"Con" McCarty, Crooked Sheriff

by Dawn Graves 


Back when Sidney was known as the “Wickedest Town in the West,” many unsavory characters made their mark on the young town. One man, however, seemed to pop up in many of Sidney's darker episodes – Cornelius “Con” McCarty.

Con McCarty was a rancher, saloon owner and Cheyenne County's sheriff, and it is said that he held a lot of sway with the rougher element in town. While sheriff, he operated the notorious Capitol Saloon, Sidney's most well-known gambling and liquor establishment. This building was situated where the present Tobin building is located on 10th and Illinois.

While generally respected (or feared) during his time in Sidney, he had strong ties to the seedy underworld which he used to his advantage. He was even a prime suspect behind the world's largest gold-bullion robbery up to that time, which occurred in Sidney. Some of the gold has never been found.

McCarty later sold the saloon to W.H. Tobin. In 1908, a fire demolished the building and two gold bricks were found in the rubble – thought to be the missing gold ingots from the robbery which had occurred 28 years prior. 


After it was determined that the “gold” bars were simply gold-painted lead, they were returned to Tobin, who placed them over the entrance to his rebuilt establishment as a reminder of the unsolved gold robbery.