Crime in Buffalo
History of Buffalo County and Its People, by Samuel Clay
Bassett, 1916. p. 322-324.
In the year 1881 H. C. McNew, editor of
The Shelton Clipper,
writing of cowboy troubles at Kearney, says: "During the
early days of Kearney that town had a good deal of trouble
with herders who infested this section of Nebraska at that
time. "It was at that place where Peeler received wounds
that made him a cripple for life, and he is now living in
Western Texas. He was a crack shot, using either hand with
deadly effect, but he got hit twice with needle gun bullets
during a midnight call of vigilantes. This knocked all the
'sand' out of him and settled him for life. 'Texas Spence'
received deadly wounds during an afternoon's shooting match
on the streets of Kearney between citizens and herders. He
lived a few days and crossed to--no one knows. This about
broke up the trouble and the town settled down to quietude
and has ever since retained that state. Bill Bland was the
leader of the herders in all this trouble. He was a bad man
and met a violent death last summer at Fort Griffin, N. M.,
being shot down by a company of soldiers sent out into that
country to kill off such characters. Robert Stimson, then
city marshal, shot a 'tenderfoot' herder named Smith (Brown)
whom he was attempting to take up the street."
THE MURDER OF BROWN BY CITY MARSHAL STIMSON
It was a beautiful day in the month of June that the writer
and his brother visited the City of Kearney in order to
purchase some harvesting machinery. As we drove into the
city about 11 o'clock in the forenoon, we saw, south of the
track, a young man riding at a rapid gait and making a great
deal of unnecessary noise.
We put up our team at "Jimmie" O'Kane's and had started to
visit A. L. Webb's implement store on the north side, when,
as we were crossing the railroad, our attention was called
to the cowboy, whom City Marshal Stimson had arrested near
the courthouse, and was, it was stated, taking him to the
mayor's office in the north part of the city. The cowboy,
unarmed except a quirt hanging at his wrist, was riding his
pony and the marshal's revolver glistened in the sunlight as
he walked beside the boy on his pony.
The report had quickly spread that the marshal had arrested
a cowboy and scores of men had congregated in the vicinity
of the railroad crossing awaiting the coming of the marshal
and his prisoner.
The first building north of the crossing and on the west
side of the street was a law office, a one-story building,
with a sleeping room above. In front of this building the
cowboy reined in his pony, facing the building, and
seemingly addressing a person in the room above the law
office, said, "Don't you see this d--d pony don't want to go
any farther?" The boy did not attempt to escape. He did not
attempt to strike the marshal or his pony. He was dressed in
shirt and trousers, unarmed except for a quirt hanging at
his wrist. There were scores of men within easy reach to
assist the marshal had he called for help. The marshal stood
so close to the boy that he had to step backward in order to
straighten his arm, which he did, and shot the boy through
the body. As the boy lurched in the saddle from the effect
of the shot, he exclaimed, "For God's sake, don't shoot me."
The marshal shot him a second time as the boy was falling
from the horse. With the quirt still hanging to his wrist
the wounded boy was carried into the office and laid on a
lounge. As recalled, no attempt was made to dress his wounds
or relieve his suffering.
When the writer returned from his noon-day lunch the boy was
Immediately after the shooting the writer called on a banker
with whom he was well acquainted, Frank S. Trew, stated what
he had just witnessed and insisted it was a case of
deliberate murder, that the killing was uncalled for, not
justified. The banker replied, in substance, "The people of
Kearney will stand back of their officers in all matters of
A grand jury refused to indict the marshal and he was not
tried for the killing of the boy. It developed that the boy
had come from Pennsylvania the fall before, had helped care
for some cattle being wintered west of Kearney and when
spring came had worked as "tender" for a mason in plastering
a house. Having earned some money he had ridden his pony to
the city, doubtless taken a few drinks of beer, imagined he
was a truly enough "cowboy," and thus met his death. While
he was killed by the city marshal, he was buried at the
expense of the county.
It is not believed by the writer that Marshal Stimson should
be greatly blamed in the matter. The people of Kearney had
been terrorized by cowboys made reckless and dangerous by
intoxicating liquors purchased at open saloon in the city.
The marshal himself, it is believed, was, as the saying is,
"scared to death," imagining he was dealing with a dangerous
cowboy. It is recalled and also related that for years Mr.
Stimson "toted" a shotgun, day and night, wherever he went.
* * *
The Acheys Remember Kearney’s Early Days
Edited by Mardi Anderson
Letter written by H. H. Achey when invited to come back to
Kearney for its 50th Anniversary.
“…we Had Quite a Time in getting a bridge a cross the Platt
River[.] the King Bridge Co & the Clark Co. got in
litigition But we finely got it as the Courts Desided in our
Favor and an old Gentleman came From Boston Mass & he had
Brought some of the Bridge Bonds[.] he was Dessed in a White
Sert & Prince Albert Coat & a high Silk Hat & as it Happened
that day thier were quite a good many Cow Boys in Town & as
he went Down Rail Road St a Bunch of them spied him and they
took a Shot at his Silk Hat & he Run a round Jim Kileys
Saloon to get to the Comercil Hotel[.] But he Encounted a
nother Bunch & they made a nother dive at Him & so finely he
Run in the allie of the Comercil Hotel Run in through the
kitchen & asked the clerk when the next Train was Due East
as he was So Scared he Said if i only can get a way alive i
do not care what in H Be Came of the Intres Bonds[.]…”
“…at one Time thier were quite a few Tuffs as they were
called & the Better class of citizen wonted To get Rid of
them[.] So one night we got To gether To hunt them & fine
them notice To Leave Town[.] Mr Nathan Campbell was Mayor of
Town so we made Him our Spokesman[.] We found all But one[.]
do not Remember his name As he went by the name Dirty
Mike[.] We finely Found him in a Building South of the R. R.
Track in the Emty Store Building owned by a man named
Seripps[.] So we knocked at the door & Mr Scripp came To the
Door & asked him if Dirty Mike was in[.] he said yes So i
Pushed Campbell in the door & we all followed[.] went to
Back Part of the Store[.] there Sat Dirty Mike[.] so Mr
Campbell Said is this the man Achey & i Said yes[.] So the
mayor Said Well Dirty Mike the Boys Come to Haze you But i
Told them i thought it would best we Better To To give you
12 hours To leave Town & Mike Said it would suit me a Hell
of a lot Better to So we got Rid of them[.]…”
* * *
Dec. 9, 1889 Kearney Hub
Another Court Case:
James Karn, (a drayman) drunk, hit a man, fined $9.70
Jesse Karn, (also a drayman, brother?)
Arrested for “annoying the Salvation Army”.
Fined last winter, appealed, lost again,
Doing jail time for not liking the Salvation Army
July 17, 1896 New Era Standard
Andrew Hultquist of Axtell “seriously shot” Frank Merryman
It was the result of an old feud.
Hultquist went to Minden and gave himself up to the sheriff.
Item in Majors column –
Mr. & Mr. L. C. Valentine were called to Axtell. Mrs.
Valentine’s brother was shot by a neighbor in a fit of
Undated news clipping
"Wednesday night a sneak thief attempted to steal some
dresses from Mrs. A. L. Armstrong, by fishing them
from a hook on the wall with a pole in which he had driven
pins. Mrs. Armstrong was stopping at the Junction
House with her husband and left the window open from the
top. She discovered it in time to jump up and grasp
her dresses as they were disappearing out the window."