Atoka County, Oklahoma Genealogy
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Jesse Phillips
First Sheriff of Atoka County [Oklahoma]

I was born in Atoka County in 1930 and I knew several of the people mentioned in the Indian Citizen article. I remember Jesse PHILLIPS.  R.O. "Bob" SUMTER was a neighbor as was Kelly FAIN. This brought back memories. Jesse was the first sheriff of Atoka County when OK became a state. He was a friend of my father and visited in our home frequently.

I have been gone from Atoka for many years but I do recall one story about Jesse PHILLIPS that was written up in a magazine in the 50's.  Jesse was sheriff and it was soon after statehood. He got a report of a missing housewife from the community of Buckholz, which was in the south-west part of the county. Jesse investigated and found traces of the woman in the hogpen. apparently the hogs had eaten her. After further investigation, Jesse arrested the woman's husband for murder and took him to the Atoka jail.

Later Jesse got word that a lynch mob was forming and there was talk of taking the prisoner out of the jail and hanging him. After dark, Jesse had some friends and deputies create a diversion, (seems like it was a wagon wreck or something similar) while he took the prisoner to another county, Coalgate, I think. The mob did in fact come to the jail. Jesse let them search the building but of course the prisoner was gone.

Don't recall the final outcome. The title of the story was " The Night The Sheriff Outsmarted The Mob". I believe the story was written by Andrew PHILLIPS, who frequently wrote for the Atoka paper. I donated my copy to the Atoka Museum . If anyone wanted to check my memory of the event, they can contact Gwen Walker, the Director of the Atoka Confederate Museum and I am sure she would make a copy of the article.

 Another anecdote about Jesse just came to mind. Many folks will  remember a major escape attempt from Alcatraz in the 40's. One of the leaders was an Indian man named Clarence CARNES from Atoka. Jesse was instrumental in placing him in prison for armed robber. He ended up in Alcatraz because of his many escape attempts. He served out his time and was released. Last I heard of him he was working on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, within site of Alcatraz.

The Kelly FAIN mentioned in the article was in the Insurance business in Atoka for 50+ years. The FAINS lived directly across the street from my aunt and uncle on W. 4th St. Mrs. FAIN and my aunt were good friends. 

As I stated previously, Jesse was a friend of my father's and may have been a distant relative, as our ancestors came from Lauderdale Co. AL. Jesse later became Warden at the OK State Penitentiary. I still have a couple of old pictures of him.

Submitted by Carl Phillips.


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