Evett Nix took the oath of office as U.S. Marshal for the Oklahoma Territory on July 1, 1893, and served until 1896. He led the posse that fought in the Ingalls, Oklahoma Shoot-out and was primarily responsible for capturing and killing the members of the Doolin-Dalton Gang.
Evett Dumas “E.D.” Nix was born in Kentucky on September 19, 1861; he would come by his lawman experience honestly, as his father served as a deputy sheriff and his uncle a county sheriff. As a young man, he worked in his father’s factory and later operated a grocery, hardware, and furniture business in Coldwater, Kentucky. He became a traveling sales representative and moved to Paducah, Kentucky, and in 1885, he married Ellen Felts.
He and his wife moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma, in October 1889, where he became a prosperous businessman and formed several influential friendships.
At 32, he was appointed as U.S. Marshal of Oklahoma Territory on July 1, 1893, the youngest man assigned to such a position. At the time of his appointment, the Guthrie Daily News said of him:
“He has, right now, all the sturdy characteristics of a veteran. A forceful independence, a clear, cool head, a quiet, unostentatious confidence in himself that is the best equipment it is possible for a man to have who would fill successfully the high office to which his merits, and his merits alone, were the signal cause of his call.”
During these last years of Judge Isaac Parker’s tenure, the territory was still a lawless frontier, filled with desperadoes. Recognizing the tough job ahead, he quickly appointed a formidable force of deputies, including Henry Andrew “Heck” Thomas, William Matthew “Bill” Tilghman, Chris Madsen, Frank M. Canton, Charles Colcord, John Hixon, and others, most of whom were already veteran peace officers.
When he took office, the Doolin-Dalton Gang was terrorizing the territory, and Nix made it one of his first responsibilities to take them down. A few months later, on September 1, 1893, he led a posse of 27 deputy marshals and Indian Police and headed towards Ingalls, Oklahoma, a known gang hideout. In what would become known as the Battle of Ingalls, three of his deputy marshals — Thomas Hueston, Richard Speed, and Lafeyette Shadley were killed, and Doolin-Dalton Gang members, “Bittercreek” Newcomb, Charley Pierce, and “Dynamite Dan” Clifton were wounded but escaped. Only gang member “Arkansas Tom” Jones was captured. Though the outlaws won the battle, the “war” was not yet over. Nix then organized an elite group of about 100 U.S. Deputy Marshals to bring down the infamous Doolin-Dalton Gang. By 1898, the entire gang had either been captured or killed.
He was dismissed from his position on January 24, 1896, when an audit alleged that he had misused funds. However, it was later found that the “misuse” was probably the result of an inadequate fee system used to pay U.S. Marshals Service officers at that time.
Nix returned to life as a Guthrie businessman and, in 1929, co-authored a book titled “Oklahombres: Particularly the Wilder Ones” with Gordon Hines, which detailed the demise of the Doolin-Dalton Gang.
On February 4, 1946, Nix died in Riverside, California, and was buried in Paducah, Kentucky.
© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2022.
Ingalls Gunfight With the Doolin Gang