William Carr – Heroic Deputy or Outlaw?

Then he insultingly ordered them to ‘clear out and let him alone.” the girl cried bitterly over her brother’s losses and the tough gang stood about and laughed. Nobody knowed Bill Carr them days, and so he didn’t cut much figger. The man who had robbed the boy was ‘Coyote Dave,’ and he had killed a man or two, and had a private graveyard down in No Man’s Land. Well, Bill, he sorter stood ’round awhile after the pretty girl and her brother had left, and then he began to play. ‘Coyote Dave’ won some his money and when Carr accused him of cheating, he said:

“‘Course I did, tender. W’at you going to do about it, hey?’

“The camp turned out an’ buried Dave next day,” and her the old-timer’s face took on a contented frown, as his mind traveled back to that delightful occasion.

“Yes, Billy put three holes in David’s carcass inside a second, and as he walked away I heard him say, ‘That’s for that pretty girl with blue eyes; durn his ugly picture.’

“Well, a day or two after this a wild and wooly chap from the Brazos country plugged a hole through our City Marshal and then skipped out for Oklahoma. There wasn’t any one to foller him, and no one wanted the job of Marshal till Bill Carr said he’d take it if he could have an assistant, and he chose Joe McNally. (Poor Joe was killed by Sheriff Throttler at Fort Smith a month or so ago.) while Joe held down the town Bill Carr mounted his horse and chased the murderer down to where Oklahoma City now stands. The skunk turned on Bill, and there was another killing. A durned foot United States Marshal arrested Carr and took him to Wichita for trial, but he beat the case, and when he came back to the Territory the boys lynched ‘Horse Thief Johnny,” a witness agin Bill, just to show their goodwill. Bill said he’d a-knowed their hearts was all right without this proof, but he couldn’t bring Johnny back to life, so he helped plant him.

“Bill and Joe had their prison about three miles out of town, in the hills. They dug a hole back into a bank and staked their prisoners out in a pen till they had a load for Fort Smith. They made a camp up on a hill where they could overlook this pen, and if any of them durned murderers, horse thieves, whiskey peddlers, or outlaws generally thought they could skip out, they were usually brought to their senses with a bullet in their carcasses.

“About this time Harris Austin, a full-blooded Chickasaw Indian who had been killing people worse than the Bender family for about ten years did some new devilment, and the Fort Smith officers wanted him captured. The old heathen had the whole country ‘buffaloed’ except Bill Carr, and some of the boys said he didn’t have sense enough to know when he was a fool. So Bill he got on his old sorrel pony and rode out to this Indian’s lair in the mountains. He laid for him at daylight, and when the old red man came out to the spring for water Bill popped out and tried to arrest him, but the chief wouldn’t have it that way and slid behind a tree. Bill and him banged away at one another from undercover for about an hour, and then Bill put three bullets into the old rascal. That night he landed him into town across his horse’s back. The Indian recovered and was afterward hung at Fort Smith.

“But the very worst fight Billy ever had was with the Franklins and Washingtons. they was n***er hoss thieves, and lived in a cabin back in the hills. when Bill went after them he took a posse along, and when they reached the cabin a posse man, a personal friend of Bill’s rode up and pounded on the door. Then those heathen n***ers just opened a crack and stuck out their guns and killed that posseman. Bill vowed then and there that he would kill every one of them for murdering his pard. So he set fire to the woods back of the house, and when those heathens came running out with their guns in their hands he shot them all down. There were five in the party. Three he killed and two were taken to Fort Smith and hanged.

“Whisky peddling was one of the tough crimes about now, and a gang of outlaws along the Red River district took to sending in their red liquor by the gallon. You see, the boys rather liked the poison, and didn’t think the traffic ought to be curtailed by law so that when Bill started in to stop the supply the boys were agin it. One night Bill corralled three members of a gang of smugglers near Dennison, [Texas.] They were Lewis Jackson, his brother, and Walter Keene, a full-blood Injun. Together with a Sheriff’s posse, Carr sat down to watch a bridge. About dark, the posse went to supper, and Bill just staid on guard. While his friends were gone them chaps sneaked across the bridge, and when Carr halted them they began to shoot. Talking about hell a popping wasn’t in it. When the Sheriff heard the firing and run back they found Bill wounded and two of the gang dead. The next day they followed a trail of blood and run into Lewis Jackson’s body in a cave.

“As Carr was returning to Purcell, [Oklahoma] he was thrown from his horse and had a leg broken. He was carried into a ranch house, and who do you think he found there?” and Jim glanced eagerly into the faces of his interested audience. “Why the girl whose brother had been plucked by ‘Coyote Dave.” When Bill’s leg got well his heart was gone to the girl, and he married her soon after. All the boys turned out to Bill’s wedding, and after it was over he rode out to his ranch with his bride. While they were riding along in that moonlight one heathen coyote that had it in for Bill tried to shoot him, and they had a running fight, but Bill was too much for him, and Cherokee Ned was buried next day. Some of the boys found him along down the trail with a bullet between his cross-eyes.

Bill Cook, outlaw

Bill Cook, outlaw

“After Bill had been spliced a while and had been shot two or three times, his better half got him to quit and go down to violet springs, Oklahoma and buy a grocery. The idea of Bill Carr a-selling peas, and corn, and taters, like a common clerk!” and old Jim wiped his mouth and squinted up his eyes to show his utter contempt for such a proceeding. “Es I was a-saying, Bill turned clerk, but he didn’t like it, and neither did the boys. Arter a little a papoose was born, and then Bill was happy. At this time Bill Dalton and Bill Cook and other tough gangs was a cavorting around, and I often said that if Bill Carr hadn’t got married and settled down he’d made them fellers hard to ketch. Sure enough, Bill got into it last Spring year ago. Course you seen it in all the papers. Marshal Nix dun heered that Bill Dalton was down near Violet Springs, so he sends Carr a warrant for him and Slaughter Kid. Bill felt just like getting into the harness again. One afternoon along comes two galoots on horseback. Bill seen ’em a-coming and watched them hitch their horses to the old rack. His wife and kid were in the store when they came in and eyed Bill.

“‘Be you Bill Carr?’ asked on of the chaps.

“‘Recon I be,’ said Bill, bold as brass, as he slid along the counter toward a six-shooter. ‘Who be you’ns?’

Bill Dalton

Bill Dalton

“‘I’m Bill Dalton, and this is Slaughter Kid,’ said one of the strangers. ‘Head you’d a warrant for us and thought we’d come in,’ with a laugh.

“‘Yes, she is red-hot and still a hottin,’ said Bill, as he raised his gun. Just then his two-year-old kid run in atween them and his wife run in arter it. This spoiled Bill’s aim, and afore he could pull a second time the two geisers begin to bore holes in him. But he was game and drove ’em out arter they had shot him three times. They got on their horses and escaped, but poor Bill lay about dead on the floor. When the outlaws heered that Bill wasn’t dead they threatened to finish the works, so a lot of the boys from Oklahoma City went down and guarded his house till he got better. Shortly after this Dalton was killed. when Bill got well he sold out his grocery and since then he’s making it hot for the balance of the gang. Someone shot him last week during the Rogers fight, but they can’t kill Bill Carr,” and old Jim took a drink with a tenderfoot and went off up to the Clifton House to see how the “King of the Chickasaw Country” was getting along.

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated November 2019.

Also See:

Lawmen of the Old West

Outlaws on the Frontier

The Dalton Brothers – Lawmen  & Outlaws

Bill Cook – Leading the Cook Gang

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