Jamestown had a celebrity visitor of the old west variety in the spring of 1922.
But Maj. James McLaughlin would have been familiar with Jamestown from its very early days.
McLaughlin spent his career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, rising to its highest levels. His start in that occupation came in the Dakota Territory.
McLaughlin was born in Canada but emigrated to the United States in the 1860s. He married a woman of mixed Native American descent. In the early 1870s he became an Indian agent and was assigned to Fort Totten near Devils Lake.
During that era, traveling to Fort Totten involved traveling by rail to Jamestown and heading north by horse and wagon to Devils Lake.
McLaughlin did such a good job at Fort Totten, he was promoted to a larger agency at Standing Rock where he was the agent in charge during the time Sitting Bull resided there.
It appears McLaughlin's superiors liked his work so much he was promoted to inspector of Bureau of Indian affairs in 1895.
During his visit to Jamestown in 1922, he visited the State Hospital and visited with old friends Archie Mcechnie, early sheriff of Stutsman County, and Horatio Kelley, another old-timer of the area.
Some of the stories those old-timers likely swapped might have included the last major buffalo hunt held by Native Americans in the 1870s. During the hunt, which was witnessed by McLaughlin, Native hunters harvested about 5,000 buffalo along the Cannon Ball River.
McLaughlin described this hunt in the book “My Friend the Indian” published in 1910. The majority of the hunters used rifles although a few of the Native hunters used the traditional bow and arrow.
History mostly remembers McLaughlin for his actions with Sitting Bull. McLaughlin ordered the arrest of Sitting Bull in 1890. The arrest went badly and Sitting Bull was killed by Indian police officers.
This tragedy occurred just two years after McLaughlin accompanied Sitting Bull and other Native leaders to Washington, D.C., where they posed on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building.
McLaughlin was 80 years old in 1922 when he visited Jamestown on what may have been his last inspection tour of the American West.
He died in Washington, D.C., in 1923. His body was returned to McLaughlin, S.D. for burial.