Franklin Pierce West
On December 17, 1886, Franklin Pierce West
killed Sam Starr with this gun. They were cousins three times removed.
Visit the West family Cemetery HERE
Franklin Pierce West was the youngest son of John W. West. He was born in 1852 in the Ft. Gibson area of Indian Territory. As a young child during the Civil War, he moved with his family to Arkansas for about 6 years. His older brothers, John Calhoun, Ellis & George Rider West all served in the Cherokee Mounted Rifles under Stand Watie's regiment. Franklin's grandfather, Jacob West, had been hanged for murder in Tahlequah in an area that is now the parking lot behind the courthouse. His father had been beaten and ousted from the Indian Territory for this same murder -which is why they moved to Arkansas.
When Franklin was a young man, he and his brother John Calhoun ran the West Ferry across the Canadian River. The Ferry landing was about where the new bridge is located on Highway 2. You can still see the pilings for the old bridge to the west. When this old bridge was newly built, Franklin and John joined the Indian Deputy Marshals in law enforcement.
Franklin and John had many run-ins with Sam and Belle Starr. Sam Starr was a distant cousin to them. Their grandmother, Sarah Harlan, and Sam's great-grandmother, Nancy Harlan were sisters. Sam and Belle Starr were noted horse thieves and stagecoach bandits. Franklin once shot out the hourse from underneath Sam to arrest him. However, while he was gone to get medical assistance for Sam, Sam escaped from the two deputies Franklin had left in charge. He stole one of th men's horses and yelled "Tell Frank I'll get him for shooting Belle's favorite horse".
He did just that on a cold, winter night at a Christmas party given by Lucy Surratt. On December 17, 1886, Franklin arrived at the party and was warming himself by the fire when Sam and Belle arrived. Sam spotted Franklin by the fire and approached him. Shots were exchanged and both men fell dead.
Fanklin was 34 and Sam only 27 when they died. Aunt Lucy West, Franklin's granddaughter will has the revolover that he used to kill Sam Starr.