Did Old West lawmen write a police blotter? Or was it more like a journal?

Did Old West lawmen write a police blotter? Or was it more like a journal?

Lawrence Ripplinger

Grafton, Illinois

Like bookkeepers, each city marshal had his own method of keeping records of arrests and mileage. Oftentimes, they were paid by the number of arrests. Also, city officials wanted records kept of expenses such as meals delivered to jailed prisoners. The local news reporters, like today, gathered information from these journals. On the federal level, U.S. marshals had to keep up with all kinds of paperwork. Their deputies had the glory of chasing the bad guys. In reality, Marshal Matt Dillon would have spent most of his time shuffling papers instead of pursuing outlaws and sipping suds in Miss Kitty’s saloon.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian, board president of the Arizona Historical Society and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu