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Nowata County, Oklahoma



We have always heard that David Franklin “Buck” George was the first Police Chief of Nowata.  However, after we started this special project, at the request of present Chief of Police, Richard Miller, we saw right off that there had been many others that held that title before Mr. George.  I think perhaps this first Police Chief Honor went to Mr. George, because he was the first Police Chief after Nowata became a “First Class City”, on the 8th day of August, 1908.


Nowata’s first Town Marshal (sometime before 1883) was Lewis Cass Coker, and after that time, we found several men that served either as U.S. Marshal, Deputy U.S. Marshal, Special Marshal, or Town Marshal, in Nowata County , I.T.  Some of the men were: J.E. Campbell, Johnson Fulson, George Goodell, E.D. Jackson, James Franklin Ledbetter, J.S. Maloney, James Mayes, E.A. Parker, Pleas Thompson, M.E. Welch, and John Wilson.



Two Municipal Governments in Nowata 1898


The town was incorporated under Federal Government in 1898, at which time Mr. Ben Scoville was elected mayor.

Two municipal governments existed in Nowata for awhile with many conflicts arising and one ending in serious results.  The government under the Cherokee regime was to some extent dominated by a lawless desperate class.

Johnson Fulsom, or Johnson Push as he was called, was a Choctaw Indian who had been raised in the Cherokee Nation and was a City Marshal, until he became so reckless and lawless that he was discharged in his drunken debauch.  He would ride through the streets and over sidewalks into the stores on his horse, flourishing and shooting off his revolver, resisting arrest.


In order to put an end to such a lawless state of affairs, the municipal government under the Federal authorities secured the services of a fearless man as their City Marshal from the outside, namely, Mr. Goodell.  The rowdies of the town determined to get rid of Mr. Goodell and get him out of town but he resisted their opposition and stood his ground until conditions became unbearable.  The time came when one of the two government factions would dominate.  In the mix-up Mr. Goodell killed Mr. Fulsom and his brother on November 13, 1898.  The town was divided, some siding with and some siding against Mr. Goodell, who was afterwards convicted in the Federal Court at Wagoner and sentenced to the penitentiary for twenty years.  Not long after his conviction, he was granted a pardon by President Roosevelt.  This affair put an end to the lawlessness in Nowata, I.T., at that time.



John Brown’s was named as Town Marshal, in the earliest book at City Hall, dated April 17, 1899, and he resigned February 11, 1900. 


E.A. Parker was named Town Marshal serving for a short time from February 11 until August 1, 1900. 


Charles L. Gabriel served as Town Marshal from August 15 until he resigned on September 19, 1900.

Charles died November 13, 1942, at 72 years of age, and is buried in Nowata Memorial Park Cemetery. 


Abraham Du Russell served as a temporary Town Marshal from September 19 to November 5, 1900.

Abraham died at age 77, on April 24, 1938, and is buried in Nowata Memorial Park Cemetery.


E.A. Parker became Town Marshal again on November 5, 1900 and his length of service is unknown. 


John Brown's name appears again as Town Marshal sometime in 1901, and he resigned January 1, 1902.


Joe Icenogle took over from January 1, 1902 until August 7, 1902.


Sam Edmonds became Town Marshal from August 7, 1902 until April 20, 1903.


George W. Carter served as Town Marshal from April 20, 1903 until June 20, 1904.

George passed away August 31, 1918, at age 70, and is buried in Nowata Memorial Park Cemetery. 


James P. Gibson was City Marshal from June 20, 1904 and remained in office until November 4, 1905. 


Dick Thompson's name appears as City Marshal from November 4 to December 4, 1905. 


Bill Titterington was City Marshal from December 4, 1905 until April 16, 1906.


James P. Gibson was back in office from April 16, 1906 until April 22, 1907.


William A. Kessinger was appointed to succeed Gibson as City Marshal on April 22, 1907.  Kessinger presented his resignation on August 24, 1907.  Nothing is mentioned as who was appointed for the next City Marshal until at the October 7, 1907 council meeting it was reported that D.A.Warner continues as day officer and they named A.N. Moore to be the Night Marshal.


A.N. Moore was elected by council as City Marshal and Chief of Police, on November 2, 1907, then on December 23, 1907 the resignation of A.N. Moore, Chief of Police was received and by vote of the council was accepted.


Atwood T. Riley’s application for Chief of Police was received at council meeting on December 23, 1907 and a vote was taken by the council and he was declared elected.  He was defeated in the July 17, 1908 election by David Franklin “Buck” George.

On November 13, 1942, Atwood passed away at age 72, and is buried in Nowata Memorial Park Cemetery.


EDITORS NOTE: The following article provides details about Nowata becoming a “First Class City”, with four wards and the law provided for two councilmen per ward.  At that time, there were only 6 councilmen.  The city election was held on July 17, 1908 and the new officials took over their jobs.  Then on August 14, 1908 they officially welcomed Nowata in as a First Class City ”.  We provided the information that is enclosed in (    ).



The Nowata Advertiser, August 14, 1908



Without pomp or ceremony the new mayor and members of the city council took the oath of office Tuesday night (August 11th), and Nowata became a City of the First Class.  Governor Haskell’s proclamation (8th day of August 1908), was received the first of the week and the retiring administration lost no time in turning over the reins of government.  W.E. Roberts, of the first ward, was the only councilman absent.  City Clerk (H.G.) Garnett was in Kansas City and Treasurer-elect (W.R.) Brady was unable to be present.  Messrs Roberts, Brady, and Garnett will take the oath of office at a later date.  Retiring Mayor (G.W.) Ellis administered the oath of office to City Attorney (W.J.) Campbell Mr. Campbell did a similar service for Mayor (J.C.) Denton , Chief of Police (David Franklin “Buck”) George, Street Commissioner (J.P.) Gibson, Police Judge (J.E.) Bennett and the aldermen from the four wards of Nowata.  A.H. Gillespey and D.L. Byron councilmen from 4th ward, B.H. Robertson and Matt McCormack councilmen from the 3rd ward, J.J. Riner, and W.F. Gillespey councilmen from the 2nd ward, W.A. Whitford from 1st ward, W.E. Roberts was not present).  Mayor Denton’s first official action was the appointment of an ordinance committee to  draft an ordinance regulating salaries, bonds, fees and prescribing the exact duties of all officials of the city.  Messrs Robertson of 3rd ward, Riner and Gillespey of 2nd ward, were appointed on this committee.

The new ordinance was submitted last evening at another special meeting, and passed as an emergency measure.  The bonds of all the officials were approved and now Nowata is “merrily on her way” as a city of the first class.  Mayor Denton’s second official act began with a declaration of good faith in his councilmen.  It was his duty to name the assistant Chief of Police and there were numerous applications….there were henchmen, with an ax to grind, there, too.  “I desire that this matter be fully discussed by the councilmen” said the Mayor, “that I may be advised of their wishes.  Therefore, we will go into executive session until after the appointment is made.”

The name of Charles Palmer was elected from among the list submitted.  Palmer is regarded as a good man and had strong recommendations.


Statement by Police Chief

“You may say for me that the laws will be enforced.”  Says Police Chief (Buck) George to The Advertiser.  “All offenders will look alike to me.  The first thing I am going to do is to keep small boys off the street.  They must obey the curfew law.”


David Franklin “Buck” George was elected Chief of Police of Nowata on July 17, 1908, and the citizens of Nowata were very proud to have him and celebrated him “on the rails” down main street.  His term ended on May 1, 1911.  He also served as a Nowata deputy sheriff for many years.  He was the Chief of Police at Chelsea , OK ,  

1935 and 1936.  Overall, “Buck” George served as a peace officer for 39 years.

He died at age 76, August 2, 1945, and is buried in Nowata Memorial Park Cemetery.


John A. Cansdell was elected Chief of Police on May 1, 1911 and served until 1913.  He was a song writer and a poet.  John was 61 years old at his death, October 5, 1928, and is buried in Nowata Memorial Park Cemetery.


Charley Henry Strait served as Chief of Police from 1913 until 1917.


H.A. Murray was Chief of Police from 1917 through September 3, 1918


William F. Davis served as Chief of Police from September 3, 1918 until he resigned April 5, 1921.


H.A. Murray held the office of Chief of Police temporarily from April 5, 1921 to May 1, 1921.


Henry B. Lowrey was appointed Chief of Police on May 1, 1921, and he succeeded in cleaning up the town to a large extent and put a stop to the liquor traffic.  His term ended December 1, 1930.  He served as a Nowata Sheriff from Jan 1931 until he was killed in the line of duty on August 8, 1936.  Henry died at age 61, and is buried in Nowata Memorial Park Cemetery.


Julius C. Payne served as Chief of Police from December 1, 1930 to May 2, 1937.  Julius died at age 71 on October 9, 1942, and is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Vinita. 


Lee “Ole Hickory Wallace was Chief of Police from May 2, 1937 until his resignation January 1947.

Lee was 72 when he passed away on February 5, 1955, and is buried in Nowata Memorial Park Cemetery.


Edgar Richard “Dick” Bean served as Chief of Police from January 1, 1947 until he resigned March 1, 1948

At 64 years old, Dick passed away November 23, 1971, and is buried in Nowata Memorial Park Cemetery.


Otis Munson became Chief of Police on March 8, 1948 and served until February 15, 1949.  Otis died on June 28, 1980 at 70 years of age, and he is buried at Nowata Memorial Park Cemetery


Arthur Stookey took over as Chief of Police February 15, 1949 and served until January 12, 1950.

Arthur died at age 80, on August 6, 2001, and is buried at Nowata Memorial Park Cemetery.


Roy Furrow became Chief of Police on January 12, 1950 and served until March 15, 1954. 


Joe Heatley started as Chief of Police on March 15, 1954, and he resigned April 30, 1962.


William Glen “Bill” Cody served as Chief of Police from May 1, 1962 until May 31, 1976. 


Nowata Star May 27, 1976 The title of Assistant Chief of Police will be dropped effective June 1, 1976.  Instead, one officer (Walter Parrish) will be placed in charge of training, and another officer (Elven Berry ) will be in charge of operations.


Walter Parrish took over as Chief of Police (charge of Training) June 1, 1976 and served until April 1, 1979, when he resigned to take an Investigator job.


Elven Berry took over as Chief of Police (charge of Operations) June 1, 1976 and served until his retirement February 1979.  Elven died on September 5, 1997, at age 83, and is buried in Nowata Memorial Park Cemetery.


Donnie Long became Chief of Police April 1, 1979 (replacing Walter Parrish).  Donnie resigned as Chief on August 31, 1979, but remained as acting Chief, until a replacement was found, then be became assistant Chief.


Bill Simmons became Chief of Police October 16, 1979 and he resigned August 1, 1980.


Charles A. Mallory became Chief of Police August 4, 1980 and was terminated October 4, 1982.


George Gay served a short time as Chief of Police, from October 4, 1982 to December 6, 1982.


Mike Richardson became Chief of Police December 6, 1982 and continued until he resigned July 7, 1985.


Robert Parks took over as acting Chief of Police on July 7, 1985, and he was appointed Chief by September 7, 1985.  Robert’s service ended December 31, 1987.


Darryl Hayes became Chief of Police by January 1, 1988 and served until September 12, 1988.


Bill Cody became Chief of Police September 12, 1988 and served until May, 1990.

August 11, 2008, at the age of 85, Bill passed away and is buried in the Relocated Cemetery in Nowata.    


Tim Wilson became acting Chief of Police May, 1990, and was appointed Chief August, 1990, then he resigned on August 14, 1996.


Marvin Vandever was hired as Chief of Police on September 3, 1996 and served until sometime in 1998.


Will Hadley became acting Chief of Police sometime in 1998 and served until October 9, 1998.


Bill Tate was Chief of Police from October 9, 1998 until December 4, 2000.


Brad Boyles was Chief of Police from December 4, 2000 until June, 2006.


Will Hadley was acting Chief of Police from June, 2006 until February 1, 2007.


Richard Miller took over as Chief of Police February 1, 2007 and still is Chief as of March, 2010.


EDITORS NOTES: The city records were not always clear as to the time served by each of these persons, Carroll, and Nita have tried their best to provide some kind of record for the Chief of Police that have served the City of Nowata.