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The Death of Henry Oats

Henry Oats' Grave

The Fairfax Chief, 1925

Earl Jarrett, Escaped Convict, Was Man Who Fired Bullet Causing Oat's Death

     The story of the killing as related to a reporter for the Fairfax Chief by W.W. Thompson, enforcement officer in charge of this work in west Osage county, is substantially as follows:

     "We were driving south between DeNoya and Burbank on the afternoon of Feb. 5th, when we noticed car tracks turning off on a byroad east, just reaching the crossing about a quarter of a mile south of what is known as the Henry Cornett place."

     "After seeing the tracks, we drove the car into the sand and gravel bottom of the creek and parked it under the bank, then went back and followed the car tracks up the creek. Oats had stopped while Graves and I went on until we came upon the man and two women with the car."

     "They had driven the car into the creek and Jarrett was standing on the axle, washing the car. We questioned him, asking where his tags were and he responded that he had a tag on the rear but had lost it. The car was a four-door Ford sedan. Upon asking where the party lived, they answered "Shidler", and I queried him as to why he was down there in the creek washing the car."

     "When asked about the motor number of the engine, Jarrett jumped across and opened the hood on the opposite side, and note where the numbers are located; after telling him to read the number, I asked for it again, and he could not give me the same number. We realized that then the car was no doubt a stolen machine and ordered him to drive out of the creek. Oats, Graves and I watched him closely, Jarrett was in his shirt sleeves to see if he was armed, and could not see any gun upon him. We three pushed the car to aid in getting it up the steep bank."

     "I told Oats to get into the car and for them to drive down to the point where our car was parked. I believe one of the women slipped the gun to Jarrett while we were pushing the car out of the creek. Jarrett drove down to where our car was parked, Graves and I following behind afoot."

     "Graves remarked that he thought he heard a shot, but I thought it sounded more like the slamming shut of a car door; then a second shot and after that a fusillade of shots and we started running toward the car, which was out of sight."

     "Bill, He's Killed Me," was Oats words and while I asked him where the fellow had gone, he continued to ask that I hurry to a doctor, as he believed his wound a mortal one, and he kept saying, "Get, me a doctor; and I'm dying."

     "Jarrett took Oats rifle, and from information we received, the women held Oats while Jarrett made a run across the creek and got away. I took Oats in the government car and rushed to Fairfax as fast as possible, and had Graves take charge of the two women and Ford car."

     "Graves then drove to DeNoya and secured additional help, after which he brought the women and the car into Fairfax, where the women were placed in jail."

     "During the time Thompson was questioning Jarrett, while at the creek, the latter said his name was Hudson and the O'Connor woman, who is a sister of the escaped convict, also said her name was Hudson, claiming she was the wife of the man."

     "After keeping the women here overnight they were taken to Pawhuska on the county charges, but were released, where upon a federal charge to conspiracy was placed to them and awaiting development."

     "Only one shot was fired by Jarrett, this was from a 45 pistol, and entered Oats body just above the hip on the right side and passed through the body. The bullet fell out of his clothing onto the floor when his clothes were removed."

     "Earl Jarrett was sent up from Osage county about a year ago for a period of 25 years on a charge of being implicated in the robbing of the Burbank Bank. He in company with four others, made a sensational escape from the penitentiary on the night of January 8th, when the electric lighting system and the charged wire of the wall were put out of commission."

     "Oats had fired at the fleeing man six times, but owning to the facts that the women interfered, his shots did no good,"

     "Those in the party of officers were Thompson, Oats and O.Z. Graves all in federal services."

     Henry Oats had been a peace officer most of his life, and it is said of him that from his earliest manhood he always gave every possible assistance to officers in upholding the law. He had been in the federal service for about six years, coming to Fairfax October 25, 1923, to work under Thompson. Before coming here he was stationed at Centrahoma, Oklahoma,

     Funeral service over the remains were held Sunday morning from the Christian church, with Grayhorse lodge A.F. & A.M. having charge of the service. Oats was a member of this order. The body was followed by a large concourse of friends and pallbearers were fellow officers who had served with Oats.

     During his lifetime, Oats had been in many a predicament through his efforts to perform his duty as an officer, and had suffered serious wounds at the hands of law-breakers. While acting in such a capacity at Asher, Oklahoma, he received his first wound, and again when he was marshal of Tupelo, Oklahoma, he was shot from ambush, recovering from these two wounds only to fall before the gun of one of Oklahoma's worst desperados.


     Henry Oats was born in Hamilton county, Texas, Dec. 27, 1871, and died Feb 6, 1925, being 54 years, 1 month and ten days of age. He came to Oklahoma in 1896 and followed the life of a cowboy until he became a peace officer at Tupelo, Okla., in 1908. While acting in a similar capacity at Centrahoma, Oklahoma he met and wed Mrs. Willie Tiner in 1915.

     Mar. 27, 1925---Jarrett pleaded guilty.

Earl Jarrett Caught

     Earl Jarrett, alleged slayer of Henry Oats, federal enforcement officer of Fairfax, Okla., was brought in to the Osage County jail Friday afternoon, Feb. 25, 1925, about 5:30 o'clock from a point near Bartlesville, Okla., where he was captured that morning by federal officers. In the party of federal men who accompanied Jarrett to Pawhuska and who was members of the party that captured him were Officers Hubbard, Pile, Moore, Thompson, Hicks and Crowe.

     Jarrett had a wound in his left arm which necessitated carrying it in a sling. He was alleged to have stated that he received the wound from the gun of Oats in the gun fight between the two which occurred February 5th, 1925, and which resulted in the death Oats.

     Jarrett was captured at a cabin not far from Nowata, Okla., by a combination of officers in the federal and county service. The surrounded the cabin were they believed he had taken refuge and commanded him to come out. A Negro woman appeared at the door and told the officers that Jarrett was not there. They repeated their demands that he come out, whereupon Jarrett appeared with one hand in the air and the other concealed in a sling.

     The Osage County officers were notified but the federal officers took the responsibility of bringing Jarrett to the Osage county jail where he was held on a charge of murder. Jarrett was an escaped convict from the Oklahoma penitentiary, the first of five to be recaptured following a sensational escape from the institution in January, 1925.

     The killing of Oats occurred on Salt Creek midway between DeNoya and Fairfax, Okla. Federal officers O.Z. Graves, W.W. Thompson and Henry Oats ran across a car in the creek with a man, the apparent owner, washing it. Two girls in the party, one of whom was in the car and the other on the bank of the creek. The stranger came to the bank at once when commanded to do so and an inspection of the car convinced the officers that the car had been stolen. Oats was placed in charge of the car and the girls were put in the rear seat. The stranger, whom the officers did not know to be Earl Jarrett, riding in the seat with Oats. Driving over a knoll out of sight of Thompson and Graves, Jarrett was alleged to have shot Oats in the side and to have gotten away with the high-powered rifle belonging to the officer. Oats fired four or five shots at Jarrett, one of which it appeared struck him in the hand.

     Jarrett had the reputation of being a particularly ferocious character.