William "Bill" Matthew “Bill” Tilghman, Jr (William Matthew Tilghman)

William Matthew “Bill” Tilghman, Jr

Deputy US Marshall and Folk Figure. As a young man growing up, he had no formal education through the school system. He was well trained in all those skills that were necessary for life on the frontier. He left home at the age of fifteen and became a buffalo hunter with his older brother, Richard. Over the next five years he claimed to have killed over 12,000 buffalo. In the mid-1870s, his hunting party was attacked by a band of Indians and his older brother was killed. After ending his career as a hunter he moved to Dodge City, Kansas and became a saloon owner, although he was a teetotaler. While in Dodge City, he was a participant in the Dodge City War with Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Dave Mather. The Cheyenne Indians wet on a raiding surge in September of 1878 and Tilghman signed on with the United States Cavalry as an Indian scout. Later that year, he accepted an offer from Bat Masterson to be his deputy sheriff. By 1889 he had moved on to Guthrie, Oklahoma and was appointed Deputy US Marshall by Judge Isaac Parker (the Hanging Judge). Tilghman, and two other deputy US marshalls, Chris Madsen, and Heck Thomas were known as the Three Guardsmen and were largely responsible for eliminating organized crime in the Oklahoma Territory. Together they accounted for over three hundred arrest and a few killings. One of his more famous accomplishments was his single handed capture of Bill Doolin in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In the early 1900s, he became fed up with the way Hollywood was glamorizing the outlaws of the day. So, he and his friends E D Nix (the US Marshall) and Chris Madsen wrote and starred as themselves in the film, Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaws to show how things really were back then. They even managed to get one of their old outlaw nemesis, Arkansas Tom, released from prison to act as a consultant. He retired from law enforcement in 1910 and was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate. In 1911, he accepted the position of police chief of Oklahoma City. Again he retired, but in 1924, at the age of 70 the, the citizens of Cromwell managed to talk him into cleaning up their corrupt city. He reluctantly took the job as city marshal. In less than a year he had virtually cleaned up the city, but on November 1, 1924 a corrupt, drunken Federal probation officer got into a struggle with him. Wiley Lynn, the corrupt official behind much of the city’s corruption, pulled a concealed weapon and shot him in the stomach. He died 20 minutes later. (bio by: Tom Todd)  Family links:  Parents:  William Matthew Tilghman (1820 – 1908)  Amanda Shepherd Tilghman (1830 – 1915)  Spouses:  Zoe Agnes Stratton Tilghman (1880 – 1964)*  Flora Kendall Tilghman (1861 – 1900)*  Children:  Charles Augustus Tilghman (1878 – 1972)*  Dorothy Norton (1881 – 1973)*  William M Tilghman (1886 – 1953)*  Vonia Tilghman Sikes (1890 – 1927)*  Mayo Tench Tilghman (1905 – 1970)*  Richard L. Tilghman (1907 – 1929)*  Woodrow Wilson Tilghman (1912 – 1981)*  Siblings:  William Matthew Tilghman (1854 – 1924)  Franklin Frances Tilghman (1856 – 1929)*  Hattie Tilghman Cox (1861 – 1905)* *Calculated relationshipCause of death: Shot in the line of duty


  • July, 04, 1854
  • USA


  • November, 11, 1924
  • USA

Cause of Death

  • Shot in the line of duty


  • Oak Park Cemetery
  • Oklahoma
  • USA

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