wyatt
liked all the attention he was getting.
On August 12th, the Enid Daily Wave reported Zip had a "bad couple of days
and nights. His mind seemed to leave him at intervals." Zip was not eating
anything worth speaking of, but did drink a lot of milk. His pulse quickened and
there were signs of blood poisoning beginning to appear in the area of his
By August 28th the Wave reported that "his pain at times is almost
unbearable......He still lives, a bunch of suffering humanity....He is reduced
to a mere skeleton and bed sores are beginning their work." On September
6th at around 6:30 pm, Zip was taken with a septic chill or putrescent
decomposition of the body through blood poisoning. By 9 pm be was no longer
awake. At 12:06 am on Friday, September 7th, 1895 death relieved the suffering
of Zip Wyatt. He had died in great agony.
Autopsy of Zip
The next day, no relatives came to claim the body of the outlaw. Doctor Champion
and Doctor Woods decided to dissect the dead body of Zip Wyatt to locate the
bullets that had entered his abdomen. One of the bullets went through the inner
half of the femur and pubic bone, and was found resting just over the
pubic-arch. The other bullet was not located altogether, but enough was
discovered to place it's location close to the kidneys. The bullet had passed
through the pelvic bone, shattering it into about 50 pieces, and ranging back
along the vertebrae column. Zip's inner lining of the stomach had turned black.
In fact, Zip was in a state of decomposition for several days before he died.
Mrs. Pricket, Zip's sister, arrived on Saturday morning to claim only his
effects, such as guns, watch and any other items he had with him at the time of
his capture. However, the Sheriff refused to turn the materials over at that
time. In fact, he did not have all of the items of the dead outlaw. Tom Smith of
Hennessey had Zip's Winchester rifle. The Colt's revolver was still in the Enid
jail, and the officers claimed to not have found a watch on Zip.
Laid to Rest
The funeral of Zip Wyatt was held on Sunday morning at around 11:00 am on
September 8th, 1895. It consisted of a spring wagon, the driver, the grave
digger, and little dog trotting along behind. He was buried in a cheap pine
coffin in a pauper's field south of the city. He was placed to rest without any
ceremony and the county had to pay the small expense. The cemetery at the time
was located on school land where the Kidner Addition is located today, southwest
of the Oklahoma Hiway Patrol station in Enid. Many of the bodies from the old
cemetery were moved to the Enid Cemetery when it was opened, but not Zip Wyatt.
His casket was left in an unmarked grave, where he rests today.
(scroll down for more articles)
1. Blanchard, Charles, History of Clay County, Indiana, 1884.
2. Hanes, Col. Bailey C., Bill Doolin, Outlaw O. T., University of
Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1968.
3. Harman, S. W., Hell on the Border, Fort Smith, Arkansas, Phoenix
Publishing Company, 1898.
4. Prettyman, W. S., Indian Territory, A Frontier Photographic Record,
Norman, Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma Press, 1957.
5.Nix, Evett D., Oklahombres, St. Louis, Missouri, Eden Publishing House,
6. Shirley, Glenn, Law West of Fort Smith, New York, New York, Henry Holt
and Company, 1957.
7. Shirley, Glenn, Toughest of Them All, Universtiy of New Mexico Press,
8. Shirley, Glenn, West of Hell's Fringe, Universtiy of Oklahoma Press,
Norman and London, 1978.
9. Rockwell, Stella, Garfield County, Oklahoma, 1907-1982, Vol. II,
Garfield Historical Society, Josten's Publishing Company, Topeka, Kansas.
10. Wellman, Paul I., Dynasty of Western Outlaws, New York, New York,
1. The Daily Oklahoman
2. The Oklahoma Daily Press-Gazette
3. The Enid Daily Eagle
4. The Enid Daily Wave
5. The Enid Morning News
6. Enid News and Eagle
1. Enid Public Library
2. Tulsa Public Library
3. Oklahoma Historical Society
OklahombreS, Winter 1996 Journal, Vol. VII, number 2, Issac S. Prater, Deputy
US Marshal, Oklahoma Territory, by Nancy Samuelson, pg. 10.
Oklahombres.org May 23, 2000
Copyright 1998 OKLAHOMBRES, INC.
* * * * * * * * * *
DEPUTY ISSAC S. PRATER
In August 1895 Prater and Banks were again out in a posse after the notorious
Wyatt (aka Dick Yeager). Wyatt and partner Isaac (Ike) Black had been wanted
by the law for some time for a variety of offenses, including robbery and
murder. Like most outlaws, Zip was purported killed a number of times while he
was still very much alive. In fact, when Tulsa Jack's body was taken to
Hennessey for identification, he was first identified as Wyatt. H. R. Whirtzell,
a man that Tulsa Jack had once worked for had made the correct identification
when the body was placed on public view. Several deputies had engaged in a gun
battle with Wyatt and Black and possibly other outlaws in late May, 1895. After
that, posses were out scouring the countryside almost constantly after Zip and
his band of outlaws. On August 3rd, word was received in Guthrie that Isaac
Black had been killed near Cantonment. Wyatt was believed wounded but he got
While deputies, including Prater and Banks, were still out after Wyatt, a posse
of Garfield County officers consisting of jailer Poak, deputy sheriff Wood, and
a Mr. Smith, located Zip in a cornfield and captured him. Zip had been severely
wounded and in early September he died of his wounds while in the Enid, Oklahoma
jail. Zip had a number of visitors during his last days at the Enid jail. The
Enid Daily Wave reported constantly on his visitors and on Zip's failing
condition. Zip on occasion expressed considerable contempt for various deputies.
On August 24, 1895 the Wave reported: "....A smile always plays over his
(Zip's) face when Madsen or Fossett is spoken of and at one time he said that if
there had never been worse men on his track than Madsen and Fossett he would not
have been captured...." Bill Fossett was another deputy who became the U.S.
Marshal for Oklahoma Territory in 1902.
* * * * * * * * * *
Web posted Saturday, February 13, 1999
Life wasn`t worth much in Old West
Richard Goldstein writes this column for The Examiner.
A human life in the Old West was often of very little value. Lives were frequently lost over petty arguments, or taken almost "for the fun of it" on someone`s whim. Hearing the daily news of today, makes it seem as if our society has not come very far, or at least has not changed very much for the better in the areas of human relations or crime.
Jose Garcia de Lucero and Miguel Trujillo wanted Maria Montoya`s money, so they planned to rob her. On July 24, 1896, near Cleveland, N.M., they approached her and demanded the cash. Mrs. Montoya refused to turn it over, so the two "brave" outlaws beat the helpless women to death and took it. They were arrested for the crime, but that did not bring back their victim`s life, the cost of which was the grand total of $14.
Lawmen were not exempt from the dangers of societys ills. Andy Balfour was a deputy sheriff in Greensboro, Kan., when he was killed on July 4, 1991. According to "Outlaws of The Old West" of October 1972, Balfour was only doing his job when he tried to arrest outlaw "Zip" Wyatt for stealing a pair of riding gloves, a bridle and a lariat. Not being one who wanted to spend any time in jail, Wyatt shot Balfour twice, killing him, and probably went on to
enjoy the rest of the Independence Day holiday, while the deputy obviously did not.
Things in California were no different from those in the rest of the West. A life, particularly that of a woman, was considered to be of so little value that it could be ended because someone "tired of it." Alexander Goldenson (perhaps Goldensen), a 19-year-old artist in San Francisco wanted a change in his life. He was tiring of his lover, 14-year-old Mamie Kelly, so he simply shot and killed her. After all, what better way to rid yourself of someone you`re tired of could
there be? Goldenson did not get away with the crime, and after almost two full years of appeals, his sentence of being hanged was finally carried out in September 1888. Little consolation for poor Mamie!
Sometimes, even a dog`s life was of more value than that of a person. When he was attacked by a vicious dog at Pinos Wells, N.M., on April 24, 1893, Eusebio Sais tried to shoot the animal in self-defense. Unfortunately for Sais, he had chosen to defend himself from a dog that belonged to Julian Chaves, a noted desperado of the area. Chaves, not caring that the man was defending himself from attack, pulled out
his Winchester rifle, and shot Sais in the back, killing him. No one had the courage to try to apprehend the killer, and Chaves went free, probably feeling that the killing was a justifiable homicide.
* * * * * *
(Wesley Barnett and Zip
By Tom S. Coke
Infamous outlaw gangs
such as the Daltons and
the Doolins werent
the only ones who headed
for the hills in Indian
Territory (now Oklahoma)
or some other remote
hideout when running from
the law. But how
successful they were in
escaping justice depended
more on people around
them than on where they
went. Two outlaws toward
the close of the 19th
century serve as
Wesley Barnett and Zip
come to mind when most
think of Wild West
outlaws. Yet each had
their brief day as
outlaws on the run.
Though neither made it to
their thirties, both
experienced a time of
outlaw success before
By 1889 19-year-old Wes
Barnett had been on the
run nearly half his life.
Some say he got started
as a boy when his mother
died. At the time Barnett
was attending an Indian
school in Fort Lawrence,
Kansas. Barnett was a
He headed to his home in
Indian Territory after
learning of his mothers
death. When he heard that
his stepfather murdered
her, he did what he felt
he had to do. He waited,
hiding near the house
till his stepfather
stepped out for a moment.
Shouldering a rifle, he
shot the man to an early
grave. Neighbors saw his
side of the situation. He
was never brought to
From then on he stayed on
the run. He started with
stealing horses, meeting
the roughest characters
in the Indian Territory
around him. It wasnt
long before he had a gang
riding with him. Some
said he became so skilled
at escape he could cross
the Arkansas River at any
point. Since at first he
only stole from white
people, he had little
trouble hiding in the
hills. Indian neighbors
sympathized with him.
He first ran into real
trouble when he started
stealing from other
Indians. And what added
fuel to the fire happened
when he stole from an
Indian leader named
Mutaloke. This put a
group of skilled Indian
vigilantes on his trail.
Most of them knew where
to look and how to track
The vigilantes caught up
with Noah Partridge, a
known member of Barnetts
gang. In a shootout they
killed Partridge. The
rest of the gang ran for
the hills. The gang soon
had revenge in mind.
On the morning of January
10, 1888, Wes Barnett
caught up with Mutaloke.
Barnett had a rifle and
Mutaloke, a pistol. After
the battle, Mutaloke lay
dead with four bullets in
him. Now tribal light
horsemen known for their
tracking abilities went
after the young outlaw.
The gang again fled to
the hills. Somehow they
remained at large for a
time. They started
dealing in illegal
alcohol. That brought
Deputy U.S. Marshals into
the search for them. Now
with at least three
different groups after
them, Barnett and his
gang began to feel the
heat even in the natural
sanctuaries of the
On Saturday, June 30,
1888, 15 miles northeast
of Eufaula, Deputy
Marshal John Phillips and
another posse somehow
figured out that Barnett
would be at a local
dance. They waited there
for a while, then left
and hid out at a nearby
spring where they figured
the dancers would go for
a drink. They didnt
wait long before Barnett
and his brother who was
now riding with him
Phillips called out for
them to surrender.
Instead, the Barnetts
drew their guns and began
shooting. When gunfire
died out, only Wes
Barnett was alive.
Barnett seemed to have
incredible luck for a
while longer. Lawmen
became frustrated. He
escaped close calls
several times. But
Saturday, January 12,
one of them.
That evening Deputy U.S.
Marshal David V. Rusk and
several posse waited in
hiding near the house of
John S. Porter five miles
east of Okmulgee. Again
they had word the outlaws
were in the area. When
three riders approached,
two stayed behind while
one came up to the house.
One of the posses in
hiding, Deputy Wallace
McNac, watched till the
rider was close enough
for him to see who it
was. As soon as he
recognized Barnett, McNac
left nothing to chance.
He opened fire without
warning. Barnett slumped
in the saddle, a dead
Zip Wyatt (real name
draw attention till June
3, 1891. Till then hed
worked as a cowboy in and
around Oklahoma. Now that
he was laid off, he
decided to try another
line of work. But before
doing that, he decided to
celebrate. What he did
was to shoot up the town
of Mulhall. In the
process he injured two
citizens. He rode off
with the law in pursuit.
He escaped by riding to
On July 4 he stole some
equipment from a livery
stable there and got the
attention of Deputy
Sheriff Andrew W.
Balfour. The sheriff
followed him for 10 miles
Grove. There Balfour
caught up with Wyatt and
tried to arrest him.
Wyatt shot and killed
Now Wyatt knew he would
have a harder time
running. So he headed to
Indiana, where his uncle
lived. This worked for a
while. But there was a
reward on his head and
lawmen were intent on
capturing him. The
inevitable happened. On
December 31, 1892 he was
captured and sent to
jail, but not for long.
The story goes that
relatives helped him
From this point on rumors
played as big a role as
reality in his life. He
was rumored to have
joined Bill Doolins
gang. He was blamed for
nearly any crime
committed in the Oklahoma
area. Somewhere along the
line he did hitch up with
others. One fellow outlaw
was Ike Black.
On June 3, 1895 he and
Black got in a gun battle
after robbing a store in
Fairview, then riding off
and hiding in a cave.
Lawmen caught up with
them. In the gunfight
that followed, Zip was
shot in the arm. He and
Black still escaped.
But now more that 200
lawmen were searching for
him. On July 23, he and
Black stole $35 and food
and tobacco from the
Oxley post office in
Blaine County. The
merchant there recognized
By daybreak the next day
a posse of farmers found
them and began shooting.
A bullet glanced off
head. His situation went
from bad to worse. Nine
members of the Anti-Horse
Thief Association tracked
the two outlaws to a
canyon the next morning.
Wyatt stopped two bullets
in this battle. On
Thursday, August 1, the
two were tracked down
four miles east of
Cantonment. Black caught
a bullet in the head and
died. Wyatt escaped,
though he was hit once
near the left nipple.
Several groups of lawmen
again caught up with him
in Logan County southeast
of Marshall. One of the
lawmen told him to hold
up his hands. Zip Wyatt
fired at him. Lawmen
blasted away. One bullet
pelvis. Another went
through his stomach.
On August 4th
Wyatt entered jail. He
lived till Friday,
September 7, 1895,
suffering from the wounds
for more than a month.
Both men stayed on the
loose for a while. Both
found refuge in the
Oklahoma hills. But once
the populace turned
against them, their
hiding places ran out.
Outlaw Wesley Barnett
by Ken Butler, http://www.oklahombres.org/barnett.htm.
Zip Wyatt, the Cherokee
by Mike Koch, http://www.oklahombres.org/zipp.htm.
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Andrew Winfield Balfour
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