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Old West Lawmen - L

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Peter R. "Rattlesnake Pete" Lanahan (18??-1871) - In 1861, Lanahan was employed by the Quartermaster’s Department at Fort Hays, Kansas. On February 22, 1868, he was hired as a city policeman for the newly incorporated Hays City, a position he held until August, when he returned to Fort Hays. In August, 1869, he went to work for James B. "Wild Bill" Hickok as a deputy, but In November, ran against the infamous gunfighter in the Sheriff's election. Defeating Hickok, Lanahan assumed the new position in January, 1870 and Wild Bill moved on. However, some of the rowdy crowd of Hays City were none to happy at the replacement and soon began to plot an assassination. On the night of July 16, 1871, several of these assassins started a fight in the Tenth Street Saloon, knowing that Sheriff Lanahan would come running. When Lanahan arrived an tried to stop the violence, he was shot twice in the chest for his efforts. The Sheriff was then taken to his quarters in the court house and tended to by a doctor, but he died a couple of days later.


James Franklin "Bud" Ledbetter (1852-1937) - Ledbetter was born and raised in Madison, Arkansas where he began his career as a lawman. He served as a deputy sheriff in Johnson County for ten years, gaining a reputation as a fierce fighter who was hard on thieves and killers. He moved to Indian Territory in 1894, where he worked for an express company before being recruited as a U.S. Deputy Marshal. Working under Morton Rutherford, Ledbetter quickly earned a reputation for his gunfighting skills and is credited with single-handedly bringing in four members of the train robbing Jennings Gang. The events of his career paralleled those of Bill Tilghman, Heck Thomas and Chris Madsen and he has sometimes been referred to as the "fourth guardsman." Ledbetter became the Police Chief of Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1908, a position he held for two years. He lived in Muskogee until his death in 1937.


Joe LaForsJoseph "Joe" S. LeFors (1865-1940) - Born in Paris, Texas in 1865, LeFors grew up to be a cowboy and after driving a herd to Wyoming in 1885, stayed there. Later he would become and inspector-detective responsible for tracking stolen cattle in Wyoming and Montana. In the process he was involved in a number of gunfights. In 1899, he rode with a posse sent to capture those responsible for the Willcox Train Robbery and was appointed as a U.S. Deputy Marshal the same year. In this capacity, he pursued a number of train robbers and other outlaws in the northwest.


In 1901, he became famous for arresting and documenting a confession from the former lawman turned hired killer, Tom Horn. Horn was later tried, sentenced to die and hanged. In 1902, Lefors was working for the Iron Mountain Ranch Company in Helena, Montana, allegedly with the intention of infiltrating a gang of cattle rustlers. However, he was unsuccessful in aiding with the gang and was fired in 1904. Afterwards, little is known about his life, other than he died on October 1, 1940 and is buried in the Willow Grove Cemetery in Buffalo, Wyoming.


Lighthorse Police (1844-1889) -  The Indian Police in Oklahoma were given the name Lighthorse by the Five Civilized Tribes when the state was still Indian Territory. As early as 1808, when the Cherokee were still located in the southeast, they appointed "regulators" to stop crime, protect widows and orphans, and kill those who resisted authority. The tradition continued after the Cherokee were forced on the "Trail of Tears" to Indian Territory and was taken up by the other "civilized" tribes including the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes. The police force got its name from Revolutionary War hero, General Henry Lee who was called "Lighthorse Harry" due to how quickly his cavalry responded to conflicts. The first official Lighthorse Company was formed in 1844 by the Cherokee National Council. Composed of a captain, lieutenant and twenty-four horsemen, the men were tasked with the pursuit and arrest all fugitives from justice before turning them over to the Indian courts for trial and punishment. Though history tends to focus on the U.S. Deputy Marshal's activities in Indian Territory, the Lighthorse Police were just as important and their tales, unfortunately remain mostly "unsung." When the Five Civilized Tribes lost their tribal lands in the late 19th century, the Lighthorse Mounted Police were disbanded. However, today, some tribes still use the Lighthorse name for for elements of their police forces.


Seldon T. Lindsey (1854-19??) - Reared in Louisiana, Lindsey's family moved to McClennan County, Texas after his father returned from the Civil War. Upon settling down, Seldon's father established a law practice and in 1870, at the age of sixteen, Seldon found work as a cowboy. Over the next several years he worked on a number of cattle drives to the Kansas railroads. He also spent some time hunting buffalo, where he had the opportunity to meet Buffalo Bill Cody on two occasions. In 1881, he married and the couple would eventually have eleven children. Appointed as a U.S. Deputy Marshal in 1890, he worked out of Paris, Texas and was involved in a number of gunfights as he brought in outlaws for sentencing. On June 8, 1894, Lindsey, along with U.S. Deputy Marshal Loss Hart, shot and killed Bill Dalton, the last of the Dalton Gang.




Harry Love (1809–1868) - Love was said to have known Davy Crockett and Sam Houston in his boyhood and had a brother who died at the Alamo. He fought in the Blackhawk Indian War in 1831 with Abraham Lincoln, and later in the Mexican War in 1846. He was also a scout, an army express rider, a Texas Ranger, and an explorer of the Rio Grande in 1850. He then moved onward to California, but after failing to make his fortune in the gold fields, he became a deputy in Santa Barbara, California. On May 11, 1853, California Governor John Bigler signed a legislative act authorizing the organization of a band of California Rangers under the command of Captain Harry Love. Their purpose was to capture or kill the infamous bandito Joaquin Murrieta, ringleader of a gang of men believed to be responsible for much of the cattle rustling, robberies, and murders taking place in the Mother Lode region. In July of 1853, the Rangers came across the group of bandits near Arroyo Cantúa in San Benito County and in the ultimate gunfight, killed two of them who were allegedly the famous Joaquin Murrieta and his right hand man, Three Fingered Jack. Love was killed in June, 1868 in Santa Clara, California when he was in a wrestling brawl with a man named Christian Ivorson. During the scuffle, Harry's own pistol accidentally discharged into his armpit and Love died the next day.


Battle marker near Roscoe, MissouriCaptain Louis J. Lull, aka W.J. Allen (18??-1874) - A Pinkerton Agent from Chicago, Illinois, Lull was working with fellow Pinkerton Agent James Boyle and local St. Claire County, Missouri deputy sheriff, Edwin Daniels searching for the elusive Younger brothers, who were thought to be in the area. On March 16, 1874, they set out from Osceola to Roscoe, Missouri. After spending the night at the Roscoe House Hotel, the left the day for the home of Theodrick Snuffer, a family friend of the Youngers, some three miles out of town. Posing as cattle buyers, they questioned Snuffer, but got nowhere. Little did they know that John and Jim Younger were watching from Snuffer’s attic. When the lawmen left, the two Younger Brothers followed and ordered the three men to halt. Panicked, Pinkerton Agent James Wright, spurred his horse and kept on going. However; the other two lawmen, Pinkerton Agent Lull and Daniels, stopped and within no time a gunfight ensued. When the smoke cleared, John Younger and Deputy Edwin Daniels were dead, Louis Lull was severely wounded and Jim Younger received a flesh wound in his hip. Lull was taken to Roscoe for treatment, but would die of his wounds a few days later.



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