Born to a black mother and Creek father in about 1875, Rufus was in trouble from a young age, and by the time he was 18, he had already served time for minor offenses in the Fort Smith, Arkansas jail. In the summer of 1895, Rufus formed a ragtag gang of five teenage boys who were black, Native American, or of mixed race.
Deciding to make a name for himself and wanting to trigger an Indian uprising that would expel the illegal white majority from Indian Territory, Rufus formed the Buck Gang. He and the four other men began stockpiling weapons before going on a ten-day murder and robbery spree. Buck bragged to anyone who would listen that “his outfit would make a record that would sweep all the other gangs of the territory into insignificance.” Beginning on July 30, 1895, the gang terrified the local white settlers and the neighboring Indians and African-American freedmen.
The outlaws killed U.S. Deputy Marshal John Garrett on July 30 when he tried to stop them from a store robbery in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. They then went on to rob various stores, ranches, and several settlers in the next two weeks, killing two more men and raping two women.
All five members were hanged at Fort Smith on July 1, 1896.