Moman Pruiett - Criminal Lawyer

This topic can be found at:

Sun July 04 2004, 09:13 PM
<Old West>
Moman Pruiett - Criminal Lawyer
(Source: The Cherokee Republican - Sept. 30, 1910)

"Interesting Oklahomans - Moman Pruiett"
by Walter Ferguson, Editor/Publisher

Col. Moman Pruiett, the orator with the raven hair and the raving voice, has lost half his thrill since he removed from the turbulent Chickasaw Naiton to the paved streets of the metropolis (Okc); but, he still excites public attention with an occasional forensic outburst that reminds the public of his existence. In fact, a murder trial without the "dark horse of the Washita" mixed on one side or the other seldom excites any attention. However, if the fact is known that Pruitt (sic) is engaged on one of the sides, the Courtroom is packed to hear his passionate and violent plea to the jury. He always puts on a good show and never disappoints the lovers of the sensational.

Pruiett came to the Chickasaw Nation many years ago as a soldier of fortune and is now a general in that army. Like many, who located in that part of the state, he had no other asset except a cool nerve and lots of it. When he put down his grip in Pauls Valley - - the Pauls Valley of other, not these days - - he looked about for an occupation and decided in a moment on the law. Not that he had any premeditated designs on that profession but his selection was due to the fact that there was no money in any other line of business then and he had to work less. No one, in those days, made any money. They all just worked at one thing and another for the sake of putting in the time.

When Pruiett opened his law office, his library consisted of a Santa Fe railway guide and the current edition of the Dallas News. But, then, he had no more use for "Cyc" than he would have had for Burkes Peerage, so little difference was made. In fact, now, when he is the foremost criminal lawyer of the state, his library of law is hid behind a shelf containing the life of Madame Du Berry and Hoyle revised.

When Pruiett located at the Valley, that village was just a little wilder, a little woolier, a little rougher and a little tougher than any stomping ground in the Chickasaw, or any other nation.

It was in this period of municipal career in the Frontier West when a six shooter acted as a town clock and the sexton of the cemetery (was) the most important office. The saloons, or rather the "Uno Joints", never closed and the merry clink of the festive liquor glass and the rattle of the festive poker chip blended together into a wierd music that only whose who have known the early days in Oklahoma appreciated as music.

Pruiett hung out his shingle with the determination to be just as bad an any "real bad man" the village contained. He started in by whipping a dozen or so of the bad men in the place; and, to save further effort along this line, (he) declared himself to be the bad man of Pauls Valley, maintaining the position until civilization came and robbed the Indian Territory municipalities of this important dignitary.

In some manner, Pruiett broke into the U.S. Commissioners Court and fired a broadside of eppigrmatic rhetoric at the court. It was in some petty case in which some forlorn citizen was up on a trivial charge but the broadside was effective and gave him a reputation as a barrister. The fellows who only stole chickens were soon turned away from the office of Pruiett, councelor in criminal law, and nothing but murderers and horse thieves were accepted.

It was well known in the practice of Indian Territory law that horsetheives were the best clients and Pruiett defended about every one in that section of the Nation. So effectively did he plead their causes at the bar of the Federal Court that the Anti-Horse Thief Association of the territory figured for awhile on hanging Pruiett on account of the fact that he set more at liberty, with the heart-rendering and sob-inspiring speech, than the A.H.T.A. could capture in ten years.

Once, Bert Casey made a pilgrimage from old Oklahoma Territory to Pauls Valley to get the legal assistance of Pruiett.

But, who can blame Pruiett? The horse thieves had to have a lawyer and Pruiett decided that they had just as well have a good one; hence, his services Pauls Valley people did not object, as long as Pruiett did not abscond with the old family horse of the first families of Pauls Valley.

Pruiett was of a political turn of mind but there was little or no politics to which he could engage his attention. He dabbled a little in Chickasaw Indian politics and, occassionally, went over into the Choctaw Naiton and helped a bit. He was a participant in the famous election when that famous Knight of the Red River, Tom Hunter, of Hugo, was put to rout after the United States Cavalry had been called in to quell the riot.

(To Be Continued - The conclusion of this article deals with Moman Pruiett and Statehood politics.)
Mon July 05 2004, 08:40 PM
<Old West>
"Interesting Oklahoman: Moman Pruiett" (cont.)
by Walter Ferguson, Editor/Publisher

(Source: The Cherokee Republican 9/30/1910)

When the way for Statehood was paved and the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention assembled, Pruiett was a member of the Democratic State Committee and came to Guthrie to perform political stunts and bask in the limelight. The politics of the Constitutional Convention were a line-up of Lee Cruce of Ardmore, already an announced candidate for Governor, and whoever the convention might develop as a possibility.

To watch the developments was one of the tasks assigned to Pruiett. He did not think that the convention candidate would be Haskell but rather imagined that Bob Williams would develop the strength necessary to put him in the race. Accordingly, Pruiett fell in with Haskell, hoping to take him over to the Cruce camp.

So thick did they get that a County was named for him. What is now one of the border counties on the old territorial line was named "Moman" in honor of Pruiett's first name. It is to be remembered that the convention finished its labors and adjourned sine die. In the interim, the political clouds commenced to form on the horizon and Pruiett was noticeable as a small sized cyclone in the Cruce skies.

Haskell, in the meantime, developed as a possibility -- which he always intended to do -- and it lined 'the black charger from the Washita' up against him. Violence and turbulence marked even the opening of the campaign and Pruiett was in the van. When the convention met again, to make the changes in the constitution that had to be made before the approval of the President could be gained, they decided that Roosevelt would not approve the document if the County was named Moman. So, they then changed the name of Moman to Creek County; and, Haskell had the timidity to suggest that the change was necessary that the document receive the executive approval.

At any rate, when Pruiett heard that the name had been changed, the famous oration accorded to a gentleman from Arkansas about the change in the name of that soverignity, was not a circumstance to the phillipic delivered by Pruiett. Now that Pruiett has rather reformed and he and Haskell have somewhat corresponding views on the subject of Cruce, it is not altogether impossible that the initiative and referendum action will be taken in the near future to change the name of Creek County back to Moman County. At any rate, it will be a smoldering and a vital issue in Oklahoma politics for years to come.

In the campaign, which produced Haskell, Pruiett was a candidate for State Senator from Garvin (County) and other counties nearby. The Haskell influence, combined with that of Joe Thompson, laid Pruiett in a cold political grave and the State Senate was robbed of an orator who would make the very stones of the capitol rise in mutiny and whose reverberating eloquence would charm the galleries and delay business.

Pruiett lost all political ambition with this rout and moved to Oklahoma City to try his fiery words on juries in that wicked city. He has been there ever since and the habit of securing the services of Pruiett in the big criminal cases seem to be fixed and permanent in the legal code of that city.

He has discharged some powerful speeches before Oklahoma juries; but, some of these days, he will fire one that will make even Creek County sorry that it did not retain the name of Moman.
Wed July 07 2004, 09:57 PM
Is all that stuff true?
Thu July 08 2004, 06:46 AM
To borrow from the old cook in John Wayne's movie "The Cowboys": "...if it ain't, it oughta be." This is about the best summation I've ever seen on Moman.
For Moman's version of events, check out: Berry, Howard K., "Moman Pruiett, Criminal Lawyer," (Harlow Publishing Co. Oklahoma City: 1994) and for the real poop: Howard Berry, "He Made It Safe To Murder," (Oklahoma Heritage Association, Oklahoma City: 2001)
Joe Thompson and Moman had a history. Moman was a man criminals called a lawyer, and a man lawyers called a criminal. As the Honorable Robert Henry stated in the foreword of the latest book on Moman, "(his) story is largely one of an abuser of the law, who also abused his uncommon gift." Joe was a Commissioner with the Southern District Court of Indian Territory and later a lawyer in competition with Moman. As a judge, Joe declared war on criminals, and, though fair in his decisions, was tough in his findings and sentencing. Joe was one of the strongest proponents for statehood and in the early years had the task of forging the Democratic party into a single unit. While Moman was just as strong a proponent for statehood, his character and motives were 180 degrees opposite Joe's. I have no doubt Joe used whatever means at his disposal to check Moman's political career.
Wed July 14 2004, 09:39 PM
From the New York Press (Vol. 15 No. 11 - March 12, 2002)

"MOMAN'S LAND" by William Bryk, columnist

"O-k-l-a-h-o-m-a, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain..." - Oscar Hammerstein.

Next month, when a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" opens on Broadway, audiences will have a taste of how entertaining history can be. Set nearly a century ago, on the eve of the Sooner State's admission to the Union, the musical's vision of life before statehood is accurate, up to a point. But Oklahoma's real history is far more entertaining.

Whether as the Oklahoma and the Indian Territories or as a new State, Oklahoma was a gold mine for an unscrupulous lawyer, and it had many of them. Among the greatest was Moman Pruiett (1872-1945), "The Black Stud of the Washita," "The Murderer's Messiah," himself a man "as liable to punctuate a point with a bullet as an epigram." "Brutal murder--single, triple, five at a time, with poison, axe and firearm," was his meat. "I ain't no attorney," Moman said. "I'm a lawyer."

Yet he had no respect for the law, and took immense pride, as he put it, in putting the prong to the blind goddess (of justice). In half a century at the bar, he defended 342 murder cases. Of those, 304 were acquitted; 37 were convicted of lesser charges; the one sentenced to the rope received a presidential commutation. Perhaps the title of Howard K. Berry's delightful biography, published last year by the Oklahoma Heritage Association, says it all: HE MADE IT SAFE TO MURDER.

The Black Stud of the Washita had been born Moorman Pruiett, named after his mother's family, on an Ohio River steamboat. Before his 19th birthday, he had served nearly three years in the Arkansas and Texas penitentiaries for forgery and armed robbery. When a matenal aunt complained he had disgraced the Moorman name, he phoneticized it to reflect his mother's Southern drawl: Mo-man.

He took a job cleaning the office of Col. Jake Hodges, the leading defense lawyer in Paris, TX, and read the law in his spare time. Like many old-time advocates, Colonel Jake had his limitations. His jury arguments were not so much founded on law as on a bombastic synthesis of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the orations of Henry W. Grady on the Old and New South, all "embellished with the homely delivery he had acquired with his years of experience." When the colonel's law business was slack, he made up the difference at poker, and he was usually good for a quart of redeye a day.

Pruiett had a knack for the law and tremendous charm. Despite a mere 10 months' formal education and two felony convictions, he was admitted to the practice of law by U.S. District Judge David Bryant on the court's own motion in 1894. He was 22 years old. Moman's experiences as a criminal defendant left him without respect for the law.

Trial by jury? "They ain't nothin' but lyin' contests, an' the biggest liar naturally wins."

A signed confession? "I'd repudiate hell out of her. An' I'd prove by somebody...that he was framed, or brow-beat, into signin' it".

He had a knack for producing alibi or "cat-tail" witnesses: people whom he had worked over until they could not only tell the right story on the witness stand but sruvive cross-examination.

At the height of his career, Moman loved to repeat (and disavow) this anecdote. After receiving a telegram from a man in a distant state ("I am charged with murder. Have $5000. Will you defend me?") Pruiett wired a reply: "Am leaving on next train with three eyewitnesses."

In one of Pruiett's early cases, his client, John Evans, had allegedly shotgunned his wife's lover. He had been tracked to and from the crime scene by his shod stallion's hoofprints. Pruiett produced a blacksmith who testified that he had shod Evans' horse four days after the murder and knew from the hooves that it had never been shod before. Then, he put on a stockman from a distant town who testified that on the morning of the murder Evans had brought in the stallion to serve one of his mares. Pruiett asked the stockman if Evans' stud had been shod when the mare had been stood to the stallion. The stockman barked, "Hell, no, there ain't no shod stallion goin' to claw up my mare's flanks." He even produced a record book and receipt for the stud fee. The prosecution denounced the evidence as perjury.

Of course it was. It did not matter. John Evans walked.

Soon Paris, TX, seemed small. In 1895, while visiting a friendly acquaintance, Col. Samuel Johnson Garvin, at Smith Pauls, Indian Territory (now part of the state of Oklahoma), Pruiett discussed moving to the Territory.

"I'm goin' in for criminal law," Pruiett said. "How's the field for that?"

"Shootin's an' killin's is ever'day stuff on Paul Avenue," Garvin reassured him. "This has been the longest quiet spell we had in years, just since we been talkin' here." Garvin lent him a former cobbler's shop, whose previous tenant had been beaten to death in a bar, and Moman hung out a hand-lettered sign: MOMAN PRUIETT - LAWYER.

His first clients were people like Uncle Henry Gordon. He was a former slave with four sons whose weaknesses for murder and rustling were equaled by their ineptitude in evading capture. Uncle Henry paid Moman in kind: he periodically dropped off a bushel of pecans, or a burlap bag of apples, or a bale or two of cotton. However, as he began winning cases, Pruiett raised his fees.

Moreover, as the chicken thieves were replaced with murderers and rustlers, clients began deeding him houses, land, farms and cattle as well as paying in cash. In the courtroom, Pruiett often smoked the biggest, smelliest cigars he could find. Otherwise, he would just bite off a chaw of tobacco, punctuating is orations with well-aimed expectorations.

He had a deep, beautifully modulated voice that could shake the rafters or barely stir a dust mote, as he might require. Hard work, study and an amazingly powerful, retentive memory overcame his lack of formal education. He carried a law library within his skull, along with the New Testatment and most of the Old; he had soaked up Shakespeare and a vast acreage of rhetorical poetry.

Yet he was no mere ranter. The seductive power of his voice and presence alone once won a breach of promise case with a speech of nine words: "An old man, an old fool, but still human."

Bored juries are grateful for entertainment. While Moman obscured the prosecution's evidence and the issues at stake, he also made the juries laugh, wonder and cry, often acquitting his clients out of pure gratitude. He once said, "Them wild antics is what gets results. When a stockman goes to Kansas City with a load of beef, he don't go out to the packin' plant to see what the best way of killin' an' dressin' is. He gets him a jug an' goes to a leg show. Jury service is just somethin' the boys have to endure, an' if you'll liven things up for 'em, they'll show their appreciation for it. Have a fit, or shoot off a blank cartridge, or carry the baby. Anything to relieve the monotony."

He even used sex: a client's comely sister once seduced a juror, which gives an interesting shade of meaning to "hung jury." Another appreciative jury acquitted the statuesque Izora Alexander after she appeared for trial in a skintight low-cut calico dress. An admirer observed, "When she twisted across that courtroom goin' to the witness stand...it looked like a couple of possums a'fightin' in a tow sack."

In 1907, he visited Oklahoma City on business and liked it. ("After I had an eye full of the way business is rushin', an' got pushed around on them nice dry brick-sidewalks, with the Indians an' niggers an' Jews an' chinks, I says to myself that...there's some awful good pickin's for a good lawyer up there." Later that year, he moved his practice to the state capital, where he opened his office above a bar. He briefly attempted a civil practice.

This was before State vs Tegeler. The defendant had signed a confession. Pruiett claimed, "The bulls whipped it out of him. Hell yes, that's what they did. They forced him to sign his name to it while they was third degreein' him. There ain't a word of truth in that statement." At trial, the insults flew back and forth: Special Prosecutor Sam Harris referred to Moman's witnesses as "a battle-ax harlot" and a "cigarette pimp." Pruiett produced a witness who claimed he had seen the alleged murder victim boarding a boat for Central America after his disappearance. The special prosecutor spent most of the trial discrediting the witness instead of proving his case, bored the jurors, and Pruiett's summation, a "rhetorical assault upon Sam Harris," won a hung jury.

His reputation as a courtroom pleader of unnatural power was such that in 1909, when the people of Ada, OK, learned Moman would defend JIM MILLER, JOE ALLEN, B.B. BURRELL, and JESSE WEST for the murder of local rancher A.A. Bobbitt, a mob rushed the jail and lynched (all four of) them in a nearby barn.

Moman began "borrowing energy from the neck of a bottle" to keep up the pace. He appeared in cases in Fort Worth, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago and even Washington. In 1923, after a physical collapse, he moved his practice to Florida, where he quickly made and lost a fortune in land speculation. He returned to Oklahoma in 1926. After years of booze and partying, the Black Stud lacked the fire and imagination of his youth. Within two years, a federal judge publicly censured him for drunkenness in court. Seven years later, the Oklahoma Supreme Court suspended him from practicing law for a year after he had filed suit against a defendant who he knew had not injured his client. Like a character out of a noir novel, he fell down the ladder, representing fewer and seedier clients as he became progressively more dependent on the bottle.

In 1940, Oklahoma City police raided the left-wing Progressive Book Shop and arrested its owners. Pruiett was retained and immediately obtained a writ of habeas corpus. The consequences for Pruiett were unexpectedly disastrous: he was red-baited by the press and politicians, and he watched his practice collapse.

By 1945, he lived in a 50-cent-per-night Oklahoma City flophouse. Most of his income came from a $40 monthly old-age pension. In his last years, waiting in the courtroom for one of his handful of cases to be called, Pruiett often sat in reverie. Once, as a young lawyer roared and thundered before a jury, someone nudged Pruiett and gestured toward the orator.

"That boy's a bear," the onlooker said. "He's a regular MOMAN PRUIETT."

"Who was Pruiett?" the old man replied.
Thu July 15 2004, 12:25 PM
Great story--thanks for posting it. I had never heard of Pruiett, Esq. until I started reading this board. And all this time I thought that Temple Houston was the most colorful lawyer of the era.

Jay Nash (in his Encyclopedia) tells the following (perhaps apocryphal?) story about Temple. Suspecting that a jury was prejudiced against his client, Temple pulled a gun (loaded with blanks) and began firing at the jury, who sensibly panicked and scattered. He then moved the court--successfully--for a mistrial on the grounds that the jury was no longer sequestered!

Still, as historians we have to be grateful to Temple. Without him Al Jennings would have probably remained just another minor politician instead of rising to the very peak of outlawry.

Thu July 15 2004, 08:10 PM
Oklahoma's Number One BADMAN - Al Jennings - deserves more respect! Wink It's not his fault that all of his attempts at crime were pathetic.

Dee Cordry
Oklahombres.org webmaster
Fri July 16 2004, 12:46 PM
Daily Oklahoman, April 30, 1918
Pruiett and Maben Must Face Charge of Lugging Liquor
Chickasha, Okla., April 29 - Moman Pruiett, Oklahoma City attorney, and W.N. Maben of Shawnee, formerly judge of the Tenth judicial district, were bound over to the federal grand jury on charges of introducing liquor into the old Indian Territory part of Oklahoma today, following a preliminary hearing before United States Commissioner Speak. They were released under $500 bond each pending grand jury investigation at McAlester in June.
R.E. Bilby and James Brown, the enforcement officers who made the arrests, testified that they took twelve quarts of whisky from Pruiett and six quarts from Maben, when they seized grips in a Pullman car soon after the train entered Oklahoma, from Texas. Pruiett offered resistance, the officers said, and guns were taken from both prisoners. Two Rock Island conductors testified that a scuffle took place between the officers and the two defendants. The defense offered no testimony at the preliminary hearing.

On the Trail
Diron Ahlquist
Secretary/Editor Oklahombres Journal

On the Trail
Diron Ahlquist
Secretary, Oklahombres Inc.
Fri July 16 2004, 05:53 PM
The JIM BROWN named as an enforcement officer in this 1918 article could possibly be the same as "Big Jim" Brown who was an agent of the Oklahoma Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (the State Crime Bureau) in the 1920's. Jim Brown had an outstanding career in Oklahoma law enforcement.

Dee Cordry
Oklahombres.org webmaster
Fri July 16 2004, 09:03 PM
<Old West>
"Waurika, a lazy settlement in the old Comanche reservation country, was a water-stop for all trains on that line. In early April of 1918, when Pruiett's train pulled in, a squad of Federal Internal Revenue officers boarded it and began a systematic process of thumping baggage.

The bags which responded with bottle-toned chimes were opened; and, if spirits were then visible, the owner was invited to step forward. Fifteen luckless cheaters stood on the brick platform of the station and watched their transportation depart without them, before they began the weary march to the local jail. Pruiett and (Judge) Maben were members of the fuming, swearing group.

It was almost 4 o'clock in the morning when Chamberlayne Jones, District Judge, was called out of bed to answer a long distance 'phone call. His sleep fuddled brain was scarcely capable of assimilating the jargon which entered at the ear.

'Moman Pruiett and William N. Maben, residents an' citizens of the State of Oklahoma, allege that they are bein' illegally restrained of their liberty by the Sheriff of Jefferson County, an'...'

'What the hell is this?' exploded the angry and confused judge.

'This is an oral writ of habeas corpus,' Pruiett answered. 'We can do it as well this...'

'Who is this? Who's talking?' shouted the judge.

'This is Moman Pruiett,' Pruiett shouted back. 'Me and Bill Maben are in the Sheriff's office a Waurika, an' they're gettin' ready to lock us up on a hold charge for the Federals. We had some liquor in our grips on the Fort Worth train. I'm givin' you this writ and we want bond.'

Pruiett paused, listening. 'Say,' he said, aside to Maben, 'that damn judge is either chokin', or laughin', at me. Do you suppose...?'

'Let me have the Sheriff on the wire,' the judge said.

'A writ of habeas corpus has just been submitted to me,' he said to the Sheriff, 'which you may consider as signed, directing you to produce the bodies of the two prisoners, immediately. If you want to save yourself a long drive, turn them loose on their own recognizance, and on my recommendation, until 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon.'

When the liquor cases were called for trial at the next sessions of the Federal Court, the customary Pruiett sensation developed, but not in the customary manner, or in the way the curious followers of the event had expected.

Instead of a passionate plea in his own behalf, or the production of a maze of technical legal points, Pruiett stood up and entered a plea of guilty. He claimed ownership of the entire whiskey stock, and the grinning Maben, giving away his actual guilt, was discharged without censor or cost.

Pruiett accepted a stiff fine and distasteful rebuke from the bench with a look of assumed repentance, but with his raven black mop still shining like the defiant black flag."

(From "HE MADE IT SAFE TO MURDER" by Howard K. Berry, Sr. (pp. 522-523).
Sun December 12 2004, 08:55 AM
<Old West>
The book-and-gift shop at the Oklahoma Historical Society on N. Lincoln Blvd., has just received a few copies "for sale" of the incredible biography on Moman Pruiett, entitled "He Made It Safe To Murder" by Howard K. Berry.

If you contact Walden's Books, or Barnes & Noble, or Borders, you'll learn that the book is "out-of-print" because the publisher, the Oklahoma Heritage Association, has "sold out" all of their copies.

Therefor, the Historical Society's gift shop may be the only store in the State that still has copies. Enough said.
Sun December 12 2004, 12:16 PM
Hey oldwest,
I've already acquired my copy of the book.
Mon December 13 2004, 08:55 AM
Originally posted by Old West:
If you contact Walden's Books, or Barnes & Noble, or Borders, you'll learn that the book is "out-of-print" because the publisher, the Oklahoma Heritage Association, has "sold out" all of their copies.

I'm told that the first edition of Pruiett's autobiography, "Moman Pruiett: Criminal Lawyer" is also now considered a somewhat valuable rare book, with copies going for about $65 each if they can be found.

Does the Barber book mention the incident with the cat, which the autobiography does not? Before he became a lawyer Pruiett was supposedly a Congregationalist minister in Paris, Texas. One day he caught a neighbor's cat stealing the steak he had planned to eat for dinner. Enraged, he captured the animal and whacked off its head with a butcher knife, throwing the corpse over the fence into his neighbor's yard. Later, ashamed by his deed, Pruiett confessed and apologized, leaving town in shame. (Source: The Helena Daily Independence, 22 November 1931, "EX-MINISTER WHO BECAME A RIP-SNORTIN', HELL-RAISING LAWYER RETURNS TO CHURCH," ).

Mon December 13 2004, 09:47 PM
<Old West>
To Meursault:

First, a "correction" is necessary at this point. The original publication of Moman Pruiett's life story, printed in the mid-1940's and entitled "Moman Pruiett: Criminal Lawyer", was NOT an "autobiography". Pruiett did not write this book. As explained in the Foreword of the new book, Howard K. Berry was the true author and owner of the manuscript and the book. Berry wrote the entire manuscript (with Pruiett's assistance and cooperation, of course); however, while Berry was away serving his WWII military service for his country, Pruiett took Berry's manuscript, made some disastrous changes in the text, and got it published by Harlow Publishers of Oklahoma City.

There were only three (3) printings of the first book - - for a total of about 4500 copies; and, about 700 of those copies were destroyed when the building in which they were being stored was damaged by a storm.

As for "value" of the old book, $65 sounds like a real bargain for a third-printing copy in average condition. I've seen second- and third-printings go easily for $100-200. The only "first edition" copy of the book, that I've ever seen, sold for $500; however, that was with a dustcover, which are extremely rare.

I'm not sure whether or not the "new" edition of the Pruiett story is going to reach the same collector's value as the earlier edition; however, there were a lot fewer copies of this new book printed and a whole bunch more people, who are interested in the story - today. It will probably become a real "keeper" in many library collections.

Finally, to answer your question about "the cat incident". I have heard a similar story to the one that you relate; however, it was not part of the manuscript; and, therefor, the story does not appear in either edition of the book - - old or new.

I may relate to you a version of the cat story, as it was told to me, at a later date, if you're interested. It's a rather humorous tale, except from the poor cat's point-of-view, of course.

And, yes, Mr. Pruiett did try his hand as a travelling evangilist - - after his release from a Texas prison in early 1890's - - obviously a jail-house conversion of sorts. I have an article which states that he preached to several hundred people at an outdoor revival meeting near Wichita Falls, Texas, and 40-50 of the listeners were so inspired, mesmerized by his "fire & brimstone" preaching that they came forward and were "saved". Amen.
Tue December 14 2004, 08:00 AM
Thanks for the information. I just got this book as a Christmas present for myself at a used book store here in Ft. Smith. It is a third printing in average condition for $65. The book appears to be expensively printed on high quality gloss paper and includes many photographs.

What fooled me into thinking this was an autobiography is that no author is listed and the copyrights are in Pruiett's name. Pruiett does mention Berry in the acknowledgments "for his assistance in preparing the manuscript." In a Prologue L. H. Harrison notes that "Certainly the story of his life should be written. And who is better equipped to write that story than the dynamic man who made the story so fascinating?"

The cat story interested me because in the newspaper article I cited (which was widely reprinted at the time in the religion sections as a sinner turned saint story) the story is given great prominence ("killing tom cat with butcher knife changed his career"). The article even includes a drawing of Moman, brandishing the long knife, in hot pursuit of the hapless cat. For this incident not to have been mentioned in what I thought was his autobiography struck me as odd.

Wed May 11 2005, 11:07 PM
This information is amazing! Is there anyway I could recieve a photo copy of these articles via Email or snail mail. Moman Pruiett is my Great great grandfather. I have really been getting into researching my family tree and happened upon this website. I am amazed to see these articles you have posted. My father owns the book titled "Moman Pruiett: Criminal Lawyer" I have yet to read it. But do have the book published in 2001 "He made it safe to Muder" on order through Barnes and Nobles. I should receive it in about 2 weeks.
Any other stories or information would be wonderful.
Will be checking back quite a bit.. Smile

Thu May 12 2005, 10:42 AM
Wes, if you go into the tools section, you can get a printer friendly version of the discussion you want. Save it to a word document and then you can email it. We would appreciate a credit.
You might also contact the Pauls Valley Historical society or the Pauls Valley Public Library, both have information and I believe photos. If you're up to a trip, visit the Depot museum at PV as well.
I've been doing quite a lot of research in the South Central Oklahoma area and, not to speak disparingly of your gran' pa, the vote is still out as to whether Moman was a criminal attorney or an attorney criminal. He was muy hombre though. Not only did he defend some of our rowdier citizens, he also engaged in more than one fist fight with 'em.
Thu May 12 2005, 03:20 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Wes:
Is there anyway I could recieve a photo copy of these articles via Email or snail mail.

Hi Wes,
I'm honored to correspond with a relative of Moman Pruiett. If you want, send an e-mail to meursault@att.net including your address and I'll be happy to send a copy of the newspaper article I cited.

Thu May 12 2005, 08:53 PM
hi Tower, Thanks for the reply. I did some cutting and pasting last night for my family tree program. I try to keep my sources up to date and will always give the credit to the Website, people and others.. Heck, without giving that credit who would I point the finger at if questioned.. hehe.. I will have to contact Pauls Valley Historical Society and the Library. I only have one picture of Moman and would love to see others.
I've heard and seen both good and bad about Moman and to be honest it's all very interestering to me, both sides of the stories. Smile
I've also read quite a bit about the first book that Berry wrote. Seems to have been a big stink about who owned the rights to the book. I found this court document at the Wyoming State Law Library if any are interested http://wyomcases.courts.state.wy.us/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?citeID=54561

I'll post more as I find it.

Thanks Again,

Thu May 12 2005, 09:05 PM
Hi Meursault,
The honor is all mine. I'm amazed to find a forum area about Moman. :0 My address is Wesgibson2@cox.net.

Another fact I found on Moman. A comic book called X-Venture was Published November 1947 called "He opened prison gates" this issue was about Moman.

Here's a web site that shows this http://members.aol.com/MG4273/xvent.htm