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Desert LawmenDesert Lawmen

The High Sheriffs of New Mexico and Arizona 1846-1912

Larry D. Ball

Narrated by Scott Carrico

Available from Audible

Book published by University of New Mexico Press

This carefully researched study shows that although few southwestern sheriffs were genuine gunmen they were expected to wield firearms with nerve and determination in the line of duty.

Elected for two-year terms, frontier sheriffs were the principal peace-keepers in counties that were often larger than New England states. As officers of the court, they defended settlers and protected their property from the ever- present violence of the frontier. Their duties ranged from tracking down stagecoach robbers and serving court warrants to locking up drunks and quelling domestic disputes. Sheriffs were also jail keepers, tax collectors, quarantine inspectors, court-appointed executioners, and dogcatchers.

The breadth and detail of Ball's study, which includes informative lists of sheriffs, legal hangings, and lynchings, makes this volume the definitive work on frontier law enforcement.

Larry D. Ball is professor emeritus of history at Arkansas State University. He is the author of a number of books on the American West.


“Exhaustively researched and throughly illuminating.”

Western Historical Quarterly

“A major contribution ... to social, economic, and political history.”

New Mexico Historical Review

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