Charles Leflore, Deputy U.S. Marshal, Captain of the Indian Police
Charles Leflore, was from a prominent family from the Choctaw Nation. Leflore owned a ranch at Limestone Gap, near the Texas Road. He became a member of Choctaw Lighthorse police in 1882. In 1883, Leflore received a commission as a deputy U.S. marshal. In 1885 he accompanied Indian Police Captain Sam Sixkiller when the outlaw Dick Glass and his gang were apprehended. During that episode, one of the outlaws tried to escape and Leflore caught him after a wild six-mile horseback chase. Glass was the most famous outlaw of the Indian Territory during the 1880s. Sixkiller killed him with a shotgun during the gunfight, near Atoka.
In the spring of 1884, Captain Charles Leflore and twenty-five Choctaw Lighthorse policemen had a gunfight with an outlaw named Christie at Reynolds in the Choctaw Nation. Christie’s gang robbed numerous trains on the M. K. & T. Railroad line that traveled through the Choctaw Nation. During the gunfight five of the outlaws were killed and as many wounded. Two of the Lighthorsemen were wounded during the battle. This action broke up the train robbing activities of this particular gang.
On another occasion it was reported that Leflore and his posse had killed three wanted outlaws. This police action had taken place a great distance from Fort Smith during the summer months. Concerned the bodies would bloat and start to decompose in the heat before they could get them back. Leflore decided to salt the bodies like cure beef or pork. He was able to deliver the deceased outlaws well preserved to Fort Smith for official identification.
It was not uncommon for Captain Leflore to stop at his home in Limestone Gap with a load of prisoners bound for Fort Smith. While at the ranch, he and the posse would eat, rest and refresh, Leflore would chain the prisoners to a large tree in his front yard.
In September of 1886, LeFlore and Sam Sixkiller had a run-in with a mixed-blood Cherokee named Black Hoyt and a white man named Jess Nicholson, in the streets of Muskogee. The two were drunk on moonshine when Sixkiller and Leflore attempted to arrest them. Nicholson shot at Sixkiller and creased his arm. Leflore shot and wounded Nicholson during the fight. Even though wounded, Nicholson managed to escape. Black Hoyt was arrested and later Nicholson died from his gunshot wound.
In 1887, LeFlore became captain of the United States Indian Police for the Indian Territory, headquartered at Muskogee, Creek Nation. This was after the successor of Sam Sixkiller; William Fields was murdered in April 1887, near Eufaula in the Creek Nation, trying to apprehend a felon. As captain of the United States Indian Police, Charles Leflore held the position for eight years. Besides his position as captain and deputy U.S. marshal, Leflore was a special agent for the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad.
One of Captain Leflore’s first major arrest was of the black outlaw, Gus Bogles. The outlaw had murdered a white coal miner named J.D. Morgan at Blue Tank in the Choctaw Nation. Captain Leflore arrested Bogles in Denison, Texas on June 30, 1887. Later Bogles was convicted and executed for the crime in Judge Isaac C. Parker’s court in Fort Smith, Arkansas on July 6, 1888.
In April 1887, Captain Leflore captured another murderer named Steve Bussel. The crime was committed in the Chickasaw Nation. After conviction at Fort Smith, Bussel was given a life sentence and imprisoned at Little Rock, Arkansas.
In September of 1891, Captain Leflore was on the trail of the Dalton gang after they robbed the M. K. & T. passenger train near Wagoner, Creek Nation. The captain reported to the Vinita Indian Chieftain:
“…twenty miles from the scene of the robbery, about two o’clock the same night, four men were seen riding northwest and leading two horses. The next night a woman who is acquainted with the Dalton boys saw two of them and two others west of Red Fork, riding in the direction of the mouth of the stream of that name. They had two lead horses and the outfit corresponded with that seen the night of the robbery. The use of bloodhounds [brought from Atoka] the morning after holdup was rendered impossible because so many persons had been trailing around, but an organized pursuit is being conducted.”
The above holdup took place at Leliaetta, Creek Nation. Leflore would have a closer encounter with the Dalton gang at Adair in the Cherokee Nation. On the night of July 14, 1892, the Daltons took over the train depot at Adair and waited for the northbound No. 2 due at 9:45 p.m. On the train were eight lawmen, including J.J. Kinney, special railroad detective, Sid Johnson, deputy U.S. marshal, and Charles Leflore, Alf McCay and Bud Kell of the United States Indian Police. In the gunfight that ensued after the train stopped at Adair, Kinney, Johnson, and Leflore all received slight wounds. The Daltons, untouched, got away with a small amount of loot. No doubt, they would have had a better haul if the lawmen hadn’t interfered with their criminal endeavors. During his long tenure, Captain Leflore was wounded on several occasions.
The first execution in the Indian Territory under the laws of the United States occurred at Muskogee, on July 1, 1898. Of the two men who were executed, one was captured by Leflore. Henry Whitefield, a black man, had murdered a man in Wagoner, Creek Nation, on December 2, 1897. Whitefield went on the run after the crime, but was apprehended by Captain Leflore near Atoka in the Choctaw Nation. Charles Leflore worked out of the Fort Smith court until the courts were transferred to the Indian Territory in the 1890’s. At that time he worked out of the Paris, Texas federal court until he retired around 1905. Captain Charles Leflore died at his home in Limestone Gap on September 10, 1920 at the age of seventy-nine.
Art T. Burton