Chris Madsen

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For the Canadian singer and songwriter, see Chris Madsen (musician).
Chris Madsen
Born Chris Madsen Rørmose
(1851-02-25)February 25, 1851
Ørsted Parish, Funen, Denmark
Died January 9, 1944(1944-01-09) (aged 92)
Guthrie, Oklahoma
Occupation Lawman

Chris Madsen (February 25, 1851 – January 9, 1944) was a lawman of the Old West who is best known as being one of The Three Guardsmen, the name given to Madsen and two other Deputy US Marshals who were responsible for the apprehension and/or killing of several outlaws of that era. The Three Guardsmen consisted of Madsen, Bill Tilghman, and Heck Thomas.


Chris Madsen was born Christen Madsen Rørmose in Denmark. After his graduation from Kauslunde Agricultural School, the bright young man started a criminal career, resulting in several convictions for fraud and forgery.[1][2] Upon emigrating to the United States in 1876, he dropped the last name, Rørmose. He later claimed to have been a soldier in the Danish Army and the French Foreign Legion. Arriving in New York City, Madsen enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 21, 1876, and served fifteen years in the Fifth Cavalry. He was quartermaster sergeant of the Fifth Cavalry and fought in many major Indian campaigns. Later, in 1883, he became President Chester A. Arthur's guide to Yellowstone.[3]

Law career[edit]

Discharged on January 10, 1891, Madsen became a deputy U.S. marshal under Marshal William Grimes in Oklahoma Territory. He had joined the US Marshals as a Deputy Marshal with the priority of policing the vast Oklahoma Territory. Over 300 outlaws were either apprehended or killed by Madsen, Thomas and Tilghman, thus leading to their nickname, The Three Guardsmen.The three lawmen were largely responsible for bringing down outlaw Bill Doolin and his Doolin Dalton gang. Madsen was personally responsible for the killings of Doolin gang members Dan "Dynamite Dick" Clifton, George "Red Buck" Waightman, and Richard "Little Dick" West. [4]

In 1898, he joined Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders, serving as Quartermaster Sergeant. After the Spanish-American War, Madsen returned to Indian Territory and served as deputy U.S. marshal. In 1911 he was appointed U.S. Marshal for the entire state of Oklahoma. While in his sixties he was appointed Chief of Police for Oklahoma City.[5] From 1918 to 1922 he served as a special investigator for the governor of Oklahoma. He eventually settled in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and at the outset of World War I he tried to enlist in the U.S. Army but was rejected due to his age.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Skurk i Danmark - Helt i Amerika (Crook in Denmark, Hero in America)". Leif Rudi Ernst. 
  2. ^ "Bill Tilghman, Heck Thomas, and Chris Madsen". U.S. Marshals Museum. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  3. ^ Christian Madsen – Lawman (By Sheriff Jim Wilson, Handgun Editor)
  4. ^ Madsen, Chris(1851-1944) (Oklahoma Historical Society)
  5. ^ Chris Madsen, Long Time Officer Is Out (The Oklahoma Leader May 18, 1916)
  6. ^ Chris Madsen--The Fighting Dane (by Sheriff Jim Wilson, Handgun Editor)[1]/

Additional Sources[edit]

  • Croy, Homer Trigger Marshal: The Story of Chris Madsen (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1958)
  • Samuelson, Nancy B.Shoot From The Lip: The Lives, Legends, and Lies of the Three Guardsmen of Oklahoma and U.S. Marshal Nix (Eastford, Conn.: Shooting Star Press, 1998)
  • Reasoner, James Draw: The Greatest Gunfighters of the American West (Penguin Putnam Inc; Berkley Trade. 2003)