Sheriff Jesse Sunday

Sheriff Jesse Sunday

Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, Tribal Police

End of Watch Tuesday, September 21, 1897

Jesse Sunday

Sheriff Jesse Sunday succumbed to gunshot wounds received the previous day in the town of Rose, Oklahoma, while attempting to question a man wanted for the murder of a store owner and the Sheriff-elect.

The suspect was taken into custody and convicted of Sheriff Sunday's murder.

The man was originally sentenced to death but the sentence was later commuted to 10 years in prison. He escaped from prison three months later and joined the Army. All charges against him were dropped after he joined the Army.

Sheriff Sunday was sheriff of the Saline District of Cherokee Nation Indian Territory. He was survived by his wife and six children.


  • Age 44
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Oklahoma
  • Incident Date Monday, September 20, 1897
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Sentence commuted

Most Recent Reflection

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Adding a bit here from my first post above; Jesse and Alice had six children and after he was killed the "Indian Service" took those children away from Alice and put them in the Orphanage at that time, it was near lake Eucha as I recall. Later that orphanage burned down (the story I've been told was the men of the tribe burned it down on purpose so families could raise the kids, they signaled those inside so everyone would get out). One of those children taken from Alice was my paternal grandmother, Betsy Sunday Downing. She was put in a private home, I think their name was Duncan (I'll have to double check). From here it gets sketchy till marriage. Alice died about 4 yrs. after Jesse was killed I do not know from what cause. Jesse was also an interpreter being full blood Cherokee they were both fluent speakers. He sometimes took prisoners to Judge Parkers court in Ft. Smith, Ark. by train. All of Besty's children, Jesse's grandchildren from Betsy are now gone, as the oldest was Dennis Downing, Atty. who passed away this year (2016) at age 93. He was the last person who I knew who could tell me of some of these things as he lived many of them also.

Mark Downing GS 15-10 Retired Federal
Indian Health Service, Liaison Inspector General

December 9, 2016

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