Welcome back once again to your unofficial report on the events happening right now in Pawhuska, Oklahoma along with Part Two of the history of the Mullendore Cross Bell Ranch. Ree Drummond’s Mercantile has drawn a crowd since day one about five years ago and now with several hundred film crew folks in town every day for the upcoming two months I can tell you the line to get in to eat at her place hasn’t gotten any shorter but again I have heard no complaints. Many may ask just what is the story of Osage women being killed by white men to take the land and income from oil that their headrights entitled them to and I can tell you this is the theme for the movie so here’s the scoop.
It was a ruthless band of killers who terrorized the Osage from the 1890s through the 1920s led by a man who enjoyed being called the “king of the Osage Hills”. His real name was William Hale and by all accounts he had no scruples when it came to his desire to acquire riches and power. A man standing 5’8”, weighing 165 pounds and always neatly dressed, his domineering personality drew men of similar values to follow him.
In just a few years after arriving in the Osage Hills Hale rose from nothing to becoming a multi-millionaire buying land, cattle and horses and wielding enormous political influence. How did this uneducated drifter from Texas who lived in a tent in Fairfax, Oklahoma gain all these assets in such a short time? By murder is your answer and friends for twenty years his band of ex-cons, fugitives from the law and downright killers for hire threatened the Osage people.
A commission as a deputy sheriff gave Hale access to the jail where if a prisoner was to his liking for a job, he would post the man’s bond and get him a lawyer in exchange for a killing. Many times after the deed was done the killer himself would also be murdered. Hale’s main army of cutthroats consisted of loyal family members who were willing to perform any act he ordered. Another ally and close friend was the mayor of Fairfax, Oklahoma who most local people knew was the head of the Klu Klux Klan in the area. The mayor kept Hale informed about any investigations into his activities and also set up wealthy Indian women as targets for him whichusually resulted in their death.
There is much more to report on the extent of Hale’s criminal behavior but my space is limited. Hopefully you can tell from this brief summary why this tragic story needs to be told. The film will be called Grayhorse after a real-life Indian village near Fairfax and look for the king of the Osage Hills to play a big role in it.
Up next, another king of the Osage but this time a law abiding one.
It was December 26, 1926 when Gene, the hard driving son of Erd Mullendore, married Kathleen Boren. Two years later with a two-million-dollar advance on his inheritance he purchased Kathleen’s father’s ranch in northeast Osage County beginning what would eventually become the four-hundred -thousand-acre Cross Bell Ranch. The ranch was run first by Gene and then later by his son E.C. who was born in 1932. While Gene acquired several properties on his own, by all accounts the real land buying started in the 1950s when E.C. was helping him with operations. Their land acquisitions continued until September 26, 1970 when tragedy struck.
Next week: murder and bankruptcy stopped the growth of their ranch and I’ll answer your questions about just what happened to the 1920s murderer Bill Hale.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………….