The Famous Fugitive Who Became A Cheyenne Frontier Days Legend
Harry Walters was one of the most famous trick riders of his era. He’s also the only Cheyenne Frontier Days champion to ever win a buckle while he was wanted for murder.
Known for his ability to swing under a horse’s neck and emerge on the other side, Walters won the CFD Saddle Bronc Busting Contest in 1914, along with trick riding titles in 1915 and 1919. Harry had another trick up his sleeve, though. His real name was Jyram Sterling and he was one of the most famous fugitives in the country.
Several years earlier, Sterling’s dog got into a fight with a saloon keeper’s dog in Texas. The conflict escalated when the saloon keeper attempted to stab Sterling’s dog with a pitchfork. Eventually, guns were drawn, the saloon keeper was dead and Sterling stood trial for murder. The jury deadlocked and Sterling was retried. Amazingly, the jury deadlocked again…and again…and again…and again…and again.
Finally, after the jury had deadlocked in six separate murder trials, Sterling jumped bail, changed his name to Harry Walters and joined the traveling Miller Brothers 101 Wild West Show. Five years later, in 1915, Walters was arrested on the outstanding murder charges in Denver and sent back to Texas. This time, prosecutors decided not to risk another hung jury and reluctantly set the fugitive free.
Walters returned to the rodeo circuit the following year. He eventually settled in California, where he lived until his death in 1962, at the age of 75.