Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The $46 man

One of Doolin's neighbors in Summit View is a lesser outlaw by the name of Elmer McCurdy, killed in a gunfight with lawmen after a train robbery in the Osage Hills on Oct. 7, 1911. McCurdy's body wasn't buried for another 65 years, however -- his corpse was mummified and spent decades touring the country in carnivals and spookhouses. It was finally identified as human remains at an amusement park in Long Beach, California, in 1976, during the filming of an episode of "The Six Million Dollar Man," and returned to Guthrie for burial. Oh, and what did McCurdy get during that 1911 train robbery? Forty-six dollars and some liquor.

Dead like Doolin

Bill Doolin, Outlaw O.T. (Oklahoma Territory), was killed by a posse led by Heck Thomas near Lawson on Aug. 25, 1896, after escaping from the federal jail at Guthrie a few weeks earlier. Accounts differ as to who fired the fatal shot, but all agree that Doolin was hit with a fatal blast of buckshot from an eight-gauge shotgun. The results were documented by the local photographer, as was the fashion, and for a quarter you could buy a postcard of Doolin in death -- with the proceeds ostensibly going to his widow, Edith, for burial expenses (although none of the money collected went for that purpose). Doolin was buried in Summit View Cemetery at Guthrie, and his grave marked with a bent buggy axle.

Today, Doolin's grave is marked with an impressive red tombstone that is about as tall as I am (see left), in an area marked with a cheesy "Boot Hill" sign in Summit View. By all accounts, Doolin was among the most likeable of western outlaws, and claimed to have never killed anybody during any of his many robberies, at least not on purpose.

Bill Doolin, O.T.