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William Owen “Buckey” O’Neil, the youngest elected sheriff in United States history at the age of 28, took office as the Yavapai County Sheriff on January 15, 1889. On March 19, 1889 less than two months from the time he took office an Atlantic & Pacific passenger train was robbed at the Canyon Diablo train station.
The Arizona Legislature passed a law two weeks earlier making train robbery a capital offense. The railroad contacted the new sheriff and asked him to pursue the robbers and that they would cover all of his expenses for the pursuit. The new sheriff figured he would make an example of the robbers with the passing of the new law and also bring national attention of the pursuit.
This pursuit took two weeks and covered over six hundred miles including three running firefights with the outlaws. This story covers the history of the Atlantic & Pacific railroad and their holdings in the Arizona Territory as well as Buckey O’Neill, who after capturing these criminals went on to have a stellar career as a lawman, Judge and mayor of Prescott.