Jack Sully: West Rivers one and only, Robin Hood, and cattle rustler.
For those of you who've read my book, , West River you'll find that Jack Soli casts a long shadow across all of the Midwest.
We first encounter him as a friend of young Jakob Harman in the late 1860s and 70s in western Nebraska southwestern South Dakota and Colorado when a young Jack Soli was stealing horses from the Utes and work for that early pioneer rancher in Southwest South Dakota and Eastern Wyoming, E. W. Whitcomb.
Thereafter we find mention of Jack Sully and his partner Jack Kincaid as cowboys who trailed beef North to the Rosebud reservation and a news article Bee wherein it is described how those cowboys could trail I heard and across the wide Missouri with them.
Before the turn-of-the-century we find Jack Selle and Jack Kincaid and Charles makes County were Jack Selle has taken and white wife and been elected Sheriff.
Jack Kincaid dies and Jack Selle marries his widow and raises Kincaid's family together with his own and is found as a woodcutter and supplier of words for steamboats plying the Missouri River at his headquarters on an island in the river just north of the mouth of the Whetstone in Gregory County South Dakota.
From there we traced Sully rustling enterprises up and down the Missouri River from Nebraska to Fargo to St. Paul and Canada.
Since the publication of that book, West River I have found to articles that best flesh out in more detail just kind what kind of a man was. These articles shed the life on his friends, travels and his death when shot and killed in Gregory County South Dakota.
Since the articles are so explicit I have taken the liberty of quoting directly from them only to say that Jack Selle must have been a Robin Hood to have treated young Thomas Lyons as he did on their train ride from St. Paul to Chicago when Thomas Lyons was 16 and a soon-to-be student at the University of Notre Dame.
The second article gives a vivid account of the last ride Sully. In the light of this article one wonders why the posses that was made up of cattlemen shot Jack Soli from ambush firing 40 rounds when he was only 100 yards away.
In researching Jack Selle and other stories of West River I came to the conclusion that most of these men all boldly rolled a vast area from Kansas and Nebraska Texas north to Canada and from Colorado to Chicago new each other very well.
In visiting with Dick Casey who was then president of this South Dakota State Bar he described that unique South Dakota fact as Dakota Timothy.
So it is that I have used is definition throughout this article. Here is how he and his friend Rich Gary described this historical phenomena:
Hi John! You have a really good memory to even recall the conversation! Your email was forwarded to me from my office as I am currently on sabbatical until July.
The term is above and was actually coined by my old college roommate, Rich Garry. Then Rich & I collaborated on the definition of the theory, which is: "everyone from South Dakota knows everyone else, at least collaterally."
I am flattered that you are using that theory in your history! I hope you are doing well!
If you look long enough in Dakota you will find a kindred thread that binds events and your story together into a related event or person, or both.
Dakotativity foretells that nearly every early trespasser on the Sioux Nation’s domain that remained to statehood would have had past associations and troubles that would portend future problems and violent events.
Permit me to illustrate how Dakota today spans not only people but events times places and yes even centuries.
My aunt Geraldine Simpson was married to John Maloney both lived in Madison South Dakota the home County of the Lyons family.
John gave me a book of essays after I had given him a copy of my book West River. The book of essays was written by one of his ancestors in the Lyons family namely Thomas the Lyons. It was a book of essays about the Lyons family settling in northeastern Lake County South Dakota and add Redstone now Carthage South Dakota.
Imagine my surprise when I read about young 16-year-old Thomas D Lyons being admitted to go to college at Notre Dame in Indiana and is travels to get their including being put in the personal care of Jack Sully from the train ride to St. Paul to Chicago.
It not only proves the theory of Dakota Tiffany it also shows that Jack Selle was indeed also a Robin Hood area
But let the essay itself tell its story:
“After saying the home farewells at Redstone, I went with my father to the big place and hits up the Bronx to the book board. As I stepped into the book board my father remarked that he supposed that I knew that times were hard and handed me an envelope which was found to contain 10 one dollar bills. Three nights after that at 10 PM uncle will came into the caboose of the stock strain on the Chicago Pewaukee and St. Paul to say goodbye. He deposited a big pasteboard box which contained about 5 pounds of magnificent Dakota Rose Tam and two loaves of bread. The other stockman in the caboose making the trip to Chicago were all acquaintances of this, and one short, wiry man with a thick gray mustache seemed to be a particular friend. This gentleman was the famed Jack Selle from for rental and uncle will place the under his special protection. When uncle will shook hands saying goodbye a piece of paper stuck to my hand and turned out to be a $10 bill.
But my farewells were not quite finished Mr. Kuhn Kotzpaughkm spell that K bowl TZP a and this was presented to may on the theory that I made it to keep warm in the book which sick caboose deluxe provided. As I prepared to stretch out on the book one of the stockman said that he never laid down for fear of crawlers. But Mr. Sully told beta go-ahead that the speakers true reason for not lying down was an intense preoccupation with cards and whiskey. I woke up feeling fine and rested at six o'clock the next morning crossing Minnesota and a one o'clock in the afternoon our train stopped at the cross with scouts and with the announcement from the conductor that we all had time to eat the famous turkey dinner at the great lacrosse railroad dining room. I sat down next to Mr. Sully and we had just barely started on the turkey cranberries and dressing when the brakeman came into the dining room swearing his ladder and shouting for all the cattle buyers to turn out at once as orders were changed in our train was pulling out of the station. Mr. Sully's coolness did not desert him even if I was a bit excited. He sees up to sections of the Sunday paper which I had bought and made to generous bundles of that turkey dressing and cranberries giving me want to carry. When he got out onto the platform are freight train was moving at a slow pace of the station yards. Mr. Sully and once advised may that the train would be moving too fast for us to board the caboose and that we must run over the tops of the cars. I have then they hesitated for Mr. Selle said all it's nothing at all here and he at once unlocked his beautiful worked leather and silver belt. Climb out walk ahead of you hang onto my belt I won't let go. Don't look down and look straight add at me
Mr. Sully was a man who spontaneously exuded confidence. Under his generalship we reach the caboose safely and entered through the cupola. Even when running across the top train I had involuntarily admired Mr. Seles beautiful belt. When the United States marshals pussy shot Mr. Sully dad at his home near for Randall three months before my graduation at Notre Dame a rifle bought one through that beautiful belt. The federal parties claim the Jack Selle had gone into the enterprise of international cattle rustling a violation of federal statute. Uncle will always stoutly defended his friends reputation and claimed the checks was the victim of a conspiracy on the part of rival cattle interests who had political pull sufficient to cause the issuance of a warrant for his arrest
We reach Chicago on Monday morning at eight o'clock and that afternoon I entered Notre Dame post Lonesome boy East of the Mississippi River. “
Notwithstanding all the made-up stories concerning Jack Soli his hideouts Tamils and mountain areas perhaps the following article from the Norfork Nebraska newspaper might best recount the life and death Sully.
The Norfolk Weekly New Journal May 27, 1904
Story told by five-year-old son ( Claude Sully) who saw it all.
Was shot down like a rabbit .
Tithe veteran cattle rustler was told by Ben diamond to flee mounting his faithful horse, he rode away only to be shot down.
The tragic killing of the veteran cattle rustler , Jack Sully, which it occurred at his home on the Rosebud reservation was even more tragic than was shown in the telegraphic reports which came from Chamberlain South Dakota.
D.H.. Thomas, editor of the new Northwest, was in Norfolk yesterday from Naper, Nebraska., and sent to the news the story of the final act in that theater of frontier life as taken by old Jack.
The white-haired pioneer of the plains was shot down in the full site of his little children while they stood watching in the doorway and waiting for a wave of their father’s hand as he disappeared down the ravine , a wave to tell them goodbye. That wave never came for as they stood watching their father gallop away, there suddenly came a crackling of rifles from the hidden second ravine that ran alongside, and their father, old Jack, sank back in his saddle, reeled in the saddle a little later and fell to the ground, to die.
Trick in catching Sully.
Although Jack Sully was a recognized rustler of cattle are on the plains , he was nevertheless an honorable man in his way and was above all never small and or cowardly.
Despite this fact, however, he was tricked by the Stockman of the County when they killed him trapped by a game which gave him no chance and was given no chance even to surrender.
The story which was told by Mr. Thomas was given him by a five-year-old son, a key level fellow who knew nothing but the truth to relate the real story of the manner in which his father was shot. He was without deliberate prejudice and his tale of tragedy is touching to a degree.
The men after Sully were Stockman deputized by United States Marshal Petrie, the warrant issued for the arrest of the old rustler came from the United States office at Chamberlain .
At the Ben diamond Ranch the crowd stopped on Sunday. Riding onto the Sully home Ben diamond accompanied them.
A number of the men concealed themselves in the ravine just east of the house, including Harry Hamm, Dave Deputy Sheriff Irish and others.
Then Diamond rode up to the house and spoke to Sully, “Petrie’s coming,” said he “and you better run.” Believing that the neighbor spoke in good faith Sully jumped on his fine saddle horse and started out down the ravine directly past the spot which hid his slayers.
Not a challenge.
As he is passed the spot ( where Hamm and others were hidden) there was not a noise nor a rustle nor a sign of the men.
The children stood in the doorway watching every leap of faithful steed as
he carried their father to his death.
Suddenly there was a sharp report of a rifle ,then another, and then a rapid fire followed. Petrie was north of the house, watching the gate. It was not more than 100 yards to the house (from where the shots rang out). The old rider was struck with a bullet through his back. He made no attempt to pull a gun. Falling over to one side, his heel caught the saddle.
The posse kept on firing, two shots struck the horse. The horse, frightened and wounded started up the hill with his master hanging at the side. Another bullet whizzed through the air and landed in the horse’s side. The animal staggered, hesitated and gave a jerk. The movement dropped old Sully to the ground
“Throw up your hands.”
There he was his prostrate form filled with lead and lying on the ground, to the posse of men came out from their concealment and covered old Jack with their rifles.
“Throw up your hands” they shouted, he tried to throw them up but was too weak to move. He asked for a drink of water, and they offered him brandy, which he refused. His children ran down toward their father but were ordered back by the officers. Petrie, the firing done, rode in from the north. Old Jack raised a little and shook hands with the Marshall and asked to see his children. Petrie sent for them but by the time they reached the place the wounded man was dead.
They stayed over the next day and during the night there was much drinking in the crowd. 40 shells were picked up from the ground.
Petrie the children said, after the killing lay down beside the corpse, it was intimated by the children that he had partaken of the little liquid and went to sleep
The others were evidently in excellent condition to waste so large a percentage of their firing (forty rounds)as if they were shooting rabbits.
Suddenly Sully’s children now at his side and recited the captains payer
His first photograph.
Note. A descendant of Jack Sully, Melvin Hausman of Mobridge has sent me a copy of photos of Jack and his widow that were apparently taken for family purposes, and never revealed to the public.
After Sully stiff old body had been laid in the casket the first’s photograph of old Sully was made as in life he always refused to have a likeness made. Dead and helpless, the camera recorded an impression of his features, “no camera was in possession of the posse. The camera was in the possession of a Chicago man at Bone steel who went to the scene of the killing.
Secret c Coroners Jury.
The work of the corners jury was quick , but not until after the men had had a secret session and after several hours considered the case did they finally say that the death had been at the hands of the officers while resisting arrest .
Location of the house.
The house does not stand, as has been reported, out upon (a tall hill which has a view in all directions).. True one can see for 20 miles from it in one direction but it had been built so that others might easily slip up to the place without detection no choicer spot on the earth could be found for such a home with the ravine running down from both sides of the house it offered a convenient ambush place for those creeping up this is demonstrated by the fact that the marksman who shot him were no more than 100 yards from his door.
Jack Sully came to Minnesota from New York and many years ago formed a partnership with a fellow named( Jack Kincaid who is the forefather of the Sonny Waln family on the Rosebud). They established a wood station at Blackbird Island, on the Missouri River. After the boats stopped moving on the Missouri River Sully moved back 10 miles and built his home.
“Did I say stolen?”
No more than three weeks ago, in Naper Nebraska I was talking over his career with Mr. Thomas and Mr. Hensel of that city. He spoke of one-time when he took a bunch of hundred and 52 stolen cattle to Fargo for market “did I say stolen,” says he, “well they were stolen, boys.”
Three years ago we shipped a bunch from Verdigree and was later caught and jailed at Mitchell where he broke away the night the jailer died and escaped to Canada.
Returning he was shot at Minneapolis, as reported in the news, and he died with one of those wounds s still gaping open.
His last rustling.
His last rustling was a bunch of cattle recently brought down to Nebraska him . He sold them to several men from Naper. One man paid in cash and the other paid in paper which was later stopped.
The warrant for arrests was for those cattle and in the serving of those warrants without so much as calling a halt the stock had been shot down and killed Jack Sully.
The horse is still alive. Though it has bullets in its side, it will probably recover and a fine animal it is.
Mr. Thomas was given the family side of the story because old Jack at one-time had known Mr. Thomas’s father, Capt. Jack, when he was on a boat that plied the waters of the Missouri.
Mr. Thomas and some other men were all that were admitted to Sully’s home.
The 5 year old (Claude Sully) then took Thomas to the spot where Jack was shot.
Claude Sully had a ranch in Todd County just to the west of the Trip- Todd County line. I knew him well. And in the fall I hunte3d grouse and dear at his ranch.
His son was arrested 9 on some minor charge and placed in the Trip County jail. I was state’s attorney at the time and old Claude Sully, the five-year-old boy who had witnessed his father’s death, came to my office concerned about his son Claude Junior.
He told me that his son had asked that he talk to me to see if his son could be released.
He told me not to release his son that he needed to learn a lesson, and that if anyone should ever ask me I was to tell them that his father had begged and pleaded for me to release him but it was me who said no.
So it would be that the theory of Dakotativity would await some 65 years until it came full circle from the time that old Claude Sully then a five-year-old boy would watch his father Jack shot from ambush and relate the tale to the Norfork reporter and await my election as Tripp County states attorney those 65 years later and make the circle of Dakotativity today come full circle.
And that my aunt would marry the descendent of an ancestor of young Thomas Lyons who was escorted on that train ride from St. Paul to Chicago and then sent to Notre Dame by none other than that Robin Hood, Jack Sully.
Dakotativity at its best.