Book Review: Wyoming’s Territorial Sheriffs (by Ann Gorzalka) : WW

8/12/2001 • Thomas Jefferson, Wild West Reviews

Wyoming’s Territorial Sheriffs, by Ann Gorzalka, High Plains Press, Glendo, Wyo., 1998, $14.95.

Wyoming became a territory on July 25, 1868, and a state on July 10, 1890. During the territorial years, it had 55 sheriffs, beginning with Seth M. Preshaw, who was appointed interim sheriff of Laramie County in May 1869. When Preshaw ran for sheriff during the election that October, he lost out to the more flamboyant Thomas Jefferson Carr. “The name T. Jeff Carr struck terror in the hearts of ‘evil doers and tramps’ more than any other name in the Rocky Mountain region in the 1870s,” writes Ann Gorzalka in this well-researched 335-page book. During his three terms in office, Carr arrested many a hardened criminal, and he conducted the first legal hanging in Laramie County. Other colorful sheriffs included Malcolm Campbell, although his greatest claim to fame was when he was a deputy sheriff and captured the “man-eater” (literally) Alferd Packer; and Frank Canton, who was called Jon Horner when he lived on the wrong side of the law in Texas. Most of these 55 sheriffs carried out their duties–such as tax collecting and running the county jail–with little fanfare.