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RG2248.AM:  David Cherry “Doc” Middleton, 1849-1913

Correspondence (on microfilm):  1867-1879

Size:  1 reel of microfilm containing 15 items


David Cherry “Doc” Middleton came to Nebraska in the early 1870s from Arizona. Formerly known as Henry Shepherd, alias Riley, was an early-day horse thief and well known outlaw of Nebraska who became known when he organized the Hoodoo gang to get rid of vigilantes. In the middle of the 1870s he was running off livestock from the ranges of the Niobrara. He is said to have farmed with his brother Joe (or John T.) in Brown County and to have had a ranch near Mariaville, there and near Rushville, Nebraska, in the early 1880s.

His second wife, Mary Richardson, who later married again, was from Holt County, and in June of 1884 he eloped from Stuart, Nebraska, with his former wife’s sister, Irene Richardson, to Neligh where they were married and later returned to O’Neill, Nebraska. He was also a saloon keeper at Gordon, Rushville, Brewster and Valentine, Nebraska. He also spent three weeks with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show in the 1890s.

Irene, his last wife was born on September 19, 1868, the daughter of Henry Richardson of Carns, Keya Paha County, Nebraska, and died at Hot Springs, South Dakota, November 13, 1911. She was buried in the Crawford, Nebraska, cemetery. She was survived by her husband; three sons, D.W. and J.W. (Wes and William) of Alliance, Henry, born in 1900; and one daughter, Ruth of Ardmore, born in 1894; and one brother, Thomas of Custer, South Dakota. Doc ran a saloon at Orin Junction, Wyoming, before his death at 69 in the Douglas, Wyoming jail of erysipelas with pneumonia complications on December 27, 1913. His two older sons were with him only the week before. He was to be buried in Crawford beside his wife but because of difficulty in performing the transfer was buried “temporarily” at Douglas and was to be moved the following Decoration Day.


This collection consists of letters written by Doc Middleton or his family from 1867-1879. Also included are transcriptions. The letters from J.D. Riley (alias Shepherd, older brother or half-brother) concern the wintering of a cattle drive near Fort Zarah in 1871-1872. The letters from Middleton mention a previous marriage. Fort Zarah, Kansas was established on September 6, 1864 and located on the east bank of Walnut Creek, a half mile from its confluence with the Arkansas River in Barton County. It was abandoned in December of 1869. This collection is on microfilm only. The original letters are not held by the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Note:  See the photo component [RG2248.PH] for related images. Various NSHS collections contain materials relating to Doc Middleton, including:

RG0001.PR, SG12: Albinus Nance (Governor’s papers)

RG0949.AM: Paul Davis Riley

RG5000.AM: Vertical Files

See the NSHS Library catalog and the Nebraska History index for articles and publications about Doc Middleton.


Reel 1

7 letters by Doc Middleton, 1872-1873 from Coreil & Grayson County, Texas

6 letters from J.D. Riley, 1871-1872 from Fort Zarah, Kansas

1 letter from Mary Middleton (Richardson) (second wife of Doc Middleton), 1879 from Atkinson, Holt County, Nebraska

1 letter from H. Lochte, 1867, from Fredericksburg, Texas



Cattle industry & trade — Nebraska


Fort Zarah (Kan.) — History

Holt County (Neb.) — History

Middleton, David Cherry “Doc”, 1849-1913


Revised TMM   07-10-2009

Encoded TMM   11-02-2010