Born in the Indian Territory in today’s Oklahoma to a Creek Indian father and an African American mother, Rufus Buck (1877 – 1896) formed a multi-ethnic gang of teenagers – all Indians, African Americans, or mixed race. A zealot with nebulous ideas of triggering a Native American uprising, Buck led his gang on a depraved rampage of robbery, rape, and murder, that terrorized white settlers, Indians, and African Americans alike.
Buck’s gang started stockpiling weapons in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, and on July 28, 1895, began their rampage by shooting and killing a deputy US Marshal. On the way back, they raped a middle-aged widow. They then robbed a man of his horse, and killed him when he resisted. A few days later, they robbed a salesman, stripped him naked, and offered him a chance to escape. When he unexpectedly succeeded in escaping, they killed his assistant in frustration. They then raped and murdered two women and a 14-year-old girl. On August 4th, they raped a woman in front of her husband, whom they held at bay with rifles. At least two of their rape victims died of their injuries.
Posses of Indian Police and white settlers were formed to apprehend the gang, but while the posses combed the countryside, Buck and his gang brazenly rode into Okmulgee and robbed three stores. Whenever they encountered somebody riding a horse they liked, they offered to trade, and shot the rider if he declined. On the outskirts of Eufala, they came across a black child, and just to see him twitch as he expired, shot him dead.
On August 10, 1895, US Marshals came across the gang in a hideout near Muskogee. After a furious firefight, they were forced to surrender when they ran out of ammunition. Taken into Muskogee, the gang barely escaped lynching by a Creek mob, which dispersed only after a tribal chief pleaded with them, and the US Marshals vowed to shoot the first man who tried to seize their prisoners. Taken to Fort Smith for trial, the gang was found guilty of rape, murder, and robbery, and sentenced to death by “hanging judge” Isaac Parker. After appeals were exhausted, Rufus Buck and his gang were hanged on July 1, 1896.