3/4/1896 - Gloves off after the Ingalls, Oklahoma debacle of 1893 in which Deputy Marshal Thomas Hueston, Special Deputy Marshal Richard Speed, and Deputy Marshal Lafayette Shadley are killed trying to arrest members of the Doolin-Dalton Gang, slowly but surely authorities in Oklahoma begin picking off members of the gang. By 1896, Bill Dalton, Tulsa Jack Blake, Bitter Creek Newcomb, and Charlie Pierce are dead, while Bill Doolin, Arkansas Tom Jones, and Little Bill Raidler are all behind bars. Only George "Red Buck" Waightman and Little Dick West still on the loose, 45-year-old Waightman is the next to go.
Newcomb (L) & Pierce (R)
Born in Tennessee in 1850, Waightman (also spelled Weightman by some historians) goes west after the Civil War, and after a stop in Texas, eventually winds up in Oklahoma. Trouble in a well muscled package topped by dark red hair (the origins of his nickname, "Red Buck"), Waightman is soon rustling horses and offering to kill with his guns for a measly $50 a death. In 1889, the law gets its clutches on the outlaw for the first time as he is arrested by legendary Deputy U.S. Marshal Henry Andrew "Heck" Thomas and sentenced to three years in prison for horse theft. The sentence is never served though ... on his way to prison by train, Waightman soaps his wrists during a visit to the toilet, slips out of his handcuffs, opens a window, and leaps out of the moving train to freedom (trying to do the same, two other prisoners will be shot to death as they try for a window escape too). Free, he is at first a fine fit for the Doolin-Dalton Gang which forms after the Dalton Gang is wiped out in Coffeyville, Kansas on 10/5/1892.
As a member of the Doolin-Dalton Gang, Waightman participates in the robbery of the Ford County Bank of Spearville, Kansas (1892), the robbery of a Santa Fe train to the west of Cimarron, Kansas (1893), a gunfight with a posse near Fort Supply, Oklahoma (1893), the Ingalls battle (1893), a post office robbery in the Oklahoma town of Clarkson (1894), the robbery of the Farmers Citizens Bank of Pawnee, Oklahoma (1894), a hit on the Santa Fe Railway station at Woodward, Oklahoma (1894), a store robbery in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma (1894), and the robbery of a store in Texana, Oklahoma (1894). There are troubles though as Waightman over and over wants to gun down almost everyone he encounters and argues continually with fellow gang members (his only redeeming quality is the ability to entertain the gang with his fiddle playing) ... twice he is dissuaded by Bill Doolin from ambushing Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman (Doolin will state to Waightman, "Bill Tilghman is too good a man to shoot in the back.").
After the Dover train robbery, Doolin finally has had his fill of Waightman. Surprised after the robbery by a posse that kills Tulsa Jack, in the gun battle that follows Waightman's horse is killed and he is forced to escape riding double with Bitter Creek Newcomb ... double until the gang comes upon the ranch of a former Baptist minister named Godfrey. Jumping into the corral, Waightman selects a new mount and steals the horse. Preacher pissed at the commotion that interrupts his meal, protesting the action from his porch, without a warning or any hesitation, Waightman guns down the man. An unnecessary killing of an unarmed man, Doolin confers with Dalton, and on the spot, Red Buck is kicked out of the gang.
And so it is that Waightman forms his own gang out of a group of Texas renegades looking to hook up with a big name badman ... George Miller, a Texas lawman turned bandit, and outlaws Joe Beckham, Hills Loftis and Elmer "Kid" Lewis. In action immediately, the men rustle cattle, rob stores, kill a rancher that betrayed the gang's hiding place, hold up a train near the town of Curtis, Oklahoma (1895), and hit a bank in Wichita Falls, Texas (1896) ... and like the Doolin crew, all the men become instant targets for law enforcement in the region, with the expected results ... Beckham dies in an 1895 shootout, Loftis simply vanishes and is never seen again after escaping a shootout, and Lewis is hung by an angry Wichita Falls mob that isn't happy about having their bank robbed. In March of 1896, it's Waightman's and Miller's turns.
Red Buck Fleeing A Posse
Receiving word that the bandits are once again hiding out in Oklahoma, a posse of lawmen that includes U.S. Deputy Marshals Chris Madsen, Joe Ventioner, William Holcomb, and Bill Quillen begin combing the Custer County region and soon locate the men hiding out from the cold in the farmhouse of Dolph Pickelseimer, a local with a habit of befriending outlaws (he will be arrested and spend time behind bars for sheltering the bandits). House surrounded, when Waightman steps out the front door and on to the porch in the morning, he is gunned down by Ventioner before he can even slap leather. Miller however does get his gun out and firing his pistol, wounds Ventioner in the stomach (Ventioner will survive the wound). Exposed to posse fire by his action, Miller is horribly injured when a round fired by Holcomb hits the bandit's cartridge belt, causing several rounds to detonate ... bullet explosions that blow off the badman's right hand at the wrist, and take the three middle fingers off his left hand (Miller will be fitted with a steel hook the earns him the nickname "Hookey," serves a prison term, and eventually once more becomes a lawman upon his release from captivity ... a lawman who is in turn gunned down trying to serve an arrest warrant in 1923 at the age of 61).
One less badmen to worry about for the state, Waightman is planted in the Arapaho, Oklahoma cemetery.
Red Buck Waightman As Played By Hugh O'Brien In 1952's
The Cimarron Kid - Starring Audie Murphy As Bill Doolin
The Real Red Buck In Death