The Ingalls Townsite
Ash Street in Ingalls, site of the
1893 Doolin Gang gun battle with federal marshalls, photographed
in the 1970's.
A few deserted buildings
and stone foundations in eastern Payne County today mark the spot
where Ingalls, Oklahoma, used to stand. Settled after the land rush
of 1889 into the "Unassigned Lands" between the Chickasaw
Nation to the south and the Cherokee Outlet to the north, Ingalls
was a thriving community of 150 in the 1890's; however, by 1907
the Post Office was closed.
Like many small towns
of the time, Ingalls might have faded into obscurity if not for
an event on September 1, 1893 which marked the town with notoriety.
Several small-time gangs of outlaws plagued the Oklahoma territory
during the late 1800's. U.S. Marshall E.D. Nix was charged with
bringing the criminals to justice. Nix received word that a gang,
known as the Wild Bunch, were making frequent visits to the small
town of Ingalls. Their leader, Bill Doolin, was a cowboy turned
outlaw who rode with the Dalton gang before most of the Daltons
were killed at a Coffeyville, Kansas bank robbery. The gang stayed
at a local hotel when in town and, according to several reports
by townspeople, were quiet and well-mannered. The gang also apparently
camped in a bend of the Cimarron River for most of the summer of
Two deputy marshalls
were sent, in disguise, to Ingalls to investigate the rumors about
the Doolin gang. According to the story of a local physician, Dr.
Pickering, the two deputies played cards and drank with the Doolin
gang at a local saloon. Apparently, they reported back to Nix that
the Doolin gang could, indeed, be found at Ingalls.
Nix then sent a dozen
deputies headed by John Hixson to Ingalls to surprise the Wild Bunch.
The deputies were loaded into two covered wagons. They approached
Ingalls from the north at 10 a.m. on September 1. Doolin and gang
members "Dynamite Dick" Clifton, "Tulsa Jack"
Blake, "Bitter Creek" Newcomb and Bill Dalton were drinking
in the local saloon. Another gang member "Arkansas Tom"
Jones was in a second-floor hotel room.
In the gunbattle that
followed, while most of the citizens of Ingalls hid in storm cellars,
three deputies and two citizens of Ingalls were killed; all but
one of the Wild Bunch escaped. "Arkansas Tom" was captured
and sentenced to 50 years in prison. He was paroled for good behavior
but later died in a shootout in Missouri in the 1920's.
The Doolin gang were all eventually captured or killed. Bill Doolin,
leader of the gang, was killed by a posse in 1896 while visiting
his wife and son in Pawnee County, Oklahoma.
Storm cellar in old Ingalls