Footprints in the Dew is the true story of the life of Damon Tucker “Chub” Anderson as told in his own words on film and audiotape. There are people who don’t want this story to be told for many reasons but the ones who want to learn the truth far outnumber them.
Why was E.C. Mullendore murdered and who did it?
Why is the murder still unsolved after 40 years even though a deal had been worked out a few weeks after the murder which would have closed the case?
And why was the Grand Jury that most recently reviewed the case (in 2010), never told of new evidence provided by a private investigator in the case by the Attorney General’s office and the past Osage County D.A. and why was a gag order placed on me immediately after my appearance before that Grand Jury?
Although I fully expect another order to be forthcoming, restricting my comments and some parts of the book, until that happens we will forward and now the prologue to:
“Footprints in the Dew, the Chub Anderson Story”
Osage County is the biggest county in Oklahoma, covering an area as large as Rhode Island and encompassing world-renowned grasslands that have been a Mecca for cattle ranchers for two centuries. Osage County is also famous (or infamous) for the many outlaws who sought refuge in its hills and draws including Pretty Boy Floyd, the Dalton Brothers and Ethan Allen “Al” Spencer, the last of the train robbers in Oklahoma. The Osage is marked both by its majestic beauty and the frequently hostile climate and geography. Savage storms spring up without warning and thickets of scrub oak and rocky slopes make for perilous travel.
In this setting many great fortunes began and several family dynasties were founded. The Phillips brothers of Phillips Petroleum Company (now ConocoPhillips) started their company with oil leases in the Osage alongside the Gettys and the Sinclairs. The early oil boom briefly made the members of the Osage Tribe the richest people in the United States at the time because they controlled the mineral rights throughout the county. Big ranching empires like the 101 and the Chapman-Barnard Ranch flourished and made movie stars out of cowboys like Tom Mix and Ben Johnson, Jr.
At the heart of the Osage lies the Cross Bell Ranch which has been operated by the Mullendore family for over 100 years. In its heyday it is estimated that well over three hundred thousand acres were under the Cross Bell brand and the ranch was completely self-sufficient with its own mills, rich farmland and an independent water supply. The spread was created through the determination, hard work and devotion of the family. Family loyalty came first back in a day when it was hard to tell friends from enemies and the Mullendores took pride in their tight knit clan.
In 1968 nearby Bartlesville, Oklahoma was still a wild and wooly place and just a few miles outside of the city a “might makes right” attitude prevailed. There was a lot of oil underground and the grass on the surface had the perfect nutrients for cattle. The Embers Steakhouse was considered top of the line for excellent food and fine service and most of the “society folks” in this wealthy community were regulars. As the Mullendore family, Gene, Kathleen, E.C. and Linda, dined with their friends movie legend John Wayne and his friend Louis Johnson the mood was festive with talk of cattle prices and land acquisitions. Johnson and Wayne were partners in a cattle buying operation in Stanfield, Arizona called the “26 Bar” and they had been buying some of the Mullendores’ best young steers for years. The two men loved being around Gene and E.C. whom they considered “real cowboys” who were living the ranch life everyday. Little did these friends know that within two years E.C. would be tragically murdered and that Gene would also be dead shortly after the murder.
Oklahoma was growing and the state had seen it all in a hurry: boom and bust in the oil patch, great ranches come and gone, the dustbowl, rags to riches and then back to rags for the Osage Tribe and the transition to statehood. Then on September 26, 1970 the state was rocked when E.C. Mullendore III, the heir to the vast Mullendore ranching empire, was shot to death in his own home on the ranch. After a brief and most would say botched investigation the Osage County District Attorney stated that “we have no suspects in custody or in view.” Mullendore employee Damon “Chub” Anderson described the murder as an “ambush by unknown assassins” after he and E.C. returned to the ranch late that night. In an unsigned statement Chub claimed to have been shot in the back by fleeing assailants when he came to E.C.’s aid. At the time E.C. held the largest life insurance policy in the United States.
Over the years Bartlesville’s fortunes rose and fell, usually in tandem with the fortunes of Phillips Petroleum. The Embers closed and management of the Cross Bell Ranch was passed to a new generation of Mullendores. E.C.’s murder remained unsolved and the stories surrounding the shooting became local legends. Speculation only grew when the reclusive Chub Anderson skipped bond in 1990 on a marijuana bust and disappeared. Anderson ended up on Kansas’ 10 Most Wanted list and Chub sightings placed him in Europe one month and South America the next, then back in Oklahoma after that. Then came news that made headlines across Oklahoma and even drew the interest of television host Bill Kurtis. Chub had been captured in Helena, Montana and was near death. Speaking briefly with reporters Anderson mentioned cowboying in the high country of Montana and working on Ted Turner’s ranch there. His transfer back to Kansas and eventual incarceration at Lansing State Penitentiary opened a new chapter in this story.