The Archivist

NewsOK | BLOGS

Sisters were early law enforcement officers in state

Mary Phillips Published: October 21, 2013

On Sept. 7, 1913, The Oklahoman published an article that showcased two Dewey sisters, Lula and Blanche Rogers.

It tells of two young girls who, for a short time, pursued a law enforcement career and were quite successful.

Blanche and Lula received their commissions in 1913, but they had ridden often before that time with their father, William Grant Rogers, a deputy law enforcement officer.

The Oklahoman wrote: “These Dewey Indian Girls, 18 and 20 years old, have the distinction of being the only women in the state who have held office as deputy enforcement officers. That they have performed their duties with bravery and valor has been demonstrated on many occasions and it is probable that the two have captured and arrested more than fifty violators of the Oklahoma liquor laws in the year’s time.

“The question often asked since the Rogers girls were appointed is whether or not it would be proper to allow girls to risk their lives against an element of this kind. ‘Well, if we’re not afraid, why should they worry?’ one of the girls is quoted as saying.

“From the time they were little girls the Rogers sisters have accompanied their father on many trips, wherein he intended to intercept the movements of ‘stock hauler.’ Once near the Kansas line the father and oldest daughter, Blanche, (Lula was actually the oldest), were driving along a road heading in the direction of Caney. This has long been known as the ‘booze trail’ for it is on this road that many an officer lost his life in encounter with bad men during the territorial days.”

As Rogers and his daughter rode along in a wagon, they encountered two bootleggers. Her father carried two guns, one in a scabbard, and the other on the seat of the wagon. Blanche grabbed the gun and “got the drop on him,” and the father and daughter captured the bootleggers and their cargo and sent them to jail.

Early in 1913, the girls were given commissions from the U.S. Marshal, and they exercised their passion for arresting liquor violators. They even discovered how women were using skirts with pockets beneath their dresses to carry liquor and put a stop to the practice.

When a new marshal was appointed by the president, he chose not to reappoint the girls.

“Many people in Washington County which of course does not include the bootleg element, hope the Rogers girls will be reappointed. This is especially true of the women who favor the suffrage movement, for they see in the Rogers girls real leaders who have the determination of a man and will not shirk a duty, even though there is danger of losing their lives.

“Both are good marksmen and can handle a rifle with skill of a soldier. These young women live with their parents in a comfortable home near Dewey, Okla. They have many suitors, but their greatest ambition in life, in the past has been to suppress the liquor traffic in Eastern Oklahoma.”

Lula Rogers married, gave birth to a daughter and died in 1919. She was 27.

Blanche Rogers never married, and the 1940 U.S. Census shows her living with her mother and lists her occupation as librarian.

She died in 1983 and, along with her parents and several of her siblings, is buried in the Dewey Cemetery.