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The Outlaws of Ward County


This day in 1907 was the busiest yet for the crime-fighting team of Judge Goss, States Attorney McGee, Sheriff Lee, and Deputy Kelley of Ward County. The Minot jail was “filled to the very brim,” so the court tried, convicted and sentenced eighteen outlaws, and prepared to ship them to the penitentiary at Bismarck.

The Ward County Independent dedicated four columns on two pages, complete with photos of criminals and crime scenes, with the largest photo reserved for the hero of the day—Sheriff John J. Lee. Crimes included bank robbery, burglary, horse theft, adultery, and incest. Thirty-two others were convicted of misdemeanors and fined—mainly for running saloons and houses of “ill fame.”

The editor concluded, “In all…over 120 years was dished out to the various prisoners. It will be noticed that but a very few of the crimes…were committed in MINOT. However we suppose our city will be blamed for ALL OF THEM.”


“Eighteen Sentenced to the Penitentiary” Ward County Independent 14 Feb 1907, p.1.