Lawmen & Outlaws
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Alva L. McDonald
Written & © Jackie Russell
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Alva L. McDonald, was born in Curdsville, Kentucky on 15 September 1876, to Hiram C. and Sarah (Brogan) McDonald. He attended Hartsford College and graduated in 1894. He was a Veteran of The Spanish-American war and later served in the Phillipine Insurrection. Serving 37 months in the Phillipines as a member of the 37th California Volunteers and the 131 st Infantry Regiment, during the last 8 months he served as military postmaster in Zamboanga, Mindanao Island.
He came to EL Reno, Oklahoma Territory in 1901 and on 27 November 1902, married Scottie Bell Barker.
Being elected to the El Reno, City Council in 1905, he served as President for two terms. Alva moved to Fairbanks, Alaska in 1907, being appointed as Clerk of the Federal District Court in Fairbanks by President Theodore Roosevelt. He returned to his home in El Reno in 1911. He was a personal friend of Theodore Roosevelt.
During the Bull Moose Movement of 1912, he led the movement in Oklahoma as Chairman of the party. He was elected a deligate for The National Convention in 1912 and served as a deligate at most of the Republican Conventions , until his death on 4 January 1942.
Appointed as United States Marshal of the western district of Oklahoma on 28 July 1921, by President Warren G. Harding. Marshal Alva L. McDonald, was known by law enforcement and outlaws as a "Hard Tracker" His agressive campaign against the outlaws brought many enemies, Several attempts were made on his life and on several occasions attempts were made to force him out of office. Despite all this, he managed to complete his four year term with the distinction of having been the nemesis of the bandits and outlaws of Oklahoma in that era.
During his career as an officer, his investigation of "The Shawnee Reign Of Terror" uncovered and implicated twenty three men, including high officials of the railroad shops unions. Under the leadership of Marshal McDonald, several of the states bank bandits and train robbers were arrested and sent to the penitentiary.
One of those arrested were Jeff Duree, who was known as a ghost bandit for his habit of carting off steel safes from country banks. Then at some distance, he would clean them out. However, contrary to his dubbed title, he was arrested for his participation in a train robbery. Marshal McDonald, happened to think this man was inocent. Duree, was convicted to a twenty five year sentence in federal prison. After he was released, Alva McDonald helped him obtain a job and apparently the experiment failed as Duree was again arrested and at that time, Alva McDonald was again convinced that he was not involved and had been "set up". Duree was again sentenced to federal prison in 1940.
On 20th of August 1923, the MKT train had been robbed by the Al Spencer gang, near Okesa, Oklahoma. Within a few weeks, there had been eleven arrest made in connection. The eleventh arrest, was that of George "Whitey" Fallon. He had been taken first to the jail in Pawhuska, Oklahoma and thereon to Oklahoma City.
On a tip, McDonald learned that one of the suspects was to meet Al Spencer on a dirt road in Osage County, near the Kansas border to get his share of the Katy train loot. Marshal Alva L. McDonald and Postal Inspector Jack Adamson, of Kansas City led the band of men who brought the abrupt end to the life of AL Spencer.
Saturday night, the 15th of September 1923, Marshal Alva L. McDonald and the band of men that totaled thirteen met and lined the lonely dirt road at a point where Al Spencer was though to be crossing. They laid wait, it was cold and raining and at some time after midnight Al Spencer was spotted crossing the road and a command was hollered, and apparently Al Spencer raised his Windchester riffle to fire, when part of the band of men responded with their own guns, killing Al Spencer.
Other bandits that were later captured were Frank "Jelly" Nash, Blackie Thompson and many others.
Marshal Alva McDonald was considered one of the most active Marshals in Oklahoma's history. After he served his four year term, he continued to play an active role in the state's politics


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Updated: Wednesday, 06-Aug-2008 03:52:15 CDT

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