Lawmen & Outlaws
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Zoe Hueston Lahr
Written, Submitted & © by:
Diron Lacina Ahlquist, 2003
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(from research material submitted by Oklahombres member, Glenda Argo

On the morning of September 1, 1893, a small group of deputy U.S. marshals entered the small town of Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory where it was reported that several members of the Doolin gang were holed up. The posse consisting of thirteen marshals including John W. Hixon, Dick Speed, Henry Keller, George Cox, M.A. Iauson, H.A. "Hi" Thomson, and two brothers, Thomas J. & Hamilton B. Hueston, were quickly met with heavy resistance from members of the Doolin gang. Deputy Marshal Speed was the first to be hit, receiving two bullets from the rifle of "Arkansas Tom" Jones who was perched in an upstairs window. The next officer to be fatally wounded was Thomas Hueston who had also been shot twice by "Arkansas Tom" Jones. The final marshal to be dispatched was Lafe Shadley who received fatal wounds. (1) Thus ended the killing at the Battle of Ingalls.

Deputy Marshal Speed was the only officer to die at the scene of the battle. His body and the wounded deputies, Hueston and Shadley, were taken to Stillwater, O.T. following the battle. Hueston died on September 2, 1893 and Shadley on September 3, 1893. Speed was buried at Perkins, O.T. Shadley was taken by train to his home in Independence, Missouri where he was interred in Mount Hope Cemetery. Hueston's body was buried in Fairlawn Cemetery at Stillwater.(2) Here ended the lives of three brave frontier lawmen, but here also begins the story of Thomas Hueston's wife, Zoe, and the turbulence which her life would take on in the years following her husband's untimely death at the hands of the Doolin gang.

Thomas Hueston's first wife, Ameila S., died on December 15, 1890 and was laid to rest in Fairlawn Cemetery in Stillwater, O.T. The actual date of Thomas Hueston's marriage to his second wife, Zoe, is not confirmed, but it would have been between December 1890 and September 1893.

The widowed Zoe Hueston did not wait long to remarry. Her marriage to Adam Lahr took place on March 24, 1894 before Probate Judge Whiles at Stillwater. Lahr was described as having a "nice farm a short distance northwest of town". (3) The couple may have moved to this farm following their union, but they were living in a residence which they owned on the south side of Stillwater when, on May 1, 1895, a killing would occur that would throw the couple's lives into turmoil.(4)

In April 1895, Emma McHenry, a daughter of Adam Lahr from a previous marriage, returned to Stillwater with her husband, James "Big Jim" McHenry. Emma had been absent from the area for about eight years and, according to her father, had always exhibited "a violent, reckless character". (5) Upon their arrival in Stillwater, "Big Jim" McHenry, a Topeka gambler with a notorious reputation as a bully and tough, set up business as a saloonist opposite the Youst Hotel where he plied his former trade with zeal.(6) From all indications, it appears that the McHenrys were residing at the home of Adam and Zoe Lahr after their arrival in Stillwater where the two couples were reported as quarreling considerably during the days leading up to May 1, 1895.(7) The trouble appears to have arisen out of a conflict between James McHenry and Adam Lahr as McHenry was pressuring Lahr to relinquish a portion of his property to the gambler as a price of peace.(8) This did not set well with Lahr and this conflict between the two men soon led to difficulties between the two ladies of the house, Zoe Lahr and Emma McHenry.

The disagreements were becoming more frequent and the level of violence was escalating in the days preceding the killing. Zoe Lahr attempted to distance herself from the difficulties and moved out of her own home temporarily taking up residence with her mother who also lived in Stillwater. On the morning of May 1, 1895 at about 7:30am, Emma McHenry appeared at the front door of Zoe Lahr's mother's home and was armed with a large knife. McHenry attempted to gain entry to the house by attempting to break through the screen door while she taunted Zoe Lahr with "foul and profane language and [was] threatening" the life of Lahr. Zoe Lahr picked up a loaded revolver and pointed it in the direction of her step-daughter who was unrelenting in her attempts at gaining entry to the home. Lahr held her fire until McHenry had finally broken through the screen door and was unlatching the hook which secured the door.(9) One shot was fired from Lahr's revolver which lodged near the jugular vein on the right side of the neck and, ranging downward, passed entirely through her body and came out just below the shoulder blade. McHenry died almost instantly within twenty feet of where she was hit.(10)

Zoe Lahr fled through the back door of the house and ran up town to locate her husband.(11) She then went to the office of Judge Eyler who accompanied her to the Sheriff's office where she was taken into custody by civil authorities.(12) Initial reports were far exaggerated and inaccurate with most of the local newspapers of the Territory taking their jabs at a situation which they apparently knew little, if anything, about. Most made it a point to identify Zoe Lahr as the widow of slain deputy U.S. marshal Thomas Hueston.

Emma McHenry's body was taken to the home of her brother-in-law, Samuel Knisley, about one block from the scene of the killing. While the body laid in state in the house, a large crowd of people filed by to view the corpse.(13) She was buried in an unmarked grave in Fairlawn Cemetery in Stillwater on May 3, 1895.(14) A Coroner's Inquest was quickly set up on the afternoon of May 1, 1895 in the office of Judge Basel. After examining several witnesses, the jury brought the following verdict:

An inquisition held at Stillwater, above said county and territory, on the first day of May, A.D. 1895, before me, J.W. Roberts, coroner of Payne County, Oklahoma, on the body of Mrs. Emma McHenry, then and there lying dead, by the jurors whose names are hereunto subscribed. The said jurors upon their oath do say that the said Mrs. Emma McHenry came to her death by the hand of Mrs. Adam Lahr, with wilfull[sic] and feloneous[sic] intent from a gunshot wound with intent to commit murder.
E.D. Hedrick
Johnson Whiles
Samuel S. Gardner
Dale Lytton
W.H. Dysart
G.G. Guthrey

The Preliminary Hearing of Zoe Lahr was held in early May 1895 before Judge Basel at Stillwater where it was decided that there was enough evidence to warrant a trial on the charge of murder in the first degree. Zoe Lahr was remanded into the custody of county officials and held without bail awaiting the action of the Grand Jury at the next term of court.(15) Zoe Lahr was arraigned on the morning of May 16, 1895 and entered a plea of "not guilty" to the charge of murder levied against her. The case was to be heard at the next term of court and a change of venue was expected in the matter.(16)

A change of venue was requested and granted in the matter and the trial was moved from Payne County, the county of origin, to Logan County where the trial began in late February 1896. The prosecution presented its case and introduced all available evidence and rested its case before the noon hour arrived. There was no dispute by either side that a killing had occurred, but the defense maintained that the killing was done out of the necessity of Zoe Lahr to preserve her own life. The defense opened its presentation with the testimony of Adam Lahr, husband of the defendant and father of the deceased. Adam Lahr maintained that his daughter, Emma McHenry, had left home at an early age and was absent from his life for at least eight years preceding her death. He also stated that she had a violent nature and had married a man of questionable character. In addition, Adam Lahr testified that Emma McHenry had openly threatened the life of Zoe Lahr.(17)

The defendant next took the stand and testified to the fact that Emma McHenry had attempted to gain access to the house in which the defendant was staying and threatened the defendant's life with the presentation of a knife. This knife was identified as having been in the possession of James "Big Jim" McHenry on the night prior to the killing which established a link to the ownership of the knife and quelling the possibility that the knife had been planted at the scene.(18) The jury deliberated and arrived at a verdict of "Not Guilty" on the charge of murder levied against Zoe Lahr and therefore apparently believed her claim of self-defense.(19)
It is believed that Adam and Zoe Lahr remained married until Adam's death in February 1907. He was buried in Fairlawn Cemetery in Stillwater on February 19, 1907. No marker has been found.(20)

Browning, James A. Violence Was No Stranger: A Guide to the Grave Sites of Famous Westerners.
Barbed Wire Press, Stillwater, OK: 1993.
Field Notes of Glenda Argo, Oklahombres
Shirley, Glenn. West of Hell's Fringe: Crime, Criminals, & the Federal Peace Officer in Oklahoma
Territory, 1889-1907. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK: 1978.
The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, O.T.), March 5, 1896; March 7, 1896
The Eagle Gazette (Stillwater, O.T.), March 30, 1894
The Guthrie Daily Leader (Guthrie, O.T.), May 2, 1895
The Stillwater Gazette (Stillwater, O.T.), May 2, 1895; May 9, 1895; May 16, 1895

1 West of Hell's Fringe, pgs. 156-164
2 Violence Was No Stranger, pgs. 117, 223, 238
3 The Eagle Gazette, March 30, 1894, pg. 1
4 The Stillwater Gazette, May 2, 1895, pg. 1
5 The Daily Oklahoman, March 5, 1896, pg. 1
6 The Guthrie Daily Leader, May 2, 1895, pg. 4
7 The Stillwater Gazette, May 2, 1895, pg. 1
8 The Daily Oklahoman, March 5, 1896, pg. 1
9 The Daily Oklahoman, March 5, 1896, pg. 1
10 The Stillwater Gazette, May 2, 1895, pg. 1
11 The Daily Oklahoman, March 5, 1896, pg. 1
12 The Stillwater Gazette, May 2, 1895, pg. 1
13 The Stillwater Gazette, May 2, 1895, pg. 1
14 Field Notes of Glenda Argo
15 The Stillwater Gazette, May 9, 1895, pg. 3
16 The Stillwater Gazette, May 16, 1895, pg. 2
17 The Daily Oklahoman, March 5, 1896, pg. 1
18 The Daily Oklahoman, March 5, 1896, pg. 1
19 The Daily Oklahoman, March 7, 1896, pg. 1
20 Field Notes of Glenda Argo

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