Thursday, March 22, 2012

Florida History: From Wild West sheriff to Fort Lauderdale grocer

Fort Lauderdale
By Jane Feehan
(Use search box at right to find more Fort Lauderdale history)

In 1883, George T. Hinkle beat incumbent Bat Masterson for sheriff of Ford County, Kansas. Part of the “wild west” of the late 19th century, Kansas was the home of Dodge City and a singular lawlessness. It attracted gamblers and gunslingers and opportunists of all stripes. Hinkle helped clean up some of it; he served two terms and was said to be better suited for the law, more respected than his predecessor. Masterson, born in East Canada, and a one-time deputy to Wyatt Earp, moved on to Tombstone, Arizona.   

George Hinkle (1846-1922) moved on to another “wild” place in 1911; he settled in Fort Lauderdale with his third wife, Nellie (Williams) Hinkle. He may have been attracted to the area by advertisements and news about a land boom in Fort Lauderdale in 1910. At any rate, his life was much different in Florida than it had been near Dodge City. In 1914, he registered as a Democrat in Fort Lauderdale and added that he was a 69-year-old  farmer. Records indicate he described himself as sheriff, Indian scout, officer and grocery store owner.

He and his wife opened the West Side Grocery Store on NW 4th Street in Fort Lauderdale in 1916. Hinkle died in 1922 and Nellie continued to operate the store. She died in 1961.

Hinkle’s son from his second marriage, Milt, was a well-known cowboy and friend of Butch Cassidy (of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fame). Milt’s colorful life was featured in a Saturday Evening Post article in 1919. He settled in Kissimmee, Florida in 1922 after making a name for himself in South America.  In Florida, he was known for his wild west shows, which included herding cattle with a motorcycle.  Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.   (For much more on Milt Hinkle, see:

Tags: Fort Lauderdale history, characters of Fort Lauderdale, biographies of Fort Lauderdale people, Bat Masterson, Fort Lauderdale in 1911, Fort Lauderdale in the 1900s, film researcher

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