Doc Bandy and the Fatal Pistol Whipping

It was New Year’s Eve in 1885 in Blair in the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. There was crowd at Andrew Jackson Moore’s store having a jubilee. They were all drinking. Willis Banks was quarreling with the proprietor Jackson Moore.

Mark Bowars said, “If there is any of you want to fight, you can fight me. I am the best damned man on the ground and could whip the crowd.” He commenced drawing his pistol when William Clark came up, grabbed Bowars, and took away his pistol. Bowars told Clark to give up his pistol, and Clark told him to stand back.

Clark said, “I am not going to hurt anyone if you will keep off of me.” Clark backed away 10 or 15 paces, but Bowars kept advancing. Moore caught Bowars by the shoulder, told him to stop, and led him around to the front door of the store. Bowars said that he wanted Moore’s Winchester. Moore told him he had loaned it out. Bowars went back and looked to see if it was there. They then went out front of the store. Samuel Fortner grabbed Clark, and Jackson Moore took Bowars’ pistol away from him.

Bowars went up to Doc Bandy, grabbed Bandy’s pistol, and struck at Bandy with his fist. Bandy caught the lick. Bowars run his face up into Bandy’s, and called him a liar. Bowars spit in his face. Bandy said, “Did you call me a liar.”

Bowars said, “Yes, I did.” Bandy jerked the pistol away from Bowers, and said he didn’t allow any damned man to take his pistol. Bowars then struck at Bandy. Bandy struck Bowars with the pistol knocking him to the ground. Bowars raised up, and Bandy struck him two or three more times.

Bowars fell again and was helped to his feet. He was led back into Moore’s store where he was seated next to the stove. Later, he was taken to a boarding house where he was put to bed. The next morning a doctor was called, but Bowars died before the doctor arrived.

Later that morning, Doc Bandy told Samuel Fortner that Bowars was dead, and asked if he had any money. Fortner said he had none to spare. Bandy said he might pull out that day and that he might not.

Both William Clark and Doc Bandy were charged with murder, and a writ of arrest was issued for both men (See above). Clark was arrested, but Bandy was not seen again. Clark was tried for assault with intent to kill. The verdict read, “We the jury find the defendant not guilty as charged in the within indictment.” From the testimony presented in the case (and summarized above) it is not clear why Clark was charged. Perhaps the testimony was not as expected. Perhaps it was because prosecutors believed that Bandy and Clark conspired to disarm and then kill Bowars, or perhaps it was simply because William Clark could be found and Doc Bandy couldn’t.

The identity of Doc Bandy (who is referred to as Doc, Dock, and Doctor) is not otherwise known. Several Bandy households lived in the Indian Territory at the time as well as in Texas and surrounding states. None are known to have lived in or near Blair.[i]

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[i] Criminal Case File for Fort Smith, Arkansas, 1860-1896 obtained from the National Archives--Southwest Region.