Old West Lifestyle & Stories

The Death of Lawman Ed Crawford

Not much is known about Ed Crawford before he came to Ellsworth, Kansas.  In 1873, he was serving off and on as an Ellsworth policeman.  The sheriff was Chauncey Whitney.  On August 15, brothers Ben and Billy Thompson were in town.  Both were outlaws.  But Billy was a crazy outlaw.  Although Sheriff Whitney was a friend of the Thompsons, on this day Billy got mad at him and shot and killed him.  Obviously, Billy hightailed it out of town.
The incident, and Billy Thompson’s escape so infuriated the Mayor that he fired the entire police force.  Since, at that time, Ed Crawford wasn’t on the force, the mayor hired him as a replacement.  Because the Thompsons were Texans, and Texans were notorious for causing problems, there were hard feelings against any Texan in town.  There was even talk about forming a vigilante group.  One of the people supposedly on the vigilante’s list was a Cad Pierce.
On August 20, 1873 the new sheriff, Ed Crawford and some other men were lounging in front of the general store, when Cad Pierce and some other Texans came by and started badmouthing Crawford and the others.   Before long, Crawford and Pierce were facing it off.  Crawford ended up shooting and then clubbing Pierce to death.  The mayor didn’t like what happened, so he fired Crawford.
Under threats from the Texans, Crawford left town, for three months. When he returned, Crawford was a different man. Drinking heavily, one night he fired into a room that contained Cad Pierce’s brother-in-law. Wounded in the hand, the brother-in-law empted his pistol, hitting Crawford four times. But, that wasn’t enough. Other Texans joined in, and Crawford ended up with thirteen slugs in his body. Now, that’s really getting fired.

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