A Cowboy’s Faith: Hometown law enforcement yesteryear – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Hometown law enforcement yesteryear

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Main job of the town marshal is to check and make sure all of the business store doors are locked at night.”

That’s the way in was in rural communities six decades ago and a century before. Most little towns really didn’t have much “law enforcement.”

Oh, how times have changed, not to the better. Lawmen are now “essential” in every community from the largest to even the smallest.

While television and movie Westerns of the ’50s featured law and order with regular gunfights, that was inaccurate. However, certain shows including the highest-rated of all time, “Gunsmoke” did note nightly door checks by the marshal.

In the hometown, there were three on the police force. Charlie Michaels was the daytime marshal, whose main job was collecting coins out of the Main Street parking meters six mornings a week.

Charlie Breese was the weekday night marshal, who checked to make sure all doors of Main Street stores were locked. He did call Dad one night – the grocery store backdoor was unlocked since the boy forgot to do as told.

Grant Carson was the weekend marshal, although uncertain if there was anybody on duty much Sunday or even Saturday overnight. Grant carried a rusty .22 pistol, but uncertain what caliber the other marshals had, although they were “armed.”

The police car was parked in the center of town on the Main Street corner west of the hardware store. Occasionally, a policeman would drive it across town to “blow the cobs out.”

Of course, there were no car radios. If an emergency arose overnight, the 50-watt lightbulb switched on above the telephone office cattycorner from the police car parking. If not napping, the marshal went there to see what the problem was.

Later, Wayne Brooks was the daytime marshal, while Little Doc Eastman and Red Atkinson alternated as night and weekend marshals. Sometimes they’d flash the red cherry and roar the siren when a student “gunned” their car down Main Street.

A county sheriff was elected, but back then had to furnish his own car without siren or flashing light. Big news was the time one sheriff shot the tire of a speeding car to get it stopped.

Reminded of Leviticus 15:20: “Keep my decrees and observe my laws and you will live secure in the land.”


Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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