The Notorious Doc Middleton

by Dawn Graves


“Doc” Middleton, notorious horse thief and gunslinger, was known to have have spent time in Sidney – a lot of it behind bars.

Some say he committed his first murder here, but other historians say he had escaped from jail in Texas for a murder, making his way to Sidney afterward.

Whether his first murder occurred in Sidney or not, the fact remains that he killed a soldier here.

One story goes that Middleton was in Joe Lane's Dance Hall in Sidney when Private James Keith of the 5th Cavalry punched him in the face, causing him to fall to the ground.

He got up, only to be punched down again. Middleton then calmly reached for his revolver and shot Keith dead.

By some accounts, Middleton was arrested and placed in jail, but when a lynch mob started to form, the sheriff allowed him to escape.

Middleton didn't let these brushes with the law stop him and his gang from stealing 40 horses soon thereafter.

“Billy” Lykins, a detective of the Stock Growers' Association, took a posse and went after Middleton and his gang, some of whom took many of the horses and made their way to Sidney.

Middleton was eventually captured and brought to Sidney's little log jail to wait for his trial in Cheyenne, but it is said that he escaped during the night through the floor when a jailer conveniently left a fire shovel nearby.

Middleton died in 1913 and was buried in Douglas, Wyoming.