Officer! Officer! There’s a robbery happening!
Today when a crime is committed police officers have a variety of different ways to communicate with each other. With the help of e-mail, phones and radios, officers can alert other officers about criminals. In the 1900s however, officers did not have the technological advances and had to rely on a messenger. A prime example of this occured in 1900 when Goodland police officers were alerted to an armed robbery aboard a train in Limon, Colorado, and were sent to look for the criminals.
On August 5 1900 a Union Pacific passenger train on its way from Limon to Goodland was robbed at gunpoint. During the robbery W.J. Fay was shot and killed and after the robbers left the train to escape. A posse was formed and the Sheriff in Goodland was on the lookout. It became known to him that at the home of D.E. Bartholomew the robbers might be staying. After questioning several people who had come from the house, the Sheriff set out with a team in the morning to apprehend the robbers. Using the decoy that three of
the posse were cowboys they meant to lure the robbers out of the house to confront them. This did not go as planned as the robbers stayed in the doorways watching the “cowboys.” The Bartholomew family then left the premises and a shoot-out occurred. During this the remaining members of the posse showed up and the robber known as Howard was shot and later died outside the house from a gunshot by C.E. Biddison. The second robber known as Gould stayed in the sod house and did not come. With more men coming for backup they set fire to sod house and finally heard the powder from his gun. The bodies were identified as the Jones brothers from Missouri who had been robbing and killing men for the past eight years. The sheriff received a reward of $2000, and medical expenses were paid for the injured men of the posse. Mr. Bartholomew also received $1100 for his sod house which was burnt during the standoff.
This is an example of how Goodland police apprehended criminals during the beginning of the county and how they reached out to other police units in and out of state to resolve crimes. To learn more about the Goodland police department come by the High Plains Museum to view the Serve & Protect exhibit. Here you can learn about how the law was enforced when the county first started and how it has evolved over time.