I believe my great-uncle Francis Marion 'Frank' HATCHER participated in the April 19, 1909 mob hanging of 'Deacon' Jim MILLER, who with three others was charged with killing Deputy Marshal, A. A. Bobbitt. The hanging took place the night before Miller's prominent defense attorney, Moman Pruiett, was scheduled to arrive by train in Ada.
Great-uncle Frank HATCHER was a deputy sheriff and a member of the local Mason's Lodge, as had been Marshal Bobbitt.
Three months later, great-uncle Frank was himself shot and killed by a negro, George Warren, on July 22, 1909. Ironically, Moman Pruiett, the defense attorney was hired to defend the accused Mr. Warren.
If anyone has information regarding the HATCHER murder, or the WARREN trial defense of Attorney Pruiett, please respond in this discussion group, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org?
I have some very good articles concerning the killing of Frank Hatcher by George "Moonlight" Warren; and, yes, Moman Pruiett 'successfully' defended Mr. Warren. This was the second time that he represented Warren for murder.
I'll check my files and re-post tomorrow night with the newspaper citations.
I remember one interesting aspect of this case - - when Pruiett arrived in Ada to represent Mr. Warren, the editor of the Ada newspaper (secretly) got word to Pruiett that another mob was forming and that they were coming for him this time. Pruiett bought (or borrowed) a rifle and a shotgun and barricaded himself in his hotel room for the night; however, nothing ever happened. (Note: Since emotions were still running extremely high in Ada after the West-Allen-Miller lynching, this may have been merely a Pruiett "convenience" to get a change of venue.)
Your response is most informative and welcome!
Through research at the LDS in SLC, I obtained articles by 'The Evening News' (Ada) from July 23 - Dec 22, 1909, which chronicled the murder and several pre-trial events involving Moman Pruiett. (One article referred to 'Moonlight' as Liffie 'Moonlight' BLACK.)
Until your email, I had received no documented information regarding the trial, its outcome, or the status of the 3 others held for the murder; "Moonlight" BLACK, Doc BLACK and Will COLE.
However, more events surrounding Uncle Frank's murder were
privately passed down through my family. Perhaps the local Masons, or more officially, the 'Ada Law and Order League'
provided assistance to those events....after the trial.
Your newspaper articles may cast some truth to the family stories.
OW, I look forward to your articles.
You are absolutely correct about the name "Moonlight" being a monicker for Lifla/Lifley/Leslie "Moonlight" Black, who was also arrested and tried for the murder of Frank Hatcher. It's been 6 or 7 years since I even looked at these articles; so, please, forgive my momentary lapses. My memory needs a little jump-start at times.
According to Ron Owens' book entitled "Oklahoma Heroes" (p.235):
"Deputy Hatcher's status would have to be one of the more disputed ones on the list. The published accounts indicate that he was a respected local rancher which begs the question whether he was a full-time deputy or not. They also do not state whether he was on duty or not and the circumstances would seem to indicate that he was killed while conduting personal business.
On the evening of July 28, 1909 (actually, 22nd) Deputy Hatcher and a friend went to a predominantly black picnic about five miles south of Ada.
His intentions were to try to negotiate a land purchase with a black woman at the picnic. When he tried to negotiate with the woman about 7 P.M., an argument erupted and her husband ("Moonlight" Black) pulled out a knife. Hatcher drew his gun on the man and another black man (George Warren) shot him in the back. Hatcher's friend drew his gun and fired at the suspect as he ran away; but, a large crowd of black men began firing at him. The crowd then broke up and Hatcher was carried to a nearby house where he died at 6 A.M. the next morning.
About two weeks later, the suspect was identified as George Warren of Wynnewood when he hired noted attorney Moman Pruiett in Oklahoma City."
(NOTE: Mr. Owens' version of the incident is repeated in this forum with his permission.)
From the Oklahoma City Times, May 25, 1937, Moman recalls "a case he lost without trial when he was hired to defend three men held in the County jail at Ada on a murder charge . . . just 25 minutes before he was to take a train for Ada, Pruiett bought an "extra" which revealed that his clients had been lynched.
Four months later Leslie "Moonlight" Black, a Negro, killed Will Hatcher, a deputy sheriff in the same county. Pruiett was to be the defense attorney. Feeling was running high and another lynching was in prospect, this time of Pruiett.
He was told about it by Otis Weaver, Ada newsman, when he arrived. Pruiett ostentaciously bought a new automatic shotgun, borrowed a Winchester rifle, and barred himself in his room for the night.
'The mob never formed,' chuckled Pruiett, 'and the Negro went free of the murder charge.' "
Articles appearing in the Ada Weekly News are: 7/29/1909 (p.1/col.1-4) "Epidemic of Murder Claims Another Victim" & (2/6) "Frank Hatcher Buried" & (7/1-2) "White Men Right" & (8/3) "Progress of Officers - Four Arrests in Hatcher Case Up To Date" (NOTE: Those arrested were Dock Black, Jackson Black, Moonlight Black, and Edmund Williams;
8/12/1909 (1/6) "Negro Warren In Oklahoma City - Pruiett Afraid to Bring Him to Ada" & (2/4) "Hon. Momen Priutt" (sic) & (2/4) "Come on Mr. Warren";
8/19/1909 (3/3) "Pruitt Enters Full Denial of Mob Talk";
12/23/1909 (1/4) "Negroes Charged with Murder, Returning Here" (Moonlight Black, Dock Black, and Will Cole . . . been in Atoka jail for safe keeping . . . earlier a Negro & Negress of Pauls Valley were acquitted.)
3/10/1910 (5/2) "Moman Pruiett Concludes Task" . . . defends Moonlight Black - acquitted; Moman returns to Oklahoma City; and, NO - he is not a candidate for Governor;
Wewoka Democrat 2/12/1914 (p.4/col.3) - reports from an ADA newspaper dated 2/7/1914 - that George Warren was convicted and was sentenced to Life in prison. (Understanding the time period in which these events occurred, it's a miracle that he didn't end up like West-Allen-Miller-Burrell.)
I've encountered several other articles about this murder that appeared in the Shawnee News, Sapulpa Light, and the Black Dispatch (in Okc), to name a few. Since this murder case was NOT mentioned in the Pruiett biography ("He Made It Safe To Murder" by Howard K. Berry), I didn't spend as much time researching it as I did the other 400-500 murders.
I'll try to find out what happened to Mr. Warren! I'll e-mail you, later.
Thanks for sharing Ron Owens' account. I do not have that book, and if he has anything else to say about it, would it be possible to email me directly?
For your information, here is a newspaper account carried the next day in "The Evening News" (Ada, Oklahoma)
July 23, 1909, Page 4
'WILL THE 'UNWRITTEN LAW' BE PLEAD IN BEHALF OF THE NEGRO MURDERER OF FRANK HATCHER?
'White Men Right'
'Frank Hatcher lived in the district of yesterday's negro picnic where he was killed. He was a land owner in and near the community where the picnic was held. His home, where he was raising his family was not far distant. As land owner and buyer and cattle dealer in this district, it was not unnatural that he should have business dealings with many Jack Fork negroes. Where ordinarly[sic] white men would not be freed from centure[sic] in this country for attending a negro picnic under circumstances surrounding Frank Hatcher's and Rhone Sugg's attendance at this picnic, there could not be no question of their right to be there or of the propriety of their actions while on the grounds.
'Rhone Sugg, aside from his farming has been engaged this year in buying land on a modest scale for himself and relatives. Neither Hatcher, dead by the bullet of a negro murderer, or Sugg, alive through mere chance, escaping through a fusillade of bullets are subject to censure on account of their presence at the negro picnic. When on makes deals for negro land in this country it is even more necessary to address the negro woman than her husband for her allotment is her own for disposition and as a rule she determines the business conduct of the household.
'It is said that the negro wench to whom Frank Hatcher addressed his remarks concerning the sale of her land was very drunk on the streets of Ada some time ago and that following her arrest by Chief of Police Culver, that it appeared almost imperative to life protection that her husband be killed, for he was insulting and threatening during her detention in the city police court.
'Rhone Sugg is to be congratulated that he got away with his life, from the negro desperadoes. It is to be deplored that his shots in pursuit of the negro murderer went wild. The News deeply sympathizes with the family, mother and brothers of Frank Hatcher, deceased. They are among the best people of the county.'
It would be interesting to learn of the whereabouts of BLACK and WARREN following the trials.
I know a private posse was organized by Uncle Frank's brothers to 'do justice' for their brother's death. Their chase resulted in a lynching.
What has not been made clear is exactly who ended up on the end of the rope?
The section of Ron Owens' book, that I quoted, reporting on the death of Frank Hatcher, is the total story from his book. I don't think that he makes any further references to this incident in any other section of the book.
The article that you cite "White Men Right" is the same article that appeared in the Ada Weekly Democrat on 7/29/1909. In fact, basically, that's all the Weekly did - - repeated the articles that peviously appeared in the Daily, or Evening, paper.
I'm glad that you decided to cite this very interesting article. It seemed to me that the newspaper editor, or reporter, was trying to "justify" (to the white citizenry) Frank Hatcher's appearance at this predominately black picnic. Of course, anyone had the "right" to be there; however, it's curious for that day and time "why" he felt it necessary to attend. These sort of outings were often just excuses for people to kick-up-their-heels, get drunk, and raise hell. Not exactly a conducive environment for transacting business.
Of course, Pruiett created his defense around what transpired. "The Defense" stated that Hatcher and his sidekick were intoxicated when they arrived at the picnic grounds, and tried to "proposition" one of the women in the buggy, and "thats" what started the melee. Moonlight Black was just coming to defend his wife ("The Unwritten Law"); and, when Frank pulled his gun and started waving it around, George Warren got the drop on him - - telling him to drop the gun. He didn't and he died. He was not shot in the back, as one article claimed. The newspapers of that era tried to make these situations look as horrendous as they could, in favor of their white brethern. The abusive, racist and degrading language they used "in print" is testimony to that.
Anyway, there's a lot more to be learned about this incident; and, I'm sure that there are many "truths" to be found.
I also have an excellent work on "lynchings in Oklahoma" by Charles Clark, which documents just about every lynching in Oklahoma between 1830-1930. I'll check it out - tomorrow - and see if he cites any lynchings in that area - - after the date that Hatcher was killed.
Obviously, you have done extensive research and analysis on this event. Much information (although slanted, as you note) comes from newspaper accounts of the time.
Since the 1880's, my family was involved in OK politics on local and state levels. I have heard family stories involving the Ada lynchings, Uncle Frank's death, the 'Corner Saloon', deals with gun-for-hire Hookey Miller, arrangements with Moman Pruiett and F. Lee Bailey, and KKK participation in the 1920's.
Although a native Oklahoman (born in OKC; raised in Washington Co), I left the red soil in the 1960's, and now live in St. Louis.
I wish to continue researching the family's history in OK, but am hampered by distance, and the need to maintain a full time business in St. Louis.
Is there a single source archive that contains the books and newspaper accounts you quote, such as the OHS? Or, should I sift through local historical societies of Garvin and Pontotoc counties for the most complete records?
My purpose in research would be to separate family fact from fiction.
.....Dave in St. Louis
In response to the 'white slant' the Ada newspaper tried to lay on the rights of whites to be at a 'colored' picnic, the truth is my Uncle Frank (Deputy Sheriff Frantz M. HATCHER who was killed) and his brothers had a reputation of being a bit rowdy.
Following is a newspaper story of their arrest two years earlier:
The Evening News (Ada, Oklahoma)
August 28, 1907
MADE ROUGH HOUSE.
Hatcher Brothers Started Trouble in Foster's Restaurant.
About 8 o'clock Tuesday night Frantz and Jack Hatcher, in rather a hilarious condition, invaded Joe Foster's restaurant.
"When Joe demonstated with Frantz for using profane language, reminding him there were ladies in the rear part of the house," says an eye witness, "Frantz yelled 'G--- D--- the ladies."
Joe told him to get out of the house, or he would put him out. Frantz defied him to and made a pass at Joe. Young Arthur Dodd who works in the place, stopped him with a blow from a bottle. Thereupon Jack Hatcher drew a six shooter, shot into the ceiling, then apparently realizing that he had got into trouble fled out and down the street with pistol in hand. But he was overtaken by Jim Couch and turned over to the federal officers.
Jack was arreseted [sic] charged with intent to kill. Frantz for a mere misdemeanor. Both men soon made bond and were released.
A little more on this story: From the Pauls Valley Enterprise July 29, 1909 datelined Ada, July 23--"Frank Hatcher, a wealthy farmer and stock raiser, was shot and murdered by George Warren, a negro, at a negro picnic at Jack Fork (creek/community) at 7 o'clock last night. The Negro escaped...Hatcher died early this morning.
Hatcher and Roan Sugg went to the picnic yesterday with authority from the Sheriff to keep the peace. While Hatcher was talking to a negro woman he was attacked by a negro man with a knife. As he reached for his revolver and withdrew a pace, Warren shot him. Sugg hurried to the scene, but was forced to flee for his life, followed by a fusilade of bullets.
Officers today arrested Doc Black, Jackson Black and Will Cole, all negroes charged with complicity in the murder."
Other than this bit, the Garvin County period papers are silent which is surprising if a Wynnewood resident was involved.
Thank you for contributing the news story from the PV 'Enterprise'. I have not previously seen the article.
And, you are correct that it is unusual more news of G-Uncle Frank Hatcher's death was not covered in Garvin County papers at the time. In addition to George Warren being from the area, two of Frank's brothers, Martin and Jack, were successful Garvin County farmers and ranchers.
The brothers were joined by friends from both counties in a later manhunt seeking revenge on Frank's murderer. With 4-5 individuals originally being charged, and Moman Pruiett successfully getting them freed, I am seeking Oklahombres.org assistance regarding who the Hatcher mob eventually lynched!
Mike, perhaps it is prophetic that Frank's nephew, Fermon HATCHER, later became prosecuting attorney of Garvin County.
From the information provided in the Ada Evening News article (dated 8/28/1907), concerning the incident in Joe Foster's Restaurant, Frantz (Frank) and Jack Hatcher sound like a couple of prime candidates for a law enforcement career. After the West-Allen-Miller-Burrell lynching, I'd be willing to bet that there were plenty of Deputy Sheriff commissions handed out to anyone and everyone involved.
As for "other" lynchings in Oklahoma during this time period, the only other lynching in Oklahoma for 1909, as reported in Charles Clark's very fine work, was the lynching of Sylvester Shennien in Wilburton, Latimer County. He was a black man that went beserk around a coal mining operation and fired a gun into a crowd of people, killing a by-stander.
There were three lynchings in 1910: Thad Brown of Idabel, McCurtain County, on Feb. 24; Joseph Buckley of Weleetka, Okfuskee County, on Aug. 15; and, an "Un-named" individual in Mannford, Creek County, on Nov. 15, 1910.
It is very possible, of course, that lynchings and/or assassinations happened without ever being reported in the newspapers. Family traditions are great sources of information; however, due to many factors, the information often needs to be substantiated, somehow.
I greatly appreciate your checking on the 1909-1910 lynchings.
Of the stories whispered by the Hatcher men to only older nephews and grandchildren, the story of the revenge lynching for Uncle Frank's death never changed. However, I would not go so far as calling the event a 'family tradition'! <grin>
Obviously, my search continues for who was on the wrong end of the rope....unless the Manford incident of Nov 15, 1910 happened to be one of Pruiett's hapless clients.
Far more entertaining to Hatcher grandchildren were stories of the family's relationship to sometimes-outlaw, sometime-lawman Hookey Miller, who died in the July 21,1923 gun fight in Three Sands, OK.
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