Cowtown Law Enforcement
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
N 37° 01.955 W 097° 36.481
14S E 623803 N 4099392
Town Council couldn't decide, nice guys or gunfighters, who should be Marshal?
Waymark Code: WM9712
Location: Kansas, United States
Date Posted: 07/07/2010
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member GEO*Trailblazer 1
Views: 10

Marker Erected by: The Caldwell Historical Society
Marker Sponsored by: Through donations of family and friends of
     Max E. Scribner (1923-2003) Chief of Police, Caldwell, Kansas 1949-1985
County of Marker: Sumner County
Location of Marker: 14 W. Central Ave., city hall, Caldwell
Date Marker Erected: 2004
Marker Text:
On August 21, 1879, the Caldwell police force, consisting of a marshal and assistant marshal, was created by the city council. The new officers would daily take before the new police judge ruffians, cardsharks, vagrants, drunks, fast wagon drivers and the occasional murder. Officers also arrested a number of women for being, "prostitutes parading the streets, or being suspicious and unattended female in public."

The cost of the new police protection was more than one-third of the city's annual budget. The first marshal received $33 a month, plus a dollar for each arrest and civil paper served. However, by 1883 rising lawlessness required the salary to be increased to $100 during cattle drive season.

Police work in Caldwell was a challenge. A cowtown was required to be a place known on the trail for its cowboy-friendly activities, or the cattle herd money would not return the following season. Yet, at the same time, city commissioners wanted a safe, quiet community for their families. Officers simply overlooked the illegal alcohol and gambling, but then stepped in to stop the drunken brawls and shootings.

After 3 years as a cowtown, the city council still could not decide whether an honest citizen, or tough gunfighter with a dark past, made a better marshal. The local, honest man would be known and liked, but the gunfighter might better protect the town. Few of Caldwell's 16 cowboy marshals could today be viewed as law-abiding public servants.

It was not until 1949 that the first career police chief, Max Scribner, was hired. He is credited with implementing in Caldwell the new idea of the trained, professional rural police officer. Chief Scribner kept the Caldwell area safe and quiet for over 35 years, an effort greatly appreciated by this old cowtown.

Marker Name: Cowtown Law Enforcement

Marker Type: Other (Please identify in marker text)

Marker text:
Please see above

Marker Location: Sumner

Year Marker Placed: 01/01/2004

Name of agency setting marker: Other (Please identify in marker text)

Official Marker Number: Not listed

Marker Web Address: Not listed

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