Fred Waite

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Fred Waite

Fred Waite, born Frederick Tecumseh Waite [a] (September 23, 1853 – September 24, 1895), was a Chickasaw cowboy who joined Billy the Kid's gang. His father was a farmer and operated a trading store and stage stop southeast of Pauls Valley in the Chickasaw Nation. Waite left Indian Territory to work as a cowboy in the New Mexico Territory. While working for John Tunstall as a ranch hand, he met Bill Bonney and several other men who worked for Tunstall. After Tunstall was killed in the "Lincoln County war", Bonney, Waite and the others called themselves the Regulators while they pursued Tunstall's killers. After that, they became known as the "Billy the Kid gang." In 1880, Waite left the gang, returning to live in the Chickasaw Nation. Waite married, became a rancher and started a family. He lived a law-abiding life thereafter and became involved in Choctaw and Chickasaw politics. Elected to the legislature as a representative both as a representative and as a senator, he was even elected Speaker of the House for three sessions. Then he was appointed Attorney General of the Chickasaw Nation. He died of rheumatism at the age of 42.

Early life[edit]

Fred Waite was born in the Chickasaw Nation at Fort Arbuckle, in what is now Garvin County, Oklahoma. Son of Catherine McClure Waite and Thomas Fletcher Waite. The grandson of Ela Teecha "Ellen" McClure and the Rev. A.J. McClure, a missionary from England to the Chickasaws.[2]

During the Civil War, the Waite family, pursued by Confederate soldiers, fled to the Sac and Fox reservation in Kansas. After the war, they returned to Indian Territory.[2] Reportedly, Fred was sent to school at the Illinois Industrial University (Champaign, Illinois), but graduated from Mound City Commercial College in St. Louis, Missouri in 1874. He returned home to manage the family store after his father's death. He also managed a crew of thirty ranch hands who were looking after about a thousand head of cattle.[3]

Life in New Mexico[edit]

As Fred grew older, he decided to become a cowboy. He left home in 1875, intending to go to Colorado. Somehow, he wound up in Lincoln County, New Mexico, where he got a job as a ranch hand with John Chisum in 1877.[3] Waite found work in New Mexico with John Tunstall, who was later to be one of the leaders of the Tunstall-McSween vs. Dolan war, better known as the Lincoln County War. Waite worked as a farmer for Tunstall.

On February 18, 1878, after Tunstall was killed, Waite became a member of the Regulators.[1] They originally collected as a posse led by Dick Brewer to serve arrest warrants on Tunstall's killers.[1] Through the posse, Waite met Billy, American Indian Jose Chavez y Chavez, Henry Brown, Jim French, and Charlie Bowdre. They later formed what became Billy the Kid's gang.

Fred Waite was allegedly behind a wall with the gang when they killed William J. Brady, sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico. He was also present when the gang killed Buckshot Roberts, a suspect in the murder of Tunstall.[4]

Return to Indian Territory[edit]

Fred allegedly stayed with the Regulators long enough to become the subject of one county and two federal arrest warrants. The gang split up, and Fred headed back to Indian Territory, where he settled down in the Washita Valley. He married Mary E. Thompson on December 1, 1881, moved to the Choctaw Nation, and started a family.[3]

Serving the Chickasaw[edit]

Determined to turn his life around, Waite tried several different occupations. First, he began ranching, then he worked as a lawman for the U.S. Indian Police. Finally he discovered politics. He became a delegate to an Inter-tribal conference. then he was elected as a representative and then as a senator in the Choctaw government from his home district. He was elected Speaker of the House three times. After that he was named Attorney General of the Chickasaw Nation. While in this position, he died of rheumatism on September 24, 1895.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ occasionally spelled Fred Wayte[1]


  1. ^ a b c Otero, Miguel Antonio (1936) The Real Billy the Kid with new light on the Lincoln County War Rufus Rockwell Wilson, New York, p.46
  2. ^ a b Weiser, Kathy. "Old West Legends: Fred Waite - Chickasaw Outlaw Turned Politician." Legends of America. October, 2012. Accessed November 30. 2016
  3. ^ a b c d Caldwell, C. R.; Waite, Frederick Tecumseh 'Dash' (2008). Dead Right:The Lincoln County War (2nd ed.). p. 219. ISBN 978-0-6151-7152-4. Retrieved December 1, 2016. 
  4. ^ Utley, Robert M. Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life. p. 71. ISBN 0-8032-9558-8