As with many historical treasures, I came across this story quite by accident while researching something else. If you’ve haven’t discovered the power of Google I urge you to give it a try. I often research through my regular sites and sources, but sometimes I just take six or eight search words from my quest and put them into Google to see what happens. This week my other topic included the words “Caddo Banner”, which is the name of one of Caddo’s older newspapers. This newspaper story popped up from the Oklahombres Inc. website:
Caddo Banner, October 27, 1894
AB McLELLEN DEAD
Gerald O'Bryant, a Notorious Thief Killed Him,
A posse of citizens follow O'Bryant and kill him.
The Neighbors Refused to Assist in Burying O'Bryant.
All Caddo is sad.
"Deputy United States Marshal Ab McLellan, one of the bravest officers that ever held a commission from the Indian Territory court, was brutally murdered last Friday night, while making an attempt to arrest Gerald O'Bryant, one of the most notorious theives (sic) that ever lived in this country.
The O'Bryant family have given the officers and neighbors a world of trouble for the last year and have been in jail the greater part of the time. It was this family that caused Ab McLellan to accept a commission as deputy marshal. The people here well knew that he was brave and daring and would eventually break up the gang.
Gerald was jailed some time ago, and while in jail he met a man named Dice. He represented to Dice that his father was a docter (sic) and owned considerable property, and that he would give Dice a bill of sale to enough of his property so that he could go on his bond and when he got out he would mske (sic) a bond for Dice. Dice took him up at his proposition, and in a short time after Gerald had reached home he sent a bond up for Dice. Dice came on to Caddo and went out to O'Bryant's house and found they had no property, no crop, and that the old man was not a doctor. The boys soon began to propose to him that they rob some stores near this place. Dice agreed to it, but notified the officers what they proposed to do. During this time John O'Bryant, one of the brothers, had been arrested and put in jail.
A plan was arranged to rob Jack Basie's store, and Dice was to go to Basie's and work so that he could locate the situation. He notified Basie what O'Bryant wanted to do. Basie sent him to Caddo to notify Deputy McLellan; he and McLellan returned to Basie's, but they decided it would be best not to attempt the robbing of the store, and Dice was sent to O'Bryant's to lead him into stealing corn from old man Hester, who is a near neighbor to the O'Bryants. Deputy McLellan and Jack Basie were showen here they would cross the fence with the corn. As they came up, each having a sack of corn, Gerald O'Bryant climbed up on the panel where McLellan was hid. As he raised up, Gerald fired on him with a 45-caliber Colt's pistol, the ball taking effect on top of his right shoulder, ranging through his body and came out in his left side. McLellan fired two shots but missed; Basie fired one and missed also. O'Bryant ran off. Dice went up and learned that the boy had killed McLellan and then went to O'Bryant's house. Gerald thought he had killed old man Hester, and wanted to leave, but Dice tried to get him to go to bed, but to no avail. He wanted Dice to leave with him, and he promised him he would.
Dice gave him the dodge and notified a posse of citizens where they could find Gerald O'Bryant. M F Vandiver, Dr Dickey, Jim Mayo, John Gregory and Tom White went to Bradburn's and surrounded the house. At daylight they called Bradburn out and asked if O'Bryant was there, to which he answered, "No." They said they would search the house. When he went into the house Gerald slipped out to the lot where his horse was saddled and mounted it to ride off. They demanded that he surrender but instead he drew his pistol and reached for his winchester, when he was fired on by the crowd, killing him and his horse. The horse fell on him and they did not remove him from under it.
McLellan lived until 12:30 that night. He was buried at Caddo Saturday evening.
O'Bryant who was only nineteen years old, was burid (sic) at home by his own folks, the neighbors refusing to assist in the burial.
McLellan was very popular and the town realizes that it has lost an officer who can not be replaced.
As soon as news reached town that he had been murdered, a subscription list was prepared to make up a reward, for the capture of O'Bryant, but before any one had time to take it around, news reached here that he had been killed. Had he been captured alive, the citizens here would have swung him te (sic) a limb and riddled his body with bullets. McLellan leaves a wife and baby to mourn his loss, besides a host of friends. He was so popular with the people here that all the business men signed his bond, making it worth many thousand dollars.
The posse of citizens who killed O'Bryant surrendered and had their trial Monday. They were all acquitted."
That article led to more research and I turned up a photo posted by C.M. Wright, one of the descendents of Abner’s extended family. The family gave permission to use the photo here. It shows Deputy U.S. Marshal Abner David McLellan (1866-1894) and his wife Susan “Susie” Black (1870-1958). The photo was taken sometime between 1893-94.
A few more clicks led to Officer Down Memorial Page. It lists law enforcement heroes killed in the line of duty and includes Abner, as well as another marshal from Caddo (another blog).
Browsing the genealogy websites led to more McLellan family history posted by Kathy Foster, a descendent of Susie’s extended family.
This story, plus the information provided by these generous family members has led me to three other stories, more family information, and two other topics to research. I hope reading it is not only entertaining and informative, but will also encourage you to preserve your own family history and SHARE it with others. I plan to post more information about the McLellan family in a future blog. The photo of Abner and his wife will also be added to the collection of the Indian Territory Museum so it can be enjoyed and appreciated by others.