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 Charles Francis Colcord

Charles Francis Colcord

Death 10 Dec 1934 (aged 75)
Burial Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, USA
Memorial ID 16646839 · View Source
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Charles Francis Colcord (August 18, 1859 – December 10, 1934), also known as Charlie and even Chuck by some, was a successful rancher, U.S. Marshal, Chief of Police, businessman, and pioneer of the Old West.

Colcord's life encompassed the American Civil War, the Land Runs, the Wright brothers' flight, World War I, Charles Lindbergh, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and the transition of Oklahoma City from a prairie with scattered teepees and herds of bison to a booming metropolis with skyscrapers, oil fields and interstate highways. On December 30, 1934, a resolution adopted by the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce stated, "Affluence came to him but left unspoiled his native gentleness and simplicity. Always he was modest, humble, democratic, generous, just and kind. He remembered the less fortunate friends of his early days."

Jug livestock brand, now in the Cowboy Hall of FameCharles Colcord was born in Kentucky in 1859, and for much of his young childhood his father was away fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War. After contracting malaria near New Orleans, his father moved him to the ranch of a friend near Corpus Christi, Texas so that he could recover. When he was 12, his family planned to return him to New Orleans, so he ran away. Taking his six-guns and his horse, he could ride, rope and shoot well enough to get a job as a cowpuncher on the Chisholm Trail, moving thousands of head of cattle from Texas through the Indian Territories to Abilene, Kansas, the nearest railhead, where they would be shipped back to the East Coast. He built up his own herds and his brand, the Jug livestock brand (pictured here), became famous throughout Kansas and Oklahoma. He then worked as a range detective, and gained a reputation as a lawman.

In 1889 the cattle market collapsed, and the Oklahoma land run was announced. On April 22, 1889 Charles made the run that day and traded his team, wagon and gear for a shack and lot. By the end of the excitement, a noisy tent city had sprung up, and Colcord was its leading citizen, with his lot becoming Lot Number 1, Block Number 1, Oklahoma City.

As Oklahoma boomed he served as Chief of Police, then Oklahoma City's first Sheriff (essentially the army left what was a territory, declared it a state, and gave Charlie the stockade and a gun.) He later became a US Marshal (appointed by President Grover Cleveland), serving with Bill Tilghman. He worked hard to control a lawless, wild area, fighting Bill Doolin, Tulsa Jack, the Dalton Gang, Little Dick West, and others. He personally rounded up five members of the Dalton Gang and supervised their hanging.

He also participated in the Cherokee Strip land run and built a home there. During the run his horse ran into the horse of an old friend, Sheriff George Parker of Lincoln County, when George's mount stepped into a prairie dog hole. George said "Stay down, Charlie, that's a corner lot!" and Charlie staked his claim where he fell. In six hours Perry, Oklahoma had a population of 15,000.

He assisted in the discovery of the Glenn Pool oilfield, and with his profits built the Colcord Building in 1912.

Colcord Ranch (present day)By the 1920s, Colcord was a wealthy man. He learned of the wonderful opportunities for cattle ranching in southern Delaware County, Oklahoma and built a 2000 acre (8 km²) ranch there. Nearby a little community was springing up that was later named after the rancher. Mr. Colcord employed many local residents of Colcord, Oklahoma and was very important to the spirit and economy of the growing town.

In 1933, Colcord had his last episode with lawbreakers. A close friend of his, Charles Urschel, was kidnapped by Machine Gun Kelly and his gang and held for ransom, not uncommon in those Depression days. Colcord called a meeting at the Colcord Building of the richest men in Oklahoma City and put together a large reward. Even at age 74, he would have undoubtedly preferred to strap on his old .44's, but times had changed. Kelly was eventually captured, and Charles Urschel was returned unharmed.

Colcord Building, Oklahoma CityColcord built the Colcord Building, which was the first skyscraper in Oklahoma City. It was also the first steel-reinforced concrete building in Oklahoma, because Colcord had seen the devastation to lesser buildings in San Francisco following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and resulting fires. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and still stands today. Rennovations are planned to transform the office building into a boutique hotel.

Colcord also built the Commerce Exchange Building and the Biltmore Hotel.

When he died Oklahoma City named the Civic Center after him. His dedication to the city and his humble origins landed him in the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

One of Oklahoma City's first large private homes was built by Colcord, starting neighborhoods that still stand today.




  • Created by: Robert Sandlin
  • Added: 14 Nov 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 16646839
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Charles Francis Colcord (18 Aug 1859–10 Dec 1934), Find A Grave Memorial no. 16646839, citing Fairlawn Cemetery, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Robert Sandlin (contributor 46539933) .