Tom Moore

On May 25, 1889, Charles Palmer, who lived in the Chickasaw Nation near Emit, was shot and killed on an isolated road. Though the reason was not immediately apparent, Palmer’s neighbor, Tom Moore, who had earned the suspicion of the Palmer’s for his past behavior, was arrested a few days later.

In legal proceedings that lasted years, Moore was tried four times; two trials ended in a mistrial, a third resulted in a conviction that was overturned on appeal, and the fourth resulted in Moore’s execution.

His first trial began on October 22, 1890 in federal court in Paris, Texas, and resulted in a conviction that was subsequently reversed on appeal. A trial that began on May 13, 1891, resulted in a hung jury, as did a third trial that began on November 6, 1891.

At trial on April 22, 1892, Moore was again convicted and sentenced to death. That conviction was sustained on appeal

Tom Moore was hanged in Paris, Texas, on September 28, 1894.

Charles H. Key

The body of Smith R. McLaughlin was discovered north of Denison, Texas, in the Choctaw Nation, on July 4, 1894. Charles Key was taken into custody after being identified as the man who was seen in the vicinity at the time of the killing.

Investigation indicated that Key had hired McLaughlin as a teamster on the pretense of helping him on his ranch, only to rob and kill him.

At trial in federal court, Key maintained that he was insane. Though he was convicted of murder, the imposition of sentence was delayed as the court sought to determine “whether or not he is shamming insensibility” (Galveston Daily News, June 30, 1895). After determining he was sane, he was sentenced to death on July 17, 1895.

Charles Key was hanged in Paris, Texas, on September 13, 1895.

George L. Wheeler

George L. Wheeler killed his neighbor, Robert McCabe, near Tishomingo, Chickasaw Nation on June 12, 1894. The killing was the culmination of an ordinary dispute.

Wheeler was tried in federal court in Paris, Texas. He was convicted of murder on December 22, 1894, and sentenced to death on January 2, 1895. The testimony of McCabe’s five year old son, the only witness to the killing, was crucial.

George Wheeler was hanged on September 4, 1896. Wheeler, who was white, was hanged first. Two Black men – Silas Lee and Hickman Freeman – were hanged after him.

Chief Two Sticks

The crime and punishment of Chief Two Sticks are tragic examples of the mistreatment of Native peoples in the United States and of the mischaracterization of an act of self-defense in a highly asymmetrical war as a common crime.

Chief Two Sticks was a Lakota Sioux leader as the Dakotas were subjected to increasing white encroachment in the last years of the nineteenth century.

Under the pretext of responding to a raid led by Two Sticks on a herd of cattle owned by white ranchers, the U.S. Army moved in to arrest him. When they arrived, a battle broke out in which five white officers were killed.

Two Sticks escaped. When authorities caught up with him, another battle and more killings occurred. Another escape, pursuit, and battle followed; this time several Sioux were killed and Chief Two Sticks was injured.

Taken to Deadwood to stand trial in federal court, Chief Two Sticks was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.

Chief Two Sticks was hanged in Deadwood, South Dakota, on December 28, 1894, one day short of four years after the notorious massacre of Sioux forces at Wounded Knee.

“The Black Hills Daily Times reported his death on December 29, 1894 with the headline, “A Good Indian,” snidely referring to the infamous saying, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

This final quote and much of this description come from Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota. He was the founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association, the 1985 recipient of the H. L. Mencken Award, and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1991.

George Bear

When George Bear encountered his stepson, John Shaw, as the latter man was loading hay into a wagon in October 1902, they argued over money Shaw owed Bear. When Shaw failed to pay him, Bear shot him.

He then tracked down C. Edward Taylor, for whom Shaw was working, and killed him.

Because the killings occurred on the Rosebud Reservation, Bear was subject to federal jurisdiction. At trial in federal court in Sioux Falls, Bear was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death on October 29, 1902.

George Bear was hanged in Sioux Falls on December 5, 1902.

Allen Walking Shield

Sarah Ghost Face Bear did not approve of Allen Walking Shield’s interest in her 16-year old daughter, Mabel. As a result, on May 9, 1902, Walking Shield killed Ghost Face Bear at her home along the Little White River, near Westover, South Dakota, and fled with Mabel.

Argus-Leader, May 15, 1902

Newspaper reports indicate Walking Shield had previously been arrested for rape and robbery and had a bad reputation.

On trial in federal court in Deadwood, South Dakota, Walking Shield was convicted of murder on September 11, 1902, and sentenced to death on the same day.

Argus-Leader, September 11, 1902

Allen Walking Shield was hanged in Sioux Falls on October 24, 1902.

Matthew Craig

On March 14, 1899, Matthew Craig was arrested for selling whiskey in Indian Territory near Tahlequah. With no jail available, Deputy U.S. Marshal Joseph P. Heinrichs held his prisoner overnight in his home.

Vinita Leader, March 16, 1899

Craig shot and killed Heinrichs while he slept. He was quickly recaptured.

Tried in federal court in Muskogee, Craig’s defense that his weapon discharged accidentally was rejected and he was convicted of murder on May 5, 1899.

Matthew Craig was hanged in Muskogee on August 25, 1899.

George Cully

On September 27, 1897, as the season’s cotton crop was being harvested, George Cully watched as Dick Carr was paid for his load of cotton in Muskogee. Cully, who was Black, then waited for Carr to return to his remote farm in Choska, robbing and killing him as he traveled.

Cully was arrested shortly after. In addition to killing Carr, Cully was linked to the murder of a shopkeeper in Miami a few days earlier.

On trial in federal court in Muskogee, Cully was found guilty of murder on October 28, 1897, and sentenced to death on December 24.

George Cully was hanged in Muskogee on July 21, 1899.

John Andersen

On August 6, 1897, while serving as cook aboard the Olive Pecker, John Andersen shot and killed, Captain J.W. Whitman, and mate, William Wallace Saunders. The ship had left Boston on June 20, bound for Buenos Aires with a load of lumber and a crew of eight men.

Saunders and Whitman were killed 150 miles off the Brazilian coast.

The remaining six men then boarded smaller boats and sailed into Brazil. On land, the men split up. A group of the other men altered authorities to Andersen’s crimes and he was arrested in Bahia, Brazil, before being able to find passage out of the country.

Returned to the United States to stand trial, Anderson was tried in the United States Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He was convicted of murder on the high seas on December 23, 1897, and sentenced to death.

After his appeals and clemency request were rejected, John Anderson was hanged in Norfolk, Virginia, on December 9, 1898.

Charles Perkins

On December 2, 1897, Charles Perkins (alias Henry Whitfield) killed George Miller in Muskogee, Indian Territory. Miller had previously intervened in Perkins’ efforts to talk with Nancy Adkins, a slight which Perkins vowed to avenge.

Perkins, who was Black, was captured in Atoka and returned to Muskogee for trial.

Charles Perkins was convicted of murder in federal court on April 2, 1898, and sentenced to death on April 27.

Indian Sentinel, June 3, 1898

With K.B. Brooks, Perkins was hanged on July 1, 1898; they were the first people hanged under federal jurisdiction in Oklahoma.