1896 Sheriff David Fulton Douglass is Killed in the Line of Duty

This post was written by jd on November 4, 2009
Posted Under: History of Nevada County
Momument to Sheriff David Fulton Douglass

Momument to Sheriff David Fulton Douglass

This monument to Sheriff  David Fulton Douglass is located just off of Airport Road near Nevada City, California.  It lays in the woods all by itself, with no houses nearby.  The monument represents where, on July 26, 1896, Sheriff Douglass, along with a bandit, shot and killed each other.  They are both buried at this spot. The story of what happened on that faithful day is as follows:

David Douglass, Sheriff of Nevada County, California, followed the footprints of two road agents through the underbrush, his big Colt .44 at the ready. Suddenly Douglas stepped into a clearing where, a short distance away, a man was swinging a pistol in his direction.

Douglas was quicker with the .44 and it kicked in his hand as he thumbed off several shots. Hit twice, the man with the revolver fell, mortally wounded.  The date was July 26, 1896, and within seconds, Sheriff Douglass himself would lay dead.

How this all started a few days earlier, William Engle’s freight wagon was held up on the Lake City Road.  Engle turned over $14 to the man. On the 18th, a fruit peddler, traveling the same road, found himself looking down the barrel of a revolver. The view cost him $30.

On July 26th, learning that footprints had been seen not far from Sugar Loaf Mountain, a mile or so behind Nevada City, Douglass drove out in a buggy to check the tracks. He tied the baggy to a tree and started following two sets of footprints.  They led him to the little clearing where he met the man with the revolver, and his own death.

Years later, in 1961 a third man living in Sacramento would confess that he had been the one who killed Sheriff Douglass.


Source The Mystery of the “Third Man” American Cowboy

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