The Shoshone Sheriffs

Shoshone is a county in the Idaho panhandle, a sliver of the state that is wedged between Montana and Washington extending towards British Columbia. It is near the city of Coeur d’Alene and 80 miles east of Spokane, Washington. It comprises a series of river valleys west of the Rockies, rich in minerals, particularly silver. It was silver that put this area on the map after 1884.Wallace_2

And what has this to do with Earltown?

Two prominent law enforcement officers in this wild, frontier settlement were born in Earltown.

The first and most famous is Angus Sutherland.   He was born on a farm overlooking the Balmoral valley in 1851. He was a son of John Sutherland and Christy Sutherland.   Tradition claims that his father John was a son of William Sutherland “Ruidh” and Mary MacKay, first settlers at The Falls. His mother Christy was a daughter of William Sutherland “Ban” and Marion MacLeod, also early settlers.   John and Christy settled to the back of the Sutherland “Ruidh” farm on what is now known as the Peter MacDonald Road. In the 1860’s they sold this property[1] to Donald MacDonald of West Earltown and ventured westward. They were among the first to start the exodus from Earltown to new frontiers.

The family appears to have first sojourned in Ontario and around Port Arthur, (Thunder Bay), for a few years. It appears that their son Angus was the first to explore possibilities in the American West. He arrived in Pierce City, Washington Territory, (now Idaho), in 1878 where he worked at mining for two years. He was able to purchase a mail contract between Lewiston and Pierce in 1880. By 1884 he was operating a saw mill and grist mill in Lapwai, Idaho. In 1886 he permanently settled in the infant mining district east of Coeur d’Alene which became the town of Wallace. Along the way he married Elizabeth Mallory.

At some point his parents, John and Christy, settled in the area as well as his brother Dan. Brother Will stayed in Port Arthur where he worked for CP Rail.   Others in the family are believed to have settled in Idaho.

Like many mining towns, life was crude. There were over two dozen saloons and bordellos flourishing where the male to female ration was around 200 to 1. It was pretty close to the images of the wild west portrayed in movies many years later.

Angus and Dan Sutherland removed themselves from the mines and operated a successful livery stable business called Sutherland Barns. This business later evolved into a garage when automobiles became common.   Dan appears to have been content to mind the shop while Angus was much more civic minded.   It is likely that he volunteered as a Deputy Sheriff in in the 1890’s to assist in maintaining law and order.   In 1898 he put his name on the ballot to run for Sheriff of Shoshone County. He lost by 144 votes.

At this point in time, the labour movement was finding its way into the mining camps of Idaho and Colorado.   Things quickly became nasty with many acts of violence being perpetrated in the name of the union or the employer companies.   Certain mines were bombed, violence escalated and the Sheriff of the day chose to stand aside. The higher levels of government declared a state of emergency, fired the Sheriff and installed Angus as Acting Sheriff in 1899. This was followed by a two year permanent appointment. Over 700 miners were arrested and confined in a stockade for a period of time but later released. In the midst of this turmoil, Angus attempted to maintain a degree of law and order. The result was that he was an enemy to both camps.

Around the time of his appointment, the miner’s association issued a statement saying this about Angus Sutherland:

His record is one that will compare with any criminal on earth. He was organizer of a group of highwaymen that lynched a man for his money some years ago between Lewiston, Idaho, and Walla Walla, Washington. These worthies are the men selected by the democratic government of Idaho under the supervision of Gov. Steunenberg to execute the plans of the Standard Oil company and the mine owners.

The editors of the local paper went on to refute the above claiming; “Mr. Sutherland is one who has manly stood out against the rule of anarchy in the Coeur d’ Alenes and is naturally hated by such men as …. But let us see what is thought by those who have long known him. He stands high in the estimation of the better element of Coeur d’Alenes where he has made his home for some years. Formerly he lived in the southern part of the state and is widely known among the Lewiston people.” “…… Mr. Sutherland’s connections by birth and marriage, his friendships and business associations are those that can only belong to a man or excellence and repute. In politics he is an unswerving Republican but is now acting under a Democratic appointment because there is work to do that requires work of the highest citizenship in which party ties are lost in larger call to patriotic duty. “

Around the same time, Angus sued a Mrs. Hutton who published a book with the subtitle “ A Tale of the Modern Inquisition in Idaho”.   Angus took exception to a passage where Mrs. Hutton claims that a brother of Angus, living in the south of the state, was murdered by an employee over unpaid wages. She accused Angus , “the great law and order demagogue” of leading a mob and lynching his brother’s murderer who merely shot his brother for refusing to pay honestly earned wages.   Angus denied the truth of the statement in total.

Subsequent writers have described the 1898 to 1905 period as a state of war in the mountains of Shoshone.

During these troubled times, Angus became famous throughout the north west. Newspapers from Kansas, Colorado, San Francisco, Spokane, and even as far east as Chicago were following his exploits. The Idaho Statesman made note of Mr. Sutherland’s first visit to Boise, Idaho. “He is a quiet, unassuming gentleman but he has demonstrated in every sense that he is in every sense a noble officer.

By 1905 things became very complicated with the assignation of ex Governor Steunenberg. It was alleged that the assassin was connected with the miner’s union. It was Angus Sutherland who played a major role in the identification of the assassin, further earning the wrath of less than savory elements. Another key witness was an accomplice who was wanted in Shoshone for another murder. The papers of the day give a very detailed account of Sutherland’s conveyance of the accomplice through various jurisdictions that also wanted the criminal on other grounds. He succeeded in bringing the criminal to court in Wallace, Idaho.

In 1907 the Topeka Daily of Kansas described Angus as “the little Scotsman of Shoshone, himself a famous gunfighter”.  

Sutherland also had some close calls. It was reported that he was the target of assignation attempts on three occasions.   On one occasion he was lured to Washington State only to find a trap had been laid. On another occasion he was shot in the neck – a setback but not fatal.  The miner’s association denied complicity.

His term as sheriff was up during the prosecution of the ex-Governor’s assassin. He was asked to step aside as he was accused by his captive as being biased towards the miner’s association. His deputy became the Sheriff and Angus was officially made Deputy although it was known that Angus was still in control. The deputy was William J. Baillie (Bailey), native of the Berrichon.   More about Sheriff Bailey in a moment.

With his brother Dan managing the family business, Angus maintained his interest in law enforcement. In 1931 President Hoover recommended to the Senate the appointment of Angus Sutherland as the Federal Marshall for the state of Idaho. It was a fitting climax to an exciting career.

In his later years, a former private detective published his memoirs including an interview with Angus about the early years of crime in Wallace, Idaho.   The former gunfighter described “enough gore to float a small steamship”.

Angus died March 6, 1937 in Wallace.   Various reports claim him to have been a native of Scotland while some pointed to Ontario origins. The actual government documents clearly place him as a native of Earltown.

 

William Baillie, (spelled Bailey by this branch of the family when they went to the States), arrived in Idaho in 1897 at the age of 24. Whether he had connections to Angus Sutherland previously or simply wandered into Wallace looking for work in the expanding mines, we can only guess.   He hadn’t been long in the town before being recruited into the Sheriff’s department. One can imagine that Angus Sutherland felt more secure with a fellow Earltowner watching his back.

William had a front row seat in the “war” between the miners and the mining companies. He appears in various articles as the arresting officer in gruesome cases. When Sutherland’s term was up and he didn’t reoffer due to accusations of bias, his protégé William stepped into the Sheriff’s position. In the following years the labour disputes settled down and William’s duties were more domestic in nature but likely just as gruesome.   The lack of major crime stories attests that William was successful in bringing law and order to the region.

During William’s tenure there were 26 saloons operating in the small town of Wallace. It was also well known as a Red Light district.   This distinction continued into the 1980’s when the last bordello was forced to close.   William and his successors turned a blind eye to the activity.   It was also reported that William failed to enforce the Sunday closing of saloons and businesses.   One likes to think that he had a premonition that such laws would be repealed in the future.

When his term as Sheriff was up, Bailey became the police chief of the expanding City of Wallace.

William was a son of Donald Baillie “Buidhe” and Euphemia Baillie of the Berrichan.   In Idaho he met up with and married Lydia Salisbury of River John. She had been previously married. The Bailey’s had no children. He died in 1943 and she in 1964.

 

So the next time you watch an old western with gunfighters, saloons, dancing girls and the bombing of railroads, think of Angus Sutherland and William Baillie.

 

 

[1] Currently the Pope property