Here are some mentions of black deputy U.S. marshals found in the Fort Smith Elevator newspaper located at the Oklahoma Historical Society, OKC, OK. Transcribed by Diron Ahlquist between 1995 and 2004:
July 7, 1893, Vol. 15, #36, pg. 4
Henry Johnson charged with larceny was registered from Eufaula by B. [Bynum] Colbert.
August 4, 1893, Vol. 15, #40, pg. 3
Jim Deer, charged with larceny was registered by Grant Johnson. He was ______ Eufaula.
September 22, 1893, Vol. 15, #47, pg. 3
Black John alias John Gullett larceny returned by B. Colbert.. He is a Negro
Douglas Perryman, larceny was registered by B. Colbert.
Joe Clay, charged with assault, is credited to B. Colbert.
Wm. Finch, introducing was brought in by Rufus Cannon
John Cheek, introducing, by Grant Johnson.
September 29, 1893, Vol. 15 #48, pg. 3
Chas. Smith, introducing; by Deputy [Henry] Whitehead. Discharged on bond by Commissioner Wheeler.
November 17, 1893, Vol. 16, #3 pg. 3
James Coonclar, larceny; by Bynum Colbert. Examined by Commissioner Brizzolara and discharged from custody.
Off With His Head
Henry Whitehead, a colored deputy marshal, had his official head lopped off last week by marshal Crump at the conclusion of the trial of John Foster and Lou Vann on a charge of assault with intent to kill. The trial resulted in a verdict of acquittal. The testimony of a number of our peace officers who testified for the defense showed Whitehead to be worthless and totally unreliable. Whitehead had his commission revoked by Col. Crump as soon as the trial ended. He had been appointed a deputy upon the recommendation of several of our leading citizens, who, when called upon to testify as to his character, swore that they knew nothing about it. That they had signed his recommendation or petition simply because it had been presented to them.
People should be more careful about signing their names to documents.
On the Trail
Secretary, Oklahombres Inc.
The use of black marshals in the Indian Territory was very unique. This occured after the end of Reconstruction in 1877. Most black police officers were hired and worked during Reconstruction in the South and Southwest. These black men held federal police powers up until Oklahoma statehood in 1907. Many times there would be racial problems involving these peace officers, especially in the Southern District, headquarted at Ardmore, and the Central District, headquartered at McAlester, of the Indian Territory.
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