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A Scotman's Nose


Born in Couper of Fife, Scotland, Jim Lees arrived in Jamestown on this date in 1872. Lees, like his contemporary Limpy Jack Clayton, ran a saloon.

Soldiers from nearby Ft. Seward were frequent customers in Jamestown saloons. On one occasion, a short Irish soldier named Cochran picked a fight with the much larger Lees. Things heated up, and the Irishman leapt across the bar and onto Lees’ back. Trying to shake Cochran off, Lees twisted around, and the Irishman bit off the end of the Scotsman’s nose. Lees rushed to his wife, who carefully put the dangling tip back in place, laid a strip of bacon over it and covered it with corn plaster. It worked; Lees came out of it with nothing more than a small white scar. The bruise to his ego, on the other hand, was probably a bit more serious.

Source: Forrest, Lois. “Jim Lees: A Founder and More.” Century of Stories, Jamestown and Stutsman County. Fort Seward Historical Society, 1983.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm