David Zetland carries this story that I assume is accurate. Archtypical anecdote comes to mind.
(via JWT) Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California, was doing some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that Harry (senator (D) from Nevada ) Reid’s great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry Reid share this common ancestor.
The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows in Montana territory.
On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription:
Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.
So Judy recently e-mailed Senator Harry Reid for information about their mutual great-great uncle.
Believe it or not, Harry Reid’s staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:
“Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.”
I have one of those ancestors myself from Glasgow, Ayreshire Scotland. Update:(His name was not Black Jack Ketcham)