July 1, 1896
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Rufus Buck, leader of the Rufus Buck Gang, is hanged along with the 4 other members of the gang for the gang-rape of a woman in front of her husband and children
The Rufus Buck Gang were only together for 13 days, but during that time they robbed, murdered, and raped their way to the gallows. At least two of the women they raped later died of their injuries, one man was killed while trying to prevent the gang from stealing his horses, and a U.S. deputy marshal was killed. They also robbed an elderly salesman and promised they would spare his life if he could outrun the gang. When he did, the gang killed his assistant in frustration.
Despite the trail of violence left behind them, it was the rape of Rosetta Hassen (some sources report her surname as Hansen or Hassan), in front of her husband and children, that earned their death sentences. Judge Parker told the gang, as he was sentencing them to death, “each of you first took part in the robbery of the house of Henry Hassen, and afterwards that each of you, in the most revolting and brutal manner, in turn outraged his wife, Mrs. Rosetta Hassen. Some of you held the family at bay. Some of you overcame all resistance by armed violence while each of you in turn committed this terrible crime against decency and virtue, and you all exhibited the most horrid and brutal depravity. … The enormity and great wickedness of your crime leaves no ground for the extension of sympathy for you. You can expect no more sympathy than lovers of virtue and haters of vice can extend to men guilty of one of the most brutal, wicked, repulsive and dastardly crimes known in the annals of crime.”
If Buck had any spoken final statement it has been lost to time, though a poem he wrote on the back of a photograph of his mother has endured. It reads:
i, dremP’T i, wAs, in, HeAven,
Among, THe AngeLs, FAir;
i’d, neAr, seen, none, so HAndsome,
THAT TWine, in goLden, HAir;
TheY, Looked, so, neAT, And, sAng, so, sweeT
And, Play, d, THe, THe, goLden, HArP,
i, WAS, ABouT, To, Pick, An, AngeL, ouT,
And, TAke, Her, To, mY HeArt;
BuT, THe, momenT, I, BegAn, To PLea,
I, THougHT, oF, You, mY, Love,
THere, Was, none, i’d Seen, So, BeAuTiFull,
On, eArTH, or, HeAven, ABove.
gooD, By, My Dear, Wife..anD MoTHer
All. so. My SIsTers
FATHer Son HOLY gHOST
virtue & resurresurrection.
The Rufus Buck gang. Left to right: Maoma July, Sam Sampson, Rufus Buck, Lukey Davis, Lewis Davis