Lucas, Lewis

Lewis Lucas

latter part of 1800’s. He was born in 1851 and died in 1893. His two sons Frank and Joshua became registered under the Dawes Commission in the Choctaw nation. Joshua, being the oldest of the two, received the original Choctaw number of A7905; and Frank’s number was A7907. Lewis was my great grandfather and Frank was my grandfather. The following pertains to two incidents in the life of my great grandfather as a law officer in the Choctaw Nation. In the San Bois County of the Choctaw Nation (which is now Haskell County, Oklahoma), there was a road that came from Fort Smith, Arkansas to the crossing running east and where the road crossed the creek was called Whiskey Trail Crossing. On the east side of the creek was a line of seven hills that were called Seven Devils Mountains by the old timers. The proper names for them is San Bois Hills. After crossing the creek going west the road forked with one road going southeast along San Bois Creek to an old place called San Bois town and then on west to Robbers Cave. The other road went on west to Younger Bend. Whiskey Road and Whiskey Trail crossing got its name because whiskey peddlers traveled this road and sold whiskey. Not only whiskey peddlers but also horse thieves and outlaws of all kinds used this road. Turning left at the crossing between the mountain and the creek was a narrow bottom that ran southwest for several miles. According to old timers this bottom was covered with heavy cane breaks and brush. Just before crossing the creek from the east side the cane, brush and grape vines were so thick it was hard to ride a horse through it. This was a perfect place for whiskey peddlers, horse thieves and outlaws to hide out with good grazing for their horses. Back in those days they could hold up there for months because there were plenty of game in the hills and bottom such as deer, wild turkey, squirrels and wild hogs. Marshals from Judge Parker’s court out of Fort Smith would ride the Whiskey Road and go across the crossing but seldom ever ventured into the cane breaks. The outlaws would build small fires to cook their meat. Their fire could hardly be seen for the thick cane and brush. Judge Parker gave orders to marshals to not ride into the breaks. The cane was so thick that a rider could ride up on a man before he could see him and a rider could be heard coming through the cane a long way off. It is believed that many marshals made their mistake of going into the breaks. In later years, bones of men were found in the bottom. They were believed to be the bones of some of the marshals who disobeyed Parker’s orders. My great grandfather Lewis Lucas was assigned to this place. He, his wife whose maiden name was Breedlove, their two small sons, Joshua and Frank, lived near Whiskey Trail crossing. One-night two outlaws rode up to his house. They thought that Lucas was home and kicked the door down and started shooting into a bed. The shots killed my great grandmother and hit my great uncle Joshua in an arm. My great grandfather Lewis and his partner followed the men across the San Bois and killed both of them. The infamous female outlaw Belle Starr lived in the area and my great grandfather and other law officers had problems in getting evidence against her in courts that would convict her because many looked upon Belle as a heroine. George Scott, grandson of Green McCurtain, explained to me how my great grandfather was killed while serving as a peace officer in the Choctaw Nation. In 1893, north of the San Bois Cemetery, which is near Kinta in San Bois, there was an Indian stickball game about to begin. Green McCurtain, then a senator of the Choctaw Nation representing San Bois County, had been selected to referee the game. Just before the game the referee was to go to the middle of the field and set up the rules for the game. Green was still sitting on a bench at the side of the field Cooper Surrit, Mose Woolderess and Hagan Melvin had allowed their drinking of alcohol to get out of hand. As Lewis Lucas, a peace officer from the community of Kanima in San Bois County, was riding by the men on a horse, Mose Woolderess shot him in the back of the head. As Lewis was falling off the horse, his wife Jenny screamed. (Jenny, his second wife, was the daughter of Edmund McCurtain, who also had served as Principle Chief of the Choctaw. Lewis did not die immediately, but was taken to a nearby house (which is still standing) where he died the next day. He is buried in the San Bois Cemetery next to an infant child of his and Jenny’s.) Immediately after the shooting Green told his bodyguard Martin Harris, who was a black man, to get him (meaning to apprehend Mose.) Instead, the bodyguard shot Woolderess off his horse, killing him. McCurtain and Martin Harris commenced to pursue the other two men on horseback. His horse was shot out from under him. Getting another horse they apprehended Hagen Melvin who was a second cousin to Green. They then caught up and killed Cooper Suirrit who was described as a cripple who was a mean man. Three years later, Green McCurtain, who had been a close friend of Lewis Lucas, became Principle Chief of the Choctaw Nation. He served as Principle Chief from 1896 to 1900; and again from 1902 until his death in 1910. Oklahoma became a state in 1907 during the time that Green was Principle Chief.