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Outlaws on the Move

July 30, 2003

Almanac Transcript

Outlaws on the move this week on the Almanac.

Hello, Iím Steven Knoche Kite.

Cherokee Bill has always been a favorite on the Almanac, and with the number of crimes that he committed he'll be showing up here for at least several more episodes. For those of you not in the know, Crawford Goldsby, alias Cherokee Bill, is one of Oklahomaís most notorious outlaws. Although he wasn't around as long as other well-known criminals, Cherokee Bill managed to enter into a life of crime, rise to top of the most wanted list, strike fear into the heart of almost every eastern Oklahoma town, kill somewhere between six and thirteen men, escape from prison, and finally fall through the floor of the hangmanís gallows all before his twentieth birthday.

There wasn't any tough-love or scared-straight programs in the 1890s so Bill instead loved his life as a criminal and scared other people. So feared was Cherokee Bill and his companions that the town of Wetumka actually passed a law making it illegal for citizens to interfere with Cherokee Bill and his gang whatever their actions may be. Several people were murdered by Bill just for looking his way during a robbery or for just being in the wrong place in the wrong time. There was little rhyme or reason to his killings, apparently if angry anyone in sight was a potential target.

For the first few weeks of his criminal career Bill held up people, trains, and stores, and it was in this week of 1894 that Bill and his gang staged their first ever bank robbery. The location was the Lincoln County Bank in Chandler, Oklahoma Territory. The heist went off without much of a hitch, and in what might have been a disappointment for Bill, only one murder occurred that being the town barber gunned down in his attempt to set off an alarm. It was on July 31st of 1894 that Cherokee Bill and several accomplices walked into the Lincoln County Bank and quickly made off with an undisclosed but supposedly large amount of cash. The success so emboldened Bill that after hiding out for a month he began holding up entire towns. In quick succession, Bill and accomplices held up every person and business in Talala and Watova, Indian Territory. Of course such boldness has its consequences, and for Bill the fun ended with his apprehension by bounty hunters just nine months after he began his spree.

Cherokee Bill takes out his first bank account this week on the Almanac.

Iím Steven Knoche Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of Oklahomanís Public Radio and the Oklahoma State University Library.

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