Frontier lawman Malcolm “Old Grizzly” Cambell was a Wyoming lawman who became the oldest peace officer in the state.
Campbell was born on a farm near London, Ontario, Canada on June 4, 1839, to David and Catherine Smith Campbell. When he was 25, the family moved to DeWitt, Iowa and the following year to Beatrice, Nebraska. There, Campbell entered the freighting business, moving supplies to Forts Kearney and McPherson. After a skirmish with Indians, he moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he again worked as a freighter, as well as driving cattle.
In 1882, he became a deputy sheriff under Nathaniel Boswell and three terms under Lew Miller in Albany County, Wyoming. During this time, his most notable capture was when he arrested fugitive Colorado cannibal, Alfred Packer in the spring of 1883. In 1888, Campbell was elected sheriff of the Converse County, Wyoming, which bordered Johnson County to the north. Though this was the very time of the infamous “Johnson County War,” Campbell did not get involved.
On one occasion when a gunfight at a saloon resulted in the arrest of one of the shooters, a small party of men demanded the release of the prisoner so they could “finish him off.” However when Campbell gave them a defiant look and said: “Over my dead body,” the men rode away.
After serving as sheriff he also served for a time as the town marshal in Douglas, Wyoming and was active in politics. The oldest peace officer in Wyoming, he lived a long life and died at the age of 93 on July 21, 1932, and was buried at the Highland Cemetery in Casper, Wyoming. During his lifetime, he was not only called “Old Grizzly,” but also the “fire-eating marshal.”
Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated January 2020.