Posts Tagged ‘Joe Wolfenberger’

Cause of Oscar Hunt’s Death

March 16, 2010

I spent some time researching the cause of Oscar Hunt’s death. First, I thought if I could locate his death certificate, I would find out what caused his death. I quickly learned that death certificates were not issued in Oklahoma till later that year and were not required then. It was some time that death certificates were routinely issued in Oklahoma.

Next, I thought if I could locate the court records, they might contain something about his death. Because newspaper articles stated that his case was in Federal Court at Afton, Oklahoma, I contacted the Northern District Court in Tulsa. Their clerk informed me that the court did not exist until 1922 and referred me to the Eastern District Court in Muskogee. Their records don’t start until later in 1907 and a quick check of their card file found nothing. The clerk suggested that I contact the county court. Since Afton is split between two counties, Jay and Ottawa, it was necessary to contact both of them. Unfortunately, they had no records prior to statehood. A clerk did recommend that I contact the Muskogee Court House because that court was older than many others. Muskogee had nothing prior to statehood, either.

No one seems to know if records for trials that took place in Indian Territory still exist and, if they do, where they are preserved. My next stop is at the National Archives in Fort Worth. I fear that finding Hunt’s legal records will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The End of Oscar Hunt

March 6, 2010

Steve Hawkins and a volunteer researcher at Oklahoma Historical Society located some 1907 newspaper articles related to Oscar Hunt’s untimely demise and sent copies of them to me. What a treasure trove of information that package included! They found some pieces from the Miami, Oklahoma Record-Herald and the Afton Climax from March and April of 1907. These short news reports help shed light on what happened.

The first one, dated March 1, 1907, in its entirety said, “Oscar Hunt is under arrest for the killing of Joe Wolfenberger in the Seneca nation last Saturday night.” Now we know that Hunt had indeed been arrested for murder as well as when and where it took place.

Two weeks later, the Afton Climax reported on Oscar’s preliminary hearing after which he was released on $1,000 bond, which he furnished. None of the witnesses, who had apparently been with Hunt and Wolfenberger on a drinking binge, could remember none of the details of the drunken fight on the way home from Tiff City that left Wolfenberger dead.

That day’s Record-Herald provided more detail. The farmers were returning to the Seneca Nation from Tiff City, Missouri “…in inebriated condition when they and “stopped in a hollow to camp and complete their carousal.” Oscar Hunt was bound over to the next federal grand jury and “…in the meantime Hunt will have time to look over his situation in the innermost depths of the Vinita jail.”

Two weeks after that, the Afton Climax blared, “Oscar Hunt Gone Insane.” Perhaps he had probed his innermost depths of his being, reflected upon what he may have done and couldn’t handle having killed someone while drunk. So distraught was he that “It is reported that it takes several men to hold him and it is probable that he will be taken to some asylum soon, should his condition not improve.” He was released on bail to go to his home near Cayuga.

The final episode came two weeks later when the Record-Herald reported that Oscar Hunt had died. More research will be needed to find out the cause of death.

1906 Carlisle Indians. Oscar Hunt second row, far left.