The Battle of Ingalls

Approximately 54 miles west of Tulsa on highway 51 lies the ghost town of Ingalls. Ingalls was later changed to Signet in 1921 but that town also never really took off. Ingalls started off as most towns of that time did, ready to grow and be the next big metropolis in Oklahoma Territory.

I found this story, true or not pretty entertaining, it just goes to show you that kids were kids back then and will always be kids. As one townsman recalled, when the town was still young there was a water well being drilled, when suddenly they hit what they thought was a vein of coal. This of course spread like wildfire and everyone in the town thought this was the towns big break. But it turned out that two girls had dumped coal into the hole as a joke. I can only imagine how mad the leaders of this town, and the two girls fathers were when they found out that their “boom town” was to be so short lived.

Anyway, Ingalls was a rather large town for this time period it had four or five doctors, stores, livery barns, saloons, hotel, blacksmith shop and other common businesses of the time.

A notorious band of outlaws chose this up and coming town as their favorite place to hang out. The outlaws were actually well behaved when coming and going in town, I am sure this was to not stir up any sort of law enforcement in the area. These “boys” as some of the residents called them drank in the saloons, played poker, furnished oysters for country dances and took part in a lot of community affairs. (Wow! I can almost picture the whole town scene playing out like some great western, setting up for the grand finale gunfight.)

On the afternoon of September 1, 1893 just six months after the opening of the Cherokee Strip to homesteaders, the town of Ingalls is caught up in a gun fight. This turned into one of the deadliest confrontations in the history of the U.S. marshals. The gang was inside George Ransom’s saloon, the members of the gang present were Bill Doolin, Bill Dalton, Dan “Dynamite Dick” Clifton, George “Red Buck” Weightman, George “Bitter Creek” Newcomb, “Arkansas Tom” Jones, and Bill “Tulsa Jack” Blake. The marshals were headed by Deputy Marshal John Hixon, along with him were four other deputies which included Lafe Shadley, Tom Hueston, Dick Speed, and Jim Masterson. There were eight additional men with the deputies to try and bring down the gang once and for all.

During the gunfight Deputy Hueston was fired on as he dove for cover. Amidst the gunfire Deputy Speed tried to get over to where Deputy Shadley was. Doolin shot Speed killing him. Shadley sees one of the outlaws fall after being shot and moved in but he too was killed (Bill Dalton was credited for this kill). With 3 out of 5 deputies down I assume times got desperate and Deputy Masterson threw some dynamite into where the outlaws were hiding. This I would assume caused the outlaws to scatter, but one did not get away, “Arkansas Tom” Jones. As the rest of the outlaws escaped to the southeast of town they turned and fired a few more shots and one of those shots killed an innocent bystander by the name of Frank Briggs.

Deputy Speed died instantly from his gunshot wound and Deputies Hueston and Shadley died the next day. The apprehended outlaw, “Arkansas Tom” Jones was sent to federal prison in Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory.

“Arkansas Tom” Jones sent to federal prison in Guthrie, Ok



Even though the story I just told gives all the facts I just couldn’t post this without having the following because no one can tell this story better than someone who was actually there. Below is an excerpt from the diary of Dr. J.H. Pickering whose family lived in the town of Ingalls. Dr. Pickering was there that day helping attend to the wounded. (Any typos or misspelled words were part of the diary so I left them just for affect.)

Diary of Dr. J.H. Pickering

In July Wm. Doolan, George Newcomb (alias Bitter Creek), Slaughter Kid, Tom Jones (alias Arkansas Tom), Danimite, Tulsa Jack and Bill Dalton began to come here frequently & in a short time they all staid here accept Dalton. He was out at B. Dunn’s. As a rule they were quite (sic) and peaceable. They all went heavily armed & constantly on their guard, generally went 2 together. They boarded at the O.K. Hotel, staid at B. Dunn’s when not in town. The last of this month a man by the name of Dock Roberts and Red Lucas came to town looking up a proposed Rail Road rout. Both parties took in the haunts of the outlaws. They were both jovial fellows & soon were drinking & playing cards with them. They left and came back in a week & said they was here to locate a booth, a place for intended settlers to register and get certificates to make a race for land or town lots, They staid here until the last week in August then left. On the morning of Sept. 1st there was 27 deputy marshals piloted into town in covered wagons. They caused no suspicion as there was hundreds of Boomers moving the same way. 2 wagons stopped at Light’s Black Smith Shop & one drove up by my house & they all proceeded to unload in a quite (8b) manner and take positions. Doolan, Bitter Creek, Danimite Dick, Tulsa Jack, & Dalton was in Ransom & Murrys Saloon.


Murray’s Saloon Ingalls, Ok


Arkansas Tom was in bed at the Hotel. Bitter Creek got his horse & was riding up to a small building where Said ConIey staid & the marshalls thinking he was known to the move tired on him. Dick Speed marshal from Perkins fired the first shot. The magazine was knocked ofCf1 of his, Bitter Creek’s gun & he was shot in the leg. He made his escape to the southwest. Speed was shot about this time & instantly killed, also young Simonds mortally wounded. The fires of the Marshalls was centered on the Saloon 8t old man Ransom was shot in the leg. Marry in arm and aide. Walker shot through the liver. By this time the outlaws had got to the stable & saddled their horses. Doolan & Danimite went out at the back door & down a draw southwest. Dalton and Tulsa made a dash from the front door. As they came out Dalton’s horse was hit on the jaw but he had a hard time getting him started, but finally 8ucceeded.s He went probably 75 yards when his horse got his leg broke. He then got off of him & walked on the opposite side for a ways, then left him but came back to his saddle pockets & got his wire cutters & cut a fence, then got behind one of the other boys & rode off. A great many say he shot Shadly but I seen Shadly run from my place to Dr. Call’s fence & in going through it he was first shot. He then got to Ransom’s house & was debating with Mrs. Ransom, she ordering him to leave when he got his last shots. He fell there and crawled to Selph’s cave. A great many believe that Dalton shot him; intact he thot so for when I and Dr. Selph was working with him in the cave he said Dalton shot him 3 times quicker than he could turn around, but I think I know better, taking the lay of the ground in consideration & I stood where I saw Dalton most of the time & never saw him fire once & Shadly was hit in the right hip and all the balls tended downward. If Dalton had of shot him he would of been shot in front & balls of ranged up. The outlaws crossed the draw south of town & stopped a few minutes shooting up the street my house is on. One of these shots hit Frank Briggs in the shoulder but a slight flesh wound. I took him to my cave and dressed his wound, then wen1 to Walker & gave him temporary (sio) aid, from there to Murry’s & laid his wound open and removed the shattered bone. Some of the doctors11 wanted me to amputate but I fought for his arm; 2 inch radius (&) was shot away, slight flesh wounds in the side. About this time I was called aside & told to go to Hotel, that Jones was up there either wounded or killed. I and Alva Peirce & boy by the name of Wendell, boys about 12 years old, went over. I went in & called but got no answer & was about to leave when he12 came to top of the stairs & says ‘is that you Dock?’ and I told him it was. I asked U he was hurt & he said no. He said for me to come up & I told him if he wasn’t hurt I would not but he insisted. So I went up. He had his coat and vest off also his boots. Had his Winchester in his hands & revolvers lying on the bed. I said Tom come down and surrender. He says ‘I can’t do it for I won’t get justice’. He says: ‘I don’t want to hurt anyone but I won’t be taken alive.’ He says: ‘Where is the boys?’ (meaning the outlaws). I told him they had gone. He said he did not think they would leave him. It hurt him bad. I never seen a man wilt so in my life. He staid in Hotel till after 2 o’clock & then surrendered to a Mr. Mason, a preacher. They took him off right away. Of the wounded, Simonds died at 6 p.m. Shadly & Hueton was taken to Stillwater, both died in three or four days. Walker shot through the liver died the 16th. All the rest recovered. The outlaws staid close to town as Bitter Creek was not able to travel. Dr. Bland of Cushion tended him. I loaned him instruments to work on wound with although I did not know just where he was at. A piece of magazine was blown in his leg. It eventually worked out and he got able to again ride. Tom was indicted for the killing of Huston, Speed & Shadly, was tried on the Huston case and convicted of manslaughter in 1st degree with no leniency of the court. Judge dale sentenced him to 50 years at hard labor in the Lansing Penitentiary. Dalton drifted away from the crowd & was killed near Ardmore. The rest staid around Dunn’e. Danamite ordered a big gun sent to Tulsa. The Marshalls got onto it & watched for him thinking he would come in at night to get it but he rode in at 2 p.m. & got his gun & was getting out of town before they knew it. They started after him & had a running fight from there to Turkey Track ranch. They killed 2 horses from under him. They thought they had him surrounded in the timber there & sent for more help but when they got it & searched thorough he was gone. He then left the territory for good. Bitter Creek, and Tulsa, still staid here. Doolan disappeared and no one knew where; also Edith Elsworth, they probely went off together. Bitter Creek, Tulsa, Peirce & others went to Dover & held up train. Was pushed closely & Tulsa in trying to cover the retreat of the others was shot and killed. Bitter Creek and Peirce come back to their old haunts and in a short time was killed on Dall Dunn’s farm. It is the universal belief that they were betrayed by the Dunn boys If not killed by them.

There is a break in the Diary and picks up here:

In March 1896 Bill Doolan was captured in Eureka Springe by Bill Tilghman of Perry. He was brought back and lodged in Guthrie jail. I went and seen him there. In June, Danimite was caught in Texas for bootlegging, tried & sent to county jail for 60 days and they suspected him of being one of the Doolan gang & sent Magee, the U. S. Marshall, word and he sent a man there to identify him and they brought him to Guthrie. They got several murder cases against him, but on Sunday night July the 5th, Doolan and a negro overpowered the guards, locked them in cells & 14 of the worst men made their escape, and I think for good. Rumor is they were helped to get out. Time will tell as there is to be an investigation. Toward the last of August, Doolan and small band was located on Mud Creek 12 or 15 miles east of Ingalls. He was seen to go to Lawson, P.O., several times and the marshalls laid a trap for him and between 9 and 10 o’clock Monday night, Aug. 24, he walked into it and was shot and killed dead. No particulars yet in regard to it. I will note them when I get a full account. They say Danimite & 8 others are hiding close by, Later; Doolan was at Lawson making arrangements to leave the country with his supposed wife. He had just left the woman, and was walking down the road when he was shot from ambush. He was killed dead. He was put in a wagon and taken to Guthrie that night. The parties that killed him was Heck Thomas, Dall, Bee, George and John Dunn with one or two others. They had Dr. Call’s No. 8 shotgun. This did the work for he had 16 buckshot in him also 2 Winchester balls. His wife went to Guthrie to get his body but failed to get it. On the morning of the 25th the marshals sighted the remaining outlaws a few miles from where they killed Doolan, but they were on the move heading for Turkey track ranch and it is doubtful if they ever get them now. There was 4 in the bunch.

Here the Doctor’s Diary gives some insight on what happened a few months later.

Friday Nov. 6 at 4 p.m. George Dunn rode into Ingalls very fast & said his brother Bee had been shot by Deputy U. S. Marshal Canton in Pawnee. They left for there immediately. Saturday afternoon Mr. Cots of Stillwater & family, also Mrs. Bee Dunn arrived with dead body of Bee. They took him to his stepfather’s house & kept the body until Sunday noon & then buried it. There was a long Funeral procession. They found no bill against Canton for the killing and let him loose at once. The feeling In Pawnee is all in favor of Canton. Past reputation is what hurts Dunn. All kinds of reports are afloat in regard to his past life. At Ingalls people are divided on the case. All was looking for Dunn to be killed, but expected it to come from some of the remaining outlaws. There is bound to be more killing over this. I think it only a matter of time until more of the Dunn boys are killed or they get Canton. After Bee’s death, John, Dall and George go on the scout.19 There is a number of bills against them in Pawnee for cattle stealing. T. Boggs and Bill Long left for Kansas to avoid same charge. They got into trouble there and was sent to jail. As soon as their time was out, Havelin wrote for his step-son, Bill Long, to come home. He thought there was not anything against him but just as soon as he got here they took him in. He laid in jail at Pawnee a month or 80 and gave bond for two thousand to appear at Sept. 1897 court. Bob Boggs went to Texas to get away & stole down there 47 head of cattle. They caught him & sent him over the road for 4 years. Pawnee county will get him when his time is out. Bill Chappel, Tom Boggh A. E. Peirce and several others left the country for good. McIlhiney (Narrow Guage Kid) skipped his bond & is gone for good. Some think he went to Cuba 3. McLain, Dr. Steel & W. Wilson are his bondsmen. A May term the Grand Jury found bills against John & All McLain at our place & several others in Stillwater for perjury. They gave bonds. It was on sceduling their property for taxes.

The diary is out of a very interesting book called the “Chronicles of Oklahoma.” This book is available through the Oklahoma State Digital Library.

There are still old buildings in Ingalls, Ok that have lasted from the days of the shoot out. I hope to check the town out for myself and see what all is still there and really get a feel for the place.

Diary Text from Oklahoma State University Library

Ingalls, Ok Present Day (Photo Credit: Ricky Barnard, Flickr)


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