When the two emerged, Ada read the warrants to them and stated that
under arrest. Heavily armed, the two men laughed at the young woman
and thinking it was a joke, allowed her to place handcuffs over their
wrists. When the captives began to realize that the joke was on them,
Curnutt announced to the crowd gathered around them that she was
prepared to deputize every man to aide her, if needed. However, it was
not necessary and she escorted them to the the train station and
telegraphed the marshal’s office in Guthrie that she was
bringing them in. She was 24-years-old at the time. The two forgers
were soon tried and convicted.
“Like all deputies of her era, she had to be extremely tough and ready
to face a wide range of situations,” the U.S. Marshals Service wrote
U.S. Marshal Canada H. Thompson, who served from 1897 to 1902 as the
marshal of Oklahoma Territory also had two female deputy marshals.
Though they most often worked in the office, they also did field work,
including serving writs and warrants, and making arrests. These two
women were S.M. Burche and
newspaper described the women in 1898:
Female Officers of the Law -
Two Oklahoma Girls Are United States Deputy Marshals
It is not infrequent these days for an officer of the law to name a
woman as a deputy. But she is nearly always what is known as an office
deputy. She performs mere clerical duties and never takes to the
field. But Oklahoma has set the pace. United States Marshal C. H.
Thompson, of Guthrie, has appointed two women as deputies for field
That a woman should choose the vocation of professional thief taker in
the most civilized portion of the land would be strange enough. It is
infinitely more so when she chooses field duty on the worst territory
in the Union. Criminals in Oklahoma and in Indian Territory, the
district where these two girls - for they are maidens - must operate,
are of the most desperate and dangerous class. More lives are lost
among Federal officers in a year than in all the rest of the nation
together. So it would seem that these girls possess metal of
exceptional kind to willingly undertake such duties.
The young women are Miss S. M. Burche and Miss Mamie Fossett. They are
of that adventurous class of females who invaded the newly opened
territory in search of homesteads. They are young, fairly
good-looking, well-educated, fearless and independent. Their duties
are by no means confined to keeping Marshal Thompson's books. When
they took the oath of office and assumed their duties it was with
distinct understanding that they would serve the Government just as
would any other deputy marshal. They were to take the field, serve
writs and warrants and make arrests just as any rude man might be
called on to do. And they have been doing this with exceptional
A second article also described the two women:
Miss Mamie Fossett and Miss S. M. Burche Are Deputy United States
Marshals in Oklahoma—They Perform Field Work as Bravely as Men
Miss S. M. Burche and Miss Mamie Fossett are
the first women to do active field work as United States deputy
marshals. They are young, good looking, educated and full of the Wild
West spirit, that is, they are fearless, adventurous, energetic and
They were appointed by United States Marshal C. H. Thompson, with the
understanding that they should not be merely "office" deputies, but
should serve writs and make arrests If need be. Their conduct has
fully warranted the trust imposed upon them.
Their first work was done in connection with an Indian Territory
murder case. They were ordered to go to the country of the Sacs and
Foxes and to bring in some unruly witnesses—an extremely difficult and
They had the writs, with the names and addresses of the men wanted.
They are brave as any man, and expert with rifle or pistol. They
travel together, and can put up a good fight If it comes to that. Few
men would undertake to disturb them. None would make much of a
success. They are splendid riders, inured to fatigue and exposure, and
prefer active outdoor life to that usually supposed to attract the
In order to accomplish their mission they were forced to travel
through one of the worst districts on earth. Many a deputy has gone
down before the fire of some desperado in those wilds. Many a hot,
running fight of miles has left a trail of blood on the sandy hills
and broken vales.
They suffered all the privations incident to their vocation, but the
bill of expenses was the last thing they thought of. They shot game
and did their own cooking while away. They kept down expenses by this
and other means, and had a good time of it while on their trip. Their
entire trip was five days' camping. They did not go to houses, if they
had the opportunity to do so, for the habitations scattered in that
region are not very desirable at best.
They got the witnesses and have just returned from the trip, and see
no reason why they should be credited with having done anything
unusual. They say they are ready to go after any man wanted for any
kind of crime. Everybody who knows them corroborates this declaration.
Though these brave ladies were not the only ones who served as early
deputy marshals, they are remembered and recognized for their tenacity
and courage in what was then very much a "Man's World", in an
extremely dangerous territory.
of America, April, 2017.