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Barger Family History Society


HUSBAND: John S. BARGER Born: 1 Apr 1861 Place: Tippah Co., MS Marr: 18 Jul 1882 Place: Carroll Co., TN Died: 26 Apr 1938 Place: Muskogee, OK Burial: Greenhill Cemetery Place: Muskogee, OK Father: William O. BARGER, Sr. See Family Group Sheet 10066 Mother: Catherine Louise GRAY
WIFE: Dollie VICKERS Born: 20 Feb 1863 Place: Carroll Co., TN Died: Place: Muskogee, OK Burial: Greenhill Cemetery Place: Muskogee, OK Father: William R. VICKERS Mother: Martha _____
CHILDREN: 1. Name: Sammie Eva (a/k/a Evelyn)BARGER Born: ca. 1885 Place: TN Marr: To: Died: Place: Muskogee, OK 2. Name: Born: Place: Marr: To: Died: Place:


(A) John S. Barger was Sheriff of Muskogee Co., OK

(B) He resided at 416 E. Okmulgee, Muskogee, OK

(C) This family is descended from George Henry Berger of Rowan Co., NC.

Descendants of George Henry Berger

(D) Obituary: Copied from Muskogee Daily Phoenix, Muskogee, Oklahoma 27 Apr 1938 p. 1, col. 1 & p. 4, col. 4.


Defeated "Uncle Bud" Ledbetter for Nomination; Re-elected in 1914

Partner Killed in Texas

Widely Known Muskogeean Came to City for Visit in 1902; Became Resident

Jno. S. Barger, 77, former Muskogee county sheriff and a resident of this city for the past 36 years, died at 6:45 o'clock yesterday evening at his home, 416 Okmulgee avenue. Barger had been in ill health for several months.

Barger was born in the state of Mississippi, in 1860, and moved with members of his family to the state of Illinois in 1866, when he was 6 years old. Two years later, the Barger family removed to Lexington, Tenn., where Barger lived until he was a young man.

Came to City in 1902

Later, he moved to Hillsboro, Texas where he was employed in the cotton buying business. In the spring of 1902, he came to Muskogee to visit his mother and brother, both of whom lived here and who were ill. He liked the town so well that he remained.

Barger was employed by the Spaulding Mercantile Co. as manager of its gin, then located on the site of the old M. O. and G. railroad station, and later was employed by the Patterson Mercantile Co. In 1914, he was elected sheriff of Muskogee county, defeating the late J. F. "Uncle Bud" Ledbetter, pioneer Oklahoma peace officer who died recently, in the democratic primary, and defeating W. S. Harsha, the republican nominee in the general election by a vote of 2336 to 2199.

In 1916, he was renominated for a second term, and in the general election defeated a republican, F. J. Bays, by a vote of 3323 to 2165.

In 1918, Barger sought a third term as sheriff, but was defeated by Sheriff Jim Robbins, who served two terms, retired and was succeded by Ledbetter.

Employed as Speed Officer

After his defeat for a third term as sheriff, Barger was employed by the county commissioners as "speed officer" to curb the then-growing autombile menace and was given a county patrol car to cruise country roads and highways and force respect for traffic laws.

Since 1928, he had been employed as bailiff by Judge Enlo V. Vernor, who has been on the county or district bench all of that time. It was in connection with his duties as county speed officer that Barger lived through one of his most harrowing experiences as a peace officer - that of watching while desperadoes shot a fellow officer to death. Barger himself was chained to a tree.

On May 19, 1924, the county's "speed patrol" car was stolen from the Koehler garage by Dave and Bill Lawrence, young Muskogee desperadoes who lived with their mother in Muskogee.

Bill Lawrence had just finished serving a sentence in the state penitentiary at McAllister for robbery of a freight car at Ft. Gibson, and the pair was wanted for auto theft in Durant, Okmulgee, Bristow, Ardmore, and Henryetta and was suspected of several robberies in Muskogee.

Youths Caught in El Paso

After several unsuccessful attempts to catch them here, Sheriff Ledbetter was notified on June 24, 1924, that the pair had been apprehended at El Paso, Texas on the Mexican border, and sent Barger and Deputy sheriff Joe Morgan after them.

Morgan and Barger left Muskogee on the Katy train on Friday the 13th.

After taking charge of the prisoners, Barger and Morgan started back with them in the county's car. Barger was driving and Morgan was in the rear seat with Dave and Bill Lawrence.

Barger said that he did not know how the boys got Morgan's gun, but he heard a shot, looked around and found himself peering in the barrel of a revolver held in Dave Lawrence's hand.

Morgan had slumped to the floor, shot through the head.

After shooting Morgan, the boys forced Barger to walk off the road into a woods, handcuffed him to a tree and escaped again in the county's car.

Barger shouted until he attracted attention of a ranch worker, who refused to aid him until officers arrived and rescued him. He then went to Ft. Worth, where he organized a posse of Tarrant county officers and took up the trail. Sheriff Ledbetter took several Muskogee county officers to Texas to join the hunt, but the Lawrence boys later were seen near Council Hill, in Muskogee County.

Sheriff Recalled Events

Barger returned to Muskogee the next day with Morgan's body.

Barger was handcuffed to the tree for three hours - from 7 a.m. until 10 o'clock. It was 11 o'clock when he reached Fort Worth.

He said the Lawrence boys taunted him, telling him they had informed him he would never bring them back, rifled his pockets of money, tobacco and other belongings, and then shackled him.

Sheriff Barger told this story:

"We left Sanderson, Texas Sunday afternoon where the two prisoners had been given over to us by the officers of that place. The Lawrence boys were not known to be hardboiled. Joe and I had known them since they were knee-high to a duck. We never imagined for a minute there would be any trouble on that long trip home. We were making the trip in the car the boys had stolen, and in which they were headed for Mexico.

"I didn't realize what had happened when I heard the report of the pistol until I har Bill Lawrence tell me to "Put 'em up." I put up my hands. Morgan had slumped down in his seat. Blood was flowing from his head. He never moved a muscle. He was dead. The car, going at a rate of at least 20 miles an hour, crashed into a fence. It righted itself and mowed down fence posts for 30 or 40 yards, then it stopped."

Lifts Body from Auto

"Bill Lawrence handed his gun to his brother. He forced me to help lift Joe's body to the seat. a car sped by just as this thing was done. Fearing my own life would be taken, I made no outcry. Babe Lawrence had the gun pointed at me. He took my pistol from the front seat pocket of the car. After he had shifted Morgan's body to the back seat, Bill Lawrence took the wheel. I was forced to the back seat to watch Joe's body.

"The younger Lawrence boy climbed into the front seat with his brother and held the gun on me. He got out after he had driven about a quarter of a mile, and opened a gate to a ranch. Driving in, Bill Lawrence ran quickly to a thicket. He had gone about 200 yards when he stopped. The boys forced me to get out. They made me put my hands around a tree, and placed handcuffs on my wrists. Then they unloaded Joe's body about eight feet from me, jumped into the car, turned around and sped toward Fort Worth."

Bill Lawrence later was hanged in Arizona and Dave, "Babe" Lawrence is serving a life term in Texas for Morgan's death. Barger and G. H. Hettick, now a deputy county clerk, then civil deputy sheriff, were witnesses in both trials.

Barger and Mayor J. E. Wyand, accused by a grand jury for alleged failure to enforce liquor and gambling laws, were aquitted by a jury in 1917. They were procecuted by the late S. P. Freeling, then attorney general.

Funeral services are incomplete, but will be announced later by Guipel Funeral Home.

Survivors include the widow, Mrs. Laura M. Barger, five nephews, Dave, W.B. Bruce of Muskogee, Lytton of Topeka, Kan., Ralph of Oak Park, Ill., and Ray of Kansas City, MO., and five nieces, Mrs. Nina Ivy, Mempjhis, Mrs. Kate Haggard, Mrs. W. B. Harris, Mrs. B. T. Jeurgens, and Mrs. W. H. Gott, all of Muskogee.


(1) Carroll Co., TN Marriages - Vol 3, pg. 333 (LDS Film #0944057)
(2) 1870 U. S. Census of Henderson Co., TN
(3) 1880 U. S. Census of Henderson Co., TN
(4) 1918 City Directory of Muskogee, OK, pub. Phoenix Pub. Co., 1918
(5) Goodspeed History of TN (Henry Co., TN) indicates 
John S. Barger owned stores in Paris, TN, and in Bargerton 
in Henderson Co., TN. 
(6) Greenhill Cemetery, 1500 N. York, Muskogee, OK  74403
(7) Obituary containing photograph, Muskogee Times Democrat, dated 27 Apr 1938, p. 1, col. 6.
(8) Obituary from Muskogee Daily Phoenix, Muskogee, Oklahoma 27 Apr 1938 p. 1, col. 1 & p. 4, 
col. 4 (See full text above)


DONAHUE, Susan Barger, 411 East Roosevelt Road, Wheaton, IL 60187-5564

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