could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers


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Crime in Buffalo County

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."




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 dead.

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 this kind."

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.


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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[.]…”


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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 in Axtell
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 temper.


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."



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