"Sheriff Killed"

The coming of the railroad was a much anticipated event in Ellsworth. The expectation that Ellsworth would be the major cattle market had brought numerous people to the town.

The town's first newspaper, the Ellsworth Reporter, sent a circular to Texas in February 1872 proclaiming the importance of Ellsworth as a cowtown and that Abilene was dying. As Ellsworth increased as a cattle market that year, people of all sorts moved with the trade. Gamblers, thieves, gunmen, prostitutes, as well as more respectable businessmen, came to the newest, important cowtown. Nauchville became the shady area 1/2 mile east of town with its brothels, saloons, and gambling joints. Even Drover's Cottage, a hotel from Abilene, was taken apart and rebuilt in the new cowtown.

The most notable incident of 1873 in Ellsworth was the killing of Sheriff Chauncey B. Whitney. The shooting of the sheriff occurred while he was breaking up a fight on August 15. The fracas involved Ben and Billy Thompson against John Sterling and Happy Jack Morco. The mix of alcohol and poker proved to cause trouble between the two groups. Since Sheriff Whitney had apparently stopped the problems, he and the Thompsons headed into a saloon for a drink. Then, Happy Jack rushed the street with his six shooters out. Billy, both drunk and armed with a shotgun, accidentally shot the sheriff while turning to meet Happy Jack. The Thompsons soon left the area, as did most Texans after difficulties between the cattlemen and townspeople.


To: Ellsworth County
To: Ellsworth