Welcome To Lima

"A History of the First Rail Road Town in Montana" 

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Red Rock Valley History Keepers

Excerpts From the Book

"The Need for Law Enforcement and Justice Appears Early"

In the fall of 1885, John Williamson attacked William Garland, a machinist in the Utah and Northern roundhouse with pistol and dirk after he confronted Garland with an accusation of being given all of the “desirable pieces of work.”
Garland, after dropping his tools, managed to take the pistol away from Williamson and a deadly struggle began for possession of the four-inch dirk. Garland was stabbed eight times; one of the gashes nearly disemboweling him. Eventually the men were separated and Dr. Pickman and Marshal Hill were sent for by telegraph.
When Dr. Pickman arrived, he found that all of the stab wounds were deep, one opening the cavity of the body, exposing and liberating part of Garland’s intestines.


Williamson was taken into custody and transported to the jail in Dillon. He was described as a man who was notoriously quarrelsome while Garland was highly spoken of by his fellow workmen and citizens of Springhill. Garland survived to serve a long and fruitful life in the Lima community.


Episodes like this coupled with constant complaints about horse stealing in the area suggested that a law officer would be a preferred option to what was then referred to as “a necktie party.” It became vital if the town was to progress.
By 1891 Deputy Sheriff Ripley was on the scene, active in corralling John Halligan who was accused of grand larceny by stealing and killing cattle in the area. Halligan would eventually be sentenced in 1901 after being convicted of rustling and killing stock belonging to Joe Shineberger. The Dillon Examiner referred to Halligan spending “the next twelve months as a guest of Conley and McTague at Deer Lodge.” Much of the detective work on the case was actually done by Shineberger’s foreman, Robert Robidi, who had found a missing calf skinned and hanging in Halligan’s meat house; the head and feet found nearly a mile from the Halligan ranch house.


A Dillon Tribune article from July 1892 mentions Minnie Sanders, a gilded dove with frayed wings, being fined $10 by Judge Holden for keeping a house of ill repute which she purportedly paid and departed to go and do likewise again.
Morality was the basis for many cases during the period. An example was a case in January 1898 when a defendant was found guilty and fined $500 to be served out at $2 per day in the County jail. It was the seventh time inside of a year for that defendant to be in Justice Court. The heinous crime was “illegal co-habitation.”

Two months later the sentence was revoked and the defendant turned loose. It seems that six of the respected men serving on the jury were also practicing illegal cohabitation.  


The following reference to the criminal element was made in the Dillon Tribune in May 1891:  “Lima Needs A Jail”  Dillon is tired of housing all the hoboes the town marshal brings in from Lima and is now advertising for sealed bids to construct a jail in the railroad metropolis.”Seven years later a makeshift jail was in place which was 5’x7’ and had a double bunk, but it was not until 1907 that reference was made to B.F. Cheney’s finishing the jail by painting and papering “one of the best court rooms of any town of this size in the county.” The completed structure was one story high and divided into two rooms, one of which would serve as a jury room and the other to deal with county business It was 16’x25’ and featured an entrance to the jail cell area.

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W. H. Boule took his appointment of acting constable seriously so when he was called to the Bloody Bucket saloon owned by Sam Burnside in 1909 to handle a case of disturbing the peace, he went immediately. Once there he was challenged by Tony Innes who was drinking and being overly obnoxious. Innes had a reputation of being a trouble
maker who had been escorted out of Dillon for his activities. He had been in Lima for a time and for most of that period, he had exhibited a different demeanor, even though it was common knowledge that he had carried his profession of “red light secretary” with him from Dillon.


According to ‘Tana Mac’s article “Horseplay Was Often Fatal” which appeared in Frontier Times, the sixty-five year old Boule had been a decorated and distinguished cavalryman for the Union during the Civil War. He also was known as an actor, claiming that he was on stage in the performance of “Our American Cousin” on the night that President Lincoln was assassinated.


Boule approached Innes and said that he had received a number of complaints against him and had come to serve notice to the young man to leave town.  Innes was infuriated, replying,” Who do you think you are? I’m not leaving town for anyone!”


Boule was reported to say that if Innes did not go peaceably, he would be taken into custody.“I’ve done nothing to be run out of town for,” insisted Innes. “Furthermore, since I don’t intend to leave, who is going to make me?”   Boule drew his gun and leveled it at Innes, who all this time had remained seated on a bar stool. Innes’ response was to reach out and snatch the lawman’s badge off his chest and pin it to his own. From then on the story becomes somewhat muddled. ‘Tana Mac’s version was the most sensational with Innes supposedly batting Boule’s pistol back and forth and then taunting the officer more by placing the barrel of the revolver in his mouth. At that moment the gun fired killing Innes. The official account of the death; however, read that Innes had died after being shot in the left side of his chest.  Boule was originally charged with Innes’ murder, but the case was dismissed in May for lack of witnesses.

Constable Boule

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The suspicious actions of an Italian section hand led Deputy Sheriff Brainard to investigate, leading to the officers finding the man’s counterfeiting operation inside his Lima cabin.


Referred to as Nick Nariaco when he was arrested and later Dick Cheriachi when he was transferred to Butte in November 1923, the accused claimed that he had used dead batteries that he had gathered along the railroad tracks to make his American dollars, half dollars, quarters and Canadian quarters. Some of the coins were described by Brainard as being quite perfect.  Upon his arrest, his coat was searched and a deadly dirk was found inside his pocket.
The Examiner detailed the discovery, “The dirk is one of the most dangerous weapons ever exhibited at the Sheriff’s office.  It was made of 3/8 inch copper wire, welded together and soldered into a piece of a pitch fork handle. It is sixteen inches long and sharpened at the point so that one thrust of this weapon could easily kill a man.”
During his transfer to Butte, Cheriachi was discovered trying to unlock his handcuffs using a ten penny nail hidden in his mouth.

Counterfeiting Operation