JOHN MAC LEOD By Jessie MacLeod Ottum
John Macleod was born in Ross Shire Scotland, August 31, 1882. As a young man he worked in a game preserve where he became an avid horseman, sportsman and marksman; at the age of 21 came to America, arriving in Billings in the fall of 1903. His first jobs were working with various horse outfits on the Rosebud, staying until he received his citizenship papers at Forsyth.
An experience he had when he entered his sorrel gelding, Gold Bug, in the 100 mile endurance race to be run from Billings to Lavina and back again on July 4, 1911, may have had some bearing on his desire to become a law officer. Entry fees were only $25 but the stakes were high. In order to qualify, each horse had to cover the 100 mile course within a given number of hours the day before the race. Gold Bug made the trip in good shape and was ready to run when the starting gun went off in front of the Northern Hotel on the 4th. It was a gruelling race for rider and horse as the temperature soared to 103 degrees. Finishing in second place, MacLeod wedged through the crowd congregated in the lobby of the Northern for the payoff. His share was $300 in cash but by the time he got back out to the street again, a pickpocket had taken his billfold and all the winnings! Later on he homesteaded on West Sarpy, about 25 miles northeast of Hardin, where currently Westmoreland Resources are mining coal owned by the Crow Indian Tribe.
In 1916 he moved to Hardin to become deputy sheriff, later becoming undersheriff and in 1918 was elected sheriff. On November 14th of the same year he married Lillie Anne Fitzgerald, a teacher in the Hardin schools. To this union were born two children, Jessie (Mrs. Juell Ottun of Hardin) and John (Edmonds, Washington).
During the next four years Sheriff MacLeod and Undersheriff Carl O. Long gained quite a reputation for stopping the "whiskey running" traffic through Big Horn County. Headlines in the paper told of thrilling liquor chases running through barricades and road blocks amid a fusillade of bullets, through barbed wire fences and off the roads into the hills! Many times a well placed shot hitting a tire or puncturing the radiator ended the race of a fugitive machine carrying 25-30 cases of whiskey, bourbon or Scotch.
On May 25, 1926 MacLeod was seriously wounded in a pistol duel with a Mexican dope fiend whom he killed, and after spending several weeks in the hospital had only been on duty a couple of months when he met his death at Crow Agency on October 29. While inspecting horses at the Big Wye that day he received word that Sheriff Gilmore had been killed and Undersheriff Dornberger seriously wounded while at-empting to arrest Jim Bolin at Crow. Leaving immediately, he arrived at the Burlington depot in Crow Agency around 4 o'clock to find several hundred men armed with everything from bow and arrows to high powered rifles and Bolin barricaded in a barn adjoining his cabin across the tracks from the station. Sheriff Gilmore's body still lay where he fell, the negro from the cover of the barn taking a shot at anyone who attempted to remove it. Indians were using bow and arrows to shoot balls of fire into the straw by the barn with the hope of setting the building on fire, to be continued.
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