865: Mamie Fossett
Deputy Marshal in the Indian Territory
Born: 1878, Probably the United States (Not Oklahoma)
Full Name: Mary Frances Fossett
Indian Territory was the perfect home for the nation’s worst criminals. With no formal standing police force, and the only law enforcement agents in the state stemming from various tribes and reservations (and therefore they had no authority over non-Natives), criminals flocked to the Indian Territory in the hopes of staying free from capture as long as they could.
Eventually, a judge was given authority over large swaths of Arkansas and the Indian Territory. This judge would appoint some two hundred federal marshals, who were tasked with patrolling 74,000 square miles of rough and tumble country. Between 1872 and 1896, around one hundred deputies were killed in the line of duty within the territory, so the job wasn’t a cushy or easy one by any means. The most famous deputy to come from this territory was that of Bass Reeves, the African American man who inspired the Lone Ranger. But among the many men, there were also a few women, including Mamie Fossett.
Mamie mostly did office work but also handed down arrest warrants and did minimal fieldwork. She worked for US Marshal Canada H Thompson.
Mamie was not originally from Oklahoma but rather came during the Land Rush in the hopes of homesteading. Little else is known of Mamie’s personal life other than the fact she was well educated.
I’d also like to mention another woman; SM Burche. SM was a fellow Deputy Marshal for which very little other information is known. I didn’t think there were enough facts about SM surviving to flesh out an entire entry for her, but that doesn’t mean I can’t include her here beside her coworker Mamie.
Other deputies about whom more information is known are FM Miller and Ada Curnett. Their entries on this website are coming soon.