I’ve spent much of the day researching murders, robberies, rapes, and various other crimes. All of them took place before statehood. Many of them, especially the murders, went unsolved and unpunished. Bodies were often found weeks or even months after they were disposed of and crime investigation did not include fingerprints, DNA or toxicology reports.
When my book is completed this fall I’m sure there will be those who will be shocked by the number of crimes that took place in the Indian Territory. The number, and also the savagery, has been a bit of a surprise to me as well. I’m not sure why I should be surprised by anything that took place during any time in history…we are after all the same basic humans that have been chronicled since Bible times. The story of Cain should have taught us something.
A few interesting details have surfaced in my research:
Just as today, many murder victims knew their killers because they were friends, co-workers, and family members.
Murderers were more likely to go to court than horse thieves or rapists, who were often lynched before they could even be arrested.
Choctaws scheduled for execution were usually allowed to go home to “settle their affairs” and say goodbye to family members. They almost always returned.
Whipping (50-100 lashes) was the preferred punishment for many crimes.
Some long-term prisoners were paroled in later years because of health problems.
So…that’s what I’ve been doing today! I promise to do something more pleasant tomorrow.