Search billions of records on

Cheyenne County NEGenWeb Project 1997 to 2015 BAS
USGenWeb logo Nebraska state map with Cheyenne
          County highlighted
Cheyenne County
 Lawman of Cheyenne County, NE
CCGS/ Ada Schulz Ammerman 2004.  All material remains the sole property of the submitters.
All other rights reserved.
 written by Ada Schulz Ammerman
and contributed by the Cheyenne County Genealogical Society

    In the 131 years of the existence of Cheyenne County, there have been 19 different Sheriffs.  I'll go through the list and add a few comments on some of the sheriffs.

    In August 1870, Governor Davis Butler issued a Proclamation setting the boundaries of the new County of Cheyenne, designating Sidney as the County seat and Officers were appointed.

      JOHN J. ELLIS (Appointed), 1870

      Date of Cheyenne County's First Election - October 8, 1871.

      GEORGE C. COOK was elected but did not qualify, so JOHN J. ELLIS was appointed.

      JOHN J. ELLIS served 5 yrs, 4 mo, 1870-1875
      CON McCARTY served 2 yrs, 1876-1877

        While Sheriff, McCarty was the owner of the Capitol Saloon, a gambler, politician and cattleman.  In the 1880's, it was rumored that he was the leader of Sidney's under-world 
        and the main suspect in the 1880 Gold Bullion Robbery in Sidney.


        As the story goes, the stage from the Black hills arrived too late to catch the east bound train, and Mr. Allen, Express Agent, locked the bullion, totaling $120,000.00 in the freight room and went to lunch.  When he returned, he a hole had been sawed through the floor which led to a tunnel to another building, which had required several days of digging.

        Robert Law, U.P. Superintendent, and James "Whispering" Smith, a R.R. Detective from Cheyenne, were called into the case.  Upon investigation of the robbery, it was found that  all but 4 bars of gold bullion were recovered within two hours of the crime.  The case 
        boiled down to 4 suspects: McCARTY, the former Sheriff, then operating the Capitol Saloon & Gambling House; PATSY, one of McCarty's bartenders; MR. ALLEN, the station agent; and a barber named O'FLANAGAN.

        McCARTY had extreme influence in the county and was friendly with the tough element 
        in the town.  "Whispering" Smith always suspected McCARTY, but in spite of his urgings  to have McCARTY hanged at the nearest telegraph pole, the jury restrained him.  After a series of violent gun fight between Smith and McCARTY's crew, McCARTY was 
        arrested by a Vigilante Committee and jailed.

        That night, the prisoner was told that he would be hanged in the morning, and that the 
        best thing for him to do was to mount aa saddled hors standing outside the jail and leave 
        the county!  The jail door was opened by the Sheriff and the Vigilantes, and McCARTY 

        McCARTY never came back to Sidney, and it was told that "Whispering" Smith had 
        trailed him and disposed of him since Smith disappeared for 2 days after McCARTY 
        got away.  Later on, when McCARTY's Saloon was torn down, one gold brick was 
        found buried under it, but it was not a gold brick but a brick painted gold!

        Several of us who have lived around Sidney for some time will remember about the gold-painted brick just above the door of Tobin's Capitol Saloon, now the location of Wilson & Tobin Drug Store, 10th and Illinois.  Changes in the building have covered 
        the gold-painted brick.

      Back to the list of Sheriffs (These are all 2-year terms.)

      JOHN ZWEIFEL & ROBERT C. HOWARD, each served 2 yrs, 1878-1881
      SAM O. FOWLER served 4 yrs, 1882-1885
      W.T. EUBANK served 4 yrs, 1886-1889

        While FOWLER was Sheriff, James & Son John Pinkston were murdered in 1885 by his partner, James Reynolds.  One thing that came up when EUBANK died, the fact that the only legal hanging in Sidney was when Reynolds was hanged, but Sheriff EUBANK did 
        not hang him -- he gave a young man $5.00 to pull the lever.
      CHARLES W. TROGNITZ served 4 yrs, 1890-1893
      JOHN DAUGHERTY & DANIEL McALEESE, each served 2 yrs, 1894-1897
      FRANK H. KING served 4 yrs, 1898-1901
      S.H. BABB & J.W. (BILL) LEE, each served 2 yrs, 1902-1905
      JAMES W. McDANIEL served 11 yrs, 1906-1916, & 10 yrs, 1919-1928 for a total of 21 yrs.
        Jack Lowe's column of 4-19-93 tells us about Sheriff McDANIEL, "McDANIEL ruled 
        over Cheyenne County with an iron hand.  He had one Deputy and a powerful black 
        horse, and he always carried a big stick.  If someone offended him or talked back, he 
        would hit them with the stick.  This was before Miranda.  Sheriff McDANIEL cleaned up  the Hobo Camps along the railroad.  Hoboes knew about McDANIEL from coast to 
        coast and avoided Cheyenne County, just to keep away from McDANIEL and the big stick.  A curfew for kids was not needed.  Sheriff McDANIEL would ride his big black 
        horse down the streets at night, so kids stayed home."  My oldest sister told me that she remembered Sheriff McDANIEL - he was a very kind person - when he would see kids 
        on the street, he would come up and talk - pat you on the head and give you a shiny dime!
      JAMES M. NELSON served 1 yr, 2 mo 1929-1930 (he was killed in 1930)
      W.W. (BILL) SCHULZ served 36 yrs, 10 mo, 1930-1966
        I believe everyone know that Sheriff SCHULZ was my father.  In April 1929, SCHULZ started working for Sheriff NELSON as a part-time Deputy.  (SCHULZ & Uncle George Griswold ran a Pool Hall in Sidney.)  Ten months after he was hired as a Deputy, Sheriff NELSON was shot and killed by a man who had escaped from the Hastings State 
        Hospital.  Sheriff NELSON died on Feb. 22, 1930, and three days later, SCHULZ was appointed Sheriff of Cheyenne County.

        More comments from Jack Lowe: "SCHULZ became a legend in law enforcement in the Panhandle of Nebraska.  He retired on Jan 1, 1967, after nearly 38 years in law enforcement and almost 37 years a Cheyenne County Sheriff.  He decided not to run for 
        the 10th term.  He was one of the best vote-getters - out of 9 elections, he lost only 2 precincts to opponents."

        Here are some of the happenings:  In Jan 1931, SCHULZ & his Deputy, George Sheldon, were searching for men suspected of a robbery in Kimball.  (Remember, this was before radios were in use by police officers.)  They waited on Highway 30 and the vehicle with the suspects came along and the authorities pulled along side of the suspect car.  SCHULZ got to the driver's side and was leaning with his hand on the car, when the driver pulled a gun and shot at him, but the bullet went between two of his fingers, cutting his glove but not hurting him.  (The glove is on display in the Cheyenne County Museum.)  In the meantime, Sheldon opened the door on the other side and the other 2 men dropped their guns.  Sheldon shot the driver, but he recovered.

        Another incident in the late 30's involved an estranged couple.  The wife came to 
        Cheyenne County to be with her family after leaving her husband.  Then, early in the morning, the husband came to the farm and shot his wife in the arm and barricaded 
        himself in the upstairs room with their 14-month old daughter.

        SCHULZ & other authorities tried all day long without success to get the man to come down, but he refused.  They were afraid to shoot because of the child and finally decided
        to send in tear gas and rush him.  When they thought he was nearly out of bullets, tear gas was shot and SCHULZ & Joe Parano (NE State Patrolman) ran into the house and up 
        the stairs.  SCHULZ grabbed the child and Joe fired shots in the direction of the closet where the man was reloading his gun.  They waited for a time and after hearing no sounds, they went back upstairs and found the man was dead.

        In later years, the mother brought the young lady to meet Sheriff SCHULZ and they exchanged Christmas Cards for many years.

        One more item _ SCHULZ was involved in a shooting when some bank robbers from 
        Fort Morgan, CO, wound up in Sidney,  The Sidney Police were out to meet them and plenty of shooting was involved since the bandit's car hit a telephone pole.  Harvey Vizina was a Police Officer and one of his shots killed one robber but the other kidnapped a 
        Sidney motorist (Glenn Oldenberg) and forced him to drive to Garden City, KS.  That 
        night, the motorist called SCHULZ from Garden City, and after SCHULZ called and advised authorities in Garden City, the fugitive was located and killed in a gun battle.

        There were hardships in the Depression Days of 1930 and 1931, when as Sheriff, 
        Cheyenne County di not have money to pay salaries for several months.  The County 
        paid in script, and it was hard to buy groceries and pay rent with just a piece of paper.

      Back to the Sheriffs (When SCHULZ was Sheriff, they changed the term to 4 years.)

      KERMIT BRUMBAUGH served 8 yrs, 1967-1974
      OREN COX served 4 yrs, 1975-1978
      DARRELL J. JOHNSON served 22 yrs, 8 mo, 1979-PRESENT [about 2000]

    I hope you enjoyed the information on the Cheyenne County Sheriffs.
                  ADA SCHULZ AMMERMAN

      Please see corrections and additions by another writer below.


I have just read your take on the Lawmen of Cheyenne County. I note some errors, and would appreciate you updating your records, as documented accuracy is of prime importance. Sheriff McCarty was a suspect in the robbery by James "Whispering Smith," but Cheyenne County court records show that on the day ;of the robbery, March 10th, 1880, McCarty and wife were in court before the Judge. His appearance ended at about the same time that the robbery occurred. He had nothing to do with it! The robbery was worth $119,000.00 at that time, 6 bars of 75 pounds each, found within 24 hours, and four 8 pounds bricks, totaling 480 pounds of gold bullion, with a leather pouch of over $1100.00 in minted coins, 20-10-5-and 21/2 dollar coins. Patsy Walters was a bar keep in the Capitol Salon,
and at about 3AM while all were drunk, Smith shot Walters, not killing him at this time. 3 years later Hugo Hoppy had that honors. The barber, Dennis Flanagan was working in Omaha when this robbery occurred, and did not locate to Sidney until late May or early June, same year.

The night of fright in Sidney was a year later, April 1, 1881, and "Con" was rounded up with 14 other men and was to be the second one lynched, they did lynch
"Red" McDonald, but "Con" was set free when his 22 year old wife appeared with $500.00 cash, and they stated that they would never return to Sidney, and they
did not, as old "Con" headed to Oregon and went into the bar business there. James "Whispering" Smith was also going to be lynched, but ran to the westward bound freight leaving Sidney at that time, and he was only seen in Sidney once, some 25 years later.
Thanks for doing all you have, and can for us folk here in Sidney.
Loren Avey

Hi Betty,
      I have found court records in the District Court, Cheyenne County, that James Whispering Smith received his divorce in Sidney in 1885. Smith has three appearances in Court here, his wife never showed, and subsequently was granted his divorce. He lists his occupation as a lawman in Sioux County, Nebraska. It appears that Smith did show up in Sidney at least on these three occasions. I am doing a book on Cornelius McCarty, the sheriff, and have found so much documentation of his real character, and he has been portrayed falsely by the rumor mill of Sidney. 
Loren Avey

From Allen P. Bristow author of  WHISPERING SMITH His Life and Misadventures  published by Sunstone Press.
         My research into Whispering Smith led me to trace McCarty after his escape.  Smith didn't follow and kill him as some suppose.  McCarty's wife and children migrated to Montana/Idaho where she had more children by him. . .thus he was alive in Idaho at least until 1891.  Thomas Ryan, a McCarty cohort, also migrated to Boise.  See my book (p. 71) for details and documentation.  I was born at Kearney and have always had an interest in Nebraska cops & crooks although my own law enforcement career was in California.         Allen P. Bristow

If you have any questions or problems with this page
please feel free to e-mail me e-mailState Coordinator.
Problems with this link?  Try this one -- State Coordinator.
Please put "Cheyenne Lawmen" in the subject line.  Thanks.

RootsWeb Member
You are our [an error occurred while processing this directive]visitor since November 10, 1997 -- thanks for stopping by!
This page was last modified on Sunday, 03-Jul-2016 11:21:25 MDT

Return to the NEGenWeb Cheyenne County main page.