B. B. Hainey
Field Worker: John F. Daugherty
Date: January 10, 1938
My parents were Bill Hainey, born in Texas, and Cynthia Howard Hainey, born in Missouri. Father was a stockman. There were two children in our family. I was born in Texas, April 23, 1869.
Father died when I was six years old and Mother continued to manage the ranch and cattle. In 1877 she drove a herd of eight hundred steers through Oklahoma to Abilene, Kansas. She hired several cowboys to herd the cattle. She drove a wagon pulled by a large span of mules and I wrangled horses for the crew. We left the Chisholm Trail a short distance after crossing Red River and took a trail not so much traveled which crossed the present site of the town of Sulphur.
Game was plentiful. It was no uncommon sight to see a bunch of deer grazing in the distance.
Mother married again when I was twelve years old and I left home. I went to West Texas and worked on ranches. In 1889 I helped drive a bunch of cattle to the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma. I liked this country so well I decided to remain here and work as a ranch hand. I got a job on a ranch near Vinita in the Cherokee Nation, and the first year I was here I was arrested. There was a law among the Cherokees that cowmen must have men in their employ who were Indians. I was no Indian, so they arrested me. My case was in court for several years. I had to appear at Fort Smith each year. But I continued working. When the Arkansas law was extended over the Territory a court was established at Vinita and my case was thrown out of court.
I became foreman of the Rucker Ranch on Choteau Creek between Claremore and Pryor in the Cherokee Nation. We handled eighteen thousand head of cattle. It was here that Will Rogers and I became friends. Will was just a boy and he asked me for a job. I gave him one. When he came to the Ranch he brought ten good horses with him. In a few days his father, Clem Rogers, came to the Ranch and told me to ride part of the horses Bill brought with him. He said Bill couldn't ride all of them. When he departed he said, "Take care of my boy."
He was always a favorite among the ranch hands. When he was a child, he always carried a small rope in the bosom of his shirt, and he was the center of attraction at noon and recess as he whirled the rope and did stunts. He worked for me a few years and then ran away to South America. Here he joined a rodeo show and traveled with them in foreign countries. Then he returned to the United States and made his debut in Madison Square Garden in New York. His father had lost trace of him until he notices in the papers that he was performing at Madison Square Garden. He immediately took the train for New York and when he went to the Garden to see his son perform, he couldn't get in. There was not even standing room. So he waited outside the door and when Bill came out he put his arm around him and said, "Son, they're not paying you enough." Bill said, "Those were the best words my father ever said to me." He was getting a thousand two hundred fifty dollars a week at this time. He went to Hollywood from New York and thus he started on his road to fame. I visited him at his palatial home in Hollywood just a few days before he went to Alaska. I saw there a wonderful collection of saddles. There was one from every Nation.
When I was on the Rucker Ranch, the Dalton Boys came to the ranch one day and wanted to borrow ten horses. Theirs were exhausted and they wanted to leave them at the ranch to rest while they rode ours. I told them to get what they wanted, but they insisted that I pick out what I wanted them to have. I picked out ten of our best horses and they took them away. In about ten days they returned and exchanged ours for theirs. I couldn't afford to make them angry, for they were around the ranch a great deal, but they never bothered a thing there.
One day United States Marshal White from Vinita came to the ranch and asked if I knew where there was a deserted log cabin on this ranch. He had received a tip that there were two women and a man who were probably accomplices of the Daltons, staying in this cabin and he wanted to arrest them. This was the night before the Daltons robbed the Coffeyville, Kansas, Bank. I told him I didn't want to get into trouble with the Daltons and I would rather not go with him. But he insisted, so I went along. The cabin was closed tightly and we moved very cautiously so as not to disturb the sleeping inmates. One officer went to the window which was boarded up. The other and I went to the door. There was no way to open the door except to push it down. I went against it with all the force I had and it fell inside. Each of the officers had a bunch of matches which they struck for light. The three suspects were lying on the floor. A brass lamp was setting on a box, and one of the officers lighted this. I covered the suspects with guns and the officers handcuffed them. They were taken to Vinita and put in jail. Later they were sent to Texas where they were wanted for a bank robbery. We didn't find out whether they belonged with the Daltons or not.
In 1906 I came to the Armstrong Horseshoe Ranch in Pontotoc County, Chickasaw Nation, east of Hickory. I moved to Sulphur about 1908 and have been here since.
I was United States Marshal for four years in the Choctaw Nation, and among the first of the city policemen of Sulphur. I served in this capacity for six years.
I married in 1900 and am the father of five children.
Transcribed by Brenda Choate and Dennis Muncrief, April, 2001.