This copyrighted material was first presented to the Hill/Lewis Family Reunion, Gerty, Oklahoma, October 7, 1995, in my booklet, “I DON’T WANT MY DAUGHTER MARRYING ANY OF THOSE MURDERING EVANS.” Many elite writings (similar to this one) were also republished at https://essayelites.com/. According to my father, the following events almost kept him and mother from getting married when her father said, “I don’t want my daughter marring one of those murdering Evans.” At a 1986 Hill family reunion at Fort Smith, Arkansas, an older Hill family member stood up to say that the family should never forget the 1898 killing of U.S. Marshal Leonidas Hill by those murdering Evans. That event caused my research of various newspaper articles of the time in Arkansas and Oklahoma; and Federal Court records and other materials in the National Archives at Fort Worth, Texas. I found the following....
The Hill family has always been very religious, with high morals and strong principles regarding what is right and what is wrong. Known as God-fearing, law-abiding, hard-working people, who are very active in their Church. The family has produced several preachers. One early family tradition says that an Aaron Berry Hill, a lawman, was murdered in Wilkes County, Georgia in 1839. His widow remarried a preacher and they, with three of the four Hill boys (James M., Robert J., and Aaron), moved to Arkansas before the Civil War. The fourth son, William Hill, remained in Georgia. When the Civil War came, the Arkansas Hill boys supported the Union. Robert and James joined the Union Army and fought Confederates in Arkansas. James’s first child by his first wife (who died in childbirth) was Leonidas S. Hill, born in 1855.
After Fort Smith’s “Hanging Judge,” Judge Parker, was forced to leave the federal court, new federal courts were set up for eastern Arkansas and in the Oklahoma Indian Territory, which bordered western Arkansas. One such court was located at Cameron City in Indian Territory (IT) in what is now Le Flore County, Oklahoma. Other Indian Territory courts were located at Atoka, Antlers and South McAlester.
Leonidas Hill, from Sebastian County, Arkansas, became Cameron's City Marshal. He then succeeded J. P. Grady as Deputy U.S. Marshal at Cameron when Grady became a full federal marshal for the Second District of the United States Court for eastern Indian Territory and was stationed at South McAlester, Oklahoma. Boley Grady, eldest son of Federal Marshal Capt. J. P. Grady, became Hill’s posse. The young Grady was a very popular young man among his associates, and considered being a fearless man with iron nerve.
Until 1889, Oklahoma and Indian Territories were a haven for those running from the law and those who lived outside the law. Judge Parker hung many of them but things really began to change when, in April 1889, the great “Oklahoma Land Rush” opened up part of the Oklahoma territory for settlement. With the establishment of new federal courts and the new settlements, the safe areas for the lawless shrank in size. These safer areas bordered the western fringes of Indian Territory which joined the eastern part of Oklahoma territory and were known as “Hell’s Fringes.” But in 1889, lawlessness continued until after statehood.
It was early July 1898, when two preachers, the Reverend Akin and Jones, conducted a protracted revival meeting at the Walnut Grove church in Jasper, Arkansas, which is located on the border of Indian Territory. They set up a brush arbor to have a cool place to conduct the meeting. The church building itself was in Jenson, Arkansas, but the brush arbor, fifty yards away, was over the state line in Indian Territory. The practices of brush arbor meetings continued for years by many churches until the installation of ceiling fans or modern air conditioning.
We know generally what happened to Bud Hill and Boley Grady, but time distorts people’s memory of events and facts so that even today, Hill family members still do not know the truth. At the time of the killing, eyewitnesses told different stories. People seeing the same event did not see or report the same things. We can today make an unemotional evaluation of and pass judgment on the facts we discovered; but how can we, with the disadvantage of time, ascertain the whole truth? At the time, the tragedy of the killings caused so much intense excitement and aroused emotions to the extent that in the end the federal court was unable to serve justice or punish the guilty for the crime. Consequently, at this late date, the full truth is not completely discernible by us, but we have learned most of the story, which is told for the first time since 1904.
The following is one example of factual errors made in the telling and re-telling of this story.
My name is Robert Les Kersy and I am one-eighth Cherokee Indian. I was born in Marian County, Arkansas, on June 4, 1870. Nearly all the children who went to this school were whites. The name of the school was Walnut Grove. We lived on a farm ... about three-fourths of a mile west of Jenson, Arkansas. The line between the Indian Territory and Arkansas ran down the Main Street then. ... Where Cameron is now was then called Riddle Prairie....
A man by the name of Mat Touch got out a warrant for Floyd Samson, a boy, for disturbing public worship at the Walnut Grove Church. He got this warrant at the U. S. Court at Cameron. Bud Hill was City Marshal and Boley Grady was his deputy. Grady walked up to the Samson boy, who was standing about forty yards from where the preaching was taking place.
Grady Said, “I have a writ for you.” The boy tried to jerk his arm away and then Grady took his gun and hit him on the head several times. The boy’s mother called to Jasper Simpson, her husband, that they were beating up the boy and were about to kill him. Simpson came up and shot Grady in the back of the neck with a .38 pistol. Then someone yelled, ‘Look out behind you for Hill’. Simpson turned around and shot Hill. Grady died where he fell. Hill lived long enough to ask for a drink of water. Simpson left and was out on the scout for about six years, then came back and stood trial at McAlester, coming clear.
While the above story by Mr. Kersy is partially correct, it was related many years after the event and contains some errors. The following facts, however, leading up to the killing are not in dispute.
W. J. Simpson had been a famous (infamous to some) professional gambler who “got religion” and was trying to change his life. He owned a farm and settled down with his family. He started a general mercantile business in Jenson, Arkansas. Known as Jasper, he had an extremely nervous disposition. His oldest child was a son, age 19, and he also had a daughter. The boy, named Floyd, was known to be a “harem sacrum sort of boy” who could be led into all sorts of indiscretions. He was also nervous and high-strung like his father.
Floyd and a young man named “Setf”, whose last name is lost to history took umbrage to one of two preachers conducting the protracted revival meeting. So, on Sunday, June 10, 1889, one of the boys threw a rotten egg into the congregation. It broke when it hit a young man and the debris soiled the dresses of several young ladies sitting nearby. On the next Wednesday evening, several eggs were thrown at the preachers. A Mr. H.M. Couch, of Hackett City, Arkansas, went on Sunday morning, July 17, to the federal court at Cameron, Indian Territory, where he swore out a warrant for the arrest of the boys, charging them with disrupting a religious service. Bud Hill was sent to arrest the boys. On that evening of Sunday, July 17, 1898, Bud Hill and Boley Grady found the two boys near the camp meeting and attempted to arrest them at about 9 p.m.
There are several versions of what happened next. Most of the accounts by eyewitnesses are at variance with each other’s account of the events and differ widely. One version says that Hill attempted to arrest Floyd Simpson, who broke away and began to run. Grady gave chase and caught Floyd, while Hill arrested Setf. Floyd resisted and Grady hit the boy over the head with his revolver knocking him to the ground. Jasper Simpson was nearby. He goes to the defense of his son with his pistol in his hand, but was stopped by Hill, who told him to consider himself under arrest. At that point, Floyd’s mother and sister had gotten mixed up in the tussle with Grady and the boy, and they called for his father. Jasper pushed by Hill and rushed at Grady. As Grady was in a stooped position with the boy on the ground, Jasper shot him in the neck, causing instant death. Jasper turned on Hill and grabbed the marshal’s pistol hand with his left hand, throwing it up just as the weapon was discharged. Jasper Simpson then shot Hill in the left side just below the heart. As Hill sank to the ground, Simpson wrenched Hill's pistol from his hand and carried it away with him. Hill lived thirty minutes. His only words before he died were to ask for a drink of water.
Another version of the struggle with Grady says that during the scuffle Simpson got hold of Grady’s revolver and shot him through the neck, and then wheeling around, he shot Hill who was tussling with the other boy Self. Simpson shot Hill through the heart.
Another version is that Jasper Simpson, knowing that the preacher was going to have his son arrested, went to the meeting with the boys, and went armed and looking for trouble. As soon as Grady laid his hands on his son, the old man pulled his gun and fired at Grady and then shot at Hill.
Yet another version said that as Hill was holding Setf, his gun was in its holster. Jasper Simpson took Hill’s gun and shot him and then shot Grady. And yet another version says that Floyd’s sister called to her father while Grady was striking him, which caused Jasper to rush to the aid of his son, shooting the two lawmen.
A further version says that Grady knocked Floyd down and was holding him until help arrived from Hill when he was through arresting Seth. The father was some distance from his son when he learned of his son’s arrest. He started for his son but was intercepted by Hill. Simpson pushed Hill to one side and went to where Grady was holding his son down on the ground. Jasper had a .45 caliber pistol in his hand, and when he reached Grady he stooped over and placed the muzzle of the gun near his neck and fired. Grady died instantly. As soon as Simpson killed Grady, Simpson straightened up and turned around facing Deputy Hill who had reached the place of the shooting. Jasper caught Hill’s right arm pushing it up as the gun discharged. At the same time, Simpson placed his gun against Hill’s heart and pulled the trigger. Hill fell and expired in an hour’s time.
It was also reported that the sister of Floyd Simpson, while trying to help him escape from Grady, was cut by her brother in her right hand. The young man was using a knife in his attempt to free himself from Grady. Her hand was almost severed.
Some people who witnessed the affair claim it to be as cold blooded a murder as was ever committed in the territory. “They stated that there was absolutely no necessity for the murderous onslaught by Simpson and that his coming there armed with a forty-five was evidence that he knew that the marshals would attempt to arrest his son and he was going to prevent it if possible.”
What happened next is also in dispute. The South McAlester Capital newspaper reported that immediately after the killing Jasper Simpson went directly to his home and armed himself with a Winchester rifle. He then returned to the center of town, and went to the train depot where he sat for some time discussing events with some of his friends and the stationmaster. After no attempt was made to arrest him by the local officer or any citizens, Simpson returned to his home, saddled his horse and road away.
The Elevator newspaper of Fort Smith reported that Simpson left the scene immediately after the shooting, going to the Frisco depot where he told the agent what he had done, and saying he was a ruined man and he regretted the occurrence. Simpson left and no one tried to stop him. No one knew where he went. His wife said he told her good-bye, saying he might never see her again.
The next morning, Deputy Stone of the town went to Fort Smith and got two coffins, which he had shipped to Jenson for the two slain law officers. The bodies of Hill and Grady were taken to Cameron on Monday morning. Hill’s body was taken to Kullychaha (today Skullyville, OK) were he was buried with Masonic honors on Monday evening. He left a widow and seven children. A close friend said, “God almighty never made a better man than Bud Hill.” Grady left a young wife and two small children. He was buried later at McAlester.
Marshal J. P. Grady offered a $500 reward, and Bud Tucker, a brother-in-law of Bud Hill, offered $200 more. Those who knew Simpson said he would never be taken alive. It was thought Simpson passed through Greenwood, Arkansas on Sunday night going east. Bud Tucker was in hot pursuit. People knew he planned to take Simpson dead or alive—preferably dead.
The Elevator newspaper reported on Tuesday, July 19, that the boy, Floyd, went to Hackett City, Arkansas where he surrendered to Constable Parkins Walker. Floyd had his head dressed by Dr. Fannin, the wound from the blow by Grady being very severe. Dr. Fannin objected to the boy being moved for two or three days and he was left there. The boy was then persuaded to go with the deputies to Cameron, which he did. This caused an uproar because the boy was taken from Arkansas to Indian Territory Oklahoma without seeking permission of the Governor of the State. A $5,000 bond was set for Floyd Simpson.
Jasper Simpson sent word to the authorities at Fort Smith he would give himself up if he would be allowed to remain in the Fort Smith federal jail, at least until the excitement in the territory had calmed down. Simpson was afraid Bud Tucker or Captain Grady would kill him. He was promised safety, and he gave up at six o’clock in the morning of July 21. He was placed in the jail as agreed. There he remained until October.
A grand jury was impaneled. The petit jurors numbered 26, but none were from the immediate area of Jenson. The jury heard 14 witnesses’ present testimony, eight of who were from the town of Jenson. One witness was Jasper’s wife, Ellen. On October 6, 1898, a true bill was returned and Jasper and Floyd Simpson were both indicted for the murder of the two marshals. On October 8, Floyd filed a motion for a change of venue, claiming he could not get a fair trial in the Central District Court. The case was moved to Antlers. His attorneys were the firm of Read and McDonough.
After the grand jury’s indictment, Jasper became convinced that he could not get a fair trial for his murderous deeds. His wife slipped a pistol under her dress and went to visit Jasper at the federal jail to bring him some food she had prepared. Later that night, Simpson faked illness, rolling on the floor groaning as if in great pain. When the jailer entered the cell, Simpson pulled his hidden gun, locked the jailer in the cell, and left. A horse was waiting for him behind the jail. He made good his escape.
The escape brought Bud Tucker back into the picture. He was able to raise a posse of several friends and began to track Simpson. The effect of Bud Tucker’s search kept the pressure on so much so that Simpson could not afford to be seen anywhere without word getting back to Tucker. Word was spread far and wide, and Simpson feared for his life. Newspapers carried stories of the killing of Hill and Grady, of Simpson’s escape, and of the trial of Floyd Simpson.
In December, Jasper began a campaign among friends and newspapers to change public opinion by telling his side of the story, blaming the two dead lawmen. Someone apparently wrote the letters submitted by W. J. Simpson more educated that he. The grammar, spelling and punctuation cause one to believe the campaign was orchestrated by an attorney who had connections in Fort Smith. Simpson sent a letter to the Elevator newspaper at Fort Smith avowing his innocence. The letter said:
To my friends and enemies at home. I have this to say. Some of them think I ought to have given up, but I know that I would have been lynched, and I knew before I left that country what the intention was to do with me. I haven’t left for what I did. I don’t think I did any more than any other man would have done had he been in my place. I had to do it or be done up, as many other men have been done by deputy Marshals.
There are some good Marshals but the best ones are those who are dead. I have this to say. I never thought of any trouble that might or I would not have gone to the church. I regret what happened as much as anybody but if I hadn’t been there they would have killed my boy and people, you know how they would have been, they would have claimed self-defense and that would have been the last of it.
Now see, on the other hand what I have to contend with? I did what I did to save my life and my boy’s life. I don’t blame Marshal Grady for trying to catch me, he is doing his duty as an officer and a father but I do blame him for putting his son in that place as he was too fiery for that business. He was the cause of the trouble. I would not be afraid to stand trial in Judge Clayton’s court if it were not for prejudiced people. There are some people who have taken a stand against me that I never harmed in my life. I wish everybody knew as much about the case as I do.
People, I can tell the straight of it from start to end. I was not scared but I did not see much show for myself. If I ever come to trail I can tell the straight of it but if I am caught I will never have any trial as they will not give me any chance so I don’t want to hurt anybody and don’t want anybody to hurt me. This will be the last the public will hear from me for a long time.
The above was not the last time as he said. He wrote again in February 1899. Only these two letters from Simpson has been found. By his letters, Simpson was attempting to heavily influence future juries with his version of events. His second letter was published in the Fort Smith Elevator newspaper. It reads as follows:
A TALE OF SUFFERING
The Slayer of Bud Hill and Boley Grady Writes Another Letter
I write again to let the good people Arkansas know that I am still alive. About the only means I have of ascertaining that I am still alive and on this old earth is that I get both cold and hungry. Were I _?_ I would not be here and were I before I would not be cold. So I must still be on earth and God saves me and I loose those blood hounds govnt. got after me I expect to remain here.
I am not looking for trouble. I want peace. God in his heaven knows I did not want to shoot those men, but it was his will not mine.
I want to say right here that if an officer comes for me, and comes like a gentleman, I will go with him. But Bud Tucker and his mob must not come after me. He has made too much talk for me to surrender to him or any of his gang. I have never harmed him in my life and I will prove it some day. All I want is right and protection, and when I can get it I will come in and surrender. I have done nothing of which I am ashamed, and would do it again if placed in the same position. I think any father would have done the same as I did. I am called murder but I am not, and I do not fear my God on account of what I have done. I was raised with a set of high-tempered people and I have seen some crimes committed, and I have sent many a prayer to God that nothing like this would ever never happen to me, but it was his will not mine, and I will do the best I can.
I hope and trust God that the time will come when I can call Arkansas by home again. No one can begin to tell the trouble I have gone through since this has happened to me. I have been hungry and cold, from the 24th of January to the 13th of February I never slept in a house. I was in a wilderness and for two days was almost without food. People, it grieves me when I think where my boy is and I can’t help him. It is a shame that he has to stay there for nothing. Those officers did not act as peace officers, but like mad men. Oh, how I wish some cool head had been there, but no one tried to stop them. I am satisfied they came there to do me harm. I don’t say Mr. Hill was not a good man, but he certainly did not act like one that night. Some, folks will say I was the cause of them doing as they did, but it is not so. When I came in sight of them they both had their guns out and Grady was beating my son over the head with his gun. Anyone knows that was not right. I did all I could to get them to stop abusing my son, but they kept on. When I shot Grady Hill shot at me and I was forced to kill him to save my own life. Many a tear have I shed over this, but it is all over now.
All I ask is the good will of everybody. I am broken up, but I would to God that I was free today and with my family, even though I did not have a bite to eat.
No one knows how cold this world is until they have tried it as I have. May God bless the widows and orphans of both dead men and my own family. God in heaven knows I did not want to do what I did. I do not think I am afraid of anybody, but I don’t want to hurt any one else. I will say again, gentlemen, if anybody finds where I am, let him come after me like a gentlemen and I will go with him. I love a good officer and don’t want to hurt one, but Bud Tucker and his gang must not bother me.
Good bye for this time.
The above story by Simpson as to what happened is at variance with several eyewitness accounts of the shooting. For example, Jasper said Bud Hill shot at him and he had to return the fire in order to save his own life. Simpson is reported to have grabbed Hill’s right arm pushing it up while Simpson put his own gun against Hill and pulled the trigger. Hill, an experienced lawman, was a good shot. If Hill shot at Simpson at close range, the chances are the marshal would have hit him. If Hill was close enough for Simpson to grab his right arm, then Hill would not have shot and missed Simpson. Apparently, Simpson lied. Hill never fired a shot at Simpson. According to witnesses, Hill was tussling with Setf when Simpson came by and Hill told him he was under arrest. Simpson pushed Hill aside and went over and shot Grady. When Hill came to Grady’s aid; Simpson also shot him in cold blood. Hill’s gun may have gone off in the air when Simpson grabbed his arm and pushed it up. The people who witnessed the affair claim it to be as cold blooded a murder as was ever committed in the territory.
When young Floyd Simpson was brought to trial in April 1899, his attorney, J.B. McDonough was successful in persuading the prosecuting attorney the government did not have sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. Although the jury had already been impaneled, the case was dismissed for lack of evidence. It was obvious that an indictment for murder was not appropriate in the case of Floyd Simpson. It was another matter for his father.
Jasper Simpson remained on the run until July 1899, when he became ill with smallpox. He contacted the officials at Fort Smith and was arrested in Arkansas. He was confined for safekeeping in a dugout near Fort Smith where he remained for twenty-two months. He escaped again before he could be brought to trial. One day in April 1901, while the guards were not watching closely, Floyd Simpson brought a horse near the dugout. Jasper leaped through a window and made good his second escape. A $6,000 reward was offered for the arrest and conviction of the fugitive, but the Simpson family had disappeared.
For the two widows and their children, as well as for Bud Tucker, and J.P. Grady, families, time passed slowly, sorrowfully days passed into weeks, and weeks into months. Another U.S. Deputy Marshal, one Chris Madsen, was on official business to the noted resort for outlaws on the run on Bear Creek in Oklahoma. There he found traces of the Jasper Simpson family; but he soon lost their trail. Months ran into years with no word of the whereabouts of the murderer of the lawmen. Then out of the blue word came in January 1904. Simpson was found in “Hell’s Fringe” and arrested by Madsen.
Chris Madsen, who served in Teddy Roosevelt's "Rough Riders", was one of Oklahoma’s more famous marshals, along with Evett Dumas Nix and William Matthew Tilghman. The lawmen were known as Oklahoma’s Three Guardsmen. Madsen was born in Denmark in 1851. The Germans captured him in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War. He made a daring escape and joined the French Foreign Legion, serving in Algeria and the Sudan. At the end of his enlistment he came to America and joined the U.S. Army as a scout. He had many hair-raising adventures during the Indian Campaigns in the West. When the Oklahoma Territory was opened in 1889, he became a U.S. deputy marshal.
No matter where Marshal Madsen’s business took him, he had kept his eyes open for any trace of the killer of his two fellow marshals. Madsen and his deputy (named Burk) spotted Simpson on the streets of Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, on Saturday, January 2, 1904. They followed Simpson to his camp where Jasper and his wife were living in a tent in a deep canyon nine miles east of Marlow. Marshal Madsen sent Deputy Burk to Marlow where he joined him on Monday. They got City Marshal Metcalf to go with them to arrest Simpson. They arrived at Simpson’s camp before daylight the morning of Tuesday, January 5. Simpson was asleep and offered no resistance when he was confronted by the lawmen. The two federal marshals took him to the federal court at Chickasha, arriving in the afternoon. Jasper was taken to South McAlester as soon as a court order was obtained for his trial. It was thought Simpson would finally stand trial for the killing of Bud Hill and Boley Grady.
People who knew Simpson in the Marlow area said that Jasper had been a good citizen reported it. He had lived there for about two years. For the people of Jenson, Arkansas, memories faded as they tried to forget the horrible events in the intervening years since 1889. Some people had moved away, some went to the great beyond, some to Texas, and some to the burgeoning opportunities in the Oklahoma Territory. Finding witnesses for the government’s case after six years would prove very difficult if not impossible.
Jasper remained in the federal jail in South McAlester. Simpson’s attorney, J.A. Hale, filed a motions on March 28, and April 5, 1904, for a changes of venue with the United States Court for the Central District of the Indian Territory, sitting at Poteau. A change of venue was denied and subpoenas were issued for the trial which date was set for May 17, 1904. Before he could be brought to trail, a motion was made on May 4, 1904, to quash the indictment.
As the case was about to come to trial, the federal prosecuting attorney dismissed the charges for lack of evidence. No one who witnessed the killing could be found to testify that it was a cold-blooded killing. Only friends of Simpson would testify. Jasper Simpson then went free. No one was ever punished for the killing of the two federal marshals.
It is no wonder the Hill family was bitter.
So, it was more than 82 years later, when a Hill family member asked the family reunion to remember Leonidas Hill, killed by those murdering Evans. As the above proves, no Evans family members were involved. In fact the Evans family were not even in the immediate area. For over twenty years, the Evans family lived in Sebastain County as did the Hill brothers. The Hills lived south and west of Hartford, and the Evans northeast of Hartford at Excelsior.
A Robert Evans was arrested for gambling in 1891 in Vinita, Indian Territory, but there is no evidence he was member the Robert M. Evans family. Gus Hill, half-brother of Leonidas, and Robert M. Evans both moved to Gerty, Oklahoma. The Evans family moved there about 1900, and Gus Hill moved there in 1917, staying until 1926. What the members of the Hill family in Arkansas did not know was that Gus Hill was referring to the killing of David Kinslow in 1924 by C.B. Evans when he said he did not want his daughter marrying into the Evans family.
At Gerty the Evans were well placed and politically influential Democrats, while Gus Hill was a Republican, when it was unpopular be one in the south. Robert Evans, C.B.’s father, owned a general mercantile store and operated a farm. During the First World War, Robert made a lot of money selling farm products to the army. C.B. Evans and his brother, Reed, went to France and returned very popular young men. C.B. was a bachelor who was well liked by the ladies—of course a young handsome man with money is always popular. He was also a gambler before his family had money.
The young Alvin Elmer Ford moved to Gerty, Indian Territory in 1901. He was the son of the Baptist preacher George Washington Ford. There he befriended C.B. Evans. Together they would operate a gambling hall in Allen, four miles west of Gerty. In 1905, Alvin would marry Ethel, C.B.’s Sixteen-year-old sister. Their first child was Robert W. Ford, father of the author.
Alvin “got religion” and became a Baptist preacher after an unhappy poker looser pointed a gun at his head and said, “I’ll blow your brains out if you bat an eye!” The other gamblers got the distraught man to give up his gun before anyone was hurt. Alvin Ford preached for over forty-five years in Oklahoma, Arkansas and California.
Gus Hill took umbrage with the fact that C.B. in 1924 shot and killed Dave Kinslow when Kinslow was unarmed. A local jury acquitted C.B. on the grounds of self-defense, and that is what Gus Hill did not like. The Arkansas Hill family was unaware of C.B. Evans or David Kinslow, so they thought Gus was referring to the killing of his half-brother when he would not give permission for my father to marry my mother.
But there was more to the story than meets the eye. If Gus Hill knew all the facts, which is in doubt, he did not consider that C.B. might have been justified in his action. The following is the story as reflected in court records and other information developed in searching for the truth.
How and when David Kinslow and C.B. Evans got together is not known. We do know it was before the First World War. Kinslow moved to the Calvin, Oklahoma area where he and C.B. began a gambling association. For some reason, the two decided to go to Mexico on some kind of venture. After a short while, C.B. returned without Kinslow, and soon took up with Kinslow’s wife. When they got caught on Kinslow’s return, things got messy.
On the afternoon of July 6, 1915, C.B., with Merritt Givens and Allie Medford, were setting on the steps to the Evans store in Gerty and talking. Bob Bare was standing on the porch leaning against a post supporting the porch roof, while old man Tommy Gillum was sitting in a chair whittling and chewing tobacco. Tom was a member of the “spit and whittle club” that hung around the store. He did that a lot. In addition to Robert Evans, others in and around the store were J.H. Hicks, Bob Shed of Williams, Oklahoma, and Mr. and Mrs. Clint Stallanns of Ritter, Oklahoma, as well as Mrs. Dave Christian of Ritter.
Suddenly Dave Kinslow came from around the corner of the store with a pistol in his hand. He began shooting as soon as he saw C.B. Three bullets hit C.B., one each struck Allie Medford and M. W. Givens, and one missed hitting anyone. After emptying his gun, Dave turned and ran, but he was too late not to be identified as the shooter by several witnesses.
On July 13, County Attorney Tom H. Fancher, filed charges of assault with intent to kill against David Kinslow and a warrant of arrest was issued. He was taken into custody by Sheriff D.A. Roff, and taken before Judge Ralph P. Welch of the Hughes County Criminal Court where he waived his preliminary examination and entered a plea of not guilty of all charges. Bonds on the three charges of attempted murder were set totaling $5,000 ($2,500, $1,500 and $1,000).
Kinslow employed the legal firm Anglin and Stevenson of Holdenville. A petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed with the court on July 15, claiming the bail to be excessive and that Kinslow as a poor man without property, unable to make high bail. On July 27, a court order of release freed Kinslow after he made bond. A court date was set for December 6, 1915, which was later changed to December 14. David and his wife went to Muskogee, Oklahoma where he remained until his trial.
On December 1, subpoenas were issued for over thirty witnesses for the trial. Several people were subpoenaed from the area and surrounding counties. The partial list of names read like a Who’s Who of Gerty of that day: Dr. Randell Taylor, Tommie Gillum, J. H. Hicks, Tom Wainwright, John Mouser, Amon Halilton, John Stoe, John Bailey, Dick Black, C.B. Philpot, J.G. Ingram, Tobe Skaggs and B.E. Loving.
The day of the trial the courtroom was packed and the courthouse was full. People stood outside talking and visiting about things. It was a festive occasion with a holiday atmosphere. Talk about the trial dominated conversation for days before and after the trial. The twelve members of the jury were selected from a panel of twenty-nine county citizens, of whom eight were challenged by the defense, and nine challenged by the prosecuting attorney.
At the trial, Kinslow’s wife gave testimony that she and C.B. were lovers and that was the reason David shot him. Kinslow’s defense was that he was temporarily insane. He said that C.B. had, “...wrecked my life and ruined my home.” Kinslow claimed the wounding of Givens and Medford was unintended, and that they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Of the many instructions to the jury by the judge, the defense attorneys requested Instruction Number 2. It dealt with his strategy and read as follows:
You are instructed, Gentlemen of the Jury, that in determining the question of the mental condition, or insanity of the defendant at the time of the alleged offense, you are to consider all the facts and circumstances connected with the alleged offense and conduct of the defendant both before and after the shooting. You are to consider in this connection the effect had on the mind of the defendant of the information received by him, if any, concerning the illicit relations of his wife and the prosecuting witness C.B. Evans, and you are instructed to consider all the facts and circumstances relating to the alleged offense including all the conduct of the defendant, and that if this evidence raises in your mind a reasonable doubt of the sanity of the defendant at the time of the alleged offense that it would be your duty, to acquit the defendant.
It did not take the jury long to reach a verdict on December 15 of guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, a lesser offense than charged. The judge immediately sentenced Kinslow to two years in the state penitentiary at McAlester, Oklahoma. On December 17, two friends put up a $1,500 appeal bond. The appeal challenged almost everything about the trial, claiming the admission of incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial testimony over the objections of the defendant. Only two of the twenty instructions given the jury by the judge were not challenged as erroneous, prejudicial and confusing.
After the trial, Mrs. Kinslow recanted her testimony to members of the Evans family. She said David made her tell that story, but it was not true. She said there was some other reason Dave shot C.B., but she did not say what it was.
It is most interesting to note that one of Kinslow’s attorneys was W. T. (Tom) Anglin, who would later defend C.B. Evans when he killed Kinslow in 1924. Anglin became a very influential citizen of Hughes County. Although he was first a Republican when he came to Oklahoma from Virginia, he changed to a Democrat and was elected in 1918 to the Oklahoma legislature where he served almost continually until 1948. He was Speaker of the House of Representatives during the 1930’s and later a senator. He became wealthy during the oil boom in the county. When he was House Speaker during the 1930s, he was one of the four most powerful legislators in the state. They were known as the “Four Horsemen.” (As a side note, one of the Four Horsemen was Senator Al Nicholes of Wewoka who would later defeat the author for the state senate seat in 1962.)
Kinslow lost his appeal on April 24, 1916, and Dave went to McAlester to serve his sentence. He arrived at the penitentiary at 4 o’clock the afternoon of April 26. He swore vengeance upon C.B. Evans, and he would later try several times to carry it out.
It is not clear if Dave Kinslow divorced his wife after her affair with C.B. Evans, or if she divorced him. It appears he divorced her. We do find that after Kinslow got out of McAlester Prison in 1918, a David Kinslow married the widow Rosie Lewis in Eufuala, Oklahoma, in September 1919. They moved to Muskogee. Rosie’s four daughters and two sons were living with them when the 1920 federal census was taken there.
C.B. Evans and his brother Reed went to France with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War One. They returned after Dave Kinslow got out of prison. When C.B. returned, he moved to a farm five miles south of Gerty on Panther Creek. He took Kinslow’s threat to kill him very seriously. C.B. acquired a .38 caliber Smith and Weston revolver with a six inch barrel. A large oak tree grew in the front yard about twenty-five feet from the porch next to the gate by the road. The tree was more than four feet around. Every day C.B. would practice shooting at a Prince Albert tobacco can tacked to the tree about 6 feet off the ground. The tobacco can had on it a picture of the British Prince Albert. C.B. shot so many bullets into that tree that it died. (It must have died of lead poisoning.)
C.B. was known to be such an excellent shot and a high stakes gambler that one family story goes like this:
One day in their Allen gambling hall, two out-of-town high rollers challenged C.B Evans and A.E. Ford to a shooting match to which they agreed. A Prince Albert tobacco can was nailed to a fence post out back of the building. They stepped back about twenty paces and prepared to shoot.
Then one of the out-of-towners said to C.B., “You all can go first.” C.B. turns to Alvin and asks, “Do you want the right eye or the left eye?”
At which the two challengers just looked at each other, turned around, walked away without firing a shot or saying another word. The left without paying up any money on their wager.
In December of 1919, the twelve-year-old Robert Ford was spending the night with his Grandfather Evans, the man for whom he was named. Mr. and Mrs. Evans did not share the same bedroom and the boy slept with his old man. Some time in the middle of the night, Mr. Evans got out of bed and picked up a shotgun he kept by the window. His getting out of bed woke the boy. The old man told the boy neither to make a light nor to say anything. Soon the boy heard a horse on the road and the rider called out, “Hey! You in the house, ... C.B ... come on out and talk to me.” The old man crouched by the side of the window looking out and said, “Dave, C.B. ain’t here!”
“I don’t believe you old man.” was the retort, to which Robert Evans said, “I’ve got a gun on you.”
The boy could hear the horseman riding away without another word. He and the old man did not sleep much the rest of the night.
Sometime in 1920 or 1921, Robert Evans came out of the Evans store in Gerty and came face-to-face with Dave Kinslow. Mr. Evans did not have a gun and he did not see one on Dave. Both men began backing away from each other until they had reached opposite ends of the building where they turned and went in different directions. On several occasions, Dave was seen in Calvin and Holdenville carrying a gun and said to be looking for C.B. Evans.
For that reason C.B. was never without his pistol. He carried it at all times everywhere he went. It was stuck in his belt and concealed under his coat. He was never without it. He slept with it under his pillow, and some family members thought he may have even wore it to bed. He continued to practice shooting at the tobacco can on the tree in the yard. But C.B. and Dave never came face-to-face until about 9 o’clock, on Wednesday morning January 16, 1924.
The day began cold and clear. The preacher A.E. Ford, who now lived on a farm north of Gerty at Round Prairie, about three miles east of Allen, got his sixteen-year-old son, Robert, up early to load the wagon with corn which they would take to Allen to sell. They harnessed two mules to the wagon and set out for town.
On the way to Allen, the preacher said to the boy, “This reminds me of the time we moved to Gerty from Arkansas. The family came by train, but I had to drive the wagon by myself with all our things. I got to about Poteau when I ran out of feed for the horses.
Young Robert thought to himself, “Don’t Pa know I heard this a dozen times or more.” But he said nothing.
“I tried to buy corn from a farmer near where I camped for the night,” continued the preacher, “but he had none to sell. He told me that old Indian Joe down the road might have some. When I asked the Indian, ‘Corn two bits.’ He said. But, I only had a fifty-cent piece, which I gave him for a bushel of corn and I left.
“That night just as I was about to bed down, the horses became restless. I got my gun just as someone came into the light of the campfire. It was the old Indian. He gave me a quarter and left, saying, ‘Corn two bits!’ Now what do you think of that son?”
The preacher laughed. The boy said nothing.
It was late morning when they finished unloading the corn at the livery stable. The noon train from McAlester whistled its stop at the Frisco depot. A drummer (traveling salesman) got off the train and walked across the street to the livery stable looking for a horse and buggy to rent. The drummer was all excited.
“Boy!” he said, “You will never guess what I saw in Calvin this morning. I was making my call on the Clayton Grocery Store, and three fellows and I were sitting around the stove in the back when this guy walked in. One of the fellows sitting facing the front saw this other fellow walked in, and he just shot him dead without saying a word! I would not have believed it. The guy that got killed did not even have a gun.”
“Was one of them named C.B. Evans?” asked preacher Ford.
“Yeah, he did the shooting.” the drummer said.
“Was the other Dave Kinslow?”
“Yes! Yes! That was his name. How did you know?
A.E. Ford did not answer the question. “Good, good” he exclaimed as if talking to himself, “I’m glad C.B. got the drop on him.”
The preacher got busy unhitching a mule from his wagon. He said to his son, “Robert, I’ll take old Jake and go to Calvin. You take Dan and the wagon. Go tell your mother.”
He added, ”Tell her to go to Gerty. Her mother is going to need her.”
With that he climbed bareback on mule and rode off as fast as that old Jake would go. Calvin was 13 miles away.
Robert returned home and told his mother all he had heard about her brother. She flagged down a car on the road in front of the house and went to Panther Creek where her family was gathering.
The following appeared in the newspaper on Friday.
Shot and Killed
David Kinslow was shot and killed about 9 o’clock Wednesday morning by C. B. Evans of Gerty. The shooting occurred just inside the door of the Clayton Grocery Co., and was unexpected by everyone in the house, as there were no words passed at the time the shooting took place. Evans opened the door and walked in and saw Kinslow, and opened fire, shooting Kinslow twice, once in the neck and once in the shoulder. Kinslow lived about 20 minutes after being shot, but never spoke a word.
The shooting was the result of an old feud of seven years standing. In 1915 Evans and Kinslow had a difficulty at which time Kinslow shot Evans twice and shot two others at the same time, but none of the three died as a result of that shooting. Kinslow served two years in the penitentiary for this.
They had never met since 1915 until Wednesday morning and it is alleged by some that as soon as he saw C. B. Evans enter the door he threw his hand to his hip pocket where he had a flashlight.
Kinslow was about 45 year old. He leaves a wife living at Pryor who came down and will take his body back to that place today for burial. Evans is 33 years old and unmarried. He is a son of the best known families in the county.
Even the newspaper got the facts turned around. C.B. shot Kinslow as soon as Dave walked into the store, not when C.B. went into the store. Evans went up Kinslow after he had shot him twice, holding his gun as if to shoot again and said, “I should shoot you three times like you shot me you son-of-a-bitch.” There was no need. Kinslow was dying and said nothing.
C.B. turned and said to those stunned in silence. “Someone go get the marshal.” He said. “I am going home to Jackfork. Tell the sheriff he can find me there.” He then left without another word. He got in his car and drove home.
A warrant of arrest was issued January 17, 1924, and served on C.B., charging him with murder. He was taken to jail at Holdenville. He was released on a $5,000 appearance bond on January 24, with a trial date set for May 14. C.B. would be represented by the famed W. T. (Tom) Anglin and Alfred Stevenson.
Nineteen people were subpoenaed as witnesses for the prosecution, and eight witnesses were called by the defense. Again, it was a show trial. The courtroom was crowded and people spilled out on the sidewalks. The defense called witness after witness who testified of the many times Dave Kinslow was in the county armed and looking for Evans. The wife of David Kinslow, who took his body to Pryor, was identified as Myrtle Kinslow.
On May 15, 1924, the jury found Evans not guilty on the grounds of self-defense. The verdict was reported in the county newspapers.
C.B. Evans would later marry and have a son and a daughter. He was considered a substantial citizen of Hughes County well respected and liked. He would not talk about the killing, and his daughter died without ever hearing these facts. This will become news to his grandchildren. C.B. is buried in the Gerty Cemetery. His wife died in 1994 and is buried next to him. She never discussed the shooting with her children.
My search began to find out why Grandfather Hill did not want my father to marry his daughter. The research causes me to gain greater respect for my Hill and my Evans heritage. But, even to this day, members of the Hill family think that my Evans kin has something to do with the death of Marshal L. S. Hill in 1898. The Evans did not.
Even in October 1930, Civil War feelings – Republican Union vs. Confederate Democrat – were still strong. Republican Gus Hill was so upset that C.B. Evans had killed an unarmed man and went free that he said when my father ask for mother’s hand in marriage, “I don’t want my daughter marrying any of those murdering Evans.” Gus Hill gave no credence to the fact Kinslow had first shot Evans and then later stalked him. He was not referring, in my judgment, to the killing of his half-brother Bud Hill in 1898 when he said what he did. Anyway, these events almost kept my father from marrying my mother, but grandpa Hill recanted.
Family confusion continues to this day. It is my hope this will set the record straight.