Honoring Jeremiah Hayes: Descendants of former Stark Co. sheriff set new gravestone

Jeremiah Hayes, better known as Jerry, was a true Dickinson pioneer. He moved here from Vermont by way of Minnesota in the late 1880s. He was a blacksmith, Stark County's third sheriff and fourth chief of police for the city. When he passed away ...

Linda and Dale Fasching of Billings, Mont., look over the gravestone of Linda's great-grandparents, Dickinson pioneers Jeremiah and Bridget Hayes, on Thursday at St. Patrick's Cemetery in Dickinson. Until the stone was placed Thursday, the only denotation of the former Stark County sheriff's final resting place were slabs of what appeared to be marble with no known engraving.

Jeremiah Hayes, better known as Jerry, was a true Dickinson pioneer.

He moved here from Vermont by way of Minnesota in the late 1880s. He was a blacksmith, Stark County's third sheriff and fourth chief of police for the city.

When he passed away in 1936, St. Patrick's Cemetery became his final resting place -- but no one would have known that until Thursday.

Hayes' great-granddaughter, Linda Fasching of Billings, Mont., took it upon herself to have a proper gravestone placed at his grave. He was buried next to his wife, Bridget, who died six years before him. The gravestone, denoting the final resting places of both Jerry and Bridget, was placed Thursday.

"We searched out all eight sets of our great-grandparents," Linda said of herself and her husband, Dale. "When we came to Dickinson, I had forgotten that the Hayeses did not have a gravestone."


Before Thursday's gravestone placement, there were two slabs which appeared to be marble, on the Hayes family plot to denote Jerry and Bridget's graves. Neither showed any sign of engraving. The map of St. Patrick's Cemetery on the Dickinson city website listed an unknown Hayes in the plot.

"Mom and I were here the summer before she died and I have a feeling she wanted to be here one last time," Linda said. "So we came and we looked at the house and we looked at the cemetery where her mother was buried and her grandparents on the south side at St. Joseph."

Jerry moved out to Dickinson after working in Duluth, Minn., and Minneapolis in the 1880s. According to his obituary in The Dickinson Press on May 14, 1936, he had his sights set on Miles City, Mont., but the train only went as far as Gladstone.

"The only other place of importance was Little Missouri where a troop of soldiers was stationed for protection of the settlers against the Indians," the obituary stated. "There were five saloons in Medora at that time and Dickinson had not been surveyed and had no buildings."

Jerry married Bridget Tully, who was a year older than him, in 1875 before moving west. Linda said Jerry was offered a full scholarship to Oxford University in England for running, but turned it down because of his marriage.

He set up a blacksmith shop in Dickinson, for which advertisements can be found in 1884 editions of The Press. He was elected sheriff in 1887.

As sheriff, he was taxed with the chore of calming cowboys who were prone to riding up and down the streets of Dickinson and firing their pistols in the fall when the cows were driven into the young town.

"In official circles Mr. Hayes is also remembered by his success in capturing two train robbers," the obituary stated. "The Northern Pacific was held up at New Salem and the robbers took considerable loot. Hayes went to the scene of the robbery by special train and after running down all the possible evidence started out to 'get his men.' The chase involved considerable hardship and danger and when he captured his men, with the entire loot, he was given a reward by the United States government. The capture was made on the Standing Rock Indian reservation."


In addition to being a blacksmith and sheriff, Jerry worked for the railroad and spent time as a gold digger in the Klondike, a region of the Canadian Yukon, before returning to Dickinson.

In 1918, Jerry was appointed chief of police by newly elected Mayor Jessen. His predecessor, Pat Corbett, was well-liked and Jerry was appointed in controversy, according to issues of The Dickinson Press in the spring of that year. Jerry served in this capacity until 1919.

"He was ultimately voted out of the position by city aldermen for being too lenient on illegal gambling," according to the virtual museum on the Dickinson Police Department website.

Current Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said he had never heard of Jeremiah Hayes, but respects what pioneer sheriffs like Jerry had to do.

"I think they were able to do their job and if a sheriff or law enforcement told somebody, 'This is the way it's done,' they did it and there was no back talk or anything like that -- they just went ahead and did it," Tuhy said. "Law enforcement is changing every day. It's not necessarily in a bad way."

Even though he was in law enforcement, Jerry was a bit of an outlaw sometimes.

An employee and Civil War veteran, Major Martin bled to death in a fencing accident, according to a story passed down to Linda from her mother, Evelyn Hayes Fritsch. Martin was not Catholic and was denied burial rites by St. Patrick's. Jerry buried him outside the cemetery and then moved the fence, so everyone entering St. Patrick's Cemetery walks over Major Martin.

The Hayes family lived at the second house in Dickinson at 160 Fourth Ave. E., at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Second Street East across from Roosevelt Elementary School.


"My great-grandmother was at the kitchen sink doing something or other and an Indian walked in -- just walked in the house," Linda said.

They had three children, one daughter, Mae (Mrs. Joseph Cain), and two sons, Victor and Raymond. Victor is buried with his wife, Leone, near his parents at St. Patrick's.

Linda's grandfather was Raymond, her grandmother's maiden name was Helen Schropp. Helen passed away in 1918 during the Spanish flu pandemic. Linda's mother, Evelyn, was raised by Jerry and Bridget.

"The Hayeses, even though they whisked my mother off and adopted her, she was free to go back and forth, which she did," Linda said of her other great-grandparents, Fredericka and Sebastian Schropp.

Jerry's niece was actress Dorothy Stickney, namesake of the Stickney Auditorium at Dickinson State University.

Dorothy's father, Victor Hugo Stickney, was a friend of Jerry's in Vermont. When Dickinson needed a doctor, Jerry called his friend, who also brought Margaret Hayes, Dorothy's mother and Jerry's sister. Margaret and Victor were married in Dickinson. They are also interred at St. Patrick's Cemetery.

Linda grew up in Glendive, Mont., and her husband grew up in Wibaux, Mont. Dale attended DSU for a year to major in music, but transferred to the University of Montana in Missoula, where he met Linda. Dale majored in accounting and became a CPA. Linda was a music major.

The couple first moved to Denver after they married, but Dale eventually bought a partnership at an accounting firm in Billings, Mont., where they still reside.


After tracing her four sets of great-grandparents and Dale's four sets of great-grandparents, the Faschings found that the Hayeses in Dickinson were the only ones without a proper gravestone.

Linda contacted the Black Hills Monument Company in Belle Fourche, S.D. Linda and Dale made the trip from Billings for Thursday's gravestone's placement.

"We've been to Wisconsin and Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and they didn't have one," Linda said. "He was so instrumental in taming the Wild West of Dickinson."

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