Case Files: Hangings of 1909

Updated: May 12


Ada 1909 hangings

IMPORTANT INFO:

  • IT WASN'T LEGAL at this time to sell liquor in Indian Territory, but was legal in Oklahoma territory.

  • OK became a state in 1907, just 2 years prior.

  • Ada founded in 1890

  • Before Miller was hanged, he took off a diamond ring and asked the mob to give it to his wife. He left a diamond shirt stud to one of the jailers but asked to keep his black broadcloth coat — his trademark. The vigilantes refused Miller's request, but they did set his hat on his head before the hanging. After Miller died, one of the vigilantes draped his coat across his shoulders, saying, "It won't help him now."

PLAYERS:

  • AA “GUS” BOBBIT: served as a US Deputy Marshall 1895-98; charter member of Masonic Lodge; owned a saloon on the Canadian River that wasn't in The Bottoms/Corner Crossings and frequented by 'more respectable type'; Longhorn runner; wife and 4 kids; played influential role in the growth of Ada.

  • JESSE WEST: ran cattle with Joe Allen across the Canadian River in OK Territory and the Seminole Nation; owned a saloon as well near the Corner and used it as HQ for their ranching operations;

  • JOE ALLEN: Jesse West's brother in law;

  • BILL CONNER: opened a saloon near the bottoms called the Corner Saloon and was next door to the West Saloon. West and Allen destroyed his stock which forced him to sell to JM McCarty.

  • JM McCARTY: Prominent establishments owner who had along the river. Had two hired bodyguards, Frank Starr and George Miller. Apparently both had killed before.

  • DEACON JIM MILLER: "Killin' Jim", "Killer Miller" and "Deacon Jim"https://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-jamesmiller/

  • BB BURRELL: West and Allen had used a middleman named B.B. Burrell to pay Miller his $2,000 fee;

STORY:

The black-and-white photo, which documents the April 1909 lynching of four men suspected of killing former deputy U.S. marshal and rancher A.A. "Gus" Bobbitt, is reproduced on a monument that now stands at the Box X Cemetery northwest of Ada. The Oklahoma Outlaws Lawmen Association, a group dedicated to studying the state's history, lawmen and outlaws, moved the monument to the cemetery in 2014.


Local photographer N.B. Stall captured the scene in a black-and-white photo, which became an icon of frontier justice.


Memorial

Several years ago, Texas author and history buff Bill James put up the money to have a memorial to the lynching made. The black granite monument includes a reproduction of N.B. Stall's photo and a brief account of the lynching.

James did not return a call Friday seeking comment for this story.

Dedicated in 1997, the monument was originally located on private property near downtown Ada, not far from the lynching site. Then in 2009, a fire in a nearby building prompted city workers to put the marker in storage.


The monument remained in storage until October 2014, when the Oklahoma Outlaws Lawmen History Association moved it to the Box X Cemetery.


Theories

People ignored the truth about Bobbitt's character in 1909, and they are still reluctant to discuss that aspect of the case, said Herman Kirkwood, president of the Oklahoma Outlaws Lawmen History Association.

"The people over in Pontotoc County — basically, Ada — they portray Mr. Bobbitt as a saint," he said. "He was not a saint. He was a killer and a cattle thief."

Bobbitt's fellow Masons may have been at the scene. Masons were directly responsible for the lynching or simply present?

the mob acted out of fears that Moman Pruitt, attorney for gunman Jim Miller, would convince a jury that his client was innocent.

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