Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Wife and Family, January 22, 1868

In this letter from January 22, 1868, Samuel Reed writes to his wife and family describing the formation and actions of a "vigilance committee" in Cheyenne, Wyoming. This group captured three robbers and hung them without a trial. Reed claims that he "does not uphold such proceedings," but that "in these cases it is the best thing that could be done."

There is a little startling news to the outside world although the good people of Cheyenne are not much excited about it. A vigilance committee has been organized and have done some work. In my last I gave you a description of their first operations. Subsequently a robbery was committed in Cheyenne by three mountain men. They escaped at the time but as soon as their whereabouts was known a party left here and proceeded to Dale City, surrounded a house where they were supposed to be, forced an entrance, secured the three men, questioned them and took them away. Before leaving they advised the other inmates of the house not to leave it until sunrise. In the morning the three men were found suspended by the neck, dead.

That occurred three nights since. Last evening a notice was in the paper warning five others to leave the city within twenty-four hours. I would not give much for their chances if they are found after that time in Wyoming. I do not uphold such proceedings as a general thing, but in these cases perhaps it is the best thing that could be done. No criminal can be convicted in Cheyenne if he is a friend of the roughs.

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Wife and Family
  • Citation: Nebraska State Historical Society, Samuel Reed Papers (Union Pacific Railroad Collection), MS 3761, Unit 1, Subgroup 14, Series 1, Box 2, Letters to Wife and Family
  • Date: January 22, 1868