Chamber Chatter: Marlow's History, the true story of the Marlow Brothers

by Debbe Ridley

Fair warning! If you were raised in Marlow, attended school here, or EVER lived here, you probably know this information by heart. But, at the beginning of each school year, we always happily welcome new students and neighbors who are curious about the label we are proud to carry --- “The Marlow Outlaws.”

The following excerpt is from an article written by Marlow pioneer and town builder, Dr. R.L. Montgomery in an article in the 1919 Marlow Review, and reprinted in the December 1919 issue of The Oklahoman.

“Four Marlow Boys, Chained Prisoners, Fought Off Mob. By Dr. R.L. Montgomery In Marlow Review. The Marlow boys came to the Indian territory along about 1866 from Texas and located in the vicinity of where Marlow is now. There was a beautiful grove of oak and black jacks here at that time and as the boys stayed here a great deal of the time it was called up to that time Marlow Grove.”

“After the advent of the railroad through Marlow Grove, the Grove part was lapped off.”

“The Marlow boys were five in number and named as follows: Abb [sic], Boone, George, Alf and Charlie, and were said to have been of Gypsy parentage. They lived some of the time in a dugout about six blocks north of our present Main street, now on the railroad right of way.”

“They were a brave, reckless nomadic race of people born and reared on the frontier, without education, culture or refinement, and their association and environment was not calculated to improve morals or to build character, as this Indian Territory had a good many men from the old states who were tired of their old names and had adopted others which they liked better, though that was not the case with the Marlows.”

“Crimes Never Proved. The Marlow boys were accused of many crimes and misdeeds, though nothing was ever proven. Tradition has it that on account of being hunted by the law they sometimes slept on improvised hammocks in the trees, always with a trusty Winchester within easy reach, the use of which they were reputed to be past masters.”

“They emigrated from here to Young county, Texas, and after staying there a year or two Boone was accused of crime, and Sheriff Wallace was killed while undertaking to make his arrest, and he fled from that country. The four other brothers were arrested and imprisoned at Graham in Young country, Texas, for complicity in the theft of which Boone was charged. The charges proved groundless.”

“The minds of some of the citizens became inflamed against the boys for the killing of the sheriff. Excitement ran high and there were rumors of threatened illegal conspiracies against the lives of the boys.”

Now, one hundred and thirty-two years later, Federal Judge A.P. McCormick’s 1890 declaration, after the trial of the conspirators of the Marlow brothers, has come to pass. “The first time in the annals of history where unarmed prisoners, shackles together, ever repelled a mob. Such cool courage that preferred to fight against such great odds and die, if at all, in glorious battle rather than die ignominiously by a frenzied mob deserves to be commemorated in song and story.” And, so it has.

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