The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

August 23, 2013

New exhibit on display at Kingfisher museum

KINGFISHER, Okla. — A new exhibit on display at Chisholm Trail Museum in Kingfisher showcases rare artifacts related to U.S. Marshal William D. Fossett.

The exhibit, “William D. Fossett: A Legacy,” features artifacts from the Chisholm Trail era, the 1889 Land Run and the infamous outlaw era of the Oklahoma Territorial years.

Fossett was a cowboy and first land claimant in Kingfisher before becoming a U.S. Marshal for Oklahoma Territory.

Items on display include an original revolver and holster taken from the body of an outlaw who Bill Fossett shot and killed. The holster still has the bullet hole and blood stain from the outlaw. Also on exhibit are a Winchester rifle taken from infamous outlaw Dick Yeager, after he was mortally wounded during one of the largest posse manhunts in Oklahoma Territorial history; original land rush and Oklahoma Territorial documents from 1887-1895; approximately 30 pairs of spurs from the Chisholm Trail and Oklahoma Territorial eras; and original guns from the early 1800s through the late-1800s.

Fossett was born in 1851 and lived in New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Kansas before settling in Kingfisher. He worked as a cowboy on the Chisholm Trail, where his fellow cowboys were shot and killed by bandits. Fossett was the lone survivor, after which he gathered a posse and eventually killed the rest of the bandits. After serving as a law man in Caldwell, Kan., Fossett made the Land Run of 1889 in Kingfisher, becoming the first land claimant in Kingfisher’s history. This claim was solidified by the federal government after several years of litigation, which served as a template for future land claimant battles taken on by the federal government.

Fossett’s reputation as a lawman elevated after he shot and killed a train robber on the Rock Island Railroad in 1884. The robber, Bob Hughes, allegedly was a former member of the infamous Jesse James gang. His gun and holster are on display.

Fossett was appointed chief deputy marshal for Oklahoma Territory in 1887, and then the top U.S. marshal’s post under appointment by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902.

During his nine-year tenure in these positions, Fossett transformed the territorial marshal’s office at Guthrie from one of the most corrupt and costly in the nation, to a model of honesty and efficiency. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marquis James, of Enid, called Fossett “one of the great, though unpublicized, peace officers of the powder-stained Southwest, a man to mention with Wild Bill Hickok and Bat Masterson.”

Also on display at the museum are an American Indian exhibit showcasing rare artifacts, such as beaded moccasins, vests and photographs of the Cheyenne Arapaho tribes, and a Kingfisher Oklahoma Territorial exhibit, which showcases an original journal on loan from the Oklahoma Historical Society from the second territorial governor of Oklahoma Territory, Abraham Jefferson Seay.

For information about Kingfisher Chisholm Trail Museum and upcoming events and programs, go to www.ctokmuseum.org or call (405) 375-5176. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children.

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