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July 26: A Fitting End

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Alex Larron was not a nice man. United States Marshall James F. Shea described him as “a mild looking cuss, but for all that he was a bad one.” During the early 1900s Larron and his gang of horse thieves operated mainly near the Canadian border along the Mouse River.

On one occasion, lawmen Jimmie Costello and Bob Gorman almost lost their lives in a confrontation with Larron. While on the train from Minot to Bottineau, the sheriff happened to see Laron on the trail, leading some horses he had undoubtedly stolen. Costello sought out Sheriff Gorman and the two men tracked Larron down, catching up to him where he had camped for the night. When Larron pulled a gun, Gorman grabbed him and Costello rushed in to help. Larron tried to shoot his captors, but in the struggle shot himself in the leg and subsequently surrendered.

Larron had a long history with the law in the Dakotas and Canada. In 1900 he was arrested for stealing horses. Later he tried to kill Sheriff Cole of Aberdeen, South Dakota. In May, 1906 Sheriff Gradin of Washburn arrested Larron for crimes he committed in Canada. The court said the identification was not sufficient to extradite him, and he was released. Larron spent time in the North Dakota penitentiary for stealing horses, but broke out. He also broke out of jail in Grand Forks, where he was serving time for grand larceny.

North Dakotans sighed with relief when they learned that Alex Larron was dead. On this date in 1907, readers of the Washburn Leader learned the full story. A farmer’s wife heard that Larron was in the area. By that time, many farmhouses had telephones. She phoned her neighbors to spread the news. Thomas Kerr arrived from his nearby farm armed with a rifle. When he spotted Larron riding a stolen horse, Larron pulled his gun, but missed his shot when his horse shied. Kerr shot and killed him. It was announced that Kerr would not be charged for killing a very bad man. Larron was described as “one of the worst criminals that ever terrorized the Dakotas.” Dakotans were satisfied that he had met a fitting end.

Dakota Datebook by Carole Butcher

Washburn Leader. “Woman Caused Larron’s End.” Washburn ND. 7/26/1907. Page 1.
Bismarck Tribune. “Career of Larron.” Bismarck ND. 7/6/1907. Page 6.
Bismarck Tribune. “Larron Case.” Bismarck ND. 5/10/1906. Page 3.
Aberdeen Democrat. “Alex Larron Shot by N.D. Farmer.” 7/5/1907. Page 2.
Jamestown Weekly Alert. “After Horse Thief.” Jamestown ND. 3/9/1905. Page 1.
Bismarck Weekly Tribune. “Friday.” Bismarck ND. 10/5/1900. Page 8.

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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