Sheriff John W. McReynolds


Second Sheriff of Saline County 1862 - 1864

Saline County's first elected and youngest Sheriff was born in 1837 in Russell County, Virginia.  John McReynolds, along with his wife, parents, and younger siblings, moved to Kansas in 1860 and built two log cabins on the Smoky Hill River near Solomon.  At the age of 24, on November 8, 1861, John McReynolds was elected Sheriff.

McReynolds’ term as Sheriff, from 1861 to 1863, was a difficult time for the recently organized Saline County.  Many of the able bodied men of the county had joined the Union forces in the Civil War.  Women and children were relocated to the relative safety and comfort offered by larger cities to the east.  The few people who remained in north central Kansas faced terrible hardships as they struggled for their very existence. 

Saline County residents in the early 1860’s were in constant fear of attack by hostile Indians.   The “Salina Rifles” militia was formed in 1861 with the mission of defending area settlers from Indian raids.  It is known that Sheriff McReynolds had a key role in this organization, which boasted membership of over 80 men by 1864.  Not much else is known about John McReynolds’ tenure as Saline County Sheriff.

After leaving office in 1863, records show that John McReynolds’ life took a dark turn.  A series of legal issues, including the theft of 25 head of cattle from an area rancher in 1867, led to felony charges against McReynolds.  Court documents show that the cattle rustling charges were dropped in 1870, but there is no evidence of what happened to him after that.  Shortly after that time, it is known that his young children were living alone in Arkansas.  Later on, his second wife is listed in public records as being a widow.  Although there has been much speculation, the ultimate fate of Saline County’s first elected lawman will probably never be known.