By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A fundraising drive to buy a headstone for a Sheridan County undersheriff killed in the line of duty almost 100 years ago managed to meet its goal within 24 hours.
Organizers of the drive to purchase the headstone for Undersheriff William McPherren told Cowboy State Daily that within one day of publication of news stories about the campaign, enough money had been raised to purchase the marker.
Museum at the Bighorns raised $850 by the end of the day Friday to purchase a headstone for McPherren, who was killed in the line of duty in 1921, museum Executive Director Mikayla Larrow told Cowboy State Daily over the weekend.
According to a post on the museum’s website, museum Collections Manager Jessica Salzman was recently preparing a cemetery tour for Sheridan law enforcement officers when she discovered McPherren did not have a headstone.
There is a temporary grave marker at the head of McPherren’s grave, but nothing else to indicate he is there or who he was.
“When I realized he had no stone I felt that we, as the museum, needed to do something to preserve his story,” Salzman said.
Champion Funeral Home donated the cost of installing the headstone and retired law enforcement officers Jim and Angie Navarro covered the remaining cost for McPherren’s headstone, according to the museum.
McPherren was killed during a Prohibition-era moonshine raid outside of the ghost town Monarch on Oct. 7, 1921. According to the museum, Earl McKenna was fingered by other officers as the man who pulled the trigger, but he was ultimately found not guilty of the murder charge.
The proposed headstone, visible on the museum’s website, states McPherren’s full name, date of birth and death, along with the epitaph: “He died in the line of duty.”
“We knew this was a project that we’d need community support on,” Larrow said.
“We’re incredibly thankful for their support and the support of those who called the museum and shared the story in the county and state,” he said.
With all funds raised, the museum is moving forward with the project this week.