TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Guide to the William L. "Buck" Buchanan Collection, 1935-1947
William L. “Buck” Buchanan was born on August 26, 1900 in Waco, Texas, where he worked on his father Ollie Buchanan’s farm during his school years. On April 23, 1923 Buck joined the Waco Police Department as a motorcycle officer. He was appointed to the Detective Bureau of that department in 1928 and quickly rose to the position of Chief of Detectives.
Special Agent Buchanan entered the ranks of the FBI September 25, 1934, during a time when gangsters and gang rule were prominent, powerful, and dangerous forces in the United States. During his first two years with the Bureau Buck was variously located at the St. Louis Field Office, the Cincinnati Field Division, the Oklahoma City Field Division, and on special assignment in Chicago in connection with major fugitive cases. His superiors noted his coolness under fire and proficiency with firearms. He was called to New Orleans on May 1, 1936, and was at FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s side when the Bureau apprehended then-Public Enemy No. 1 Alvin Karpis and his fellow gang member Fred Hunter. Agent Buchanan supplied the famous necktie that was used to restrain Karpis when a pair of handcuffs could not be located.
Buchanan worked on the Charles Mattson kidnapping case at the Seattle Field Division for most of the year 1937, returning to Oklahoma City in December. During this time he was primarily involved in solving bank robberies, including the case of Noah Maurice Still. In August of 1938 he became the Resident Agent at Muskogee, Oklahoma. He was called away from this position twice, in each case returning home to Muskogee afterwards. The first was to Honolulu, Hawaii following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, where the Bureau was investigating matters of national defense in connection with the incident. The second was in December of 1942, when Agent Buchanan was sent to Chicago, where he played an active role in the capture of Roger Touhy and his gang.
It was in Muskogee that Buck met his wife, Frances Eleanor Buchanan née Wainwright. They were married in the summer of 1942. The Buchanans welcomed their only child, son William Lee Buchanan II, into the world on October 31, 1944. The family maintained many friendships, particularly with other local law enforcement professionals, including Judge Alfred P. Murrah and family as well as FBI Agent D. A. “Jelly” Bryce. Buchanan was a 32nd degree Mason, and a member of the Scottish Rite and York Shrine Karem Temple in Waco.It was in Muskogee that Buck met his wife, Frances Eleanor Buchanan née Wainwright. They were married in the summer of 1942. The Buchanans welcomed their only child, son William Lee Buchanan II, into the world on October 31, 1944. The family maintained many friendships, particularly with other local law enforcement professionals, including Judge Alfred P. Murrah and family as well as FBI Agent D. A. “Jelly” Bryce. Buchanan was a 32nd degree Mason, and a member of the Scottish Rite and York Shrine Karem Temple in Waco.
After a long illness, Buck passed away at the age of 46 on July 15, 1947. He was interred in the Buchanan family plot at Oakwood Cemetery in Waco, Texas. In addition to his wife and young son, he was survived by two brothers, Ralph and Halbert C. Buchanan of Waco, and three sisters, Mrs. Fred Meyer of Waco, Mrs. R. L. Vickers of Odessa, and Mrs. Charles Craig of Los Angeles.
Correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, scrapbook material, and one book compose the William L. “Buck” Buchanan Collection, 1935-1947. The correspondence primarily relates to Agent Buchanan’s activities as a federal agent, the birth of his son, and condolences upon his death. Also present is a telegram from Buchanan to his wife, Frances Eleanor, and a hospital bill for the child’s birth. There are many letters from J. Edgar Hoover as well as Clyde Tolson, D. A. “Jelly” Bryce, and Judge A. P. Murrah. Photographs depict the Buchanan family and friends, including the Murrahs. Newspaper clippings are taken primarily from Oklahoma newspapers, such the Muskogee Daily Phoenix, the Muskogee Times-Democrat, and the Tulsa Daily World, but the Chicago Daily Tribune, the Washington D. C. Evening Star, and the Waco Tribune-Herald. Many clippings are notices of illness or obituaries for William L. Buchanan, but there are also articles related to Buchanan, Bryce, and Murrah’s activities as law enforcement agents as well as several broadsides from 1945 concerning the end of World War II. A copy J. Edgar Hoover’s book, Persons in Hiding, is included in the collection as it features a signed inscription inside from Hoover to Buchanan dated 1938.
This collection is open for research use.
William L. "Buck" Collection, 1935-1947, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Keelee James, February 2013.