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© Debra Lanette Rogers

On the morning of September 22, 1902, there was a rainstorm, so both parties went to town for supplies (since they couldn’t work on the farm). The McFarlands got there first and were waiting on the Brooks. Lewis, dad’s brother, left town to warn the Brooks family what was waiting on them in town. Some of the Riddle family members were stationed on the outskirts of town to serve as watchdogs. They stopped Lewis and wanted to know where he was going He said to water his horse. They threatened to shoot him if he didn’t go back to town, so he did. Willis, Clifton and John went to the Post Office. There they found an unarmed elderly George Riddle. He and his son Lon were part of the McFarland gang. John Brooks began to slap him around and he backed out the door into Willis. Willis pulled a gun on him. A Deputy US Marshall saw what was happening and loaded a shotgun. It “accidentally” went off into the floor (a witness questioned if it was accidental or not). The shot started the gunfight, since the Brooks and McFarlands both thought the others shot first. The McFarlands were reported to be shooting wildly in the direction of the Brooks. George Riddle ran toward the Marshall for protection, but Willis shot him in the back of the head. While he continued to shoot Riddle 2 more times, he was shot in the hip. He fell and arose to continue shooting and was fatally shot in the chest. Cliff Brooks was shot in the leg, neck, chest, and gun hand. The wound to his hand was so painful he threw his gun down and tried to run to safety. Lon Riddle and Jim McFarland ran him down on horseback and killed him. A bullet severed his spine. John Brooks was shot several times, also. He was still in the Post Office. They believed he was going to die, too. Ma (Rannie) hauled John and Willis Brooks to their home east of town. Daddy sat on spring seat with her. She wouldn’t let him look back at the dead and wounded. Daddy said that he would sneak a peak every now and then.
It says the Marshall commandeered a wagon and sent the bodies of Willis and Clifton home and John was moved to a local store building for a doctor’s attention. Lon Riddle, Joe and Jim McFarland were ordered to surrender. That afternoon, when the Marshall prepared to take them to Eufaula to turn them over to the Marshall Service, there was a mob waiting outside. The Marshall strapped on Willis’ six-gun and took his Winchester out to tell the crowd not to interfere. They were able to take the prisoners to the authorities.
Reportedly, Maggie Brooks, her 15 year-old son, Earl, and 13 year old daughter, Lela, took Willis’s and Clifton’s bodies to Eufaula to the undertaker. They drove all night. Then, they went to Checotah and buried them in the Indian Territory cemetery near Willis’ sister, Francis Baker, and Willis’ son Tom.
The McFarlands and Riddle were released when no one came forward to testify against them. On October 13th of that year Jim McFarland was ambushed and killed while riding in a wagon with his wife. No one was seen or charged. And so another page was added to Oklahoma’s Wild West History. (2---Special thanks to Brenda Barnes. 3rd great-granddaughter to Willis Brooks )

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This page was updated: Saturday, 11-Sep-2021 01:21:43 EDT

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