Earliest History History on the Massacre

Since this came up during a recent exhibit, I am reprinting the entirety of the 1st historical reporting of the massacre published in 1921 in a propaganda piece trying to explain why things turned out the way they did.  Don’t blame me for the content.

The History of Tulsa, Oklahoma A City With A Personality Together With A glimpse down the corridors of the past into Old Indian Territory, The Five Civilized Tribes, The Creek Nation, Tulsa Recording District and Tulsa County How Oklahoma was Created and Something of the Builders of a Commonwealth by Colonel Clarence B. Douglas, vol.1, pages 620-627.


An incipient racial war, the most disastrous in the history of Oklahoma, was initiated in Tulsa on the evening of May 31, 1921, in a most surprising and unexpected manner.

The published report of the arrest of a Negro boy charged with an attempted assault on a white woman occasioned little comment among the white people who fully expected the law to take its course in the matter. Unfortunately, a group of Negros from the Negro section of the city, who according to facts developed after an investigation, had been worked upon by a lawless element of white agitators, reds and. bolshevists and who had been badly advised by members of their own race, were lead to believe that mob violence threatened the Negro prisoner who was in the custody of the sheriff at the county jail;

Without warning a number of armed Negroes under the lead of obnoxious and dangerous men of their race proceeded through the downtown business section of Tulsa to the courthouse and began a demonstration of defiance and lawlessness. They were advised that no attempt was being made to lynch the Negro prisoner and retired from the scene, only to return later with apparent reinforcements, many of them armed with pistols .and guns and one body of them were marching in columns of fours, showing military, or at least recent organization and drill. Insulting demands were made by these Negroes on the peace officers, a shot or two was fired and a race riot immediately started. The Negroes began firing indiscriminately and before they vacated the business section several white men and several Negroes had been killed.

The local police and sheriff’s officials seemed powerless to control the situation and several hundred white men armed themselves and by 10 o’clock P. M. the city was in the throes of a race riot of unparalleled magnitude and several pitched battles were in progress between the· Negroes and the white citizens. Hardware stores and pawn shops in the business section were broken into, arms and ammunition secured by white men and a lawless element of both Negroes and whites quickly joined in the fray, making a situation acute and dangerous in the extreme.

The Negroes were driven back towards their section of the town and half a block of business structures on North Cincinnati between the Frisco railroad and Archer Street, which section had been occupied by Negro pool halls, and other disreputable lins of business, and by restaurants, broke into flames. The Negroes who had taken refuge in these buildings were in a hot battle with the armed whites and were driven farther north to Greenwood, the principal Negro business street of the city, which was soon in flames.

The battle raged throughout the night and the flames of the burning Negro residences and business houses added to the intense excitement. The local companies of National Guard were mobilized, under the command of Maj. L. J. F. Rooney, and did what could possibly be done to stem the conflict, but with little result. With the coming of morning the situation was found to be so acute and danger to the entire city so apparent that the governor was apprised of the situation and the National Guard, under command of Adjt.-Gen. Charles F. Barrett, was ordered mobilized in Tulsa. General Barrett arrived about 9 A. M. with 150 members of the Oklahoma City companies and companies from Muskogee, Bartlesville and Wagoner were quickly brought to the scene.

All morning the fire raged, completely wiping out the entire business section inhabited by Negroes and 860 stores and homes owned by Negroes were totally destroyed together with all their contents. The fire department was helpless owing to the threats of the infuriated whites to shoot any man who attempted to lay a line of hose, and all morning the fire continued with intermittent shooting and scenes of riotous disorder, now practically confined to the Negro section.

The National Guard got into real action about noon and immediately the.process of rounding up Negro men, women and children began, and by night of June 1st probably 6,000 Negroes had been escorted and driven to Convention Hall, McNulty ball park and the Tulsa County fair grounds. The civic societies of Tulsa immediately got busy with preparations for feeding and caring for the homeless Negroes. The Red Cross, Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A. agencies were put to work, all of the downtown churches were quickly filled with refugees and substantially the entire Negro population was under guard and .under protection by nightfall of the second day of the riot. Families were separated in the confusion and there was much distress for the first thirty-six hours following the outbreak.

Wednesday, June 1, at noon, martial law was proclaimed throughout Tulsa County. The civil officers ceased to function and the military took entire charge of policing the city. Guards were thrown out in the Negro section and whites were ordered to their homes and disarmed, and under the direction of General Barrett the situation was soon taken well in hand.

Asked for a statement of the local situation, President Niles of the Chamber of Commerce furnished to the press associations of the country the following statement, which shows the general sentiment of the best people of this city:

“A minor arrest had been made and publicly announced, the defendant being a Negro boy. Under bad advice and led by a group of Negroes exhibiting a spirit of lawlessness, a group of probably fifty Negroes left the Negro section of the city, came through the business section and marched on the courthouse. There was no occasion for their coming. The member of their race was not in jeopardy at all, but under the inflammatory action of lawless Negro leaders demands were made of the sheriff and insults hurled at the white citizens attracted by the Negro mob. The shooting began and the riot was on.

“A bad psychological condition, occasioned by a spirit of unrest, and some unemployment, dovetailed into the lawlessness which grew like a snowball and rapidly got beyond control of officials. The situation was quickly taken advantage of by some of the lawless element among the whites. Stores were broken open. People with no authority were quickly armed and the situation became desperate in the extreme and wholly out of control.

“The deplorable event is the greatest wound Tulsa’s civic pride has ever received and every right thinking man and woman in the city, white and black, is now doing everything possible to heal the wound as quickly as may be. Leading business men are in hourly conference and a movement is now being organized, not only for the succor, protection and alleviation of the sufferings of the Negroes, but to formulate a plan of reparation in order that homes may be rebuilt and families as nearly as possible rehabilitated. The sympathy of the citizenship of Tulsa in a great wave has gone out to the unfortunate law-abiding Negroes who became victims of the action and bad advice of some of the lawless leaders, and as quickly as possible rehabilitation will take place and reparation be made.

“Tulsa feels intensely humiliated and standing in the shadow of this great tragedy pledges its every effort to wiping out the stain at the earliest possible moment and punishing those guilty of bringing the disgrace and disaster to this city.

“A city which put three military units in the field with more than seven thousand men in the service, which contributed in excess of $33,000,000 for war purposes and which established its reputation as a patriotic city during the recent war second to none on the American continent, can be depended upon to make proper restitution and to bring order out of chaos at the earliest possible moment.”

In the absence of competent authority to take charge of· the relief situation a meeting was called by President Niles of the Chamber of Commerce at 11 a. m., Thursday, June 2d, and after  addresses by General Barrett, Judge L. J. Martin and others the meeting, on the advice of. General Barrett and on his recommendation, selected an executive committee known as the Tulsa Executive Welfare Committee, consisting of seven men, to take immediate control of all civic and civilian operations. The meeting selected as members of this committee L. J. Martin, chairman, and the following named: H. C. Tyrrell, C. F. Hopkins, C. S. Avery, G. R. McCullough, S. G. Kennedy, H. L. Standeven, and this committee immediately went into session in the Chamber· of Commerce rooms and proceeded with the organization of the various civic bodies, the work of the Y. M. C. A. and the Y.. W. C. A., the Red Cross and other associations.

This committee appointed a committee on legal matters to assist in the apprehension and conviction of those responsible for the great outrage and for the arrest of looters and the lawless generally; appointed a financial committee to secure funds for the rehabilitation of the Negro homes; committees to have charge of policing the city and seeing to it that not less than one hundred American Legion men were sworn in as special officers to assist in preserving the peace, and through the action and operations of this committee a semblance of order was soon restored.

Martial law was revoked at 3 p. m., Friday, June 3d, by order of General Barrett and the troops returned tO their respective homes. Members of the American Legion were sworn in as peace officers. Col. P. J. Hurley, cooperating with the sheriff’s office under the direction of the executive committee, organized a force of 100 emergency minute men to act in conjunction with the sheriff’s office, and the civil authorities resumed general jurisdiction over the local situation.

The Red Cross work under the direction of Clark Fields, the Women’s Relief Corps under control of Mrs. A. W. Roth, the Y. W. C. A. under Mrs. J. A. Hull and other patriotic women began a systematic campaign for the relief of the sufferers; and an identification bureau was established at the Y. M. C. A. for the purpose of reuniting and locating families, and under the direction of

Maj. C. F. Hopkins and C. A. Border the construction of tents for the homeless was begun in the Negro settlement. N. R. Graham was in charge of the detention camp at the fairgrounds where probably 3,500 Negroes had been mobilized. J. Burr Gibbons was active in the work at Convention Hall, which was packed with sweltering humanity, and the local ministers of the city and patriotic business men took charge of the work in the churches ·and at the ball park, and the Negroes were fed and provided with bedding during Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights.

The wildest rumors were given general circulation and as usual were believed in preference to the real facts and the statement was made even by officials that 25,000 white lawless men were running rampant through the city armed and pillaging, which was of course not true, and the statement was also made that machine gun fire had mowed down the Negroes by the score. A checking up of the fatalities brings the number of white dead to ten and the number of Negro dead is placed at twenty-four. The burned district included a portion of blocks 43, 44, 45 and 46, practically all of block 47, a portion of blocks 54, 55, 56, 57 and 58, between the Frisco railroad and the M. K. & T. railroad; also a portion of blocks 23 and 50 and half of blocks 15 and 17, in the original plat of Tulsa; also substantially all of blocks 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in Washington Addition, and blocks 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Gurley Hill Addition; also blocks 1, 2, 3 and 4 in Skidmore Addition and portions of blocks 1, 2 and 9 in Fairview Addition, and some residences in Liberty and Rose additions, with the occasional loss of a house in Greenwood Addition. The greatest loss was in the Negro business section on Greenwood Street for a distance of four blocks, which was totally destroyed on each side of ‘the street.

The Associated Press and the United Press sent special men to Tulsa and many of the large newspapers of the Middle West were represented by special writers. Numerous telegrams were received by the executive committee from various cities in the Union offering aid, but the policy was quickly adopted that this was strictly a Tulsa affair and that the work of restoration and charity would be taken care of by Tulsa people. ·

There are reasons to believe that previous to the outbreak, perhaps for the past year, a vicious white influence has been at work among the Negroes aided and abetted by vicious members of the Negro race; that meetings were held, incendiary speeches made and that preparations for racial trouble had been made by the assembling of a large amount of high powered ammunition and modem weapons of offense. The consensus of opinion is, on the part of those who have made the most careful investigation, that through such meetings and through such bad advice a number of the Negroes were led into committing this great crime and that as a result of those teachings, as must inevitably happen, the Negro race was in the final analysis the greatest sufferers and in every way the losers in the conflict.

It is thought that out of Tulsa’s greatest tragedy will come a better understanding between the races and that in the future the lawless white element or the lawless Negro element which preaches race equality and racial hatred and incites the Negroes to revolt, rebellion, lawlessness and disorder will be promptly dealt with by the best citizenship of both white and black and that a recurrence of this deplorable event is practically impossible.


Under date of June 7th, the executive committee of ·the Board of Public Welfare issued the following statement:

To the Citizens of Tulsa:

The undersigned members of the Welfare Executive Committee of Tulsa desire to make the following statement:

On Thursday,  June 2d, while martial Jaw was in effect in Tulsa, following the race riot a meeting was called by President Niles of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce at II o’clock A. M. for a conference with Adjt.-Gen. Charles F. Barrett in command of the troops in this city. General Barrett addressed that meeting and recommended that the citizens of Tulsa organize an effective piece of machinery to immediately take charge of the situation and bring order out of chaos and assist in restoring the local situation to a normal condition. That meeting elected the undersigned members of Tulsa’s Executive Welfare Committee to take immediate control and get into action.

The committee went into session on the afternoon of that date and has been in practically continuous session ttp to the present time. Systematic organization of relief forces was perfected through the Red Cross, the churches and by and with the co-operation of hundreds of patriotic citizens, control was assumed of the burned area, provisions made for properly policing and protecting the city against sporadic outbreaks, conferences were held with judicial officials relative to the immediate· calling of special grand jury to investigate the causes of the riot and to initiate the punishment of those guilty, the work of the charitably inclined was systematized, headquarters established for the Red Cross and the working forces in the schoolhouse and in tents in the burned district, tents were secured and an erecting organization perfected, a grocery store was opened in the burned district where supplies could be secured, a medical corps perfected and a sanitary detachment organized, labor was furnished to those seeking work, at living wages, the removal of the debris from the burned area begun, a strong legal committee appointed to handle the cases which might be presented to the Police Court and for their fuller prosecution in the higher courts, the Real Estate Exchange was organized to list and appraise the value of properties in the burned area and to work out a plan of possible purchase and the conversion of the burned area into art industrial and wholesale district, and a detention and sustenance camp established at the fairgrounds, dozens of automobiles assigned to Red Cross service, identification bureaus for the search and identification of separated families were established, thousands of articles of wearing apparel and household utensils were assembled and distributed to the needy, a Negro publication resumed to quiet the Negroes, a dominant and effective emergency police organization was perfected, the avenues leading to the city were patrolled, properly guarded and protected and a strong finance committee organized to take charge of the necessary financial requirements.

The committee has selected a public safety committee of minute men of Tulsa, consisting of 250 leading and representative business men and taxpayers to respond to call to meet any emergency that might arise and to serve for an indefinite period, and all of those things apparently necessary to be done have been taken charge of and performed by this committee to the best of their ability.

The civic organizations of Tulsa and the various church congregations of the city have given their unqualified approval of the work of this organization and have tendered their earnest support in carrying out such further duties as may arise and this committee now asks and has a right to expect the earnest and active co-operation of every good citizen of Tulsa, white or black, when called upon to act in any emergency.

The headquarters of the committee are in the executive offices of the Chamber of Commerce where its membership may be reached at any time during the present crisis, and it will continue to function as long as may be thought necessary in restoring Tulsa to normalcy. The committee feels that with the assistance of the other forces co-operating splendid results have been secured to date and accepts the authority to act in this great emergency conferred on it by the citizenship of this city and pledges the continued performance of its manifold duties to the extent of the ability of its individual membership.



L. J. MARTIN, chairman.


Special Collections Open House

It’s still in the negotiation process, but the first week of October, The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections and University Archives will be holding an Open House to exhibit the collections of materials relating to the 1921 Race Massacre and aftermath, as well as the rebuilding.

We hope that you will be able to join us.

Beno Hall, a second look at the records

In 2015, I wrote a piece on the location of Beno Hall.  Since then more information has been coming up, so I thought I’d share it as well.  New Facts are always helpful to building a more complete picture.

This morning, a helpful gentleman sent me some different records from the now digitized County Clerk records.  According to those, rather than a Creek Allotment, Block 12, lot 4 was a Cherokee Allotment, still not to Brady.

The various additions have different block numbers, so a really detailed map of Tulsa’s blocks is helpful.


N.G. Smith  10-1-06

John H. Baker et ux. To S. W. Mann  5-15-03

Smith, Newton J. w to M. E. Church  9-7-07

M. E. Church (South) to Bd. Of Church Extention 9-7-07

M. E. Church (South) to Trustees Tigert Methodist Episcopal Church (South) – which makes more sense.


Wright, G. M. Jr. et al. to Board of C Extension. (no date)

Wright, G. M. Jr. et al. to Board of C Extension. (no date)

1st M. E. Church to Galt, Thomas T.  5-11-09

Bd of Church Extension to Wright G. M. Jr. 5-22-09

Jones, P. C. et ux to Church of Board Extension 5-22-09

Note that Brady, T. W. to Fink F. D.  is listed as selling part of lot 1 W 40 on 9-9-11, but not Lot 4.


Galt, Thomas F. to Episcopal Church 7-8-14

Wright, G. M. et al. to Board of C Extension  7-10-14

Ernslerger, A et al. to Board of C Extension 1-11-15


Board of Church Extension to Jones, P. L et al  10-30-19

Gardner, James H. to International Life Insurance Co.  11-13-19


Tulsa Benevolent Association to Farm Home Saving and Loan 4-20-23

Gardner, James et al to Tulsa Benevolent Association 4-23-30

International Life Insurance Co. to M. E. Church 4-23-23

The Tulsa Benevolent Association is of course the name under which the Ku Klux Klan established itself in Tulsa









Philosophical quandry

As I have mentioned on my other blog,  a year and three quarters ago, my life was altered irrevocably and it caused me to pull back from a lot of things.  That is starting to clear up and I will be getting back to research again.

In the mean time there has been an alteration in terminology that I need to look at.  This is the use of the word Massacre to refer to the events of May 31-June 1, 1921 in place of Riot.

Now, allow me to start by saying that the People of Color in Tulsa not only have the right, but also the obligation to take ownership of their history and if that involves changing what the events are called then that’s what should happen.

The term ‘riot’ has been used to try to force those events into a specific format, which among other things has curtailed insurance policies and reparations.  Altering the terminology might help free things up a bit.

It does generate a number of quandaries for me, personally, starting with the name of this web site and all the references in this site to the event as a riot.  Also, professionally, since the Department of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Tulsa maintains the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 archive, 1920-2007 and that’s actually my job.  Other organizations will need to come to their own conclusions.  So let me address these in reverse order:

The University will not be change the name of the collection as it’s bad archival practice., however we acknowledge the evolution in terminology, as we will continue to do so should things change again in the future.

Now for this website, I’m not certain if I can change the name or even if I should.  That’s the philosophical dilemma.  Well that and the fact that there actually -was- a race riot during those events – lasting about 2 hours on May 31st from about 10 – midnight.  What happened after that was not a riot.

The older material will remain as it has been since that’s the history of the research.  I am sorry.


Testimony of Laurel Buck

LAUREL BUCK called as a witness on behalf of the State, having been first duly sworn to testify to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, was examined in chief by Mrs. Van Leuven and testified as follows:

Q State your name.

A Laurel J. Buck.

Q A little louder, please sir. Where do you live?

A 1320 South Peoria, City of Tulsa.

Q How long have you lived in Tulsa?

A Eighteen years.

Q Were you present in the city on the night of the 31st of May and on the day of the 1st of June, Mr. Buck?

A Yes, ma’am.

Q Did you have occasion to observe any of the occurrences during the riot that occurred in this city at that time?

A Yes, ma ‘am.

Q What was the first information you had of the riot?

A I was on Main and Third when there was a rumor that there would be a lynching at the court house, and I left that block and came to the court house, and in the  meantime sent my wife home and came down here. There was quite a crowd gathered, I stood around a few minutes and some armed negroes came in a car at the front steps of the court house. Some of the crowd scattered, myself among them, and afterwards came back.  The negroes kept parading, armed negroes, both walking and in cars, kept parading then for some time till there was a shot fired and then a little interval and some more shots were fired and the crowd ran north on Main. I was on Main myself at the time and some shooting as the crowd was running, at any rate a negro –

Q Where did you go after that shooting, Mr. Buck?

A To the police station.

Q What did you go to the police station for?

A I thought they would deputize men.

MR LEAHY: Wait a minute, Mr. Buck. We object to any purpose in this fellow’s mind as to what he was doing as being immaterial.
THE COURT: Sustained.

Q Did you go to the police station at that night, Mr. Buck?

A Yes , ma’am.

Q, Did you have any conversation with the police authorities at

the police station?

A Yes, ma’am.

Q To whom did you talk?

A I wouldn’t know their names, I talked to several there.

Q Did you offer your services at the police station?

A Yes, ma’am.

Q To help put down that riot?

A Yes, ma’am.

Q Did they give you any authority to help put down that riot?

A They told me to get a gun and get busy and try to get a nigger.

Q What?

A Get a gun and try to get a nigger.

Q Did you get a gun?

A Yes, ma’am.

Q Did you get a negro?

A No, ma’am.

Q What did you understand by that?

MR LEAHY: We object to that, if the Court please, he has no right to tell what was said.

THE COURT: Sustained.

Q What did you do following up that suggestion?

MR LEAHY: Object to that as immaterial and incompetent unless it was in the presence of this defendant.

THE COURT: The objection will be overruled.

MR LEAHY: We except.

Q Answer the question.

A I went to the Tulsa Hardware Store and received a gun there.

Q Then where did you go?

A Went to the corner of Third and Boston, waiting there.

Q What did you there do?

A I was watching for negroes passing in cars that were armed.

Q Were negroes passing that corner at that time?

A Not after I got there, none passed.

A The negroes by that time had gone back over?

A Yes.

Q What time did you retire that night, did you go home?

A Yes, I went home about one thirty.

Q What time did you come down the next morning?

A About between seven thirty and eight.

Q Did you have occasion to go over into the negro district the next morning?

A I went as far as I could towards the negro district.

Q What did you observe there?

A Burning of buildings around Cincinnati and Archer and the Frisco depot.

Q Were the buildings burning when you got there?

A The buildings on the east side of Cincinnati were burning, between Cincinnati,– or between Archer and the Frisco track.

Q Now, what was the condition there, did you attempt to go into that district where these buildings were burning?

A I went as far as they would let me go, the Frisco tracks.

Q As far as who would let you go?

A The officers.

Q The officers wouldn’t let you go where the buildings were burning?

A No, ma’am.

Q, Did you see any people in that block over where the buildings were burning?

A Yes, ma’am. Two people.

Q Two people?

A Yes.

Q Were you close enough to tell who those people were?

A They were officers, uniformed police.

Q Uniformed police?

Q What were those two uniformed police doing in that block?

MR MOSS: To which we object as incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial, not binding on the defendant.

THE COURT: Overruled.

A They were knocking out the plate glass window of the buildings on the east side of the street and going in them, and after they came out there was fires, smoked rolled out.

Q They knocked out the plate glass windows and then entered the buildings?

A Yes, ma’am.

Q After they came out of the buildings smoke began to come out, is that right?

A Yes, ma’am.

Q, How many buildings did you see those two uniformed officers enter?

A The first building they entered was the first store room of the one story brick buildings, it was the south end. Then they took the buildings right on down, going north to the two story buildings.

Q Were you familiar with the faces of those officers in that you had seen them acting as police officers in the city before that time?

A I have seen them on the police force but I don’t know either of their names.

Q You didn’t know their names?

A No.

Q How long did you stay there?

A About forty minutes.

Q About forty minutes?

A Yes, ma’am.

MRS VAN LEUVEN: That is all; examine the witness—


Q Where do ·you live. Mr. Buck?

A 1320 South Peoria.

Q What is your occupation?

A Brick layer.

Q You have lived how long in Tulsa?

A Eighteen years.

Q How old are you now?

A Twenty six.

Q How long have you been engaged in the business of brick laying?

A About eight years.

Q That is the only occupation you have, is it?

A Yes. sir.

Q What time was it when you came to the court house on the evening of May 31st?

A About between eight thirty and nine.

Q What did you see when you first arrived here?

A Just a crowd of spectators.

Q About bow many?

A Oh, I should judge upwards of a thousand.

Q White people?

A Yes, sir.

Q, How long after you came was it before negroes commenced coming?

A About twenty or thirty minutes.

Q Where did you see the first negroes that you saw?

A Came in a car right here to the foot of these steps.

Q On Sixth Street?

A Yes, sir.

Q How many were in that oar, about?

A I should judge ten or twelve, maybe fifteen .

Q What did they do?

A They got out of the car and stood around with their guns .

Q Where did they go?

A I don’t know, I left then.

Q You left then?

A Yes, sir.

Q Were you here when the shooting occurred?

A I was at Sixth, at Sixth and Main, just around the corner on Main when the shooting started.

Q How long after you left here was it before the shooting started?

A Oh, it was nearly an hour.

Q You had been gone nearly an hour before the shooting started?

A I had been gone from this corner, I was around on Main street then.

Q, Had you stayed on Main Street all the time?

A Yes, sir.

Q In the vicinity of where you were when you heard the shooting?

A Yes, sir.

Q Did you hear the first shot that was fired?

A Yes, air.

Q Where was it?

A Someplace here on Sixth Street.

Q You didn’t see it?

A No, I just heard it.

Q You don’t know how many squads of negroes came around the court house?

A I don’t know how many came from this direction, there was an armed body of men walked down Sixth Street, across Main and then I saw at different times two or three carloads of armed negroes.

Q Did they turn towards the Court House?

A They would go in, yes, going towards the court house.

Q You saw several cars of armed negroes and one squad of armed negroes that were walking, is that the way it is?

A Yes, sir.

Q You don’t know what took place around the court house at all with reference to those negroes?

A No, sir.

Q Why did you go away from here?

A I thought it was best for me.

Q You thought it was the only safe thing for you to do, did you?

A Yes, sir.

Q Then you went down to the police station and volunteered your services to somebody there at the police station?

A Yes, sir.

Q You didn’t know who that was?

A No, I didn’t know the man’s name.

Q On what floor of the station were you?

A On the ground floor.

Q On the ground floor?

A Yes.

Q Were you inside or outside of the station?

A Inside.

Q Were other men being mustered into the service at that time?

A I didn’t see any.

Q You didn’t see anybody else there?

A Yes, I saw other people there but I didn’t see anybody being mustered into the service.

Q Was there a large crowd there?

A Quite a good many people out in front.

Q Did you see anybody being loaded into automobiles and sent out?

A No, sir.

Q What did you say you done when you offered your services?

A I asked them if they needed any help?

Q You were talking to some police officer downstairs?

A Yes, sir.

Q And he told you to go get a gun and get a nigger?

A Yes.

Q You went and got a gun?

A Yes.

Q, And went to get a negro?

A Tried to.

Q, Why didn’t you?

A I didn’t see any.

Q Didn’t see any; would you have brought a negro in if you had seen him?

A If I had saw him armed.

MRS VAN LEUVEN: Wait a minute. Objected to as incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.

MR MOSS: A man that would commit unprovoked murder ought not to be believed like any other citizen.

MR FREELING: We ask that the remark be stricken.

MR MOSS: I am addressing myself to the Court

MR FREELING: That is the reason I am asking that it be stricken — there is no proof that this man had any idea of committing unprovoked murder. It ought to be stricken and the jury instructed not to consider it.

MR MOSS: If he had done exactly what he says –

MR FREELING: He asked him if he would have brought in a negro if he had seen him.

THE COURT: The motion to strike the statement will be sustained. You, gentlemen of the jury, will not consider the remark of counsel.

MR MOSS: To the ruling of the court the defendant excepts.

THE COURT: You will not be influenced thereby. The objection to the question will be overruled.

Q Read the question so that the witness will understand it.

(Question read by the Reporter)

A If I had saw one shooting into a crowd of white people I would have tried to have got him, that would have been the only way.

Q What do you mean by getting a negro?

A If I had saw him shooting at white people I would have tried to kill him.

Q If you had seen a negro shooting at white people you would have tried to have killed him?

A Yes, sir.

Q Prevented the killing?

A Yes, sir.

Q That is what you understood you were sent out for, was it?

A Yes, sir.

Q In other words, you were out to protect the lives of white people?

A Yes, sir.

Q Under specific orders from a policeman at the police department?

A Yes, sir.

Q Did you go alone or were you by yourself?

A I was alone.

Q Did you go along with anybody else.

A No, sir.

Q How long did you stay on the street?

A Till about one thirty. I went home at one thirty.

Q Where did you stay during all the time after you got your gun and up to the time you went home?

A I put in most of my time around Third and Boulder and on Third Street.

Q, Did you see any armed negroes around there?

A No, sir.

Q Any armed white people around there?

A Yes. sir.

Q How many?

A The streets were full of them.

Q Hundreds of them?

A Yes, sir

Q, Mr Buck, during the night they were all walking around just like you were, were they?

A Yes, sir.

Q And during that time did you hear any shooting going on in the oity?

A Yes, sir.

Q Where was that?

A There were people shooting out of cars, shooting just to hear the gun go off.

Q Shooting in the air?

A Yes, sir.

Q Where was that shooting?

A On Main Street, as they crossed Third Street two shots was fired out of a car there in the air and then I heard other shots all around town; that is the only ones I saw.

Q Those are the only ones you saw?

A Yes, sir.

Q You heard other shots?

A Yes, sir.

Q Any in the direction of the Frisco depot?

A Yes, I heard shooting in that direction.

Q As the night wore on that shooting grew more frequent and intense, didn’t it?

A No, I didn’t notice any more shooting as long as I was down town.

Q What time did you come back to town in the morning?

A About seven thirty or eight o’clock.

Q Did you have your gun then?

A Yes, sir.

Q And you took your gun with you when you went over in the negro settlement?

A I took it back to the hardware store where I got it.

Q You carried it back to the hardware store where you got it and you went over unarmed?

A I went over to the Frisco tracks.

Q You didn’t have any arms with you then?

A No, sir.

Q You had stopped then the proposition of trying to get anybody?

A Yes , sir.

Q You say you met some officers?

A I saw some officers there at the Frisco tracks, yes, sir.

Q Just at what place?

A There was one officer right on the track, they wouldn’t let anybody go any further down Cincinnati, and there were two officers down in the block.

Q They wouldn’t let any unarmed men go down that way?

A No, sir.

Q He let men who were in the service of the city as police to go by, didn’t he?

A I didn’t see any of them try it.

Q How long did you stay there?

A I was there about forty minutes.

Q And where did you go from there?

A I went back up to Young Brothers’ Cigar Store.

Q, The place at which you saw the policeman, what street was that?

A Cincinnati .

Q Cincinnati and the railroad crossing?

A Yes, sir, one police was there.

Q How many policemen were there?

A There was one there stopping the crowd and two others on down in the block.

Q One was stopping the crowd from going over towards the negro settlement?

A Yes, sir.

Q There was a big crowd trying to get over there, was there?

A Probably a hundred or two hundred people when I was there.

Q And he was holding them back from going over there?

A Yes. sir.

Q You went up to Young’s Cigar Store you say?

A When I left there, yes, sir.

Q Then where did you go from there?

A I think I went home from there.

Q While you were at the crossing at Cincinnati and the Frisco station you saw the houses burning?

A Yes, sir.

Q That was when the officer was holding back the white people from going over?

A The fire was on the east side of the street when I first got there, everything was burning there then.

Q Everything was burning when you got there?

A On the east side of the street, yes, sir.

Q Did you see any people other than the two men you described as seeing where the buildings were burning?

A No, sir.

Q That was all you saw?

A Yes, sir.

Q You say they were officers in uniform?

A Yes, sir.

Q Did you know them?

A No, I didn’t know either of their names, I have seen the two of them on the force.

Q You have seen them?

A Yes, sir.

Q Could you point them out now?

A Yes, sir, I believe I could point them out.

Q Are they here in the Court room? All the policemen in the court room stand up. Please, all the men on the police force stand up that are here.

(A number of men in the court room stand up )

A None of them.

Q None of them?

A No.

Q Could you go down to the police station and look over the police station and pick them out?

A I wouldn’t swear I could pick them out.

Q You wouldn’t swear you could pick them out?

A No, sir.

Q How far were you from those two men?

A Possibly half a block, half a block or lees, more or less.

Q What was it you saw them do?

A Take a pool que and break the plate glass windows in the one story buildings on the west side of the street and they entered the buildings and after they came out smoke started in the rooms.

Q How long afterwards?

A A very short time after they left the buildings.

Q After they went in and stayed a while and came out and then the smoke started?

A Then the smoke started, yes.

Q At the time you saw them you were in a crowd of two or three hundred people?

A Yes, sir.

Q And they were in just as good position to see that as you were?

A Yes, sir.

Q And all the men there that were around where the buildings were burning were Just those two policemen?

A Yes, sir.

Q Nobody else there, nobody else in among the burning buildings that were in sight at all?

A No, sir.

MR LEAHY: That is all.


Q You say that when you went to the police station you offered your services to them. Did you offer your services to them in the capacity of a commissioned officer, ask for a commission?

A Yes, ma’am.

Q Did you get it?

MR LEAHY: Wait a minute, if your Honor please; he has a right to say what he said to the police.

THE COURT: The objection will be sustained. State

MR LEAHY: We ask that the jury be instructed to disregard that.

THE COURT: The answer will be stricken, the jury will not consider it. It is the statement of a conclusion.

Q What did you say to the police down there?

A I asked them if they were deputizing — if they would deputize me as an officer .

Q What did they say to you?

A He told me no, that they could take care of the situation.

Q What else did he say?

A And they told me that I better go out and try to get a gun and get a nigger.

Q You say you went down to a hardware store and you were issued a gun?

A Yes, ma’am.

Q I want to know who issued you the gun?

A I don’t know the man that issued me the gun, but he issued everybody guns as they came in there.

Q What place was that?

A Tulsa Hardware.

Q Did you take it it was some proprietor or clerk in that store?

A Yes, ma’am.

MRS VAN LEUVEN: That is all.


Q Then when you first told here on the witness stand today what was said when you first got to the police station, you didn’t tell just exactly what it was, did you?

MRS VAN LEUVEN: That is objected to.

Q About what .you said when you went to the police station, when you first told it here on the witness stand you didn’t tell exactly what transpired?

MRS VAN LEUVEN: We object to that, your Honor, he answered a direct question, he answered a question I asked him. I didn’t ask him that.

THE COURT: The objection will be sustained.

MR LEAHY: We except. That is all.


Q Just a minute. Did you sign a receipt for this gun?

A Yes, sir.

Q Did the other parties who got guns at that time sign receipts for the guns? A Yes, sir.

Q You returned your gun to the place where you got it?

A Yes, sir.

Witness excused.

North Detroit Ave.

I find that I need to note that I have found an analytical issue, and I wanted to share it..  There are some issues regarding  identifying the houses on Detroit.


1915 Sanborn Map, Sheet 4, courtesy of the Tulsa City County Library.

You will notice on this map, dated 1915, there are only a few houses and addresses shown.  One of them is 523, which is Dr. Jackson’s house.    I recently received a more clear version of Beryl Ford collection A2455, thanks to Ian Swart of the Tulsa Historical Society.


Beryl Ford, A2455. Tulsa Historical Society.

You will notice it depicts the back side of Detroit, and clearly shows the foundations of the houses – including the unfinished foundation that was not burned.

We know that one of the lot borders comes down, just south of center of Easton coming over the hill.  Another is halfway between that and the portion of Easton that runs along the south of the block (at the edge of the photo).

We know this because of this version of the same photograph:


A slightly different angle from one of the panoramas:


From that we can make some estimates of width of the lots.


Which means we can place 503 and 523.

Looking at the Census, the Directories, and the Events of the Tulsa Disaster, we get:

503 N Detroit Wright, Mary Alice Wid: Arthur.  2 story frame with basement
505 N Detroit
507 N Detroit Bridgewater, Robert T. Wife: Mattie M. Physician 103 1/2 N Greenwood  1 frame story with basement
511 N Detroit Bridgewater, T.R.(owner) Smitherman, Andrew J. Wif: Ollie Editor, Tulsa Star 1 frame story with basement
515 N Detroit McKeever, Joseph J. Wife: Myrtle Dentist 1 frame story with basement
521 N Detroit Woods, William H. Wife: Eliza pastor Union Baptist Church 1 frame story with basement
522 N Detroit Digney, Mary A.
523 N Detroit Andrew, Andrew C. Wife: Julia A. Physician 503 N Greenwood. 1 frame story with basement
527 N Detroit Stovall, Jesse Wife: Birdie Janitor
529 N Detroit Magill, Harrison M. Teacher BTW HS 1 frame story with basement
531 N Detroit Woods, Ellis W. Wife: Anna Principal BTW HS 1 frame story with basement
533 N Detroit Stoval, Jesse (See above) 1 frame story with basement
537 N Detroit Gentry, Thomas R. Wife Lottie E. W. Gentry, Neeley & Vaden 1 frame story with basement
541 N Detroit Brown, Curtis D. Wife: Alleze. Porter 1 frame story with basement
602 N Detroit Beard J, L
625 N Detroit Hughes, John W. Wife: Jessie M. Principal, Dunbar Grade School 1 frame story with basement
627 N Detroit Singer, Charles E. Wife Pearl. Blacksmith at Tulsa Boiler & Mach Co. 1 frame story with basement

Taking a look at the aerial drawing (1918) we see:


503 is 2 stories.  Unfortunately the drawing has some scale and placement issues, and the buildings are oversized for the block.  But we do see a second 2 story building.

If we look at the satellite map we see:


The shift from Easton west of Detroit to east of Detroit is about hundred feet which means that we have to fit eight addresses in that distance, technically seven since 522 would be on the west side.

So what do we see from the other side?





If the 2 story building is 503 then unfinished house must be 505, particularly as there is only one two story house listed in Events of the Tulsa Disaster on the 500 block.  Or if we look at the aerial drawing (1918) then the two story structure might be 523.

I believe this may actually be the case because of this image.


The two building fronts remain and the gray patch at the bottom of the picture may be Easton.   This means that what I believe we are looking at is this:


Why is this important? Because previously I had previously placed 523 a bit further north (about a hundred feet further north).

A Simple Experiment regarding fire in a open cockpit aircraft

One of the questions regarding the Riot and the burning is whether burning materials were thrown from the aircraft. This has nothing with any of the other theories about how the aircraft could have been used.

It occurred to me that this is actually easily testable, and testable without access to fancy equipment. And we performed the experiment today. Feel free to reproduce the results if you want.

The aircraft most likely to have been used during the Invasion the morning of June 1, 1921 was the Curtis Jenny, an open cockpit aircraft. The stall speed of the Jenny is about 45 miles an hour. That means the slowest the plane could travel and not fall out of the air.

IMG_0152We chose to reproduce that speed in the back of a pick up truck driving down a road. We elected to see if we could light a match, a lighter, and if using a lit cigar we could light a fuel soaked rag.

Safety precautions were taken, including a fire extinguisher and a bucket full of water to take the burning rag if necessary.

The lighter. We used a Zippo, which was a more advanced lighter than those available in 1921, but based on similar principles. It would not light at speed.
The matches. We used a cluster of three wooden strike anywhere matches. They lit perfectly and were immediately extinguished in the wind.

Finally, lighting a fuel soaked rag with a cigar. We could not get it to light.

Analysis is that it is unlikely that burning materials could have been lit and thrown. If somehow lit, they would have been extinguished leaving the plane.

Testimony of John A. Oliphant, 2 Attorney General’s Civil Case Files, RG 1-2, A-G Case no. 1062, Box 25 (Oklahoma State Archives)



called as a witness on behalf of the State, having been first duly sworn to testify to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, was examined in chief by Mr. Freeling and testified as follows:

Q Will you state your name to the Court and jury?

A John A. Oliphant.

Q Where do you live, Mr. Oliphant?

A Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Q What part of the city?

A I live over near Detroit and Easton, in that block.

Q How long have you lived here?

A A little over sixteen years.

Q How old a man are you.

A Seventy three.

Q Were you here on the night of May 31st?

A Yes, sir.

Q That is called the night of the riot, is it not?

A Yes, sir.

Q What was the first you observed concerning it, judge?

A Well, it was early the next morning, June 1st, just a good daylight when I discovered a lot of men coming up on the hill there east of my place.

Q White men or nigger men?

A They were white men.

Q Armed or unarmed?

A They were armed, they were all dressed in khaki clothing, they looked to me to be oversea soldiers.

Q What did they do?

A They were looking east and I got up and came out of my home and I walked rapidly over to Detroit and they were shooting across Detroit over on Elgin and in that locality on the north

of Easton.

Q I will ask you, judge, if during the morning you got in communication with the police station?

A Yes, I phoned and sent for them several times, I phoned to the police station myself.

Q What time did you phone?

A Well, that was between eight and nine o’clock, but I had sent before that a time or two.

Q A time or two?

A Yes, sir. and to the sheriff’s office also.

jackson.jpgQ Were you acquainted with Dr. Jackson?

A Yes, sir.

Q Is he living or dead?

A He is dead.

Q Did you witness his death?

A Yes, sir, I witnessed the shooting which caused his death a few minutes afterwards.

Q About what time in the morning was he shot, judge?

A Right close to eight o’clock, between seven thirty and eight o’clock.

Q Was that before or after you had communicated with the police station?

A The first thing I done I tried to get some policemen. I found there wasn’t any up there and I wanted to get some policemen to help me; I thought I could stop that whole business but I guess I was mistaken.

Q Did you get any help from the police officers?

A No, sir.

Q After you communicated with the police station what did you see with reference to Dr . Jackson?

A I was standing down on Detroit just fronting his house, just right opposite Easton down from where I live. I heard him holler and I looked up and saw him coming about twenty five feet away from me or thirty, with his hands up, and he said “Here am I”, he wanted to go —

MR LEAHY : We object to this statement of what Dr. Jackson said .

THE COURT: The objection will be overruled.

MR LEAHY: We except.

A I said to the fellows, “That is Dr. Jackson, don’t hurt him.”

Q How many were there?  How many men were there there at that time, Judge?

A About thirty or forty or fifty. around there.

Q How many of them were armed?

A Oh, I don’t know, the major portion of them was I presumed armed, they were practically all armed, I think.

Q What did you say Dr. Jackson said?

A He said, “Here am I, I want to go with you”, or something to that effect.

Q Who was he speaking to?

A I don’t know whether he was speaking to me or the other fellows. I was standing immediately in front of him and right on either side of me were three or four or five young fellows, citizens, with guns, and on the other side of the driveway were some more, two or three others.

Q Was Dr. Jackson shot by anybody?

A Yes sir.

Q How many were in the party that shot him?

A Oh, seven or eight.

Q Seven or eight.

A Yes, right in the party, they were all around there then.

Q How many fired?

A Two men fired at him.

Q, Did he fall?

A Yes, he fell at the second shot with the high powered rifle.

Q At the second shot?

A Yes, sir, he fell down.

Q What kind of a looking man was it that shot him?

A A young man with a white shirt and cap on.

Q How long was this after you had communicated with the police station asking for help?

A 0Q, I don’t know, half an hour, maybe an hour, I tried to get them two or three times and got them once or twice.

Q What was done concerning Dr. Jackson after he fell?

A Well, they loaded him in a car and took him away.

Q Who did that?

A The men there, the white men present.

Q Do you know whether they started to a hospital or not?

A That is where they said they was going, to a hospital.

Q These men that put him in a car, were they armed?

A Oh, yes, they were armed.

Q Were they shooting?

A Well, it was occasional shooting because over on — at that time, oh God, no, sir, there wasn’t a nigger man I suppose within a mile of that except one old man that was sick, and Dr. Jackson.

Q The two?

A They all left out before six, or right at six, there wasn’t a negro man in that locality after that time I don’t think.

Q They had gone, had they?

A Yes, sir. they had either come in and given themselves up, or they had run around the hill beyond the school house there and went out of my eight . I seen three or four or five, they wasn’t but a few negro men there. They was shooting close, from the number of shots; they always went over me. I got down on Detroit where — where they were balls from both sides went over me but I was too low down.

Q Judge, I wish you would tell the Court and jury at this time, at the time Dr. Jackson was shot, as to the degree of excitement, if you can.

LEAHY: We object to that as immaterial and incompetent.

THE COURT: Overruled.

LEAHY: We except.

A There was but little excitement then, the fight was all over and had been over for an hour and a half. There was no shooting at that particular time because there was no negroes over there to shoot at.

Q I will ask you, judge, if you saw any houses burned?

A Yes sir.

Q, Did you see any houses set afire?

A Yes, sir.


N. Detroit home being looted.

Q Just tell how you saw them set afire, whether it was by one man or two or a party of people?

A Two or three or four did the firing of practically all the buildings there.

Q Explain their operation, would they fire one building and go to another?

A Yes, sir, this was away after ten o’clock, the negroes had been gone five hours from there and the excitement was practically all down, when any of those houses north of Easton, those good houses in the residence district were all burned after ten fifteen or ten thirty.

Q Where were the military authorities then?

A They come in at nine o’clock and I seen them parading, 1 expected the militia over there but they were just parading around the city having a promenade. I don’t know just what they were doing.

Q I will ask you, judge, after you phoned the police station for help, i£ you saw the chief of police or any police officer over there?

A Yes, there was four came over there .

Q What did they do?

A They were the chief fellows setting fires.

Q Were they in uniform?

A No, I can’t say —

Q Did they have on stars?

A They had ·stars, they had badges on: just one man, they called him Brown, l believe, a red complected fellow, I knew him as a policeman but the others I only knew from the badges they wore.

Q You say the red complected man you knew as a policeman?

A Yes.

Q Did you know his name?

A I understood they called him Brown.

A Was he with the party that was setting fire to houses?

A Yes, he and Cowboy Long were the chief burners.

Q Brown and Cowboy Long?

A Yes, sir.

Q How many houses did you see them set fire to?


N. Detroit home being burned after looting.

A I never seen them actually set the fire to but one, they went in and when they came out the houses were burning, you know. I kept begging all the time to spare the houses because my property was just across the street from there, and when they burned them with the wind blowing as it was strongly from the east, it would burn me out. I was chiefly interested in the fire in that particular . But when they had –

Q You say you saw them set fire to one house?

A Yes.

Q How did they do it , tell the jury.

A They threw a lot of gasoline and coal oil back in the butlery at Dr. Jackson’s, that was Dr. Jackson’s house.

Q Was that before or after he was killed?

A That was after he was killed, that was two hours and a half or nearly three hours after he was killed.

Q These four men that you saw in a party, was there anybody else with them or ·were they travelling from place to place themselves?


N. Detroit homes being looted.

A They were scattered around there, quite a large number of people looting the houses and taking out everything. There wasn’t no excitement particularly. Some were singing, some were playing pianos that were taken out of the buildings, some were running victrolas, some dancing a jig and just having a rolicing easy good time in a business which they thought they were doing that was upright.

Q Aside from these men that you took to be police officers, the one you have called Brown and the one you have called Cowboy Long that party—

A He wasn’t a policeman.

Q I am not saying, judge, that he was, I say, in the party where you saw one man you called Brown, you knew he was a policeman—

A Yes, he had been.

Q —and in the party you saww a fellow by the name of Cowboy Long?

A Yes.

Q Did you see any other party or any other police officers over there that morning?

A There were four police officers there, three with this other one and Brown.

Q What were they doing, the three that were with Brown’?

A They were working in conjunction with that outfit there.

Q Doing what?

A Doing burning and looting or carrying out things and doing that which was as they said they were ordered to destroy— that ain’t the word they used. I don’t remember the word he used but it was to the effect that they was going to make the destruction complete.

Q Did you make any effort to prevent them?

A I did all the time I was— I had really protected the property from three or four crowds of fellows there that morning and this last crowd made an agreement that they would not burn that property because I thought it would burn mine too And I promised that if they wouldn’t, they made the promise if they would leave it I would see that no negroes ever lived in that row of houses any more. I promised all right.

Q You promised all right?

A Yes, sir, I promised, I didn’t know whether I could make good or not but I was going to try it.

Q Did you see any other police officers there that morning?

A No, sir, 6h, no, there wasn’t any others all the morning I seen anywhere.

Q Did you see any taking property out of houses.

A Oceans of it, they absolutely sacked all the houses and took everything out.

Q What was the nature of the property that was taken out?

Q Well, pianos, victrolas, clothing, chairs, musical instruments, clothing or all kinds, men, women and children would go in the house end fill up pillow cases, sheets and clothing and carry them out and carry them away.

Q Judge, how far was Dr. Jackson from you when he was shot?

A About twenty five, between twenty five and thirty feet.

Q How was he walking?

A He was walking right straight towards us, me and the other two fellows that was at my left and the other fellow that was at my right·, he was coming directly to me , I think.

Q Was he making a demonstration with his hands?

A No, he had··his hands that way (indicating). He says “Here am I, take me”, or something to that effect.

Q About what time, judge, did the trouble end, the burning?

A The burning?

Q Yes. sir.

A About ten thirty, a little after, it was all destroyed and the best of those houses were practically burned down all right through there at ten thirty.

Q At ten thirty?

A And at eleven thirty, about eleven o’clock the militia come over, marched over that way

Q And there wasn’t any disturbance after that, was there, along about eleven o’clock?

A No, no.

Q Did you see anybody else shot except Dr. Jackson?

A No, I am not certain that I did.

Q Sir?

A I am not certain that I did . I seen them shooting at each other, some in the windows of the school house I took to be colored men and probably one or two in the Baptist Church there in the window above.

Q Did you see any colored men or negro men shooting from the Baptist Church over there?

A No, I didn’t see them shoot, I heard the reports from that locality and I heard the balls whistle over my head as I passed.

Q About what time was that?

A Oh, this was early in the morning, about — between four thirty and five o’clock or five thirty, just about an hour’s time, right early in the morning.

Q Just about eight or nine o’clock what was the condition, was there a raging battle between a large number of armed people, or was it this looting by individuals?

A There wasn’t anything at all going on but the looting at that time, they were all gone, the niggers run away and give themselves up there in an hour’s time after I was up after the thing begun at four thirty in the morning.

Q Judge, when you phoned the police station what reply did you get?

A He said — somebody in there, I thought I knew the voice but I am not certain, he said “I will do the best I can for you.” I told him who I was, I wanted some policeman, I says, “If you will send me ten policemen I will protect all this property and save a million dollars worth of stuff they were burning down and looting.” I asked the fire department for the fire department to be sent over to help protect my property and they said they couldn’t come, they wouldn’t let them.

Q Did the policemen ever come that you called for?

A Well, I don’t know, those policemen, those four came over, I don’t know whether they came in obedience to my request. If they did I am mighty sorry they came, I wish they hadn’t come.

Q They are the ones you said were looting?

A They were helping burn, they were working in conjunction with the fellows there that were burning.

Q They were helping burn?

A Yes, sir.

Q Did any policemen come in response to your request that assisted in preventing any looting or burning or killing?

A Not one single one, not one. I got no assistance or encouragement from anyone, sheriff’s office or them either.

MR FREELING: I believe that is all.


Q, Where do you say you live?

A I live over there on Easton close to Detroit.

Q I don’t know where that is.

A That is right on stand pipe hill, I live there and there is where my property is.

Q You live on stand pipe hill?

A Yes, sir, I have lived there for sixteen years.

Q How far do you live from this district that was burned out?

A My property lies right across the street from that, right up to it, that is, part of it, I have got two houses there.

Q When was it that the shooting first commenced over in that neighborhood.

A Oh, about four thirty, between that, four and five o’clook.

Q Just about daylight?

A Yes, just good daylight, they come up there in uniform, I took them all to be ex-service men.

Q In uniform?

A Yes, they had the khaki uniform on. all except two boys that I seen, two or three boys.

Q Were they armed?

A Yes, sir, those boys were armed all right .

Q What kind of guns did they have?

A One of them had a high powered gun.

Q What do you mean by a high powered gun?

A One of these rapid shooters.

Q How is that?

A I call them rapid shooting guns, I thought he had a Henry, it might have been a Winchester. I don’t know, I didn’t take it only just seen it, seen it was a high powered gun.

Q You mean they were rifles?

A Yes, sir.

Q How many of those men did you see first?

A Well, there was about forth or fifty of them there right on the hill when I came out — just coming up on the bill when I came out and came down on the park.

Q Did they appear to be in command of anybody?

A No, I can’t say about that, they all seemed to be looking over there to see somebody shooting out across Detroit.

Q Were this party on the hilltop?

A They were forming along on the east side of the hill, right along the hill, the hill runs clear down to Detroit along back of my houses, they were forming along there, some forty or fifty of them.

Q Do you know whether they were the officers or not?

A No, sir, I don’t know anything about it.

Q Did you see anybody among them that appeared to be an officer?

A No, sir, I didn’t see anybody that appeared to be an officer, I knew some of them.

Q How is that?

A I knew some of them but they were—

Q Who did you know?

A I knew Voorhis.

Q What does he do?

A He was an overseas— I knew him because I know his father well and his father is a friend of mine, his father is dead now.

Q Member o£ the national guard here?

A Yes, he is a member of the national guard because he was a policeman after the war was over, he was in the service then.

Q Wasn’t this bunch of men you saw there members of the national guard?

A Well, I don’t know, they all had on khaki uniforms , I took them to be overseas soldiers and they may have been a part of the national guard, not— those that came from Oklahoma City you mean?

Q I mean the company that lives here.

A Well, some of them were, I think.

Q Did they have a machine gun there with them?

A The machine gun was just down on Detroit just below me there.

Q You know where the machine gun was, do you?

A Yes, sir.

Q How far were they from where the machine gun was?

A Oh, they were a block and a half or two blocks from the machine gun.

Q You say they were shooting from both ways?

A Yes, they— I heard the balls whistle from both ways from over there on the— early when the fighting begun, they was fighting there, shooting and quite a number of shots from each side.

Q You couldn’t say which side— you mean the negroes were firing?

A Yes, sir, across there on Elgin, Elgin and Frankfort, along in there you know they had some high powered guns, and the balls carried clear over to my home pretty near a quarter of a mile away.

Q How frequent was the firing, judge?

A It could be a half a dozen shots, then be intervals and then you know two or three other shots. .

Q How long could the intervals be?

A Two or three shots, sometimes, you know, getting ready— I suppose they were looking to see them appear at the windows in the brick buildings, that is what 1 judged.

Q How frequently was the shooting that came from the negro settlement?

A Well, as I told you, two or three shots, maybe a half a dozen shots, and two or three or four shots; you know, but it soon ended.

Q Probably a few hundred shots in an hour?

A Yes, sir; I should judge that anyhow, I should judge a few hundred shots.

Q These men that were stationed on the hill there, they were answering back the shooting that came from the negroes?

A Yes, they were shooting back at each other all right.

Q You say that was about four thirty in the morning?

A That is when that commenced, yes, sir.

Q How long before it stopped?

A It was all over before five thirty anyhow.

Q You mean the shooting right in that immediate neighborhood?

A Yes, sir.

Q When you say the shooting was over you don’t mean the shooting was over throughout the city at that time?

A I think that is the last place where there was any shooting or any consequence occurred that morning because they had been driven out down below there.

Q How many armed negroes did you see around there that morning?

A I couldn’t tell, I only seen them across there, a black or two you know at the windows two or three times.

Q In your judgment about how many armed negroes did you see over there that morning?

A I seen four or five running around the hill you know, there wasn’t many there that I seen.

Q, How many places did you observe they were shooting from there?

A About three places.

Q How many armed white men did you see over there?

A There were quite — there was a hundred or two or three perhaps.

Q Were they all stationed on the hill?

A Well, they came up on the hill and then went around down north of Fairview and then some of them came down to where I was on Detroit.

Q Those men were shooting back and forth at each other, the negroes and the white people you spoke of, was that the time you phoned to the police station?

A I did before that and since.

Q Did you during the time that shooting was going on?

A No, sir, I couldn’t get away from where 1 was just then, I didn’t go to a phone at that time, I thought I could stop the business when I went down there but I wasn’t able to do it.

Q What time was this that Dr. Jackson was shot?

A Just about eight o’clock, between seven thirty and eight o’clock.

Q These men that were with you at the time the shooting occurred, were they part of the same men that were on the hilltop?

A Well I expect that some of them were but I am not certain whether they were or not.

Q How were they dressed?

A Some of them had on khaki uniforms. some of them in citizens clothes, the two young men that done the shooting of Jackson didn’t have on uniform of any kind.

Q They didn’t have a uniform?

A No.

Q Did you know them?

A No, sir, I did not.

Q Had you ever seen them before?

A I couldn’t say, I don’t know anything about them.

Q Have you’ ever seen them since?

A No, sir.

Q Did you know the men that were in uniform along with the boys that did the shooting?

A No, sir, I didn’t. I probably knew some of them because I am well acquainted here, but I don’t remember, judge, I don’t remember the individual person. The excitement was pretty heavy and I had so many things to think about and try to do that I couldn’t [c]harge.judge. I couldn’t remember just who was in the party.

Q How long had they been with you at that place before they shot Dr. Jackson?

A Well, not very long.

Q Ten minutes?

A I had been right around there for a couple of hours but they hadn’t been there but very few minutes, they just came in a gang.

Q You had talked to them before Dr. Jackson came up there, hadn’t you?

A Sir?

Q You had talked to these boys that were there before Dr. Jackson came up?

A Yes, I kept telling them all the time not to burn the houses there because they would burn me up if they did.

Q About what time in the morning did you say it was Dr. Jackson was shot?

A Right close to eight o’clock, between seven thirty and eight o’clock.

[Page 17 is missing]


A Yes, they were only three places, the school house and the Baptist Church and a brick grocery store.

Q What kind of buildings were those, brick buildings?

A Brick buildings.

Q From those buildings they were shooting?

A Yes, sir.

Q And that was about all the brick buildings there were in that section?

A There was a few others, but they were prominent, they were where they could be seen easily.

Q Those were the prominent buildings in the negro section?

A Yes, sir, that part of it, in the residence portion.

Q What did you say to whoever you got in touch with at the police station when you phoned?

A I wanted them to send me up about ten policemen and help me protect that property, judge. I guess I said my property and I said we could care for all that property if I had them, I had watched it for two or three hours.

Q Did you know to whom you talked in the police station?

A No, I am not certain.

Q You didn’t ask any name?

A No, I asked if that was the police office and he said it was. I don’t think it was Mr. Gustafsen, it didn’t talk like him.

Q You don’t think it was Mr. Gustafsen?

A No, I don’t.

Q They did tell you they would try to send you help?

A Yes, sir, they said they would do the best they could to send me somebody to help.

Q, Now after that you phoned again to the police station?

A Yes, sir.

Q, What time?

A That is, there was some fellows came there about nine o’olock and began talking about burning and then I phoned again but didn’t get anybody.

Q You didn’t get anybody?

A I sent two or three fellows over there and to the sheriff’s office to tell them to come over and help me, just to give me ten fellows.

Q You sent some men to come over to the sheriff’s office?

A To the sheriff’s office and to police headquarters.

Q But you didn’t get in touch over the phone any more with the police headquarters?

A No, I don’t think I did, I don’t remember now that I did.

Q These men that came over there about nine o’clock, how many were in that crowd?

A Well, that wasn’t the last crowd, that wasn’t the crowd that done the burning. They came there about ten or ten fifteen, the crowd that done the burning.

Q How many of them were there?

A There was twenty five or thirty in the gang.

Q How many gangs?

A There was only the one gang came then and they had been three a time or two. Some others had talked about burning but these fellows came there—

Q Hadn’t there, judge, early that morning, been hundreds of men over through that section of town?

A They came through, the home guards marched up there at eight o’clock up Detroit in single file at eight o’clock and I thought they was going to help us, I thought that would end the trouble and it would have done if they had stayed there, but they marched up there on the hill, Sunset Hill and stayed up there where they could do no good on earth.

Q That was the national guard that did that?

A Yes.

Q The local company that is located here?

A Yes, sir .

Q Do you know whom they were in charge of?

A No; I did know at the time, sir, but I don’t remember now. They marched in single file with their guns.

Q Do you know Colonel Rooney?

A Oh, yes, I know him very well, I don’t think he was in command, yet he may have been, I know colonel very well. He was over there in that locality before and I think after .

Q He had been over there that morning?

A Yes, sir, and 1 think he rendered good service too.

Q He was the officer that has control of the local company here, isn’t he?

A Yes, he is the officer, I understand so, but I don’t know whether he was in charge of the company at that time.

Q How long did the company stay over there?

A They went up on the hill and I didn’t watch them, I didn’t have time to watch them, I don’t know what became of them.

Q You don’t know how long they stayed there?

A They didn’t come back, I thought they were going to stay there.

Q In addition to that company there were other men went over in uniform?

A Oh, yea, they were gathered around there pretty thick, every once in a while a squad came over.

Q Would it be safe to say, judge, that men were over there that appeared to be officers to the number of one hundred that morning, including the national guard?

A Well, there was a hundred, over a hundred that were in uniform, khaki uniforms: I don’t know whether they pretended to be officers or what office they performed but they were there all right.

Q You say the negroes left that section there near you early that morning?

A Yes, about six o’clock — a little before five or about five or shortly afterwards I saw a negro groceryman over on Elgin, I hollered to him and told him if they didn’t come out of there and get protection they would every one be killed and for him to tell them so and he did so. All up that street then, Professor Hughes and all them folks came out and gave themselves up, to our fellows that were taking— conducted to the—

Q The officers that were over there did take charge practically then of the entire negro population that was in that section?

A The men in khaki uniforms did, yes.

Q Before the negroes had been run off?

A Yes, yes, every one of them, they brought them off and brought them down to Convention Hall.

Q And they were taken charge of by officers that were there?

A Yes, about six o’olock they got hold of them.

Q During ‘the time you say the buildings were burned over there, the negro population had all been removed to Convention Hall?

A Either that or they had left, run east around the hill; there wasn’t any neggers there at all.

4, Did you know any of those persons that did any of the burning?

A I know the faces of some of them but I don’t know of anybody.  I can’t tell of anybody except what I have already testified to.

Q Have you seen any of them since that?

A Not a single one, and not one; I have looked for them too.

Q You haven’t seen any of them?

A No.

Q You don’t know anything about what they were doing there except that they were burning the property?

A No. that is all; they seemed to be having a good time in their proper element. They burned the houses after they were all robbed you know, looted.

Q You say that women and children were looting the houses as well as men?

A Sure.

Q Did you know any of the women and children?

A I knew the faces of some of them but I couldn’t tell the names.

Q You couldn’t tell the names?

A They got considerable of that property back that they taken over there, I helped to get some of it.

Q You say there was a fellow by the name of Brown?

A That is what they said, I don’t know his name. I know the man all right if I would see him, he was a red complected fellow.

Q Have you seen him around the court house here?

A No, sir, I haven’t seen him here.

Q Have you seen him since that day?

A I haven’t seen him since that day.

Q Have you been to the police station since that?

A No, I haven’t.

Q Will you go there and see if you can find him and report back here?

MR FREELING: To which we object as incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.

THE COURT: Sustained.

Q This Cowboy Long, what about him, who was he?

A I only know him by what they said his name was, they threatened that when he come he would fix them houses quick, and he did.

Q Did you ever see him before?

A I think I have seen him before but I don’t know.

Q Have you seen him since?

A I haven’t seen him since.

Q Read about him in the newspapers?

A Yes, sir.

Q For years?

A For years.

Q You have read about him in the newspapers?

Yes, I knew the reputation of the fellow.

Q He is a notorious bootlegger, isn’t he?

A Yes, no question about that; I knew that at that time. When they called his name I feared him because I had heard about him .

Q Did you talk to him over there?

A Yes, and he and Brown were the fellows I made a dicker with to save the houses if they wouldn’t burn them I would prevent any negroes from living in them.

Q  At the time they were burning these houses where was the national guard, still on the hill?

A No. They had gone I guess. You see that was nearly five hours after the fight was over, over there, the real fighting, pretty near five hours.

Q, The national guard had left the place?

A I think so entirely, I don’t think there was any of the national guard there, I don’t remember any of them .

Q There wasn’t anybody in an official capacity there at that time?

A Yes, there was one. This man Voorhis. One fellow threatened me and he said to him– I know hie father, he is a Missourian, so am I, he says, ”If you hurt that man there will be something doing damn quick here”, I heard that. I heard that and walked away.

Q Voorhis is a member of the national guard?

A Yes, sir.

Q And working with the police at that time?

A He was working there and trying to do something He is a good fellow too.

Q He was doing all he could to protect property?

A I don’t know what he was doing really, I knew he protected me all right.

Q He protected you?

A Yes, he did that.

Q He was the only one there at that time, you say?

A There might have been others, judge, but I don’t remember.

Q Do you know when the city was put under martial law?

A I think it was about twelve o’clock, I think, I don’t know—

Q You know it was put under martial law?

A Yes, yes, I know.

Q And that the officers came from the state capitol here?

A Yes, they come but they didn’t come over there.

Q They didn’t come over there?

A No, sir, they got off of the train at nine o’clock, I had sent for· them, I see the train pull in, I said “We are safe now.” An hour and a half after that all those buildings were standing there. I sent for them, I sent for the militia to come, send over fifteen or twenty or them that is all I wanted.

Q Who did you send to?

A I sent to the—directed it to Charlie Barrett and an old friend of mine.

Q Did you get in touch with General Barrett?

A No, I didn’t get— I don’t know whether they did, he said they were coming over.

Q Did you talk with somebody on the phone or did you go to see them?

A I sent a man over, I sent a man to see the mayor and have the soldiers come over there immediately after they arrived, and he told me he would try to have them come.

Q Who was the man ths.t you sent?

A Well, air, I don’t know, I sent several fellows.

Q Did you tell them to go to General Barrett?

A I told them to go over there and have the soldiers come over here at once .

Q You knew General Barrett was there?

A No, I hadn’t seen him, I supposed he would be here but I didn’t see him.

Q You understood he was adjutant general of the state?

A I knew he was.

Q He was an old friend of yours?

A ‘Yes, sir.

Q You wanted him to understand about this matter and you sent to him telling him you were wanting some men to come out and help protect your property and their property?

A Yes, sir, that is a fact.

Q And that train came in at about nine o’clock?

A Yes, sir.

Q How long was it before you saw any of the militia over there?

A About eleven o’clock.

Q About eleven o’clock?

A They came over the hill at eleven o’olock when everything was burned.

Q, Between the time the militia arrived and the time they got over to your place this burning took place?

A Yes, sir.

Q When you spoke of the burning there do you mean the negro district that was burned out was adjacent to you?

A I mean all that good residence district north of Easton and east of Detroit, of course. They had burned down about the main part of the city, they had been burning that before they commenced on this property up there, the good residence portion wasn’t burned until nine or ten fifteen or ten thirty.

Q And that property was burned, notwithstanding there was a lot of militia on hill previous to that?

A They bad been there previously, yes, sir, the militia had, but they wasn’t there then, they had perhaps gone,

Q How many people were engaged in the burning of property there?

A In that property there burning north of—

Q, Yes.

A Oh, there wasn’t over eight or ten or fifteen.

Q Eight or ten or fifteen did all that burning?

A Yes, sir.

Q, Was there any other people there armed?

A Yes, there were, I understood that— I don’t know how armed they were but they were there.

Q How many?

A Say one hundred or two, most of them was carrying away goods, and furniture and so forth.

Q ·Now at ten to ten thirty, the morning of June the lst, how many men would you say there were in your presence or in your neighborhood there that were looting or burning or armed men, people running around there?

A There wasn’t over ten or fifteen or twenty of the men who were armed doing the burning or destroying.

Q, How many were doing the looting?

Q Oh, a hundred or two, they kept coming and going, judge; I couldn’t tell how many there were, both men, women and children, boys and girls carried away things.

Q Where they people that lived in the neighborhood?

A Some of them were, yes, sir.

Q You mean to say you could see the people on stand pipe hill from where you lived?

A From where I lived?

Q Yes.

A I am right there on the hill, right on top of it.

Q This national guard that was up there, how close were they to your house?

A Passed right by my house. part of them come right on the walk there right close there.

Q Did they take a station there somewhere?

A They kept going there and forming along on the east brow of the hill, and that is when— that was early in the morning you know, just daylight.

Q This machine gun, where was it?

A That was down on Detroit.

Q How far from your house?

A Oh, that was three or four blocks from my house, but only about two blocks from where I was when I got over on Easton and Detroit.

Q How many men were there when the machine gun was there?

A I didn’t go to the machine gun. They told me that was a machine gun, I heard it shoot. I knew it was an extraordinary shot but it didn’t shoot very fast.

Q Judge, are you friendly or unfriendly to the present city administration?

A Well, sir, I helped to put them in, I guess I am friendly.

Q You know whether you are or not, don’t you?

A Yes, I know I am so far as— they are my personal friends, all of them. Of course I don’t like the way they done on that day but that don’t knock out our friendship.

Q I don’t mean your personal friendship for the men, you are not friendly to them as officials at this time, are you, judge?

A I can’t say but what I am, sir.

Q How do you feel toward Chief Gustafson?

A I think he didn’t do his duty and of course I am not so very friendly to him as an officer.

Q You are not friendly?

A No, sir, I say that frankly.

Q LEAHY: That is all.


N. Detroit in ruins.


Q Why are you not?

A Because I don’t believe he done his duty there in protecting me and property.

MR MOSS: Comes now the defendant and moves the Court to strike out the answer of the witness on the ground and for the reason that the same in incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.

THE COURT: Overruled.

MR MOSS: Exception.

MR FREELING: That is all.

Witness excused.

Annoying tempting similarities

I’m forwarding this from my other blog.

Website of a Historical Polymath

riot162You know you are spending too much time on a topic when you start seeing things.

This young man kindly took his time out from shooting, looting and burning to have his picture taken in front of the ruins of the Dreamland Theater on Greenwood, late morning of 1 June 1921.

The more I look at him, the more I think he looks like this guy:


This would be Fred Barker, youngest son of the Barker Family, one of the founders of the Barker-Karpis gang in the early 1930s.  Fred was 19 and a half in June, 1921.  He and his brothers were members of the Central Park Gang in Tulsa.  He was first imprisoned in 1927 for burglary.  After teaming up with Karpis in 1930, he escalated to bank robbery, kidnapping, and murder.

The annoying part is that Fred was actually in Tulsa during the riot and could well have been involved.

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