Posts Tagged ‘Jim Dahlman’

Seth Bullock’s “Cowboy Brigade” attends Teddy Roosevelt’s Inauguration

November 16, 2009
Indian_chiefs roosevelt inaugurationo

Image from Wiki

A commenter asked if I had a source that listed Jim Dahlman as one of Seth Bullock’s Cowboy Brigade, that attended Teddy Roosevelt’s inauguration. I did some searching over the weekend, and found one source, which is noted in the post. NOTE: They incorrectly listed his given name as Bill, rather than Jim.



National Capitol Filled by Throngs for the Inauguration.


Governors and Staffs in Gold Braided Uniforms, Indians in Blankets and Filipinos Mingle With the Gathering of the Plain People.

Seth Bullock’s cowboys, fifty-one strong, arrived yesterday afternoon, very tired and thirsty after a thirty-hour ride. The rangers were attired in the conventional cowboy costume. Those in the crowd who expected them to carry six-shooters were not disappointed. Each of Seth’s boys wore a leather bolster, in which was a formidable looking, long barrel gun. Buckskin trousers, gayly decorated shirts and broad-rimmed sombreros composed the uniform in which they were attired.

Cowboys Have a Frolic.

When the contingent got to the nearby hotel, at which they were corraled, all hands washed up and then scattered in twos or threes to see the town. Three of them found the stable where their mounts are being cared for, and getting astride of their horses, started out for a frolic on Pennsylvania avenue. For the edification of the crowd they did a little rope throwing, each man tossing his noose over the head of one of his companions. But this became tiresome after a while and a few exhibition throws were given to the delight of the crowds and the alarm of the diminutive negroes who were invariably the targets.

Last night most of the cowboy company called on Captain Seth at the Shor?ham hotel. They liked the looks of the place and some of them spent the evening there.

The cowboys will be the guest of Senator Kittredge of South Dakota at 9 o’clock breakfast Sunday and in the afternoon will be taken around the city in automobiles. No set programme has been arranged in the meantime, but the whole town is anxious to do them honor and everything is free whenever the cowboys appear in cafes.

The Syracuse Herald (Syracuse, New York) Mar 3, 1905

Seth Bullock Cowboy Brigage

I saved this picture above, but forgot to note the source, and now I can’t find it again. This lists 40 of the 60 cowboys, and the picture appears to be cut off on the sides, so maybe the rest of them (including Jim Dahlman, who is NOT listed) were off to the side.

UPDATE: Carl Steiger found the website where I originally found this image. It is called Cowboys & Images. Here is a link to the image. Thanks, Carl!

seth bullock moralizes header 1905

By Seth Bullock.

First Sheriff of Deadwood, S.D., Chief of the Black Hills Forest Rangers, Commanding the Cowboy Brigade in the Inaugural Procession.

Washington, Friday — Looking at it from the top of a cayuse, this inauguration appears mighty significant to me. President Roosevelt has already put his mark on the country. Al the end of another four years the Roosevelt brand will be so clear it won’t wear off for many moons.

The crowds in Washington today show the Roosevelt spirit. The people are mostly bright and energetic, typical of the President. It’s just like it is on the range. IF the owner of a ranch is an active, honest, hard-working man, you can tell his cowboys as far as you can see the outfit, by the vigorous way they work. If the owner is dissolute, dishonest or lazy, the cowboys are likely to be the same way.

Now, long before most of us in Dakota knew Roosevelt we used to hear about him.

Cowboys riding down to our country from 150 miles away used to say:

“That fellow Roosevelt up there on the Little Missouri is dead square. He don’t maverick anybody else’s calves. He don’t ask a man to ride a horse he don’t ride, and he don’t make any man stand a watch on the roundup that he ain’t ready to stand himself.”

Teddy_Roosevelt inauguration

That is the kind of reputation Roosevelt had in the cattle country, where the things a man does and not what he talks about makes his reputation. He’s no fair weather sailor, and our boys out West know it. That’s the reason sixty boys have come down here with me. Nearly all of them have ridden on the range, and a good many of them used to know Theodore, and they are all strong for him. They have to sell their ponies to get back, all because they wanted to see one of their own people, or rather, a man who had lived with them, and is as much or more a Westerner than Easterner, inaugurated as President.

With Roosevelt in the White House this talk of sectionalism is going to be stamped out. The way this inauguration has brought together Westerners and Easterners and

Northerners and Southerners means a lot to the future of this country.
It looks to me like the people who were coming to this inauguration were the kind who like the man who does real stunts and don’t delay. That’s the reason the cowpunchers like him.

We haven’t any fear of him being too impetuous. You don’t hear any of that talk about him on the range. The boys there just say he has keen and accurate instinct.

The sixty boys with me are not Rough Riders; they are not Black Hills rangers; they are not dime novel heroes or stage robbers. They are cowboys, and as such are the real article, and the reason they are here is because this is the first inauguration of a man who knows them and whom they know as square in the White House as he was on the range.

One of the boys rode 120 miles in twenty-four hours to get his horse on the train before it left Deadwood. We have all ages in the company.

Henry Roberts, who is fifteen, was born on the range, and as good a rider as any one. There are men who have been cowboys for thirty years. Two of the boys belong to the Black Hills Forest Rangers, whose business it is to protect the trees in the Black Hills forest reserve. Most of the rest are from South Dakota and Wyoming.

Theodore has asked the boys to come back to the White House after the procession has passed the reviewing stand. They will ride up to the steps under the porte cochere, where he will stand and shake hands with each man.

Now, that is a mighty nice thing, for some of the boys are bashful and would be lost if the President invited them to the reception. But they are never bashful in the saddle. Every one of them appreciates the chance to shake Theodore’s hand.

I’m willing to bet he will remember each man that he knew when he lived in Dakota. His memory for faces and the names that go with them is certainly wonderful. Blaine’s memory for faces, some persons say, was largely bluff, but it is straight goods with the President.

I remember when he made his last Western trip the boys on the South Dakota range rode to meet him whenever the train stopped at the water tank. OUt of crowds he would single out men whom he had not laid eyes on for twenty years. He would remember exactly where he had last seen them. On that trip he would alwys go out to see the cowboys who rode to meet the train.

“Why,” said he, “those boys have never seen a President of the United States. They have ridden a long way to this train. It’s my duty to go out and speak to them.”

There is a horse with a Maltese cross brand running on the range now, and I tried to get one of the boys to bring it down here, but it could not be arranged. The Roosevelt brand was a Maltese cross., and he branded that horse.

We from out West don’t know all the full made over the questions or precedence. It was necessary for me to go to Mr. Warner’s headquarters today. He is the head of the civic division, and talking to him was a man wearing a uniform that looked like the morning after the Fourth of July. Honest, it would make a cowboy jump over the monument. He was making a great row because his marching club, which had been in every inauguration since the Lord knows when, had been given a place behind the Roosevelt Club of Minneapolis, which had never marched at any inauguration.

“I’ll see what I can do about it,” siad Mr. Warner.

Then I took the uniformed man by the arm. “Don’t kick,” I told him. ‘If you try to change your position, every one else will want to change theirs, and the whole parade will go to smash. We are going to ride wherever we are placed. Anyway, wherever the cowboys are, that is the head of the procession for us. Don’t kick.”

Here is our official poem, by the official poet, Bob Carr:

Us punchers sling no haughty style,
Nor go we much on manners;
We look on dudelets out this way
As only fit for “canners;”
And that is why you hear us cry
We’re always glad and ready
To throw our hats and let a yell
In honor of our Teddy.

The boys are having a first-rate time in Washington. We have no rules except these.

Rule 1. Don’t kick.
Rule 2. Don’t knock.
Rule 3. Neither kick nor knock.


Seth Bullock and Teddy Roosevelt

Washington — Say, we found ourselves among a lot of friendly Indians today. The boys like the way the crowd, all the way from Capitol Butte to by White Ranch House, put out their hand.

Not one is sorry he came, especially after the way Theodore met us after we had ranged up past the reviewing stand. He had the boys ride up to the door of the ranch house and shook hands with each, and remembered every one he knew nineteen years ago on the Little Missouri, when he had the Maltese Cross outfit.

Every cowboy in the brigade was mightily impressed with the ceremony today. A lot of them have never been east of the Missouri River, and, although they are as keen as can be found anywhere, this visit to Washington is just the thing they needed to show them what a great country this is.

As far as that goes, I think no one can come to Washington from any part of the United States without being struck by the almighty bigness of the Government. They get an idea, too, what their Representatives are doing for them, and it is a lot. Neither of our Senators from South Dakota nor our Representatives can make his expenses out of his salary.

There is a lot of patriotism in this country, and it certainly stuck out all over this town today.

I saw millionaires waving flags and yelling themselves hoarse for the President, and when we cowboys came along there in front of his reviewing stand we got the glad hand from the President more than any one else we saw.

Compared with the noise made by the plug-hat-and-boiled-shirt political clubs, the cowboy brigade was Quakerish and decorous. To the President it made no difference where a club came from, or whether or not it represented a lot of cash. If the people in the organization were good, clean-cut, likely appearing Americans the President would lean over the rail and wave his hat to them.

Every man in the thirty thousand marching today ought to know, unless he is plumb locoed, that the boy who is now in the White House is game, and will do just what he says — give a square deal to every man. That is the reason the cowboys who are with me came down here. They want to show their appreciation of having one of their own kind of men in the saddle ready to brand every proposition according to his merits, and to rope any job that comes its way, and not ask any man to do anything he isn’t willing to do himself.

A man who is big enough to build the Panama Canal and put irrigation ditches all through the West and make it blossom like a rose and insist on a navy large enough to keep the door open in China is the man for us.

The cowboys in this brigade are a clean cut, sober, industrious lot, and when you find sixty such men who are agreed that the President is O.K. you can just mark it down that their verdict is straight goods.

It meant a lot to us to see those hundreds of thousands of people rounded up in Washington to watch Theodore become President on his own responsibility. It is all right to talk about the splendor of the durbars in India, but they are not to be compared with this. The durbar is an outfit of people who ride and do other stunts because they are ordered to. The people who attend the inaugural do it because they want to. Of course, some of the army and navy are ordered to Washington, but if they were not they would like to come independently.

I am a great believer in the flag and the effect it has on gatherings like these. The best thing for this country would be for every man and woman to get a chance to come to Washington and rub up against people from other ranges.

Some of the boys are pretty much impressed with the number of white people in the East.

They put us pretty well back in the procession, but we did not care, for our rules are, “Don’t kick, don’t knock; neither kick nor knock.”

We were formed down near the Capitol and the critters stood the waiting pretty well. They are used to brilliant Western sunsets, but that was the only thing that saved them from bolting when these gold lace Governors’ staffs went loping by.

We are going to have an auction on Monday, and all the cayuses will be knocked down to the highest bidder. They will make mighty good polo ponies, although their past work has been mostly chasing wayward, stray cattle, instead of a little white ball. They have to be sold so the boys will have enough money to get home on. Then some of them want a little cash to blow in over in New York, where they are going before they start back to the range.

These boys can go some if necessary, but there are not likely to be any fireworks from them in New York. They just want to learn the difference between the taste of salt water and prairie hay.

We will all be gone from Washington pretty soon. It has been a great round-up — about the most successful ever held, I guess. Theodore certainly did make good medicine.

The Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Mar 8, 1905


Alexander O. Brodie (Image from


Fine Types of the American Western Frontiersman.


Brodie Has Been Regular Army Officer, Indian Fighter, Civil Engineer, Rough Rider, and Territorial Governor — Seth Bullock, Sheriff, Cowpuncher, and an All-around “Good ‘Bad Man.'”

A notable figure in the escort accompanying President Roosevelt from the White House to the Capitol yesterday and again in the grand parade which later swept up the Avenue was that of Col. Alexander O. Brodie at the head of the Rough Riders, President Roosevelt’s old Spanish war regiment. Col. Brodie and his men were recognized at every point along the route and greeted with generous applause.

Col. Brodie is a typical frontiersman, but he is much more than that. He has been cadet at West Point, officer in the regular army, Indian fighter, civil and mining engineer, major and lieutenant in the Rough Riders under Col. Roosevelt, and until recently governor of the Territory of Arizona. He came to Washington about ten days ago and was sworn in as major in the regular army and was assigned to be assistant to the military secretary, United States army.

Col. Brodie was graduated from West Point in 1870 and assigned immediately to the First United States Cavalry. With that regiment he saw stirring service on the frontier for seven years’ fighting Indians all over the Western border. He was in the hard campaign against the White Mountain Indians in 1871, with Gen. Brooke in all of that gallant officer’s fights in 1872 and 1873, and in the fierce Nez Perce campaign of 1877. Then he resigned from the army, and for twenty years practiced civil and mining engineering in the West.

When the Rough Rider regiment was organized at the beginning of the Spanish war in 1898, Brodie jumped to the front, and was commissioned major, and upon the promotion of Col. Wood and Lieut. Col. Roosevelt, he was advanced to the position of second in command, an office he held when the regiment was mustered out at the close of the war.

Col. Brodie enjoys the personal friendship of President Roosevelt. They were very “chummy” during the campaign in Cuba. It is not strange that President Roosevelt should have desired that a detachment of his old command should have a position of honor in the inaugural parade, nor that he should have selected Col. Brodie to lead it.

Seth Bullock’s Cowboys.

Another feature of the parade was Seth Bullock’s cowboys,, seventy-five in number mounted on their Western bronchos and headed by the redoubtable Seth himself. Sheriff Bullock is the sheriff of Deadwood, S.D., and he is what might be termed “a good ‘bad man.'” He is the idol of all the South Dakota cow-punchers and has the reputation of having “rounded up” more truly “bad men” than any other official in all the wild West. Like Col. Brodie, he enjoys the personal friendship of President Roosevelt. In line with Seth Bullock’s “bunch” were cow-punchers of no less renown than “Deadwood Dick” Clarke, the once famous scout, bandit, hunter, and leader of the shotgun men who guarded the old Wells-Fargo treasure coaches from Deadwood to civilization more than a quarter of a century ago. “Tex” Burgess, the king of the cowboys on the big Hyannis range in Nebraska, was another prominent figure in the unique organization. Seth Bullock, “Deadwood Dick,” Clarke and “Tex” Burgess are all men of types that with the advance of civilization are fast disappearing from the Western plains and will soon have passed away altogether. The once famous “Deadwood Dick,” the hero of the dime novels of twenty-five years ago, and the man who in pioneer days was the terror of evildoers in Dakota, and performed miraculous feats of daring, is now a workman in plain blue overalls in the railway yards at Lead, a town not far from Deadwood.

Richard Clarke

Richard Clarke (aka Deadwood Dick)

Lots of great pictures at FARWEST.IT, which is where I found the  above picture. The website is in Spanish.

“Deadwood Dick” Praises President.

When “Deadwood Dick” was asked by Seth Bullock to come along to Washington to help inaugurate President Roosevelt he wrote back, saying:

“Sure, I’ll go down to Washington to see Teddy inaugurated. We old Westerners feel that he is one of us and shall be glad to help give him a send-off. I reckon the cowpunchers will cut quite a figure when they get down there, but they will be no novelty to the President, for he used to be one of them himself, you know. But a good many other folks will look on ’em with a good deal of interest and curiosity. I think he is doin’ the right thing in invitin’ the boys to take part in the show. It tickles ’em nearly to death to know that he wants ’em to ride their cayuses in the parade. Some of the boys used to know ‘Teddy’ when he was a rancher out West, and they all have a mighty warm spot in their hearts for him.”

Tex Burgess

Tex Burgess

The above picture (I cropped it) can be found in the book, The Overland Monthly (Google Books,) which contains the essay/article, A Cowboy Carnival: A Veracious Chronicle of a Stirring Incident by Ella Thorngate; pgs 50-60. The article includes other names, such as Doc Middleton, who is also in the uncropped picture.

Texas Burgess’ Comments.

“Tex” Burgess, who rode his pony all the way from Hyannis, Neb., to Belle Fourche, S.D., to join the cowboys on the trip to Washington, said, when he was invited to join the expedition:

“You just bet I’m goin’. I wouldn’t miss it for $1,000. We all want to go, but Capt. Bullock says he can’t accommodate all of us, so some of us will have to stay at home. Most of those who are goin’ are from the Black Hills. Only a few will come from the Hyannis and other ranges in Nebraska. I wished to go, and Capt. Bullock has promised to take me. ‘Billy’ Binder and ‘Doc’ Williams, and some of the others of the more noted riders in this region want to go, too, but I don’t know whether they will. We are mighty pleased at the invitation to take part in the show.”

Washington Post, The (Washington, D.C.) Mar 5, 1905

**This is the article mentioned at the beginning of the post, which names Dahlman as one of the “cowboys” who attended the inauguration. **Note: They got his first name wrong.


Imposing Court of Honor in Pennsylvania Avenue.


Glee Clubs Parade and Serenade and Cowboys Make Things Lively —

Scenes in the Streets.

Special to The New York Times. [excerpt]

Seth Bullock’s cowboys have started in on the time of their lives. They are sixty strong, and have brought two carloads of the best bronchos and cayuse ponies they could find in Nebraska and the Black Hills.

It would be absolutely impossible to pick a matched pair in the lot. Every color known in the Western cowboy horse stock is represented. They are dun, gray, calico, mouse-colored, bay, black, white, chestnut, piebald, and even the much loved blue bronco type is there. The blue bronco is the toughest horse ever made. The cowboys brought numerous saddles and abundance of trappings.
Cowboys “Feel of” the Asphalt.

To-day they geared up and went out to “feel of” the asphalt, of which they had been warned. It has happened at inaugurations that cavorting horses have slipped and thrown their riders. On one occasion an officer suffered a broken leg. On another Gen. Miles fell with his horse in the plaza in front of the Capitol Hotel.

The negro stableboys have been struck with wonder at the antics of the Westerners. The fun began when Bill [Jim] Dahlman, the boon friend of William J. Bryan, whirled out into the street from the corral where the cowboys keep their ponies, and with a yell said “Good-bye.”

The next moment there was another yell, this time from a colored boy standing by, who had been swiftly roped by Dahlman.

From that time on it was touch and go with a score or two of cowboys and the negroes standing around. The cowboys, some of whom are bankers, State officials, and lawyers who have at some time or other followed the range, wore their chaps and spurs and their tailor-made coats and overcoats and derby hats. This they will do when riding for practice or to get the hang of the town, but they have come with their full regalia, including lariats, quirts, chaps, ladigoes, twenty-ounce hats, and big red neckerchiefs, and will wear the whole outfit on Saturday, and when they get down to business of paying their respects to the town.

They had a job to-day shoeing their ponies. Thirty of them had never been shod and were unused to the etiquette of Mike McCormick’s blacksmith shop, where the operation was performed. They boys stayed by and it was a jolly scene. Some of the ponies had to be thrown, and with two men sitting on them Mike went ahead with the work as best he could.

A squad of cowboys during the afternoon rode the length of Pennsylvania Avenue, cutting in and out between street cars and passing vehicles with wonderful skill and at high speed. They roped colored boys again, and now and then a peanut vendor or a dog, and wound up by roping each other and getting all tied up in a bunch, in which manner they rode home and disentangled and unsaddled for the night.

Monday they will put the whole lot of horses up at auction for polo ponies, hoping to get what they cost and possibly the expense of transportation out of them.

The New York Times, Mar 3, 1905

Link to the actual news article is HERE. (PDF)

seth bullock cowboys event ad 1905


Cow Punchers’ Exhibition Takes on a Commercial Aspect.

Capt. Seth Bullock’s cowboys sold their wild Western broncos at the Seventh street baseball park yesterday afternoon, but because of the rain and the soft condit on the ground the “stunts” which a large crowd of people went out to see were postponed until to-day at the same hour. No steers were tied — there were no steers — and there were no races. As it was, the ponies cut up the diamond and the outfield with their hoofs while the cowboys were showing off their points and a steam roller will probably be in demand before the ball season opens.

The spectators in spite of the cold rain were enthusiastic. They stood ankle deep in mud and slush and were spattered with mud with good grace while watching the little riding which the bronco busters performed in order to show how gentle their horses were. The ponies brought from $45 to $90, but only five were sold. One or two of the best animals were held at $100 by their owners, and the cowboys expect to dispose of these before they go to their homes in the West.

Capt. Bullock directed the sale and under his supervision the boys put their ponies through the paces, ran them and walked them past the buyers while the cowboys themselves alternated as auctioneers and knocked the beasts down to the highest bidders. Some of the purchasers looked at their newly-acquired horses with misgiving, looked them in the teeth, so to speak. Most of the horses were stripped of them cowboy saddles and sent off to livery stables to be clipped and Easternized. A few of the bolder buyers tried their ponies out on the spot and the cowboys had a lot of fun seeing the city chaps in derbys and overcoats scampering across the park range, clinging to the pommels, and scattering lead pencils and other belongings at every jump.

The exhibition postponed from yesterday will be given to day, rain or shine. It is the special wish of those in charge of the inauguration exercises that the cowboys receive the hearty co-operation of the citizens, as they came a long distance and have added so much to the entertainment of the people, as well as showing the type of man who spends his life on the plains of the far West.

Capt. Bullock took great care in selecting this company of men and each is a splendid specimen of manhood and all are adept in some particular accomplishment, which will add to the enjoyment of the exhibit. The programme is replete with thrilling and amusing events, and will positively take place to day at 2:30 p.m.

Washington Post, The (Washington, D.C.) Mar 8, 1905

Jim Dahlman and the Charley Bree Shooting

February 9, 2009


See previous Jim Dahlman related posts:

“Cowboy Jim Dahlman: Perpetual Politician”

“Dahlman and Middleton: Characters of the Old West”







Democratic Nominee Meets Campaign Story Early by Giving Authorized Interview on His Life in the South.

James C. Dahlman “got his man” in Texas thirty-two years ago and came to Nebraska under the name of “Jim Murray.”

In 1884, wishing to marry and hearing that he had not killed his victim after all, he resumed the name of Dahlman.

Because such rumors were afloat and because they would probably be printed before the campaign is over, Mayor Dahlman was asked by The Journal to give an authorative account of his early life before he became known in the political world. He readily agreed to this and told his history in a frank and unhesitating manner. This was on Thursday, when he passed through Lincoln. A reporter met him on his arrival from Beatrice and rode with him to Wahoo. He answered every question, only stipulating that a copy of this interview be submitted to him before its publication. The copy was mailed to him at Central City, where he was to be on Monday, a carbon copy remaining in the office for immediate use. Last night the publication of the interview was authorized by the following telegram:

GRAND ISLAND, Neb., Sept. 27. — State Journal, Lincoln, Neb.: All right. Cut her loose. Except county is Lavaca, if I remember rightly instead of DeWitt that trouble took place.

Mayor Dahlman’s Story.

“My father settled in DeWitt county, Texas, in 1845, and there I was born and raised, with a rope in one hand, spurs on my heels, and a six-shooter on my hip. It was a wild country as early as I can remember and was but little better when I left there. There were seven children in our family, of whom I was the fourth.

During the war and afterwards DeWitt county came to be the rendezvous of about the toughest gang that could be found in the United States. Feuds were common and unrelenting in character between such groups as the Hardins, the Taylors, the Suttons, and the Clemmons factions. I think I am safe in saying that more men died violent deaths in DeWitt county than in any other territory of equal size in the country at any time in the history of Texas. I have seen as many as seven men killed in one fight between these factions.

“This was the atmosphere in which I grew up and naturally as I became a young man about the only right I knew was that of the pistol and a quick hand. The law was but poorly enforced and men lived by the right of might. I got to be pretty tough, I admit it. I went around a good deal of the time with a chip on my shoulder hoping some one would knock it off. The country was full of maverick cattle and no one was a better hand than I with the rope chasing down these strays and putting the branding iron on them. Everybody did it. I was training with a bad crowd, as bad as there was in the country, harum-scarum, devil-may-care fellows, you know. I can see now that it was only a question of time when I would get into trouble. So I came to Nebraska to get away from it.

Dahlman Family 1870 Census

Dahlman Family 1870 Census

Name:  Rosalee Dahlmann
Gender: Female
Marriage Date: 7 Jun 1868
Spouse: Charles M. Bree
Marriage city: Dewitt
Marriage State: Texas
Source: Texas Marriages, 1851-1900

Why He Left Texas.

“The immediate cause of my leaving Texas was this: An older sister married a man named Charley Bree, a shiftless sort of fellow, nothing more or less than an outlaw. They lived together for two years and some time after their child was born he deserted her for no apparent reason than that he was tired of married life, and his innate cussedness. I was a fiery, quick-tempered boy less than twenty years of age. There was scarcely any law in the country and none that was likely to reach a cuss like that. I sent him word that I  would shoot him the first time I saw him. Things went on in this condition for some time and Bree and I did not meet. Then on day purely by accident we met in a town where neither was known. No sooner did we face each other than we both pulled and shot. I got him; he missed me. We shot but once each. My shot hit him about the eye and he dropped like lead. I thought he was done for and wasted no time in getting away. I rode through into Arkansas and stayed there in secret.

“Well, I stayed in Arkansas for six months. Finally my money ran low and dead broke I wrote to a friend in Texas for a loan, meanwhile going to work for a butcher. This Texas friend did not send me the money. It happened that an old-time acquaintance was coming to Nebraska and my friend told him to stop off and get me. He did so and we came by rail to Omaha and thence west on the Union Pacific. He had $350 when he dropped off in Arkansas and divided even with me. I afterward paid him back with interest. It is not true that I followed the trail from Texas to Nebraska. This was in 1878, and I was twenty-two years of age.

His Arrival in Nebraska.

“I guess I was a hard-looking customer. I wore the high heeled boots of the cowboy, with pants tucked in at the top of them. I affected also a mustache and a little French goatee. My luggage was carried in a pair of leather saddlebags. I would give $500 today if I could get hold of those saddlebags. I had never seen snow nor ice until I saw them in Nebraska. Well, we went west on the Union Pacific to Sidney and from there overland north. I remember the stage was so heavily laden that we had to take turns walking. We were not dressed to trapse through snow six inches deep in the midst of a blizzard, and finally I got so mad that I tumbled the whole crowd out at the point of a gun, got in, and threatened to shoot the first man who mentioned walk again. We rode.

“Well, I first got work from a ranchman, known familiarly as “Old Man Newman.” He is still alive and lives in El Paso, Tex. He would not hire me at first because he said I looked too much of a tough, and would be picking quarrels with his cowmen first thing. But I was broke and persuaded the foreman to let me camp with them a while. Finally he gave me a job. I stayed with him for seven years, became his foreman and there was not a better paid cowboy in that section of the country. Newman’s ranch was located twelve miles east of what is now Gordon.

Went Into Politics.

“Finally I got a job as brand inspector for the Wyoming live stock association and held this job two years. In the meantime Chadron had been started and I decided to start into business for myself. I had got a few cattle together and started a ranch. I and my partner also ran a meat market in Chadron. Then I mixed some in politics, was elected sheriff of Dawes county three terms, and mayor of Chadron twice. About the time I quit the position of mayor the hard times were upon us and we all went broke. I was fortunate enough to secure the position of secretary of the state board of transportation and moved to Lincoln. My youngest daughter was born while I lived there. Since then everyone knows of my career as chairman of the democratic state committee, twice member of the national committee from Nebraska and member of the executive committee. I moved to Omaha and engaged in the live stock commission business in South Omaha, meanwhile residing in Omaha. I got into Omaha politics and that is how I came to be elected mayor the first time. And there you are.”

“What became of Bree?”

“Oh, he got well from the bullet wound I gave him, although I did not know for two years that he was not killed. He died several years ago. My sister, over whom we had the trouble, is still alive. She married again.”

Came Here as “Jim Murray.”
“Did you live in this state under an assumed name, Jim Murray, after you came here in 1878?”

“Yes,” and the mayor smiled his appreciation of the question. “When I go to Arkansas I changed my name to Murray. I do not know why I picked that name. I thought I had killed Bree, and I was keeping out of sight, you bet. Strange to say the authorities in Dewitt county never took the matter up and I was never looked for. But I did not know that.

“I kept the assumed name after I came to Nebraska, and cowboys and ranchers in Wyoming where I was brand inspector still know me as Jim Murray. After I knew that Bree had recovered I felt no need for the name but it was easier to keep than to change back.

“I finally changed to my right name for this reason: We used to trade with a trader at the Pine Ridge agency, ninety miles from the ranch., Blanchard was his name. I got to know him pretty well and he often invited me to his house. He had several children and finally secured the services of a young lady named Hattie Abbott as governess for these children. I fell in love with her and decided to ask her to marry me. But before doing so I told her the whole story of my life and took back my real name. This was in the fall of 1884, after I had been Jim Murray for sex years. We were married in Union, Ia., where she had a sister living.

“I think that pretty well covers my life history. I was a tough one in Texas, and I guess I did not change all at once after coming to Nebraska, although I had resolved to live a different life. When one considers the environs in which I grew up and the desperate character of the people of Texas, and later the not entirely tame life on the frontier of Nebraska, you will have to admit that I did pretty well to come out of it no meaner than I am. I did a great many things which I would not do now, but I am not ashamed to tell what they were, and I have told you.”

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Sep 28, 1910

Yellow Bank / Koerth, Texas

Yellow Bank / Koerth, Texas

From Texas Escapes Online Magazine:

Irish settlers arrived three years before Texas Independence was declared. The site was first known as Yellow Bank and later Antioch. St. John the Baptist Catholic Church were built around 1865. German and Czech immigrants replanced the original settlers after the Civil War. Storekeeper C. J. Koerth opened a post office in his store from 1884 through 1910 (although it was closed from 1887-1893). Koerth built a school in 1914.



Harks Back Thirty-two Years to His Own House Warming and Tells Incident as He Saw It and Heard It.

Some weeks ago The Journal printed a biographical sketch of Mayor J.C. Dahlman of Omaha, present candidate for governor on the democratic ticket. This story was authorized by Mr. Dahlman who said it was substantially as he had related it. Comments on this story of the life of Mr. Dahlman as he related it were general. The general opinion was that it would not seriously affect his candidacy one way or the other, whereas if the story had been printed without his having told it, it might have been more serious from a political point of view. Many people, however, declared that the tale was too favorable to the “Cowboy Mayor” and that The Journal had played far too fairly with him in giving all the extenuating circumstances as presented by the relater.

Ten days ago The Journal sent three or four letters to Texas, enclosing a clipping of the story, and asking briefly that if in the neighborhood any old settler resided who could remember the incident of the shooting of Charley Bree, that he be asked to relate it as he heard it, and that the story be sent here to be printed. The idea was that if the story were at all one-sided any old settler of Texas, familiar with the affair, would give the other side, not being actuated in any degree to apologize for the act, as it was charged generally by those opposed to Mayor Dahlman would be the case in taking the story from him.

One of these letters was sent to Yoakum, Texas, as being in Lavaca county where Mayor Dahlman said the shooting occurred. The resulting story here related by a man who saw the whole affair except the actual shooting, and he heard that, being but a few yards distant when the shots were fired.

The tale comes from Texas, a newspaper proprietor of Yoakum being the intermediary. This newspaper man is proprietor of the Yoakum Herald, J.W. Cook. He writes in explanation as follows:

“As per your request of the 9th inst. I am handing you herewith the story of the shooting of Charley Bree by J.C. Dahlman as told by Mr. C.G. Koerth. Mr Koerth is a thoroughly reliable man and any citizen of Yoakum who knows him will vouch for his veracity.

“I have shown Mr. Koerth a copy of the story and he O.K.’d it. Yours very truly, J.W. COOK.”

The Story From Texas.

Here is the old settler’s story:

After making considerable inquiry as to who would likely know something of the shooting case in which J.C. Dahlman was charged with shooting Charley Bree some thirty-two years ago, information was obtained that Mr. C.G. Koerth might remember something of the affair. Mr. Koerth was found. Mr. Koerth is a highly respected and honored citizen of  the city of Yoakum. His is seventy-five years of age and has lived in Lavaca county since 1860. He is a native of Germany. For the past dozen years he has resided in Yoakum and has been engaged in the drug business in this city with his sons, Emil C. and John C. Koerth.

Asked if he remembered a shooting scrape in which J.C. Dahlman and Charley Bree were the principals he replied: “Yes, it occurred at my house. I remember a great deal about it.”

“Would you object to relating what you remember of it.”

“I do not object at all,” said Mr. Koerth.

“The story is about like this,” said Mr. Koerth. “Some time in the late ’70’s, either ’77 or ’78, I was residing near what is known as Yellow Banks creek in Lavaca county. I had established a general merchandise store there and had recently got permission from the department to establish a postoffice there which was given the name of Antioch. During the year in question I had erected a new residence. I did the principal part of the carpenter work on my residence myself but a neighbor of mine, Mr. C. Karney had also had a new home built that year and had employed a carpenter named Eugene Stark. Stark had come to our neighborhood from over near Yorktown in DeWitt county. When he had nearly finished the Karney residence he employed a painter, Charley Bree, who had come to our section from the same place in DeWitt county.

“I needed a painter to finish my house, so Mr. Stark, with whom I had become acquainted and also my neighbor, Mr. Karney, recommended Bree as a capable painter. I employed him. He soon impressed me as being not only a good painter but an intelligent, energetic, good man as well.

“From Stark, the carpenter, I had learned that Bree had been employed some years previous by a Mr. Dahlman as clerk in a store, that he had gained the confidence of the Dahlman family and had married one of the Dahlman girls. Later he was entrusted with a considerable sum of money and sent to New Orleans to buy a stock of merchandise for the Dahlman store. In some way Bree got into trouble on this trip to New Orleans and had lost or spent a part of this money and did not buy near the quantity of goods he was expected to buy. This conduct on Bree’s part aroused the ill will of the Dahlmans and they finally drove him away from home. He located in my community as a painter.

“About the time my new home was finished some young men of the community came to my store one afternoon and wanted to have a dance in my house that night. I objected but the boys saw my wife, secured her permission to have the dance and come back to urge me to yield. I did so, consenting for them to have the dance.

Arrival of Feudists.

During the afternoon of this same day two men, heavily armed rode up to my house and asked for a night’s lodging. As we were entertaining Bree and a drummer for that night we could not accommodate them so my wife sent them to a neighbor, Mr. Gerdes, telling them they might get lodging with him. Gerdes could not take them so sent them on to another neighbor, Schulte, who agreed to keep them over night. These two men later proved to be J.C. Dahlman and “Bud” Seekers.

“When told of the appearance on the place of these two men Bree looked uneasy. We noticed he soon went to his room and in a few minutes left, armed with his pistol and Winchester rifle. We noticed he went to Schulte’s. Upon returning he told us he knew those two men and that he had told Mrs. Schulte to fix them a good supper and he would pay for it. The gentlemen informed him, however, they would pay their own bill.

“Night came on. The young people of the community had assembled and had started the dancing. Soon after the dancing started these same two men appeared at the door and asked me if they could take part in the dance, I told them they certainly could but that they would have to disarm themselves and turn their weapons over to me. To this they readily agreed, handing over to me their six shooters. They had left their rifles on their saddles. So they came in and took part in the festivities. Everybody seemed to have a pleasant time except I had noticed Bree seemed much disturbed about something. I asked him what the trouble was and he evaded answering for a long time but finally said ‘Those two fellows are here to mob me. They will do it tonight if they get a chance.’

“I tried to console him, telling him in the meantime to keep out of their way.
“At 12 o’clock announcement was made that there would be no more dancing, so the crowd began to disperse. Soon, all  were gone except one man — Jim Goodson. His remaining and other occurrences of the evening aroused my suspicions so I took a seat where I could observe what was going in. My store was about two hundred yards from my home and at the rear of the house in the direction of the store was a small orchard of fruit trees.

Slipped Up on Him.

“Presently I saw some one coming up from the direction of the store, through the orchard, on through the back yard gate into the yard.

“I called out ‘Look out Bree, someone is slipping on you.’

“Bree turned, facing the back door, leveled his gun on the approaching figure and shouted ‘Stop there. Don’t slip up on me that way or I will kill you.’

“The fellow took to his heels and left in a hurry.’

“Of course this created considerable excitement and it was some time before my family retired. After they retired I sat up and watched for some time. I suspected that an attempt would be made to rob my store.

“Shortly after this occurrence Jim Goodson left the house and I went to bed but not to sleep. I asked Bree what he intended doing.

“He said he would stay up a while longer to see what he could learn. I asked him to keep an eye on my store while he was guarding himself. As he left he reiterated that he was sure they would mob him if they got a chance.

“Bree had not been away from the house long before I heard three shots in close succession. I knew something had happened, so I jumped out of bed as hastily as I could and dressed myself. Just about the time I got my clothes on Bree reached the back door of my house and said, ‘They have murdered me.’

“I saw he was all covered with blood. I had him come into the house and examined his wounds as best I could. I found he had been struck on the upper left side of the head and a considerable furrow plowed across the skull with a bullet. I was soon convinced that he was not fatally wounded.

“I kept Bree in my house until the following night, in the meantime summoning a physician to dress his wounds.

“On the following night we moved him to a distant neighbor’s house who had a sort of second story or loft to his place and made arrangements with them to keep him and not let anyone know he was there. He remained there a couple of weeks under the care of a physician.

Bree’s Version of Shooting.

“During this period he told me he had come to my store building and was leaning against an old live oak tree that stood near. Around this tree was a large pile of dirt taken from a cellar which I had recently had dug under the store. He was on this pile of dirt. He said that Dahlman and Seekers had discovered him there and opened fire on him. The two first shots missed him but the third struck him on the head and he soon fell to the ground. He had drawn his pistol but the shot had so paralyzed him that he could not use it and that it fell to the ground.

The shot dazed him for only a moment and when he arose he saw the two men running away.

“The two men left the country and I never heard of them again until Dahlman became prominent in his state’s politics, and I was not then sure it was the same Dahlman until I read his account of the shooting which recently appeared in the public prints.

“After Bree recovered sufficiently to travel, he left our section, going over near Lagrange in Fayette county. He promised me faithfully that he would write me when he was located but he never did. I learned that he left Lagrange with a fellow named Barney Brown, who carried him to Alleyton, the then terminus of the Southern Pacific railroad. He then boarded the train and I have heard nothing from him since..

About eighteen months later a skeleton was found up on Ponton’s creek, hanging to a tree. The clothing on it had some paint splotches, and some of my neighbors thought it was Bree, but I did not think so.

“What of Bree’s character?

“He was a nice man. I knew him several months. He did not drink and had no bad habits so far as I knew.”

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Nov1, 1910



To Mayor Dahlman’s version of the incidents leading to his flight from Texas and assumption for several years of the assumed name of Jim Murray in Nebraska, we now add the version of a virtual eye witness with no apparent interest in the matter other than to tell the facts. This is Mr. C.G. Koerth of Yoakum, Texas, whose veracity is vouched for by citizens of that community. His account varies from Mr. Dahlman’s in essential respects.

Mr. Dahlman’s story was that Charley Bree, “a shiftless sort of fellow, nothing more or less than an outlaw,” married his sister and later deserted her “for no apparent reason than that he was tired of married life, and his innate cussedness.” Dahlman “sent him word that I would shoot him the first time I saw him.” Later “one day purely by accident we met in a town where neither was known. No sooner did we face each other than we both pulled and shot. My shot hit him above the eye and he dropped like lead.” Then followed the flight that brought Dahlman to Nebraska as Jim Murray.

Mr. Koerth’s story differs in practically all these details. Bree was “an intelligent, energetic, good man,” who made his living as a painter. Formerly he had been employed by his father-in-law, Dahlman, in a store. Bree failed properly or satisfactorily to perform a business mission for the Dahlmans and “they finally drove him away from home.” To the community where Bree worked as a painter, and where he had become known, followed two men, Jim Dahlman, brother-in-law of Bree, and Bud Seekers. After midnight they fired upon him in the darkness, inflicting the wound in the head, and fled the country.

Dahlman’s own story puts himself in the attitude of avenging a sister abused by a worthless husband, and doing it in fair and open duel. Mr. Koerth’s story has him executing a good man, as men went in Texas in those days, who had been driven away from his wife by the Dahlmans; and moreover, perpetrating the act while skulking under cover of darkness and reinforced by an assistant. There was some frontier romance, a dash of unwritten law, in Dahlman’s act as described by himself. As described by an onlooker the act was unnecessary, unjust and cowardly, the act of a common, craven outlaw.

Which story is true? By the ordinary rules of evidence Mr. Koerth’s story would have the more weight. Dahlman has an obvious motive for glossing over his conduct. Koerth has no interest on way or the other. But except as Koerth’s story discredits that boasted frankness of Dahlman it can hardly make a difference in one’s opinion of Dahlman or in his chances to be governor. If Dahlman’s record in Nebraska politics, his personality, and the things he stands for in this campaign will not put him under the ban of the Nebraska voters, neither will the story, even if accepted, that he ambushed at midnight and shot an inoffensive man.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Nov 2, 1910

Omaha City Hall

Omaha City Hall

Body of Picturesque Leader Of City for 21 Years Lies in State

(By Associated Press)

OMAHA, Neb., Jan 24. — As the body of Mayor James C. Dahlman lay in state at the city hall today and thousands paid homage to the man who headed their city government for 21 years, the picturesque life of the man was told and retold.

There were those among the crowd who had known him when he was plain Jim Dahlman, the cowboy, feared and loved as one of the best shots and hardest riders on the Western plains. These men were in great demand, for the people of Omaha had never tired of hearing of early exploits of their mayor, who died Tuesday night at Excelsior Springs, Mo.

In all this story telling there came to light a tale which Dahlman’s old cronies said had been revealed to the public only once before and that 20 years ago. It revealed how Dahlman once “got his man” and that this man was his brother-in-law.

The story, as told by Dahlman himself:

“An older sister of mine married a man named Charley Dree [Bree]. He was a shiftless sort, in reality nothing more than an outlaw, and he did not treat her right. They lived together two years. When their child was born, Dree deserted her for no reason the family could see except that he was tired of married life and because of his lack of responsibility, and his meanness.

“I was about 20 at the time, fiery of temper, having gone much in bad company since I left home. I knew the nature of hte man. The law in that country was not likely to reach that sort of a man. So I sent him word that I would shoot him the first time I laid eyes on him.

“We did not see each other for a long time, but I happened to be in a town in Lavaca County (Texas) one night when I saw him in a saloon. He was with a partner and I was with a friend. The whole town went over to a dance on the edge of town and, after it was well under way, we saw him go, too.

“The word must have reached him, for when I approached the dance hall, later in the evening, I saw him coming out with his rifle in hand. Dree saw me about the same time I saw him. He raised his rifle and missed me. I got him over the eye. I was pretty handy with the six-shooter then.

“I ran over to where he was and it looked as if he was done for, so I lost no time in getting out of there. I rode through into Arkansas and remained there in secret, while I sent my partner back to find out what happened. It seemed that Dree lived a few hours.”

Dahlman lived in Arkansas for a time and then went to Nebraska with an old friend. He roped and branded steers in the western part of the State, finally coming to Omaha.

The story of his rise to political fame here, however, was conspicuous, his friends agreed, by the absence of the spectacular.

He recently had filed for re-election for his eighth three-year term. A public funeral will be held tomorrow.

San Antonio Express (Texas) Jan 24, 1930