ELI HICKMAN "HECK" BRUNER
Year Inducted: 2012The law enforcement career of Eli Hickman "Heck" Bruner began before Oklahoma became a state. Born in 1859, Bruner was one of 10 children. "Heck" Bruner was a Deputy U.S. Marshal commissioned in 1890 and assigned to the Northern District of Indian Territory. Bruner chased armed gangs who were responsible for sale of whiskey in Indian Territory, bank robberies and murders in Indian Territory. Bruner and his posse engaged in gunfights with some of the Old West's most notorious outlaws. Those that surrendered or survived were taken to Fort Smith where they faced the infamous Judge Parker. "Heck" Bruner himself was personally involved in shootouts with the likes of the Bob Roger's gang, Cherokee Bill and the Dick Adam's gang. Bruner and U.S. Marshals tracked down the most notorious outlaw in Indian Territory, Ned Christie. After surrounding his hideout Marshals fired volleys of US Army cannons at the fortress in an effort to force Christie's surrender. When he did not come out Marshals used dynamite to force access setting the site on fire. As Christie fled a gunfight ensued resulting in the death of one of the more notorious outlaws in the Old West. Bruner also personally captured the outlaws who murdered one of his posse. Without any formal training, Bruner learned how to be an effective investigator and had a reputation for successfully tracking down bank robbers, train robbers, hunting bank robbers, raids on illegal liquor sales and gathering evidence that would hold up in court. The newspapers described Bruner as a "good Marshal" who was effective and committed to policing Indian Territory. "Heck" Bruner died in 1899 and is buried in Pryor, Oklahoma.