Part 11 — A sensational holdup, continued
(Editor’s Note: The following is the eleventh installment from the Pawhuska Journal-Capital’s popular 1996 history book, “Cowboys, Outlaws and Peace Officers.” Portions of the book have been serialized each week for the last several weeks in the pages of the J-C. The original volume was compiled by former J-C General Manager Larry Lucas and writer Libby Meyer. Sharon Yates assembled the photo collection and JoAnn Gibson is credited with production duties on the original book.)
By Joe D. Haines Jr.
That evening, the gang camped in a hollow near Pawhuska. By chance, cattleman Clark Riley and his men were moving cattle from one pasture to another and passed through the hollow where the desperadoes were camped.
The three bandits covered Riley and his men and kept them in custody until sundown. The gang forced the cattlemen to return to camp and cook for them, but nothing was taken from Riley or his men. The hostages were soon released.
The Osage Journal believed the desperadoes were planning to rob the Pawhuska bank because the Osage Indian payment was to be made that week. The Journal admonished the lawbreakers that “Pawhuska would perhaps be the hardest town in the territory for a daylight robbery (because) of the location of the streets surrounding the bank and the large number of people who carry guns.”
It is doubtful the Martin Gang remained in the Osage long enough to stop at Pawhuska. The reservation swarmed with lawmen and bounty hunters spurred by the $12,000 reward for the Martin Gang’s capture.
In less than a month, the notorious Martins again found themselves in the headlines after the murder of Marshal John Cross. The Okarche Times on July 10, 1903 reported:
“City Marshal John Cross of Geary was shot and killed aobut 11 o’clock on Tuesday evening one mile south of Geary in Blaine County by three desperadoes supposed to be Oscar Green and the two Martin brothers.” Green was probably Clarence Simmons.
The gang robbed the post office and general store in Ida, Woods County, on the night of July 2. They then unwittingly camped in Marshal Cross’s wheat field. As the officer rode home, he saw the men and horses in the moonlight. He rode over to inspect. When the outlaws saw he was an officer, they killed him with three shots. The threesome then rode south toward the South Canadian River. Marshal Cross’s horse returned home, and searchers found his body the next morning.
Sheriffs Ozman and Love (of Blaine and Kingfisher counties) and U.S. Deputy Marshal Heck Thomas formed a posse and pursued the outlaws, who were believed to be heading for the Wichita Mountains.
But once again, the Martins eluded their pursuers and disappeared. It was next rumored the gang robbed a train depot in Texas. This was never substantiated.
On August 2, 1903, three heavily armed men rode to the home of a farmer in the Osage Indian Reservation about two miles southwest of Pawhuska and demanded supper.
After the three men departed, the farmer notified the Osage Indian Police of their presence.
No trace of the men was found until the following day, when an Osage Indian informed U.S. Deputy Marshal Wiley G. Haines that three men had eaten dinner at his home about five miles from Pawhuska that afternoon.
Marshal Haines notified Chief of Indian Police Warren Bennett and constable Henry Majors. The three officers decided the descriptions fit the Martin Gang.
The identification was made definite when several cowboys reported they recognized three strangers from the Bartlesville holdup. The lawmen learned the gang was camped seven miles southeast of Pawhuska at a place called Wooster’s Mound.
Contiued next week.