All my growing up life I'd heard about my great uncle, mom always said, "By marriage.", that was hung "for stealing horses". After I was grown one of my aunts that lived in California found a picture postcard of that hanging that took place down in Ada, Oklahoma. After doing some reading, we found out that great Uncle Jesse West and a couple of other fellows were involved, allegedly, in hiring a gunman to kill another man in Ada, A.A. Bobbitt, that had caused all kinds of problems and grief to quite a number of folks in the area in and around Ada before he got religion.
The hired gun was Jim Miller, a man who had killed any number of people, and the few times he had been arrested for a murder he had managed, with the help of his attorney, to get found "not guilty" by a jury of his peers. Miller had supposedly by his own claim had dispatched 51 souls to their eternal resting places. Among the folks he was suspected of killing were his own grandparents when he was 8 years old. Let's just say that the man, evidently even as a boy, had no moral compass and had no problem with gunning people down.
Bobbitt was a nasty fellow that was known to have stolen cattle from Uncle Jesse, as well as other folks in the territory. He was suspected of the fire that burned down Uncle Jesse's home and ended up killing Uncle Jesse's first wife. It happened when Uncle Jesse was out of town and his wife managed to get their kids out but was burned badly enough in the process that she died shortly thereafter because of the burns she sustained.
Now, this is where the family ties get tied into this story. Jesse married Nettie Venable in 1894, in Indian Territory. Her parents were my great grandfather, Dr. Elihu Venable and my great grandmother, Mary Woolums Venable. Uncle Jesse took his family and left the Ada area and purchased property out in Canadian, Texas and moved his family out there because he was tired of the continued problems with Bobbitt. But the banker in Ada, a Mr. Tom Hope wrote Jesse a letter in 1908 encouraging him to come back to the Ada area as there was money to be made in land and cattle business and other ventures. He told Uncle Jesse that Bobbitt was a changed man, had found religion and Hope thought there would be no more problems for Uncle Jesse from Bobbitt.
Old grudges and hard feelings evidently are hard to let go of however and when Bobbitt was murdered the lawmen arrested Jim Miller, Jesse West, Joe Allen and B.B. Burrell. Whether Mr. Miller was hired by Jesse and Joe Allen we will never know since the trial was never held. About 2 a.m. on April 19th, 1909, the lights and telephone lines to the town of Ada were cut and the 4 jailers guarding the prisoners were overwhelmed, the prisoners were taken from the jail. Jesse West, Jim Miller, Joe Allen and Burrell, who was supposed to have given the money to Miller, had their hands bound behind their backs with baling wire and were walked to the Frisco Livery stable and strung up. A photographer came about 7 a.m. and took photographs of the men still swinging from the rafters in the stable.
A grand jury was order by Gov. Haskell, but no one was ever charged in the lynching and to this day no one was ever identified as having participated in the hanging. This act of vigilanteism spelled the ending of the 'old West' and how matters were settled back in the day. My mom would have been upset that there was an anniversary marking the day and the event of the hanging, but she also would have been glad to know that one of several men who have done research on this event was a retired police officer and said that neither he nor anyone he knew had ever been able to find any evidence that Uncle Jesse or his long time friend and partner Joe Allen or Burrell were involved in the killing or hiring the killer Jim Miller to do the dastardly deed.
There have been a number of books that have been written about the hanging and it has been well documented by any number of authors. If you are interested in reading more about it, let me know and I can give you the titles of several books.