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"Lawmen and Badmen: The Tin Star of the Old West" Topic

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19th Century

419 hits since 13 Mar 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2018 12:16 p.m. PST

"In the old movies about the Old West, when grizzled, chawing, cussing, murdering highwaymen ride into town and disturb the peace, from behind the batwing doors of the lawman's office steps the badge-wearing, fast-shooting, strong-silent-type. The banditti are savage and lawless. The lawman is good.

The lawman might be a U.S. marshal, appointed by the Attorney General, under whose loose, vague authority the marshal operated until the Department of Justice was organized in 1870; or he might be a local sheriff, elected to office by the townspeople. Out West, where systems of order were as scarce as systems of plumbing, the marshal and the sheriff assumed the persona of the law. The distinction often makes no difference in old Western movies, but is an optimum detail in the pursuit of genealogy and local history research in the Milstein Division, where reference librarians must wrangle between the local, county, state, and federal levels in order to rope in relevant resources for patron requests…"
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Stephen Miller13 Mar 2018 7:18 p.m. PST

I believe the sheriff was a county official, ie, Johnny Behan was the Sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona at the time of the OK Corral. A marshal could either be a U.S. Marshal with a vast jurisdiction or might be the town marshal, elected by the residents of the town (ie, Virgil Earp was the town marshal of the town of Tombstone, Arizona for the OK Corral), having jurisdiction only within the town/city limits.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2018 12:17 p.m. PST



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