Bill Tilghman: 1854-I924
U. S. Marshal
|Although he was a crack shot and had dealt
successfully with a lot of vicious outlaws, Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman
didn't believe in unnecessary gunplay. In that respect, he typified the
great lawmen of the West far more than legend might lead one to believe.
Most successful lawmen realized the futility of trying to match wits and
skills with a trigger-happy outlaw. A good reputation as an accurate marksman,
backed by the awesome power of a shotgun, were often the best and only
allies of a Western sheriff.
Before he became a U. S. marshal, Tilghman - who was born in 1854 at Fort Dodge, Iowa - worked as a buffalo hunter, a saloon owner, and a police officer in Dodge City, Kansas. In 1889 he was hired as a deputy U.S. marshal for the Oklahoma Territory, which soon became the hangout of the deadly Bill Doolin gang of bank and train robbers. Doolin was a member of the infamous Dalton gang, which he had reorganized after the 1892 Coffeyville bank raid.
Among the deputy U.S. marshals that were
put on the trail of the Doolin gang were Tilghman, Heck Thomas, and Chris
Madsen, who soon became famous throughout the West as the Three Guardsmen.
In 1893 Madsen
After Oklahoma was admitted to the Union
in 1907, Bill Tilghman was elected a state senator and later served as
police chief of Oklahoma City. Upon retirement he agreed to become marshal
of the oil-boom town of Cromwell, Oklahoma. And so, in 1924, the 70-year-old
Tilghman once again pinned on his badge and strapped on his gun. Three
months later he was gunned down in the street by an unknown assassin.