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Sheriff James Glispin: Esteemed Lawman

Sheriff James Glispin

1846 – 1890

Esteemed Lawman

of the

City of Spokane Falls and Spokane County

In 1876, Sheriff Glispin, the elected sheriff of Watonwan County in Minnesota, organized and led a posse that pursued and captured the Younger brothers. The James-Younger gang was active from 1866 to 1876, robbing banks, railroads and stagecoaches, as well as a government paymaster at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and a Kansas City Exposition ticket office in Kansas City, Missouri. During the course of their robberies, they killed a documented total of 25 men.

In September 1876, a robbery of the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota, went awry. Three members of the James-Younger gang, along with two Northfield citizens, died during an onslaught of gunfire. Sheriff Glispin organized and led a posse of six, tracking the killers to the Watonwan River where another gun battle took place.

Jesse and Frank James managed to escape, but Sheriff Glispin and his posse caught up to the others. In a face-to-face encounter with gang member Charley Pitts, Glispin shot and killed Pitts, narrowly escaping death himself. The deceased Charley Pitts and the three wounded Younger brothers were loaded onto a wagon by the posse and taken to the town of Madelia. They were kept under guard in a hotel as Madelia didn't have a jail at the time. The Younger brothers were cleaned up and doctored, then transported to the nearest jail, which was located at Faribault, Minnesota.

The Youngers pleaded guilty and were sentenced to Stillwater State Penitentiary. Bob Younger died in prison. Cole and Jim Younger were released on July 1, 1901. Jim committed suicide the following year and Cole died on March 21, 1916. The capture of the Younger brothers ended the reign of the James-Younger crime spree.

Following three terms as Sheriff of Watonwan County, Minnesota, James Glispin and his wife, Ella, moved west. In 1883, they settled in Spokane Falls, Washington Territory, where his law enforcement career continued, as follows:

  • CITY MARSHAL of Spokane Falls, elected April 7, 1885

  • DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL, appointed January 1886

  • POLICE CHIEF of Spokane Falls, elected April 6, 1886

  • SHERIFF of Spokane County, elected November 4, 1887


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