Atoka Shootout

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© 1999 - 2001 Ruth Atteberry Adams


© Shirley Traw-1999

The following has been submitted by Shirley Traw. She writes....In 1913 my great-grandfather, Charlie Taylor, shot a man named Stevens in the small community of Farris, Atoka County, Oklahoma. Great-grandfather was the postmaster and Stevens the Deputy Sheriff. The shooting was the culmination of a fued, and both men died. Whatever the cause of the feud, I believe it reflected some kind of community conflict. The Atoka newspaper of 1913 implies my great-grandfather was a horse thief and Stevens a hero; the Antlers paper takes the opposite view, making my great-grandfather the hero and Stevens the villain. I am submitting this to the Atoka County Web site for a number of reasons: One is that I think it will be of interest to Atoka County buffs, and another is that I am hoping someone who knows something about this violent incident will write and give me further details. I believe ill feelings hung on in the community for a long time.

One thing I would like to know, is the building which served as the Post Office in Farris in 1913 still standing? Shirley Traw

From the "Atoka Indian Citizen-Democrat," September 11, 1913...As a result of an old feud, Deputy Sheriff H. Stevens and Postmaster C. B. Taylor, both of Farris, are dead.

Monday, the little village of Farris was the scene of a double killing. At about 10:30, Deputy Sheriff Stevens was standing behind the Post Office building talking to some friends. He had one foot on a stump and about 60 feet distance was the rear window of the Post Office. A crack of a gun was heard and a puff of smoke from the window was seen as Stevens fell to the ground. He had been shot in the back but not instantly killed.

Falling, he whirled and saw his would-be assassin dodge from the exposed position in the window, and drawing his pistol, a 45 caliber, fired at the man he supposed to be Taylor, the ball entering and going through the casing.

Stevens missed his mark, and while mortally wounded, he rose to his feet, walked around the building to the front door, and entered. Just as he got inside, Taylor again fired at Stevens and simultaneously Stevens fired at Taylor, the ball from Stevens gun piercing the heart of the Postmaster.

Stevens then collapsed and was carried to his home a short distance away, where he died in a few hours.

The cause of the dual and assassination can only be surmised.

For several years, the two men have had grudges, Two years ago, while drunk and before he became a deputy sheriff, Stevens whipped Taylor, beating him up considerably.

About two weeks ago, they again had words and both were fined by the Justice of the Peace.

Farris, for years has been the hotbed of a gang of horse thieves and that locality has cost the county more money than any two communities in the county.

Several years ago, Stevens became a member of the Anti-Horse Thief Association and his efforts have reduced the lawlessness of that community. He was knows as a fearless officer and for this reason it was believed by his friends that he was a marked man. He was about 50 years of age.

From the "Antlers American" September 12, 1913...

[Four persons died in gunfights near Antlers that day. The headline read "Double Tragedy...Four Persons Shot Near Antlers on Monday Morning." the first part of the article tells of a double killing between people from the Click and Clark families at cloudy; the article then tells of the Taylor-Stevens shooting....]

"The devil must certainly have been turned loose Monday morning in the vicinity of Antlers." Just as Tom Click's light went out forever over in the east part of the county...two citizens and neighbors of the little village of Farris 10 miles west of Antlers tried to depopulate the village by cracking down on each other. The result of settling disputes in such a manner is two homes are desolated and two new graves in the cemetery.

About 10 o'clock on Monday morning George Stevens, constable of Farris township, was standing in the yard back of the Post Office talking to a man. C. B. Taylor, who was Postmaster of Farris, fired a Winchester through the door, the ball taking effect in Stevens' back. Stevens turned and opened fire on Taylor with his sixshooter. He fired twice-one ball taking effect in Taylor's back. Taylor died a short time afterwards. Stevens was carried across the street and propped up with some pillows on the porch. He died about 3 p.m.

A messenger was hurried to Darwin to telephone to Antlers. Taylor ordered that Dr. John of Hugo be sent for. Dr. John was telephoned from Antlers. He came up on No. 6, but in the meantime another message had been received from Darwin stating that Taylor was dead.

The feud that existed between Taylor and Stevens has been of long standing. About two years ago two men went to the Taylor residence and by some strategy induced Taylor to come out of his house. After they got hold of him, they almost killed him by pummeling and beating him up in a shamefully shocking manner. Taylor's head was literally battered into a jelly. The wounds and contusions about it made it swell up to almost twice its normal size. Taylor was under the doctor's care for over three months. Taylor always said that Stevens, who was then a Deputy Sheriff in Atoka county was one of the men who laid him out. The two men have been bitter enemies ever since.

There is another theory advanced as to the shooting. It is said that there was a bottle of oil found in the store that was broken and as soon as the first shot was fired, Taylor ran to Stevens' assistance. Some supposed that Taylor was cleaning his Winchester and that it acccidentally discharged. But in the light of the bitter enmity existing between the two, this theory does not seem plausible to the people of the neighborhood.

Taylor came here several years ago from Carmi, Illinois. He locted first in the Chickasaw Nation, near Ada. He afterwards moved to the vacinity of Farris and has been living in that section for the last eight or nine years. He was well liked by those who knew him. He did all his trading in Antlers and was well known by the merchants. he was a member of the Masonic order, but held his membership at Atoka. He joined the Odd Fellows here and was a member of Antlers Lodge I. O. O. F. No. 199. he was also a member of the W. O. W., the M. w. A., and the Protective Home Circle.

His funeral took place Tuesday afternoon. His remains were brought to Antlers from Farris. A number of Odd Fellows met the funeral procession and escorted it to the Odd Fellows Cemetery, where the body was laid to rest.

Stevens funeral also took place Tuesday and his remains were interred at Darwin. Both men leave behind them large families.