The Bad Boys of the Cookson Hills

Key Information

The Bad Boys of the Cookson Hills, By R. D. Morgan

2002 [ISBN: 1-58107-059-4; 202 pages, soft cover; 5 1/4 by 8 1/4 inch] $15.95


BBCH2covTheir reign of terror lasted 18 long months!

The story contained in these pages is a detailed description of a vicious crime and the eighteen-month long manhunt to track down the criminals involved. It details the history and crimes of a loose-knit gang of bold outlaws originally known as the Cookson Hills Gang, then the Ford Bradshaw Gang and finally the Underhill-Bradshaw Gang whose members blazed a path of robbery and murder through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Arkansas in 1932-34. It also chronicles the efforts and sacrifices of a handful of brave lawmen that tracked them down.

The description of events is taken mainly from official Federal, State, County and City records, such as, arrest, trial, appearance, bond and other court records, police reports, prison records, and US census, tax rolls, property, marriage, birth, and death records. Other sources of information were cemetery and funeral home records, old city directories, family genealogy texts, newspapers on microfilm, and magazines of the day. Oral histories were gathered by interviews, thirty-nine in total, of living participants of the story, numerous descendents of the lawmen and outlaws noted in the book, and people who lived in the area at the time. Many consented to be interviewed only if their names were not divulged.

The Contents

  • Preface, v
  • Chapter 1: The Crime
  • Chapter 2: The Cooksons and Wildcat Whiskey
  • Chapter 3: The Suspects, the Lawmen, the First Manhunt
  • Chapter 4: All in the Family, Henryetta, and the Cross Bar Hotel
  • Chapter 5: The Toll Bridge, Wilber and Company
  • Chapter 6: A Bunch of Banks, and Webber Falls
  • Chapter 7: Vian, Okmulgee, Big Jim and Nebraska
  • Chapter 8: A Mad Dog Bites the Dust, Enos, and Bradshaws
  • Chapter 9: Billets Flying, and the Big Raid
  • Chapter 10: The End of the Line
  • Chapter 11: Rema
  • Chapter 12: Epilogue
  • Chronology of Robberies
  • Credits and Sources

The Author

R. D. Morgan is a native of the frozen cornfields of the north. He shook the ice off his nose and joined the US Army immediately after graduating from high school, serving as a Military Police officer. After his military career, he worked several years for the federal government as an electrician in Arkansas and Missouri. Two years ago, Morgan and his wife took an early retirement and moved to Oklahoma to pursue their passion of researching and photographing people, places, and stories pertaining to 1920s and ’30s history. The author got a passion from listening to his Grandfather’s tales about life and culture in the Midwest during the depression years. A year ago, the couple began writing a popular weekly column in the Haskell News on Oklahoma history. While doing research for their column, they discovered the story of the Cookson Hills gang. Realizing the story of neither the outlaws nor the lawmen’s exploits had ever fully been told they tackled the job. This book is the result of that project. The Morgans are currently active members of Oklahombres, an organization dedicated to the preservation of Oklahoma lawmen and outlaw history. They have had their stories published in the Oklahombres Journal, Okmulgee Daily Times, and the quarterly journal of Three Rivers Museum in Muskogee, Oklahoma.


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