I’m nearing completion of my new book, “Shot Through the Heart- Crime and Punishment in the Indian Territory”. I have a few more items to add to it and will soon do a quick edit for minor errors. Then I’ll give it to the gracious ladies at the library for indexing. I’m hoping to offer it for sale at Heritage Day. In the meantime I thought you might like to read a small sample from the book. Remember, this book covers Indian Territory, not just Caddo. The following crime took place near Mud Creek in the Chickasaw Nation. Meredith Crow was originally sentenced to hang, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison by President Cleveland, who spared several prisoners from the gallows. Crow served his term in the Detroit House of Correction in Michigan.
The Fort Worth Daily Gazette
October 3, 1885
Sentenced for Life
Meredith Crow Given a Life Term- A Woman at the Bottom of It
Fort Smith, Ark., Oct. 2- The jury in the Meredith Crow murder case, which went out on Wednesday morning last, came in at 4:30 this evening with a verdict of murder in the first degree, thus condemning the defendant to the gallows. The crime of which Crow stands convicted was committed in the summer of 1879. The murdered man was Cub Courtney. It seems Courtney and a man named Pitts had been on bad terms for some time. Courtney, one afternoon, went to the house where Pitts was and the latter burst two caps at him, trying to shoot through a crack of the door.
Courtney fired over the house with a Winchester, and rode on to another house near by where Crow happened to be and as he came up to the fence made a motion as if to shoot, but rode on without firing. Crow then came out and emptied two loads of buckshot into the back of the young man, killing him instantly. Crow escaped and remained at large until about eight months ago when he was captured by an Indian policeman, J. H. Gray, who was afterwards killed by the notorious Lee boys, and lodged in the United States jail here by Deputy Marshal J. H. Mershon.
Crow is a Texan, of fine personal appearance and manly bearing. Lately the public anticipated his acquittal of a verdict of manslaughter; consequently the verdict was somewhat of a surprise. There was a woman at the bottom of the trouble.
Note: According to the statement of Cub’s father, Henry D. Courtney, he was shot on June 8, 1879 and did not die until the next day, June 9, 1879 at the home of John Fowler, where he had been living. He died of numerous buckshot wounds. His horse was also killed. Henry produced his clothing for examination and showed the holes in it. Also mentioned that his wife was sixty miles away and Cub had requested that they not send for her because he knew he would die before she could arrive. Cub mentioned going to see a woman named Callie Thurman, widow.
In his motion for a new trial Meredith Crow stated that Cub Courtney had a reputation in the neighborhood as a “dangerous man and lawless desperado” who had threatened to kill him, Pitts, and the Ward boys. He claimed that James Odell had lied and that other mistakes had been made during the trial.
The Fort Smith file for this case is quite lengthy, hand-written, and somewhat tedious. The witness statements are often confusing and conflicting. But it’s clear that the parties involved had a “history”. Also interesting to note that Henry Courtney mentions going to the jail to see Robinson Kemp, a well-known local character you’ll want to read more about.