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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Tales of the U.S.Marshal's Marion Prickett - December 15, 1890

Marion Prickett, Possesman

Deputy U.S. Marshal

End of Watch: December 15, 1890

Deputy U.S. Marshal Anderson Keen and his posse, Marion Prickett, had a warrant to arrest a man named Brown.  They learned that Brown had fled into Indian Territory around Tahlequah, the Capitol of the Cherokee Nation.

On Monday, December 15, 1890, Keen and Prickett knocked on the door of a house and were met by a man fitting the description of Brown.  The two men in the house identified themselves as A.B. Smith and Tom Smith. Both men cooperated with the deputies but maintained that they did not know Brown.

Keen and Prickett took both men into custody.  They took the two men to a neighbor’s house, where the neighbor identified the older man as A.B. Smith, stating he was a mason and a good man. Smith then told the deputies he was also a U.S. marshal and suggested they return to his house where he would produce his oath of office.  

Upon arrival back at the house, Smith produced a deputy’s commission issued by Marshal Jacob Yoes. The commission read that is was only for the purpose of arresting Ned Christie, whom Smith told Yoes he knew. Although Keen still believed the suspect was Brown, there was now doubt in his mind and he asked Prickett to join him outside for a conversation.

Both lawmen exited the house leaving the Smith’s inside. After a short conversation, Keen and Prickett went back into the house and were met by A.B. Smith, who was holding a double barrel shotgun.

Smith fired, missing Keen but striking Prickett in the head killing him instantly. Keen grabbed Smith fighting for control of the shotgun. During the scuffle, Smith drew a knife and stabbed Keen repeatedly in the body and the head, breaking the knife.

Keen was knocked onto a bed, breaking it.  Smith yelled to the other man, “Shoot him Tommy” to which Keen replied, “Don’t shoot, I’m already killed” and then Keen passed out.  When Keen regained consciousness, the Smiths were gone. Keen checked Prickett and found him dead, and then went for help.

Keen and several deputies returned to the Smith house to search for anything that would identify these two men. Numerous items were discovered but the most compelling was a cabinet card (photo) found in the house with the inscription “Wesley and Guy Woodson to Tommy D. Shepler” written on the back.  

On April 4, 1892, alias warrants were issued for the arrests of James Smith.

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