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Outlaws Invade the Airwaves
(Rebroadcast on August 29, 2001)

August 30, 2000

Historian's Notes

Oklahoma has always had a bit of a shady side to its history. A lot of outlaws roamed through here -- past and present -- and a lot of their stories end up on the Almanac. I think that stories of past outlaws make for exciting Almanacs and it serves a purpose, showing all of those nay-sayers who claim the world is worse now that it's always been this way! The gunfight at Ingalls is one of the more spectacular of the many Oklahoma outlaw occurrences so, of course, it makes an excellent Almanac feature. It is interesting to go to Ingalls today and imagine all of the excitement and danger that must have been present on that day.


Shirley, G. (1990). Gunfight at Ingalls: Death of an outlaw town. Stillwater, OK: Barbed Wire Press.

Almanac Transcript

Hello, I'm Steven Kite welcoming you to the Oklahoma Audio Almanac where we turn the pages of history to bring you the stories of our state's past.

Outlaws invade the airwaves this week.

It was in this week in 1893 that the infamous gunfight at Ingalls took place. Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory, located just a few miles east of Stillwater, was well known in 1893 as a favorite hide-out of the Doolin/Dalton gang of outlaws. On August 31, thirteen law officers hiding in wagons convened outside of Ingalls and planned an attack for the next morning. The morning of September 1st officers spotted most of the gang members at a local saloon; outlaw Arkansas Tom was the only member of the group missing. Officers, closing in on the saloon, were soon noticed by the outlaws and shots began ringing out.

Arkansas Tom, the only member not spotted by the posse, had been hiding out in an upstairs hotel room and began shooting at officers from this elevated vantage point. Arkansas Tomís first shots killed Deputy Dick Speed instantly allowing outlaw Bittercreek Newcombe to escape. Officers however, soon closed in on and surrounded the saloon. Realizing that they were now surrounded with little chance of escape the gang members decided to make a break for it. With the help of Arkansas Tom firing from the upstairs room the outlaws made it the livery stable, saddled up and began riding out of town.

At this point they were easy targets for the officers who managed to severely wound at least three of the escaping outlaws. Attention was then refocused on Arkansas Tom still blasting away in his hotel room hideout. A second posse arrived shortly to pursue the fleeing gang members while the initial group of officers moved to capture Arkansas Tom. After holding officials off for several hours, Tom, convinced of the futility of his situation, surrendered to authorities. The Gunfight at Ingalls was over by 2:00 on the afternoon of September 1st.

Arkansas Tom jailed in Stillwater was later removed to Guthrie to prevent his being lynched for killing Marshall Dick Speed. Although several of the gang members were wounded in the fight no one other than Arkansas Tom was actually captured. Two law officers died in the fight as did two innocent bystanders who managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time...and that's what happened this week in Oklahoma history.

I'm Steven Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is production of the OSU Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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