Joseph “Joe” W. Ventioner was a U.S. Deputy Marshal and lawman in Oklahoma.
Born near Fort Worth, Texas on April 21, 1852, Ventioner migrated to Indian Territory, where he resided in Lenora, on the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation. In the spring of 1895, he was commissioned as a U.S. Deputy Marshal by Marshal Evett Nix. Residing just three miles of the Doolin-Dalton Gang hide-out, he was one of the strongest forces in driving them from the area. Known by his friends and family, as “Uncle Joe,” Ventioner resided in Dewey County before the territory was opened for settlement. Described as always wearing his white-handled Colt pistols and a genial smile, Joe also served as an undersheriff, special deputy, and jailer in Dewey County.
He was best known for tracking down and killing ruthless Oklahoma outlaw, George “Red Buck” Weightman in 1896. When Ventioner heard that Red Buck was in the area after having returned from Texas, he, along with Deputy Marshals William Holcomb and Bill Quillen began to trail the outlaw, who was riding with another fugitive named George Miller. Pursuing the pair to Custer County, they found that the men were hiding out at a farm owned by Dolph Pickelseimer, who had a history of befriending outlaws. On the morning of March 4, 1896, when the marshals tried to arrest the men, gunfire erupted and Joe Ventioner killed Red Buck Weightman. Retaliating, George Miller shot Ventioner in the abdomen. Holcomb then fired at Miller, striking his cartridge belt and causing several rounds to detonate, blowing off his right hand at the wrist and the three middle fingers of his left hand. George Miller was arrested and sent to prison in Texas. In the meantime, U.S. Deputy Marshal, Joe Ventioner recovered from his wounds and continued his life as a lawman. He died in at the home of his daughter on August 11, 1941, and was laid to rest at the Raymond Cemetery, south of Lenora, Oklahoma.
By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated February 2020.