Men committed to upholding the law and making the frontier safe came from all nationalities. Sam Sixkiller was born in the Going Snake District of the Cherokee Nation sometime in 1842. This is what is today Adair County, Oklahoma, which sits on the Arkansas border.
When the Civil War began, he joined the Confederate Army while his dad, Redbird Sixkiller, fought on the Union side. At age 19, Sam switched sides and served under his father who was a 1st lieutenant.
Following the war’s end, he married Fanny Foreman in 1865 and began adding their six children.
Ten years later, he became the first captain of the U.S. Indian Police headquartered in Muskogee, one of the most dangerous towns in the West. He had 100 men serving under him. Sam also was a special agent for the Missouri-Pacific Railroad and a deputy U.S. Marshal. He was a very well-spoken man whose impeccable behavior spoke of his excellent upbringing. Needless to say, he was respected by good men and, grudgingly, bad alike.
During the 1800s more lawmen lost their lives within a 50-mile radius of Muskogee than anywhere west of the Mississippi.
Sam didn’t present a particularly striking figure at 5’8” and 200 pounds, but he was one of the toughest lawmen in Oklahoma Territory and got the job done, no matter how long it took or how far he had to ride.
As it had been from the first, Oklahoma Territory was a haven for outlaws, rustlers, murderers, bootleggers and other lawless men so there was no shortage of work. He faced one of his most challenging problems after a large group of harlots moved in and practically took over Muskogee since it was on a railroad line. Ordered to clean up the town, Sam Sixkiller rounded up the working women and put them in the jail. He remarked that he’d rather face an armed gang of killer outlaws than deal with those women. After a short stay, the females had a change of heart and took Sam’s advice that they might could do better in other towns, paid a fine, and left. To which Sam breathed a big sigh of relief.
One of the most dangerous outlaws in the territory was Dick Glass. He had a thirst for killing and was deadly in a fight. Sam Sixkiller tracked him down and put two bullets in his chest.
On Christmas Eve of 1886, Sam was ambushed by a mean outlaw named Dick Vann after several run ins and arrests. Vann shot him dead. Lawmen all over attended Sixkiller’s funeral that was said to be one of the largest in the territory.
Despite a huge reward and a big posse, Dick Vann was never apprehended.
Shortly after his death, the United States government signed into law that it was a crime to kill a Native American lawman and the murderer would be tried by the government instead of the tribal counsel.
What do you think drove a man to try to keep the peace in such a lawless town like this? Surely not the money. They were paid very little.