William “Bill” Arnold – Posseman Killed

Historic Claremore, Oklahoma

Historic Claremore, Oklahoma

William “Bill” Arnold was deputized as a posseman by U.S. Deputy Marshal Hess Bussey on the evening of March 17, 1898. On that night, Bussey needed help in containing a man named Bill Johnson and some of his friends who were drunk and causing a disturbance in Claremore, Oklahoma. After the two lawmen found Johnson, they arrested him and took him to the office of George Walkley’s livery stable that stood at the corner of Third Street and Catalayah Avenue.

Deputy Bussey then left Johnson in Arnold’s custody while searching for the other drunks. When Bussey returned to the stable, he saw Deputy Arnold trying to handcuff Johnson, who had not been searched for weapons. As Arnold placed a handcuff on one of Johnson’s wrists, Johnson drew a .44 caliber pistol and shot Arnold in the face, killing him. Johnson then turned in an attempt to shoot Bussey. But the marshal was too quick, he attacked the outlaw, and during the struggle, Bussey managed to get his own weapon out and shot Johnson in the chest. When this failed to subdue the outlaw, the marshal shot Jonson in the forehead, killing him instantly.

News reports stated that Arnold was the fourth man that Johnson had killed in the last few months. In the meantime, Deputy Arnold’s body was returned to his former home in Columbus, Kansas.

U.S. Deputy Marshal Badge

U.S. Deputy Marshal Badge

By Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2022.

Also, See:

Adventures in the Old West

Lawmen of the Old West

Time Line of the American West

U.S. Marshals – Two Centuries of Bravery


Officers Down
Owens, Ron; Oklahoma Heroes: The Oklahoma Peace Officers Memorial, Turner Publishing, 2000