Henry Brown at the time he served as the Marshal of Caldwell
Henry Newton Brown was born in the fall of 1857 near Rolla, Missouri. He and his sister were raised on their uncle's farm after their parents died. By age eighteen, Henry was in Texas serving as a buffalo hunter. He killed a man there, and the circumstances surrounding this killing are still unknown. He reached New Mexico Territory in 1876 and began working for L. G. Murphy & Co. Eighteen months later, Henry quit for being shortchanged by the House. Henry then went to work for John Chisum as a cowboy on his South Spring Ranch. Chisum eventually sent Henry to work on John Tunstall's Rio Feliz ranch and to serve as a bodyguard for either Tunstall or Chisum's and Tunstall's lawyer, Alex McSween. Henry just missed being present when Tunstall was murdered. His closest friend in Lincoln County apparently was George Coe. However, George's cousin Frank apparently disliked Henry, thinking him a dumb kid. Henry fought in most of the battles of the Lincoln County War and was one of the six assassins of Sheriff William Brady and Deputy George Hindman. He also was in the Battle of Lincoln and the Five-Day Battle. During the Five-Day Battle he took over the Tunstall store east of the McSween house, along with George Coe and Sam Smith. After the end of the war Henry, Billy the Kid, and the last remaining Regulators when they drove a herd of stolen cattle to Tascosa, Texas to sell. At Tascosa, Henry decided to leave the Regulators and drift around Texas. He became a lawman at Tascosa and also worked on several ranches there. He was fired by the ranchers he worked for because he was "always on the warpath." After this, Henry left Texas for Kansas. By Dec. 1882, he was serving as marshal of Caldwell, Kansas, a cattle town. There he became a local hero and killed two men. The town fathers were so greatful to Henry that they gave him an expensive gold-plated Winchester rifle. Brown even got married in Caldwell on Mar. 26, 1884 to a local girl, Alice Levagood. On Apr. 30, for some unknown reason, he, his deputy, Ben Wheeler, and two others, Billy Smith and John Wesley, robbed a bank at the neighboring town of Medicine Lodge, Kansas. During the robbery, Brown killed bank president E. W. Payne and Wheeler killed bank clerk George Geppert. They fled, but were captured by a posse shortly thereafter. While in jail, Henry wrote a letter to his wife. Late that night, a lynch mob came, and dragged the four robbers and murderers out of the jail. Once outside, Henry and Wheeler fled. They didn't get very far, however, before Henry was shot full of buckshot and killed by a member of the lynch mob. Wheeler was also shot, but only wounded. Wheeler, Smith, and Wesley were then lynched. It's been said that the mob, angry over the fact that they had to shoot Brown rather than hang him, strung his body up anyway and shot it full of holes with their rifles and pistols.
Henry Brown and gang, 1884
This photo was taken at Medicine Lodge, Kansas in 1884. It shows, left to right, John Wesley, Henry Brown, Billy Smith, and Ben Wheeler, all shackled together. Brown was the leader of this very short lived gang. Why he went from a well-paid, popular lawman to a bank robber is a mystery. The four robbers were lynched a few hours after this photo was taken.