Lonnie Underhill, 75, a retired educator who went to Northeastern State University and studied English, speech and journalism, signed copies of his book about the Osage murders last Friday at the county Historical Society Museum.
Underhill’s book about the murders is titled “The Osage Indian Reign of Terror: The Violence of Bill Hale, 1921-23.” The author explained that he relied almost exclusively on FBI reports and newspaper accounts for his information. The book, published in 2010, is part of a growing literature dealing with the violence perpetrated against the Osage people by whites hungry to steal their oil wealth.
He commented that he took an interest in the Osage murders years ago, when he married a young woman from Fairfax and got to know her stepfather. The stepfather shared stories with Underhill about local lore when they spent time together, working cattle.
Underhill taught school at Fairfax a couple of years before moving on to a teaching assignment at Oklahoma State University. He later taught at the University of Arizona and was director of Continuing Education at Cochise College, he said. In addition to his work as an educator, Underhill worked as operations director for a Wendy’s franchise operation in Arizona, he related.
He has published numerous books, many of them dealing with aspects of Arizona history. In particular, Underhill has developed an interest in Tombstone, Ariz., he said.
“The Osage Indian Reign of Terror” is on sale at the Osage County Historical Museum for $35.