NEBRASKAland December 2018

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 10 of 59

DECEMBER 2018 • NEBRASKAland 11 of explosives. MacDonald survived, but had to have his left leg amputated above the knee. While he lay in the hospital, his wife, mother, and two sisters took his leg to the cemetery for burial in a child-sized casket transported to the grave by a hearse. MacDonald later returned to the police force and retired in about 1923 with a captain's pension. The 1928 article noted that MacDonald now "gets about right well" using only a cane. Each Memorial Day he went to the cemetery to place flowers on the grave where his leg was buried under a headstone that read, "J. R. MACDONALD / LEG 1922." "It's a kind of queer feeling to stand by the side of your grave – to know that part of you is standing above ground active and well, and the rest of you, your body, I mean, lies below, dead and buried," MacDonald said. "But it was a good leg; it served me for many years, and I'm not going to forget it." Though the 1928 story is whimsical, the leg burial had a serious point behind it. The family was apparently celebrating the fact that they didn't have to bury the rest of their husband and father. A week after the 1921 shootout, the World-Herald had run an editorial titled "The Police Problem," in which it observed that "a policeman's lot is not a happy one," and that a patrolman "takes his life in hand to protect the community which pays him a very modest stipend to serve as the monitor of law and order." The rest of James McDonald joined his missing leg at Westlawn-Hillcrest Memorial Park after his death in 1932. The "Leg" headstone was replaced with a more conventional one with the inscription: "He fought a good fight." ■ Visit History Nebraska's website at A real photo of the "leg" headstone, and an artist's version of the shootout. Omaha World-Herald, Dec. 30, 1928.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of NEBRASKAland - NEBRASKAland December 2018