Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  Doolin, William M.

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

DOOLIN, WILLIAM M. (1858–1896).

Outlaw William M. "Bill" Doolin was born in Johnson County, Arkansas, in 1858. A son of Michael and Artemina Beller Doolin, he left home in 1881 and became a cowboy in Indian Territory. He worked on ranches in the Unassigned Lands and the Cherokee Outlet and was considered honest and quiet.

Doolin met Emmett Dalton while employed with the Bar X Bar ranch near present Pawnee, Oklahoma. Doolin was involved in a shooting at Coffeyville, Kansas, in July 1891, and joined the Dalton gang shortly thereafter. He participated in railroad robberies at Leliaetta (near Wagoner), Red Rock, and Adair, but he was not present when the gang was overwhelmed at Coffeyville in October 1892.

The Dalton gang's demise resulted in the formation of Doolin's "Wild Bunch." Its members included Bill Dalton, George Waightman, and George Newcomb. After perpetrating crimes in Kansas, the desperados were surrounded by lawmen at Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory (O.T.), on September 1, 1893. The outlaws escaped after killing one marshal and mortally wounding two others. Subsequent robberies were committed at Pawnee and Woodward in 1894 and at Dover in 1895.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman captured Doolin at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, on January 15, 1896, but Doolin escaped from the jail in Guthrie, O.T. He had married Edith Ellsworth in 1893, and she and their son resided at Lawson in present Pawnee County. There, on August 25, 1896, Doolin was killed by a posse under Deputy U.S. Marshal Henry "Heck" Thomas and was buried in Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie.

Jon D. May


Bailey C. Hanes, Bill Doolin, Outlaw O.T. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968).

Bill O'Neal, Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979).

Richard M. Patterson, Historical Atlas of the Outlaw West (Boulder, Colo.: Johnson Books, 1985).

Glenn Shirley, West of Hell's Fringe: Crime, Criminals, and the Federal Peace Officer in Oklahoma Territory, 1889–1907 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978).

Browse By Topic

Government and Politics




The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Jon D. May, “Doolin, William M.,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=DO007.

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.