Ned Bushyhead, Chief of Police, San Diego, California

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Edward Wilkerson "Ned" Bushyhead

Birthdate: (75)
Birthplace: Cleveland, TN
Death: March 4, 1907 (75)
Alpine, San Diego, California, United States
Place of Burial: Tahlequah, Cherokee, Oklahoma, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. Jesse Bushyhead and Eliza Bushyhead
Husband of Helen Corey
Brother of Dennis Wolfe Bushyhead, I, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation; Charlotte Mayes; Eliza Missouri Alberty (Bushyhead); Daniel Bushyhead; Jennie Bushyhead and 1 other

Managed by: Private User
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About Ned Bushyhead, Chief of Police, San Diego, California

Edward "Ned" Wilkerson Bushyhead (1832-1907) - Miner, publisher, and lawman, Bushyhead was born near Cleveland, Tennessee. Part Cherokee Indian, he was the son of a Baptist preacher, who he accompanied from Georgia to Indian Territory on the Trail of Tears at the age of seven. When his father died in 1844, the 12 year-old went to work as a printer with the Cherokee Messenger and later worked in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

In 1850, the 18 year-old headed to California where he landed in Placerville seeking his fortune. Having some luck as a miner, he soon allocated his resources and became the publisher of the San Andreas Register in October, 1867. This; however, was short lived, as he then moved to San Diego, where he became the "silent" publisher of the San Diego Union which was first published on October 10, 1868. In 1873, he sold the newspaper, which continued until 1927, and was resurrected for five years between 1942 and 1947.

In 1882, he ran for sheriff of San Diego County and served two terms and in 1899 became the Chief of Police in San Diego, California, a position he held until 1903. Due to health reasons, he moved to Alpine, California in 1907, where he died on March 4, 1907. His body was returned to Oklahoma, where it was buried in the family cemetery at Talequah.


Edward Wilkerson Bushyhead, born in Cleveland, Tennessee, March 2, 1832, was the son of the Rev. Jesse Bushyhead and Eliza Wilkerson Bushyhead. He was only seven years old when the Cherokees were ruthlessly forced from their comfortable homes in Georgia by white people who were determined to possess themselves of the land of the Indians. Jesse Bushyhead, one of the best-loved and most highly respected men of his nation, led a party of one thousand of his people into the wilderness; this journey was one of terrible hardships, not the least being a delay of one month on the east bank of the Mississippi River, where the ice running madly, prevented the outcasts from proceeding on their way. When the western side of the river was reached a sister was born to young "Ned" Bushyhead and from the place of her birth she was named Missouri, preceded by Eliza in honor of her mother.

The Bushyhead family, with other Indians, settled near the Arkansas line at a place called Breadtown because rations were issued there when the Cherokee refugees arrived from the East. This location later became known as Baptist Mission. There the Cherokee Messenger was published and the mission contributed substantially to the advancement of the Cherokees. The Rev. Jesse Bushyhead was chief justice of the Cherokee Nation at the time of his death in 1844.

That same year young Edward Bushyhead learned the printer's trade and no doubt helped to set type on the Cherokee Messenger, first issued in August, 1844—the first periodical published in the present State of Oklahoma. Later Bushyhead worked at his trade in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

"In 1850 he crossed the plains to California, stopping near Placerville, El Dorado Co., . . . a year afterward removed to Tuolumne Co., and followed mining there two years, and afterward in Calaveras Co. In the latter place he engaged in printing until 1868" when he removed to San Diego, "bringing with him printing-office material, with which he started the San Diego Union."

In connection with William Jeff Gatewood, Bushyhead had been publishing a newspaper at San Andreas, Calaveras County, where he acted as foreman. Their outfit reached San Diego September 19, 1868 and Bushyhead was so unimpressed with the place that he would not allow his name to appear at the masthead. J. N. Briseno, office boy of the establishment, was given as the as publisher. The equipment consisted of an old Washington hand press and a good assortment of type. The office was in a frame building next door to the parsonage in Old Town, the earliest settled portion of San Diego.

On October 3 the partners issued a prospectus for their paper in which they stated that no political tirades or personal abuse would ever appear in its columns. Politically, the paper was to be neutral. The first number of the San Diego Union appeared October 10, 1868. It was a four-page, six-column quarto and contained fifteen and a half columns of reading matter, well set up and printed. The Union had a hard struggle with a subscription list of slightly less than a thousand and poor advertising patronage.

Gatewood sold his interest in the Union to Charles P. Taggart in May, 1869, the firm becoming Taggart and Bushyhead. Prosperity followed this change and Taggart soon bought out Frederick A. Taylor, late of San Francisco. The sheet was enlarged to seven columns on January 20, 1869, and on May 12, William S. Dodge became Bushyhead's partner.

The office of the Union was moved June 23, 1870, and on the 30th of that month the paper was issued from Horton's Addition to the city of San Diego. The building stood at the southeast corner of Fourth and D streets. On September 22, 1870, Dodge retired being succeeded by Douglas Gunn who had previously been a printer and reporter on the Union. A great achievement of the paper was the printing in full of the president's message, which was received by telegraph, "A piece of newspaper enterprise never before attempted by any 'country paper' in the United States."

In the spring of 1871 there were only two daily papers in Southern California when Bushyhead and his partner brought out the first daily in San Diego, March 20, 1871. Strenuous days followed for the publishers who were obliged to work like slaves to make a success of their enterprise. They paid out $1,200 for telegraph news the first year and $2,000 the following year. This partnership had lasted almost three years when Bushyhead retired in June, 1873, receiving $5,000 as his share of the business.6

Publication of the weekly edition of the Union was continued and the publishers advertised April 1, 1871, that "The Daily Union is now delivered at every inhabited house in San Diego.

From 1875 to 1882 Bushyhead served as deputy sheriff of San Diego County.8 He was then elected sheriff by the Republican Party and he was re-elected in 1884, having been nominated both times by acclamation. Bushyhead became an Odd Fellow in 1861 and he was also a Knight Templar. On July 1, 1889 he became a partner in the printing firm of Gould, Hutton & Company. He was married on December 14, 1876, to Mrs. Helen Corey Nichols, who was born in New York, August 13, 1839. The ceremony was held at the Lick House in San Francisco and the vows read by Hon. E. D. Wheeler. Bushyhead built a residence at 1114 Cedar Street, San Diego, at the corner of Third Street.

Bushyhead was chief of police of San Diego and he was said to be " . . . a hard worker, a generous man and a warmhearted friend." Mr. and Mrs. Bushyhead adopted a daughter whom they named Cora but she lived only a few years.

"Mr. Bushyhead has lately made a tour of eastern, western and southern states, spending most of the winter in Washington. He is a newspaper manager of ability and as a job printer has no superior on the coast . . ." The Daily Union (date missing) wrote: "Mr. Bushyead is an old liner in Democracy, a Southerner by birth, a sympathizer with secession . . . But the base use to what they call Democracy in his country has been put has driven him from his old party. He is now a Republican, or, more properly, a liberal Democrat. . ."

"Mr. Edward W. Bushyhead, the nominee for sheriff, is well known to every voter in the county as an upright, straightforward man, honorable in all his dealings, sincere in his relations to others, and true to every obligation resting upon a good citizen. He is a man of remarkable executive ability, fine business capacity, great decision of character, and unquestioned courage." (Daily Union, date missing,). The San Bernardino Index wrote of Bushyhead when he was renominated for sheriff: "No better man could have been selected. Thoroughly honest, cool, brave and intrepid in times of danger; patient, wary and sagacious when on the trail of a criminal; courteous and gentle . . . generous almost to lavishness, he is a true type of a thorough American gentleman . . ."

"We feel personally gratified at the election of E. W. Bushyhead as chief of police of San Diego. Ned Bushyhead is one of nature's noblemen. He is square as a die. As true as Toledo steel. As brave as Paladin. As generous as a child. He never knew the meaning of fear. . ." (Redlands Citrograph—date missing).

It is a well known fact that Bushyhead was the means of bringing to justice many of the notorious and desperate criminals in California.

Edward W. Bushyhead died suddenly on March 4, 1907, at Alpine where he had lived for several months hoping to benefit his health. He was seventy-five years old and his friends were numbered by the hundreds. In interviewing persons who knew him in San Diego the author was impressed by the high regard in which the memory of Mr. Bushyhead was held. One of his old friends on the Union remarked that if there are any more Cherokees like "Ned" Bushyhead in Oklahoma that they would be happy to have them come to San Diego to live.

Mr. Bushyhead's remains were at Johnson & Connell's Chapel at D and Seventh Street, San Diego until the body was shipped to Tahlequah, Indian Territory, the home of his sister, Mrs. Eliza Bushyhead Alberty, where it was interred in the family burying ground. He rests with his brother, Chief Dennis Wolf Bushyhead; his sisters Mrs. Nancy Bushyhead McNair and Mrs. Eliza Missouri Bushyhead Alberty and her husband, Bluford Alberty.

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Ned Bushyhead, Chief of Police, San Diego, California's Timeline

March 2, 1832
Cleveland, TN
March 4, 1907
Age 75
Alpine, San Diego, California, United States
Tahlequah, Cherokee, Oklahoma, United States