Our World – Blue Duck – Outlaw

If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that I am an active geocacher. (Check what geocaching is here and here.) It is a scavenger hunt using a GPS device (or the gps function of your smart phone) to find objects hidden in the world by other people. To me it is an interesting combination of the physical world with the online realm with a significant social component. I have hidden over twenty caches and have found close to 1800 in the years I have been doing it.

Often geocachers use the game to bring attention to significant spaces such as works of art, special outdoor areas, and historical items. I noticed that somebody had placed a cache close to Tulsa with a reference to Blue Duck’s grave site. That immediately got my attention. The Blue Duck I was thinking about was the character in Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” series of books. So I went to find the cache and see the grave site.

I didn’t find the cache but I found the grave of Bluford Duck. Born in 1858 into the Cherokee tribe he was already an outlaw in the 1870’s in Oklahoma Territory, cattle rustling, bank robbing, and horse stealing was his trade. In 1884 he and two of his compadres killed a farmer named Samuel Wyrich for no reason. Duck was apprehended and sentenced to die by hanging by the Hanging Judge, Isaac Parker, of Forth Smith, Arkansas. His sentence was later commuted to Life in prison. He got tuberculosis in prison and was released and died soon thereafter in 1895 and buried in this humble cemetery in the Tulsa suburb of Catoosa.

Besides being a “notorious outlaw” (are not all old west outlaws, “notorious”), Duck’s claim to fame was being romantically involved with Belle Starr, another “notorious outlaw.”

And here are the love birds. (Note the manacles on Duck’s wrists.) You can tell he is an outlaw because he is wearing a black hat. He is an attractive looking guy though. Starr though looks a little rough in my opinion. (I’d of never told her that to her face you understand. Notorious outlaws are a little twitchy about stuff like that.)

Larry McMurty’s character, Blue Duck, has no relation to the Cherokee Blue Duck besides being “notorious outlaws.” McMurty’s Blue Duck is combined Mexican and Comanche descent and killed a lot more than one person. From what I read, there is no evidence that McMurtry even knew about the Oklahoma Blue Duck. But hey, he might have. Blue Duck is a great name for an outlaw especially the notorious kind.


I love finding stuff like this that helps make history more real. My favorite is from a German POW’s grave at Fort Reno, Oklahoma that I just randomly googled and found out he, Johannes Kunze, was murdered by his fellow POWs for being a snitch. The Germans were prosecuted for the crime during the war by Leon Jaworski, who later led the impeachment of Richard Nixon. Read the post here.

Have you ever found the grave of somebody who is “almost famous.”

I am linking with Our World Tuesday. Come check it out!

14 thoughts on “Our World – Blue Duck – Outlaw

  1. Amy Franks

    For some reason as I look at the photo of them both it looks like she’s older than him and did she perhaps have smallpox as her skin looks a bit scarred, great post though.

  2. peppylady (Dora)

    Here a little interesting thing. I am related to Belle Starr, she was born Myra Belle Shirley. My moms moms maiden name is Shirley. And my mother first name is Myra. Although she wasn’t name after her. I understand my great grandfather and her are first cousins. Not trying to see something that there, but I can see the family resemble.

  3. Григорий

    Blue Duck, sometimes referred to as Bluford Duck, (1858 – 1895) was an outlaw of the Old West, probably best known for a photograph taken of him around the mid-18, in which he posed with Belle Starr, a famous Old West female outlaw.

  4. Barb

    I think Starr looks 20 years older than Duck! They must not have used moisturizer back then. I found a old grave from the 1800’s just randomly placed in nature near the Sally Barber mine. The young man wasn’t famous, just a miner who fell sick and had no family to claim him. I’ve visited the grave many times since, thinking how afraid the man must have been with no one to care for him.

  5. Sallie

    I loved learning all this! Gosh, Belle does look a little uh, shopworn maybe? But yeah, the outlaw life must have been kinder to notorious men, he looks more like what you’d think of from Hollywood casting. I can see from this why you love geocaching!

  6. Pat

    Very interesting! I agree that belle looked a little old for Blue. Every grave has a story–some more interesting than others

    My husband and I were volunteers at a historic cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, before we moved, Green-Wood Cemetery. It was the final resting place of boht the famous and infamous. “Bill the Butcher” of movie fame “Gangs of New York” is buried there in what was an inmarked grave. An author bought him a headstone after writing a bio about him that sold well. The movie Wizard of Oz — Frank Morgan– is buried there, also Louis Comfort Tiffany, Teddy Roosevelt’s firt wife and mother are buried there– and so many others—-go to their web site and explore. It is an absolutely beautiful place and gives tours.

  7. Eileen


    It is neat seeing these old grave sites and learning the history of this outlaws. You are doing well with the geocaching. Take care, enjoy your day! Wishing you a happy week ahead.

  8. Jackie McGuinness

    Geocaching has always intrigued me as I love scavenger hunts. I should read the articles you included.
    Blue Duck is a great name, although not very scary sounding.
    Bella doesn’t just look rough, she looks downright ancient.

  9. Ellen

    You always uncover the most interesting stories. And you’re right, Belle Starr does look a little rough, but maybe that’s what happens when you’re an outlaw.

  10. Driller's Place

    What a great little history lesson. Yes, Blue Duck was a handsome young man but Belle would have never been the “Belel of the Ball”.
    I have stumbled upon the grave sites of Ma & Pa Barker, outside of Grove, OK. Their grave sites are still marked with the temporary markers. I’m sure there is concern that tombstones would be stolen or vandalized, so the never place permanent headstones on the graves.

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