The Pinkston Murders

By Dawn Graves


Though murders and lynchings were frequent in Sidney's wilder days, the only legal hanging to happen within Sidney's borders occurred in 1886, when Jim Reynolds was hanged for the murders of James Pinkston and his son John.

Reynolds had been employed by the Pinkstons to help them build a log house. While it was being built, they camped out in a tent nearby and ate their meals at a table out in the open.

In Reynolds' first version of the story, he said a stranger came along and fought with the Pinkstons, killing them. He said the stranger then compelled Reynolds to help bury the father and son.

The law didn't believe that story at all. So they arrested Reynolds, who then confessed to the crime.

In reality, during supper, Reynolds had gotten into a disagreement with the men. He told them they owed him 12 dollars for his work rather than the seven dollars they insisted upon. Reynolds explained to the officers that they then came after him with clubs, and he killed them with an axe in self-defense.

Interestingly,when it came time for Reynolds' execution, it is said that the sheriff, W.T. Eubank, didn't want to pull the lever himself. So he paid a young man to do the deed for him.

This first legal hanging on May 21, 1886 occurred because of a disagreement over five dollars.