Lawmen & Outlaws
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Al Spencer
Submitted by: Jackie Russell

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Pawhuska Daily Capitol, front page
(Pawhuska, Osage County, Oklahoma)
published; Monday, September 17, 1923


AL SPENCER, MOST NOTORIOUS OF OKLAHOMA OUTLAWS DIES AS HE LIVES
WITH $10,000 BONDS IN ONE HAND AND A WINCHESTER CLUTCHED IN THE OTHER, FAMOUS BANDIT DIES IN HIS BOOTS, WHILE HILLS WHICH GAVE HIM SHELTER IN LIFE ARE HIS SEPULCHRE IN DEATH;
Al Spencer, probably the most notorious bandit the southwest has known since the days of Jesse James, has "pulled his last stunt."
"The Phantom" bandit, who for two years has roamed the hills of northeastern Oklahoma almost at will. During which time he attached to his record of crime second, only to that of the famous James, was "burned down by federal bullets" at a point of the road connecting Bartlesville to Carney, Kansas Saturday night according to announcement of U.S. Marshal Alva McDonald, who with Postal Inspector Jack Adamson of Kansas City, led the band who killed the famous bandit.
Spencer died in a fashion of his kind ~ with his boots on. He fell with a winchester clutched in his right hand and $10,000 in $1,000 Liberty bonds clasp tight in his left.
The Osage hills which had given him shelter in his life of crime, were his sepulchre in death.
Thirteen men were in the band which brough Spencer's life to it's abrupt close. In addition to Marshal Alva McDonald and Inspector Adamson the group included L.A. Gaston, chief of police at Bartlesville, Duke Stalling, chief deputy marshal under McDonald; Wm Crow, Indian agent officer of Pawhuska; W.W. Haynes, Postal Inspector; Joe Palmer, Katy detective; Rob Taylor, Katy operative; Luther Bishop, Oklahoma City Policeman; Harry Wolf, Lieutenant of Police at Oklahoma City and C.F. Robb, out of the prosecutor's office at Oklahoma City and Ed Robinson, federal man.
Just what will be done with the body is still a matter of conjecture. Marshal McDonald in conversation over long distance telephone today, stated he was unable to say. He stated the remains would be kept at Bartlesville for a day or two and then, if unclaimed, would probably be buried there.


MAY BE BURIED HERE


Local people are inclined to think however, that the fallen bandit may be buried in Pawhuska. This was his home for a considerable period and it's been the home of his wife and child during the troublesome time of the past two years. He also has other relatives here.
The body is being held at a Bartlesville undertaking establishment, where it was viewed by several Pawhuskans. According to one man who states he was allowed to view the body yesterday, said that at least ten bullets had penetrated the body. According to the statement of Marshal McDonald, however but three bullets were fired into the body, all of which struck near the heart.
The story of the sensational end to a sensational career is given in substance by Marshal McDonald as follows;


STORY OF THE TRAILS END


"We had camped on Spencer's trail for more than a week. We were close to his heels at every move he made but he always managed to keep just ahead. Then we got a hold of a 'big tip' which was the beginning of the end. We heard that Spencer was due to leave his hiding place some time Saturday evening to keep an appointment with a party to whom it was understood he was to turn his share of the Liberty bond loot taken in the Katy train robbery. We made our way to the point near where we understood he must pass.
We lined the road on either side and waited. It was dark and and cold. We shivered in the chill drizzle and several times were on the point of gathering an attempting to 'rush' the supposed hiding place. We continued to wait, however, and finally our patience was rewarded. Just when we were beginning to think that Al had given us the slip again, we suddenly saw a figure cross a bridge at the roadside some distance ahead of us, look about then start down the road toward us. We waited until he was close enough, so we made no mistake. Then ~ 'hands up.' The command rang out as guns were leveled at the bandits breast. The flash of a gun as two shots rang out was the answer. The song of Spencer's bullet was still in the air when our own guns flashed and the bandit fell. When we reached him, he was dead."


WIPED OUT MANY SCORES


The death of Spencer is declared to wipe many old scores against the famed bandit. Most prominant of these are probably those of Police L.A. Gaston of Bartlesville and Chief Wilkerson of Pawhuska police.
Gaston had been active in the campaign against Spencer for weeks and as a result his Bartlesville home had been riddled with bullets at night during the past few months. Gaston settled with the man, he believed was responsible for this work when he aided in the posse which killed him.
Probably the heaviest score against Spencer in all his career of crime was that held by Chief A. R. WIlkerson here. Mr. Wilkerson's son Robert was shot down in cold blood by member's of the desperate band which several months ago blew up the safe at the Pawhuska postoffice. Officer's no longer keep secret the fact they believe Spencer responsible for the postoffice robbery. For a long time, it was believed that young Wilkerson was shot by Ralph White or "Whitey" who was said to have been Spencer's lieutenant. This belief was always discounted by Chief Wilkerson and subsequent questioning of men arrested in this and other cases seem to confirm the chief's belief. The officer believes that Al Spencer was the man who murdered his son and Spencer has paid.


BEGINNING OF A CAREER OF CRIME


Al Spencer first came into the eye of the public about two years ago. His life of crime is said to have began about three years earlier. Before embarking into a life of banditry, he is said to have been a poor farmer in the Okesa Country. The theft of a horse is said to have started him on the long road at the end at which he found death waiting. He served time for this theft; was released and later sent up once more on a cattle stealing charge; Released on parole to attend to a business matter at home, he kept his word and returned to the penitenitiary, only to scale the walls of McAlester two weeks later and escape.
Then began a series of sensational bank robberies in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas, such as the southwest had not known since Oklahoma had been the stomping grounds for Jesse James and somewhat time later, AL Jennings. Many crimes were charged to Spencer of which perhaps he did not commit. There were many however, for which he was responsible. It is estimated that at least twenty five to thirty five robberies and hold ups of various cases did not run over three to four hundred dollars, infinitely small for a bandit of the caliber of Al Spencer. This was really the beginning of the end, for while spencer continued to roam through the country almost at will, it set to work a wind of official activity which grew eventually into a hurricane following the Katy robbery and culminated in the bandit's destruction.


BREAKING DOWN OF A POWERFUL BAND


The destruction of the powerful bandit band gathered together during Spencer's eventful criminal career has been slow but steady. One by one the killers, highwaymen and gunmen who operated under Spencer's wing have been picked off by, the long arm of the law. Ralph Clopton is in prison; Roy Shull is like wise; Pat Ward is at a relatives home near Bartlesville under $20,000 bond, while he is convalescing from a pistol brush with Sheriff Cook, which well might cost him his life and possibly his right leg; Earl Holman is serving a thirty year sentence in the Caddo bank robbery; Nick LaMerr is in an Arkansas prison; Earl Thayer is in federal prison;Jesse Paul or "Barry" as he is more familiary known is doing time in Arkansas; Goldie Bates, who is said to be Al Spencer's "woman" is in federal jail at Guthrie and approximately eleven others are in prison awaiting trial on a charge of participating with Spencer in the Katy train robbery.


BUT FOUR REMAINED UNCAUGHT


Latest arrest made was that of George "Whitey" Fallon, on whom with Spencer and three others, a reward of $2,000 "dead or alive" was recently placed by the federal government. Fallon was brought to Pawhuska several days ago. He has since been taken to Oklahoma City, officers state.
But four who are actually known to have been a pert of the once powerful band, remain at large. They are; Grover Durrill, Riley Dixon, Frank Nash, and Ralph White. Rewards of $2,000 each are on the heads of Durrill, Dixon and Nash


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Updated: Wednesday, 06-Aug-2008 06:49:18 CDT

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