When the remaining Indian lands of Old Oklahoma were made available for settlement in a series of openings beginning in 1889, thousands of people flocked to the region to try for a homestead. It was a grand chance for a new life. Unfortunately, ahead of, with, and after the homeseekers came the dregs of human society: those who would steal, killdo anything to avoid working for even the necessities of life.
Most of these outlaws operated across the imaginary border between Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory-called Hell's Fringe by the early U.S. deputy marshals. At first the felons eluded pursuers by fleeing across Hell's Fringe into Indian Territory, where Oklahoma lawmen were forbidden to set foot. Not so the federal marshals. They could and did cross the border, sometimes deputizing territorial lawmen as federal officers and taking them along.
Glenn Shirley has written the definitive account of outlawry in Oklahoma Territory from the Run of ’89 to statehood in 1907, putting down myths and deflating the romanticism that made heroes out of barbarians. His is the story of brave men who put their lives on the line every time they rode-because most of their quarry would rather die than surrender, and many of them did die, sometimes taking a lawman or two with them.
It's the story of the Doolin and Dalton gangs, of outlaws like Dynamite Dick, Arkansas Tom, and Zip Wyatt, and of their female counterparts such as Tom King (Flora Quick), Cattle Annie, and Little Breeches. If you're looking for Robin Hoods, you won't find them here. But you will find something much better: Glenn Shirley's saga of the determined men who brought an orderly system of freedom and justice to one of America's last frontiers.