Itís a Run for the Money
May 7, 2003
This story came about because of the Cotton collection held at the OSU Library. Robert Cotton collected a lot of information about Oklahoma area outlaws including the Dalton gang. I was looking for more information within that collection when I came across the story of Jerome Workman. The story is interesting in and of itself, and it also helps to illustrate how rough and tumble those days were. If you had money, there were people there ready to take it regardless of the cost to you!
Information from the Cotton Collection OSU Library.
Itís a run for the money this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.
Hello, I'm Steven Knoche Kite.
The land run of April 19, 1892 opened the Cheyenne-Arapaho lands for white settlement. This area constituted the land that would eventually be Dewey County, and before the run the U.S. Government surveyed and plated the town site that would become Taloga. The appointed official in charge of overseeing the claim filing and fee collection was Jerome Workman a probate judge and attorney based out of Stillwater, Oklahoma Territory.
Working out of a small tent, Workman stayed in Taloga for two weeks as long lines of land runners snaked into and out of his office with their claim applications and filing fees. Unbeknownst to Workman, the Dalton Gang of outlaws infiltrated the lines of claimants signing using fictitious names. Checking in numerous times the gang kept a close eye on the cash accumulating in the tent. After two weeks in Taloga Workman, now loaded with over $10,00.00 and having no escorts other than his horse Lou, began the 120-mile journey back to Stillwater.
Shortly after setting out, Workman spotted the Dalton Gang blocking the trail ahead. Knowing now who the men were but not letting on, he stopped, spoke to the gang, provided some decoy information and continued on. What followed was a multi-day game of chase as the Dalton Gang and Workman shadowed, ran away from, chased and eluded each other. On at least one occasion Workman avoided a Dalton ambush by joining with a group of travelers. Not wanting to face the crowd the Daltonís stood helplessly as Workman passed safely by. Using ravines, tree lines and any available cover, Workman slowly continued on at times following just out of sight of the gang as they rode ahead looking for him.
It was in this week on May 7th of 1892 that Workman under cover of darkness rode into Stillwater with the $10,000.00 still sewn into his clothes. The Daltons, perhaps upset at losing Workman and his money, held up a Santa Fe train near Perry instead robbing the passengers and killing a young station agent in the process. According to local tales, Workman never bragged of his exploits, and in public at least, only recounted his escape story one time, the day after he returned to Stillwater.
Jerome Workman, outwitting the outlaws this week on the Almanac.
I'm Steven Knoche Kite.
The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of the Oklahoma State University Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.