By Randy Hopkins –
Article from the Tulsa Tribune state-edition on June 1st, 1921 courtesy of The Oklahoma Historical Society.
Part Two - The Police Nab A Negro
Shortly after 3 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31, 1921, anyone who picked up a copy of the afternoon Tulsa Tribune newspaper was exposed to a front-page article titled “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl In an Elevator.” The odds that the reader’s attention would be drawn to the article was heightened by the outcries of the paper’s newsboys, who used it to hawk the paper. The article was both false and, where literally true, misleading.
The article opened by proclaiming that “A negro delivery boy who gave his name to the police as “Diamond Dick” but who has been identified as Dick Rowland was arrested…” for attempting to assault the 17-year-old white elevator operator in the Drexel building on Monday.
Off the bat, the reader learned that the culprit boldly gave the now incriminating nickname to the police, requiring them to unwind his identity. There is, however, only the thinnest chance that the police were unaware of the real Dick Rowland.[i] Rowland’s shoe stand was in a popular pool hall at the northeast corner of Third and Main, the hub of downtown Tulsa. Tulsa Police Chief John Gustafson’s detective agency was right across the street on the northwest corner in the Bliss Building. The police station was around the corner on Second between Main and Boulder. Half a block to the south was the Drexel building and two more blocks south stood the Ketchum Hotel, where Gustafson lived. The chief, whose routine term for negroes was “niggers,” would have passed the intersection commuting between home and work.[ii] Even allowing for exaggeration, surviving descriptions of Rowland wearing a diamond ring, flashing cash, hanging out at jazz clubs where he was “one of the best dancers in Tulsa’s negro quarter,” and, of course, having an “eye for the ladies” would have turned heads and raised eyebrows.[iii]
The corner of 3rd St. and Main St. in Tulsa circa 1922-1923 courtesy of The Oklahoma Historical Society
Also described as jovial and outgoing, he appears to have been well-known and well-regarded by his white businessman clientele.[iv] If his pictures are shown in the 1921 Booker T. Washington yearbook, he dressed well enough to stand out even by white businessman standards. As a star football player and powerful center on the basketball team, he stood out even further.[v] The 1921 Tulsa police, steeped in the racism of the day, missed all this? They knew enough to single him out for arrest.
Claiming them to be dens of iniquity, the police had long cast a suspicious eye on negro rooming houses and the Rowland family ran a large one at 505 East Archer, just blocks from the police station. That was where Dick Rowland was living and supposedly hiding after the affair of the elevator.[vi] The April 1921 Federal Report on Vice identified this “colored house” at a place of prostitution.[vii] Damie Rowland, Dick’s adoptive “mama,” and her brother Clarence Rowland had themselves ran afoul of the police on liquor charges at a so-called “negro resort.”[viii] If even a part of Rowland’s historical reputation is true, he would have had a target on his back and the police would have known right where to get their man.
“Nab Negro” next informed the public that Diamond Dick had been arrested Tuesday morning on South Greenwood. The Tuesday arrest has long been accepted as gospel, but Gustafson insisted that he was arrested on Monday, both at his 1921 removal trial and in his 1922 deposition where he testified:
"On Monday May 30th we arrested a negro for an attempted assault on a white girl; I don’t know his name, but believe he was known as “Diamond Dick,” We had him in jail Monday night and his trial was coming up on Tuesday afternoon in the Police Court."[ix]
Had the police made and disclosed an arrest on Monday, Tuesday morning’s Tulsa Daily World would have the scoop. A Tuesday arrest, whether real or invented, handed it to Richard Lloyd Jones’ afternoon Tulsa Tribune.
“Nab Negro” reported that Diamond Dick had been “charged” with the attempted assault and would be tried that afternoon in municipal court, also known as the “Police Court.” Both Gustafson and the Tulsa Daily World later confirmed that a charge was filed.[x] Attorney General Freeling also acknowledged that the police filed charges.[xi] The filing of an assault charge flies in the face of historians’ oft-repeated claims that the Tulsa police suspected Rowland was innocent and were just going through the motions or were picking him up to protect him, reactions that would have been completely “against type” for the 1921 police department.[xii]
“Nab Negro” also reported that the municipal court trial involved “state charges,” highlighting the seriousness of the offense. This was misleading as the municipal court had no jurisdiction over state charges; it handled municipal citations. State charges were in the domain of County Attorney Seaver, as Adkison admitted.[xiii] When Rowland was indicted for assault and attempted rape in early June - further contradicting claims that the authorities were not serious in pursuing him - it was done in state court.[xiv] A municipal court filing, however, lent weight to the newspaper writeup and avoided having to deal immediately with Seaver, with whom the police were then at odds.[xv]
The Tribune’s “Nab Negro” next described Page’s claim that Rowland was skulking outside her elevator, which the reader would see as nothing but threatening, but which is said to have gone over her head. The bombshell then dropped – after entering the elevator Diamond Dick attacked the white girl by scratching her face and hands and tearing her clothes. Apart from “Nab Negro,” there is no evidence that either Page or the Renberg’s clerk ever claimed facial or other scratches or torn clothes. Page’s neighbor, Anna Green, made no mention of them to reporters and she had seen Page an hour after the fracas.[xvi] After Greenwood was in ruins, the Tulsa Tribune’s managing editor Victor Barnett admitted that part of the article was untrue, though one would have to read New York or Chicago newspapers to discover that.[xvii] James Patton, in charge of the investigation, denied it, as did Page through Patton. Adkison and Attorney General Freeling effectively denied it as well.[xviii] The allegation is rendered more implausible by the fact that the elevator’s occupants were visible to those outside.[xix] Whoever gave that information to the Tribune appears to have made it up out of whole cloth.[xx] The single most important declarative sentence in Tulsa’s history was false.
The article next revealed that an unnamed clerk in Renberg’s clothing store ran to Page’s assistance and that he and Page identified Rowland on Tuesday. The clerk, name still unrevealed, was later interviewed by a detective hired by Roscoe Dunjee, publisher of Oklahoma City’s newspaper The Black Dispatch. Dunjee described his investigator as “a white man of unquestioned honesty and integrity,” who reported:
"He talked with the white man who went to the girl when the difficulty happened. “SHE WAS NOT BRUISED OR HER CLOTHING DISARRANGED IN ANY WAY” stated this honest man.” (emphasis in Dunjee’s original)."[xxi]
The Renberg's clerk appears to have been Clarence A. Poulton, 34, a tailor and salesman who worked at the store until at least 1935.[xxii] He was one of the four grand jury witnesses.[xxiii]
Dunjee’s investigator also interviewed the “gentleman who owned” the Drexel building, who replied, “that (the elevator incident) was considered of such little consequence, so trifling, that he, himself, had not heard about it until the riot was on.” The owner of Drexel was Grant McCullough, president of the First National Bank, whose building adjoined and would later replace the Drexel. The statement may have been made by Fred E. Voorhies, building superintendent of McCullough’s Bank.[xxiv] Along with Poulton, Voorhies was a grand jury witness. Either they changed their stories from that reported in the Black Dispatch or the grand jury brushed them aside.
“Nab Negro” article reached its climax with Rowland’s alleged admission that he “put his hand on her arm in the elevator when she was alone.” While possibly literally true, the context of those times was such that the prosecution could have climaxed a ringing closing argument with Rowland’s “confession.”
Who was the source of all this misleading and inflammatory falseness? Buck Franklin was later told by a source connected to Gustafson that “a fresh, cub reporter without any experience” gave out the erroneous version.[xxv] The Tulsa Tribune, however, was staffed by experienced, professional journalists.[xxvi] Randy Krehbiel, himself a professional journalist, explains that a reporter’s submission on a story like this would “be checked, certainly by one copy editor and probably by two.”[xxvii] Tim Madigan’s novelized version says that Richard Lloyd Jones came up it with himself, fueled by racism.[xxviii] While Jones’ obvious racism might have generated a bellowing editorial, where would he get the front page “facts?” Jones was about to teach racists a hard lesson - racism also damages the racist and in this case, it set up Jones’ reputation for a deep and permanent stain.
The prime suspect in the peddling of bad information was the Tulsa police department itself. It was the police, and only the police, who handled the investigation, knew what was alleged and what was not, handled the arrest, and filed municipal court charges. The police are identified as the source and their representations would have been accepted not only by some starry-eyed young reporter, but by the “old hands” back at the Tribune building. The only part of the article identified as coming from anybody else was the poignant line that Sarah Page was an orphan working to better herself. Even that might have come from a police-connected source.[xxix]
The 1921 police also had at least two motives to fabricate or embellish the story. The first was to create public zeal for a replay of Roy Belton’s 1920 lynching, one that would send a message not to hijackers, but to “uppity” and supposedly uprising-inclined Black people. If that sounds like madness to the modern ear, what word better describes the Belton murder in which the same police played such a cooperative role?
Second, by reserving the fake news for the Tulsa Tribune, the police set up their archenemy’s newspaper to take the fall for any adverse consequences, such as Rowland’s death. One day later, the police leaped to do exactly that, pointing fingers at the Tribune, the only white institution that came in for the least blame. While the embers were still smoking and belching sparks in Greenwood, and its people were being corralled, James Patton issued a Wednesday night statement to the Tribune’s competitor, the Tulsa Daily World. This was printed Thursday morning under the headlines “Story of Attack on Woman Denied” and “Girl Admitted to Police That One Published Story Was Not True in Details.”[xxx] Patton’s explained that the “only assault made by Rowland upon the girl occurred when he grabbed her arm.” He attributed the race riot of Tuesday night “to what he termed yellow journalism.” The police, Patton primly continued, were quietly conducting an investigation “before taking any decided action,” ignoring the fact that the police had already filed charges in police court. He claimed that the Tribune article caused the police to transfer Rowland to the county jail, contradicting Adkinson and Gustafson, who said it was triggered by an anonymous phone call.[xxxi] Patton called Tulsa Tribune article “colored and untrue,” which it was, as inciting racial spirit, which it did, and that:
"If the facts in the story as told the police had only been printed I do not think there would have been an (sic) riot whatever.”
If that is true, it means that whoever gave the Tribune the misleading information was directly responsible for the Tulsa Race Massacre.[xxxii]
If Jones had been set up, wouldn’t he have done something rather than take the blame? Apparently, he did. The police may also have been shaken into a more conservative stance by the sheer and perhaps unexpected scope of the destruction. The day after the Daily World article, the Tulsa Tribune printed Patton’s meek mea culpa. Under a front-page article entitled “World Statement False,” Patton’s signed statement declared the Daily World’s “purported interview” was untrue, that he did not say the race riot was due to “yellow journalism,” or that the Tribune had published “a colored and untrue account,” or that Rowland was placed in the county jail because of it. He denied saying that the Tribune article incited racial feelings on the part of whites or caused “armed blacks to invade the business district.”[xxxiii]
Jones’ Tribune thereafter continued its campaign of scathing criticism against the Evans Administration and the police no doubt continued to loathe the sanctimonious Jones.[xxxiv] Nothing had changed, except for the people of Greenwood and Tulsa’s legacy. Damaged as well was the historical reconstruction of Greenwood’s destruction. In spite of his shifting story and all the suspect police behavior, historians have taken Patton’s original declarations at face value.
Testifying at Gustafson’s removal trial, Adkison said his first clue that something was up was a 4 p.m. phone call on Tuesday threatening a lynching.[xxxv] This was one of similar calls, one to Greenwood’s Dreamland Theater, which stirred passions there, and an unknown caller of Gustafson.[xxxvi] Whether these were good faith warnings, incitements of hysteria, or communications among allies is an open question. Adkison’s caller boasted, “we are going to lynch that negro tonight, that black devil who assaulted that girl.” Why call the man who could stop it?
There are reasons to doubt Adkison’s testimony, however, and they come from Gustafson himself. Adkison testified that after the 4 p.m. warning call, he went to the police station where he first learned of the Tribune article which “misrepresented the facts of the occurrence.” He then arranged Rowland’s transfer to the county jail before calling the Sheriff.[xxxvii] Adkison neglected to mention that he and Gustafson had already rehearsed this an hour earlier. During his removal trial, Gustafson testified that he was in Adkison’s office at 3 p.m. where they talked about the lynching rumors and determined to transfer Rowland.[xxxviii] Adkison then arrived at the station at 4 p.m. to commence communications with Sheriff McCullough. This makes more sense than Adkison’s version, which has him getting the call, going to the station, arranging and completing the transfer, and then calling McCullough all at 4 p.m.[xxxix]
There was a lot going on at 3 p.m. aside from the Adkison-Gustafson get-together and the looming arrival of “Nab Negro.” It also happened to be the exact moment of the police department’s monthly shift change, where police officers working the day shift moved to night and vice versa. As a result, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Tulsa’s most fateful Tuesday, the Tulsa police department was materially understaffed. Regular night police beats were uncovered on Boulder, South Main, and West Archer, which left unmanned much of the area between the courthouse and Greenwood. The police station was essentially denuded of personnel.[xl]
The shift-change was one of the alibis that surfaced after the Race Massacre. Gustafson used it repeatedly, bemoaning to the attorney general’s investigator, “that day of all days a shift was made.”[xli] He testified that it was “extremely unfortunate for the police,” that there were “very few officers at that time” and that “a good many officers had left the station to go home to sleep until eleven o’clock that night.”[xlii] Adkison echoed this, explaining that there were “few policemen available” and that “there were not more than 10 police officers on duty between the courthouse and the negro district.”[xliii] Yet, in spite of their claimed alarm over rumors and the growing disorder, no recall of the missing officers occurred until minutes before the gunfire.[xliv]
As soon as Rowland arrived at the county jail, Adkison, Gustafson and the police devoted themselves to one thing – getting McCullough to remove Dick Rowland from the jail and take him on the road to uncertain safely. As long the Sheriff was stood firm, Rowland was safe inside the jail, as even Gustafson later admitted.[xlv] The road, however, allowed for ambush or pursuit and the odds would change dramatically. In 1917, masked vigilantes rose up from behind a pile of bricks and effortlessly lifted seventeen union men from a Tulsa police caravan that was taking them from then-Police Judge Thaddeus Evans’ police court. The Knights were no mere ruffians, but included men among Tulsa’s elite. Tate Brady was widely identified as the master of ceremonies of the tarring and feathering that followed. Tulsa police Captain George Blaine was one of those meekly surrendering custody of his prisoners and eyewitnesses described him “putting on the rigs,” meaning the Knights’ costume. James Patton was also an accused Knight, as was Henry Carmichael, one of Rowland’s arresting officers. It is possible that Gustafson, whose detective agency had infiltrated the union chapter with a spy, was present for the Tulsa Outrage.[xlvi] There were many piles of bricks between the Tulsa county courthouse and wherever McCullough chose to flee, though not as many as a day later.
At least the Outrage was an inside job. The police may have even manned the brick pile. A replay would be a more serious affair. Yet, Gustafson claimed a history of planning the violent ambush, and if McCullough accepted the offer of police assistance, then half the job would be done. If McCullough meekly surrendered, which may have been thought likely, his reputation would be as tarred as his longtime rival for the Sheriff’s post, James Woolley. If the outcome were more extreme and Tulsa needed a new Sheriff, Tate Brady and Buck Lewis’ close associate Jim Woolley might be positioned for a comeback. It could all be blamed on Richard Lloyd Jones. Willard McCullough would be just another tragic victim of his yellow journalism.
A Willard (nee William) McCullough campaign ad courtesy of the Tulsa World
The police made at least four calls Tuesday afternoon urging Rowland’s removal.[xlvii] Adkison’s call to McCullough at 4 p.m. was the first.[xlviii] Adkison then traveled to the courthouse to repeat the advice directly to the Sheriff and to offer the support of the “entire police force.”[xlix] Gustafson made a phone call offering the services of “the entire police department to the sheriff” and may have accompanied Adkison on the 4 p.m. visit.[l] It is unknown if either man mentioned the shift-change or police understaffing. In addition to four phone calls and Adkison's personal intervention, McCullough may have received similar advice from the unnamed police officer who delivered Rowland to the jail at 4 p.m. and during the “two or three times” that police officers visited the courthouse to report lynching rumors.[li] Gustafson testified he talked to an undersheriff named Price about 7 p.m. to report rumors and directed Patton to call the Sheriff about 8 p.m. to offer help.[lii]
Adkison and Gustafson had reason to expect their recommendation to run would be taken. Transferring targeted prisoners out-of-town was standard practice.[liii] McCullough’s fourth-floor jail had also just been exposed as preposterously insecure. Five days earlier, twelve prisoners sawed through three cell doors, a corridor gate, and steel window bars before climbing down a rope of sixty or more tied blankets to the street below.[liv] On the morning of May 31, no more than five hours before Rowland and Page’s encounter, six more prisoners sawed through the same cell, the same window, avoided the same unobservant jailer, and escaped presumably using the same blankets tied in the same knots.[lv] McCullough assumed a casual attitude, dismissing the break as “inevitable,” and appearing in the press as weak and incompetent.[lvi] If any public trust in the jail’s security remained after Belton, it was doused and crushed on the cusp of the Race Massacre.[lvii]
The sincerity of the police department’s efforts to get Rowland on the road is eviscerated by Gustafson’s admission that Rowland was safe inside the county jail.[lviii] The efforts are rendered more suspect by what the police did after McCullough refused to run, even as rumors flew and spectators gathered.
To be continued in Part 3 - War Comes to Tulsa
[i] Dick Roland, as his name was signed and notarized while in apparent custody, left a variety of names in his wake, including James Jones, Jimmy Jones, Johnny, John Roland, Dick Rowland, and “Diamond Dick Rowland.” The “Rowland” spelling will be used in an attempt to minimize confusion. Confounding matters, a gravesite for James Jones is located adjacent to the Rowland family cemetery plot and carries a death date two months before the Massacre. The grave is located in a City of Tulsa cemetery, so perhaps the city’s current investigation of graves should be expanded by one. Steve Gerkin, “Diamond in the Rough,” and Steve Gerkin, “Is This the Face of the Man at the Center of the Tulsa Race Riot?” Race Reader (Tulsa, OK: This Land Press 2017), 43-51. For Dick “Roland,” “Affidavit of Defendant,” Avery Collection, DickRowland_06.pdf. (signature witnessed by a deputy court clerk Lucile Linton). [ii] “Ruth Avery’s Interviews On The Tulsa Race Riot: Damie Rowland Ford,” Ruth Sigler Avery Collection, Special Collections and Archives, Oklahoma State University-Tulsa (hereafter “Avery Collection”) (shine stand located in the basement of building on the northeast corner at Third and Main); “Dick Rowland_10.pdf,” Avery Collection (Third and Main was the “hub of Tulsa” where streetcar tracks crossed in all directions); The Tulsa police station was on Second Avenue, between Main and Boulder. Ronald L. Trekell, History of the Tulsa Police Department, 1882-1900 (Tulsa, OK: Tulsa Police Department 1989), 36. For Gustafson’s agency at the Bliss Building at Third and Main, “Tulsa City Directory 1921,” (Tulsa, OK: Polk-Hoffhine Directory Co., 1921), 676-77. For Gustafson’s residence, Gustafson 1922 deposition, 1. The Ketchum Hotel was located at 509 S. Main on the same side of Main as Rowland’s stand. “Tulsa City Directory 1935” (Tulsa, OK: Polk-Hoffhine Directory Co., 1921), 681. [iii] “Ruth Avery’s Interviews On The Tulsa Race Riot: Damie Rowland Ford,” Avery Collection; also Hirsch, Riot and Remembrance, 78, “RobertFairchild-version4.pdf,” Avery Collection (something of a ladies’ man); Madigan, The Burning, 49. As inflammatory as the name “Diamond Dick” was in the context, it may have had a more prosaic explanation. “Dashing Diamond Dick” was a pulp fiction hero when Rowland younger. The character wore a diamond-encrusted costume. This could explain Rowland’s affinity for diamonds, an unusual attraction for a teenage male of any race, and the name “Dick,” which was such a favorite that Rowland adopted it for his own. Ironically, Dashing Diamond Dick’s face was extremely pale white because of an injury he received when his enemies attempted to lynch him. https://pdsh.fandom.com/wiki/Diamond_Dick. [iv] Buck C. Franklin, My Life and an Era, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997), 195-196 (quoting a white lawyer, “Why, I know that boy and have known him a good while. That’s not in him”). This evidence, which casts Rowland in a different light than the crude stereotype presented in “Nab Negro,” was not available to the public. [v] For three Booker T. Washington yearbook photos, Steve Gerkin, “Is This The Face of the Man At the Center of the Tulsa Race Riot?” Race Reader (Tulsa: This Land Press, 2017), 49-51. [vi] US Census Bureau, Fourteenth Census of the United States, Edmond, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1900), ancestry.com (Rolands, including adopted son “John Roland,” living at 505 Archer, Ollie Roland as manager); “Tulsa City Directory 1921,” (Tulsa, OK: Polk-Hoffhine Directory Co., 1921), 598 (D. R. Roland (c) furnished room at 505 Archer). “Ruth Avery’s Interviews On The Tulsa Race Riot: Damie Rowland Ford,” Avery Collection (Rowland in hiding). [vii] “Federal Report on Vice Conditions,” Attorney General Civil Case no. 1062, 2 (“I saw a piano just inside the entrance, and an old colored woman as the madame, and four inmates. I was solicited by a young colored yellow woman to go to bed. Price $3.00”). [viii] “Police Raid Negro House,” Tulsa Daily World, December 12, 1917, 2 (“25 negroes, men and women, were marched to police headquarters” in second raid in two weeks); “City News in Brief,” Tulsa Daily World, December 16, 1917, 2. Damie was there identified as “Damie Jackson,” but Clarence Rowland was Damie’s younger brother. US Census Bureau, Thirteenth Census of the United States, Edmond, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1900), ancestry.com (1910 census listing Damie, 25, and brother Clarence Rolland, 18). [ix] “Gustafson Testimony District Court State of Oklahoma v. John A. Gustafson, Attorney General Civil Case no. 1062, 6 (“He was arrested the day previous and kept in the city jail during the night”) (hereafter “Gustafson 1921 trial testimony”); Deposition of J. A. Gustafson in Stradford v. American Central Ins. Co.; Superior Court of Cook County, No. 370,274 (1921), 1 (hereafter “Gustafson 1922 deposition. The city jail records are not available. [x] Gustafson 1922 deposition, 1. The Tulsa Daily World reported that Rowland’s preliminary trial was set in municipal court on Tuesday, June 7. “Arrest of Young Negro on Statutory Charge Caused Battle Between the Races,” Tulsa Daily World, June 1, 1921, 1 (second edition). [xi] “Letter Attorney General to James E. Markham, 1921 November 2,” Attorney General Civil Case no. 1062, 1 (A negro boy was charged, arrested, and delivered to Sheriff). Freeling’s letter was attempting to accomplish an extradition from Minnesota. Freeling contrasted the curious white crowd which was “orderly” and made not the “slightest sign of any attempt at mob violence” with the “actions of the negroes” which precipitated the shooting. He wrote that “there is no prejudice in Tulsa County,” that a “perfectly fair trial could be had in Tulsa as in St. Paul,” and that the white citizens “immediately began to repair the damage which had been done and the very best men in Tulsa County took charge of the situation.” This casting of events was consistent with Van Leuven’s statement to the Gustafson removal jury that the whites had done nothing wrong. “Chief Found Guilty on Two Counts,” Tulsa Daily World, July 23, 1921, 1 (“The state has never contended that any law was violated after that trouble at the courthouse. After those armed negroes had started shooting and a white man was killed—then those who armed themselves for the obvious purpose of protecting their lives and property violated no law”). [xii] Loren Gill’s 1946 thesis first made this point, repeating Patton’s June 1, 1921 press statement to the Tulsa Daily World that the police attached so little importance to the event to even file the girls’ name. Loren L. Gill, “The Tulsa Race Riot,” 21, 105. Gill also relied upon 25th Anniversary interviews he brilliantly secured with Adkison, Evans, and Blaine, scarcely objective witnesses. Hirsch and Madigan claim the police were skeptical and taking action on Tuesday either to create the appearance they were taking it seriously or to protect (Rowland) from reprisals. James S. Hirsch, Riot and Remembrance, 79, 82; Tim Madigan, The Burning, 68-69. Hirsch also writes that Page hedged her accusations on Tuesday and suggested she would not press charges. The Tribune, however, reported that as of Wednesday morning officers were promising a speedy trial for Rowland and full punishment if found guilty. “Dick Rowland is Spirited Out of City,” Tulsa Tribune, June 1, 1921, 6. Both Page and Rowland’s arresting officers, Henry Carmichael, testified at the June grand jury that indicted Rowland for assault and attempted rape. “Indictment filed stamped June 18, 1921,” Avery Collection, DickRowland_07.pdf. Page’s decision not to prosecute does not appear to have occurred until after September 16, 1921, when Judge Redmond S. Cole refused to dismiss Rowland’s case. “Journal Entry,” Avery Collection, DickRowland_04.pdf. Page’s declination to pursue charges then led to to the dismissal on September 28, 1921. “Continue Riot Cases,” Tulsa Daily World, September 29, 1921, 7 (“the dismissal followed receipt of a letter by the county attorney in which she stated that she did not wish to prosecute the case”). [xiii] “Inefficiency of Police Denied,” Tulsa Daily World, July 19, 1921, 1 (per Adkison, one reason for transfer to county jail was because “the case was in reality a county case”); “To Open Police Tribunal Again,” Tulsa Daily World, January 11, 1917, 1 (state charges and jail sentences off-limits to municipal courts). [xiv] “Indictment filed stamped June 18, 1921,” Avery Collection, DickRowland_07.pdf. [xv] The municipal court file has not been located. It is possible that there was no filing, in which case “Nab Negro” was even further removed from the truth, as were the police. [xvi] “Girl Attacked by Negro Not at Home Today,” Tulsa Tribune, June 1, 1921, 4. [xvii] Walter F. White, “Tulsa Riot Based on Girl’s Mistake,” New York Evening Post, June 8, 1921, 5 (Victor F. Barnett, managing editor or the Tribune, stated that his paper had since learned that the original story that the girl’s face was scratched and her clothes torn was untrue); Walter F. White, “Tulsa’s Shame Due to Race Prejudice and Corrupt Rule,” Chicago Defender, June 18, 1921, 3. [xviii] For Patton’s and Page’s denials, “Story of Attack on Woman Denied, Tulsa Daily World, June 2, 1921,14 (Patton says, “Negro boy did nothing more than seize her arm)”; “World Statement False,” Tulsa Tribune, June 2, 1921, 1 (per Patton, at police station girl asserted the negro grabbed her arm, she screamed and he fled). For Adkison’s denial, “Inefficiency of Police is Denied,” Tulsa Daily World, July 19, 1921, 1 (Adkison learns of Tribune story “which misrepresented the facts of the occurrence”). For Freeling, “Letter Attorney General to James E. Markham, 1921 November 2,” Attorney General Civil Case no. 1062, 1. [xix] “DickRowland_04.pdf,” Avery Collection (per Avery, “The elevator was an open type with wire surrounding the lifting platform, the openness making the occupants at all times visible to anyone on the passing three floors. On the street, passersby could see directly in on all occupants”). [xx] Regarding Page, historians have been quick to seize on McCullough’s pronouncement that a divorce petition described her as a “notorious character.” Seventeen years was not much time to reach “notorious character” status and it does not fit the only existing description of Page, that of the Tulsa High School senior boy’s club which met weekly on the fourth floor of the Drexel Building. “DickRowland_09.pdf,” Avery Collection, 3. If her legend is correct, the 17-year old chose to put over two hundred miles between herself and her not-yet-ex-husband. She left him. His perhaps overheated petition had to chase her down. If Sarah Page had been the victim of spousal abuse, it might explain her response to an unexpected, but otherwise innocent touching, as from a trip and fall. A purse-swinging reaction, or overreaction, would also be hard to explain later. There are, of course, other possibilities for what did or didn’t happen in the elevator. [xxi] "Loot, Arson, Murder,” Black Dispatch, June 10, 1921, 1. [xxii] The 1913 Tulsa City Directory identified him as a tailor. “Tulsa City Directory 1913,” (Tulsa, OK: Polk-Hoffhine Directory Company, 1935), 303. He is first listed as working for Renbergs in 1916. “Tulsa City Directory 1916,” (Tulsa, OK: Polk-Hoffhine Directory Company, 1916), 356. He was still there as of 1935. “Tulsa City Directory 1935” (Kansas City, MO: R. L. Polk & Co., 1935), 445. [xxiii] “Indictment file stamped June 18, 1921,” Avery Collection, DickRowland_07.pdf. [xxiv] “DickRowland_09.pdf,” Avery Collection. The Tulsa high school senior boys' club met weekly at the Drexel building in the office of “Carroll’s father who owned the building and was president of a bank.” Grant McCullough was president of First National Bank located next to the Drexel building and had a teenage son named Carroll. US Census Bureau, Fourteenth Census of the United States, Edmond, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1900), ancestry.com; “G. R. McCullough, A. L. Farmer and C. F. Hopkins on Water Board,” Tulsa Tribune, November 30, 1920, 1 (president of First National). The Drexel building was sold and demolished in the 1920s for an expansion of the Bank building to its present size. For Voorhies as superintendent of First National Bank, “Tulsa City Directory 1922,” (Tulsa, OK: Polk-Hoffhine Directory Company, 1922), 607. [xxv] John Hope Franklin & John Whittington Franklin, My Life and An Era, 199. Franklin’s source was assistant county attorney Sam Crossland, who assured him that after a thorough and painstaking investigation the alleged assault was untrue. Sam’s brother and later law partner was Ed Crossland, who represented Dick Rowland. Ed Crossland was called the attorney for bootleggers and testified favorably for Gustafson in May 1921. “Impeachment of Police Falls Flat,” Tulsa Daily World, May 20, 1921, 1 (Crossland testifies he knows of no evidence of open vice). After Gustafson had been removed from office, Ed Crossland rallied to the defense of the man he called “Old Gus.” “Much Surprise Expressed Over Gustafson Verdict,” Tulsa Daily World, July 24, 1921, 1. Franklin’s source was reworking the police department’s alibi that “the Tulsa Tribune did it.” As for the painstaking investigation, it did not prevent the county attorney’s office from pursuing rape charges against Rowland and defeating Ed Crossland’s efforts to dismiss the case until September 1921, when Sarah Page’s letter ended the prosecution. [xxvi] L. Edward Carter, The Story of Oklahoma Newspapers (Muskogee OK: Western Heritage Press 1984), 207; https://okjournalismhalloffame.com/1975/victor-f-barnett/ [xxvii] Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa 1921 (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press 2019), 36. [xxviii] Tim Madigan, The Burning, 68-70. Madigan’s book has many fictionalized elements. He admits making up dialogue for the purpose of “maintaining the narrative.” Ibid., xviii. The tale describes the inner thoughts of his characters and describes events not supported by the available evidence, such as Sheriff McCullough’s hand wringing over failing to heed police warnings to flee the jail. Jimmie L. Franklin, review of The Burning by Tim Madigan, The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 70 (1) (2004-02-01), 188-89 (“Unfortunately, Madigan’s literary license permits him to embellish persons and events to such a degree that his narrative often resembles psychoanalysis.”). [xxix] This information reportedly came from tenants of the Drexel building. One fourth-floor tenant, where the only “colored” toilet in downtown Tulsa was said to be located, was Harry Kiskaddon, an oil producer and social worker. “Tulsa City Directory 1921,” (Tulsa OK: Polk-Huffhine Directory Company 1921), 678. Said to be “closely associated with the police,” Kiskaddon held a special commission in Gustafson’s department. He also testified on their behalf in May, claiming that he knew of “no gambling, prostitution or whisky selling” and “praised the officers highly for their efforts.” “Impeachment of Police Falls Flat,” Tulsa Daily World, May 20, 1921, 2; “Police Clean-Up Blocked,” Tulsa Tribune, May 20, 1921, 2. Curiously, the attorney general’s listing of alleged Gustafson crimes contains a note that “Billy Sunday, the go-between between the police department and Ella in Loomis Cafe; collector Harry Kiskaddon.” “Miscellaneous Witness Notes,” Attorney General Civil Case no. 1062, 2. Billy Sunday was Gustafson’s secretary. “Charges Cops Beat, Robbed Him of Purse,” Tulsa Tribune, July 19, 1921, 1. Kiskaddon succeeded Adkison as Tulsa Police Commissioner and served four years in that capacity under Mayor Newblock (1922-26). “Ex-Secret Service Officer, 75, Dead,” Miami News-Record (Miami, OK), August 4, 1947, 3. Along with Adkison and Newblock, Kiskaddon’s name is listed in a late 1920s Ku Klux Klan roster. Ku Klux Klan ledger, Ku Klux Klan Papers, University of Tulsa Special Collections; Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa 1921, 203. [xxx] “Story of Attack on Woman Denied,” Tulsa Daily World, June 2, 1921, 14. [xxxi] ‘Inefficiency of Police is Denied,” Tulsa Daily World, July 19, 1921, 1; Gustafson 1921 trial testimony, 6-7; Gustafson 1922 deposition, 1-2. Patton did not mention any Tribune editorial regarding a lynching. Since he was smearing Jones, Patton should have leaped on the chance to further embarrass Jones if such an editorial had been published. [xxxii] “Story of Attack on Woman Denied,” Tulsa Daily World, June 2, 1921, 14. Patton also claimed that the police thought so little of the affair that they did not bother to record her name, an allegation that has been accepted uncritically. See, e.g., Loren L. Gill, “The Tulsa Race Riot,” 21; James S. Hirsch, Riot and Remembrance, 79; Scott Ellsworth, Death In a Promised Land, 46-47. This is especially suspect given the racism of the day. A white teenage girl, possibly with the support of an adult Renberg’s clerk, complained of some form of uninvited touching against a hulking Black teenager, yet the police did not bother with her name? Another explanation is the police wanted no record, the better to set up the yellow journalism charge against Richard Jones. In other words, it was just part of the plot. [xxxiii] “World Statement False,” Tulsa Tribune, June 2, 1921, 1. Jones may have realized his predicament shortly after “Nab Negro” was published. Madigan describes the paper’s frenzied efforts to recall the afternoon issue, citing an unnamed Tribune writer’s 1960s statement to a “highly respected Tulsa historian,” who refused to allow his name to be published. Tim Madigan, The Burning, 71, 276.
[xxxiv] Jones’ infamous “It Must Not Be Again” editorial, with all its “Niggertowns” and “bad niggers,” was aimed directly at Adkison. “It Must Not Be Again,” Tulsa Tribune, June 4, 1921, 8 (“Well, the bad niggers started it. The public would now like to know: why wasn’t it prevented? Why were these niggers not made to feel the force of the law and made to respect the law? Why were not the violators of the law in “Niggertown” arrested?…Why? Mr. Adkison, why?”). [xxxv] ‘Inefficiency of Police is Denied,” Tulsa Daily World, July 19, 1921, 1. It is unclear why Adkison and Gustafson needed afternoon phone calls to cause them to move Rowland to the county jail, if, as some historians claim, they picked him up that morning to protect him. Had they already forgotten that Rowland might be in danger? [xxxvi] Gustafson 1921 trial testimony, 6; “Chief Tells Own Story About Riot,” Tulsa Tribune, July 19, 1921, 1; “Sheriff Says Telephone Call Started Riot,” Tulsa Tribune, June 3, 1921, 1. [xxxvii] “Inefficiency of Police is Denied,” Tulsa Daily World, July 19, 1921, 1. [xxxviii] Gustafson’s 1921 trial testimony, 6-7; “Chief Tells Own Story about Riot,” Tulsa Tribune, July 19, 1921, 1. In 1922, Gustafson pushed his meeting with Adkison back to 2 p.m. Of this meeting, Gustafson says, “he (Adkison) told me that he had heard rumors to the effect that they were going to take this nigger out and lynch him.” Gustafson 1922 deposition, 1-2. [xxxix] McCullough confirmed that Adkison's call came in at 4:00 p.m. “Sheriff Says Telephone Call Started Riot,” Tulsa Tribune, June 3, 1921, 1. The Sheriff also said that Rowland arrived at 4 p.m. Deposition of W. M. McCullough, Stradford v. American Central Ins. Co.; Superior Court of Cook County, No. 370, 274 (1921), 1-2 (hereafter “McCullough 1922 deposition). The Sheriff’s jail log lists the arrival of “Dick Rolland” as the next to last prisoner of the day. “Jail Record: Complete Jail Report for the Month of May, 1921,” Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, 556-57. [xl] Gustafson 1921 trial testimony, 8-11. For a detailed breakdown of the missing police, Robert D. Norris, Jr., ”The Oklahoma National Guard and the Tulsa Race Riot or 1921,” Tulsa University Special Collections, 45-46. [xli] “Part 2 Police Officer Notepad,” Attorney General Civil Case no. 1062, 42. [xlii] Gustafson 1921 trial testimony, 8-11; “Chief Tells His Own Story about Riot,” Tulsa Tribune, July 19, 1921, 1. Gustafson was also quoted in the Tribune that a mere extra fifty men would have allowed him to “prevent the wholesale rioting and burning.” “Ex-Yanks on Guard; O. N. G. Troops Gone,” Tulsa Tribune, June 4, 1921, 1. [xliii] For few available, “Chief Tells Own Story about Riot,” Tulsa Tribune, July 19, 1921, 2. Adkison gave this as an excuse for not calling the police to disarm the armed negroes. For not more than ten, see “Inefficiency of Police is Denied,” Tulsa Daily World, July 19, 1921, 7. Adkison says this count included traffic officers, patrolmen, and men at the station. [xliv] Gustafson 1921 trial testimony, 16-17; “Chief and Officers Take Witness Stand,” Tulsa Daily World, July 20, 1921, 8. No one gives an exact time, but the best estimate is around 9:30 p.m., if not later. The calls began after Gustafson returned from his 9:15 visit to the courthouse where he spent some time. Whenever the calls began, Adkison said that upon returning to the station after fighting broke out, the summoned officers “had begun to file in.” “Inefficiency of Police is Denied,” Tulsa Daily World, July 19, 1921, 1, 7; ”Chief and Officers Take the Stand,” Tulsa Daily World, July 20, 1921, 1, 8. The off-duty desk sergeant said he got his notice to return at 10:00 p.m. “Citizens Uphold Officers’ Story,” Tulsa Daily World, July 21, 1921, 3. [xlv] For Gustafson’s admission, Gustafson 1921 trial testimony, 8-9 (“My opinion was that the sheriff could protect the prisoner.”). For impregnable jail, Randy Hopkins, “Racing to the Precipice: Tulsa’s Last Lynching,” https://www.centerforpublicsecrets.org/post/racing-to-the-precipice-tulsa-s-last-lynching [xlvi] Randy Hopkins, “Birthday of the Klan: The Tulsa Outrage of 1917", The Chronicles of Oklahoma 97, no. 4 (Winter 2019–20), 428-431, 445, n112-13. [xlvii] “Sheriff Says Telephone Call Started Riot,” Tulsa Tribune, June 3, 1921 (city edition), 1 (“The police chief told me that four telephone calls went to the sheriff from police officials Tuesday afternoon telling him to get the negro away, that there was talk of a mob”); “WilliamMcCullough_version1.pdf,” Avery Collection. Gustafson’s statement was made to Clark Betts of the St.Louis Post-Dispatch. [xlviii] Gustafson 1921 trial testimony, 6-7, Gustafson 1922 deposition, 2; “Sheriff Says Telephone Call Started Riot,” Tulsa Tribune, June 2, 1921, 1. [xlix] “Inefficiency of Police Denied,” Tulsa Daily World, July 19, 1921, 1; Gustafson 1921 trial testimony, 6-7: “Sheriff Tells of Plan to Guard Negro,” Tulsa Tribune, July 14, 1921, 1 Adkison’s prominent role at this stage was in contrast to Belton’s lynching, where he made no immediate appearance. After meeting McCullough, Adkison went off duty. Twenty-five years later, he told Loren Gill that he was not on duty earlier in the evening because of the serious illness of his mother-in-law. Adkison would not resurface until 8 p.m., when he said he learned a crowd was gathering at the courthouse. Loren L. Gill, “The Tulsa Race Riot,” 25, n10; “Inefficiency of Police Is Denied,” Tulsa Daily World, July 19, 1921, 1. [l] “Chief and Officers Take Witness Stand,“ Tulsa Daily World, July 20, 1921, 1. McCullough testified that Gustafson accompanied Adkison on the 4 p.m. visit, but Gustafson denied it. McCullough 1922 deposition, 14-15; Gustafson 1921 trial testimony, 7 (says did not accompany Adkison). [li] McCullough 1922 deposition, 14-15 [lii] Gustafson 1922 deposition, 3. [liii] Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa 1921, 36. [liv] “Twelve Escape County Jail,” Tulsa Tribune, May 26, 1921, 1; “Jailer Slept as Prisoners Made Escape,” Tulsa Tribune, May 27, 1921, 1. McCullough claimed they had been working on the bars for weeks, using acid. The night jailer sat twenty yards away “without noticing the commotion” and knew nothing until the police brought one of the men back. The rope consisted of cotton blankets rolled and tied end to end, then wrapped with pieces of cloth torn from other bedding. “2 Escape From County Bastile,” Tulsa Daily World, May 26, 1921, 1. The prisoners remaining in adjoining cells all claimed to know nothing. When one of the escapees was caught climbing down the rope, he told officers he had been visiting a friend. [lv] “Prisoners Again Escape from Jail,” Tulsa Daily World, May 31, 1921, 1. The head jailer believed the window bars were cut with a saw attached to a mop handle and reached through the cells. McCullough thought that one of the prisoners just reached through the bars and sawed from his bed. The Sheriff said, “They must have worked fast on the window bar, because the jailer tells me he made the rounds every 15 minutes all night.” “Six Flee In Second Jail Break,” Tulsa Tribune, May 30, 1921, 1. Only four of the original escapees were reported as captured, but two of those re-escaped during the second delivery. [lvi] “Twelve Escape County Jail,” Tulsa Tribune, May 26, 1921, 1. McCullough originally blamed two inmates, aged 12 and 14, who had been allowed liberties because of their youth. Adults later took credit. McCullough was nonplused by the failure to recapture the bulk of the escapees, explaining, “I know some of them can’t stay away from Tulsa. And when they come back we’ll nab ‘em, just like that, b’cracky.” “Home Town ‘Pride’ to Refill Jail Says Sheriff M'Cullough,” Tulsa Tribune, May 28, 1921, 1. [lvii] The Tribune’s “Nab Negro” issue also reported that a thirty-six-hour hunt involving McCullough and most of his force had produced no trace of the fourteen escapees. “Sheriff Puts on New Guard to End Breaks,” Tulsa Tribune, May 31, 1921, 8. [lviii] Gustafson 1921 trial testimony, 8-9 (“My opinion was that the sheriff could protect the prisoner”).