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Information on Deputy Marshals Wanted

Sharon Burns Published: March 12, 1994

Patricia Thele, P.O. Box 2614, Ada, OK 74821, is researching George McClelland Roby, who was a U.S. deputy marshal in 1906 in the Creek Nation. Roby's wife was Ella Purkey.

She requests information about U.S. deputy marshals who served in Indian Territory.

The Oklahoma Historical Society Library has several books on the subject. "History of the U.S. Marshal Service" by Anthony C. Odom provides a general history.

The offices of marshal and deputy marshal were created under provisions of the Judiciary Act of 1789. Their functions were to serve writs, subpoenas, take charge of prisoners and carry out other orders of the court.

In Oklahoma and Indian Territory, deputy marshals traveled far from their district federal courts, usually moving in small groups.

Since there were no local courts, trials were conducted in Fort Smith. As many as 50 prisoners were transported at one time in wagons equipped with special rings mounted on the sideboards for handcuffs and shackles.

Other books available include "The Lawmen, U.S. Marshals and their Deputies" by Frederick Calhoun; "Outlaws and Peace Officers of Indian Territory" by C.W. "Dub" West; "The Western Peace Officer, A Legacy of Law and Order" by Frank Richard Prassel and "Law West of Fort Smith" by Glenn Shirley.

Bob Ernst, member of Oklahombres, has studied and compiled information about U.S. marshals. He said many records dealing with federal marshals in Oklahoma were burned when this era came to an end with statehood in 1907.

In addition to books, Ernst said genealogists should research National Archives Record Group 60 and 287. Record Group 60, "Index to Names of United States Marshals, 1789-1960," is available on microfilm roll T577. It is an alphabetical list giving dates and places of service.

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