Growing up to become one
of the outlaw leaders of the
Cook Gang, William "Bill" Tuttle Cook
was born near Fort Gibson
in 1873 in the
Nation, but was left homeless at the age fourteen when his mother died in
Starting out as an honest young man, he served as a scout for the
U.S. Marshals from
guiding them through Indian Territory. However, he soon started running
whiskey to the
and in 1893 was sentenced to 40 days in jail by
Judge Isaac Parker.
During his incarceration he vowed he would put together an outlaw gang
when he was released and the following year he did.
June, 1894, he had gathered up his brother, Jim;
Crawford "Cherokee Bill" Goldsby; Thurman "Skeeter" Baldwin; Jess
Snyder; William Farris; Curtis Dayson; Elmer "Chicken" Lucas; Jim French;
Sam "Verdigris Kid” McWilliams; Lon Gordon, and Henry
Going by various
Kid, John Williams and John Mayfield, Bill led the
Territory by robbing banks, trains, post offices, stores and
individuals. In no time, the
Cook Gang was pursued by dozens of lawmen
who tracked them down one by one.
Jim, and Bill Cook were confronted at Fourteen Mile Creek near
Oklahoma with a warrant for Jim’s arrest. In the inevitable shoot
out that occurred,
Cherokee Bill shot and killed
lawman Sequoyah Houston. Jim Cook was also badly wounded and the
other two took him to
Fort Gibson. Forced to leave him, he was later captured by
On July 14th, the gang held up a stagecoach and just two days later,
they robbed a man named William Drew. On July 18th, they held up the
Frisco train at Red Fork. However, due to the express messenger having
had the foresight to hide the money behind some boxes, the gang
escaped with very little.
On July 31, 1894, the gang stole $500 from the Lincoln County Bank in
Oklahoma, killing one person and wounding others. In the process,
gang member, Elmer Lucas, was shot and captured by authorities.
Hotly pursued, the
was surrounded at the home of a friend
some fourteen miles west of
Oklahoma on August 2, 1894. During the volley of gunshots, one of
lawmen was shot and severely wounded. Two of the gang members, Lon
Gordon and Henry Munson were killed and Ad Berryhill was captured. The
rest of the gang fled.
The gang then robbed the Kansas City and
Missouri Express at Coretta,
Oklahoma on October 20th,
after which they robbed a number of stores and company offices,
stealing large payrolls. When the gang robbed the Schufeldt and Son
store in Lenapah,
Cherokee Bill killed a man and the lawmen’s determined pursuit
increased and all were eventually captured or killed.
Curtis Dayson, Thurman Baldwin,
Jess Snyder, and William Farris were all sent to prison for long terms.
Jim French, George Sanders, and the
Verdigris Kid were shot to death by
lawmen when they resisted arrest.
Goldsby was captured and later hanged at
Bill Cook, apprehended in January, 1895.