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    William "Bill" Tilghman Autograph Letter Signed, "Wm. Tilghman". Two pages with signature on verso of last page, 8.5" x 11", October 18, 1899, Chandler, Oklahoma, on Charles B. Wilson Law Office stationary, in pencil. In the letter Tilghman writes to "Friend Lisson" telling him, "I returned the Rush warrant yesterday and Bebee came in on the noon train raising the devil about it. He wanted to go before the commissioner and make another complaint and the only way I could stop him was to tell him I was going to Muscogee today...I have promised him the warrant would be here...and would have Rush here this afternoon. I told him I had the warrant approved by the U.S. Attorney...If the warrant is not here...I think he will make a new complaint. He says this is a very important case and the Postal Department has instructed him to stay here...[I] would like to make the arrest Monday morning at Stroud...".

    William "Bill" Tilghman became a buffalo hunter at age 15 and claimed he killed over 12,000 bison over his five years of activity. During this time he was acquainted with other legendary figures such as Wild Bill Hickock, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Mysterious Dave Mather.

    Following his hunting career, Tilghman moved to Dodge City, Kansas, where he opened a saloon in 1875. He was present with Wyatt Earp, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, and others during the Dodge City War, and was pictured in one of a series of three photographs taken of those considered to be the "Dodge City Peace Commission".

    In 1878, after serving as a scout for the U.S. Cavalry during a surge of Cheyenne raids on settlements, where he worked alongside the likes of gunman John Joshua Webb, Tilghman was approached by Bat Masterson to serve as a deputy sheriff, and he accepted. He served in that capacity until 1884 and earned an excellent reputation, working at various law enforcement jobs for the rest of his life, earning the respect of Masterson, Doc Holliday, and Wyatt and Virgil Earp. By 1889 Tilghman moved on to Guthrie, Oklahoma, during the land rush. Town Marshal Bill Grimes approached him to serve as deputy marshal, and he accepted.

    The territory had formerly been part of the Indian Territory and was still one of the most lawless places in the west. As a deputy U.S. Marshal, Tilghman was one of the three men most responsible for finally bringing law and order to the area. The others were Heck Thomas and Chris Madsen. The trio were collectively known as the Three Guardsmen and were responsible for the arrest and/or killings of many of the worst criminal elements of the era, numbering by some estimates as high as 300 arrests, including the systematic elimination of the notorious Wild Bunch. On January 15, 1895, his single handed capture of Bill Doolin in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, brought him increased fame as a lawman, for which he became best known. That same year he shot and wounded Doolin gang member "Little Bill" Raidler.

    In 1915, Tilghman co-wrote, directed, and starred in the movie The Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaws, which dramatized his law enforcement activities and those of the other "Guardsmen." The film is noted as an early attempt to de-glamorize the image of outlaws. In 1924, at the age of 70, Tilghman accepted a position as marshal of Cromwell, Oklahoma. He was in the job less than a year before he was killed in the line of duty.

    An admirer, Theodore Roosevelt, once said "Tilghman would charge hell with a bucket".

    Condition: Folds, else very fine.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2009
    23rd-25th Friday-Sunday
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