From their spurs that jingle, jangle, jingled all the way up to their ten-gallon hats, the good folk of Ellis County, Kansas, had had it with ruffians, belligerents, and liquored-up Jesse James wanna-be’s shooting up the saloon every Saturday night. Late that summer in 1869, they decided to get themselves a real sheriff.
Out of the west and through the tumbling tumbleweeds he rode – a cowpokian legend who promised law and order as well as a chicken in every spittoon. He was tall, steely-eyed with shoulder length hair. He could stare a lawbreaker down or put a bullet through a beer can in mid-air with either hand.
And after his arrival, law and order did prevail in Ellis County – but at what price? Shortly after midnight on September 27, the sheriff broke up a brawl at the saloon between a crowd of buffalo hunters. One of the men turned and glared at the sheriff as though he would refuse to stand down. Without a single word of Miranda, the sheriff shot him between the eyes. Just a few weeks earlier, the sheriff had shot an angry soldier protesting a parking citation And on top of that, rumor had it that the sheriff had threatened a ten-year old truant with a horsewhipping.
The sheriff had to go. And go he did. Defeated in an election by his own deputy after only three months on the job, the unemployed sheriff, Wild Bill Hickok, rode off into the Kansas sunset. To be forgotten?
A few noted lawmen: