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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

GOLDSBY, CRAWFORD (1876–1896).

An African American, Crawford "Cherokee Bill" Goldsby became one of the most famous outlaws in the history of the Indian Territory. Goldsby was born in Fort Concho, Texas. His father was George Goldsby, a first sergeant of the Tenth Cavalry, and his mother was a Cherokee freedwoman named Ellen Beck, an official laundress for the Tenth Cavalry at the fort. Racial problems at San Angelo, the civilian community adjacent to Fort Concho, caused George Goldsby to go AWOL from the army. Ellen moved her family back to her home at Fort Gibson, Indian Territory. By the time he reached his teenage years, Goldsby had developed a bad attitude, associated with unsavory characters, drank whiskey, and rebelled against authority. His foster father put him out of the house, and he fell in with young men who had criminal designs.

In the summer of 1894 Goldsby joined with Bill and Jim Cook and others who became known as the Cook gang. Near Tahlequah, Cherokee Bill, as he was then known, killed a Cherokee lawman named Sequoyah Houston in a gunfight. On July 31, 1894, the Cook gang robbed the Lincoln County Bank at Chandler, Oklahoma Territory. Cherokee Bill shot and killed a barber who was trying to warn the town. The gang committed many killings and robberies including trains and stagecoaches. In January1895 Ike Rogers, a Cherokee freedman and lawman, caught Cherokee Bill. While in the Fort Smith jail, the outlaw killed a guard in an attempted escape. Goldsby was executed in 1896 in Fort Smith and was buried in Fort Gibson, Indian Territory.

Art T. Burton


Art T. Burton, Black, Red and Deadly: Black and Indian Gunfighters of Indian Territory, 1870–1907 (Austin, Tex.: Eakin Press, 1991).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Art T. Burton, “Goldsby, Crawford,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=GO006.

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