Pioneering News: 1886

~ January 6, 1886 • Black Hills Daily Times ~

County Affairs.

Rumored Confession of Colonel Tracy,

Implicating a number of well-known citizens.

All sorts of rumors prevailed yesterday relative to irregularities in county affairs, as divulged by Colonel Tracy, who, it was announced, had made a statement to District Attorney Carey, when, how and to what extent the county had been victimized, also giving the names of his confederates. A TIMES reporter interviewed the District Attorney with very unsatisfactory results, for while that official would deny nothing neither would he confirm any of the reports. He said: “I am very sorry, indeed, that these reports got out, for they seriously interfere with my plans. I can give you no information whatever, unless you consider the statement of value, that the rumors, as I hear them, are not absolutely correct.”

Barney Canifield, attorney for Col. Tracy, was also visited and received his first inkling of the rumors from the reporter. He ridiculed the idea of a confession, for the very good reason, he said, that the colonel had nothing to “confess.” Despite these assurances the public is disposed to believe that a disclosure of greater of less importance has been made, and that surprising developments will shortly occur. The confession, it is said, involves a number of well-known citizens, the maximum, four, given out early in the day, increasing to eight by evening, and including ex-officials, present officials, residents of various localities, and indirectly pointing to a number of others not named.

A TIMES reporter interviewed several of those directly specified, each and all of whom treated the matter indifferently, if not as a very good joke. The grand jury meets today, when an investigation will be inaugurated. It is to be hoped that the work will not be alighted, and that the truth will be established no matter who may be hurt.

Expert Phillips continues at work with very good results. Indirectly we learn that an apparent if not actual fraud amounting in the aggregate to upwards of $15,000 has been established.

One of the latest revelations, but whether or not the result of Mr. Phillip’s investigation we are unable to state, brings in the Bob Neill settlement. It will be remembered that the bondsmen of that official deposited among other values, a quantity of county, warrants to make good the deficiency in the treasurers account. Those were placed, with all papers in the case, in the vault connected with they county clerk’s office. It is now alleged that on or about the date of maturity for such paper, the warrants were abstracted and their place supplied by warrants of equal face value in the aggregate, but of more recent issue, the object being to realize by immediate redemption and accrued interest. How much was realized by such transfer may be inferred from the fact that the old warrants were worth about $1.14, while those substituted had a market value of 65 or 70 cents. The names of the parties making the exchange are freely mentioned on the street in connection with the transaction.

~ February 20, 1886 • Black Hills Weekly Times ~

Si Minich.

A Former Black Hiller Hung at Leadville.

The Leadville Chronicle of Feb. 5th brings an exhaustive account of the hanging of one Cyrus Minich for the murder, October 13, 1884, near Leadville, of Samuel Baldwin, a teamster. The event possesses local interest from the fact that the culprit formerly sojourned in and around the Hills although little can be learned of him else than through certain meager confession made prior to execution, of which this is a sample:


Prof. Joab, one of a party of visitors remarked:

“This is a nice jail.”

“It’s the meanest jail I was ever in except one, and I had to dig out of that it was so mean,” said Minich.

Prof. J. —“Where was that?”

Minich —“Oh, you needn’t think I had to do it. It was in the Black Hills, in Deadwood. I had no particular reason for digging out, but them fellers that robbed the ‘iron clad’ treasure coach of Wells, Fargo & Co., were in with me and they had very strong reasons for wanting to get on the turf again. We pulled the old board floor up and dug out in one night. It was not no jail to speak of.”

Inquiry among officials present and past, fails to sustain the reported escape, still as several deliveries of the character claimed have occurred, Minich, under another name may have been one of the number. His correct knowledge of the character of the jail in a measure sustains his assertion.


The crime for which Minich suffered was committed for mercenary purposes. Baldwin, an honest, industrious old man, was trying to save up $1,200 to pay for his farm in St. Augustine, Illinois, and had accumulated $1,160, which, as his confidence in banks and their security had become unsettled by a succession of failures that had occurred, he carried in a belt about his waist. Minich and others, including a man named Herr, who, according to Minich, formerly lived in Deadwood, learned of Baldwin’s wealth, and that he carried it on his person, and waylaying, shot, killed and robbed their victim. Here is believed to be in the Big Horn country. Numerous arrests were made until the crime was firmly fixed upon Minich as principal, and he was speedily tried, convicted and executed. He, it is believed, was a member of the band of stage robbers infesting the Hills in early days, and is suspected of participation in the Cold Springs robbery, during which Campbell, the telegraph operator, was killed, and Gale Hill seriously wounded.


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