The two articles below appeared in the August 12th, 1895 edition of the Nowata Advertiser. The articles and photograph were donated to the museum by Cleone (Moreland) Birdsell, granddaughter of W.R. Moreland (see photo).
BLOODY TRAGEDY August 12-1895 Nowata the Scene of a Terrible Fight ONE MAN IS DEAD And Three More Dangerously Wounded as a Result of the Encounter.—Walker and McGurl Brothers the Participants
Monday afternoon a fearful conflict with revolvers and rocks in this city resulted in the death of James McGurl, the serious wounding of Bud McGurl and Jeff Walker and, probably the wounding of Fayette Walker. About 2 p.m. a party of serven or eight men, including James, Charles and Bud McGurl, all of Lenapah and vicinity, rode into town and ordered dinner at the Exchange Restaurant. The party, or nearly all of them were heavily armed with revolvers, some of which were left at the city drug store. They claimed to be hunting cattle and were stopped for dinner. Other reports had them here to attend a big horse race which was matched for the afternoon. However some of the citizens feared trouble and advised City Marshal Fulsom to put on a strong guard. This he had just started to do when the first shot was fired. At the time James McGurl stood leaning against a post of the porch in front of the Exchange Restaurant while the rest of the party were within awaiting dinner. Jeff Walker approached from the west, wearing a coat and holding his right hand undercover of it. As Walker stepped upon the porch Turner, the barber, jokingly remarked the way he carried his arm and was answered in the same manner. Almost instantly and without warning, as explosives ignite from heat, the fight was on. Who uttered the first word, who struck the first blow, who fired the first shot, are matters of diversity of opinions. James and Jeff grappled and Bud and Charles McGurl rushed from the restaurant to the assistance of their brother with Bud in the lead. He at once wrenched a revolver from Walker’s hand, which revolver had been removed from under the coat and clubbed by Walker. Fayette Walker then came running across the street from the livery barn with revolver in hand. Bud ceased beating Jeff upon the head with revolver and prepared for the new comer. Only an instant did the two infuriated men glare at each other, then revolvers spoke almost instantaneously, other guns flashed upon the scene and for several moments the air was filled with flying lead. When the smoke cleared away Jim lay dying, having been struck by a ball in the right chest which ranged entirely through, coming out in the region of the vertebra, another struck Bud in the groin dangerously if not fatally wounding him, while Fayette is thought to have received a ball in the right arm. The cartridges of some becoming exhausted the guns were abandoned and huge rocks were buried with the zest of madmen. Fayette Walker rushed to Ringo’s hardware and forcibly secured ammunition. He was taken in charge by several men and led to the barn from whence he soon mounted a horse and made his escape.
In the meantime Jeff’s skull had been crushed by a revolver and his jaw broke by a rock. City Marshall Fulsom, M. M. Couch, Will Ross and others did excellent work in quieting the disturbance and finally succeeded. The terrible affair is the result of a fued between the two factions which dates back to July 4th, 1894, when Marshall Walker, the youngest of the brothers, engaged in a fight with McGurl’s hired hand at a celebration near Lenapah. This quarrel was taken up by friends and relations on both sides, and numerous caustic encounters have followed, the most recent being the one between Fayette and Charles at Goose Neck. It is said that Walkers were anxious to have this settle the trouble, and Jim who was the most peacable and best liked McGurl agreed, but Bud and Charles were not willing, and sent word for the Walkers “to prepare to die for we are coming down to kill you, or if we fail to burn the town.” Walkers returned the message, “We have avoided all the trouble we could and now we will not avoid any trouble we can have.” Prior to this Chas. McGurl came down from Kansas City, the former home of the McGurls and where he had recently been employed on the police force. He thought ot take a hand in the difficulty. He had just been discharged from the *** of the A. P. A. element because of his Catholic proclivities. James McGurl died Tuesday at 2 a.m. He was the only married man in the fray, the rest being old bachelors. His wife was visiting in Kansas City, to which place he was taken Tuesday evening for interment. We learn from parties at Lenapah where James had many friends, that he was not a bad man and this was the first fight in which they had every known him to participate. They gave the other boys a bad name. Bud was taken to Kansas City for medical treatment. Jeff Walker is recovering, still his wounds are painful and somewhat dangerous. Marshal Lawson of Ft. Smith is in the city securing witnesses. The parties engaged in the fight as well as those coming down with the McGurls are under arrest. The whereabouts of Fayette Walker are not known. This is a very sad affair and one which we trust will never again tarnish the escutcheon of our fair city’s history.
In the photo, from left to right: W.R. Moreland, Jim McGurl, Fayette Walker, Jefferson Walker, Mr. Chinn, Charles Dodge, Mr. Craft, and Will Atkinson. The two stores were in the 100 block of East Cherokee Ave. This photo was taken November 12th, 1891. The Shootout occurred in front of the Exchange Restaurant, 100 block of East Delaware Ave. in 1895. (Click the image for a larger view)
FATAL SHOOTING Aug 12-1895 One Man Killed and two Wounded
Last Monday afternoon at about 2 o’clock the quiet and peace of our little city was rudely broken by a quick succession of pistol shots, on Delaware street, and people rushing to the scene of the shooting found three men badly hurt. The shooting, as we understand it, was the outcome of an old grudge existing between the Walker Bros., of this place, and the McGurls, of near Lenapah. These two factions had met and fought several times previously and each time they met the fued was intensified and it continued to grow worse so last Monday when the McGurl boys happed in here for dinner from a cow hunt, the old quarrel was in some manner renewed and the shooting was done as above stated. When the firing *** and the smoke had cleared away it was found that Jim McGurl was fatally wounded and Bud McGurl seriously, he being shot in the groin. The McGurl boys were taken to the Carey hotel and Jeff Walker, who had his head badly cut and his face bone broken, was taken into the Pioneer Drug Store where his wounds were dressed by Doctors Strother and McCormick. Jim McGurl died between the hours of 2 and 3 o’clock Tuesday morning. Bud McGurl was taken on Wednesday evening to the hospital at Kansas City. Jeff Walker is confined to his room at the residence of his brother, Tyne Walker. Fayette Walker is gone and officers are seeking him to effect his arrest. *** prisoner, but owing to the humanity of the officers who had him in charge he was allowed to accompany his dead and wounded brothers to Kansas City. There are so many versions of this affair that we will not attempt to give any at the present time, but will wait for reliable developments as will be brought out by a legal investigation of this sad affair, and then we will not be blamed by any for doing either faction an injustice.