Jack “Red” McDonald

By Dawn Graves


Jack “Red” McDonald was said to be one of the most vicious and dangerous people in Sidney's early days. Among other occupations, he worked as a bartender at the Capitol Saloon in the employ of Cheyenne County's crooked sheriff, “Con” McCarty – both of whom were suspected as being part of the world's biggest gold-bullion robbery up to that time.

In April 1881, when Red McDonald shot the deputy sheriff and tried to shoot a jailer in a jewelry store the same day, Sidney's citizens were fed up.

McDonald was dragged from jail during the night, still in his underwear and socks. He was, however, allowed to put his boots on before they dragged him to the courthouse square.

The citizens tied his hands and feet, threw a rope over a tree in the square and began to pull McDonald up. He begged for his life, but they wouldn't hear it. They instead placed a handkerchief under the noose so as not to hurt his neck.

The citizens then pulled McDonald up, strangling him.

It is said that he didn't die for a full 15 minutes, and the contortions of his body as he died were horrifying.

According to a news report, the coroner “cut him down the next morning, and his verdict was 'killed by persons to the jury unknown.'”

Red McDonald's lynching was said by historians to be the last illegal hanging to occur in Sidney, and was the beginning of the end of the reign of lawlessness in Sidney.