White Pine County, Nevada Peace Officers Killed in Action

March 18, 1878 - Nelson Houston or Huston, Constable, Ward, NV
Buried in Ward Cemetery, Ward, NV


Officer Huston Killed At Ward

Mr. Hilp, of the firm of Hilp Bros., at Ward, who is now visiting the Hot Springs at this place, last evening received a letter from that place, containing news of the killing of officer Huston by Tim Finnegan, a well known sporting man. The latter was creating a disturbance in a hurdy-house, and refusing to be ejected by officer Huston, the latter struck him with his club, when Finnegan drew a pistol and shot him dead. The affair created intense excitement, and it was thought that if Finnegan, who had taken to the hills, was captured, he would be lynched. Huston was an old coaster; had been nightwatch man at Ward over a year, and was regarded with favor by the citizens generally. Finnegan was in Elko a few months ago, and is well known by many persons here.

March 11, 1878   Finnegan Captured

Tim Finnegan, who fatally shot officer Huston, in Ward, a few days ago, and took to the hills, was captured at Sam Moslier's ranch on the following morning, by Alex. McDonald and George Lamb who had been sent thither by Sheriff Raum, and were at the ranch when Finnegan arrived. He was taken to Ward and delivered to the authorities, the parties received the reward $200 offered for his arrest. The excitement growing out of the shooting had to a great extent subsided, by the time Finnegan was brought back, and no violence was attempted by the populace. He is now in jail and will be dealt with according to law.


October 12, 1907 - Edward Gilbert, Constable, Ely, NV
Buried in Old Blk 4 in Ely Cemetery, Ely, NV

Ed Gilbert was born on 24 Jun 1870 at San Bernardino, CA and died 13 Oct 1907 in Ely, NV. Gilbert was the son of Joseph and Susan Artist Gilbert. A single man, he worked at various occupations:  freighter, road contractor, wood supplier, mustanger and Ely Constable. Gilbert was appointed Constable for Ely township in early Oct. 1905. His cabin was located at the corner of Canyon and Gilbert Streets.

Edwin M. Gilbert, Ely Constable, age 37,  was shot in the abdomen and back by F. M. Saunders, age 32, of Texas, and died a few hours later following surgery at the Dillon Hospital in Ely. Gilbert was fatally shot and injured Saturday night, October 12, 1907, in a 2-room crib adjoining the Club Dance Hall in the red light district on West High Street. Officer Gilbert was trying to arrest Saunders for beating and threatening to kill Ruth Deardorff, his paramour and Ely prostitute.

As Constable Gilbert fell to the floor near the stove, mortally wounded, he discharged his gun and killed Saunders. Saunders died instantly from a wound to the head and his body fell over a trunk at the back of the room. Constable Gilbert was carried to his cabin on Canon and Gilbert streets before being taken to the Dillon hospital where he died.

George McClure, owner of the Three Deuces dance hall told the coroner's jury that Saunders had broke jail at Ardmore, Oklahoma. Ruth Deardorff testified that Saunders had a record in the southwest, Texas, and Indian Territory of robbing banks and holding up trains. Saunders was a gambler and considered to be a "bad man."

Ed Gilbert's funeral procession was the largest ever known in Ely to that time with the funeral cortege extending almost a mile in length. A solemn send-off to a officer killed "in the faithful performance of his duties as constable."

E. M. Gilbert log cabin now located at the WP Public Museum grounds.

Gilbert's log cabin was originally located at the corner of Canyon and Gilbert Streets but  is now located on the grounds of the White Pine Public Museum and is said to have been used as a Ely Post Office.



While attempting to arrest F. M. Saunders for beating up his paramour, in a crib adjoining the Club dance hall in the Red-light district, Saturday evening. Constable Ed Gilbert was shot in the abdomen just above the navel, and was struck in the back as he fell, the latter bullet piercing the kidneys. The wounds proved fatal, and died at the Dillion hospital at 6 o'clock last night.

F. M. Saunders was shot through the left temple, the bullet taking a slightly downward course and coming out at the right side of his head. Death was almost instantaneous and as soon as the officers and bystanders had rushed into the room. Saunders was dead. He was found lying on a trunk in the back part of the room, with his gun by his right hand.

Considerable mystery is attached to the manner in which Saunders met his death. Many people feel strongly inclined to the belief that the wound was self inflicted, while others assert that it would not have been possible for Saunders to have done away with himself.

Constable Gilbert believed before his death that he had killed Saunders; and held strongly to that opinion, even a few hours before his death. "Go get him, boys, I've got him." was the manner in which he addressed Arthur Luchesi and Harry Waller, when they entered the room, after the shooting. Yesterday afternoon he told Justice Cartwright that he had fired the shot which killed Saunders and at that time he was able to talk only with considerable effort.

...Recognizing that the only hope of saving his life lay in an operation, he was taken to the Dillion hospital and six of the leading physicians of the city operated on him... The doctors stated that after the operation that Gilbert only had a fighting chance for his life. His strong constitution could not overcome the effects of the wounds and he passed away last evening at 6 o'clock.


January 10, 1932 - Herbert D. Long, Police Officer, Ely Police Department
Buried in Section B lot 32 grave 4 in the Ely Cemetery, Ely, NV

long.jpg (21728 bytes)       

Herbert Dean Long was born in Omaha, Nebraska to Patrick and Lulu Long. He married Effie Jane Oxborrow on  December 20, 1924. They had 3 children: Jane Long (August 29, 1925 - November 25, 1992) Brantzeg, William Long (May 3, 1928 - September 3, 1948), Ralph Gerald Long (January 5, 1931 - )

 The following is an excerpt from Tears Fell Like Niagara, by Effie Oxborrow Long Read and what she had read in the Ely Daily Times February 29, 1932-March 2, 1932.

The trial of Bart J. Smithson charged with the shooting of police officer Herbert D. Long in the Palace club on the morning of January 10, 1932 commenced in the district court, The Honorable Judge H. W. Edwards presiding.

Max Sumner, the first witness to the actual shooting, said that he was in the Palace club about 4:20 o'clock on the morning of January 10. Upon entering the room a man was firing a pistol at a cuspidor placed on the floor at the back of the building. He identified Mr. Smithson as the man who fired the shots. The defendant was firing several shots at the cuspidor and later a silver dollar. Officer Long advised "Bart you can't shoot like that in here. It's against the law." Bart said, "Why not? There is a steel door in the rear." Officer Long said, "That makes no difference. You give me your gun." He did give the gun and the officer ejected the shells and started for the front door. Bart asked, "What are you going to do with the gun?". Officer Long replied, "I'm going to give it to the district attorney." Smithson replied, "He'll just give it back in the morning." At that time the officer had the door halfway open, saying "If there is any more of this I'll have to throw you in." The officer went back toward the soda fountain stating, "Don't go after any more guns, Bart." He placed the gun he was carrying on the corner of the fountain. He heard no more until the fatal shot was fired.

 Information courtesy of Cecile Miller, granddaughter of Effie Oxborrow Long Read

ELY DAILY TIMES  January 11, 1932


Bart Smithson Held for Slaying of H.D. Long

Verdict Returned by Coroner's Jury After Hearing this Morning

An inquiry into the death of City Police Officer Herbert D. Long, who died early yesterday morning from a gunshot wound alleged to have been inflicted in the Palace club, was held in the justice courtroom this morning, by Coroner J.A. Johnson, with a jury consisting of Walter Webb, foreman William B Ririe and C.F. Green.

Testimony of eye-witnesses to the shooting was taken and the jury returned the following verdict:

"That the deceased, Herbert D. Long, came to his death at or near the Palace club, by a gunshot wound in the left chest, inflicted by B.J. Smithson."

City Police Officer H.D. "Burt" Long, while in pursuance of his duties and in uniform, was shot dead by Bart Smithson, proprietor of the Palace club, in that resort, shortly before 5:00 o'clock yesterday morning. Long died instantly, a bullet from a 25-35 rifle having pierced his heart and lodged in his back.

Smithson was arrested by Sheriff H.C. Nicholson and City Marshal Jack Monoghan shortly after the killing, the officers breaking into his rooms over the club. He made no statement when taken into custody and he was immediately lodged in the county jail.

Ed Preston is being held in jail as a material witness. Other eyewitnesses to the shooting include John Waldy and George Lewis, of Ely, and Jack Maguire, of McGill.

Actions leading up to and including the shooting and the arrest, as reconstructed by city and county officers, from their investigations and the statement of witnesses as follows:

Hear Shots

Officer Long and Carl Feutach were sitting in the lobby of the Northern Hotel at approximately 4:30 p.m. yesterday morning, when they both heard what they believed to be shots. Long, who was on duty as night officer,left the hotel to investigate and walked down and across Aultman street to the Palace club, which he entered. There, it is reported, he found Smithson shooting with a .38 special Smith and Wesson pistol at a target said to be a silver dollar, placed on one of chairs in the resort. The shooting must have been continued for some time as officers latter counted 27 holes in the rear of the building, where bullets had struck and entered the wall.

Long, on entering the room and seeing what was going on, is reported to have said, "Bart, you can't pull that stuff here." He then took the pistol away from Smithson, broke it open and started to walk toward the front door. Just as he reached it, Smithson called him and the following conversation, or words to the same effect is said to have taken place:

Smithson: "What are you going to do with the gun?"

Long: "I'm going to give it to the district attorney tomorrow morning."

Smithson then said, "The district attorney will give it back to me." Long replied, "Like hell he will." and these were the last words he spoke on earth.

While statements of some witnesses vary slightly regarding minor happenings they generally agree that Smithson, who was walking up behind the bar that joins on the soda fountain in the club room as the last conversation took place, snatched a 25-35 rifle from an opening between the two fixtures, pumped a shell into the barrel and fired at the police officer, who had turned and who was walking toward him, about four or five feet away.

Long slumped down on to his knees and then fell backward on to the floor, shot squarely through the heart.


April 1941 - Frank McManus - Nevada State Police Officer

Ely Daily Times  April 21, 1941


F. McManus, C. Theobald Killed as Police Car Goes Into Spin

Thirty-one year old Frank McManus, private of the Nevada State Police, and CLayborn H. Theobald, 42 year old Ruth carpenter for Nevada Consolidated Copper Corporation, were killed in an automobile accident seven miles northeast of Ely on the McGill highway at 5:30 o'clock Saturday night when the police car which McManus was driving, skidded from the roadway and turned over five times.

Theobald was killed instantly, being thrown from the car on the third loop as it catapulted from the highway. McManus, who was tossed through an open door of the machine as it righted itself after a 287 foot roll, was rushed to White Pine hospital where he died 3 1/2 hours later. Dr. Irvin Mortgenroth said he suffered a basal skull fracture and numerous broken bones

A light sleet was falling at the time of the accident, and friends said they believed McManus was chasing a truck toward McGill. As a police officer he collected truck license fees in this section for the Nevada Public Service Commission. Theobald was a passenger in the car.

Coroner William Willis set the inquest for five o'clock this evening. The jury inspected the accident scene shortly after six o"clock Saturday night.

McManus, who lived here most of his life, entered the state police employment 16 months age, and recently returned here after being stationed in various parts of the state. Theobald was a well known resident of the community, having worked in both McGill and Ruth. He was the father of six children.

McManus was born in April 7, 1910, in Victor, Colorado and was brought to McGill by his parents when a baby. The family resided in McGill for several years and when he was about three years old moved to a ranch near Hercules Gap where they made their home for a number of years.

...he accepted an appointment with the State Police in January, 1940 and had been stationed in Carson City and Reno until about ten days ago when he was transferred to Ely.

Left to morn his death are his mother, Mrs. Alice McManus, four sisters, Mrs. Carl Hebrew of Ely, Mrs. Floyd Ely of Monterey, California, Mrs. Harry Upton of Marysville, Washington, all of whom are expected to arrive here for the services, and four nephews and nieces.

April 22, 1941  Fatal Mishap Unavoidable Says Coroner's Jury In Verdict

A coroner's jury composed of Max Behrman, A.G. Workman and Mike Simpson returned an "unavoidable accident" verdict yesterday evening following an inquest into the fatal automobile mishap which claimed the lives of Frank McManus and C.H. Theobald Saturday night.

The jury viewed the accident scene Saturday night shortly after the accident and yesterday afternoon they heard the testimony of the first motorist to stop at the point of the upset.

Meanwhile state police officers from all parts of Nevada began gathering here today and it was indicated that Governor E. P. Carville will arrive late this afternoon to attend the funeral services at nine o'clock tomorrow morning for McManus, who was a private for the state police agency. Services will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic church.

November 7, 1941 - Clifford L. Drietzler, Deputy Sheriff
Buried in Section C Blk 1 grave 8 in the Ely Cemetery, Ely, NV



...Deputy Sheriff Clifford Drietzler had been a well liked officer in White Pine County.

He was unfortunately to become one of the at least two White Pine County peace officers this century to lose his life in the line of duty...

On Nov. 7, 1941, police were alerted by Wendell Lambert of Ely that his car had been stolen and an abandoned police car had been parked hastily in front of his house.

The car was that assigned to Drietzler. Police began a search for the deputy sheriff, fearing that foul play was involved in the incident.

Earlier in the day, Ward Swain had stopped in McGill to advise Drietzler of a car which had been parked along the McGill Highway all day.

Swain said that the occupant of the car was a 145 -pound man wearing dirty, greasy clothes and sleeping.

Drietzler's body was discovered that evening, a mile east of the Klaich Ranch near the pipeline, north of McGill.

he had been shot in the back of the head with his own gun. Police later surmised at what happened. Apparently, the man sleeping in the car, who was Kenneth Shepley, an 18-year-old

ex-convict of Arkansas, had somehow been alerted to the approach of the officer.

He had hid away from the stolen car while Drietzler checked it out. Shepley surprised Drietzler and took his police revolver away.

He then marched the McGill officer up by the pipeline and shot him behind the car.

...Shepley was apprehended by law authorities in San Diego within the week after the murder. He was driving the car stolen from Lambert in Ely

The newspaper reported that Shepley confessed to the murder. However, on Nov. 22 in White Pine District Court, Shepley pleaded not guilty. His contention was that Drietzler was shot during a scuffle and that he helped Drietzler walk up by the pipeline.

Shepley said the officer was still alive when he left. The district judge set the trial to begin on Dec. 7, not realizing the turmoil the United States would be thrown into that week.

Drietzler was defended by attorney J.M. Collins. The six-day trial ended in the conviction by the jury on Dec. 13. Shepley was reportedly unmoved as he listened sentence of life imprisonment. He was out on parole two decades later.

March 30, 1955 - William Bernhart Neill,  Deputy Sheriff
Born 1 Mar 1906 - Died 29 Mar 1955  Buried in Ely Cemetery Blk 1 Lot 4 grave 6


March 30, 1955


Death rode Highway 50 late yesterday when two persons were instantly killed in a head-on crash between a deputy sheriff's car and another approximately four miles northeast of Ely. Both cars were virtually demolished.

The dead:

Deputy Sheriff Wm. B. (Bill) Neill, 49, Ely.

M.G. (Whitey) Ravenscraft, 31, McGill.

First report of the tragedy came to the sheriff's office at 6:10 p.m. as Neill was returning to Ely on routine patrol from the McGill area. Both men were alone and were dead upon arrival of the county ambulance.

The bodies were removed to the Wilson-Bates funeral home in Ely and the inquest is pending.

Sheriff McLaughlin and Undersheriff Andy Anderson said this morning that Bill Neill has had a long and outstanding career in police work, many years for White Pine county.

Neill was born March 1, 1906, and prior to joining the sheriff's officer was with the Ely police force. He is survived by his wife, Irma, and three children, a daughter Barbara, who is married and lives in the Las Vegas area; a son Donald, attending school in Los Angeles, and a five-year old son, Mitchell, at the home. The home is in Central Ely.

Crash Photos

A series of crash pictures taken on the scene a short time after the collision can be seen in the front window of the Ely Times office.

These startling photos, taken by a member of the Times staff, depict what happens when two automobiles meet head on.


Frank Adams, historian for the Nevada Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and a member of the Nevada Law Enforcement Historical Society is looking for photographs of any of the officers named above or information about family members that may be able to provide information about them. Frank Adams can be contacted at:  fadams@ableweb.net. Mr. Adams kindly provided us with some information on these men.

White Pine Cemeteries and Burials
White Pine Historical and Archaeological Society
Ely Walking Tour, West End of High Street
White Pine County Classified Ads Pages


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