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Caldwell, Kansas

Caldwell Stuff


Caldwell Stuff

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Cowtown history

Caldwell, Kansas--History


Articles and research notes of little known facets of Caldwell's history


Rod Cook


Caldwell Public Library, Caldwell, Kansas


Caldwell Public Library, Caldwell, Kansas




Reproduced with permission from the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

In Copyright In Copyright








1879 - 1885


Rod Cook , “Caldwell Stuff,” Digital Caldwell, accessed May 28, 2023,

Self published by Rod Cook Copyright © 2012 All rights reserved.
Printed in the USA
Table of contents
Sumner County Map iv
Introduction v
Timeline: Early Caldwell 1
Caldwell's Namesake 49
Border Queen Violence 51
Officer Marshals 57
Officer Arrests Officer 63
Caldwell Police Dockets: 1879-1885 65
Life in a Crossfire 71
Caldwell's Newspapers 73
Additions to the City of Caldwell 74
Early Caldwell Saloons 75
Regional Map 80
Gamblers of Caldwell 81
Soiled Doves of Caldwell 85
The Great Whorehouse Fire of 1880 87
George and Maggie and the
Red Light Saloon (Revisited) 91
Wood Heirs and the Emma Mine 139
Wood Heirs Silver Mines 151
Stockyards and Cattle Trains 153
The Rock Island 165
D.W. Jones: Caldwell Lawman 167
Dan Jones vs. "Red Bill” 175
Madams and Ladies of Charm 182
True Story of Courage 183
Further Adventures of Dan Jones 187
Marshal Henry Newton Brown 189
Who Shot McCloskey? 217
The Search for Henry Brown 221
Was Brown’s Past Known ? 231
Photos of Henry Brown ? 235
General Heber Creel 239
Marshal Henry Brown's In-laws 245
Alice's Park College Graduation 250
Some LaRue Photographs 251
Henry and Alice's Marriage License 254
Alice Brown Obituary 255
Henry Brown's Famous Winchester 257
A Tale of Two Six-Guns 261
Speaking of Caldwell Guns 267
Cowboy Joe’s Best Yarn? 271
Caldwell's Bad Boy Banker 275
Campbells That Touched Caldwell 285
Grant Harris Remembers 289
A Non-Nonfiction Story 293
Key to Map Locations 298
Map, Caldwell, Kansas, 1881 299
The Talbot Raid 301
Famous Last Words 335
A Caldwell Bibliography 337
Swot •
To begin with: this book, if you want to call it that, is by design, an informal exercise. Like early day Caldwell, it is straightforward, inelegant, and a little rough around the edges. My intent is to quickly throw some things together that I think Caldwell folks might find interesting and maybe even a little entertaining. I may be publicly bearing too much of my uncultured nature, but I will state here and now that I detest formality.
I prefer a lowbrow style of writing. I believe that if you have something to say, you can waste a lot of time fretting over how to say it with absolute exactitude - that is, to please literary stuffed shirts that are more interested in the precision of its punctuation, grammar, and so forth, than the content of the message. (Sincerest apologies to my close friend, Troy Boucher, Professor of English at Southwestern College; no stuffed shirt by any means—just a good old boy.) I like to express what’s on my mind without worrying about similes, gerunds, and infinitives -it’s much less time consuming and therefore, more efficient.
♦ ♦ ♦
As a young boy, after finishing every Saturday’s mandatory chores for my mother, the first order of business was to hook up with my friends and scout around familiar haunts in search of discarded pop bottles. If we could find seven pop bottles each, we could redeem the two-cent deposit for each bottle and arrive at the magic number: fourteen cents - just what it took to see the cowboy picture show at the Ritz Theatre. If we were lucky enough to pick up an extra five bottles, that was good for a ten-cent box of popcorn for us to share.
Then, for the next forty-five minutes to an hour, I was transformed into another time and another place, cheering the good guys as they invariably brought the bad guys to justice. I was captivated by that time and place.
How I wished I could live in a world where all that stuff happened; where there were cowboys and Indians, and bad guys and guns and horses and all the other trappings and paraphernalia of that rip-roaring era.
Little did I know then, or for many years after, that there had probably been more of that Old West shoot-em-up stuff right here in the area of my hometown than just about anywhere else.
Then in 1980, I just happened to see an advertisement in the Wichita Eagle stating that someone had written a book about some old Caldwell “sheriff” of the “cowboy days” and he would be giving a talk and a book signing at the Methodist Church in Caldwell (or, perhaps the High School auditorium). I attended the presentation, bought the book, Henry Brown: Outlaw Marshal, and met the author, Bill O’Neal. It was an enlightening and
transforming day - that book opened my eyes and I have been hooked on Caldwell’s history ever since.
Over the ensuing years, I have discovered my hometown’s true stature in the ranks of the cowtowns.
It seems to be in my nature for my interest to gravitate more to the rip-roaring, shoot-em-up side of Caldwell’s history than its (uninspiring) economic development.
And, I revel in it!
Just for the fun of it, I decided to list all of the things that I could think of that are representative of the classic old cowboy days. Here is what I could think of offhand:
boardwalks and hitching posts; saloons and dance hall girls; gambling halls and spittoons; bartenders and whiskey; brothels and prostitutes; boots and bandannas; saddles and spurs; Stetsons and saddlebags; chaps and lariats; covered wagons and stagecoaches; buckboards and buggies; buffalo, deer, and antelope; card-sharks and cut-throats; cattle rustlers, cattle drives, cattle trails and cattle trains; cattlemen, cowboys, cowpunchers, and cowpokes; campfires and bedrolls, lynch mobs and nooses; dug-outs, soddys, and
endless open prairie; cavalry soldiers and cattle barons; bullwhackers and bullwhips; gamblers, gunfighters, and gunsmoke; horse thieves, bank robbers and bank robberies; house burnings and iron-bar jail cells; The Frontier, ” knifings and lynchings; chuck-wagons and dutch ovens; lawmen, posses, and renegade Indians; horseshoes and wagon wheels; gunfights, prairie dogs and prairie fires; round ups and branding irons; longhorn steers and river crossings; oxen and mules; buffalo wallows, cactus and quicksand; barbed wire and tumbleweeds; deputy US marshals and shyster bankers; sheriffs and two-gun town marshals; six-guns and Winchesters; sod-busters and ranchers, storms and stampedes; coyotes, wildcats, wolves, and rattlesnakes; steam locomotives and wooden water towers.
Caldwell had them all!
Caldwell was the quintessential cowtown. No town experienced more cowboys coming and going than did Caldwell. It had a longer cowtown period, (and longer tenure as a railhead: 1880 - 1885) than other more famous cowtowns. (I say “more famous” grudgingly.) Literally a “Child of the Chisholm Trail,” it is the only cowtown whose origin and existence was fostered exclusively by and for the Chisholm Trail.
Caldwell was a violent cowtown. In his book, Border Queen Caldwell, my good friend, the prolific old west nonfiction writer (and Honorary Citizen of Caldwell), Bill O’Neal, frankly tells it like it was:
Indeed, there was enough sustained frontier violence in Caldwell to rank it alongside bullet-riddled Dodge City or Abilene or any other Kansas cattle town, as well as with Tombstone in the early 1880s, Lincoln in the late 1870s, Tascosa during the 1880s, or El Paso during the 1890s.
Almost from its start, violence visited the growing settlement. Only three months after the opening of Stone’s store, Caldwell’s first business establishment, settlers were raided by Indians on Bluff Creek just south of town and within one year’s time, Caldwell had racked up its first four
murders, had hosted two lynchings, and witnessed its first classic gunfight: two cowboys shot it out and killed each other.
Succeeding murders along the border have followed each other so rapidly since then, that many of them have never been chronicled. Years ago, when there was no law, the murderer did not consider it necessary to flee, but simply kept a sharp outlook for the “avenger of blood.” Of late years, however, there has been some effort made to enforce the laws, and these desperadoes have been more wary in their lawlessness. Yet the immediate cause of their depredations has never been removed. The large majority of brawls that have terminated in murder, began in dance and bawdyhouses. In every instance the murderer’s brain has been fired by strong drink very frequently sold in violation of law.
(Sumner County Press, December 22, 1881)
It is my hope that this book will provoke interest and inspire the reader to learn more about Caldwell’s extraordinary history. The last several pages of this book include a bibliography that lists a number of books relating Caldwell history. Highly recommended are: Border Queen Caldwell, by Bill O’Neal; Caldwell: Kansas Border Cowtown by Tom Coke; and the 1984 edition of Midnight and Noonday by George Freeman with copious notes by Prof. Richard Lane.
Rod Cook January, 2012
Jun 2
May 6
Timeline: early Caldwell

A Brief Chronology of Significant Events

(And Some not So Significant)
Future sites of Caldwell, Sumner County and South-Central Kansas are enclosed in a vast four-state area claimed by the Osage Nation as their ancestral domain.
By the Treaty of 1825, the Osage are forced to abandon most of their ancestral lands and are confined to a small reservation; the southern boundary of which lay on an east-west line collinear with the future Avenue E in north Caldwell. Their new home is known as the Osage Diminished Reservation.
By a treaty of 1828, the Cherokee Nation is forced to move from their ancestral lands east of the Mississippi River, to the west over the “Trail of Tears” to a new reservation established in the north-east corner of oklahoma Territory. in order to honor the Cherokees’ desire for free access to their western hunting grounds, the treaty specifies that:
. . . the United States further
guaranty to the Cherokee nation a perpetual outlet west, and a free and
unmolested use of all the county . . . as far west as the sovereignty of the United States and their right of soil extend.
This area is known as The Cherokee Outlet. It is sixty miles wide north to south by about 225 miles long east to west (lying between the 96th and 100th meridians) and contains about 9,000,000 acres. Its northern boundary is designated to be collinear with the Southern Boundary of the Osage Diminished Reservation running through the future city of Caldwell.
William Sherod Robinson, later to be known as Ben Wheeler, an infamous Caldwell assistant marshal, is born near Holly Springs, Marshal County, Mississippi.
Congress enacts the Kansas Nebraska Act establishing Kansas Territory with its southern border designated to be the 37th parallel. But Congress had previously designated the Southern Boundary of the Osage Diminished Reservation (lying 2.46 miles above the 37th Parallel) to be the northern boundary of the Cherokee Outlet. Therefore, the area within the overlapping 2.46 mile strip of land lying between the two boundaries is unknowingly assigned as part of both the Kansas Territory and of the Cherokee Nation. This disputed strip of land, measuring about 276 miles east to west, is thereafter claimed by both Kansas Territory and by the
Timeline: early Caldwell
Fall 1857
Nov 23
Apr 3
Apr 14
Cherokee Nation and is known as the Cherokee Strip.
(NOTE: the Northern Boundary of the
Cherokee Outlet; the Southern Boundary of the Osage Diminished Reservation, and Avenue E in north Caldwell are collinear. The upper boundary of the diminished reservation lay about three miles south of the northern boundary of Sumner County. Therefore, essentially all of Sumner County north of Caldwell’s Avenue E was, in the early days, a part of the Osage Diminished Reservation. All of Sumner County south of Avenue E was originally a part of the Cherokee Outlet; then, after 1854, it became a part of the Cherokee Strip.)
Future Caldwell Marshal Henry Newton Brown is born in Cold Springs Township, Missouri.
Billy the Kid is believed to have been born in New York City.
First Pony Express rider departs from St. Joseph, Missouri enroute to Sacramento, California. The Express guarantees ten day delivery to Sacramento.
First Pony Express Rider Arrives in Sacramento, California.
Jan 29 Apr 12 Oct
April 9
Kansas becomes the 34th state.
The Civil War begins.
Pony Express service is discontinued.
J. R. Mead becomes the first white settler in the Wichita area when he opens a trading post at the present Twin Lakes area of the future city of Wichita.
Scot-Cherokee trader Jesse Chisholm blazes a major portion of what will become the Chisholm Trail when J. R. Mead sets up to head southwest with a wagon load of Indian trade goods. That initial segment starts in Wichita at the confluence of the Little and Big Arkansas Rivers and ends at Chisholm's trading post, southwest of present day Oklahoma City.
The Confederacy surrenders - Civil War Ends.
The Cherokees cede the Cherokee Strip to the State of Kansas. (Until this time, the Southern Boundary of the Osage Diminished Reservation running through Caldwell was considered to be the southern Kansas State Line) The 37 th Parallel now (1866) becomes officially recognized as the southern Kansas State Line (which, in turn, becomes the northern boundary of the Cherokee Outlet.)
Timeline: early Caldwell
Early 1869
Joseph McCoy purchases 250 acres and builds a hotel at Abilene, Kansas. He persuades the Union Pacific railroad to build a siding and cattle pens there. He then begins an advertising campaign to attract Texas cattlemen to herd their cattle over the trail that Jesse Chisholm had established to his railhead at Abilene. Approximately 35,000 cattle followed what was to become known as the Chisholm Trail to Abilene during that first 1867 season.
General George A. Custer crossed the Cherokee Strip with the 7th Cavalry into the Indian Territory
John Degolia and a Mr. Cadon erect the first building in Sumner County, a log stockade trader’s ranche at the Chisholm Trail / Slate Creek crossing west of Wellington.
Cattlemen begin cutting out and squatting on immense areas of the Cherokee Outlet which, in time, become huge cattle ranches.
J.S. Danford, future founder of Caldwell’s infamous Merchants’ & Drovers’ Bank, establishes himself in El Dorado, Kansas, with $1,000 and enters the real estate business.
First Chance/Last Chance Saloon is established by Curley Marshal on the north bank of Bluff Creek where it intersects the Chisholm Trail.
Apr 10
Apr 15 Oct 14
Oct 28 Sep
Dec 24
Early 1871
Feb 7 Spring
“Bear River” Tom Smith is appointed marshal of Abilene.
Capt. William J. Wood leaves his family in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada and moves to Greenwood County, Kansas, with his son, George, future owner of Caldwell’s Red Light Saloon.
James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok is appointed marshal of Abilene, Kansas.
John E. Reid is the first settler near future Caldwell (in the approximate area surrounding extreme South Chisholm Street) Later, in July 1873, his property is legalized as 160 acres in Sect 2-35-3W.
Olive May Shore is the first white child born in Sumner County (Palestine Township).
The Osage are forced off of the Osage Diminished Reservation, their last outpost in Kansas which, by treaty, was to have been theirs to live on “as long as the grass grows and the water flows”.
“Cowboy Joe” Wiedeman, a real, old-time cowboy, is born. Cowboy Joe was a colorful fixture around Caldwell until his death in 1965.
The Santa Fe Railroad completes laying track into Newton.
Governor Harvey establishes Sumner County.
The last of the Osage have moved to their new reservation in Indian Territory, what is now Osage County, Oklahoma.
Timeline: early Caldwell
Mar 1
Mar Mar 15
Mar 15 Apr 13 Apr 15 Jul 3 Jul 20
Late Aug
Oct 18 Nov
Dec 13
The Caldwell Town Company is established by a group of Wichita businessmen with the purchase of 113 acres lying north of Fall Creek.
The future Caldwell Township is surveyed by E.L. Angell.
The first building in Caldwell is a store erected by C. H. Stone. Stone’s first sale, for $711, was made to Colonel James Oakes, in charge of a U. S. Cavalry unit en route from Texas to Fort Riley. Stone’s store is an 18 by 37 1/2 foot building made of cottonwood and hackberry logs.
Indians attack Dutch Fred Crats on Bluff Creek.
Future Caldwell Marshal and Mayor Mike Meagher is appointed Marshal of Wichita.
Wild Bill Hickok succeeds Bear River Tom Smith as marshal of Abilene.
Caldwellite O’Bannon kills his drunken tormentor, George Peay.
Seventeen year old George Wood, future proprietor of Caldwell’s Red Light Saloon, is arrested for horse stealing at Eureka, Kansas.
Twenty-three year old Wyatt Earp comes to Caldwell in preparation to become a buffalo hunter.
Sumner County is divided into townships.
The survey of the former Cherokee Strip is complete.
Wild Bill Hickok is discharged as marshal of Abilene.
Early 1872
The first frame business house in Caldwell is built by George W. Haines. It is a hotel called the Haines House.
Home on the Range is written by Dr. Brewster M. Higley and Daniel Kelly. It is later adopted as the Kansas state song.
Future shyster banker J. S. Danford is a director of the National Bank of Wichita along with several of the most venerated names associated with Wichita history: William
“Dutch Bill “Greiffenstein and J. R. Mead.
5th Cavalry scout William “Buffalo Bill” Cody is awarded the Medal of Honor.
Caldwell Constable George Epps kills William Manning. (Manning’s brothers bury him on what came to be known as “Manning’s Peak -now known as Mountain Lookout.)
The government offers the original Cherokee Strip for sale to settlers. All of the Cherokee Strip land in Sumner County is offered for $1.50 per acre. The land not sold by 1877 is to be sold out at the reduced price of $1.00 per acre.
Caldwell’s Presbyterian Church is established.
George Freeman, future author of the definitive history of Caldwell, Midnight and Noonday, is elected constable.
Dan Fielder is killed by his drunken roommate, Michael McCarty.
The merchant, Doc Anderson, is shot through the head by McCarty. That evening, vigilantes looking for McCarty burn Curly Marshal’s new dance hall annex at his Last Chance Saloon to the ground.
Timeline: early Caldwell
Apr 12 Late May Early Jun
Apr 28 Jun
Jun 13
Sep 21 Nov
Early 1873
Three days after Anderson’s death, McCarty is found by a posse and is summarily shot through the head with his own six-gun by a friend of the late Dan Fielder.
Wichita becomes a city of the second class.
The Santa Fe railroad enters Wichita.
Curly Marshall’s life is threatened by vigilantes and he is forced to leave Caldwell. He sells the Last Chance Saloon to Dave Terrill.
A Caldwell desperado, John D. Lynch, is lynched at Wellington.
Two cowboys, Frank Moore and James Harris, kill each other in a classic shootout. They were buried together in a single pine box.
Horse thief Tom Smith is lynched at Ryland’s Ford on the Chikaskia River (this is not Abilene lawman, “Bear River” Tom Smith).
The Caldwell school district established.
Curly Marshal dies of a “social disease” in Wichita.
C.H. Stone builds a log store on Polecat Creek in the Indian Territory twelve miles below Caldwell. It will later become the first stagecoach stop south of Caldwell and will be known as the Polecat Ranch.
The US mail route is established between Wichita and Fort Sill, IT, passing through the fledgling site of Caldwell.
The Methodist Church is established in Caldwell.
1873 Dave Terrill sells the Last Chance Saloon to A.C. McLean.
1873 The two most famous firearms of the Old West come to market: the Colt Frontier Single-Six “Peacemaker” and the ’73 Winchester rifle. (The first Colt Frontier Single-Six “Peacemaker,” the classic “six-gun” or “six-shooter’ bearing the coveted serial Number One, is owned by Bill Koch of the celebrated Wichita Koch Brothers. Koch also owns the famous Billy the Kid tintype, the only authenticated photo of the Kid.)
Feb The first school in Caldwell is built. It is one room, 20 by 30 feet costing $1,200.
Mar 1 The Southwestern Stage Company has the contract for carrying the mail from Wichita via Wellington, Caldwell, Cheyenne Agency, Wichita Agency, and Kiowa Agency, to Ft. Sill, Indian Territory (480 miles round trip), once a week. The government pays $16,945 for carrying the mail from Caldwell to Ft. Sill.
Jun 15 Twenty one year old William Sherod Robinson (aka Ben Wheeler) marries 17 year old Alta Elizabeth Skipworth.
Oct 19 One of Caldwell’s earliest pioneers, James A. Ryland, 26 (father of Caldwell’s venerable Judge John Ryland), and Hattie Blair, 18, are married in Falls Township.
Jan William Sherod Robinson, aka Ben Wheeler, is sworn in as a deputy Sheriff of Milam County, Texas.
Spring Andrew Drumm moves his cattle from his ranch a few miles west of Caldwell into the area surrounding present day Cherokee,
Timeline: early Caldwell
Mar 3
Jun Jun 1
Jun 27 Jun 28
Ju1 1
Oklahoma. There, as the first of over a hundred ranchers that followed, he establishes the first cattle ranch in the Cherokee Outlet - the famous “U” Ranch. Major Drumm came to Caldwell in the early 1870s on a cattle drive from Texas over the Chisholm Trail and established his first ranch several miles west of Caldwell. Drumm later founded the Cherokee Strip Livestock Association which was instrumental in founding the Stock Exchange Bank in Caldwell. He became one of the officers of first board of governors of the bank. Drumm also founded the Kiowa Town Company which established the city of Kiowa, Kansas.
Fawnie Colson, the first white child born in the Cherokee Outlet, is born in a dugout on the north bank of the Salt Fork River.
Future Caldwell mayor Mike Meagher is a Deputy U.S. Marshal living in Wichita.
The Vail Stagecoach Company outbids Southwestern for the Caldwell/Fort Sill mail contract.
Indians raid “Adobe Walls.” (Second Battle of Adobe Walls.)
Rustlers hired by the Southwestern Stage Company begin a campaign of stealing horses and mules belonging to Vail & Co., a competing stagecoach company. Vail has recently outbid Southwestern for the contract to carry the mail from Caldwell to Fort Sill and points in between. Southwestern’s rustling campaign is an effort to put Vail out of business in order to regain the mail contract.
Vail & Co.’s mail contract becomes effective.
Jul 4
Jul 6
Jul 28
The freighter Pat Hennessey killed, ostensibly by Indians. Present Hennessey, Oklahoma is named in his honor. (A notorious character, Billy Brooks, previously a Southwestern Stage coach diver and ex-marshal of Newton and of Dodge City, helped bury two men that were killed with Hennessey in the attack.)
Sumner County experiences an Indian scare. The Hennessey attack was very likely a result of this uprising. One of the factors causing the uprising was thefts by several of the Southwestern rustlers that had also been rustling Indian ponies in the Outlet.
After an arduous ten-day pursuit with a handpicked posse, Sumner County Sheriff Davis arrests the Southwestern horse-thief gang in and around Caldwell, among them:
• A.C. McLean, owner of the First/Last
Chance Saloon.
• L.B. Hasbrouck, a young attorney -
Caldwell’s first.
• Jud Calkins, livery stable operator.
• Billy Brooks, previously a Southwestern Stage coach diver and ex-marshal of Newton and of Dodge City where he reportedly killed 15 men. In Montana, he was shot in the stomach in a gunfight against Morgan Earp.
• “One arm” Charlie Smith, brother of Tom Smith previously lynched at Ryland’s Ford on the Chikaskia River.
• Dave Terrill from whom A.C. McLean bought the Last Chance Saloon.
At about 3:00 pm, they are all locked up in the county jail at Wellington.
Timeline: early Caldwell
Jul 29 At “about the twilight hour”, approximately
300 mounted and armed Caldwell men abduct Brooks, Hasbrouck, and Smith, the rustlers working for Southwestern Stage Company, from the Sumner County Jail and take them a short distance out of town to a tree on Slate Creek.
Jul 30 Brooks, Hasbrouck, and Smith are lynched
early in the morning, a short time after midnight.
Jul 30 Billy Brooks’ wife had been with him
throughout the late evening and early morning of her husband’s standoff with the posse that finally ended with his capture. Sometime after Brooks’ departure by train to the county jail in Wellington on the afternoon of the 28th, his wife, having no other means of transportation, began walking to Wellington to be with her husband. She arrived in Wellington shortly after Brooks was taken down from the hanging tree and fell beside his corpse weeping.
Aug 19 Caldwell bootmaker Frederic Ricer is shot and killed by 24 year L.L. Oliver.
Aug 19 L. L. Oliver is taken to a tree east of town and lynched on the bank of Big Casino Creek.
Apr 5 Mike Meagher Wichita. is re-elected Marshal of
Apr 21 Wyatt Earp is Wichita. appointed a policeman in
Apr 24 Henry Colbert, a teamster, Hopkins in self defense. kills Henry
Mar Dec 5
Apr 3
Apr 4 May 24 Jun 25-26, Summer
Aug 2
1875 census lists future Caldwell Red Light Saloon proprietors, George and Maggie Wood as residents of “Bessie Earp’s Whorehouse” in Wichita. (Bessie is Wyatt Earp’s sister-in-law.)
Seventeen year old Henry Newton Brown, a future Caldwell marshal, leaves his home in rural Rolla, Missouri, and heads west.
(Judge) John F. Ryland is believed to be the first white child born in the Cherokee Strip.
Future Caldwell Marshal Henry Brown, at 18 or 19 years of age, kills his first man.
J.S. Danford is one of the founders of Creswell which later becomes Arkansas City.
Milam County, Texas, Deputy Sheriff William Robinson, later known as Caldwell’s Assistant Marshal Ben Wheeler, is forced to give up his prisoner to a lynch mob.
Wichita policeman Wyatt Earp is fired for his personal attack upon rival policeman, William Smith, and, ostensibly, for skimming monthly fines he collected from prostitutes.
Mike Meagher is re-elected Marshal of Wichita. (His third term)
Wyatt Earp is assistant marshal of Dodge City.
Custer is defeated at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
Henry Newton Brown is a cowboy on Lawrence G. Murphy’s Carisosa ranch in Lincoln County, New Mexico.
Wild Bill Hickok is shot dead in the back of his head at a poker game in Deadwood,
Timeline: early Caldwell
Dakota Territory. He is reputed to have been holding “aces and eights:” the dead man’s hand.
Aug 17 Caldwell’s second school is built in one day.
Stagecoach stops between Caldwell and Fort Sill:
From To Miles
Caldwell Polecat 12
Polecat Pond Creek 14
Pond Creek Skeleton Ranch 21
Skeleton Ranch Buffalo Springs 16
Buffalo Springs Bull Foot Ranch 4
Bull Foot Ranch Haines’ Ranch 4
Haines’ Ranch Little Turkey 4
Little Turkey Red Fork Ranch 4
Red Fork Ranch Kingfisher 10
Kingfisher Cheyenne Agency 21
Cheyenne Agency Fort Reno 2
Fort Reno South Canadian 12
South Canadian Bill Williams’ 16
Bill Williams’ Wichita Agency 12
Wichita Agency Cache Creek 20
Cache Creek Fort Sill 15
Fort Sill Red River 65
Caldwell Fort Sill 185
Sep 6 The ill-fated James-Younger gang raid on the
First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota is foiled.
Jan 1
Feb 13
Dec 24
Dec 25
John Wesley Hardin, who claims to have killed more than 40 men, is sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Wichita Marshal Mike Meagher kills Sylvester Powell, cousin and close boyhood friend of James Sherman alias Jim Talbot.
Hiram Jones kills Charles Lyons, a Caldwell gambler, in self defense.
Wyatt Earp is appointed an assistant marshal of Dodge City.
Alice Maude Levagood, who will later wed Caldwell Marshal Henry Newton Brown, is enrolled at Park College (Kansas City, MO) for the 1877-78 school year taking high school level classes to prepare for her pursuit of a four year college degree.
At 9:00 am, Dan Jones’s horse looses footing on ice throwing Jones to the ground. The horse lands on top of him causing both bones of his lower left leg to be broken completely in two. Also, multiple bones are crushed in his right foot. He has an injured shoulder as well as other bruises. The broken bones protrude from the skin causing excessive loss of blood. Jones is three and one-half miles from his ranch, it is eight below zero, the horse runs off, and he can not stand upright. Helpless, all he can do is crawl in the snow. At nightfall, he hears coyotes howling and knows they smell his blood. He crawls all night.
When the sun comes up, Jones thinks he has crawled about half way home. A half mile away, he sees the Caldwell/Fort Sill stage rumble by; too far away to hail. On he crawls
Timeline: early Caldwell
Dec 26 1878
Early 1878
Feb 5 Feb 18
Apr 1
Apr 4 May 14
then only a quarter mile away, two freight wagons approach, don’t see his waving hat, then also disappear out of sight. Finally, at about three o’clock in the afternoon, he is seen waving his hat by a man at the ranch about a quarter mile away. He has crawled three and a quarter miles in just over 30 hours.
At about midnight of the 26th, after a 30 mile ride, a doctor arrives at the ranch to set Jones’s broken bones — 63 hours after they were broken.
Henry Brown leaves the Jas. Dolan Company (Dolan had bought out the Murphy interests) and for a very short time works on John Chism’s South Springs ranch.
Henry Brown is a cowboy on John Tunstall’s Rio Feliz ranch.
John Tunstall is shot and killed. It is the act that triggers the Lincoln County War. Henry Brown becomes embroiled in the war along with Billy the Kid.
Billy the Kid, Henry Brown, and John Middleton ambush and kill Lincoln County Sheriff Brady and Deputy George Hindman on Lincoln’s Main Street.
Brown joins in the Blazer’s Mill gunfight in which Dick Brewer and Buckshot Roberts are killed.
Wyatt Earp is reappointed assistant marshal of Dodge City.
July 14 Sep 1 Sep 14
Mid Sep
Nov 27
Dec 9 Dec 28
Brown and Billy the Kid’s gang are involved in the five-day fight in which McSween’s house is burned to the ground.
Dull Knife leads 250 Cheyenne north from Fort Reno, IT, on a rampage known as “Dull Knife’s Raid,”
Lieutenant Heber Creel (Marshal Henry Brown’s future brother-in-law) with Chief of Scouts, Ben Clark, departs Fort Robinson escorting Little Chief and his band of Northern Cheyenne to Fort Reno, IT.
Brown and others of the Kid’s gang appear in Tascosa, Texas, with a herd of over 150 rustled horses.
Alice Maude Levagood is enrolled at Park College as a freshman for the 1878-79 school year.
Brown meets Charlie Siringo at the LX ranch 20 miles south of Tascosa.
Brown drops out of the Kid’s gang; stays in Tascosa when the Kid and others return to New Mexico.
Petitions presented to the commissioners of Cowley and Sumner counties, signed by over two-fifths of the tax-payers, call a special election to vote bonds to buy stock in the Cowley, Sumner, and Ft. Smith Railroad Company (Santa Fe). The petition provides for a rail connection from Wichita to Caldwell.
Future Caldwell Red Lighters, George Wood and Margaret Ann Gillon, are married in Wichita.
Caldwell’s first newspaper is printed: the short-lived Eye opener edited by James Kelly Jr. and T.H.B. Ross. After one issue, its name changes and it becomes the famous Post.
Timeline: early Caldwell
1879 J.U. Huff deeds a 500 by 530 foot plot of ground to the Caldwell Cemetery Association for use as a cemetery. (Later deeded to the City of Caldwell, it is the cemetery in use at present.)
1879 At 21 or 22 years of age, Henry Brown is Deputy Sheriff of Oldham County, Texas.
Jan 2 First edition of the Caldwell Post newspaper.
Feb 19 Future marshal George Flatt buys one half interest in the Occidental Saloon from James Moreland.
Mar 29 George Flatt is arrested for fighting and fined $1.00.
May 3 George Flatt sells his one half interest in the Occidental Saloon back to James Moreland.
May 10 Lieutenant Heber Creel of the 7th Calvary at Ft. Reno (future brother-in-law of Henry Brown) and Alice Holman Rue are married in Caldwell.
May 15 Lieutenant Heber Creel purchases lots in north Caldwell where his wife lives while he travels as his military duties dictate.
Spring Henry Brown is a cowboy on the LIT Ranch near Tascosa, Texas.
Jun Mike Meagher moves to Caldwell and opens the Arcade Saloon.
Jun Capt. William J. Wood is a farmer living in Sedgwick County.
Jun 25 Twenty five year old George Wood has completed the construction of his second “imposing” saloon in Wichita.
Jul 7 George Flatt and Constable John Wilson kill
Texas cowboys, George Wood and Jack Adams, in the Occidental Saloon. In that gunfight, Flat utters his famous expression: “I’ll die first” when accosted by the Texans. After the gunplay, Flatt is angry with the saloon owner, Moreland, believing that he was deliberately encouraging the Texans’ boisterous behavior. He then accosted Moreland and “prostrated him” by clubbing him with his six-gun. Flatt had previously owned a half interest in the Occidental for a short time.
Jul 7 George Flatt and William Horseman form a
partnership in ownership of the OK Saloon. (next door south of the Stock Exchange Bank.)
Jul 17 First newspaper mention of Marshal Henry
Brown’s future father-in-law, Richard Rue. He has just started building his brick making plant on the north bank of Bluff Creek.
Jul 22 Caldwell is incorporated as a city of the third
class by order of Sumner County Judge W.P. Campbell. Noah J. Dixon is elected mayor.
Freight wagon train leaving Caldwell heading south into the Cherokee Outlet about 1879.
Jul 22 The famous incident takes place wherein
Assistant Marshal Dan Jones gets himself locked in the ladies’ privy at the Southwestern Hotel and inadvertently looses his six-gun down the chute into the cesspool.
Timeline: early Caldwell
Jul 24 Jul 24
Aug 7
Aug 7 Aug 14
Early Sep
Sep 4 Sep 12 Sep 18
Sep 23 Oct 4
Oct 28
George Flatt and William Horseman open the OK Saloon for business.
William Sherod Robinson, no longer a deputy sheriff, has formed a band of outlaws. In early August, they rustle 26 horses from the worshipers of a tent revival.
A twenty-four year old man is found dead on the bank of the Chikaskia River shot in the back of the head by an unknown assassin.
Noah J. Dixon is elected Caldwell’s first mayor.
Mayor Dixon appoints George Flatt as Caldwell’s first city marshal and Dan Jones as Assistant Marshal.
Alice Maude Levagood is enrolled as a sophomore at Park College (Kansas City, MO) for the 1879-80 school year.
Wyatt Earp resigns his Dodge City assistant marshal position and goes to Las Vegas, New Mexico Territory.
Maggie Wood sets up a temporary bawdy house on Big Casino Creek.
Dan Jones, 24, and Bertha Fossett, 19, are married in Caldwell.
George Flatt and Fanny Lamb are married at Henry Todd’s Polecat Ranch 12 miles below Caldwell.
Mayor Dixon dies. Abraham Rhoades assumes mayoral duties until next election.
William Robinson and his gang rob a store in Rancho Grande, Texas; the first of a series of holdups perpetrated by Robinson’s gang.
Cassius “Cash” Hollister replaces Dixon as Caldwell’s second mayor.
Nov 22
Nov 24 Dec 1 Dec 1
Dec 20 Dec 25
Late 1879 1880
Early 1880 Early 1880
Feb 28
Future US Deputy Marshal and future Caldwell Marshal; Mayor Cash Hollister is fined $1 for assaulting a future Caldwell lawman, Frank Hunt.
Frank Hunt is fined $1 for his retaliatory assault upon Mayor Cash Hollister.
Three new saloons open in Caldwell during the week of Dec 1.
Brothers Edgar and John Rue, future brothers-in-law of Henry Brown, establish themselves in Caldwell and purchase two city lots.
Mike Meagher opens his Arcade Saloon.
Future Caldwell lawman, Frank Hunt, is fined $20.00 for assaulting future Caldwell Marshal, George Brown.
Investors layout and plat a 760 acre grandiose new addition north of the existing town called “New Caldwell.” (The area was immediately north of present Avenue G.)
The Leland Hotel, built by M.D. Odum, opens for business.
St Nicholas Hotel opens at Douglas Avenue and Wallace Street (present Avenue G and Market Street) in the “New Caldwell” addition.
William Robinson (Ben Wheeler) abandons his wife and four children and flees from the State of Texas under a storm of litigation; warrants for his arrest for his nefarious activities; and a charge of attempted murder.
Timeline: early Caldwell
Mar 25
Apr 5
Apr 12
Apr 12 Apr 12 Apr 22 Apr 24
May 4 May 6
May 8 May 11
May 13
May 15 Jun 2 Jun 3
George and Maggie Wood purchase lot #18 Chisholm Street to locate the Red Light Saloon.
Mike Meagher is elected Caldwell’s third mayor.
William Horseman is elected Caldwell’s second city marshal.
Dan Jones is elected assistant marshal.
James Johnson is elected policeman.
The Red Light Saloon building is erected.
Capt. William J. Wood along with Archie C. Fisk and Andrew Kirkpatrick file the Emma silver lode mine claim at the future site of Aspen, Colorado.
Frank Hunt is appointed a policeman.
The first issue of the Caldwell Commercial is printed. It is edited by W.B. Hutchinson.
A “mansion” housing a bordello at Douglas Avenue and Broadway in “New Caldwell” (present Osage and Avenue G) was set ablaze but was saved for the most part.
Marshal William Horseman and Assistant Marshal Dan Jones arrest several soldiers after a bloody fight in the “Keno Room.” The lawmen won and the soldiers went to jail.
Richard Rue, Alice Levagood’s adopted father opens his Caldwell brick factory for business.
The Red Light Saloon opens for business.
The Santa Fe tracks enter Caldwell.
Policeman James Johnson approaches J.T. Ingram and asks him if he has a concealed revolver. Ingram replies “Yes, you son-of-a-bitch,” and pulls the gun out snapping it three times in Johnson’s face. The cartridges fail to
Jun 8 Jun 9 Jun 11
Jun 16
Jun 18
Jun 19 Jun 23 Jun 25
Jul 26 Jun 29
detonate; Johnson grabs the pistol, and is victorious in the following hand to hand skirmish.
Eleven saloons are in operation at this time.
The first commercial train enters Caldwell.
The “largest and most complete stockyards in the west” are completed at the State Line. The Santa Fe’s first load of cattle is shipped from the State Line stockyards - 10 cars; 203 head.
First passenger train enters Caldwell with 80 passengers at 1:10pm. The engineer’s name is E. Puffer. The trip from Caldwell to Kansas City takes fourteen hours.
George Flatt pulls his six-shooter on Marshal Horseman; also on James Johnson whom he threatens to “shoot his feet off.”
George Flatt is assassinated, most likely by Caldwell’s police force.
Fannie Flatt has George Flatt’s baby, a son she names Georgie.
Sumner County Sheriff Joseph Thralls arrests Mayor Mike Meagher and the entire Caldwell police force for complicity in the killing of exmarshal George Flatt.
J.W. Stevens, a trail drive foreman, is shot by G.W.Padgett and buried in Caldwell’s Boot Hill Cemetery. Afterward, Padgett said “Boys, I am sorry for this. I wish I had that bullet back. This is the seventh man I’ve killed.”
Richard Rue’s home near his brick factory on Bluff Creek burns. Mr. and Mrs. Rue are away on a visit and the house is being temporarily occupied by his daughter and son-in-law, Newt Miller, while their new house is being built.
Timeline: early Caldwell
Jun 30 All those arrested for the Flatt killing were exonerated except Horseman.
Jul 12 Deputy U.S. Marshal William E. Malaley and Katie Lamb are married in Wellington. Malaley owns the Polecat Ranch/Stage Stop 12 miles south of Caldwell at this time. He was the former owner of the Round Pond Ranch (Jefferson, OK) and in the future will be a key officer of the Cherokee Strip Livestock Association.
Sisters Husbands Connotation
Mary Lamb Henry Todd (Polecat Ranch)
Fanny Lamb George Flatt (Caldwell Marshal)
Katie Lamb William Malaley (US Dep. Marshal)
Eliza Lamb* James Sherman (aka Jim Talbot)
Jul 22 (*I am unable to document the Lamb/Sherman marriage. I have seen it stated in two different places but am now unable locate where. Robert DeArment, in Revenge, claims Sherman married Allie Williams July 9, 1876, in San Antonio and remained with her throughout his lifetime.) Erection of Dunn’s Restaurant/Saloon commences at the State Line Stockyards.
Aug 1 J. G. Hope initiates “omnibus” transportation service between the Leland Hotel and the State Line stockyards.
Aug 2 Mayor Mike Meagher is arrested for running a Keno game in his Arcade Saloon.
Aug 12 James Johnson succeeds Horseman as 3rd marshal.
Aug 12 Dan Jones and Wm. Horseman are Caldwell assistant marshals.
Aug 12 Aug 12 Fall Fall
Sep 9
Sep 20 Sep 30
Oct 8 Oct 9 Oct 14
Nov 7
Dec 19 Dec 23
Frank Hunt and Joe Dolan are Caldwell policemen.
Newt Miller, Alice Levagood’s brother-in-law, is appointed Caldwell assistant marshal.
J.S. Danford opens his Merchants & Drovers Bank in Caldwell.
Alice Maude Levagood is enrolled as a junior at Park College (Kansas City, MO) for the 1880-81 school year.
W.H. Dunn opens his restaurant/saloon at the state line.
Cass Burrus is elected mayor.
Fred Kuhlman purchases the Kentucky Saloon.
Frank Hunt is shot and killed in the Red Light Saloon at age 27. His body is taken by his brother to Missouri for burial.
Marshal Horseman and Assistant Marshal Dan Jones team up in a fruitless search for Frank Hunt’s killer.
George Wood’s father, Capt William Wood, has been fraudulently deprived of his share in the ownership of the Emma Mine and dies destitute in Leadville, Colorado.
Pat Garrett, cowboy, saloon operator, and former friend of Billy the Kid, is sworn in as Sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico. His first duty is to capture the Kid.
Pat Garrett kills Tom O’Folliard, a henchman of Billy the Kid.
Pat Garrett captures Billy the Kid and another legendary outlaw, Dave Rudabaugh, in a hovel at a waterhole called Stinking Springs. The
Timeline: early Caldwell
Feb 16
Feb 19
Apr Apr 11 Apr 22
Apr 28
May 11 May 12
Kid’s friend, Charlie Bowdre is killed in the fight.
J.S. Danford builds Caldwell’s first Opera House (it is called Danford Hall).
George and Maggie Wood establish their second Red Light Saloon on the street known as “Smokey Row” in Hunnewell.
Kansas becomes the first U.S. state to adopt a Constitutional amendment prohibiting all alcoholic beverages.
James Sherman aka Jim Talbot comes to town and rents a house from Dan Jones next door north of the Red Light Saloon.
Jim Talbot is arrested by Marshal James Johnson for being drunk and disorderly.
First preliminary meeting of Outlet ranchers requisite to organization of the Cherokee Strip Livestock Association.
W.N. Hubble succeeds Mike Meagher as mayor.
John Phillips is elected marshal with “Newt” Miller assistant.
William Horseman is finally exonerated for complicity in the assassination of ex-marshal George Flatt.
Billy the Kid kills guards, J. W. Bell and Bob Olinger and escapes from the Lincoln County Jail.
Fred Kuhlman becomes one-half owner and manager of the Hunnewell Red Light Saloon.
George Wood initiates his stage line between the Leland Hotel and Hunnewell.
Jun 23
Jul 14 Jul 14
Jul 27
Fred Kuhlman is shot and killed in front of the Hunnewell Red Light Saloon by Ed Stokley in an argument over Mattie Smith, a Red Light prostitute. (Stokley later becomes a Deputy US Marshal.)
Billy the Kid is killed by Pat Garrett at Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
Henry Brown’s future brother-in-law, Ex Caldwell Asst. Marshal Jonathan N. (Newt) Miller, is building “one of the most comfortable houses in the city (Caldwell).” Henry Brown and Miller’s sister-in-law, Alice Maude Levagood, will later be married in that house. The house was located on three lots at the south-west corner of D Street and Market Street. (Today, an empty lot.)
Mike Meagher serves as city marshal for five days. Mike’s younger brother, John, is on the police force. John Wilson is assistant marshal.
Bob Bigtree, Bob Munson, Jim Martin, and Doug Hill come to Caldwell and are discharged from a trail drive with a “considerable amount of money” and hook up with Jim Talbot.
“These men were desperadoes and were constantly giving the marshal trouble by their daring feats and the free use they made of their sixshooters. They visited the numerous places of amusement, accompanied by the prostitutes of the Red Light dancing hall, and made disturbances by using loud, obscene language in the presence of ladies, or by their braggadocio, which they displayed while they were under the influence of whiskey.”
Timeline: early Caldwell
Aug 1 Aug 2 Aug 4 Aug 7
Aug 11 Aug 18 Fall
Sep 8
“. . . and commenced a career of wild revelry which continued . . . during which they frequently came into conflict with the city
“This interference by the
authorities with what these people considered their inalienable prerogative caused an overgrown feeling of resentment in their whisky-befuddled brains.”
James Roberts is elected Caldwell city marshal.
James Roberts is sworn in as Caldwell city marshal.
Caldwell lawman, Willis Metcalf, receives a US Deputy Marshal appointment.
Maggie Wood, her future husband, “Big Jim” Cavner, and one of her prostitutes, Lizzie Roberts, visit George Wood who has been running the Hunnewell Red Light since Kuhlman’s death. All four are all drunk and severely beat up ex Caldwell lawman,
Hunnewell Marshal Joe Dolan.
The judge in Wellington fines the foursome a total of $250 for their fun in Hunnewell.
George Wood is killed in the Red Light Saloon by Charlie Davis.
Alice Maude Levagood is enrolled as a senior at Park College (Kansas City, MO) for the 1881-82 school year.
Marshal James Roberts is considered by the city fathers to be incompetent and is asked to resign. He refuses.
John Rowen is serving as city marshal.
Sep 15 Sep 20 Sep 22
Sep 25
Late 1881 Oct 20
Late Oct
Oct 26 Nov 12 Nov 24
Nov 27
Roberts continues to refuse to resign while Marshal Rowen performs the policing.
Cass Burrus is elected mayor at a special election.
Tom Love (who will soon side with the Talbot gang) purchases an interest in the Moreland Restaurant.
John Wilson is appointed City Marshal by Mayor Burrus.
Last cattle drive to Dodge City.
J.S. Danford furnishes his new opera house with $1,000 worth of fixtures including a 14 by 20 foot stage, a drop curtain, three sets of scenery, and 500 new chairs. With additionally added seating in the rear, it is intended that the house will accommodate an audience of 700.
Danford’s new opera house, known as “Danford Hall,” opens. Its first program is a performance by E.C. Taylor, an illusionist.
The “Gunfight at the OK Corral” at Tombstone, Arizona, takes place.
The Stock Exchange Bank is chartered by the State of Kansas.
A drunken soldier who is being arrested by acting Marshal John Wilson exclaims “You don’t know who I am, do you? I am Lieutenant Powell, United States Army, by God, sir! Wilson’s reply is “And I am John Wilson, City Marshal of Caldwell, State of Kansas, by God, sir, and you will go with me to the cooler. Come along, sir!”
William Sherod Robinson, who had previously assumed the first of his aliases, “Benjamin F. Burton,” marries 18 year old Alice Marion
Timeline: early Caldwell
Late Nov Dec
Dec 1 Early Dec
Dec 14
Wheeler (while still married to his first wife) and, taking her family name, assumes his second and final alias, “Ben Wheeler”.
J.S. Danford and his cashier abscond with all monies deposited in the Merchants & Drovers Bank. The fleeing Danford is captured and returned to Caldwell by James Sherman aka Jim Talbot.
Judge William P. “Tiger Bill” Campbell, who has come to Caldwell to assist his friend Danford, is met at the train by a crowd led by Jim Talbot and “Comanche Bill” Mankin. Talbot gives Campbell ten minutes to get on the train and go back to Wichita.
John Wilson is re-appointed city marshal. Ed Rathbun is assistant marshal.
Marshal John Wilson, with the assistance of Mike Meagher, attempts to arrest Talbot for running his race horse up and down Main Street. Talbot draws a revolver and, strikes each of them over the hands, breaking their hold on his horse’s bridle bit then rides away. This is one of many run-ins that inflamed the feud between the lawmen and the Talbot faction.
The Talbot feud intensifies:
“A few nights previous to the 17th of December 1881, Jim Talbot and some others were disturbing a gambling game that was running in Michael Meagher’s Saloon. Meagher and Talbot had some words about it. Talbot stepped out of the saloon and remarked that he would “burn powder in Meagher’s face for that in a few days.”
Dec 15 The Stock Exchange Bank opens temporarily in Danford’s failed Merchants & Drovers Bank building.
Dec 16 This evening, Talbot and his boys drunkenly
disrupt the performance of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” at the opera house. Afterward, in an apparent provocation, they go to Mike Meagher’s Arcade Saloon and drink, gamble, and party all night. Meagher is taunted all night and life-threatening fights flare up: Talbot takes a pistol away from Meagher; “Comanche Bill” Mankin takes a six-gun away from Tom Love who is trying to shoot Meagher. (It is known that “Comanche Bill” Mankin was marshal of Hunnewell just before and shortly after the Talbot Raid. But it is not known if he was Hunnewell’s marshal during the period of the Raid.)
Dec 17 The riotous party at the Arcade breaks up at daybreak and the Talbot gang leaves, refusing to pay their bar tab. Talbot publicly announces his intention to kill Meagher. Several confrontations erupt throughout the morning. At about noon, Marshal Wilson places Tom Love under arrest and the final confrontation erupts with Talbot firing his pistols, calling his followers to battle, and the Talbot Raid commences. The Talbots and the citizens (65 Caldwell citizens according to contemporary Tom Leahy) initially partake in a gun battle that rages mainly on Main Street and in the alley east of Main Street for about an hour. After a half hour lull, the battle flares up again for about 45 minutes. During the second skirmish, Meagher is shot and killed, legend says, by Talbot. He is carried to his home on a discarded saloon door. George Spear, manager of the Red Light Saloon, is shot and killed (accidentally by ex-mayor
Timeline: early Caldwell
Jan 17
Jan 30 Feb 2
Feb 9
Hubble?) The Talbot gang escapes from town and is pursued by a posse but evades capture.
It is interesting that former adversaries in the Talbot Raid, Marshal Wilson and Tom Love are friendly two months later while Dick Eddleman, a member of the Talbot gang, is still in jail.
“The boys put up a job on a greeny in the City Hall . . . which put the aforesaid greeny into a conniption fit from fear. John Wilson and Tom Love got Harve Horner’s old horse pistols and made for each other, swearing vengeance and swinging the old fusses around in a desperate manner. The greeny scooted, and did not show up again until Monday.”
Tom Love later became an Oklahoma rancher and a lawman who was acclaimed as instrumental in the capture of the notorious Oklahoma outlaw, Bill Cook.
The Caldwell Savings Bank is established.
Talbot Gang member, Dick Eddelman, walks out of the county jail at Wellington, and in his escape, steals a horse. He is captured very soon and “will probably get seven more years for stealing the horse.”
J.B. Danford has escaped the wrath of Caldwell citizens and has resolved all his financial difficulties resulting from his bank failure.
Feb 12
Feb 16 Mar 16
April Apr 3 Apr 10
May 1
May 16
Jun 1
Jun 1 Jun 14
Late Jun
Nat Kelley, who had earlier ran a saloon in the basement of the Leland Hotel, is shot by Billy Carroll, a saloon keeper in St Louis, Missouri.
Ex Caldwell banker, J.B. Danford, is a candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Henry Brown’s future brother-in-law, ex-Caldwell Asst. Marshal Jonathan N. (Newt) Miller, is running for position as police judge.
A. N. Colson is elected mayor.
Jesse James is shot and killed by Robert Ford.
George Brown, a gunsmith and “Oyster Bay” cafe owner, is appointed city marshal.
The Stock Exchange Bank opens in its new (current) location.
Dave Sharp is arrested for grave robbing the diamond stickpin from the dead body of George Wood. His accomplice was the late George Spear, former manager of the Caldwell Red Light Saloon.
Alice Maude Levagood graduates with honors and a Bachelor of Arts Degree (AB) from Park College.
Richard Rue completes burning his first run of bricks.
Caldwell is claimed to be the largest horse market in the country. Over 4,000 head have been sold this year previous to this day. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 head are still in Caldwell at this time waiting to be sold. One Thousand cow ponies are now known to be on their way from Texas.
Henry Newton Brown is at Charles Colcord’s Jug Ranch Comanche Pool headquarters in the Cherokee Outlet for “several weeks.”
Timeline: early Caldwell
Jun 20 Jun 22
Jun 22 Jun 22
Jun 22
Jun 29
Jul 5
Jul 8 Jul 9 Jul 12 Jul 13 Mid July
Alice Maude Levagood arrives in Caldwell.
Marshal George Brown is shot and killed in the Red Light Saloon reportedly with “his face covered with a clot of blood and his brains splattered on the wall and floor of the building, while the gore dripped through the floor to the rooms below.”
The Red Light Saloon is advertised for sale in the Commercial.
Batt Carr is appointed Caldwell marshal and Henry Newton Brown is appointed Caldwell Assistant Marshal.
First newspaper mention of Henry Brown and of Alice Maude Levagood -- both appear in the same issue of the Caldwell Commercial.
The Red Light Saloon was sold for $400 sometime during the previous week. Maggie Wood has returned to Wichita.
Dodge City reports 71 cattle cars with 1,420 head shipped for the week ending July 5. Caldwell reports 228 cars with 4,500 head.
Alice Maude Levagood takes the train to visit friends in Wichita.
(A Sunday) One hundred cattle cars are shipped this day making up five trains.
Marshal Batt Carr is presented a pair of six-guns by Mayor Colson.
Santa Fe Station Master Lyeth reports that he has orders for 120 cars on this day.
Heber Creel retires from the Army and builds his first house in Devils Lake, “a log house, 20’ x 24’.” He built a permanent home later in the year, “the best house in Devils Lake.”
Jul 18 Alice Maude Levagood returns to Caldwell from visiting friends in Wichita.
Jul 20 Hugh Calvert, a young cowboy just south of the state line stockyards, accidentally shoots himself in the head.
Aug 26 Four hundred cattle cars shipped for the week ending Saturday, the 26th.
Aug 30 Alice Levagood takes the stage to the Wichita Indian Agency School at Anadarko, IT, where she teaches throughout the ’82-’83 school year. (Note: She has been in Caldwell only two months.)
Sep 7 Richard Rue’s last newspaper advertisement for sale of his bricks appears in the Commercial as he closes out his business just before he moves to Devils Lake, Dakota Territory.
Sep 19 Assistant Marshal Henry Newton Brown resigns his position on the police force and accompanies Sumner County Sheriff Joseph Thralls’ posse into the Indian Territory in a two week fruitless pursuit of the Talbot gang. Brown is temporarily replaced by Bedford Wood.
Oct 12 The new Fifth Street (now Central Avenue) bridge over Big Casino Creek is complete.
Oct 16 Henry Brown is acting Marshal in Batt Carr’s absence.
Oct 19 First mention of Ben Wheeler in the Caldwell newspapers. “Henry Brown is acting as city marshal . . . with Ben Wheeler as assistant.”
Fall Heber Creel, Henry Brown’s future brother-inlaw, founds a town in Dakota Territory he calls Creelsburg. (The name is later changed to Creel City then later takes its present
Timeline: early Caldwell
Oct 30
Nov 2
Nov 6
Dec 2
Dec 6
Dec Dec 13
Mid Dec Dec 21
name: Devils Lake, North Dakota. It is now the county seat of Ramsey County.)
Edgar Rue, Alice Levagood’s brother-in-law, is first of the Rue family to move to his brother-in-law’s new town at Devils Lake, Dakota Territory.
Heber Creel’s letter expounding the Devils Lake area is published in the Caldwell Commercial.
Richard Rue family moves to Devils Lake, Dakota Territory. Rue, himself, remains behind to close out his brick business.
The St Nicholas Hotel burns to the ground (arson is suspected) and signals the final abandonment of the New Caldwell Addition.
George Flatt’s widow, Fanny Lamb Flatt, marries saloon owner, Augustus Muntzing, at Caldwell.
Lieutenant Heber Creel’s wife, Alice, moves to Devils Lake.
The Arkansas City Traveler announced:
“ITEM: J. S. Danford, he of the savory bank fame, has been examined by an eminent medical expert, and pronounced hopelessly insane.”
Mysteriously, Batt Carr leaves Caldwell never to return.
Henry Newton Brown replaces Batt Carr as Marshal of Caldwell. Ben Wheeler is appointed assistant marshal.
Jan 1
Jan 12
Feb 1
Feb 1 Feb 1
Feb 8
Mar 2 Mar 7
Mar 12 Mar 16 Mar 22
Apr Apr 5
The City of Caldwell presents the famous Winchester rifle to Marshal Henry Brown.
In Caldwell, Henry Brown’s teenage roommate, Grant Harris, prints the first edition of David Payne’s boomer organ, a newspaper called The Oklahoma War Chief.
Marshal Henry Brown begins a 30 day leave of absence to visit his home at Rolla, Missouri.
Ben Wheeler becomes acting Marshal.
David Payne leads his first expedition of “Boomers” into the Indian Territory.
Charlie Davis, killer of George Wood, is captured in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Henry Brown returns to Caldwell.
The Cherokee Strip Livestock Association is chartered in an upstairs room of the Stock Exchange Bank.
Charlie Siringo and Roza May Lloyd are married in Caldwell.
The widow Maggie Wood marries James “Big Jim” Cavner.
Dr. William Noble shoots Long Branch Saloon bartender, Charlie Everhart, in the chest twice, in the saloon he has just purchased from Louis Segerman. Assistant Marshal Ben Wheeler snatches the pistol from Noble’s hand. (Everhart survives)
Three year old Georgie Flatt, son of George and Fanny Flatt dies.
“A full and complete settlement has just been made between J. S. Danford and the Merchants and Drovers Bank . . .”
Timeline: early Caldwell
Apr 9 Henry Brown and Ben Wheeler accompany ex-
mayor of Caldwell and then US Marshal Cash Hollister to Hunnewell to assist in the capture of an outlaw named Ross.
Early 1883 Cash Hollister is appointed a Deputy U.S. Marshal.
May 10 James McChesney reopens the refurbished Long Branch Saloon. Louis Segerman will continue to run the restaurant portion of the business.
May 14 Spotted Horse, a renegade Pawnee Indian, threatens E.H. Beals with a revolver. Grant Harris intervenes, probably saving Beals’ life. Later, Marshal Henry Brown is forced to kill Spotted Horse in Morris’ Grocery.
Jul 12 Richard Rue sells his brick yard to Drew &
Jul 25 Heber Creel’s new town, Creelsburg (the name
is later changed to Devils Lake) is surveyed.
Fall Alice Maude Levagood begins teaching school
(1883-’84 school year) at Anthony, Kansas.
Fall Charlie Siringo opens his store in Caldwell
and sells “Oklahoma Boomer Cigars.”
Siringo’s sign hung over Bluff Creek Bridge
Siringo’s oyster and ice cream parlor
Oct 7
Oct 8
Nov Nov 21
Dec 13
Dec 15 ’83-’84
Henry Brown is guarding a wagon load of 50,000 silver dollars being delivered to Tahlequah, Indian Territory, by Milton Bennett, treasurer of the Cherokee Strip Livestock Association in payment for the first six months lease for the lands used by the ranchers in the Cherokee Outlet.
P.W. Arnold runs an advertisement in the Caldwell Journal requesting that the remains of anyone’s friends and/or relatives buried in the Arnold Cemetery (Caldwell’s original cemetery now called Boot Hill) be removed. (The new cemetery had been in use since 1879.)
The Southwestern Hotel opens on the northwest corner of Main and Avenue A. The hotel is Marshal Henry Brown’s home up until his marriage.
U.S. Marshal Cash Hollister and Assistant Marshal Ben Wheeler attempt to arrest a young man named Chet Van Meter. Van Meter opens fire and is shot dead, probably by Wheeler.
Ben Wheeler’s race horse outruns a thoroughbred owned by Burton “Barbeque” Campbell, a wealthy cattleman and onetime Caldwell resident known to keep a stable of the finest, blooded horseflesh. (Campbell built the famous “Campbell Castle” located on the west bank of the Little Arkansas River in the Riverside area of Wichita which is now an exclusive bed & breakfast.)
Henry Brown kills Newt Boyce in the front doorway of the Phillips Saloon.
During the ’83-’84 school term, Alice Maude Levagood is a school teacher at Anthony, Kansas.
Timeline: early Caldwell
Mar 1 Mar 26
Apr 2 Apr 27
Apr 30
May 1 May 2
Reported to be the peak year of cattle trailed to and shipped from the State Line Stockyards: 800,000 head.
William Morris is elected Mayor.
Twenty-five year old Marshal Henry Brown and 22 year old Alice Maude Levagood are married in the home of her brother-in-law, ex-Caldwell Assistant Marshal Newt Miller. Miller’s wife is Alice Maude’s adopted sister. The wedding is attended by Brown’s former roommate, Grant Harris, at the Southwestern Hotel. Harris later reports Brown’s reluctance to remove his guns during the ceremony.
Henry Brown buys a home on North Main for Alice Maude.
Marshal Henry Brown and Assistant Marshal Ben Wheeler ride south leaving Caldwell for the last time.
Brown, Wheeler, Wesley, and Smith attempt to rob the Medicine Valley Bank in Medicine Lodge. Bank president Wylie Payne and cashier George Geppert are killed. The robbers are captured in a box canyon south of the town. Brown writes his final letter to his wife. About 9 pm that evening, an infuriated mob overpowers the jail guards. Brown is shot and killed in an attempt to escape. The remaining three are lynched.
Barber County Sheriff Rigg sends a letter to Brown’s wife notifying her of Brown’s death. Brown’s letter is sent along with it.
Emissaries Ben Miller, John A. Blair, S. Harvey Homer, and Lee S. Weller travel to Medicine Lodge to identify the robbers’ remains, pay respects and offer apologies.
May 2 Alice Brown claims Henry Brown’s body and returns it to Caldwell.
Early May Ben Wheeler’s brother(s) take his body to Texas for burial. Billy Smiths body is taken to his home in Texas for burial.
May 9 Henry Brown’s brother-in-law, Newt Miller, announces his intention to raffle a fine horse bit and bridle to benefit Brown’s widow.
May 16 Property belonging to the Medicine Valley Bank robbers was auctioned in Medicine Lodge.
May 24 Alice Brown, Henry’s widow, has her household furnishing for sale in preparation for her move to Devils Lake, Dakota Territory.
May 26 Caldwell’s original cemetery, originally called the “Arnold Cemetery” (and now called Boot Hill), is deeded to the City of Caldwell by P.W. Arnold. There were no burials there after 1881.
Jun 3 J.H. Wendells comes home drunk late at night. Apparently, he sees a shadow moving in the darkness. He shoots the shadow which is his wife, probably returning from the outhouse. In remorse, he shoots and kills himself.
Fall The Emma Silver Mine proves to be a bonanza.
Aug The widow Alice Brown moves to Devils Lake, Dakota Territory.
Sep 9 Cash Hollister resigns his commission as a Deputy U.S. Marshal.
Oct Oscar Thomas, a drunken cowboy, is shot through the head by Assistant Marshal Bedford Wood.
Timeline: early Caldwell
Oct 4 In the last of J.B. Danford’s many banking adventures after being run out of Caldwell, his insolvent Bank of Spokane County, Washington, is hit with a list of nine indictments against Danford. Danford runs out on his partner and escapes to Canada with $20,000 of the bank’s money. Dan Ainsworth, his partner, is caught by a mob and lynched for bank fraud.
Oct 18 Cash Hollister is shot and killed attempting to arrest Bob Cross, a minister’s son.
Dec 6 Ex-Caldwell Marshal John Wilson is killed in Wellington after an argument following a card game.
Dec 20 Wichita attorney (Later, Judge) W.P. “Tiger Bill” Campbell sues Maggie Wood Cavner for attorney fees - leading up to the “War of the Roses.”
Dec 26 Maggie Wood Cavner’s “War of the Roses” takes place in Wichita in which she beats and maims a rival madam nearly to death.
Winter Ranchers experience the hard winter of 1884’85. Many cattle freeze to death - some are found frozen in a standing position. Some ranchers are wiped out.
1885 The Baptist Church is established in Caldwell.
1885 A total of 2,300 cars with 55,000 cattle are trailed to and shipped from the State Line Stockyards.
Jan Construction of the new “Grand Opera House” is complete.
Aug 31 The home of Enos Blair is burned by an arsonist.
Nov The Aspen Mining & Smelting Co. is
established as a result of the great wealth produced by the Emma silver mine. The company is incorporated by Jerome B. Wheeler.
Dec 7 Frank Noyes is lynched for “house burning.”
Postscript: Events after 1885
Oct Caldwell Marshal William Lee arrests Doug
Hill, one of the Talbot gang members, and brings him to Wellington for trial.
1887 1887 The Rock Island Railroad lays track into Caldwell.
1888 Maggie Wood Cavner and her ex-mother-inlaw, Margaret Wood Billings (and George Wood’s siblings), sue J.B. Wheeler with intent to obtain their share as legal heirs of what should have been Capt. William Wood’s portion of the wealth produced by the Emma Mine.
Feb 3 Belle Starr is murdered in Oklahoma.
Oct 1 By the government’s deadline decree: all the
cattle have by now been removed from the Outlet and all the Outlet ranches have been abandoned prior to this date.
Timeline: early Caldwell
Sep 8
Sep 16 Oct 23
Mar 26
Apr 8
June 13 Dec 30
The Cherokee Nation sells the Outlet to the United States Government for $8,595,736.12. The Cherokee Livestock Association has disbanded. Caldwell is no longer a cowtown but is now a railroad town (as well as a farming community).
Luke Short dies of dropsy in Geuda Springs, Kansas.
So called “Cherokee Strip Land Rush”. (The run was actually made into the Outlet.)
The Wood heirs tentatively win their case. Aspen Mining & Smelting (J.B. Wheeler) appealed to the US Supreme Court. His appeal was denied.
Maggie Wood Cavner dies at age 38 in Colorado City, Colorado, (now absorbed by Colorado Springs) from a “long illness.” Apparently still married to James Cavner, they have been running a house of ill repute and an establishment called “The Crystal Theatre.”
James Sherman, alias Jim Talbot, is tried for the murder of Mike Meagher in a Wellington courtroom. He is exonerated.
The Santa Fe is taking up the old track leading to the state line stockyards.
The court issues the final decree awarding the Wood heirs one half of the total assets of the Aspen Mining and Smelting company.
Aug 11
Feb 29
Nov 16
Maggie Wood Cavner and, her former mother-in-law, Margaret Wood Billings, had contracted with the law firm of Baxter and Yonley to conduct the fight for their share of Capt. William Wood’s Emma Mine legacy. The attorney, Yonley, died shortly after the contract was made. The surviving partner, Baxter, diligently carried on by himself nearly ten years and finally won their case for them. Margaret Wood Billings then refused to pay Baxter for his services so Baxter sued Mrs. Billings for his fee (Maggie having died previously). Mrs. Billings fought Baxter’s suit contending that the contract was made with Baxter and his dead partner, Yonley. Her position was that Yonley died and failed to participate in the litigation, thereby breaking the contract. Incredibly, Mrs. Billings won the suit and the attorney, Baxter, got nothing for his years of labor.
James Sherman alias Jim Talbot is shot off of a mule as he approaches the front gate of his home in Ukiah, California, and dies at 46 years of age.
Ex-Sheriff Pat Garrett, killer of Billy the Kid, dies.
Oklahoma Indian Territory is admitted as the 46 th state.
Timeline: early Caldwell
Jul 17
Apr 14
Jan 10
Apr 22
Jan 13
J.B. Danford, renegade Caldwell banker, dies in Chicago, Illinois.
Former Caldwell Marshal Batt Carr kills a farmer, Frank Lutz, by gunshot. Batt Carr and his wife had raised Mrs. Lutz as a family member. Apparently, after Mrs. Carr died leaving a $100,000 fortune, there was ill-feeling with Mr. Lutz believing that his wife should receive a portion.
Andrew Drumm dies in San Antonio, Texas, at 91 years of age.
William J. “Buffalo Bill” Cody dies of kidney failure in Denver.
Charlie Siringo’s book, Riata and Spurs, begins initial sales in bookstores.
Wyatt Earp dies of chronic Cystitis in Los Angles
Sep 18
May 25
Oct 19
Dec 30
Heber Creel passes away in San Diego, California, at 77 years of age due to illness brought on by a broken hip and dislocated shoulder.
Alice Maude Levagood Brown passes away in Frankfort, Indiana, at age 73. After living in Devils Lake, North Dakota, for a number of years, she attended a Valparaiso, Indiana, normal school to refresh her teaching skills then taught school for an unknown period of time. In 1891 she went to Frankfort and began her career at the Palmer Mental Hospital where she eventually became the hospital’s superintendant and remained in that position until the establishment closed in 1925. Within the year, she was appointed matron of a park and remained in that position until she retired in 1931. In her self-penned obituary, she wrote “In 1883 [actually 1884] she was married to H.N. Brown who passed away many years ago.”
Tom Love of Talbot Raid fame dies in Clarksville, Texas.
Henry Brown’s sister-in-law, Alice Holman Rue Creel, wife of Heber Creel, dies in Texas. She was the last of Richard and Rachel Rue’s children - nine daughters and six sons - to expire.
The surname of Kansas Senator Alexander Caldwell, elected in 1871, was chosen by the Caldwell town company organizers as the name of their new town.
January 17, the Lawrence Standard openly charged that United States Senator Caldwell had been elected through bribery at the session of 1871, and gave the names of nineteen members of the Legislature who had received or been offered bribes to influence their votes in his favor. A joint committee, consisting of three members of the Senate and five members of the House, was appointed January 24, to investigate charges of bribery and corruption connected with the Senatorial elections of 1867 and 1871.
The committee reported unanimously, February 26, that from the testimony taken it found that at the Senatorial election of 1867 a large sum of money was used and attempted to be used in bribing and in attempting to bribe and influence the members of the Legislature to secure the election of S. C. Pomeroy, E. G. Ross and Thomas Carney.
For full report and testimony, see Report of House Committee, House Journal 1876, pp. 957 to 971 inclusive; also Report of Joint Committee, Senate Journal 1872, pp. 561 to 569. The report gives many specifications of the paying out of large sums of money; to whom, and by who paid, and alludes to the fact that the most important witnesses (giving their names) had failed to appear before the committee when summoned, or were “fugitives who has sought refuge beyond the limits of the State.” The impression left on the public mind by the report was that money had been used in a shameless and corrupt manner to influence the elections. On May 11, the United States Senate took cognizance of the case by adopting the following:
Resolved, That the Committee on Privileges and Elections be authorized to investigate the election of Senator S. C. Pomeroy, by the Legislature of Kansas, in
1867, and the election of Senator Alexander Caldwell in 1871; that the committee have power to send for persons and papers; that the Chairman or acting Chairman of said committee or any sub-committee thereof have power to administer oaths; and that the Committee be authorized to sit in Washington or elsewhere, during the session of Congress and in vacation.
Violence festered in Caldwell - and emanated from Caldwell. From its inception through 1885, over sixty Caldwell men died violently, most by gunshot or by lynching. The following is a list of people known to have some association with Caldwell that died violent deaths.
• Fred Kuhlman, one time owner of the Kentucky Saloon, shot and killed at the Hunnewell Red Light Saloon by Ed Stokley
• Billy “Bully” Brooks, a rustler:, lynched in Wellington
• L. B. Hasbrouck, a rustler, lynched in Wellington
• Charley Smith, a rustler, lynched in Wellington
• Unknown Cowboy, shot by unknown cowboy north of Caldwell
• Charles Lyons killed by Hiram Jones during an argument
• Tom Smith, a rustler, lynched at Ryland’s Crossing on the Chikaskia
• J.W. Stevens, foreman of a cattle drive, shot by G.W. Padgett.
• Jess Green, who shot Marshal George Brown in the head in the Red Light Saloon, himself, shot in the head at Wellington
• Steve Green, involved with his brother Jess in the murder of Marshal George Brown, died of 13 bullet wounds while resisting arrest in Texas
• John D. Lynch, a gambler and desperado, lynched for a murder he did not commit
• --- Maxwell, shot and killed by ----
• Nat Kelley, who ran a saloon in the basement of the Leland Hotel, shot in a saloon by Billy Carroll in St Louis, Missouri
• Frank Moore and James Harris,
cowboys shot each other just outside Caldwell
• Pat Hennessey, killed by renegade Indians
• J.M. Thomas, respected Caldwell business man and Justice of the Peace, “killed in a drunken row at a fishing party on Bluff Creek.”
• George Fant, a teamster with Hennessey, killed by renegade Indians
• An old man, name unknown, found on the Chikaskia River after leaving Caldwell with his head bashed in by his daughter and son-in-law
• Thomas Calaway, a teamster with Hennessey, killed by renegade Indians
• Ed Cook, a teamster with Hennessey, killed by renegade Indians
• Michael McCarty , shot by Caldwell vigilantes
• Johnny Potts, shot in a pistol duel by Ben Franklin, both were likely initial co-conspirators in the Medicine Lodge bank robbery attempt
• ----Ross, a young man killed in a gun
battle with Hollister, Brown, and Wheeler
• Ira Good, shot and killed in a Caldwell saloon shootout
• Erastus “Ras” Good, brother of Ira, killed in same shootout
• Ex Caldwell Mayor and Marshal Mike Meagher, shot by Jim Talbot
• George Spears, shot by ex-mayor W. N. Hubbell
• Dan Ainsworth, banking partner of Caldwell banker J.B. Danford, lynched in Washington State for bank fraud
• Name Unknown, found on the Chikaskia River shot in the back of his head by an unknown assassin
• Clemet Bothemly, in a nationally celebrated sordid affair, shot and killed near the Skeleton Ranch by his lover, Nellie C. Bailey, shortly after passing through Caldwell
• George Wood, owner of the Red Light Saloon, shot by Charlie Davis
• W.H. Stephens, buried in boot hill: tombstone says “Killed July 26, 1880.” Killed by G.W. Padgett
• Doc Anderson, shot by Michael McCarty
• Chet Van Meter, shot and killed while resisting arrest, probably by Ben Wheeler
• Eugene Fielder, shot by Michael McCarty
• Jake Adams, shot by George Flatt or John Wilson
• Geo. Wood, shot by George Flatt or John Wilson
• Ex-Marshal George Flatt, assassinated on Caldwell’s Main Street
• Mrs. J.H. Wendells, shot by her husband
• J.H. Wendells, shot himself after killing his wife
• Henry Hopkins, shot by Henry Colbert
• Hiram Jones, shot by Charles Lyons
• Ex-Caldwell Marshal John Wilson, shot to death on the streets of Wellington
• William Manning, shot by George Epps
• Kate Wright, a prostitute, drinks morphine
• Frederick Ricer, shot by L. L. Oliver
• L. L. Oliver, lynched for the murder of Frederic Ricer
• US Deputy Marshal Cash Hollister, shot by Bob Cross at Hunnewell
• Oscar Thomas, shot by Assistant Marshal Bedford Wood
• George Peay, shot by O’Bannon
• Robert Dodd, Caldwell cattle inspector, killed in Hunnewell
• Unknown Woman, killed on Caldwell’s Main Street by two cowboys
• Frank Hunt, Caldwell lawman shot in the Red Light Saloon
• Frank Noyes, lynched for house burning
• Marshal George Brown shot in the Red Light Saloon
• Spotted Horse, renegade Indian shot by Henry Brown
• Newt Boyce, gambler shot by Henry Brown
• V.P. Gossard, killed by an angry depositor after J.S. Danford left Gossard with a failing bank
• Marshal Henry Brown, shot attempting escape in Medicine Lodge
• Assistant Marshal Ben Wheeler, lynched in Medicine Lodge
• Billy Smith, co-conspirator lynched after the ill-fated Medicine Lodge bank holdup
• John Wesley, co-conspirator lynched after the ill-fated Medicine Lodge bank holdup
Fatalities occurring after 1885
• Ed Stokley, the killer of Caldwell’s Fred Kuhlman at the Hunnewell Red Light, later became a Deputy US Marshal and was shot and killed in the line of duty in the IT
• Louis Segerman, Caldwell saloon and restaurant owner, cut his own throat with a razor in St Louis, Missouri
• Mary Segerman, shot and killed by her husband, Louis Segerman
• James Sherman aka Jim Talbot, killer of Mike Meagher, shot and killed at his home’s front gate in California by persons unknown
• J.L. Tracey, shot by W. O. Brooks
• Frank Lutz, shot to death in Texas by former Caldwell Marshal Batt Carr
• Robert Sharp, stabbed to death in a Caldwell horse barn by Douglas Riggs over a 25¢ bet
• Curley Marshall, one time proprietor of the Last Chance Saloon, died from the effects of venereal disease.
Twelve men are known to have been appointed as full term Caldwell marshals from 1879 through 1885. Two of the men, William Horseman and John Phillips, served at two different times. Included in the following list are Mike Meagher, C.F. Betts and Ben Wheeler who served temporarily. Also included are J.A. Neal and Cash Hollister who have been alluded to as temporary marshals but their service has not been confirmed.
George Flatt
Appointed August 21, 1879 by Caldwell’s first mayor, Noah J. Dixon. Reputed to have killed nine men before becoming marshal. Fired by Mike Meagher about April 5, 1880. Assassinated June 19, 1880.
Assistant Marshals at various times:
Frank Hunt
Dan Jones
William Horseman
Samuel Rogers
William Horseman
Appointed by Mike Meagher April 12, 1880. “Relieved”, June 30, 1880. Horseman and the entire police force were arrested for complicity in the assassination of George Flatt. Horseman had been in partnership with Flatt in ownership of the Occidental Saloon.
Assistant Marshals at various times:
Dan Jones
James Johnson (policeman)
Frank Hunt (policeman)
C.F. Betts
Temporary service while the Flatt inquiry was being conducted.
William Horseman, second service “Reinstated” June 8, 1880. Resigned August 10, 1880. Assistant Marshals:
Dan Jones
James Johnson (policeman)
Frank Hunt (policeman)
James Johnson
Appointed by Mike Meagher about August 1880. Replaced April 4, 1881.
“[Marshal] Johnson stepped up to Ingraham and asked him if he had a revolver, to which he replied, “Yes, you son-of-a-
b...h.” and, pulling the revolver from his
coat pocket snapped it three times in Johnson’s face. Fortunately the cartridges did not explode . . . “ (Caldwell Post, June 10,
Assistant Marshals at various times:
Jonathan (Neut) Miller
Joseph Dolan
Frank Hunt (policeman)
John W. Phillips
Appointed by W.N. Hubble April 4, 1881. Resigned June 29, 1881.
Shortly after being appointed, the city council reduced Phillips’ salary from $60 to $50 prompting him to resign. Phillips exhumed the body of Red Light Saloon keeper George Wood during the investigation of the “stick pin affair.”
Assistant Marshal: Jonathan (Neut) Miller
Michael Meagher
Appointed for temporary service by W.N. Hubble July 27, 1881. Replaced August 1, 1881. Meagher, Caldwell’s third mayor and owner of the Arcade Saloon, served only five days. He was killed December 17, 1881, by Jim Talbot.
Assistant Marshal:
John Meagher (Mike’s brother)
James Roberts
Appointed: August 1, 1881. Replaced about October, 1881.
Assistant Marshal:
“Frank Hunt (Policeman)
“Policeman Hunt met him [W.F. Smith] about George’s stable and ordered him to halt.
In reply, [Smith] drew his revolver when Frank elevated his shot gun and lodged a buck shot in Mr. Smith’s knee, and killing his horse.” (Caldwell Post, September 9, 1880)
John Rowan
Appointed for temporary service: about October, 1881. Replaced December 1, 1881.
No records found relating to Rowan’s tenure.
John Wilson
Appointed: about December 1, 1881. Replaced about early March, 1882.
Wilson participated in the Occidental Saloon gunfight with George Flatt and is credited with the killing of one of the Texans. Was marshal during and played a significant part in the Talbot Raid. Killed December 6, 1884, during a card game argument in Wellington by W.T. Edwards.
Assistant Marshals:
Edward Rathbun
William D. Fossett
George Brown
Appointed: about early March, 1882. Murdered in the Red Light Saloon June 22, 1882. Had a gunsmith business and operated an oyster bar.
Assistant Marshal:
John Rowen
J.A. Neal?
One arrest is attributed to Neal in the Caldwell Docket Books (William Windsor for being drunk). The Docket records only his name with no identifying title. Neal may have been a temporary Marshal or a policeman (or a constable). Miller & Snell in WWW, list him as a Marshal in their list of Caldwell marshals, but as a policeman in their Batt Carr biography. Nothing concerning Neal can be found in Caldwell newspapers.
Batt Carr
Appointed by Mayor Colson June 27, 1882. Replaced December 21, 1882.
“His dress was without fault; he was usually seen dressed in a uniform of dark navy blue, with polished gilt trimming and brass buttons. On his finger he wore a handsome ring set with precious stones; in his hand he carried a polished cane and upon his breast, a large silver star with the words,
‘Bat Carr, Marshal’ inscribed upon it.
[He was] . . . large in his own
estimation. . . . His height of ambition was to be feared by men. He took great pride in having his name looked upon with terror and dismay by the cowboy and desperado. (Freeman, Midnight and Noonday, 1984
edition, pp.211-212)
Assistant Marshal:
Henry Brown
Ben Wheeler (temporary)
Henry Newton Brown
Appointed: December 21, 1882. Shot April 30, 1884, escaping a lynch mob.
Considered by contemporary Caldwellites to be the best marshal of their era. Brown served as marshal fourteen months; by far, the longest period of service of any of the marshals of that era and was the only marshal to complete a full term.
Assistant Marshal:
Ben Wheeler
Bedford Wood
Temporary service while Henry Brown joined Sumner County Sheriff Joseph Thralls’ posse in pursuit of the Talbot Gang in the Outlet.
Ben Wheeler
Temporary service while Henry Brown took vacation time.
Cassius “Cash” Hollister?
Reported by Miller & Snell in Why the West was Wild to have been “Marshal” between Henry Brown and John Phillips. However, it is known that Phillips took over almost immediately after Brown’s demise. Hollister was at various times Caldwell’s second mayor, a special policeman, Sumner County Deputy Sheriff, and a Deputy U.S. Marshal. Killed by Bob Cross at Hunnewell October 18, 1884.
John W. Phillips, second service Appointed: May 5, 1884. Replaced Summer, 1885. Assistant Marshal:
Bedford Wood
Bedford Wood
Appointed: Summer, 1885.
All of the men whose names appear below were Caldwell lawmen. The list is compiled from arrests recorded in the Caldwell police docket books of the period.
Date Officer By Arrested Arresting Officer Offense
Oct 30,1879 John Wilson Dan Jones Carrying a firearm
Nov 4,1879 Cash Hollister John Wilson Drunk
Nov 22, 1879 Cash Hollister George Flatt Assault Frank Hunt
Nov 22, 1879 Frank Hunt George Flatt Assault C. Hollister
Dec 25, 1879 Frank Hunt George Brown Assault G. Brown
Jan 11, 1880 George Brown George Flatt Fighting
Feb 17, 1880 Joseph Dolan George Flatt Disturb the peace
May 31, 1880 James Johnson Frank Hunt Gambling
Aug 2, 1880 Mike Meagher Frank Hunt Run a Keno game
Sep 2,1880 Mike Meagher Dan Jones Run a Keno game
Dec 2, 1880 Mike Meagher James Johnson Run a Keno game
Jan 2, 1881 Mike Meagher Judge J. Kelly Run a Keno game
May 12, 1881 Cash Hollister George Brown Fighting
May 15, 1881 John Phillips George Brown Shooting a revolver
Feb 10, 1883 Cash Hollister Ben Wheeler Fighting
Mar 5, 1883 John Phillips Henry Brown Run a Poker game
May 29, 1883 Bedford Wood Ben Wheeler Disorderly conduct
Jul 1, 1883 John Phillips Ben Wheeler Run a Poker game
Aug 1, 1883 John Phillips Henry Brown Run a Poker game
Jan 8, 1885 John Phillips Bedford Wood Drunk

Most of Caldwell’s rowdiest history is to be found within the period from 1879 through 1885. At that time, Caldwell was the archetypal cowtown. Rough and crusty, it existed for cattle and cowboys. It was the cowboy’s reward at the end of a painfully long, hard trail. For them, it was the time and place to celebrate and Caldwell had ample establishments that catered to celebrations.
Albert A. Richards, in his article History of Sumner County in the Edwards Historical Atlas of Sumner County relates:
Caldwell was located on the old Chisholm Trail and has been during all its history a “Cattle town.” Consequently, it has always had in and about it a class of people who have caused many scenes of disorder and bloodshed, which, if they were chargeable to the county, would not give it a good name by any means. From its location, it has always been a favorite resort of the cow boy and the desperado when off duty and in its earlier days was a decidedly fast and dangerous locality.
The cowboys, together with a contingent of resident hell-raisers, kept the lawmen busy throughout that era. These wild, often violent times ended in the last days of 1885. The town was settling down. The cattle trade was starting to slack off and the city was trying to curtail gambling, close the saloons, and become more temperate. January of 1885 saw the last of the professional gamblers and prostitution was eradicated by that year’s end.
The records for the period from September 6, 1879 through May 16, 1887, originally consisted of 5 docket books approximately twelve by sixteen by three inches thick. Regrettably, the second book of the series was seriously water damaged and was not available when the books were transcribed on to microfilm. That book included the action packed period of February 11, 1881 through April 1, 1882. I researched the original books at the Caldwell City Building and the microfilm at the library.
Caldwell was just starting to achieve legitimacy at the beginning of this rough period and was incorporated as a third-class city in July of 1879. The next month, James D. Kelly was elected Police Judge. George Flatt was appointed Caldwell’s first marshal a short time later, and on September 6, the name of offender J. H. Wendells was recorded as Flatt’s first arrest on page one in Judge Kelly’s brand new docket book. His offense was “speeding” his horse and he was fined three dollars. Later that fall, the city’s first calaboose was built.
The pages were numbered 1 through 450 and each case was entered on a successive page. Confusingly, the cases were not entered in chronological order. That is, the date the case was entered into the book was most likely not the date of the offense. For example, a case dated July 28 on page 51 might be followed on page 52 by a case dated July 2. Apparently, selected trusted offenders were allowed the convenience of postponing their appearance before the Judge until such time as they had accumulated the necessary funds to pay the fine and costs. They were therefore granted the courtesy of avoiding jail time. Another reason for the mixed dates is that the arresting marshal many times collected the fine and costs himself and turned them in to the Judge at a latter date. Such was the case of the last two arrests made by Marshal Henry Brown. He made the arrests but was killed before he had a chance to turn in the money.
Except for a short illness when James M. Thomas filled in, Kelly was Police Judge until early April 1883. Thomas Hart Benton “Bent” Ross then held the position until Kelly assumed it again in January of 1885.
The docket records were not well kept. Often, the name of the person bringing the complaint or the name of the arresting officer was omitted. Likewise, many times the offense itself was omitted as well as many dates. The judges seemed inept much, if not most of the time. Many times, even the names of the defendants were omitted. Judge Kelly entered his own name as the complainant many times.
Sometimes “handles” were entered in lieu of the offender’s correct name. Texas Dan Jack, Dutchy, Jersey Finest, Mr. Love, Soda Pop Jack, Mexico, High Ball Joe, Dutch Fred, Red Shirt, High Ball Fred, Link, Slim Jim, Keno, Cousin Carey and Little Johnnie were some of the names entered as defendants. Sometimes the Judge, not knowing the offender’s name, simply did the best he could: One Shorty, Negro Cole, “John Mack whose true name is unknown”, Stranger, One Taylor, Colored Sergeant, Innkeep, and many times of course, “Name Unknown.”
The normal routine was to hold the violator in jail until the fine and costs were paid. The Judge wrote “committed to city prison until fine and costs are paid” or words to that effect on most pages. But in most cases, it was impossible to ascertain whether or not the offender was actually incarcerated. This is illustrated in the following true example where Cash Hollister was arrested by George Flatt. On the 22nd day of November 1879, (the month was omitted in the record) Judge Kelly Wrote:
Plead guilty to assaulting one Frank Hunt was fined One dollar and cost and stand committed until fine and cost is paid. Received One dollar on the above suit
In the above example as in most cases, the date of payment of the fine and costs is not recorded, leaving it uncertain as to whether the offender was incarcerated or not. To add to the confusion, occasionally the disposition would be shown as “sent to prison”. At times that meant that the person was sent to Wellington but most of the time it meant the Caldwell jail. Jailed prisoners were allowed to work off their fines maintaining city streets and other odd jobs around the town site.
The judges’ handwriting is extremely difficult and often impossible to read. Some of the pages were simply unintelligible masses of scribbling. At times I had the impression that the Judge must have been fairly outraged with the case at hand. Judge Kelly spelled poker polka and monte monta. His H’s and N’s were indistinguishable. Often he spelled a person’s name two different ways on the
same page. Judge Kelly possessed a beautifully flowing hand that he rarely used. Instead, his horrific handwriting rendered many pages to be of utterly zero value to the researcher.
The books leave much to be desired as precise records. The missing second book of the series removes over a year of the most tumultuous history from the overall picture. But, while the records do not represent a truly reliable source of information, they do produce a good general impression of some of the more colorful activities of the era.
Many of the offenses were mundane - as normal as we would expect for a cowtown - drunk and disorderly, disturbing the peace, petty theft, etc. Some of them were very funny, some were violent, and some were just curiously interesting.
Following is a cross section of offenses:
“horse upon the sidewalk.” “did carry a knife.” “did make a great noise upon the streets.” “Did carry and draw a revolver upon Joseph Spiken.”
Frank Pratt “did ride his horse upon the sidewalk. Prisoner was committed to the new city prison but escaped through the bars.”
Peter Egan was “drunk and disorderly” - “The marshal finding out that the defendant has no money and that it would be an expense on the city for his board he turned the prisoner loose.”
Thomas J. Ingrham was arrested by James Johnson for “Carrying a revolver and threatening to use it on James Johnson.” Ingrham actually snapped it three times in Johnson’s face. Lucky for Johnson, it misfired all three times. Perhaps the charge should have been attempted murder. “did threaten to shoot J. J. Snow.” “Confined for
swearing in the court.” “did draw a knife.”
“Ride horse on sidewalk.” “Obscene and scandalous language.” One Shorty “Made threats with a razor.” Joe Weideman, “did resist arrest.” “received stolen property.” “Indecent exposure.” “did draw a knife and revolver upon David Swan” “did utter profane language in loud and boisterous manner.”
“draw a pistol upon Frank Higgins.” “lead a horse on the sidewalk.”
Included in the books between 1879 and 1885 (not counting the year long gap of the missing book) were 56 assaults, 240 drunk, 17 “did shoot off a sixshooter”, 146 “disturb the peace and quietude or “did curse, swear, quarrel and use violent threatening indecent language” (includes any profanity and disorderly conduct), 55 “did carry a sixshooter” or “did carry concealed weapon”, and 113 “fighting.” These were the known offenders - how many there were that didn’t get caught is anyone’s guess.
Reverend J.B. Rideout was a Presbyterian minister who lived in Caldwell from 1872 until 1879. Mrs. Rideout, in her book, Six Years on the Border, tells of some of the harsh conditions in which her poor, near destitute family lived and illuminates the unbridled revelry that ran rampant in the lawless infant town. A descriptive snippet follows:
[Caldwell] . . . was at this time [1872] a very rough and wicked place. Two saloons were kept blazing with quarrels and blasphemy day and night, and quite frequently a poor fellow would be sent to a drunkard’s eternity without having time to say, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” One night, very soon after dark, I sent my little boy to the post office, and in a moment after he had left the house I heard most dreadful screams and oaths, and several shots were fired. I ran to the door and said, “Oh dear! I will not let Winnie go anywhere another night after dark;” and as I looked out, I heard a ball whistle past my head. In a moment my boy came in and said, “They are having an awful fight.” The next morning a young man was lying dead in a house that had been used for a meat-market. I was told that the last words he said were “Lay me on a soft bed,” but they laid him on the hard floor, and there he died.
. . . we rented an old box shanty which stood between the two saloons. During the time we lived in this house I experienced more of the horrors of strong drink than I had ever before imagined could exist anywhere on this fair earth of ours. A thin board partition, which had been perforated with balls and shot, separated our room from one of the dens of vice, which I could not conceive of being surpassed in iniquity and degradation by the “bottomless pit” itself. I need not mention the awful stench—which it was not difficult to imagine as coming from the lower regions—the bitter oaths and obscene language or the shriek and racket as a poor fellow would be
felled to the floor when struck on the head by perhaps a brother or a friend; neither need I mention the clatter of broken bottles as the glass would fall to the floor or the mournful and sudden cries and unintelligible expressions of such as suffered with delirium tremens; for all these are the offspring of Bacchus, the outgrowth of such places of death, and branches of the parent stock.
One man in this saloon was dying with delirium tremens. My husband had known him when he was a sober and respectable man, but a few months were sufficient to complete the sad story; he embraced the boisterous society of that saloon instead of giving his heart to the Saviour [sic]; and there he drank, and there he died. While my husband conversed with him before he passed away he cried out in his wandering thoughts, “Ill go to church when I get well.” A number of his old associates promised to take care of him until morning; but in the morning he was dead, and his companions in sin, who had promised to watch over him, were all asleep on the floor; he died alone. They brought in a rough box, and one took him by the feet and the other by the hair of his head, and they dropped him into that box as though he had been a dead dog.
As my health was poor, a young friend came to stay with me for a few weeks. One night after she carne a terrible uproar was heard in the saloon; in a moment a crowd gathered in front of our door, and in the midst of horrid yells and curses the cracking of pistols commenced. The young lady screamed and wanted to leave the house, for she said we should all be killed before morning. It was a scene to try the strongest nerves—the constant flash of firearms streaming by the window, accompanied with hoarse voices uttering threats and blasphemous oaths,
Daily Messenger
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& Caldwell News
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Industrial Age
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Additions to the City of Caldwell
Original Town
Stone’s Addition: Plat filed April 18, 1879 Wallace, Wallace, Webb and Monroe Addition: Plat filed May 20, 1879
Stone’s 1st Addition
New Caldwell Addition: Platted in late 1879 Wallace’s Addition: Plat filed February 27, 1880 1st Addition to South Addition: Plat Filed March 13, 1880 Stone’s 2nd Addition: Plat filed July 5, 1880 Godfrey, Gilmore, Sain and Eldridge’s South Addition: Plat filed April 11,1881
I.B. Gilmore’s Addition: Plat filed September 21, 1885 Gilmore’s 2nd Addition: Plat filed October 6, 1885 Gilmore’s 3rd Addition: Plat filed June 4, 1886 Walker’s Addition: Plat filed August 6, 1886 Moores Park Addition: Plat filed December 17, 1886 -(South side of Fall Creek)
Wallace’s 2nd Addition: Plat filed March 19, 1887 Moores Park 1st Addition: Plat filed March 22, 1887 Border Queen Addition: Plat filed March 26, 1887 Garland’s Addition: Plat filed March 31, 1887 Central Park Addition: Plat filed March 31, 1887 Nickerson’s Addition: Plat filed April 11, 1887 College Hill Addition: Plat filed April 12, 1887 O’Reilly’s Park Addition: Plat filed April 17, 1887 Sunny Side Addition: April 30, 1887 South Addition: Plat filed July 2, 1889 Osage Addition: Plat filed April 1, 1911 Rock Island Addition: Plat filed April 11, 1911 Glover’s Subdivision: Plat filed June 6, 1926 Hess Replat of Block 122 of New Caldwell Addition: Plat filed July 23, 1947
“The town [Caldwell] was at this time [1872] a very rough and wicked place. Two saloons were kept blazing with quarrels and blasphemy day and night, and quite frequently a poor fellow would be sent to a drunkard’s eternity without having time to say, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner.’”
—Mrs. J.B. Rideout
Six Years on the Border
“Only eleven saloons in operation in Caldwell, a revenue of two thousand dollars per year in the city treasury.”
—Caldwell Post June 8, 1880
“When we came [to Caldwell just before the arrival of the railroad in 1880] the town already boasted 18 saloons.”
—Oliver Nelson
The Cowman’s Southwest
♦ ♦ ♦
Here, in semi-readable fashion, is an assemblage of the names of Caldwell saloons with short notes; haphazardly collected in my various wanderings through the years. I haven’t run across any more of these for some time so I suspect this probably includes all or nearly all the saloons that functioned throughout Caldwell’s rowdy period that ended about 1885-6 with the demise of the cattle drives. These weren’t all in operation concurrently, of course, and some of them replaced others in the same location with different names. The locations that I am not sure of, I annotated with question marks.
Arcade Saloon
Mayor/Marshal Mike Meagher (early partners at different times were ___ Deming, John Shea and Dave Jackson) - Location Swartzsfager’s auto memorabilia building. Jim Talbot took Meagher’s gun away from him in his own saloon. Pulaski established a grocery store in the original Arcade in 1881. Location of the 2nd Arcade is unknown.
Cattle Exchange
J.W. Chastain 1881
Cooley’s Brewery
“Makes first class ale.” Est. June 3, 1880. South of Bluff Creek
Crystal Palace Saloon
Location ?
Dan Jackson’s Saloon
Location ? Reported in an article by Dave Lahey, early day Caldwell newspaper man.
Exchange Saloon
Location of present day Last Chance Restaurant.
Fairbanks House Saloon
75 yards east of the Bob Cink house.
First/Last Chance Saloon
Curly Marshal, A. C. McLean, later: Dave Terrill -Approximately 400 yards northeast of the north end of the railroad bridge crossing Bluff Creek.
Fitzgerald’s Saloon
Located next door south of Heiflinger’s Saloon?
Golden Wedding Saloon
Located next door north of Leland Hotel.
Heiflinger’s Saloon
Ed Heiflinger - South-East corner of 3rd & Main.
IXL Saloon
C.H. Spear & Challis - Deed says: “Lot 6, Block 5, Stones Add., Main St.” - Ad says “No 101 West side of Main Street.” Flatt slept in rear of IXL.
John Dickie Saloon
His was Caldwell’s first saloon, as well as being second building erected in Caldwell, adjacent to C.H. Stone’s store on Big Casino Creek. His second, located across street north of State Bank drive-thru?
Kentucky Saloon
Fred Kuhlman - “Corner of 5th & Main” (Karl’s) -Kuhlman later ran the Hunnewell Red Light Saloon in partnership with George Wood. The Kentucky later became Moores Brother’s Saloon.
Leland Annex Saloon
Frank Jones - Location ?
Long Branch Saloon & Restaurant
Louis Segerman - James McChesney later - Located next door north of present Last Chance Restaurant.
McChesney’s Saloon
Where Dr. Noble shot bartender Charlie Everhart. M&S Saloon
Next door south of Caldwell State Bank?
Mint Varieties Saloon
McAllister & Bush - Location ?
Moreland House Saloon & Restaurant
Patten Moreland - Located next door north of the Kentucky Saloon (one door north of the north-west corner of 5 th & Main).
Moores Brother’s Saloon
Wren and Patten Moores - Located at 5th & Main (formerly Kentucky Saloon) - Where Marshal John Wilson arrested Tom Love lending stimulus to the pending outbreak of the Talbot Raid.
Nat Kelly’s Saloon
Located in Leland Hotel Basement
Occidental Saloon
James Moreland - Located at present Village Green. Where Flatt killed George Wood and Jack Adams July 7, 1879. Later owned for a short time by Marshal George Flatt.
OK Saloon
Marshal George Flatt & Deputy Marshal William Horseman - Located next door south of KanOkla. Est. July 24, 1879
Parlor Saloon
“opposite city hall” - Location of the razed building that was connected to the west end of Steve’s Pizza (formerly Cook Dairy)?
Phillip’s Saloon
Dierking Law Office? Marshal Henry Brown killed Boyce in front - Boyce died inside.
Poley Bright’s
Brothel with saloon connected? - Location ?
Red Front Saloon
Located at present site of Home Lumber & Supply. Red Light Saloon
George & Maggie Wood - Located at One Stop Convenience Store. George Wood, Marshal George Brown, George Spear, Deputy Marshal Frank Hunt killed there.
Red Parlor
Muntzing & Dallace Est. Jan 1880 Robinson’s Saloon
Located at present Border Queen Saloon (formerly South Pool Hall.)
Saratoga Saloon
Augustus Muntzing, Henry LeBreton (at different times) “East side of Main between 4th & 5th.”
Stock Exchange Saloon
Hadder - September 23,1880
Stockyards Saloon
W.H. Dunn (Probably built by Wm. Wykes) Est. September 9, 1880
Texas Saloon aka Texas House
Henry LeBreton Est. May 27, 1880 “Four doors north of the post office.”
The following article appeared in The (Caldwell) Post; Sept. 4, 1879:
“Fred Mills has opened out a first-class saloon, located on the south end of Main street, where he proposes to decoct delicate decoctions of cocktails, ice cold lemonades, the best of bottled beers, and all the imaginary beverages known or conceived of by the fertile brain of a resident citizen or a Chicago drummer. He proposes to keep the boss bar-room, and when you stroll down towards the creek, either to take a bath or on general principles, drop in and see Fred.”
Fred Mills’ Saloon location is unknown.
Henry LeBreton, Proprietor East side Main street, between Fourth and Fifth CALDWELL, - - KAN.
Only the choicest of wines, liquors and cigars served at the bar
This Saratoga Saloon ad was commonly seen in the Caldwell Post in the early 1880’s. A study of old police docket books shows that Henry LeBreton, the proprietor, must have been a consummate professional gambler - a gambler’s gambler. He played most all of the favorite games during Caldwell’s rough era, the tumultuous period from 1879 through 1885. His specialties were poker, faro, Spanish monte, and a popular game called hazard (sometimes called German hazard), a precursor to modern craps.
LeBreton’s first arrest was October 9, 1880 for running a poker game; his last was November 1, 1884. Throughout that time his business flourished - the police dockets show that he was arrested 64 times for running various gambling games. Considering the missing docket book that covered the greatest portion of the period of his activity, an educated guess would be that the actual number of his arrests should have approached one hundred.
LeBreton and another professional gambler named Alec Lawrence were cited by Marshal Henry Brown on April 25, 1884 - LeBreton twice on that day. These were the last arrests by Brown before his foray in Medicine Lodge that ended his life on April 30, 1884.
Henry LeBreton enjoyed the distinct honor of holding the record for longevity of active Caldwell gamblers and for number of arrests.
Second in number of arrests was pro gambler Augustus A. Muntzing with 43. He specialized in monte and hazard and was once arrested for owning and conducting a gambling house. Muntzing married Fannie Flatt, Marshal George Flatt’s widow after Flatt was ambushed on Caldwell’s Main Street.
The police dockets show that the most popular game probably was poker - stud, draw and high ball. Hazard (occasionally called hap-hazard) was the second most popular - then monte, faro and keno. One case referred to a “spindle game” which may have been Roulette or wheel of fortune both of which were common at the time. A number of games were cited that I have been unable to identify; red & black, California push, pinafore, nine dice, red white and blue, fortune, Dutch lottery, paddle, honest john, over, mustang, and bee hive. “Did run a confidence game” was recorded on one docket sheet.
There seemed to be a double standard pertaining to gamblers’ fines. Professional gamblers, those running the games, were fined twelve dollars plus two dollars cost. (The marshals were paid two dollars for each arrest in addition to their regular salary.) Non-professionals, or those only caught participating, were fined five dollars and costs. Twelve dollars was a pretty hefty fine in those days considering that the typical cowboy only made about twenty-five dollars a month.
There were 480 recorded arrests of gamblers between December 1, 1879 and January 23, 1885 not counting those listed in the missing docket book. Ten or more professional gamblers each had a dozen or more arrests to their credit. In the month of March, 1883, Marshals Brown and Wheeler made 26 arrests - 20 were gamblers. Of course, we don’t know how many Caldwell gamblers there were who never were arrested.
Fred Berry, another leading professional gambler of the day also owned his own saloon and was once compelled to pay a twenty-five dollar fine and twelve-fifty costs for “running a saloon without a license,” a violation of city ordinance #12. Fred Berry is credited with twenty-two arrests for running various games and has the great distinction of being the last professional gambler operating in Caldwell. His last arrest was January 10, 1885 by John Phillips.
Governor's Proclamation,
$1700 REWARD!
Executive Department, Topeka, Dec. 9, 1882.
I, JOHN P. ST. JOHN, Governor of the State of Kansas, by virtue of the authority vested in me by law, do hereby offer a reward of FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS for the arrest and conviction of one Jim. Talbott, as principal, and THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS each, for the arrest and conviction of Jim. Martin, Bob. Munson, Bob. Bigtree, and Dug. Hill, as accessories, to the murder of MIKE. MEAGHER, in Sumner County, Kansas, on or about the 17th day of December, 1881.
In Testimony Whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name, and affixed the Great Seal of [L. S.] the State, at Topeka, the day and year first
above written.
By the Governor:
Secretary of State.
Although bordellos existed in Caldwell in the 1870’s, Lucy Herman on April 1, 1880, became the first of the bawdy ladies to be arrested in Caldwell. Four days later Miss Molly Roger shows up. Then Poley Bright, Belle Piper, Mable Ransom, Victory Faulkner and the list goes on and on. By the end of 1885, a flock of 133 of Caldwell’s more prominent soiled doves shows up in the pages of the police docket books covering Caldwell’s wild period between 1879 and 1885. Most are shown to have had multiple arrests. Among the foremost of these were Tinney Bandy and Mable Selman each with ten arrests; Lucy Breno with nine; and Lizzie Roberts and Blanch Stevens, each with six.
Caldwell’s most acclaimed madam, of course, was the enchanting Maggie Wood who, with husband George, opened the notorious Red Light Saloon in the spring of 1880. Maggie had already been doing business in Caldwell before the Red Light opened. She was the first madam to be arrested when she and three of her girls were hauled in by Marshal William Horseman May 1, 1880. The Red Light opened sometime later that month. The books show that Maggie was arrested six times for “running a house of ill repute”. Notably frolicsome, she was also arrested three more times for being drunk and disorderly. The Red Light’s services ended after two years time.
Two days after Maggie was run in, two more “keepers of houses of ill fame” were detained. Rebecca Bank, the second madam on the books, was arrested for a “violation of ordnance #16.” She was inexplicably fined $50, a huge amount in those days. It was the harshest fine ever recorded in the docket books for any offense, twice greater than the next highest fine levied. Thereafter, proprietresses of such enterprises were fined $10. Lucy Herman was most probably one of her girls. Darcy Dean was brought in that same day as a madam but fined only five dollars.
Altogether, thirteen madams show up in the four remaining docket books of the original five. Most had multiple arrests.
It seems apparent that although disdained, Caldwell’s “upstairs girls” (as well as the gamblers) were allowed to exist on the fringes of what little polite society there was because they provided a ready source of funds with which to help keep the city coffers healthy. “Inmates of houses of ill fame” were normally fined five dollars plus two dollars court costs and the city could expect at least a dozen such arrests every month. It seems obvious that whether intended or not, the city appears to have had a racket of sorts. The girls were run in, fined, and then allowed (expected, it seems) to continue business so that they could be picked up and fined again and again. In effect, the fines were a periodic work permit.
Queen of the Demimonde was Miss Poley Bright, Caldwell’s most preeminent courtesan. She apparently came to town with Maggie Wood and was probably the third prostitute to be arrested in Caldwell. According to Stephen Smith’s article in the November 1, 1888, Caldwell Journal, after the Red Light was forced out of business in June of 1882, “Poley Bright’s place took the place of the old Red Light”. With 33 recorded arrests, she was Caldwell’s most “fallen woman”. Never arrested as a madam, she has the distinction of being the last prostitute to be arrested when prostitution was finally eradicated in 1885.
In late 1879, a group of investors plated a 760 acre, grandiose new addition north of the existing town called “New Caldwell.” The area was immediately north of present Avenue G. A large, fashionable hotel was built with several business houses thereabouts and it was hoped that the area would take hold, draw newcomers to Caldwell to the area and become a financial success.
One of the buildings erected - meant to enhance the new neighborhood - was a frame building, or small house, which was furnished with a flock of soiled doves.
An article in the Caldwell Post on May 13, 1880, reports some excitement there on the north end of town:
About three o’clock on Saturday afternoon, alarm was given that fire had broken out in a mansion located on Broadway, about 150 yards southwest from the Central [Grand Central] Hotel. Volumes of smoke were soon rolling out through door and windows. The occupants - all females - were frantically running around trying to save their household effects - mostly beds and bedding.
As soon as the alarm was given, a noble band of our citizens, under the leadership of Jean F. Webb, hurried to the rescue. Mr. Wykoff, the proprietor of the Central Hotel, and Mr.
Sweet, the grocery-man, rushed up with the hotel fire apparatus, to-wit: a wash boiler and a tin cup. The chief having had great experience in the extinguishment of fires, immediately ordered a portion of the fire brigade to remove the doors and windows, while others busied themselves with removing the furniture. When these orders had been executed, his attention was directed to the squelching of the flames. These were raging beneath the floor of the building, but no axes
being on hand, great difficulty was experienced to get at the fire with the fire apparatus on hand. In this dilemma, the skill of N.S. Wood, one of the civil engineers of the Santa Fe road, came to the rescue. He suggested to the chief that the brigade tip the building over on its side. Mr. Webb caught the suggestion on the fly, and immediately, his clarion voice rang out “lets tip her over, boys,” (meaning the building, of course). The “boys” took hold with a will, while Wykoff and Sweet stood ready to throw their streams on the flames - the one having filled the tin cup and the other, his mouth, with water. The first lift did not succeed, but cheered on by Webb, they again took hold, and with ”a long pull and a strong pull and a pull all together,” the fire marshal lending a helping hand by pushing with a pole, which he had firmly placed in the small of the back of one of the “boys,” the building rose, fell on its side, and rolled over on its back. Mr. Wykoff threw his cup of water, Sweet let drive his mouthful -the dose was repeated, and the flames, disgusted with such outrageous treatment, went out. As soon as the fire had been extinguished, the fire department very accommodatingly replaced the building on its foundation, the doors and windows were put back and the furniture moved in. The boys tried hard to console the poor females and we hope, successfully. The fire marshal made a speech to the brigade praising them for their efficiency. Wykoff and Sweet moved the machine back to the hotel kitchen and the boys went home - except one or two who stayed behind to see if there were any sparks left. We are informed that the ladies were very grateful for the kind aid rendered them and extended through the chief and his lieutenant,
Mr. Wood, a general invitation to the boys to call on them under more favorable circumstances.
The loss is quite severe. So far as we can learn, it consists in one smashed stovepipe, one broken window and about fifty cents damage to the floor. We have not ascertained in what company the building was insured, but we hope for the sake of the owner, our genial friend, Mr. Harrington, the assessor, that the company is a safe one.
The New Caldwell venture fizzled out and proved to be a white elephant. The Grand Central Hotel soon burned to the ground, most probably the result of arson by the hand of the owner. The few surrounding structures were moved to new locations in the town proper, and the New Caldwell Addition became a wheat field.

By Rod Cook
In 1875, the seedy district of Wichita, Kansas, started at the intersection of Douglas Avenue and Water Street, then known as “Horse Thief Corner.” From there, it ran north several blocks up Water Street, a north/south street. The house at Number 33 was known as “Bessie Earp’s Whorehouse.”1 Bessie was Wyatt Earp’s sister-inlaw, the wife of James Earp. James, the older brother of Wyatt Earp, tended bar in Ab Pryor’s Saloon.2 On June 3, 1874, Constable J.W. McCartney served a warrant for the arrest of Bessie and Sallie Earp. They had been named in a complaint as having:
. . .unlawfully and feloniously set up and [kept] a bawdy house or brothel and did appear and act as mistress and have the care and management of a certain one story frame building situated and located North of Douglas Avenue near and kept by said parties as a house of prostitution.3
It was in that environment that George and Maggie served their apprenticeship. Starting in the middle of that decade, when George was barely 20 and Maggie was still in her teens, they began learning survival in that debauched quarter of society. They served their apprenticeship, secured their education and became skilled in all the licentious stratagems of the sleaze peddler’s trades. In the
1 Drago, Harry Sinclair, Notorious Ladies of the Frontier, Dodd, Mead and Company, New York, 1969. p.111.
2 The 1875 census and Wichita court records ascertain that James, Bessie, Wyatt and Sallie Earp were living in Wichita at that time as well as six other girls using the Earp name. Also found in that census is the first mention of George and Maggie Wood.
3 Bartholomew, Wyatt Earp - The Untold Story, Frontier Book Company, 1963, p. 96.
not too distant future, they would use that knowledge to bring havoc to the infant cowtown of Caldwell, Kansas.
♦ ♦ ♦
George Wood, born March 21, 1853 in Owen Sound, Ontario, and his father, William J. Wood, left the family home in 1870.4 They appeared in Greenwood County, Kansas, where the elder Wood, formerly a sea captain on Lake Huron, tried farming. Eighteen year old George, finding farming unfavorable, worked a short time in a rock quarry. Finding that also not to his liking, he tried horse stealing but was caught in the attempt.5 The two relocated in the Wichita area shortly after. Finding the seamy environment to his liking, George became a street-wise hustler and gambler. George’s father farmed in the area until the middle of 18796 at which time he went to Colorado and had became a prospector by April of the next year.
Maggie was born Margaret Ann Gillion in Arkansas in 1856 or ‘57. By 1865, her father, Isaac, had moved his family to Lafayette Township, Sebastian County, Arkansas. Later, in the 1870 census, the nine member Gillon family is found living in Towanda Township, Butler County, Kansas, about twenty miles north-east of Wichita.7 Because she was many times referred to as “Mag” in newspaper accounts and, particularly, in early pioneer George Freeman’s 1892 book about early day Caldwell, Midnight and Noonday, Maggie is today generally referred to by most as “Mag.” But as evidenced by numerous records, she preferred Maggie.
Sometime before her eighteenth birthday, Maggie left her farm home in Towanda and took up residence in Bessie Earp’s whorehouse8 in Wichita. It was a single story frame
4 Wood et al. v. Aspen Mining & Smelting Co. et al. Circuit Court, D. Colorado.
5 Eureka (Kansas)Herald, July 20, 1871.
6 Wichita (Kansas) Eagle, June 19,1879.
7 1870 Federal Census, Butler County, Kansas.
8 If Maggie worked as a prostitute before 1875, she most likely used an assumed name, as was the common practice of young prostitutes desiring to insure anonymity or seclusion from their families. It is
house on the east bank near the bridge crossing the Arkansas River, about a half block north of Douglas Avenue.* 9 Sometime during that period, she assumed George’s surname, Wood.10 George, by then a gregarious pimp, also lived in the house11 (as did “Big Nose Kate” Elder12, celebrated paramour of “Doc” Holliday). Wichita police records13 show Bessie and Sallie Earp to be in business in Wichita from January, 1874 until sometime in March of 1875.
Interestingly, in 1959, ninety-three year old Wichita native “Captain Sam” Jones was asked in an interview: “Captain, did Wyatt Earp tame Wichita?” The Captain replied, “If anybody cleaned up Wichita it was Mike Meagher. Wyatt was just a policeman. I used to see him every day. . . . My grandmother was the cook in Bessie Earp’s whorehouse.”14
It is apparent that George and Wyatt must have rubbed shoulders in Wichita and no doubt Earp made several of the arrests that resulted in the fines that Maggie had to pay requisite to conducting business. Michael Meagher, Marshal of Wichita at this time, was another famous lawman who dealt with George and likely hauled Maggie into Wichita’s police court more than once.
unlikely that she could have escaped being fined for any length of time and no such fine is recorded under the name of Maggie Gillion. The name “Maggie” was popular in the later half of the 1800’s—eleven sporting ladies bearing “Maggie” as their first names are listed in the Wichita police records from 1873 through 1875.
9 Bartholomew, Wyatt Earp, p. 96.
10 It was a common practice for young ladies entering the prostitution profession to adopt the surname of their pimp.
11 1875 Federal Census, Inhabitants in the City of Wichita, p. 23.
12 “Big Nose Kate” Elder plied the trade in Bessie’s establishment in 1974.
13 Wichita Police records, Microfilm, Wichita, Kansas, Public Library. George & Maggie first appear in Wichita Police records in Sept 1876: 19 year old Maggie as a “Keeper” or “madam”; George as “miscellaneous” and as “pimp.”
14 Drago, Wild, Wooly & Wicked, Pocket Books, 1962, pp. 216, 217.
The 1875 census, taken in March, lists the occupants of that notorious house and alludes to Maggie as being head of that household.15 Bessie’s last arrest in Wichita was in the same month, and none of the Earp ladies show up in the police records as paying monthly fines after that date. It is generally accepted that Maggie assumed “madam-ship” of Bessie’s bagnio sometime thereafter. George purchased the enterprise a few months later on September 21, 1875.
Drago, in Notorious Ladies of the Frontier states, “The toughest dive on Water Street was conducted by Mag Woods. She was arrested innumerable times and fined for conducting a disorderly house. Her husband, George Woods, an unsavory saloon character and two-bit gambler, ran her errands and did her bidding. Mag [was] coarse, pugnacious, hard as nails.”16 This statement, while enhancing the picture somewhat, can for the most part, be confirmed by information found in Wichita police records.
In May of the next year (1876), young Charles Francis Colcord, with his father, struck out from deep in southern Texas with 1200 horses headed for the Chisholm Trail to Kansas. In his autobiography, he relates that when they passed Fort Worth, Maggie had “brought a lot of corn
15 1875 Federal Census, Inhabitants in the City of Wichita, p. 23. Maggie is listed as the first entry, generally assigned to the head of the household. Ed Bartholomew, on page 54 of his book, Wyatt Earp—The Untold Story, contends that Bessie Earp was listed as “head of household” in that 1875 census and that “George and Mag Woods of Caldwell Redlight fame started in the business under sponsorship of Bessie Earp.” A close reading of the 1875 census appears to be contrary to Bartholomew’s view and supports a different conclusion concerning the “head of household” status. The census sheet is in the form of vertically lined columns requiring the entry of 29 specific subjects of information concerning each individual, family, or household. A column was not provided in which to specifically denote the Head of Household. Instead, the established procedure dictated that the head of household was the first person listed. The fidelity of information that the census takers entered is found to be sadly lacking in the 1875, as well as ’80, and ’85 censuses. Typically, the 1875 census enumerator provided information in only seven of the 29 columns leaving the others blank.
16 Drago, Notorious Ladies, p. 112.
fed girls down from Kansas and they were going to have a big party at Fort Worth.” Colcord continued:
I will never forget Mag Woods’ dance hall.
They were just building this big shack. The floor was completed, the roof and part of the siding was on and where the siding was lacking the holes were stopped up with wagon sheets and canvas. At one end there was a rough bar with five bartenders, all as busy as could be. There was a motley crowd in this dance hall. Mag had about thirty girls that she had brought from Wichita, Kansas. She charged fifty cents a set for dancing and it was a sight to see those old buffalo hunters, cowpunchers and railroad men swing those girls.
About midnight, after the whiskey had been flowing very freely, a gunfight developed. The lights were shot out, one or two men were killed and several were badly hurt. Places like that dance hall took a fellow’s money right away from him.17
Nothing else is known of Maggie’s Texas excursion. Colcord’s is the only reference found relating to this “party”. An excerpt from Anne Seagraves’ book, Soiled Doves offers one plausible explanation of the affair:
A few of the madams would occasionally take their girls on what was referred to as a “summer vacation.” They would set up large tents near, or within, a mining camp or town, and the ladies would go to work. The miners were delighted and it increased business. It also provided the girls with a change of scenery. When they returned to their brothels in the city, it was often with renewed energy. Madams like these were well liked by their girls.18
By September, 1876, Maggie was back to her old tricks and doing business as usual in Wichita where she
17 Colcord, The Autobiography of Charles Francis Colcord, C C. Helmerich, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1970, pp 46, 47.
18 Seagraves, Soiled Doves, Prostitution In the Early West, Wessanen Publications,
Hayden, Idaho,1994, p. 29.
was fined as a prostitute five times and ten times as a madam. In October of the next year, George and Maggie purchased lots 20 and 22 on Wichita Street, the next street west of Water Street, and built their first saloon/brothel.19 Interestingly, the record shows that in March 1878, George, himself, was fined as a “keeper of a house of ill fame.”20 An 1878 Wichita City Directory lists him as a “contractor” living on the corner of Wichita Street and First Street.21
Whether Maggie was a true alcoholic is not known, but it is known that she partied with her girls vigorously and frequently which often landed her in various judges’ courtrooms for being drunk and disorderly. Her partying may have been the cause of a rift between her and George that developed into a confrontation with the law. The November 2, 1876, issue of the Wichita Eagle reports that the police were called to quell a fight between the two. When the police attempted to make George’s arrest,
Woods retreated outside of the city and took up his position on the [Arkansas River] bridge and armed himself with a double barreled shotgun and a revolver. One of the policemen came to A.T. Massey, Deputy Sheriff, to get him to make the arrest of Woods. Massey requested the policeman to stay back and he would go and get Woods. As Massey approached, Woods told him to keep back and let him alone, but Massey closed in and Woods struck him over the head with the gun. A scuffle ensued and Woods was arrested, and taken before Atwood, Police Judge.22
In spite of her drinking escapades, and although not yet married, Maggie and George became a strongly bonded couple. In a few short years, they excelled as proprietors of an unknown number of combination saloon and brothel establishments. George became a proficient saloon operator and Maggie plied the trade that she knew so well.
19 It is not known if they named this saloon Red Light.
20 Police Dockets, Wichita Records, Microfilm, Wichita Public Library.
21 Emmett’s Wichita City Directory and immigrants Guide, 1878, p. 96.
22 Wood was freed when it was established that Massey failed to identify himself as a police officer and that Wood didn’t know who he was.
In those few short years, they aggressively acquired real estate. In 1878, they bought four adjoining lots on Wichita Street and six adjoining lots on Waco Street that were back-to-back across the alley from the Wichita Street lots. Other of their establishments that have been referred to may have been located on these lots. By 1879, they had found success and a respectable measure of wealth. That April, they purchased two lots in Delano23 directly across Chicago Avenue24 from the previous location of Rowdy Joe Lowe’s and Red Beard’s saloons. Several months later, speculating that the Santa Fe tracks would pass through Wellington as they progressed southward, they purchased two lots there.25
The establishment they had built on lots 20 and 22 on Wichita Street burned in early June 1879. By July 14, they had constructed their second “maison de joie.”26 Maggie was 22 years old; George was 25.
The notorious George Wood is building a larger house than the one he recently lost by fire. .
. .It is imposing, and if used for almost any other purpose that that which the owner intends, would be an ornament to the west part of the city.27
As business partners, they proved to have had good business sense and an exceptional aptitude for making money. High achievers, they appear to have been aggressive and exceptionally strong willed.
In general, the couple seems to have been regarded as a common law man and wife. It was not until December
23 Delano was a separate town from Wichita, bordering the west bank of the Arkansas River. Wichita bordered the east side of the river.
24 Douglas Avenue was the main east/west street in Wichita. Upon crossing the Arkansas River bridge west into Delano, its name changed to Chicago Avenue.
25 It is not known whether an establishment was operated there. Maggie sold that property on June 13, 1883.
26 Wichita Weekly Beacon, July 16, 1879.
27 Wichita Eagle, June 25, 1879. This building may have later been Maggie’s main brothel. Eventually, the property was sold to a well known madam of a later era, Inez Griffing Oppenheimer, aka the notorious Dixie Lee.
9, 1879, that “George B. Wood, Sedgwick County, Kansas, age 25” and “Maggie Gillion, Sedgwick County, Kansas, age 22,” applied for a marriage license and did in fact, make their marriage legal on that date.28
♦ ♦ ♦
In mid 1879, with news of the railroad’s imminent entry into Caldwell making it the terminus of the famed Chisholm Trail, many optimistic entrepreneurs began setting up businesses in Caldwell in anticipation of the economic boom that would follow. Along with many other enterprising newcomers, George and Maggie Wood shared in the promise of prosperity that the bright future of Caldwell was expected to provide. By September 1879, shortly before her marriage, Maggie was already doing business in temporary quarters at Caldwell, scouting the locale and gleaning intelligence for the assault that she and George would make upon the city.
The September 4 Caldwell Post forebode: “Mag Woods, a notorious Wichita prostitute, in company with several pieces of feminine frailty, made a descent from that unchristian city on our little village last week, and temporarily located on the creek, outside the city limits.” In October, the Post continued, “Several ladies of easy virtue now reside in Caldwell—so we are informed.”29
Public optimism was rampant and on December 31, 1879, the township unanimously voted for the railroad bond that would bring the rails into Caldwell.
Proud of its progress since its meager beginnings a decade earlier, the Post reviewed the short recent history of the boom:
This was the opening of a new era for our place, for as soon as it became known that the [rail] road would terminate at Caldwell, prosperity commenced to set in. Town lots began to rise and assume considerable dignity and surrounding
28 Pennington, Sedgwick County, Kansas Marriages.
29 Caldwell (Kansas) Post, October, 30, 1879.
farms were transformed into “additions to Caldwell.” . . . The city of Caldwell, having become incorporated during the month of July, 1879, kindly enclosed all the surrounding additions and “took them in.” The city has one of the finest town sites in Kansas. It soon became a certainty that Caldwell would be the shipping point for a large amount of cattle . . . and that the Railroad Company contemplated to build extensive cattle yards here. This fact becoming generally known, soon resulted in a large addition to our population.
Houses sprang up on every side; our stores became filled with goods and our streets with people. In the mean time the railroad kept coming nearer and nearer, and its approach was eagerly watched by the citizens of our burgh. All knew that its advent would bring with it a material increase in population, trade and prosperity. . .
Persons knowing whereof they speak, declare that Caldwell will have the finest stock yards of all now owned by the railroad company.
Besides the many advantages which Caldwell will reap from being a cattle market, the fact of being the terminus of the road makes it a distributing point for a vast amount of government supplies which will be shipped to this place to be hauled from here to the different posts and agencies in the [Indian] territory. . .30
George and Maggie were consumed in the intense excitement of this promising atmosphere. Captivated by the prospect of easy money, they intently formulated their plans and brazenly laid the groundwork for the creation of the Red Light Saloon.
Amid a myriad of fortune seekers, Mike Meagher, too, could foresee the coming boom. He left Wichita for Caldwell in 1879, and on December 20, opened his Arcade Saloon.31 In April of 1880, soon after arriving in Caldwell,
30 Ibid, June 3, 1880.
31 Ibid, December 25, 1879.
Meagher became the city’s third mayor and also served as Caldwell’s City Marshal for a brief period.
As mayor, Meagher again found himself concerned with Maggie’s antics as he had been in Wichita. On May 1, the city caught up with Maggie for the first of many times— she was hauled in for being “drunk and disorderly,” an indulgence that she joyfully repeated regularly. At the same time, it was found necessary to fine her for “running a house of ill fame.”32
Maggie had operated in Caldwell about six months before George obtained real estate in the city, the first phase of their plan. On March 25, 1880, they purchased Lot #118,33 Chisholm Street, in Caldwell.34 There they commenced the establishment of the Red Light Saloon.35
They bought the property from John H. Wendell who had purchased it from Henry R. Turnbaugh for twenty dollars, giving him possession of nearly the entire block. He then sold the lot to George and Maggie less than one month later for $125. The adjoining Lot #116 was annexed to the Red Light property by virtue of a tax deed sometime later.
Exactly how the Red Light building came to be erected is in question due to a story the Post carried on April 22, 1880. The story has caused some confusion and uncertainty:
George Wood’s two story building has been
removed from Wichita to Caldwell. It is being
32 Police Dockets, Caldwell City Offices.
33 Deed - Volume 12, Page 535 (Sumner Co Courthouse) March 25, 1880.
34 Over the years, there has been much speculation as to the location of the old Red Light Saloon—at least four different locations have been cited in various books. What was known as Lot #118 Chisholm Street in the early days of Caldwell is now known to be the northeast corner of Central Avenue (east Highway 81) and Chisholm Street—one block east of Caldwell’s Main Street and one block west of the old Chisholm Trail thoroughfare where it passed through the city.
35 The railroad had reached Wellington ahead of Caldwell. In 1879, perhaps in anticipation of a boom in that town, George and Maggie purchased lots 17 and 18 in Block 58.
erected, we presume for convenience sake, near the calaboose.36
Following one week later:
Three men working on the two-story building located near the calaboose fell off the roof last Monday afternoon. Two of them were quite severely injured.37
It has been questioned whether the actual two-story building was moved from Wichita to Caldwell—or only the business was moved
In Cattle Towns, Dykstra reports, “Caldwell received its one and only dance house in 1880, when, the railroad tracks having just entered town, a notorious Wichita couple, George and Margaret Woods, unloaded a two-story bagnio from a flatcar and saw to its reconstitution there.”38 Dykstra quotes the Post story above as his source and apparently presupposes that the Red Light building was conveyed to Caldwell by rail.
While that would seem to be a fair assumption, it should be considered that flatcars of that era were about seven feet wide and eighteen to twenty feet long—not capable of hauling a very large structure. Moreover, Wood was issued a dram-shop license in early May and the Red Light most likely opened on Saturday, May 15, 1880, or perhaps, several days before.39 Also, it is known that the Cowley, Sumner & Ft. Worth tracks (a Santa Fe development company) did not enter Caldwell until several weeks later on June 1st so it appears evident that the building could not have been transported by rail.40
Although possible, it would seem extremely unlikely that a structure of the size that the Red Light must have
36 Post, April 22, 1880.
37 Ibid, April 29, 1880.
38 Dykstra, Cattle Towns, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1968, p. 106.
39 The May 20, 1880, issue of the Caldwell Post reported that on
Saturday evening, May 15, 1880, several local business men had visited the establishment which was open for business at that time.
40 Ibid, June 17, 1880
been, could have been moved the 60 plus miles overland from Wichita to Caldwell by any sort of horse-drawn tandem wagon arrangement unless, perhaps, it was dismantled into multiple small manageable units, moved and then reassembled. Two rivers, the Ninnescah and the Chikaskia, and two creeks, the Cowskin and Slate Creek would have had to have been forded in the move. However, Wood is listed in the 1875 census as “laborer” and in the Wichita City Directory of 1878 as a “contractor” so, in addition to his other activities, he may have had the skills necessary to manage such a complex undertaking.
The Post lamented what it foresaw as a depraved blemish on the town:
In every frontier town wherein money promises to be plenty, there springs up a certain nuisance, to put as mildly as one can, namely, the dance-house. It is the hotbed of vice and the favorite place for murders, assault and drunken ribaldry. A gambling room is as moral as a church raffle, and a saloon as quiet as a funeral, when compared with the dance-house. If you want the revolver cracking and the bullet doing its deadly work in your midst; if you want to have the most degrading men and women making night hideous with their hellish orgies; if you want to pollute the air which your wives and mothers breath; just tolerate a dance house in your midst.41
The plea was to no avail and a week later the Post published another letter:
Editor Caldwell Post:
DEAR SIR: Knowing the detriment that a “Dance House” would be to Caldwell, if allowed in our city, the writer of this article visited the “Red Light saloon” last Saturday night. The scenes there presented reminded me of the early times in Cheyenne, when murder ran riot and the pistol was the only argument. It is true that the assemblage was sober, orderly and quiet Saturday
4i Post, May 13, 1880.
night - but we must remember that it was composed chiefly of men who visited the place merely out of curiosity. Then again, it is a new thing, and has not as yet accumulated the crowd of pimps, hangers-on and deadbeats, who generally make such a place their headquarters. It is a well-known fact - as any Western man can testify to - that the greatest curse frontier towns have ever had, has been the so-called “dance houses” or “hurdy-gurdies.” The lowest, both male and female, congregate at these places: the vilest of liquors are there dealt out, and everything is done that will bring the worst passions of mankind into action. In fact, the class of persons who run “dance houses” are such as a respectable sportsman and gambler would not associate with. The femalese as a rule, have some “low-down” male, as a lover, who is too lazy to work and too much of a coward to be anything but a “sneak-thief,” who depends upon the wages of their shame for a livelihood, and urge these female friends on to commit crimes which they would not do otherwise. In fact, a “dance-house” if permitted to exist in our midst, will bring to our city a class of cut-throats, thieves, etc., which we do not desire, and for this, if no other reason, the city authorities should at once take measures to close all such places. (signed) CALDWELL42
In spite of its unwelcome entry into the Caldwell business community, the Red Light prevailed. In effect, the article conceded that the Red Light had emerged victorious in its struggle. In the same issue is found the first of many complaints that followed: “Stop that ‘dance house’ racket”.43
Amazingly, the young couple had succeeded—the Red Light flourished. George was 26 and Maggie was 22.
Meanwhile, George’s father, Capt. William Wood, in partnership with two other prospectors, Archie C. Fisk and Andrew Kirkpatrick, staked claim to a silver lode they
42 Ibid, May 20, 1880.
43 Ibid
discovered near a tiny town called Ute City in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. When the claim began to show promise, Wood’s partners, using the pretext that Wood’s Canadian citizenship prevented his ownership of property in the United States, fraudulently invalidated his partnership in the claim. Captain Wood, then ill, beaten and bitter, died October 14, 1880,44 the same year of their discovery.
Caldwell businesses thrived; the town burgeoned and became known far and wide as The Queen of the Border, later shortened to “The Border Queen.”
In an article in the Caldwell Messenger,45 Grant Harris, early day printer at the Caldwell Post states, "Caldwell’s saloons, dance halls, and gambling houses did more business than those at Abilene. With only 500 population, Caldwell had six or seven saloons46 each with a gambling house in connection and the largest dance hall in Kansas - the Red Light.”
The house was a two-story building; the front was furnished as a saloon, of which George Woods was the proprietor. Upon the front window the following words “Red Light Saloon” were inscribed. Mag Woods, the notorious woman known as Wood’s wife, was the proprietress of the dance hall, which was run in connection with the saloon. Wichita lent her worst inmates to become inmates of this hall, and part of the population of Caldwell.47
At least nineteen of the 133 known prostitutes found in the early Caldwell police docket books appear to have had association with Maggie at different times throughout her sojourn in the Border Queen. Most probably, there were many more whose connection with Maggie can not now be established. It is not known how many of those girls worked
44 Pamphlet entitled The Emma Mine, Aspen (Colorado)Historical Society.
45 Caldwell (Kansas) Messenger, July 24, 1939.
46 Thirty-one saloons have been found to have done business in Caldwell between 1879 and 1884.
47 Freeman, Midnight and Noonday, 1984 edition, p. 203.
at the Red Light at any given time. Contemporary Grant Harris reported that “the notorious dance hall sometimes had as many as 30 inmates.”48 An interesting insight into the question is George’s probate asset inventory that lists 7 beds, 7 wash stands, 7 mirrors in addition to his and Maggie’s personal furniture that was listed separately.49
The 1880 census lists thirteen actual residents of the Red Light Saloon. Included was Becky Banks, listed as a cook.
Before becoming employed as cook at the Red Light, Rebecca Banks was one of the first madams arrested in Caldwell. She was inexplicably fined $50—the harshest fine ever imposed for any offense by the contemporary Caldwell police court—five times the normal $10 fine imposed upon “keepers”. It may have been a discriminatory gesture because Becky happened to be a black madam. The fine may have been what caused the downfall of her business and the impetus that led her to the Red Light’s kitchen. She may have been the cook alluded to by “Captain Jones” earlier as being his grandmother and cook in Bessie Earp’s establishment—already well known to Maggie.
Maggie was one of the first Madams to be arrested in Caldwell. Seemingly a perpetual party girl, the Caldwell police records attest to her boisterous nature. Fisticuffs seem to have been as common between the Red Light women as it was among the cowboys, and Maggie’s impetuous disposition suggests that she was probably the cause of most of them. Exuding a tempestuous spirit, she was irrepressible—her unrestrained carousing and fighting landed her in Judge Kelly’s court a number of times along with several of her sorority.
George’s roguish nature also shows up in the Caldwell police docket books. He was arrested three times by lawman Frank Hunt for riding his horse on the sidewalk,
48 Messenger, March 23,1937.
49 George B. Wood Probate records, Sumner County Kansas, Court House.
for carrying a concealed weapon, and for assault and battery.50
The infamy and disrepute that the Woods and the Red Light propagated was in no way undeserved. The nature of the attractions that they provided appealed tremendously to the coarser instincts of their patrons. As the terminus of the Chisholm Trail, the town was flush with young cowboys, freshly paid off from several months on the trail. With more money in their pockets than most had ever accumulated altogether at one time, they had no qualms about exchanging it for a good time. So, by far, most of the Red Light’s patrons were the cowboys; either fresh from the trail or in town from the surrounding ranches. Many of these young ranch hands had endured months of lonely isolation on remote ranches, far removed from any civilization. Also frequenting the Red Light were men of the neighboring towns who preferred not to be seen philandering in their own communities,51 but more likely to be found in the haunt were teamsters that plied the Chisholm Trail, transient cavalry soldiers, and the railroaders that manned the cattle trains that ran day and night throughout the shipping season.
The Red Light was notorious throughout the west; Wichita lent her worst characters to become its inmates. The house and inmates is said to have accomplished the ruin of several of Caldwell’s brightest young girls. . . .”
Cowboys . . . meet with companions of former acquaintance, visit the various saloons and gambling holes, . . . loose the larger proportion of their money, then as a last resort, visit the houses of ill fame and lose their remaining “little all.” . . . the air is filled with the echo of their lewd songs . .
50 Police Dockets, Caldwell City Offices.
51 Post, July 6, 1882.
. the night is passed in debauchery and delights such as the “Red Light.”52
The readers of the October 14, 1880, Post were once again informed of “another man for breakfast!” The story reported that lawman Frank Hunt had been murdered in the Red Light Saloon.
Last Friday evening [October 8], this city was again thrown into an excitement over another murder. About ten o’clock some cowardly assassin shot Frank Hunt and inflicted, what afterwards proved a fatal wound. Hunt was down at that den of iniquity, the Red Light dance house, and while sitting at the north window in the dance hall, someone shot him, the ball entering his body on the left side, passing over and fracturing the tenth rib and lodging in the ninth costal cartilage on the right side. The shot was fired through the open window, by some person standing outside. Who that person was, is only a matter or rumor and suspicion. . . . Shortly after the death of Frank Hunt, David Spear of this town, was arrested under a warrant from Justice Kelly, and is still held in custody.
The Post again loudly voiced its condemnation:
We cannot refrain from saying that it is our opinion that if the Council had listened to our protestations against the running of the “dance house,” this murder would not have happened in our place. The POST again and again lifted up its voice against it, and calling to mind what like dens have done for other cities. Our words have proved true, and we charge the Council with being blamable for these shameful, horrid happenings in our midst. Both the murders of Flatt and of Hunt goes straight back to the Red Light Dance house.53
52 Freeman, Midnight and Noonday, 1984 edition with commentary by Richard L Lane, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, p. 196.
53 Post, October 14, 1882.
The suspected perpetrator, 17 year old David Spear, was the younger of two brothers who figure prominently in the Red Light saga.
The Spear family was notorious in Caldwell and seemed always to be at the center of trouble. Patriarch Charles L. Spear, proprietor of the IXL Saloon, was walking along side of Caldwell’s ex-marshal George Flatt when the latter was shot down in a fusillade on Caldwell’s Main Street. The elder Spear was later suspected of complicity in the ambush conspired by a shadowy coterie. George Spear, the older of Charles’ two unprincipled sons, plays a significant part in the story yet to come.
The next November, in the wake of Hunt’s murder, a policeman was stationed at the Red Light on a full time basis. He was paid by the Red Light but had full police authority under the city Marshal. He was George Reed, one of those listed in the 1880 census as a “boarder” at the Red Light. He appears to have done odd jobs around the place and may have sometimes functioned as a bouncer. He is listed as a witness in several murder trials emanating from the Red Light and was the occasional driver of a coach service that George established to provide transportation to an auxiliary Red Light Saloon.
♦ ♦ ♦
The couple continued to prosper. On February 16, 1881, George and Maggie invested $100 in Lot #22 of Block #33 in a new town ten or eleven miles to the east of Caldwell called Hunnewell. The railroad tracks ran from north to south through the middle of the site, bisecting it east from west. The center of activity was along a street called “Smoky Row” that paralleled the east side of the tracks.54 There, two blocks north of the cattle pens, on the corner of Oak Street and Smoky Row, they built a saloon/dancehall/brothel auxiliary to the Caldwell Red Light—they named it appropriately, “Red Light Saloon.”
54 Now known as Sixth Street, Smoky Row was sometimes also called “Front Street.”
Shortly after, George provided a means of transportation for anyone in Caldwell wanting to patronize the place:
As will be seen by advertisement in another column, Geo. B. Wood has established a daily line of stages between Caldwell and Hunnewell. He has put the price down to 50 cents each way or $1.00 for the round trip and will run every day, leaving the Leland Hotel in Caldwell punctually at 9 o’clock a.m., passengers or no passengers. Mr.
Wood has the best of teams, a careful and accommodating driver, and will do his full share to merit the patronage of those whose business or pleasure requires them to travel from one place to the other.55
An article appearing in the September 30, 1880, Caldwell Post announced,
“Fred Kuhlman, the pioneer cowboy, has purchased the Kentucky Saloon on the corner of Main and Fifth streets, where he will keep a full assortment of Liquors, Kentucky Sour Mash Whiskey, Cigars, Etc. A first class pool table in connection. Fred is a jolly good fellow and will hold a good hand with the boys.”
The description “good fellow” is questionable—he was arrested and fined two weeks after the article appeared for disturbing the peace and for carrying a revolver. Five days later he was fined again for running a poker game in his saloon.
It is apparent that Fred Kuhlman and George Wood were very close friends, or possibility related, and that George, being the better businessman, occasionally lent Fred money and helped him in his business dealings. On May 11, 1881, George accommodated Fred with an
incomprehensibly contorted business arrangement wherein Fred would acquire one half interest in the Woods’ Red
55 Caldwell (Kansas) Commercial, May 12, 1881.
Light Saloon at Hunnewell for $450 which he would pay back to George over time.56
Kuhlman then managed the Hunnewell Red Light only one month when, on June 23, in front of the Red Light, he was shot and killed in an altercation over Miss Mattie Smith, one of Maggie’s Caldwell Red Light girls who had gone to work at the Hunnewell Red Light and became Kuhlman’s current aficionada. Mattie had logged 4 arrests in Caldwell for prostitution.
Fred Kuhlman, a former resident of this place [Caldwell], was shot and killed at Hunnewell last Thursday morning by a man named Ed. Stokley, boss herder for Forsythe. The cause of the shooting was a woman, and a prostitute of course.
The parties had some difficulty about the creature the night previous. On Thursday morning the two men met on the street, when Stokley pulled his revolver and fired at Kuhlman, shooting him in the right breast, the ball passing entirely through his body and coming out near the backbone.
The Hunnewell Independent says that after the shooting, Stokley walked up to his victim, looked at him, then stepped back a few yards and reloaded his revolver, held it up, saying, “this is what did it,” and went into Ford’s store, bought some cartridges and a twenty-six shot Winchester rifle, paid his bill, got on his horse and left for the Territory before any attempt was made to arrest him. The marshal was out of the city at the time. Everyone seemed horrified at the deed and could do nothing.
Kuhlman died about thirty minutes after he was shot, and was brought over and buried in the cemetery at this place.
So far as we can learn no efforts have been made to arrest Stokley,57 and it is likely that he
56 Fred Kuhlman Probate records, Sumner County Courthouse.
Herring, Edward, Ed Stokley: Indian Territory Deputy U.S. Marshal, “Oklahoma State Trooper”, Spring 2001, p. 55. Ed Stokley later became
will go on killing men who happen to displease him in any way until finally some one quicker with a gun than he is, puts an end to his murderous career.58
Kuhlman died deeply in debt to George. In the end George paid for his funeral, his coffin and the suit of clothes that he was buried in.
After the murder of Fred Kuhlman, George went to Hunnewell and assumed management of the Red Light there while Maggie was left to “dispense sweetness” in Caldwell. They took on a man named James “Big Jim” Cavner to help Maggie manage the Red Light in Caldwell. About a month later on August 1st, Maggie, Big Jim, and Lizzie Roberts, a 20 year-old dove of Maggie’s flock, went on an excursion to visit George at Hunnewell.
Joseph Dolan was the newly appointed city marshal of Hunnewell.59 He had been Caldwell’s assistant marshal only days before. He, himself, had been arrested in Caldwell in early 1880 for “disturbing the peace and quietude.” Previously in Caldwell, Lizzie Roberts had been arrested half a dozen times for various offenses including prostitution and for being drunk, and disorderly. Maggie and Lizzie appear to have been close friends. Several of their wild parties in Caldwell had resulted in their arrest and Dolan had been the arresting officer in one of these adventures.
the protege of famed Deputy U. S. Marshal Heck Thomas. In the summer of 1886, Sumner County Sheriff Thralls, after several fruitless pursuits, finally caught up with Stokley in Fort Smith and returned him to Wellington for trial. Stokley was found guilty of third degree manslaughter and served six months in the Sumner County lock-up at Wellington then returned to Fort Smith and a Deputy U.S. Marshal’s commission. He returned to the Territory and continued his association with Marshal Thomas. He was killed in the attempted apprehension of murderer, Will Towerly, near Atoka, Indian Territory in 1887.
Commercial, July 7, 1881.
59 Ibid, July 14, 1881.
When the clique convened in the Hunnewell Red Light, the inevitable party ensued and, predictably, troubles followed. The Commercial reported:
. . .Cavner was full of whisky, got into a quarrel with some one and seizing an empty Winchester waltzed through the town making everybody stand around to suit him. He was finally arrested [apparently by Marshal Dolan] and taken before the Police Judge with his gun in his hand. The Judge told him he must put that implement away, and Jim set it outside of the door. The judge then fined Jim $21 for his little bit of amusement. This incensed his royal highness, and reaching behind him, he picked up the Winchester, which one of the women had loaded and placed at his back,
[and] told the Judge to go to a supposed hot place and left.60
The party continued with Cavner being the most troublesome of the four, prompting Marshal Dolan to attempt to arrest him again. Cavner, already enraged by Dolan’s earlier interference in his festivities, resisted his arrest and a major scuffle followed. Maggie and Lizzie Roberts, perhaps harboring some residual animosity from their earlier encounters with Dolan, went to Cavner’s aid. George, too, dove in, even though two days before the murder of Fred Kuhlman, in an obviously friendly transaction, George had lent the then Caldwell Deputy Marshal Dolan $205.61 The friendship counted for naught— needless to say, Marshal Dolan was the looser of the lopsided battle and later:
. . . The entire party came over to Caldwell that night or Sunday morning. Meantime the police judge went up to Wellington [Sumner County Seat] and swore out a warrant for their arrest, and on Monday Sheriff Thralls came down,
60 Ibid, August 11, 1881.
61 Dolan had signed a note dated June 21, 1881, drawing ten-percent interest and due in ninety days.
arrested the mob and took them up to the county seat. 62
As spelled out in Case #113—The State of Kansas vs. Geo. B. Wood, et al, the foursome “did strike, pummel, and severely beat Joseph Dolan.”
In their defense, the four culprits retained Caldwell attorney, Samuel Berry, himself with an extensive police record in Caldwell. The trial was held in Wellington. In the court records of that case can be found an amusing legal brief consisting of a poem that Counselor Berry had written to Judge Ike N. King, apparently lamenting a hangover that resulted from a night of carousing in Wellington with his four clients the previous night:
APOSTROPHE TO THE COURT I hope you’ll decide to my liking For I’m sleepy and tired And I want to be fired Out of court (for a spell)
Over prairie and dell Over morass and fell Till I light in Caldwell In the Leland Hotel And sleep forty winks without waking Oh, Ike King Oh, hell
Un-amused, the judge inscribed his own verse on the back of the document before committing it to the accumulated collection of official case records:
He danced all night ‘till broad daylight,
And defended the whores in the morning.63
The State’s criminal action against the four commenced on August 7, and continued through August 11. Counselor Berry’s pathetic motions and objections were overruled at every turn. Cavner got 10 days in jail and a
62 Commercial, August 11, 1881.
63Case #113, State of Kansas vs. Geo. B. Wood, et al, Sumner County Courthouse.
one hundred-dollar fine. George received a twenty-five-dollar fine but believed the fine to be unjust and elected to appeal the judgment. Because he was to have been held in the County Jail until the fine was paid, Maggie put up a five hundred-dollar surety bond for his release until the outcome of his appeal.
In comments referring to Maggie later made to the Wellingtonian, Counselor Berry is quoted to vow “that her only fault was—that she is intolerable curst [intolerably cursed], and shrewd and froward [sic]: So beyond all reason, that were my state far worser than it is, I would not wed her for a mine (of) gold.”64
A week after the Hunnewell Red Light fiasco, Big Jim was still serving time. And it had been less than two months since Fred Kuhlman’s murder when the Caldwell Post reported that Kuhlman’s benefactor had met the same fate under remarkably similar circumstances.
On last Thursday evening at about nine o’clock two shots were heard in rapid succession in the direction of the Red Light dance house, and soon a reporter from this paper was on the ground and found George Wood, proprietor of the house, lying on a cot in the dance hall, bleeding freely from a murderous looking hole in his breast, and writhing in fearful agony. Dr. Noble was doing all in his power to alleviate his sufferings, but it was of no avail. He had met his man and got his medicine.
To say the least, George has been the most successful dance-house man in the valley, so far as keeping an orderly house is concerned.
The circumstances of the shooting, as developed by the coroner's jury, are about as follows:
64 Wellington (Kansas) Wellingtonian, August 18, 1881.
Charles Davis65 had been keeping Lizzie Roberts for some time, but about five weeks ago she left him and went to the dance house to live. Davis went to the house on this evening, and was insisting on Lizzie leaving the house and going up town to a room with him. This she refused to do. They were standing in the west room of the building, and George Wood was standing behind the bar. When the fuss commenced, he came around toward Davis, and told Davis he could not take the girl from the house unless she wanted to go. A few high words were passed, when Davis drew a Colt’s improved forty-five revolver, and fired at about three feet range. The ball passed through Wood, and entered the partition back of the bar room. Wood grabbed hold of the revolver and hung onto it until he was dragged out of the house. They scuffled around in the yard a few moments, when another shot was fired but did not take effect on Wood. Wood was not armed. Nor was either man under the influence of liquor. Wood called his wife to him, and told her to “catch Charley Davis and prosecute him to the full extent of the law,” and for her to keep all the property, do the best she could, and be a good girl. Charley Davis ran from the Red Light up the street toward town, and was captured and disarmed by Policeman Rowen, who turned him over to some one to guard until he went to the dance house to see what the row was about. The prisoner escaped, and has not as yet been gathered in, that anybody knows of. Woods’ friends buried him Friday afternoon in the cemetery north of town. So ends the career of the keeper of the Red Light.66
The Commercial added:
65 Charlie Davis had worked for rancher William Colcord not far from Corpus Christi, Texas, in the mid 1870’s. In 1876, Colcord drove 1200 horses up the Chisholm Trail and eventually became one of three organizers of the Comanche Cattle Pool on the Cimarron River in the Cherokee Outlet.65 Davis may have cowboyed at the Comanche Pool prior to Wood’s murder.
66 Post, August 25, 1881.
Woods was well known in Wichita, Caldwell and Hunnewell. He had for several years kept a brothel in the first named place, removing to Caldwell last year, where he opened up the Red Light, and this spring set up another house in Hunnewell. Outside of his business he was generally well liked by those who knew him, and was said to be honorable and upright in all his business transactions. The occupation he followed was not such as to make him a very useful or ornamental member of society and his violent death is only regarded as a natural result. 67
George had a history of carrying concealed weapons. Had he followed this habit on that evening, the outcome may have been much different. But as it was, Governor St. John offered a one thousand dollar reward for Davis’ capture and Maggie offered five hundred dollars.68
For reasons not totally understood, George lay in a temporary grave for some time after his death, as did Kuhlman. The reason could be partially due to some shady events surrounding the theft of a certain diamond stickpin purloined in a macabre misadventure; details of which will follow shortly.
Commentary by Richard Lane, in his excellent 1984 edition of Midnight and Noonday, suggests that George was first interred at the Arnold cemetery, Caldwell’s first cemetery more commonly known in Caldwell as “Boot Hill.”69 It is curious why Maggie would have buried George at that cemetery when the new cemetery had been in use more than a year, since November of 1879.70
Whatever the case and for whatever reason, Maggie didn’t purchase the final resting place until March of 1882,
67 Commercial, August 25, 1881.
68 Maggie commenced George’s probate on August 22, 1881 but did not finalize it until July 7, 1884. She also acted as “administratrix” for Fred Kuhlman. The Notices of Final Settlement were first published in the Post on May 15, 1884.
69 Freeman, Midnight, p. 204n.
70 Post, November 6, 1879.
some seven or eight months after the murder.71 She then buried George and Fred Kuhlman side by side in one of the most unique gravesites of that turbulent period to be found anywhere. Both men had been saloon operators and pimps; each was killed by a single bullet passing completely through his body; both died in defense of Red Light prostitutes under their protection; and both were twenty-eight years old.
George Wood/Fred Kuhlman tombstone
Maggie had a Wichita marble firm fabricate a fine monument topped off with two columns made of Knoxville, Italian and Vermont marble. The piece had “taken the premium” at the Sedgwick County Fair and had cost Maggie $550, a full year’s wages for the typical cowboy.72 The monument is engraved with both names. The base of the monument and the remains of George Wood and Fred Kuhlman now reside at Block 03, Lot 0129, Spaces 2 and 3 in the (new) Caldwell City Cemetery.73
71 Cemetery Records, Caldwell City Offices.
72 Sumner County (Kansas) Press, December 22, 1881.
73 Richard Lane suggests that the two columns and upper portion were lost when the grave was moved from “Boot Hill” to the new cemetery. The
monument had been in place at the initial plot, wherever that was, at least before December of 1881.
Good times at the Red Light weren’t affected by George’s demise:
The loss of the grand mogul of the demimonde, who was made an angel of at Caldwell the other night, does not seem to affect the dance house interests. “The dance still goes on.”74
Although supporting documentation has not been found, it is believed that Big Jim Cavner took over management of the Hunnewell Red Light shortly before or after George’s murder. Soon after, Maggie employed George Spear, a local ne’er-do-well, to manage the saloon portion of the Red Light. He was the older brother of David Spear, the suspected murderer of lawman Frank Hunt in the Red Light, mentioned earlier.
On December 17, 1881, a conflagration known as the Talbot Raid took place among the streets and alleys when Caldwell’s citizens took on a hotheaded cowboy known as Jim Talbot and six henchmen in an hour and a half long shooting war.
These men were desperadoes and were constantly giving the marshal trouble by their daring feats and the free use they made of their sixshooters. They visited the numerous places of amusement, accompanied by the prostitutes of the ‘Red Light’ dancing hall, and made disturbances by using loud, obscene language in the presence of ladies, or by their braggadocia, which they displayed while they were under the influence of whiskey. Talbot’s men were frequent visitors of the ‘Red Light’, and several of the men were arrested and fined for creating a disturbance.75
During that melee, Mike Meagher, Caldwell’s third mayor,76 was shot and killed. Another ex-mayor of
74 Press, August 25, 1881.
75 Freeman, Midnight, pp. 251, 252.
76 Michael Meagher had served several terms as Wichita City Marshal and had been a Deputy U.S. Marshal. He had also served as a Caldwell City Marshal for a short time.
Caldwell, W.N. Hubble, anticipating the gang’s escape by horseback, determined to deprive them of the use of their horses. He secured his Winchester rifle, crossed the alley from the rear of his store and passed through A.C. “Lengthy" Jones’ blacksmith shop, which fronted on Chisholm Street. From the front of Jones’ shop, he commenced to shoot toward the north, a block up Chisholm at the gang’s horses which were tied at the front of the Red Light, killing or disabling them.77
It was during this time that George Spear was shot and killed while attempting to saddle one of these horses. Although contemporary Oliver Nelson, in his book, The Cowman’s Southwest, states his belief that Spear was killed by a Winchester in the hands of a Deputy Marshal,78 it appears more likely that a bullet from Hubble’s rifle, intentional or not, did the deed.79
The townspeople were enraged. A city resolution was passed to batten the door of, “that sink-hole of iniquity, the Red Light dance house.”80 The Talbot affair and the damming publicity it unleashed unnerved Maggie and feeling the city’s hostility becoming more worrisome, she apparently considered a diversion as witnessed by the Sumner County Press in Wellington: “We are informed that it is her intention to set up an establishment in this city until affairs quiet down somewhat in Caldwell.”81 But the clamor soon subsided—the Red Light thrived in Caldwell and the turbulence continued unabated.
♦ ♦ ♦
77 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, Grant County (Oklahoma) Historical Society, 1975p. 477.
78 Nelson, The Cowman’s Southwest, H. A. Clark, Glendale, California, 1953, p. 33.
79 James Sherman, alias Jim Talbot, stood trial in Sumner County for the murder of Mike Meagher in April of 1895. He was acquitted. In Case Number 699, The State of Kansas vs. James D. Sherman, alias James Talbot, “Mag Wood” was among those listed as witnesses but did not appear.
80 Post, March 16, 1882.
81 Sumner County Press, December 22, 1881.
In May of the next year (1882), a grisly event came to
On complaint entered by Margaret Wood, Dave Sharp was arrested on Tuesday morning [May 16], charged with opening the grave in which George Wood’s body was buried and taking from the corpse a diamond pin. An examination of the accused was had before J. D. Kelly, Esq., and the accused held to bail in the sum of $1,000 for his appearance at the next term of the District Court. He gave bail, Henry LeBreton [Owner of the Texas Saloon and Caldwell’s most notorious professional gambler] becoming his bondsman.
The circumstances which led to the arrest of Sharp we understand to be about as follows. Last winter, shortly after the shooting matinee in which Mike Meagher was killed, a girl who goes by the name of Minnie, and who lived at the Red Light at the time of the shooting, informed Mag Woods that Blanche, another of the demimonde, who was living with George Spear at the time the latter was killed had told her, while they were in Kansas City that George Spear [manager of the Red Light Saloon whom Maggie had held in trust and who was shot while saddling a horse in front of the Red Light during the Talbot Raid] and Dave Sharp had opened George Wood’s grave and taken the diamond pin from his body. The statement of the girl Minnie was given little attention until a few days ago, when Mag became impressed with the idea that the girl’s story must be true, and on Monday night she had an interview with Blanche in whom the latter gave all the details connected with the affair.
In summary, the article related Blanche’s story:
. . .one night shortly after Wood was buried George Spear and Dave Sharp started out with a spade and some tools; . . . [Blanche] inquired as to where they were going. . . . Spear answered that they were going sky-larking. Not satisfied . . . she followed the men, who took a direct course for the
cemetery; . . .finding the grave, they built a small fire by the side of it and began to dig. . . When they were fairly at work, Blanche went up to them and from that time was a close spectator of all that transpired. When the earth had been removed to the box which contained the casket, they broke the top off with a hatchet, then broke the lid and glass of the case, removed the diamond pin from the shirt front of the body, and then filled in the earth, never taking any trouble to fix the casket so that the dirt would not fall in upon the body. . . They also threw in the pieces of burning wood and coals of the fire they had kindled and returned to town.
After the arrest of Sharp, and at the request of Mag Woods, . . . [various officials] went to the cemetery to take up the body and examine it. . .
The surface of the grave showed indications of having been disturbed, and as the removal of the earth proceeded, they found a piece of the lid of the coffin, then coals and burnt wood . . . and finally the broken box and the broken coffin. The coffin was taken out of the grave, the body removed from it and a strict examination made.
There on the shirt front were the markes [sic] of the pin . . .82
George Spear, successor to George Wood as keeper of the Red Light Saloon, was buried in the adjacent plot north of his predecessor; the man whose grave he and David Sharp had ghoulishly violated in pursuit of the infamous diamond stick-pin. His stone reads “George Spear—Murdered. ”
82 Commercial, May 18, 1882.
Three in a row
In a bizarre twist of fate—three gunshot Red Light saloonkeepers now lie side-by-side in the Caldwell Cemetery.
♦ ♦ ♦
On June 12, 1882, within a day or two of David Sharp’s trial for his participation in the diamond stickpin affair, Marshal George Brown, a gunsmith and Caldwell’s new lawman of barely two months, entered the Red Light and escorted Maggie to Judge J.D. Kelley’s police court where she was fined for the seventh time in Caldwell for “running a house of ill repute.”83 It was to be Maggie’s last arrest in Caldwell.
About a week later:
On the morning of June 22nd, 1882, two Texans rode into the town of Caldwell. They put their horses in the livery stable and immediately went to a saloon where they filed themselves with
83 Police Dockets, Caldwell City Offices.
the vile stuff known as whiskey. They soon made themselves conspicuous in the eyes of the citizens by the various feats which they displayed with their sixshooters. At last they seek the noted “Red Light,” kept by the notorious Mag Woods, and there they indulge in drinking more whiskey and enjoying the society of the inmates of this vile den.
They annoy the passing citizen by their profane and obscene language, and frighten the wives of the citizens who live in that immediate neighborhood, by the frequent firing of their sixshooters.84
Again, and for the last time, Marshal George Brown entered the Red Light; this time to stop the disturbance and to relieve the Texans of their six-shooters.
The Caldwell Commercial reported:
Arriving at the Red Light, Brown and [Constable Willis] Metcalf proceeded up stairs, the former in the lead. On reaching the top of the stairs they found three men, one of whom had a pistol in his hand. Brown laid his hand on the man with the pistol and told him to give it up. The latter replied “let go of me,” when Brown grasped hold of the fellow’s arm and pressed it against the wall. Meantime, another man grasped Metcalf by the throat and backed him up into the corner, at the same time telling him to hold up his hands, the order being enforced by another who held a pistol at his head.
Just then another man jumped out of a room across the stairway and to the right of where Brown and the man he was holding stood, and called out “Turn him loose.” This seems to have attracted Brown’s attention momentarily, but that moment was most fatal to him, for the man whom he held turned his wrist and fired, the ball from the weapon crashing through the Marshal’s head, and he fell to the floor dead, without a struggle or a groan . . .
84 Freeman, Midnight, pp. 207.
On going to the Red Light, we found the body of George Brown at the head of the stairs, his face covered with a clot of blood and his brains spattered on the wall and floor of the building, while the gore dripped through the floor to the rooms below.85
The desperadoes rode south out of town, “on their way to the [Indian] Territory, the refuge for every fiend who perpetrates a crime upon the southern border of Kansas.”86
The Wichita Beacon ran a story similar to that above. The reporter, who seemingly had forgotten the attempt upon Mike Meagher’s life in Wichita, was moved to end his write-up on the Brown murder with the observation:
. . .Caldwell is having a worse experience than ever Wichita had. We never had an officer killed, or even assaulted with deadly intent in all the wild days of the cattle trade here.87
♦ ♦ ♦
A Caldwell temperance association with an attendance of about 100 had been in place by October 1880 although saloons were still legal. From its earliest days, Caldwell had officially condemned prostitution, but nevertheless condoned the brothels as a necessary evil, an essential inducement to insure continued cattle trade. Several unimpassioned attempts were made through the years to purge the harlotry from the town but their efforts were met by stiff resistance.
Three city ordinances that had been established were particularly troublesome to those vying to maintain an “open” city. An ominous letter was sent to the mayor voicing yet stiffer opposition. The letter was reproduced in the Post:
Dec. 26th 81 CALDWELL KS
85 Post, June 22, 1882.
86 Ibid, December 29, 1881.
87 Wichita (Kansas) Beacon, June 28, 1882.
We think that you had better take a tumble to yourself if we let you go on you will imagen (sic) that you are a king our advice to you would be for you to resign from office We will give you 24 hours to eather [sic] remove those last ordinances No 14 No 15 No 16 or resign your office if within 24 hours you have not complied wit [sic] eather [sic] we will find some mode to remove you that wont be very satisfactory to your hide.
from the
But the consensus of opinion in the city was steadily swinging to the position that the Red Light Saloon could no longer be tolerated. From its conception, it had seemed hell-bent for oblivion. The murder of Marshal George Brown was the finale that brought the curtain down on the Red Light. Maggie had had enough of murder and mayhem. She put the Red Light up for sale.
RED LIGHT FOR SALE The property known as the “Red Light” is offered for sale. The house and lot will be sold separately or together. For particulars apply in the Savings Bank.89
Within a week, a consortium of local businessmen raised funds and purchased the Red Light:90
Before the committee got half way around with the subscription paper last week, they had enough money ($400) to purchase the old Red Light building. It was purchased and deeded over to Wm. Corzine, who holds it for sale. When sold, the money will be divided pro rata among those contributing to the purchase fund. It has been closed up, the keeper of it, Mag Woods, going to Wichita, and the girls scattering out over the
88 Post, December 29, 1881.
89 Commercial, June 22, 1882.
90 Several supposed non-fictional accounts mistakenly relate that Maggie set the Red Light ablaze just before leaving Caldwell.
country, some taking private houses and others going to Wellington and Hunnewell. That old building has been the cause of more murders than any other house of the kind in the Southwest.91
But the company of the young ladies could still be had in Caldwell after Maggie’s departure. Two bordellos continued to flourish. Dell Black’s place at 107 Main Street was the next target of the city. But, after Maggie, Poley Bright was by far the most nefarious baud in Caldwell. It is said “Poley Bright’s place took the place of the old Red Light.” One of Maggie’s original girls, Bright outlasted all the other prostitutes in Caldwell. She was the third dove of that era to be arrested in Caldwell and was also the last when prostitution was finally purged in December of 1885. The record shows that she had more arrests by far than any other prostitute in Caldwell. Unaccountably, she was never fined as a madam.
By the latter part of 1885, Caldwell had finally become serious about putting an end to prostitution. The trail drives had dwindled, the town sought respectability and the last of the doves were flushed.
All of the bedlam, ferment, riot and carnage that caused such upheaval in Caldwell during the reign of the Red Light Saloon transpired in a span of barely two years.92
Post, July 6, 1882. After the Red Light was sold, the building was moved and used for grain storage and as an implement warehouse. By 1886, it had been utilized as a telephone exchange.
92 A document can be found in Fred Kuhlman’s probate records wherein Maggie petitions the court to be allowed to sell the old Red Light building in Hunnewell. In the document, penned in May 1884, she describes the property as being:
♦ ♦ ♦
When 24 year old Maggie returned to her old familiar haunts in Wichita, she must have been financially well-to-do if not outright wealthy. The Red Light proved to be a bonanza and is thought to have been by far the most lucrative of all the businesses in Caldwell. She owned an unknown number of saloon/brothel establishments; 160 acres in Butler County; 80 acres in Sedgwick County; numerous town lots in Caldwell, Wellington, Hunnewell and Clearwater in addition to all of the real estate she and George had owned in Wichita before going to Caldwell.
On March 16, 1883, Maggie married James “Big Jim” Cavner, her former employee and one-time manager of the Hunnewell Red Light Saloon. Her marriage to Big Jim proved to be a tumultuous and unhappy one. Cavner in no way measured up to George Wood’s stature. He drank excessively and became violent at times. Maggie was the breadwinner, made the decisions, and conducted all of the many business transactions that followed their marriage.
Maggie filed for divorce in August of 1885, but it was never finalized. In her petition she relates Big Jim’s refusal to provide a livelihood for the family including “a small child.” James and Maggie were married March 13, 1883 and the petition for divorce93 (which mentioned the child) was filed August 17, 1885, so the “small child” could have been fathered by either of her husbands.
. . .unoccupied and has been for a number of months last past and that the same is deteriorating very much in value, that the same is becoming rickety; the windows and sash are being stolen and taken out, and that the same is liable to fall down during any hard storm which is liable to happen any day and that if said building remains where it is any considerable time it will become almost valueless except for fire wood; that to repair the same would be a greater expense that it could be sold for after the same should be repaired.
93 Case #4333, Petition for Divorce, District Court of Sedgwick County
She shamelessly continued her decadent lifestyle and is found as the defendant in nine cases listed in the Sedgwick County “District Court General Defendants Index.” One of her escapades developed into a downright lethal feud. As best as can be ascertained, the scenario unfolded as follows:
For some unknown reason, in mid December 1884, Maggie vented her wrath upon Lizzie McCormack, another lady of “low moraltude,” and beat her up severely. McCormack then took Maggie to court for assault and battery. Lizzie Dale, believed to be a competing madam, had witnessed the beating and testified against Maggie. McCormack won her lawsuit and a $500 judgment against Maggie. Defiantly, Maggie refused to pay McCormack the $500 award, so McCormack hired attorney W.P. “Tiger Bill” Campbell to recover the $500 that Maggie refused to pay. Campbell went to work and prepared McCormack’s case for trial. Upon the realization that she would eventually be compelled to pay an amount far in excess of the original $500, Maggie made up with McCormack; they settled for $350, and McCormack dropped the charges. Tiger Bill then sued Maggie to recover the fees for the services already rendered on McCormack’s behalf and for the fee he would have received had he won the case, an absolute certainty. Maggie lost the lawsuit. Infuriated, she assaulted Lizzie Dale in retaliation for her damming testimony.
The assault inspired the Wichita Eagle to narrate a lengthy, but amusing, chronicle describing the incident. An abbreviated version follows.
Wichita Weekly Eagle 26 Dec 1884 Front page
Mag Woods on the Rampage in Company with Her Chief of Staff.
She Invades the Camp of Lizzie Dale, and a Bloody Battle Ensues,
In Which the Enemy is defeated and Left for Dead on the Field.
About ten o’clock night before last, Mag Woods, a well-known character, accompanied by a colored girl who lives with her, went to the house of Lizzie Dale, who keeps a house of ill shape near the Santa Fe track, just north of the Diamond mills. A quarrel ensued; pistols, fists, foot and billies were freely used which resulted in the Dale woman getting badly used up.
Learning that the belligerents would be in the police court yesterday morning an Eagle reporter invaded the court intent on getting the particulars.
Upon entering he found his honor in conversation with a plump, well fed looking negress whose appearance was strongly suggestive of the Queen of Spades. This damsel he soon learned was one of Mag Woods’ cabinet and the one who stood by her in the recent battle. Presently the fragile Mag herself waltzed in court following by Marshal Cairnes and another officer. She told her side of the story and plead guilty to the charge of assault and battery.
The court readily assented and her most gracious majesty forked over the $7 which His Honor raked into the till.
Soon after, our reporter met Marshal Cairns, who wore a determined look. He informed our man of the pencil that he had learned the true inwardness of the case and that is was altogether different from the story told by Mag and the Queen of Spades, and that the matter would not drop here.
[Marshal Cairns and] . . . our reporter visited the mansion of the wounded woman to get the other side of the story. She was in bed and badly used up; one bone of the right leg was broken above the ankle, her spine is injured, her right shoulder dislocated and her elbow out, her head is covered with lumps, where she says Mag and her sable companion pounded her with a billy or some other hard substance. Her account of the affair was that Madam Woods and the colored girl came
there at the time mentioned and burst in the door.
. . . Woods pulled her revolver and leveled it at her, she knocked her arm up and the ball entered the ceiling in the next room; the other then drew her gun, which she says was too small to do any damage, and peppered away at Mag. Five shots in all were fired, but it appears with little effect. The Dale girl says that Woods then knocked her down with a billy and then she and the Queen of Spades jumped on her and stamped and kicked her until they supposed she was dead, then they left. There were other girls in an adjoining room but, it is said, the negress held the door shut so they could not come to the assistance of the comrade.
. . . Police Officer J. Marlette hastened to the field of battle and found the woman almost dead.
During the day the excitement among the demimonde was at fever heat. Yesterday evening a state warrant was issued by Justice Thomas for the arrest of Woods and the negress. They were brought in and placed under bonds to answer the charge of assault with intent to kill, at the next term of the district court. Mag’s bond was fixed at $500,94 which she promptly furnished. The sable queen’s bond was $100, which was also given.
♦ ♦ ♦
In 1887, Maggie’s story became entwined with that of the surviving family of her dead husband, George, in their fight for the legacy of his father, Capt. William Wood.
The silver claim that Capt. Wood had helped discover came to be known as the Emma Mine. In 1880, shortly after his death, the Emma Mine was acquired by Mr. Jerome B. Wheeler, a wealthy half owner of Macy’s Department Story in New York City. In September, 1884, the Emma Mine proved to be a bonanza.95 Sometime later,
94 It should be noted that due to inflation, it would require 24 of today’s dollars to purchase what one dollar would buy in 1884. Maggie’s $500 fine would equal a $12,000 fine today.
95 Deed of Conveyance, T.A. Green & Heirs filed April 26, 1894.
Wheeler located all of the heirs of Capt. Wood and, unaware of the mine’s potential, they all sold their shares for a pittance.
The great wealth produced by the Emma Mine made Wheeler a powerfully dominating force in the valley and made possible the discovery, acquisition, and development of many other mines and interests in the surrounding countryside. Wheeler renamed Ute City, Aspen, and the area boomed. The Emma Mine, as well as other developments that the mine’s proceeds had engendered; and all the holdings that Wheeler had amassed as a result; culminated in a tremendous empire that, in 1885, coalesced as the Aspen Mining and Smelting Company.96
Maggie, as George Wood’s widow, thus his legal heir, and Margaret (Wood) Billings, Captain Wood’s widow, since remarried, suspected they had been duped and believed they had “certain rights in the Emma Mine and its proceeds.” On June 23, 1887, they traveled to Aspen, and retained attorneys Joseph Baxter and T.D.W. Yonley for a 50% share in any recovery of the proceeds fraudulently usurped from the Captain’s legacy.97 The rest of the Wood heirs retained representation and the original Wood case was filed against Wheeler in circuit court for the District of Colorado on April 14, 1888.98 Wheeler proved to be a daunting nemesis to the Wood heirs.
The following article, found in a July 13, 1882, Colorado City Iris newspaper, effectively tells the story:
In 1879, Wm. J. Wood of Owen Sound, Canada, came to Colorado to make his fortune.
After much prospecting without success, he, with two other men, one of whom was Archie C. Fisk, of Denver, discovered the now famous Aspen [Emma Mine] mine in the year 1881 [should be 1880]. For a time, this mine was not developed, and no one
96 Billings et al v. Aspen Mining & Smelting Co. et al (Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. July 5, 1892) No 30.
97 Baxter v. Billings et. al. (Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. November 15, 1897) No 873.
98 US Supreme Court - Aspen Mining & Smelting vs. Billings.
knew exactly the value of it. Jerome B. Wheeler thought the property might be worth something and bought Colonel Fisk’s interest for $5,000.
Then, Wm. J. Wood passed off the stage and out of mind, dying in Leadville [Colorado], sometime later. He had not communicated with his family or friends for years and they knew nothing about his death or his great discovery.
Mr. Wheeler soon found that he had a bonanza and feeling uneasy about the title, he employed two Pinkerton detectives to hunt up the heirs of Wood and, if possible, secure quit claim deeds from them for Wm. J. Wood’s share in the mine.
The heirs were found and, on the representation that the mine was not worth much and that Wood had forfeited his interest by failing to pay his assessment, or something of that sort, they gave quit claim deeds for almost a song. They never had heard anything about any mine before and were glad to get anything under the circumstances. The widow, who afterwards married a man named Billings, accepted $2,500: the daughter [daughter-in-law], Maggie Cavner, also received $2,500 and each of the other heirs signed away their rights for $250 apiece, the total amount paid by Mr. Wheeler for Wood’s third interest being $6,000.
As the output of the mine since it was first operated has been about $10,000,000, and ore is being taken out at the present time at the rate of about $1,000,000 per year, it can easily be seen that he made a good bargain as far as it went, but it did not go far enough, according to the ideas of the United States Court of Appeals and, by its decision, all these quit claim deeds are cancelled and an accounting is to be made to them which will make them one-third owners of the profits on the output up to the present time, which will make about $3,000,000 to be divided among seven heirs.
The Wood heirs’ tumultuous seven year fight involved a multitude of lawyers; highlighted exhilarating wins, dispiriting losses, appeals and counter-appeals. Passionately heated debates arose, at one point prompting attorney Thomas A. Green to pull a revolver in court session and threaten the opposing lawyer, David M. Hyman.99 The hotly fought litigation eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
At the end of the fight in April, 1895,100 Wheeler’s final appeal failed. Because the Emma Mine was the progenitor that facilitated the accumulation of all the associated holdings that had been amassed, the Wood heirs won one half ownership of the total assets of the Aspen Mining and Smelting Company. The decree included, among other things, the company’s railroad holdings, eighty-one silver mines, and a staggering horde of real-estate in and around Aspen.101 Jerome B. Wheeler soon
met ruin.102
Because available records of the morass of litigation create a tangled, nearly impossible to follow trail of events that lead to the final decree, it is unclear whether Maggie participated in the payoff or not. On January 23, 1893, the heirs won their appeal to invalidate the original sales of their shares to Wheeler on grounds that they were ignorant of the mine’s value. However, Maggie’s sale of her share to Wheeler was not reversed at that time but was upheld as a valid sale.103 In the August 27, 1894, judgment of Eighth Circuit Court, Judge John A. Biner upheld the earlier decision that Maggie had sold her share to Wheeler
99 Aspen Weekly Times, January 28, 1893.
100 Ibid, April 6, 1895.
101 Indenture providing for transfer of assets filed March 29, 1895.
102 Perhaps Wheeler’s most lasting bequest to the city of Aspen was the magnificent structure he named Hotel Jerome. Interestingly, in 1892, the hotel was sold for $125,000 to Archie C. Fisk who with Captain William Wood, shared in the discovery of the Emma Mine. The stately four star luxury hotel still stands in Aspen and is listed in the National Register of Historical Places.
103 Final Decree on Accounting, Eighth Circuit Court, August 27, 1894.
sometime between 1885 and 1887 for $2,500.104 Maggie contested that decision.
If she did win her share, she was able to enjoy it for only a short time. An article in the November 11, 1895, issue of the Colorado City, Colorado,105 Iris announced:
Miss Maggie Cavner died in this city Wednesday morning [November 27, 1895], after a protracted illness. The deceased was one of the plaintiffs in the celebrated suit wherein the Woods heirs recovered a portion of the property of the Aspen mining company.
She was 38 years old. In an article entitled “Mag Wood Secures a Fortune” the January 23, 1896, Caldwell News purports to confirm that she did win a share of the legacy.
After the final decree, Joseph Baxter, the Denver attorney that had worked diligently all those years and finally succeeded in winning the case for Maggie (by then deceased) and Margaret Billings, found it necessary to sue Billings to recover his fee for legal services rendered: $134,748. She refused to pay on the premise that she had contracted with the law firm of Baxter and Yonley to conduct their fight for their share of the legacy. Yonley died January 1, 1888, shortly after the contract was made. Billings’ position was that Yonley, having died, failed to participate in the work, thereby voiding the contract.106 Incredibly, Mrs. Billings won!107
104 WHEELER et al. v. BILLINGS et al, Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. December 30, 1895.
105 Colorado City is now a part of Colorado Springs.
106 Aspen Weekly Times, October 26, 1895.
107 Ibid, August 1, 1896. Maggie’s mother-in-law’s obituary describes how she became the most prominent and well known woman in the Owen Sound region due to her newfound wealth. (Owen Sound Tribune, January 24, 1918)
A Chronology of notes, and Related Articles
Stuff I researched over a number of years relating to Maggie Wood’s (of Red Light Saloon fame) pursuit of her dead husband’s legacy
Original Petitioners: Wood family of Owen Sound:
Margaret Wood
Matildia Wood
Thomas E. Wood Charles E. Wood
Mother (later Mrs. William [Margaret] Billings)
Daughter (m. William G. Scott 1887 - d.1888)
Son (of Empire, Colorado)
Son (of Empire, Colorado)
James O. Wood, Capt. Son (of Milwaukee, WI &
Chicago, IL) “A sailor on Lake Michigan” aka Orman Alexander Wood
William H. Wood Son (lunatic in Topeka, Ks.
asylum - d. 3/31/01)
Hiram Asa. Wood Son (Owen Sound, Ontario
Other Petitioners:
William G. Scott Widower of Matildia Wood
Maggie Cavner Widow of George B. Wood
(maiden name: Margaret Ann
Gillion - b. Arkansas, 1857-8)
Richard J. Doyle An attorney? Deed of Trust with
heirs of 1885
1852 - George Wood’s mother, Margaret Bolton, Married William J. Wood (remarried after William’s death - then became Margaret Billings)
(Margaret Billings obituary)
1864 - George Wood’s father, Capt. William J. Wood, moved his family to Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. (Georgian Bay/Lake Huron)
(Margaret Billings obituary)
1870 - April 10, 1870 Capt. William J. Wood left his family in Canada and moved with his son, George, to Greenwood County, Kansas, where he claimed to have gained U.S. citizenship. “. . . an entry of land made by one William Wood in Greenwood county, Kan. . . “ “. . . shows that William Wood was the head of a family consisting of a wife and seven children, and that he had resided with his family on the land from September 20, 1870, to the date of entry, April 8 1871.
(Wood et al. v. Aspen Mining & Smelting Co. et al. Circuit Court, D. Colorado. August 18. 1888)
1878 - William A. Wood (Jr. - son of Capt. William J. Wood) is committed to insane asylum in Topeka, KS. November 9,
1878 (shown variously as William A. and William H.)
(Aspen Weekly Times, 12 Dec 1896)
1879 - Capt. William J. Wood is a farmer living in Sedgwick County. (his son, George B., later to be Maggie’s husband, lives with him during this time.)
(Wichita Eagle, June 19, 1879)
1879 - Prospectors first entered the Roaring Fork Valley in 1879 and established the mining camp of Ute City, later renamed Aspen.
1880 - William (the elder) J. Wood, Owen Sound, Canada, arrived in Colorado from Eureka, Kansas in April, 1880
(Wood et al. v. Aspen Mining & Smelting Co. et al. Circuit Court, D. Colorado. August 18, 1888)
1880 - April 24, 1880 William J. Wood along with Archie C. Fisk and Andrew Kirkpatrick located the Emma lode mining claim and filed on July 26, 1880.
(Billings et al v Aspen Mining & Smelting Co. et al) (Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. July 5, 1892) No 30)
1880 - William J. Wood died in Leadville, Colorado, October 14, 1880, intestate.
(Aspen Weekly Times, 22 Mar 1890)
1881 - 18 Aug 1881 - George B. Wood is killed in the Red Light Saloon in Caldwell, KS.
1883 - Wheeler, of New York and half owner of Macy’s, invests in mining properties in Aspen.
1884 - Emma became a productive mine “sometime in the fall of 1884.”
( Deed of Conveyance - T.A. Green & Heirs filed 26 Apr 1894)
1885 - Wheeler sent attorney James H. Devereux to Owen Sound to make first contact with Margaret Billings and heirs.
(Billings et al v Aspen Mining & Smelting Co. et al (Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. July 5, 1892) No 30)
1885 - Billings and some of the heirs sell their shares to James H. Devereux, an agent buying for Wheeler ignorant of their worth. Billings received $2,500; her son, William J. Wood, $230; and son Charles, $266.66. Later, sons James and Charles sold for “like amounts.” Sometime later, Maggie, after researching the mine through various attorneys both in Wichita and in Leadville, Colorado, she sold her share to Devereux for Wheeler for $2,500.
(Billings et al v Aspen Mining & Smelting Co. et al (Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. July 5, 1892) No 30)
1885 - Maggie (Wood) Cavner files for divorce from second husband, James Cavner. No record found confirming decree.
(Case #4333 - Brief Filed in District Court of Sedgwick County Kansas)
1885 - November 1885 Wheeler incorporated the Aspen Mining & Smelting Co., is its president and on Nov. 30, 1885, conveyed his interest and title for the Emma Mine to the new company.
(Billings et al v Aspen Mining & Smelting Co. et al (Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. July 5, 1892) No 30)
1887 - Margaret Billings traveled to Aspen. On June 23, 1887, “Margaret Billings had and Margaret Cavner thought she had, certain rights in the Emma Mine and its proceeds.” and retained attorneys Baxter & Yonley for a 50% share in proceeds. (Yonley died Jan. 1, 1888.)
(Baxter v. Billings et. al. (Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. Nov. 15, 1897) No 873)
1887 - Charles on 15 Jul 1887; Thomas on 18 Jul 1887; James on 21 Jul 1887, and Hiram Wood contracted with Attorney J.A. Casserleigh to attempt to recover shares of 1/3 of the Emma Mine. Casserleigh contracted with Attorney Thomas A. Green to conduct the litigation Casserleigh is to pay expenses only.
(Agreement filed in Pitkin Co. Courthouse 27 Mar 1895)
1888 - William J. Wood’s daughter, Matildia (Scott), died. Her Husband, William G. Scott, a citizen of New Jersey, says he married Matildia in Canada in 1887 and that she died one year after the marriage. He filed for her share as her heir.
1888 - Original case was filed in circuit court for the
District of Colorado by Wood Heirs on April 14, 1888. Margaret Billings, James and Charles Wood, and Maggie Cavner are the original complainants; later joined by Thomas, underage Hiram and insane William Jr.
(US Supreme Court - Aspen Mining & Smelting vs. Billings)
1888 - Durant and Aspen mines are consolidated forming the Compromise Mine Company. Emma was absorbed into the Compromise. The Compromise is owned by the Aspen Mining & Smelting Company.
1888 - 7 Jul 1888 - Maggie (Wood) Cavner contracted
with Attorney J.A. Casserleigh to attempt to recover George Wood’s share of 1/3 of the Emma Mine. Casserleigh
contracted with Attorney Thomas A. Green to conduct the litigation. Casserleigh to pay expenses only.
(Agreement filed in Pitkin Co. Courthouse, Jan 1893)
1888 - Contract was made 23 Aug 1888: Attorney B.
Lowe to finance suit for William J. Wood’s son-in-law, William G. Scott, for half of potential award. Scott’s wife, Matildia, William Wood’s daughter’ had died previously as had the Scotts’ daughter leaving Scott to believe he was heir.
(Aspen Weekly Times, 5 Apr 1890)
1889 - 24 Aug 1889 - William J. Wood’s widow, Margaret Billings (now remarried,) assumes their son, Hiram’s, power of attorney.
(Power of Attorney recorded in Pitkin County Courthouse 27 Mar 1895)
1890 - May 10, 1890 - Original case begins to be heard in court.
October 20, 1890 - Heirs lost original case dismissed.
October 25, 1890 - Heirs appealed, filed for re-hearing and were denied.
May 5, 1891 - Heirs appealed to US Supreme court.
July 2, 1891 - Heirs filed suit in the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St Louis, Mo.
October 1891 - Original decree was reversed and remanded to the circuit court.
(Following was a lengthy and complicated fight over jurisdiction and right to appeal, and validity of certain writs of error.)
(US Supreme Court - Aspen Mining & Smelting vs. Billings)
1891 - Aspen is the largest silver producing district annually in the nation with one sixth of the US total and 1/16 world total.
(A brief Timeline of Aspen History -
1891 - Jerome Wheeler declared bankruptcy.
1892 - Maggie is listed as “Wood” rather than “Cavner” on an Aspen real estate Deed.
(Deed dated June 14, 1892 - Aspen, Colorado)
1892 - July 5, 1892 Court declares Maggie Cavner’s
original sale to Wheeler for $2,500 was legal and binding. Later overturned?
(Billings et al v Aspen Mining & Smelting Co. et al (Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. July 5, 1892) No 30)
1892 - Article refers to heirs’ appeal of 2 Jul 1891 above. Reports that an application for rehearing would be filed in St. Louis Court of Appeals.
(Aspen Weekly Times, 16 Jul 1892)
1893 - 21 Jan 1893 (filed for record August 27, 1894 -see “1894 - 27 Aug 1894 - Judgment . . .”) - Circuit Court for the Eighth judicial Circuit entered final decree. Wood heirs won their appeal and 1/3 interest. The judge appointed Sanford Hinsdale, Master of Chancery, to determine what the heirs were entitled to. Hinsdale completed part but not all of the task. (Their appeal was to invalidate the original sales of their shares to Wheeler on grounds that they were ignorant of the mine’s value. Maggie Cavner’s sale of her share to Wheeler was not reversed but was upheld as a valid sale. (Item Fifth: “The one-forty second interest in said Emma Lode and Mining Claim, known as the Maggie Cavner interest, now owned by the said defendants, Jerome B. Wheeler and the Aspen Mining and Smelting Company is expressly excluded from this accounting and from this decree.”) Maggie’s sale of her share later revalidated?
(Eighth Circuit Court - Final Decree on Accounting, 27 Aug 1894)
1893 - 28 Jan 1893 - Article refers to the decree for
accounting above.
(Aspen Weekly Times, 28 Jan 1893)
1893 - 28 Jan 1893 - Article relates story of T.A Green drawing his revolver in court against David M. Hyman during course of testimony in Woods’ case.
(Aspen Weekly Times, 28 Jan 1893)
1893 - 4 Feb 1893 - J. B. Wheeler appears at hearing to disclose the output of the Emma Mine.
(Aspen Weekly Times, 4 Feb 1893)
1893 - 1 Apr 1893 - At that time, progress seemed to
favor Wheeler. U.S. Supreme Court took the case because the Appellate Court had no jurisdiction.
(Aspen Weekly Times, 1 Apr 1893)
1893 - October 23, 1893 - Aspen Mining & Smelting
appealed to the US Supreme Court. Their appeal was denied.
(US Supreme Court - Aspen Mining & Smelting vs Billings)
1893 - November 9, 1893 - Article names some of the heirs. Declares Capt. James Wood is a sailor on Lake Michigan and names Maggie Cavner as an heir living in Canada. Says each heir will get $500k cash initially.
(Greeley Tribune, 9 Nov 1893)
1894 - 26 Apr 1894 - Deed of Conveyance - Wood siblings and Margaret Billings conveyed one half of any and all potential recovered to T.A. Green (and associates)
(Deed of Conveyance - T.A. Green & Heirs filed 26 Apr 1894)
1894 - 18 Jun 1894 - Circuit Court for the Eighth judicial Circuit judge appointed Adolphus Capron, Master of Chancery, to complete determination of what the heirs were entitled to.
(Eighth Circuit Court - Final Decree on Accounting, 27 Aug 1894)
1894 - 27 Aug 1894 - Judgment of Eighth Circuit Court -Judge John A. Biner:
1. Each heir to be paid $434,008.58 as their share of ore previously taken.
2. Each heir to receive 304 shares of capital stock of the Compromise Mining Co. and 3,988 acres of surface ground of the Emma claim. (Are there deeds attesting to this?)
3. Each heir to receive another $104,984.05 payment for ore taken between 1 Jan 1893 and 16 Jul 1894.
4. Richard J. Doyle was excluded.
5. Margaret Cavner was excluded. (she had sold her share to Wheeler between 1885 and 1887 for $2,500) See WHEELER et al. v. BILLINGS et al. (Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. December 30, 1895.) (Note: The sale to Wheeler was later contested.)
6. William G. Scott was excluded. (Litigating in a separate suit.) This judgment was appealed by Wheeler.
(Eighth Circuit Court - Final Decree on Accounting 27 Aug 1894)
1895 - 19 Jan 1895 - “The Emma Mine case of the Woods heirs, Jerome B. Wheeler and the Aspen Mining and Smelting Company, has been settled. The appeal now pending in the US Court of Appeals at St. Louis is to be dismissed by Wheeler . . . They agree to convey an undivided half interest in a group of eighteen mines at Aspen to the plaintiffs. The properties involved are valued at between $5,000,000 and $10,000,000. The suit has been in court for seven years.”
(The New York Times, 20 Jan 1895)
1895 - 15 Feb 1895 - Indenture transferring property
from J.B. Wheeler & Aspen Mining & Smelting Company to Margaret Billings - 1/4 of ½ interest in:
Eighty-one silver mines and claims
All other mining and placer claims, properties or leases All houses & buildings
All town lots in Aspen (or, apparently, anywhere else)
All railroad, pumping, or other mining machinery (Virtually ¼ of the total assets of the Aspen Mining & Smelting Company)
(Indenture providing for transfer of assets filed 29 Mar 1895)
1895 - 15 Feb 1895 - Transfers of property from J.B.
Wheeler & Aspen Mining & Smelting Company to each Wood sibling of 1/20 of ½ interest in:
Eighty-one silver mines and claims
All other mining and placer claims, properties or leases All houses & buildings
All town lots in Aspen (or, apparently, anywhere else)
All railroad, pumping, or other mining machinery (1/20 of Aspen Mining & Smelting Co to each sibling)
(Individual Indentures providing for transfer of assets filed 29 Mar 1895)
1895 - 26 Mar 1895 - Wheeler’s appeal is still pending in Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The text is ambiguous— could mean two different things:
Heirs and their attorney, T.A. Green, may have conceded and relinquished their previous conveyances and settled for the $538,993.63. Or, the decree may have been the heirs’ formal declaration that they had received the money and property and therefore were formally releasing Wheeler from any additionally liability.
However, see Aspen Weekly Times article next
(Satisfaction of Decree, Filed 26 Mar 1895)
1895 - 4 Apr 1895 - Suit [of 27 Aug 1894 or Wheeler’s appeal of same?] was settled “several days” before the 4th (of April) in favor of Wood heirs to recover interest in Emma Mine “and other mines, all at Aspen.” Reports that heirs won one half interest in Emma and the Aspen Mining & Smelting Company’s property in Colorado plus $539,000 cash.
(Aspen Weekly Times, 6 Apr 1895)
1895 - 12 Jul 1895 - Suit was filed by Felix T. Hughes
against Attorney T. A. Green. Hughes claimed to have provided $35,000 support to Green as Green worked the heirs’ suit. Hughes’ suit names Thomas O. Wood and only 2 Wood heirs:
Charles E. Wood Margaret Billings
(Aspen Weekly Times, 13 Jul 1895)
1895 - 26 Oct 1895 - Denver attorney, Joseph N. Baxter, sues for attorney’s fees of $134,748 for legal services rendered. Defendants named are:
Margaret Billings (did not indicate “et al”)
Margaret Cayner [Cavner] (was excluded from 27 Aug 1894 decree)
Aspen Mining & Smelting
Baxter claimed that he and T. D. W. Yonley were to get ½ of Wood heir’s award for their services. The article reports
that this is “one of a series” of legal suits against the Wood heirs.
(Aspen Weekly Times, 26 Oct 1895)
1895 - 27 Nov. 1895 - Maggie dies at age 38 in Colorado City, Colorado.
(Colorado City Iris, 30 Nov 1895)
1895 - Dec. 30, 1895 - Final decree awarding Wood heirs one third of entire assets of the Aspen Mining and Smelting Company.
(WHEELER et al. v. BILLINGS et al. Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. December 30, 1895.)
1895 - Dec. 30, 1895 - Maggie appears to have been omitted from the final payoff “. . . by virtue of the said Wheeler having purchased the one forty-second part or interest in said Emma Mine belonging to the said Maggie Cavner . . .” This refers to her sale of 1885-7. It is unclear whether Maggie was omitted only because she was deceased or if she would have shared in the windfall had she not died earlier. - see next entry
(WHEELER et aI. v. BILLINGS et al. Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. December 30, 1895.)
1896 - 23 Jan 1896 - Article names Maggie Wood
(Margaret/Maggie Cavner) as heir and says each Wood heir gets $187,000.
(Caldwell News, 23 Jan 1896)
1896 - 1 Aug 1896 - Announces that Baxter lost his suit against Margaret Billings. Names Yonley as “Youthley.”
(Aspen Weekly Times, 1 Aug 1896)
The two Margarets had contracted with the law firm of Baxter & Yonley to conduct their fight for their share of the legacy. Yonley died shortly after the contract was made. The surviving attorney, Baxter, diligently carried on by himself for all of those years and finally won their case for them.
Then, Margaret Billings (Maggie having died previously) refused to pay Baxter so Baxter sued her for his fee. Ms. Billings somehow found a lawyer that was even better than Baxter was and went to court against Baxter for
breach of contract on the premise that the contract was made with Baxter and Yonley. Her position was that
Yonley, having died, failed to participate in the work, thereby breaking the contract.
Incredibly, Margaret Baxter won!
1896 - 12 Dec 1896 - Motion to remove Joseph Giedhartz, temporary receiver of William H. Wood’s 1/42 interest and for an accounting of there-to-for payments.
(Aspen Weekly Times, 12 Dec 1896)
1897 - 5 May 1897 - Wheeler in serious financial trouble. Wheeler’s Aspen and Manitou banks both fail. “Wheeler’s downfall by a man named Casserleigh of Kansas City.”
(The New York Times, 5 May 1897)
1901 - Jerome B. Wheeler declares bankruptcy.
(A brief Timeline of Aspen History -
1926 - The Aspen Smelting Company suspends operation.
(A brief Timeline of Aspen History -
Half Interest of these Eighty-One Silver Mines were won by the heirs of Capt. William J. Wood.
Mines located in the Roaring Fork Mining District.
The Spar
The Washington #2 The Emma The Vallejo The Aspen Mammoth The Hercules The Golconda The Hidden Treasure The General Shields The Robert Emmett The J.E.S.
The Chance The Galena The Polo The Piqua The Palisade The Proctor The Penguin The Way Up
Mines located in the Highland
The Mersey
The Mayflower
The Sophia
The Daisy
The Mammoth
The Springfield
The Great Northern Lode
The Black Prince
The Top
The Sunnyside
The Big Alexander
The Betsy Jane
The Millionaire
The Millionaire #2
The Mill-Site
The Humming Bird
The Longfellow
The King Bee
The Page & Miller
The Hidden Treasure #2
The Little Deceiver
The Bertha
The Black Diamond
The Hunter King
The J.B. Wheeler
The 109
The Last Chance The Jeff Davis The Oakland #2
Mining District
The Jennie The Blue Clipper The Emerald The Wilton Belle The J.M.E.
The Rusticuss The Old Reliable The Geneva The Freighter The Spitfire
Mines located in the Columbia Mining District
Legal Tender # 1 The Conundrum
Legal Tender # 2 The Conundrum #2
Legal Tender # 3 The Iron Duke
Legal Tender # 4 The Plutarch
Legal Tender # 5 The Nest Egg
Legal Tender # 6 The Nellie Wash
Legal Tender # 7 The Parnell
The Lot #6716 The Apex
The M.E. The Cleveland
The Comstock Lode
Mines located in the Spring Butte Mining District The Broker Lode
Mines located in the Tin Cup Mining District The John W. Drew
Mines located in the Maroon Mining District
The Homestake Lode The Rilla Lode
Good news hit the streets of Caldwell on June 17, 1880, when the Caldwell Commercial heralded:
The Santa Fe road is completed to Caldwell at last. The first regular passenger train came in on Monday [June 10, 1880], at 1:10 p.m. bringing over eighty passengers, mail and express. Mr. Anthony, the agent at this place, informs us that this will be the main line, and that there will be no change of cars for passengers going through from Caldwell to Kansas City. The mail car will run through to Caldwell instead of Arkansas City, as heretofore.
As the depot is not completed, the agent,
Mr. Geo. H. Anthony, will for the present, have his office in a car at the foot of Sixth Street. Our people will find him a pleasant gentleman, not only willing, but anxious to give the traveling public and shippers all the information at his command. In so far as he can make it, Caldwell will be one of the most popular stations on the line.
On Tuesday [June 11, 1880], the stock yards were so far underway as to enable the road to ship cattle, and on Wednesday [June 12, 1880], the yards were completed and the first train of the season was loaded—ten cars with 203 head—and sent out to Kansas City.
The cattle trade has opened lively. During the past week fully 5,000 head of cattle have changed hands.
The Caldwell Post reported continued development of the stockyard area in its July 15, 1880, edition:
Mr. Wykes has commenced to build in earnest down at the stock yards. He intends to establish a good hotel and restaurant, and will furnish accommodations generally for the men engaged at the stock yards. Mr. Wykes has a splendid well on his premises. He struck water at the depth of twenty five feet, contrary to the many
predictions that he had to go through to China before he could find any.
The Caldwell Commercial added in its July 22, 1880, edition:
A building has been erected and is nearly completed near the stock yards, to be used as a restaurant for the accommodation of the cattle men who have to be engaged at the yards more or less during the day. We do not know the name of the person who will manage the establishment, but we are in formed that it is to be conducted in a manner that will give satisfaction to the patrons of the place. [A Mr. Dunn would become the manager.]
And again on August 5th, added:
Dunn’s restaurant [actually a restaurant/saloon—and I suspect, more saloon than restaurant] at the stock yards is a great accommodation to those who have to be there during shipping time.
In early 2004, while visiting with Dr. D. Scott Kardatzke, the original prime mover of The Museum of World Treasurers in Wichita, about Caldwell’s historical attributes, he became interested and offered to arrange for an affiliated team of archeologists to probe various sites in and around Caldwell. I immediately took him up on the proposition and coordinated a three day campaign that included canvassing the old stockyard area in what is still referred to as “Resser’s Pasture.” Several archeologists accompanied by a number of associated technicians combed a portion the area with metal detectors. A number of bullets, cartridge cases, and coins, etc, were found but nothing of major significance. The foundation of Wykes’ building was located as was his hand dug well mentioned above.
A diver affiliated with the Museum of World Treasures archeologists descends into Wykes’ well close to the site of Dunn’s restaurant / saloon at the state line stockyard area. It was expected that artifacts dropped into the well might be recovered but nothing was found.
The well was hand dug through solid rock; a forbidding task.
♦ ♦ ♦
The Stock Yards
J.C. Lyeth, in addition to his duties as agent of the Santa Fe, has been appointed to take charge of the stock yards at this place. Mr. Lyeth informs us that the plan of the yards is to be changed, diamond chutes to be put in and such other improvements made as to afford speedier and more convenient means for shipping stock. Work on the yards will begin at once, and when finished, the Caldwell stock yards will be the largest and most complete shipping yards in the west. Under Mr. Lyeth’s management, they will be the most popular, and we are greatly mistaken if they don’t send out more cattle the coming season than any other two yards in the state. (Caldwell
Commercial, March 23, 1882)
On November 30, 1882, the Caldwell Post published its reply to a condescending Dodge City Globe article:
Dodge City calls on Caldwell to pass the cake on the cattle-shipping business for the season: but by close figuring, she is not entitled to that bit of sweetness yet, and Caldwell is still the heaviest original shipping point for cattle in the world, and the crowned Queen of the Border.
Dodge has shipped 3,060 and Caldwell 3,100 cars up to date, and how do you like it, Mr.
Upon averaging the figures gleaned from all the information I have found referencing cattle trains, numbers of cattle shipped, etc, I deduced that for practical purposes, a good premise is to consider the average train averaged 20 cattle cars, each with an average capacity of 20 head.
The year 1884 was the peak season in numbers of cattle shipped: 800,000 head (and held the record for paid fares: 3,000 tickets sold). The season of active trail drives was between May 1 and November 15. Consulting a 1884 calendar, and not including Sundays, that amounts to 171 days. Doing the math, an average of 4,678 head would have had to be shipped each day. With each train loaded with an average of 400 head (20 head per car times 20 cars
per train), it would have taken an average of 11.7 train loads per day to ship the 800,000 in the 171 days.
During the peak months, the volume shipped must have been much greater than that of the first and last several weeks of the season. That is because in the beginning of the season, the volume would be sparse and then steadily build going into the peak months; then wane as shipping tapered off toward the end of the season. I think there would have been many days during the peak when 20 or more trains shipped per day.
Taking into account that there was only a single track requiring one hour’s travel time between Caldwell and Wellington with no siding between the two (no siding is shown on any of the several contemporary maps in my collection) I can visualize a logistical nightmare in juggling the trains and keep them running. An item in the Caldwell Commercial comments:
One hundred and twenty cars [six trains] are booked for today, and Lyeth says that he can send them out if the shippers give him the cattle as fast as he can shoot them into the cars.
Photo taken at the State Line stockyards.
The Chisholm Trail makes an abrupt jog where it turns due west crossing Bluff Creek
Following are photos of the ruins of the bridge where the Santa Fe state line stockyard tracks crossed Fall Creek. I am amazed that the trestle pilings are still intact after the countless floods that have since swept through the area
Trestle and pier of 1880 Santa Fe bridge looking north to the abutment on far side of Fall Creek.
From Fall Creek bottom looking up at the stone pier and trestle on the south side of Fall Creek.
At the time that I inserted the photo below into my book, George and Maggie and the Red Light Saloon, I knew nothing about it other than it illustrated “cowpokes” at work. The photograph was later featured in another book, The Vanished Herd, by Al Stehno and Jim Fulbright and was identified as being taken at the Caldwell stockyards. I emailed an inquiry to my friend, Al, asking for any background he was able to share. He reminded me of where I had earlier found the photo when I had used it before—in George Rainey’s book: The Cherokee Strip.
While researching in one of the Oklahoma University library special collection archives, they ran across the original photo used by Rainey in some of Rainey’s effects. Al attached a copy of the scan of the information handwritten on rear of the photo.
The text reads
This is a picture taken at Caldwell Kas 1882 loading cattle for Kansas City. You can see the U or mule shoe as we called it on one of the steers. Robert Dodd the inspector with his foot on the rail was killed in Hunnewell in 83. By Pat Hanley.”
The “U” reference is to the famous “U brand” used by Major Andrew Drumm.
The shooting was reported in the Caldwell Commercial on March 8, 1883:
Dodd Killed at Hunnewell
A report came in late last night to the effect that R.V. Dodd, employed as cattle inspector at Hunnewell, had been killed at that place by Pat Hanley, a herder in the employ of Sylvester Flitch. Dodd left Caldwell for Hunnewell late on Wednesday after noon, and upon arriving at the latter place, hit Hanley with a revolver.
Hanley pulled his pistol and shot Dodd, killing him almost instantly.
This is the story as given us. It is also said that the trouble between the two men was of long standing, and grew out of their relations to one of the prostitutes of Hunnewell.
Remnants of the original Santa Fe tracks can still be found at various Caldwell sites.
Railroad ties still imbedded in the original Santa Fe road bed from 1880.
Eighteen eighty-five and ‘eighty-six saw the demise of Caldwell’s cowtown heyday. Herds were no longer brought up the Trail from Texas; the cattle that were shipped were mostly from the relatively nearby ranches in the Cherokee Outlet. In 1887, the Rock Island rails entered Caldwell and continued far southward beginning a long period of domination of the railroad business. The Santa Fe’s Caldwell business fell off dramatically and was finally discontinued in the early 1960s. (Anyone remember the Doodle Bug?)
Rock Island Engine #97, a 4-4-0, pulls a cattle train at Caldwell in 1887.
This photograph, taken at Caldwell, shows the First Rock Island cattle train ready to pull out from Caldwell enroute to Chicago on September 10, 1887. It appears to be made up of nine 34 foot cattle cars and one passenger and/or express car on the tail end. This photo probably represents the average size makeup of the Santa Fe cattle trains serving the Caldwell cattle trade of a few years earlier except that they averaged 20 smaller cattle cars.
For some unknown reason, the Rock Island didn’t make a deal with the Santa Fe to use their already established tracks between Caldwell and Wellington. Instead, they laid their own rails so that, for years, there were two sets of tracks running parallel all of the way between Caldwell and Wellington.
In a few short years, Caldwell ceased being a cowtown and became a railroad town (and a farming community). Caldwell became a Rock Island division point which meant that every train, coming or going, stopped in Caldwell and changed crews (freight trains, that is—I’m not sure about the Rocket). There was a large roundhouse containing maintenance shops outfitted for major repair and overhaul work. Caldwell’s hotels and boarding houses were kept at almost constant full capacity with the constant cycle of transient railroaders.
The railroad crews worked in back and fourth cycles that had them getting off duty and staying over night after arriving in Caldwell; then going back on duty the next day to make the trip back to the next division point. Herrington was the next division point north and El Reno was the next south. Many railroad families moved into town establishing themselves here and becoming permanent residents.
It should be noted that as Caldwell was a child of the Chisholm Trail in its earliest days, the Rock Island kept the town alive and healthy for many years thereafter. Had the Rock Island not made Caldwell a division point, Caldwell would most likely to have decayed into no more than an insignificant whistle stop or a ghost town.
Dan William Jones was an old time character of Caldwell whose name is currently egregiously neglected. Commanding less than his deserved attention in our popular appreciation of Caldwell’s glory days of the 1880s, Jones should be entitled to adoration equal to that given to Caldwell’s most highly revered luminaries such as Henry Brown, Mike Meagher, Cash Hollister, and Ben Wheeler.
After his purchase and brief ownership of the famous Red Fork Ranch in 1875 (see A True Story of Courage), and serving as a Wellington city marshal in the earlier 70s, Jones came to Caldwell and was appointed Caldwell’s first assistant marshal. He was then re-elected twice, serving the first three appointment/elections consecutively. Then he served off and on thereafter in various capacities as constable, special police, and related lawman duties.
In August of 1879, Jones married the former Miss Jennie Fitzpatrick, daughter of the famed mountain man, Tom Fitzpatrick. Sometime in the early eighties, Jones’ wife opened a ladies’ millinery shop in Caldwell.
Caldwell’s police docket, the initial entry being dated September 6, 1879, recorded Jones’ first arrest on
September 22. On that same day his most embarrassing incident occurred (as recorded in the Post, September 25): the Pistol Down the Privy Chute affair (see the article following). That evening, he and his wife, Jennie, entertained his boss, Marshal George Flatt and his 18 year old bride, Fanny, at the St. Nichols Hotel.
Under his first appointment, Jones’ final arrests as recorded in the police court docket were made November 3, 1879, when he brought in four alleged violators of the law.
On February 5, 1880, he, along with George
Freeman, author of Midnight and Noonday, was appointed constable.
On April 12, 1880, Dan Jones was nominated assistant city marshal by the newly elected mayor of Caldwell, Mike Meagher. The city council confirmed his appointment as well as those of William Horseman, marshal, and James Johnson, policeman.
Jones’ first arrest under this new appointment was made April 19. The Caldwell police court docket stated:
One Jersey, Defendant [a soldier], arrested on the complaint of D. W. Jones Assist. Marshal charging that on the 19 day of April A. D. 1880, at the said City of Caldwell the said Defendant Riding his horse at Full Speed Through the streets of Caldwell.
Deft Pleads Guilty.
Fine $3.00 + cost.
Jersey’s arrest was recorded in the Caldwell Post, April 22, 1880:
One day in the early part of the week one of our noble defenders, holding the exalted rank of corporal in Uncle Sam’s army, was vainly attempting to get up a race with some one. At last he made up his mind he would try to beat his own shadow, so putting spurs to his horse, he went down Main Street like a thousand [illegible] of brick. Dan Jones, our assistant marshal considered himself capable of being referee in the matter and declared “a foul.” The corporal good naturedly paid the city $7 for the use of the race course.
Jones and Policeman Johnson arrested another soldier on April 24, and yet another on April 29:
On Saturday evening, one of Uncle Sam’s boys was indulging in the, to him, pleasing enterprise of breaking window panes. He carried a six-shooter, and hinted that no officer could take him, but as soon as Dan Jones and James Johnson heard of the matter “they gathered him in” and gave him quarters in the cooler. Afterwards, a sergeant came and paid his fine and
took him to camp where he was drilled in the old fashioned, but very disagreeable, manual of “right shoulder and left shoulder log.” (Caldwell Post,
April 29, 1880)
Soldiers were also the cause of a fight which took place in the “Keno room” on May 11, 1880:
A row took place in the Keno room last Tuesday evening, caused by a drunken soldier and a gambler getting to a dispute about the game.
The lie was passed and the matinee commenced.
All the soldiers took a hand, and then the police waltzed in to add the finishing touches to the performance.
The Chief of Police got a whack along side of the head. Dan Jones had his foot stepped on, judging from the way he tripped around. For a while it was lively, as the number of cut heads and bloody noses bear witness. The cooler received its portion of the spoils of the row. There is a rumor to the effect, that several of the soldiers intended to go in and have a row, and during the jubilee, some of them should cabbage all the money. Anyway, it was a disgraceful affair. The officers in command ought to learn the tendencies of their men, when they have money in their pockets and whiskey is handy, and if necessary, put every mother’s son of them on guard.
(Caldwell Post, May 13, 1880)
Apparently Jones was not on the city force when George Flatt was killed, June 19. He was at that time, however, a township constable and the first man to whom Flatt spoke after he had been shot.
Jones was among those arrested for suspected complicity in the crime. The Caldwell Commercial, July 1. 1880, labeled him “constable” in its report of the arrests while the Post of the same date merely identified him as “Mister” Jones. When the Flatt murder case was tried at the April, 1881, term of the district court, Jones was released because his name had been omitted from the information.
Constable Jones arrested a horse thief on July 21, 1880. The Caldwell Commercial of July 22, reported:
There was quite a little flurry of excitement at the Eldorado stables yesterday morning, caused by the arrest of a horse thief. The thief’s name is D. Waterman, and the horse was stolen on Monday night from a man named J. C. Brain, living between Winfield and Arkansas City. Brain discovered the loss of the animal some time during the night, and at once sent parties out to catch the thief and recover the property. Among those who started out were C. McKerlie and D. W. Ramage.
They struck Waterman’s trail at Arkansas City, followed him from there to Caldwell, reaching here about dark, some three or four hours after Waterman had arrived and put up his horse at the Eldorado stables. Finding the man and horse both here, and not likely to get away, they waited until yesterday morning before taking in the outfit.
At daylight Waterman concluded it was about time for him to start out, and mounting his horse, put out for the north. Ramage and McKerlie immediately went in search of a policeman and finding Dan Jones, pursuit was given and the thief overhauled before he had time to get any distance from town. Waterman owns up to the theft and says he stole the horse because he was broke and wanted to raise a stake. And he succeeded beyond his most sanguine expectations. He will be staked to a few years grub and hard work under the fostering care of the State institution near Leavenworth.
On July 29, the Commercial reported that G.W. Padgett, who shot and killed W.H. Stevens at a cow camp on the Salt Fork, was brought to Caldwell and put in the custody of Dan Jones, then a constable.
Jones was reappointed several times for short periods of service as a special policeman. Arrests made by him were docketed on September 13 and October 14, 1880. On October 9, it was in that capacity that Jones aided
Marshal Johnson in the fruitless pursuit of Frank Hunt’s killer:
. . . During the evening, Hunt had some difficulty with one of the Cyprians belonging to the house, and considerable bad blood was engendered between Hunt, the woman and her “Man.” Shortly before the shooting, Hunt had taken part in a dance, and after it was over, sat down by a window on the north side of the room. A few moments after, a shot was fired, and Hunt jumped from his seat exclaiming. “I’m killed!” He did it out there!” at the same time pointing to the window.
City Marshal J.W. Johnson and D.W.
Jones, who was assisting Johnson that night as special policeman, being present, immediately ran to the east door of the hall, but finding it fastened,
Jones made his way out in the front. [West side of the building]. Meantime, Johnson forced open the east door, got out and ran around to the north side of the house. As he did, so he heard some one running near the stage barn, and followed after, but it being dark, he could see no one, and whoever the fleeing party was, he escaped. (Caldwell Commercial, October 14, 1880)
Hunt’s killer was never found.
Jones was implicated in the lynching of Frank Noyes. In reporting its coverage of Jones’ trial, held in Wellington, the Press published a short item in which the reporter referred to Jones as a “desperado” to which Jones took great offense. He immediately fired back a letter to the editor:
Card from Mr. Jones Caldwell, Kas, Dec 28, 1885
Editor Press: In your issue of last week you did me a great injury. You state that I have got the name of “desperado.” Where you got your information I know not but I am sure of one thing, you did not get it from any of my old acquaintances nor from any of the good and law abiding citizens of the county. You have done me an injury you can never fully undo as “words
spoken or written and published can never be fully recalled.” You could not have applied a more hateful epithet to me than “desperado” nor one that is more false. I claim to be a law abiding citizen in the strictest sense of the word. For myself - for my family - my wife and two boys, whom I am rearing and shall ever teach to obey and assist in enforcing all laws, I ask you to undo as far as you can, your work of casting such a reflection upon [illegible; accusations?] of that nature.
I have lived in this county since it was a county. I ask you to call upon my acquaintances among good citizens from that time up, to - wit: Ab W. Shearman, Commissioner Bain, A.M. Stanley, Newt Caldwell and E.C. Ferguson. I have always been opposed to “six shooters.” Never in my life in a personal difficulty did I resort to a revolver or any other kind of a weapon, and I challenge anyone to show to the contrary. Never except when I was doing duty as an officer did I carry a revolver. Even in the middle of all the “hell hounds” of our city when good citizens by the hundred were telling me to “look out, my life was in danger.” This I challenge anyone to disprove. In six years spent in the Indian Territory riding the country in all directions among the Indians or otherwise, I never carried a gun or revolver except when hunting game or chasing a horse thief. For the proof of this I refer you to men who lived with me then: G.W. Haines, Anderson Haines, Sam Swayer, Ras Wilson, Henry Todd; for reference here representative I. N. Cooper, Win Corzine, I.B. Gilmore, Sim Donaldson, John W. Nyce; at Arkansas City where I have lived I refer you to Capt Nip, Banker Haywood Mitchell, Sheriff McIntire and others of the same class in Neosho County, Judge Wells, Wm. Allen, [illegible], Willard and others also of [illegible] place, Old Charley Stanley who [illegible] with years ago, who was one of the largest merchants in Randolph County, Indiana. I do not claim that my life in the west has not been a little wild, but I do not think it has been over an average of my old associates and I do claim
that the word desperado does not apply to me. If you went to the pains to inquire, and I feel it is your duty to me to do so, you will find men in our city who will tell you to their certain knowledge, a man with a revolver stuck in his clothes was distasteful to me. Everyone knows in this regard.
It has been that way. It mattered not from whence an officer came to our town after a criminal, whether I was an officer or not, have been called upon to assist in his arrest - called upon at all hours of the night. Never did I refuse to go. Hence the desire and ill will of a certain class to brand me a desperado upon election days with other good citizens I have stood at our polls challenging illegal voters, endeavoring to get a fair representation from our place. I feel the disgrace of the adjective and I demand of you [to] right it.
Respectfully, D.W. Jones
A retraction was found in the next issue of the paper.
After leaving Caldwell, Dan Jones made the land run into Kingfisher County in 1889, and took a claim on the Cimarron near Dover. Later, on June 7, 1894, he became “L” County Clerk (Pond Creek, OK) and three years later, in
1897, Dan Jones was appointed a Deputy US Marshal.
Jones’ wife was an accomplished seamstress and milliner and was held in high regard by the ladies of Caldwell. For several years, her advertisement could be found in the Caldwell newspapers:
Mrs. Dan Jones still carries a complete stock of millinery goods in all styles and at living prices.
There has been a long standing controversy regarding the true identity of a somewhat mysterious Caldwell character named William “Red Bill” Jones who some speculate was another name for the perennial Caldwell lawman, Daniel William Jones aka “Dan” and “D.W.”. My good friend, Tom Coke, is one of those.
I have known Tom a long time—since before either of us was published, I think. We have common interests upon which we have built a friendship over the years. Tom is the astute author of several books and articles. His second book, CALDWELL: Kansas Border Cow Town, Heritage Books, 2005, is an excellent history of Caldwell’s early days and showcases his devotion to tireless research. His interest in Caldwell amazes me. Google Ebay/Caldwell and you will find the book for $30 with free shipping. I recommend it highly!
His other books are Old West Justice in Belle Plaine, Kansas, Heritage, 2002, and more recently, The Life and Times of Lawman Joe Thralls, Heritage, 2006, a comprehensive biography of the famous Sumner County Sheriff of the later 1800s.
Over the years, Tom and I have happily shared research and compared notes on a litany of subjects and I have come to know Tom as a serious, no nonsense, student and researcher of strict, non-fictional history who possesses enviable writing skills. In fact, I can find only one flaw in his character: his infernally stubborn insistence that Dan Jones was also known by the moniker—“Red Bill” Jones!
This has been a long-standing disagreement. Through the years, we have hurled excessive vindicating verbiage at one another, all with no consequence—each of our expansive emails back and forth that explicitly outlined our evidence and infallible “proofs” have fallen on deaf ears. (These emails could prove valuable to future historians!) Each of us has only become more determined in his
conviction. Over all of this, we seem to have remained friends: he somehow tolerates my diatribes as I politely consider his ridiculous arguments. We are now both exhausted.
The argument was brought to the fore once again when Tom’s article, Was Daniel William “Red Bill” Jones a “desperado” appeared in the April 2012 issue of the WWHA Journal. The Journal is the bi-monthly organ of the Wild West History Association, a group of like-minded writers, researchers, enthusiasts of hard-nosed strict non-fictional history of the Old West. We are both members.
I was, of course, appalled, so I fired a letter to the editor venting my righteous ire.
I believe it is fitting that future generations of Caldwellites should be aware of the pros and cons of this most important issue. Therefore, I am hereby posting my letter followed by my friend’s response; both published in the June 2012 Journal’s letters to the editor. The letters each substantially sum up our respective arguments. Hopefully, the reader will find satisfaction in one or the other.
Dear Editor:
A somewhat mysterious character named William “Red Bill” Jones once lived in my home town, Caldwell, Kansas, a rowdy cowtown that became the terminus of the Chisholm Trail in 1880. There is a controversy regarding the true identity of “Red Bill” Jones who some speculate was another name for the perennial Caldwell lawman, Daniel William Jones aka “Dan” and “D.W.”
As evidenced by his April. 2012 Journal article “Was Daniel William “Red Bill” Jones a ‘desperado’?” my good friend, Tom Coke, is an advocate of that belief. Thus, in his article, all references to “Red Bill” Jones are attributed to Dan Jones.
In his article, Tom includes an item appearing in the October 30, 1879, Caldwell Post
that contains the phrase: “. . . accompanied by his deputy Wm. Jones, better known as Red Bill.” That is the only mention in any of the contemporary source material that refers to Red Bill as being a lawman. (In all, the name Red Bill appears only six times in the contemporary record. He is referred to once as Wm. Jones; once as Bill Jones; once as William; and three times simply as “Red Bill” with no given or surname shown. Nowhere is his middle name or initial given.)
On the basis of that one single reference to him as a deputy, some have been inspired to assume that William “Red Bill” Jones and Dan Jones were one and the same individual due to the fact that Dan Jones was [Marshal George] Flatt’s assistant marshal at the time.
It appears that Miller & Snell, in the Dan Jones bio in their seminal Why the West was Wild (p. 255), were the first to advance that assumption by stating that the name “Red Bill” was given Dan Jones by the Caldwell Post article noted above. I believe they jumped to an erroneous conclusion. Referring to a Caldwell Commercial article relating a jail break perpetrated by “Red Bill” (Why the West was Wild, p. 255), they further reinforce the concept with the puzzling statement: “It seems
unlikely that Policeman Dan “Red Bill” Jones and this “Red Bill” Jones were one and the same.”
I concede the word of Miller & Snell to be irreproachable. But, at the risk of being branded heretical, I contend that their inference that two different individuals—each answering to the handle “Red Bill Jones”—lived in Caldwell (a town of only several hundred population) at the same time, is pure speculation and is much more unlikely.
In county records, I found a marriage license for William Jones living in Caldwell at that time. It shows William, age 24, married in Caldwell to Bertha Fossett, age 19. Dan Jones was about 34 at that time and is known to have never been married to Bertha Fossett. A Caldwell police
docket dated the day following his wedding (certain to be the same William Jones) indicates:
The City of Caldwell vs. William Jones
William Jones Defendant arrested on the complaint of George Flatt - Marshal charging that on the 11th day of September A. D. 1879 at the said City of Caldwell, the said Defendant William Jones came forward and Plead guilty to the charge of shooting a Revolver contrary to the Ordinance made and provided for shooting inside of the incorporated limits of the City of Caldwell.
Fine One dollar and cost of suit.
Taxed at $4.00 which was paid in full.
Dan Jones was the Caldwell Assistant Marshal under Marshal Flatt at the time of William Jones’ arrest.
I suggest that by virtue of William Jones’ previous arrest for his display of ability with a six-shooter, he proved himself to be somewhat bold and daring; a gutsy, spirited gunslinger who might be considered a good hand to back up a lawman who needed to find assistance in a hurry. I contend that Marshal Flatt had authority to deputize anyone at any time and William Jones, who we know lived in Caldwell at that time, could have been a good candidate. It seems apparent to me that the only logical deduction possible is that Marshal Flatt deputized William Jones who was called “Red Bill” Jones. He was then “his deputy Wm. Jones, better known as Red Bill.” —exactly as the article states.
I suggest that Journal readers consider the option of accepting the expression “deputy Wm. Jones” at face value. The inclination to change its meaning to something entirely different—from “deputy Wm. Jones” to Assistant Marshal Dan Jones—is illogical, changes history, and saddles
Dan Jones (in no sense a desperado, by the way) with an underserved rap.
With due respect, I humbly suggest that it was Miller & Snell that gave the name “Red Bill” to Dan Jones, not the Post as they suggest. The propagation of speculation does a disservice to readers and instills an uncertain precedent which may be very difficult or perhaps impossible to totally rectify if found to be unconfirmed in the future. I think speculation should be clearly identified as such, particularly when other viable views are known to be in opposition.
I hope this provides a measure of well deserved vindication for Dan Jones.
I should add that there are numerous other reasons, too many to list, that logically refute the notion that Dan Jones was “Red Bill.”
Rod Cook, Caldwell, Kansas Following is Tom’s retort.
Dear Editor:
I admire Rod Cook’s abilities as a historian and I believe his motives for understanding who “Red Bill” Jones was are the same as mine. Both of us would like to know what really happened and who the actors were in early Caldwell, Kansas. And like all historians, we have to use some speculation in filling in the blanks where historical documents are lacking.
In looking at the life of Daniel William Jones from the time he came to Kansas until his death in Oklahoma, I see a man who was somewhat of a rascal though not a desperado. From the time he first became a lawman in Wellington, Kansas, until his last days as a lawman in Dover, Oklahoma, he would occasionally have run-ins with troublemakers as well as the law (See Sumner County Press, November 27, 1873, when he was arrested for disorderly conduct though soon released without fine while serving as Wellington city marshal.)
This, along with him getting in the middle of controversial murders, occasional reports of alcohol abuse even late into his life (which I didn’t include in the article), and getting into fights even in Dover, show a few glimpses of his character which was less than perfect, often combative, but not really bad. His personality drew him to similar people, such as Charles Lyons, who visited him at Red Fork Ranch. A newspaper described Lyons as “a sporting character, a gambler, and a hard drinker” after he was shot in a gunfight and died a few days later (Sumner County Press, January 4, 1877).
To me, this kind of person fits easily into the newspaper accounts of Dan Jones in Caldwell, including his arrest. Miller and Snell were right in concluding that “Red Bill” was Dan since he is mentioned as George Flatt’s fellow lawman [*see my note below], regardless whether called “deputy” or “assistant,” terms often used interchangeably and loosely by newspapers. There were other William Joneses besides Dan William Jones in the Caldwell area at that time (I believe there were at least two, but I’ll have look that up again), but none are ever mentioned as lawmen. Only one lawman named Jones has ever shown up in the records and that was Dan Jones. So the only speculation needed to connect “Red Bill” with Dan is a fairly natural one, that lawman Dan Jones was sometimes called Red Bill.
In the Talbot Raid, which took place less than two months after the “Red Bill” arrest, we find him living freely, even among lawmen such as Newt Miller, with no hint of controversy about his person. This tells me the arrest wasn’t as big a deal as the papers made it out to be, papers then often using the tongue-in-cheek approach (See David Dary’s Red Blood and Black Ink).
I guess I could go on in more detail, as I have occasionally with Rod, but I believe we simply have a different view as to who Dan Jones was. And I’m willing to change my view in face of any compelling evidence to the contrary in the future.
Tom S. Coke, Belle Plaine KS
*Tom’s phrase: “’Red Bill’ was Dan since he is
mentioned as George Flatt’s fellow lawman” is the basis of our disagreement. I contend that Wm., not Dan, is mentioned as Flatt’s deputy. The Post article that Tom refers to is transcribed below. As I understand it, the article states “accompanied by his deputy Wm. Jones, better known as “Red Bill,” Tom perceives the phrase as “accompanied by his deputy Dan Jones, better known as “Red Bill,”
The complete article:
John Dean came into town yesterday afternoon and after getting a little full, concluded that he was a second Henion [?], swore he would not be arrested in Caldwell. Someone discovering firearms on his person, informed the marshal [George Flatt] of the fact, he at once, accompanied by his deputy Wm. Jones, better known as "Red Bill,” proceeded to hunt him up and inform him of the fact that it was against the city ordinance to carry firearms in the city limits. Mr. Dean, getting wind of their intentions and determined not to be disarmed, mounted his horse and started out of town firing his revolver promiscuously. The marshal started in pursuit and commanded him under arrest; he answered their summons with a shot from his six-shooter. At the crack of his pistol, the marshal and deputy turned loose with their six-shooters. Dean, being mounted and moving pretty lively, the distance between the parties became so great, the marshal and deputy being pretty well out of wind, they did no very accurate shooting, although they emptied their revolvers at him before he got out of the corporation. The papers are in the constable’s hands for his arrest, for assaulting the officers with a deadly weapon. (Caldwell Post, October 30,
As listed in Caldwell Police Docket Books 1880-1885
Elsie Johnson J. W. Newson Dell Black Lucinda Fitch
Mrs. Hernaman Miss Sulkey Le Brown Lizzie Shea Maggie Wood
Florence Williams Jenny Burk Rebeca Bank Poley Bright Victory Faulkner
Lucy Herman Holly Roger Belle Piper Darsey Dean Poley Bright Mabel Ranson One Miss Annie Lizzie Roberts Molly Name Victory Faulkner Miss Mollie Norcut Abbey Mills Lucy Breno Annie Thompson Mollie Brown Ellen Robinson May Balize Jennie Burk Maggie Denning Florence Williams Mrs. Hemaman Miss Name Unknown
L. E. Brown Ida Nickham_
Lilly Young Kitty Swain Cally-Moore Blanch Spear Anna May Nellie Scott Miss Shea Clinda Hindson Mollie Williams Hattie Moore Blanch Stevens Ida Hilton Lizzie Anderson
Mrs. Ada Bent Molly Knight Iva Star Minnie Dillon Ellen Robinson Laura Jones Jessie Phillips Laura Johnson Bee Adams Fanny Keller Dasie Invine Georgia Clayton Mrs. Doc Rosa Filers Maggie Mills Nellie Brown Rosa Smith Dasie Erwin Maud Fairchild Georgie Chastine Annie Karns Blanche Wilson Birdie Miller Bessie Jones Mabel Richards Violet May Nellie Farmer Molly Woods Evy Hammer
M. J. Small Betsy Jones Ella Banks Bessie Cook Miss Turner W. N. Delmore Kate Wright Maud Rivers Kate Clarkston
Mabel Selman Dora Dean Anna VanHook Minnie Baker Fannie Spicer Mrs. Bright #3 Minnie Spicer Mrs. Bright #2 “The sick one” Tinnie Bandy Jenny Smith Topsey Bradley Pearl Silas Mrs. Barker Mabel Mays Hanna Winfield Anna Chaston Mrs. Mandy Winey Ranly Jessie Linn Annie Vanhover Nettie Ghastain Miss Georgia Mary Davis Jessie McBride Lucindia Fitch Belle Williams Molly Rolan Mattie Smith Mary Norcut Hannah Adkinson Georgia Ford Nettie Whitson Anna Pendelton Vina Marger Anna Brewl Mattie Heller Delia Phillips Emma Bradley
A True story of courage
From the memoirs of one time Caldwell Assistant Marshal Dan W. Jones. A Memorable Christmas on the Chisholm Trail December 24th, 1899.
The story that Jones tells here took place when he was the owner of the Red Fork Ranch; located where the Chisholm Trail crossed the Cimarron River in the Cherokee Outlet (present Dover, OK).
“Coming to me where I sit this Christmas Eve is the sound of music from a brass band. It comes from the M.E. Church house which stands just where my old Red Fork Ranch stood in 1875.
A Christmas festival is in progress; the church is filled to overflowing. My oldest boy, E.D., is playing the tube horn, my youngest boy, Bennie, the snare drum. In listening to the music and merry-making there comes to me the memory of a Christmas present I had come to me twenty-two year ago.
Banker Haworth and Col. Matlock of Arkansas City, Kansas, stopped at my ranch on the 20th day of December, 1877, on their way home from Indian agencies below. They arranged to stay with me for a few days and hunt, desiring to secure a few wild turkeys and deer if possible, to carry with them to Arkansas City for Christmas.
The weather was stormy and cold. On the 22nd they had a few turkeys but no deer. On the 23rd, at their request, I got my gun and went after a deer. It was a terrible day with a driving snow, and it was growing colder every hour. I rode east into the timber. I succeeded in getting a shot, killing a doe and severely wounding another one, after which I took chase but failed to get it; Haworth and Matlock started early on the morning of the 24th for Arkansas City with the deer, facing a terribly cold wind. Soon after they left the ranch I saddled my horse - the mean devil - and rode out to look after my cattle that were drifting from the storm down the river. I rode east into the timber, then south by the Pecan Springs, thence on southwest
to the Cimarron River. There in the sand hills I found a bunch of my cattle and started back driving them toward the springs. Oh! but it was different as I turned facing the terrible wind. I had succeeded in getting the cattle out of the hills, then started them across the bottom. I was well wrapped but I thought my face would freeze. A calf was giving me trouble in trying to run back. I spurred the horse up, heading the calf. It turned in behind the horse. I checked the horse, and in trying to obey the bit in a sudden rein I gave him to the left, his feet being on ice, went into the air, and the horse lit almost on my back. I struck the frozen ground full length and the wild devil sprang to his feet and went galloping down the river. I lay dazed for a short time and as I began to pull myself together, I sat up and found the left side of my face was bruised, my left shoulder and arm hurt, my left leg broken smack off, just above the ankle, and the bones in my foot crushed. It was 9 o'clock the day before Christmas. I was a little over three miles from the ranch, hardly a show for help, and oh! I was so cold. Thermometer, 8 below zero.
I thought, "Johnny, this is a little the worst wreck you have struck!" What was I to do? Besides the suffering from my bruises and broken limb, it was very cold. I concluded to crawl to the old Chisholm Trail, which was some three hundred yards south. When I got there I crawled in behind some wild pampas grass that grew tall beside the trail and there I lay for a short time, thinking. The only hope I had of someone coming along would be 'Ras Wilson, of Salina, Kansas, who was wintering 1,000 beeves on Campbell Creek, south of the Cimarron, who was to come up and take dinner with us Christmas. The old-timers will remember Mr. and Mrs. George Haines, of Caldwell. They were running the mess house for us at the ranch and Mrs. Haines had promised us a feast for dinner. I must be in on that dinner, so on all fours I started up the trail, through the snow, over the ice and rough ground. Soon I was tired, but on I went. At times I would grow faint, then I would stop behind some tall grass and rest, then up and
on. So it went till near night. My knees had grown sore and my arms ached. The wind had ceased to blow so cold, but away in the northeast there hung a heavy dark cloud. I lay behind a tall bunch of grass, my broken leg paining me so badly it seemed I could not go another rod. Would it storm again that night? I had only made a mile, would I perish?
Had I not been one of those good young men, I suppose I should have given up, but the thought of the laugh my enemies would have on me spurred me on, so again I started. Presently darkness came on; soon my bare knees were on the ground, but on I crawled dragging my broken leg as carefully as possible, flowing blood along the trail from my leg. The coyotes commenced howling; a bunch of my cattle came drifting by and lowing and I called to them. I tore out the sleeves of my cavalry coat I had on and pulled them over my shoes, tore up the cape and tied pads on my knees with buckskin strings I had in my pocket, took a long woolen scarf I had around my neck and wound it around my broken leg. It was a scarf given me by my aged mother in Indiana and was sent to me a few days before for a Christmas present. God bless mother! Then I crawled all night and as the sun came up bright and warm Christmas morning, I was about half way to the ranch. I crawled up on a sand hill, in the sun to warm and rest. Then for the first time I grew hungry. Won't help ever come! There was the rattle of the Caldwell and Fort Sill stage! Sitting upon my knees and looking across the bottom, there about half a mile away I saw the stage in full view. I waved my hat and hallooed, but could not attract their attention. In starting from there, as it was growing warmer, I dropped my slicker and overshoes and crawled on, sometimes a rod, sometimes but a few feet.
Hungry and sore, weak and sick, I came out of the sand hills in sight of the old ranch a mile away. I had stopped under three trees that stood in the trail. After taking a long look at the ranch, I lay
down to rest, then noticing one of the trees was hackberry and that the icy snow was covered with the berries, I spent quite a while gathering these and sucking them, and never did anything taste so good. There again was the rattle of wagons, and looking across the wagon road not a quarter of a mile away I saw two freight wagons. Again I got upon my knees, swinging my hat and shouting; again I failed and they passed on into the hills. Soon I started for the ranch; now came the worst. My arm was so strained and when I got upon my knees it seemed almost impossible to bear it. I had a severe pain and cramping across my chest. As both bones of the leg were broken off, as I would drag it after me over the frozen and rough ground often the bones would grate together in such a way as to sicken me. At 3 o'clock P.M. I had succeeded in getting within hailing distance of the ranch, a quarter of a mile, and finally attracted Mr. Haines. They came to me, then obtained a wagon and hauled me to the ranch. I had crawled three and a quarter miles in a little over thirty hours. Mrs. Haines’ son, Anderson, who now owns a fine cattle ranch on the Canadian near Canadian City, rode to the C. & A. Agency, thirty mile away, for a physician, who did not get to the ranch to set my leg until 12 o'clock the night of the 26th, sixty-three hours after it was broken. That was my Christmas gift for 1878! I was a little late to Mrs. Haines' Christmas dinner, but all the ranch boys claimed I did full justice to all Mrs. Haines brought to the bed for me. I lay eight weeks upon my back, but am still here and able to send cordial greetings for the New Year.
Dan Jones.
"His Most Embarrassing Moment"
Shortly after his harrowing experience at his Red Fork Ranch, Dan Jones was appointed Caldwell’s first assistant marshal (under Caldwell’s first Marshal, George Flatt.) He also served under Caldwell’s second marshal, William Horseman and Caldwell’s third marshal, James Johnson, making him Caldwell’s first, second and third assistant marshals.
The following article appeared in the September 25, 1879, Caldwell Post:
“That mistakes occur in the best of regulated families, was only verified by the singular and unexpected incarceration and disarming of Deputy City Marshal Dan Jones last Monday night - the circumstances of which are very difficult to detail so that a modest public might clearly and unmistakably comprehend the situation. But the trials and tribulations of the news-monger can only be surmised by those who were so unfortunate as to read of Mr. Beecher in his balmy days. [I have no comprehension of the reference to Mr. Beecher.] However, we will proceed by saying that Dan is a very efficient officer, and where Dan can’t be found, you can’t find anyone, as the sequel will show.
It happened at one of Caldwell’s fashionable hotels [the southwestern], and, like all other fashionable hotels, it has two small rooms. Over each room’s door is an inscription by which a person may know whether he is to be admitted or not. But, it being dark and Dan’s “business” qualifications not allowing him to stop and read everything that is hung up, he entered. About this time a lady attempted to enter but was foiled by Dan turning an inside latch. The lady hastened away but soon returned with the key (this is not a romance). She locked, unlocked and relocked the door and finally left to return no more.
Now, as Dan’s occupation calls him on the street, he concluded that he might depart with safety. But imagine his feelings when he discovered that he had been locked in. As will be seen, Dan is equal to all emergencies and began trying to extricate himself from his odorous prison. There is a seat in the room just opposite the door upon which Dan sat himself down. He put his feet against the door and with Heenan like strength, pushed the door asunder. At the same instant, back went Dan’s revolver down, down to the bottom-less; after which a light was brought into requisition. It was fished up; a tub of water; a barrel of soft soap and scrubbing-brush were readily used up and the pistol looks as natural as ever. If the street gossips don’t mention this we will never a say a word about it to Dan.
By Rod Cook
“It is well to observe here, that never into the soul of this man entered a feeling of remorse, pity, or love for his fellow man. He possessed the most stoical disposition that could be crowded into a human being. No exhibition of grandeur or beauty, or any scene of suffering or horror, ever changed the expression of his face.”
—Sam P. Ridings
The Chisholm Trail
Marshal Henry Newton Brown Len Gratteri Collection
It can be said that Henry Newton Brown was a lawman turned outlaw turned lawman turned outlaw.
Brown’s first experience as a lawman was at the outset of the Lincoln County War when for a short time, he, along with Billy the Kid, sought justice deputized as a constable.108 He soon turned to outlawry and participated with the Kid and his gang in their infamous Lincoln County rampage of reckless delinquency. Ending his association with the Kid, he again sided with the law and took up honest employment as a lawman in Tascosa, Texas.
Before long, he found a home in Caldwell, a hell for breakfast frontier cowtown, first as an assistant marshal, then as marshal. Then, after two years of outstanding service as a lawman, puzzlingly, he again forsook the law and participated in an ill-fated bank robbery that ended his life.
At the time Henry Brown took up residence in Caldwell, it had grown into a town in great need of quality policing.
As the terminus of the Chisholm Trail, Caldwell became the foremost portal to the great cattle markets of the East and experienced frenzied activity as a cattle shipping point. During the season, cattle trains pulled out of Caldwell day and night, seven days a week with newly arrived herds continually waiting to be loaded. The town became the major jumping-off place for droves of teamsters transporting goods to all points south and served the needs of the many farms being cut out of the remote prairie.
The town flourished as a central supply center and was becoming the virtual political, financial, commercial, as well as social center of the Cherokee Outlet cattle industry. With each herd of cattle came a remuda of twenty to forty or more horses. Most of these idle horses that weren’t driven back to Texas were sold in Caldwell making it the
108 Nolan, The Lincoln County War, p. 219. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1992.
“best primary horse market in the West.”109 By 1882, it had recognized prominence as the principal city of the cattle trade.
In his book, The Chisholm Trail, Sam Ridings wrote:
Caldwell had developed into the principal cattle shipping point in the West. It was also the busiest and toughest town on the frontier. Here drifted the worst characters to be found, men who lived violent lives and died violent deaths, and here also congregated the wildest women to meet them.110
Because of its close proximity to the unsettled Indian Territory, Caldwell proved to be a favorite headquarters for villains of every kind—crooked gamblers, stock thieves, whisky runners, deserters, cutthroats, drifters and common border scum were in abundance. Desperados on the run could blend inconspicuously among the multitude of cowboys, soldiers, teamsters, and railroad men that flooded the town’s many saloons and gambling dens. When the law got too close, they could quickly vanish into the Cherokee Outlet in the lawless wilderness of the Indian Territory just two miles below the town. At any given time, the Outlet harbored a variety of hard case fugitives. Outlaws of every description hid out in its secluded expanses and found it an ideal home while on the dodge. With Caldwell only minutes from the safety of the Outlet, these desperados moved in and out of Caldwell at will, such as their prospects dictated.
Constantly needing the watchful eye of the lawmen was the nearly perpetual abundance of cowboys fresh from the trail. Young, impetuous, and eager to once again experience civilization, they came into town with more cash than most had ever accumulated altogether at one time. They were ready for a bath, haircut, shave, and a new suit of clothes. Then they went out see the sights and do the town. Also, ranch hands, infrequently visiting from the
109 Caldwell Journal, June 14, 1883.
110 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 89.
many ranches in the Outlet lived hard, lonely lives and were ready for much of the same. Teamsters, railroad men, and frequent detachments of transient soldiers added to the mix. Whiskey flowed like an endless river and trouble invariably followed.
With its hardcore demographics being such as they were, Caldwell needed an extraordinarily strong police force to keep law and order. Early Caldwell pioneer George Freeman’s quotation in his book, Midnight and Noonday: “Fight the devil with his own men,” is suggestive of the attitude the town had taken in the appointment of its lawmen. Typically, they were hard edged, rough men, not blending easily into acceptable society. Many were hard drinking ruffians who were as unprincipled as the rough shod men they were hired to control. In many instances, they were themselves lawbreakers.
At times they quarreled among themselves, amazingly, even arresting one another. Future Caldwell lawman and Deputy U.S. Marshal Cash Hollister, while serving as Caldwell’s second mayor, was arrested by Marshal George Flatt for assaulting future lawman, Frank Hunt. (In turn, Flatt arrested Hunt for his retaliatory attack on Hollister.) Such occurrences were not uncommon. Interestingly, the Caldwell police docket books record over twenty such instances in which a current Caldwell marshal arrested a past or future Caldwell lawman. In many cases, it was likely that the arresting marshal himself had been or would be arrested by the one he was then holding under arrest.
All of that changed when Henry Newton Brown came to town.
Henry Brown had been working on several ranches in the Cherokee Outlet, notably for Barney O’Connor, foreman for one of the ranchers in Woods County—perhaps one of the members of the great Comanche Cattle Pool.111
111 In addition to the large expanse of the pool lying in the Cherokee Outlet, it has been noted to have been “the largest cattle ranch in Kansas history” and covered all of Comanche County and parts of Kiowa, Clark,
O’Connor would be a major player in Brown’s future. Brown was at the Comanche Pool when two of the founders of the pool, Col. William R. Colcord and Major Andrew Drumm, recommended him to the Caldwell authorities for the job.* 112
Comanche Cattle Pool Letterhead Len Gratteri Collection
In his autobiography, venerated pioneer Charles Colcord113 recalled
Billy the Kid had been killed a year or two before Henry Brown and others of Billy the Kid’s men came in [into Colcord’s range, the Comanche Pool in the Cherokee Outlet] with another herd. Brown was
and Barber counties in Kansas. Its southern boundary was the Cimarron River in the Cherokee Outlet. Colcord gives the best geographical description on page 64 of his autobiography as “a range approximately seventy-five miles square” (which would enclose about
3.600.000 acres.) A fence 180 miles long requiring 60,000 posts and
240.000 pounds of wire enclosed a part of the pool.
112 Colcord, The Autobiography of Charles Francis Colcord, p. 112. It is not known if Brown cowboyed for Colcord’s famous Jug outfit or for one of the other members of the Comanche Pool.
113 Charles Francis Colcord had been a brash young cowboy who frequented Caldwell in its formative years and was one of the rowdy hell raisers that some of the town marshals contended with. Remarkably, he became a cattleman, range detective, U.S. marshal, noted town-builder, banker, and one of Oklahoma’s top oilmen. He became the first Oklahoma County sheriff, first chief of police of Oklahoma City and was instrumental in its early beginnings, building the first skyscraper in that city.
sick and one of the other men114 was still suffering from a bullet wound through his chest, which he had received in one of their fights, so they stayed at my camp for several weeks.
Caldwell at that time was one of the worst towns in the country, and it took a man with a great deal of nerve to be its marshal. My father and Major Drumm, knowing Henry Brown’s great nerve and fearlessness recommended him to the Caldwell folks. They sent for him while he was at my camp . . . .115
On July 3, 1882, Henry Newton Brown was hired as assistant marshal under newly appointed Marshal Batt Carr.
Carr and Brown, worked together slightly less than four and one-half months. The pair served well until, without explanation, Carr vanished116 and Brown was named the fourteenth Caldwell city marshal in a span of just over three years. He was 25 years old. Several reasons for Carr’s abrupt departure have been suggested. One was a popular but fanciful story voiced by Caldwell old-timer, “Cowboy Joe” Wiedeman who stated that Brown wanted Carr’s position and in an intimidating confrontation on Main Street, snatched the gold badge off of Carr's coat, threw it in the dust, and commanded Carr to “git”.117
114 The man was John Middleton, later to become Charles Colcord’s brother-in-law.
115 Colcord, p. 112. In disagreement with Colcord, the Caldwell Journal of May 8, 1884, reports that Brown was hired on the recommendation of Marshal Bat Carr. The paper flatly stated that Carr had known Brown when the latter was a deputy sheriff in Oldham County, Texas, however, a previous association is thus far unconfirmed.
Medicine Lodge contemporary George Horney related to his son: “At this time Batt Carr was marshal of this city, and having known Brown in Texas, appointed him as his deputy.” (McCollom, Meandering,
p. 62.)
Ridings, on pages 492 and 493 of The Chisholm Trail states that Brown simply rode into Caldwell, applied and got the job.
116 Carr’s last arrest was made on November 13, 1882.
117 Old time storyteller Joseph “Cowboy Joe” Wiedeman Jr. was a colorful Caldwell resident who was born in 1870 and lived in the general Caldwell area 95 years, He died in 1965. Some of his stories of early Caldwell that
While most probably an unlikely story, Cowboy Joe may have been close to correct in suggesting that Brown had been unhappy working under Carr. The Caldwell police docket books reflect Carr’s tendency to perform the easier and less hazardous, as well as more profitable, duties of the constabulary while letting Brown handle the dirty work. Former Caldwell resident David Leahy recalled, “I can still see with the eye of memory the short but manly form of Battie Carr, the town marshal imported from Texas, loaded down with heavy pearl-handled six shooters, and decorated with an immense gilded star, strutting about the streets with a friendly nod for everybody whilst he left the unlovely routine of the day to Hendry* 118 119 120 121 Brown.”119 120 121
While Carr and Brown worked together, 114 arrests were attributed to them in the Caldwell docket books.120 Carr was credited with 88 of those arrests; nearly all were gamblers and prostitutes. His arrests were mostly nonhazardous and were met by no physical resistance or opposition since those being “arrested” were in most cases willing to pay the fine which was, in reality, considered to be a fee requisite to continuing business as usual.121 In
have been quoted in chronicles of the old west (notably Drago’s Wild, Wooly, & Wicked) have been shown to be false. This writer considers him to be an unreliable reporter. Caldwell resident, J. R. Jenista, in an interview with this writer, reported that his grandfather, John Wiedeman, Joe’s brother, told him, concerning Joe’s penchant for storytelling, that “Joe is a liar.”
118 At some unknown time in the past, a superfluous “d” was added to Brown’s first name. His correct first name, Henry, has appeared in many subsequent historical writings as Hendry
119 Wichita Eagle, June 26, 1932, “Random Recollections of Other Days,” D. D. Leahy.
120 Arrests made by Brown during Carr’s absence are not included in this figure.
121 The conglomeration of gambling and prostitution establishments was recognized as a necessary evil in the economic interest of the city. While providing essential services demanded by the cowboys, the disreputable institutions proved to be a remarkably good source of revenue for the city. In reality, the fines resulting from these “arrests” were a “cash cow” for the city government and in effect were a licensing fee that was collected periodically. The practice allowed the nefarious trades to continue business while contributing mightily to keeping the town’s coffers in the black. For instance, Caldwell’s madams were “fined” $10
addition to his base salary, each arrest netted the arresting officer $2. Two 1883 dollars equaled about $46 in terms of present valuation due to inflation.122 These arrests meant easy money for Marshal Carr.
Henry Brown, on the other hand, had to work for his $2. It was left to him to handle the everyday essential duties of keeping the peace: breaking up fights, disarming ruffians carrying concealed weapons, dealing with drunks, and the never ending confrontations with rowdy cowboys disturbing the peace.
While it could be suggested that Brown could easily have resented Carr for not sharing the easy money; there is no recorded evidence that Brown in any way contributed to Carr’s departure.122 123 In any case, Henry Brown was sworn in as marshal of Caldwell on December 21 or 22, 1882,124 with no explanation or published indication of Carr's resignation or termination.
♦ ♦ ♦
Henry Brown’s elevation to Marshal of the City of Caldwell began a new era of law enforcement in the town. Unlike the rough-edged characters that proceeded him, Brown proved to be an exemplary marshal and the people of Caldwell held him in high regard. “The people of Caldwell at that time were very proud of Brown. They said
per month, equaling $230 in present valuation. The “arrests” provided the city a facade of concerned opposition and the appearance of an effort to weed out vice.
122 According to the Consumer Price Index, one 1882-4 dollar would purchase the same goods that it now takes twenty-three dollars to purchase at the present valuation of the dollar. (Historical Statistics of the United States [USGPO, 1975] and Statistical Abstracts of the United States)
123 Early day Caldwell newspaper man D. D. Leahy, reminiscing in an article in the Wichita Eagle of April 4, 1932, states “Bat Carr left Caldwell under a cloud of some sort that I have never heard explained.”
124 The December 28, 1882 edition of the Caldwell Post gives the date as Thursday, December 21. The Caldwell Commercial, also on December 28, reported the date as Friday, December 22, 1882. Adding to the confusion; the city council meetings (at one of which the appointment was reportedly made) were normally held on Monday evenings.
that he was the best officer they had ever had.”125 He had many friends in the business community and was noted to be in attendance at the Methodist Church regularly.
“Very few frontier peace officers were accepted socially by the leading families of the towns they policed. Hendry Brown was one of the rare exceptions. By the time he began his third term as marshal of Caldwell, no door was closed to him. He was often a prominent figure at church socials and picnics.”126
On New Years Day, 1883, the townspeople bestowed a present upon Marshal Brown:
A few of the citizens of this city appreciating the valuable services of Mr. Henry Brown, city marshal, concluded to present him with a suitable token of their esteem, and so settled upon an elegant gold-mounted and handsomely engraved Winchester rifle127, as an article especially useful to him and expressive of services rendered in the lawful execution of his duties. The gun was presented to him Monday, Mr. Frank Johnes
125 Leahy, “Random Recollections,” Wichita Morning Eagle, April 4, 1932.
126 Ibid.
127 The rifle is neither a “one of one hundred” nor a “one of one thousand” but is of equal quality. It is a .44-40 caliber 1873 model with a pistol grip and set trigger. Extensively engraved, including gold and silver barrel band inlays, its receiver and butt plate are “gold washed.”
In October of 1976, Robert R. Foster of Austin, Texas, penned a deposition that establishes provenance of Brown’s Winchester rifle. In it, Foster states that his grandmother “. . . met and was a good friend of Mrs. H. N. Brown, when she went to get his body and brought it back to Caldwell, Kan.” She gave it to P. J. Foster, the husband of her good friend, Molly Foster. The rifle passed to Foster’s son who sold it to Doctor M. B. Aynesworth in 1955 for $150 and a .22 caliber automatic pistol. Upon Aynesworth’s death, the rifle was sold at auction in Austin, Texas. The auction was held on October 10, 1976, and T. L. Rhodes of Richardson, Texas, won the rifle with the highest bid; $13,000. Rhodes sold it to the noted firearms expert and author R. L. Wilson for an undisclosed sum. The James H. Woods Foundation of St Louis, Missouri, then made a donation to the Kansas State Historical Society of $60,000 which was in turn paid to Wilson in return for the rifle. The famous rifle is permanently displayed in the Kansas State Historical Museum at Topeka, Kansas.
making the presentation speech, and a handsome one it was, too (we mean the speech this time). On the stock of the gun is a handsome silver plate bearing the inscription "’Presented to City Marshal H. N. Brown for valuable services rendered the citizens of Caldwell, Kanas, A. M. CoIson, Mayor, Dec., 1882.’ Henry is as proud of his gun as a boy of a new top. He appreciates the present very highly, but not half so much as he does the good will shown and approval of his services by the citizens of this city, as implied by the present.128
Henry Brown Rifle Nameplate Author s photo
Although no Caldwell newspaper references to the award can be found,129 noted author and early Caldwell resident Charlie Siringo reported that Brown was also presented a gold badge in appreciation of his service to the city.130
128 Caldwell Post, January 4, 1883. The rifle was given to Brown only 11 days after his appointment as marshal and may have originally been intended for Marshal Carr. Such a rifle would likely to have had been special ordered from the factory. It is highly improbable that the order could be filled and shipped from New Haven, Connecticut, to Caldwell in only 11 days.
129 In the July 31, 1938, Wichita Eagle article of the series entitled “Some Vagrant Memories” by David Leahy, he makes the dubious statement “Assuming that Brown killed Boyce in self defense, the city gave him an ornate gold star.”
130 Siringo, A Cowboy Detective, p. 13.
Brown won the total trust of the citizenry when he teamed with Milt Bennett, treasurer of the Cherokee Strip Livestock Association, to make the first payment to the Cherokees for the ranchers’ lease of the vast Cherokee Outlet range lands. The Cherokees had granted a five-year lease to 6 million acres of the Outlet at an annual rate of $100,000 per year, payable semi-annually. The Cherokees, their business acumen sharpened by past dealings with the white man, demanded payment in advance—and in silver!131
The first payment fell due on October 1, 1883. This payment was one of many in which hard money was delivered to the Indians. From Caldwell or from Muskogee, Indian Territory, Brown and Bennett delivered the money to the Cherokee capital of Tahlequah, Indian Territory.132 In his autobiography, Charles Francis Colcord states “As Henry Brown, then marshal of Caldwell, was considered a very brave and trusted officer he was selected to go along with Milt to guard him and the money.”133 Considering a $1,000 bag of the cartwheels to weigh about 55 pounds, they would have hauled nearly a ton and a half of silver dollars as they rumbled through what was arguably the most outlaw infested area in the nation! We can only wonder if Bennett knew that in earlier days Brown had ridden with Billy the Kid.
♦ ♦ ♦
131 Popular tradition relates that the payment was made in silver dollars. However, silver certificates were issued beginning in 1880 and were redeemable at the Treasury in silver. The Stock Exchange Bank in Caldwell was the headquarters of the Cherokee Strip Livestock Association. A bronze historical marker presently positioned in front of the Stock Exchange Bank states “At one time the bank's vault held 100,000 silver dollars to pay Indian allotments as the Indians would not accept paper money.”
132 More references report that they delivered the money from Caldwell than from Muskogee but the article referring to Muskogee seems to ring with more authority.
133 Colcord, p. 112.
A character study of Henry Brown produces astonishingly paradoxical results. His outward appearance was misleading and belied his true nature. One’s initial perception of the man could in no way be reconciled with the commonly held conception of the ruggedly intimidating, haughty lawman image; much less, that of a malevolent outlaw. Surprisingly, the few contemporary descriptions of him portray an almost diminutive man, rather plain, nearly insignificant looking and exuding an introvert presence; certainly not a person one would consider a candidate for maintaining order in a hell hole like Caldwell.
Major Andrew Drumm, one of the founding members of the Comanche Pool, knew Brown personally and recommended him for the position of Caldwell City Marshal. Major Drumm commented that Brown “. . . was one of the mildest mannered men I ever knew.” He commented that
. . . Brown was, perhaps, the most
singularly constituted man I ever knew. I never heard him use an oath. He never drank or smoked, and no one in Caldwell ever knew him to associate with any but the best citizens.134
In, Midnight and Noonday George Freeman recalling Brown’s demeanor wrote, “He dressed neatly, was gentlemanly, and won friends immediately upon his arrival in Caldwell”135 He was said to be “exceedingly modest and in fact bashful.”136
The Caldwell Commercial on July 6, 1882, extolled a commendation:
Mr. Brown is a young man who bears an excellent reputation, and although he has acted in similar capacities for several years, has never acquired any of those habits which some seem to think are absolutely necessary to make an officer popular with the “boys.”
134 Caldwell Standard, May 8, 1884.
135 Freeman, p. 212.
136 Rolla Weekly Herald, May 15, 1884.
An excerpt from the February 1, 1883, Caldwell Commercial said of Brown:
Cool, courageous and gentlemanly, and free from the vices supposed to be proper adjuncts to a man occupying his position; he has earned the confidence of our best citizens and the respect of those disposed to consider themselves especially delegated to run border towns. One other thing may be said in his favor: he has never been the recipient of self-presented testimonials, nor hounded the newspaper offices of the surrounding villages for personal puffs, and it gives us supreme satisfaction to state these facts.
The Barber County Index bestowed more praise saying Brown
. . . gained the entire confidence of the people . . . and . . . conducted himself in such a manner that the doors of society were always open to him. He neither drank, smoked, chewed nor gambled. In size he was rather under the medium, but compactly built, and such a man as would be supposed capable of great physical endurance. He was very light complexioned, blue eyes and light mustache.137
Caldwell resident, Sam Ridings, who knew Brown personally, in his book, The Chisholm Trail, gives a characterization:
From a casual observation, there was nothing to attract attention to this man more than other cowboys who daily rode up or down the trail.
His appearance was anything but striking. He was small in stature, and slender, very much under size, and the lines of his body were not a model by any means.138
But when confronting lawbreakers, he put on a different face. Perhaps his most striking features—the ones that commanded notice and inspired the cowboys to pay
137 Barber County Index, May 16, 1884.
138 Ridings, p. 489.
respect—were found in his face. His facial features provided one with an insight into the grave, hard reality of his underlying character: He had “a square set jaw, not unlike that of a bull dog”139 and “his face indicated firmness and lack of physical fear.”140 141 He “. . . seldom smiled, was sober, candid, and determined in expression and mind . . .
His words were few and were parted with reluctantly. His disposition impressed one as being surly, that he did not care to be bothered, did not appreciate one’s company, or felt bored by one’s inferiority. In fact his disposition seemed very much reserved; not only reserved, but made one feel easier after parting with his company.142
Many testimonials alluding to his prowess with a six-gun have survived. Medicine Lodge, Kansas resident George Horney knew Brown personally.143 Horney’s granddaughter, Beverly McCollom, in her book, Meandering, shares some of her grandfather’s memories as transcribed by her father who was George Horney’s son. He related that, “Henry Brown was the fastest man with a gun he ever saw.”144 “He is one of the quickest men on the trigger in the Southwest,” quoted the Caldwell Post on July 6, 1882; and “. . . one of the best shots in the state.”145
An old time cowboy who knew Brown, Laban Records, in his book, Cherokee Outlet Cowboy, added:
“He was a two-gun man; he could take a six-shooter in each hand and make one think a battle was on. Brown never took a drink of intoxicating liquor nor accepted any kind of a
139 Ibid.
140 Medicine Lodge Cresset, May 1, 1884.
141 Freeman, p. 188.
142 Ridings, p. 489.
143 McCollom, Meandering, p. 62. Quoted by George Horney’s son: “My father knew Henry Brown and Billy Smith personally having bunked with Billy Smith on the range.”
144 Ibid. p. 63. George W. Horney was author Beverly McCollom’s grandfather.
145 Harper Journal, May 8, 1884.
drink. He was always on the lookout for enemies; there were plenty of men who would kill him any minute.”146
Ridings suggests a deeper, dark side of the
It is well to observe here, that never into the soul of this man entered a feeling of remorse, pity, or love for his fellow man. He possessed the most stoical disposition that could be crowded into a human being. No exhibition of grandeur or beauty, or any scene of suffering or horror, ever changed the expression of his face.147
Caldwell resident D. D. Leahy perhaps exaggerated: “Few people who cared for their lives argued orders from Hendry. He was rather over-fond of making business for the undertaker.”
♦ ♦ ♦
Much has been written about Brown’s tenure in Caldwell and his previous association with Billy the Kid in New Mexico.148 Most conventional accounts relate that the people of Caldwell and the region had not been aware of Brown’s former career with the Kid until exposed by the noted author and early Caldwell resident, Charlie
146 Records, Cherokee Outlet Cowboy, p. 255. “One day I saw him at a saloon. Several fellows urged him to take a drink at the bar. He tried to talk them out of it but they wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. They lined up at the bar, and he was the last one to step up to the bar at the left. The slop jar in which the glasses were rinsed was sitting on the floor directly under his left arm. When they raised their glasses to drink, he raised his glass, then turned it bottom side upward and emptied the liquor into the refuse jar. He set his glass on the bar at the same time as did the others. I don’t think that even the bartender saw what he had done.”
147 Ridings, p. 489.
148 Read an excellent short Henry Brown biography starting on page 67
of Miller’s & Snell’s WHY the WEST was WILD. For a more complete
biography, read Henry Brown: The Outlaw Marshal by Bill O’Neal.
Siringo.149 That belief most likely stems from several of Sam Ridings’ statements in his book, The Chisholm Trail:
Brown’s identity was not generally known in Caldwell at this time, nor until after the raid at Medicine Lodge . . . .150
While the popular tradition persists that the public at large was unaware of Brown’s past, perhaps more likely, it was rumored and even well known in certain circles but the subject avoided or quietly ignored.151 Brown had worked on several of the ranches in the Cherokee Outlet and made no secret of his background. He had worked with Charles Colcord and other cowboys in Colcord’s camp and both he and his past were well known to the ranchers and cowboys of the area. Colcord knew about Brown’s past in New Mexico and said he learned a lot about Billy the Kid from him.152 Colcord and many of the Outlet cowboys who knew Brown were frequent visitors to Caldwell and it seems very unlikely that they felt bound by any sense of honor to keep his secret hidden—or that it was meant to be a secret to begin with.
Major Drumm knew about Brown’s past when he recommended him for the job and commented: “. . . he was a most desperate man, and was known to be very reckless at a former period of his life.”153
Interestingly, Brown’s inquisitive young roommate, Grant Harris, once asked him about his past and, in effect, was told, “Kid, mind your own business!”154
149 Caldwell Standard, May 8, 1884. In a stinging rebuttal to a scurrilous Wichita Times article, the Caldwell Standard declared “. . . our people did NOT know Brown and Wheeler to be criminals when they employed them as officers of this city.”
150 Ridings, p. 496.
151 “Brown’s identity was not generally [emphasis added] known in Caldwell at this time, nor until after the raid at Medicine Lodge . . . .” (Ridings, p. 496.)
152 Colcord, pp. 110 -114.
153 Caldwell Standard on May 8, 1884.
154 Caldwell Messenger, July 24, 1939.
In spite of his previous history, it is notable that as far as is known, Henry Brown never considered anything he had done in his past to be bad enough to warrant assuming an alias.
♦ ♦ ♦
Marshal Brown killed two men while marshal of Caldwell. On May 14, 1883, several of the town’s citizens were terrorized by a drunken Pawnee renegade named Spotted Horse. He had brandished a concealed revolver in a threatening manner and Marshal Brown was notified. When confronted by Brown, Spotted Horse went for his gun. The two were separated only by several feet when Brown fired four rounds; the first three most probably being warning shots. The fourth slug drilled its way through the Indian’s forehead.
On December 14, 1883, Newt Boyce, a gambler, got in a row with a soldier and cut him severely with a knife. Assistant Marshal Ben Wheeler took the knife away and sent Boyce home. Instead, Boyce entered a store and was in the process of purchasing a knife and a gun when Brown walked in, arrested him and locked him up for the night. The next morning, Boyce paid his fine, then filled up with liquor and publicly announced is intention to kill Brown. After securing his famous Winchester, Brown returned to the street and found Boyce who was about to enter Phillip’s Saloon, about thirty feet distant. Brown called to Boyce to “hold up” whereupon Boyce immediately took cover behind an awning post while reaching into his coat as if to retrieve a gun. Brown fired two shots with his Winchester. Boyce staggered into the saloon, collapsed, and died the next morning.155
♦ ♦ ♦
155 It was not recorded whether or not Boyce actually had a concealed
weapon. The verdict of the jury was that ”the deceased came to his
death at the hands of an officer while in the discharge of his duties.”
Southwestern Hotel, Caldwell, Kansas, later became the Caldwell Hospital Len Gratteri Collection
An interesting insight into Brown’s character was recorded in later years by Grant Harris who arrived in Caldwell at age fifteen and went to work as a printer at the Caldwell Standard. Brown befriended young Harris and the two shared a room for some time at the Southwestern Hotel. Harris recalls attending Brown’s wedding in an article in the Caldwell Messenger of July 24, 1939:
The wedding was marred by a slight difference of opinion. When Brown stood up with his bride to be, as usual he had two six-shooters strapped around his waist. The minister, a Reverend Aiken, looked at Brown a moment and then said: “To me it seems unbecoming for a man to be married as you are. Please take off your guns, at least during the ceremony.”
“These guns have not been out of my reach for years, and I’ll be married with them on,” Brown retorted.
“Then you will have to get someone else to perform the ceremony,” the minister replied, looking straight into Brown’s eyes. Brown glared a moment, reached down and unbuckled his belt and laid the guns on a sofa about 10 feet away. As soon as the ceremony was completed, Brown
stooped over, picked up his guns and strapped them on, and then kissed his wife.
Brown’s wife was Alice Maude Levagood, the adopted daughter of a well-to-do Caldwell brick maker. She commanded a rank of the highest stature in the society of the community. Alice Maude had a college degree—rare for females of that era. They were married March 25, 1884, in the home of Brown’s new brother-in-law, Jonathan “Newt” Miller. Miller had worked for Mike Meagher as a policeman in Wichita and had been a Caldwell Assistant Marshal just before Brown took the job. Another new brother-in-law was Lieutenant Heber Creel of the 7 th Cavalry at Fort Reno who founded Devils Lake, North Dakota, the county seat of Ramsey County, and who later became a major general and a senator of that state.
♦ ♦ ♦
Barely a month after his wedding, Marshal Brown and his assistant, Ben Wheeler, received the mayor’s permission to ride into the Cherokee Outlet in pursuit of a murderer. The marshals had won the unqualified respect, trust, and admiration of the town’s population and had earned the people’s unquestioned confidence as guardians of their community. But, pursuit of a murderer was a ruse. Instead, they met two ranch hands, John Wesley156 and Billy Smith157 and rode to Medicine Lodge, Kansas, a town of about 1,000 population that lay 60 Miles to the west of Caldwell. Some 17 years earlier, in 1867, it had been hallowed ground for several tribes of Plains Indians. A consecrated site had been chosen there beside a river
156 Records says he . . found it convenient to have more than one name. When I met him in the spring of 1879 on the T5 ranch, he went by the name, John Dugan.” (Records, p. 135.) Wesley also used the alias, “Harry Hill.” (Ridings, p. 496.)
157 Smith, “an expert horseman” who had been a horse wrangler, was the recently promoted range boss of the T5 ranch located in the Cherokee Outlet south of Medicine Lodge.
revered for its healthful waters158 where they erected a sacred lodge—a Medicine Lodge.159
A little after 9:00 am on the rainy Wednesday morning of April 30, 1884, the four horsemen reined up at the rear of the Medicine Valley Bank. Brown, Wheeler, and Wesley entered the bank while Smith stayed with the horses. Within seconds of their entry, their plan collapsed in confusion as bank president Edward “Wylie” Payne160, who was expected to not be present, unexpectedly went for his gun. Unintentional impulsive gunfire erupted. Spontaneously, Payne was shot161 as was cashier George Geppert162 who died in a pool of blood after successfully locking the vault and causing the robbery attempt to end in a chaotic failure.163
158 The Indians held pow-wows, dances, and religious rites there. The river’s water contained magnesium sulfate, otherwise known as Epsom Salts, which the Indians found healthful and good “medicine,” Thus, the river came to be known as the Medicine River. (Barber County Historical Society, Chosen Land: Barber County, Kansas, p. 7.)
159 There, a great gathering of Indians and whites met; several key peace treaties were signed between the United States government and the Southern Cheyenne, Southern Arapaho, Kiowa, Plains Apache, and Comanche tribes and the town of Medicine Lodge came to life on that site.
160 Payne was a principal leader in the region. He owned a local newspaper, the Barber County Index, and was a director of the Cherokee Strip Livestock Association as well as president of the great Comanche Cattle Pool.
161 Payne died about 24 hours later.
162 Geppert was shot twice; once by Wheeler and once, it is thought, by Wesley.
163 See William Sherod Robinson alias Ben Wheeler by Len Gratteri, Rod Cook, and James Williams for an exhaustive, in-depth account of the robbery and the many intrigues associated with it.
Edward W. Payne George Geppert Gratteri photos
Billy Smith and Sheriff Denn, who happened to be across Main Street east of the bank, were both alerted by the gunfire within the bank and immediately began shooting at one another. Also alerted, were a dozen cowboys in a stable164 directly north across the street from the bank, waiting for the rain to stop. As the three robbers rushed out of the back door of the bank, they, with Smith, were caught in a storm of gunfire directed at them by the cowboys in the stable across the street.
The robbers’ frantic getaway was hindered by their panic stricken horses and the driving rain. Rampant with fright from the gunfire to and from the stable, the horses reared wildly in the mud as the men fought to untie the rain soaked reins. Finally mounted, the four made a break and headed south toward the Outlet. Hotly pursued and constantly under fire by the cowboys, they were finally cornered in a deep canyon165 southwest of the town. After a
164 Hankins & McKinney Brothers Livery Feed & Sale Stable.
165 The canyon has come to be known as Jackass Canyon.
two hour standoff and intermittent gunfire, the four desperados, cold, soaked, and exhausted, surrendered. Returned to town, Brown and Wesley were shackled together with leg irons; Wheeler and Smith were bound together with handcuffs and they were all locked in jail.
While in jail, Brown wrote a poignant letter to his wife. It read in part:
Darling Wife: I am in jail here. Four of us tried to rob the bank here and one man shot one of the men in the bank. I want you to come and see me as soon as you can. I will send you all of my things and you can sell them. But keep the Winchester. It is hard for me to write this letter, but it was all for you, my sweet wife, and for the love I have for you. “Do not go back on me. If you do it will kill me. Be true to me as long as you live, and come to see me if you think enough of me. My love is just the same as it always was. Oh, how I did hate to leave you last Sunday evening. But I did not think this would happen. I thought we could take in the money and not have any trouble with it, but a man’s fondest hopes are sometimes broken with trouble. We would not have been arrested but one of our horses gave out and we could not leave him [the rider] alone. I do not know what to write. Do the best you can with everything.
I want you to send me some clothes. Sell all the things you don’t need. Have your picture taken and send it to me. Now, my dear wife, go and see Mr. Witzleben and Mr. Nyce and get the money. If a mob does not kill us we will come out all right after while. Maude, I did not shoot anyone and didn’t want the others to kill anyone. But they did and that is all there is about it. Now, my darling wife, goodbye. H. N. Brown.166
166 Caldwell Journal, May 8, 1884. Henry and Alice had no children. Alice moved to Devils Lake where the rest of here family had moved. She never remarried. Her life ended May 25, 1935, in Frankfort, Indiana, where she had been Superintendant of The Palmer Hospital; an insane asylum. Her obituary cryptically stated: “In 1883 [actually 1884] she was married to H. N. Brown who passed away many years ago.”
That evening, an angry mob assembled and at about 9:00 pm they stormed the jail. Unbeknownst to the mob, the prisoners had freed themselves from their restraints. When the jail door was opened, Brown and Wheeler sprang out of the jail and darted through the crowd in a desperate flight to escape. After a frantic run of about 100 yards and weakened by numerous gunshot wounds, Wheeler finally collapsed. Henry Brown ran only 25 feet before being knocked down, “cut nearly in two,” by the number eight shot from both barrels of a sawed-off, twelve-gauge shotgun.167 He died instantly.168
“When Brown’s body was examined, nine buck shot were found to have entered the small of his back in a 12 inch circular space, any one of which would have killed him.”169 The Medicine Lodge Cresset added: “. . . besides having a few stray Winchester balls in various parts of his body.”170 Pistol balls were also found in his body.171
The three remaining robbers were taken to an elm tree at the creek bottom on the east edge of town. Perhaps unique in the history of the Old West, Wesley and Smith were hanged together with one rope.172 Wheeler, also, was hanged.173
Brown’s wife returned his body to Caldwell where it is believed to have been interred in the new Caldwell
167 McCollom, p. 63. Ironically, the shotgun belonged to George Geppart. George W. Horney had hand loaded the shells for Geppart. The man who shot Brown was Bill Kelly.
168 Caldwell Journal, May 8, 1884.
169 Page #2 of L. Caurien’s T. A McNeal, interview notes.
170 Medicine Lodge Cresset, May 1, 1884.
171 Barber County Index, May 9, 1884.
172 Letter from T. A. McNeal to L. W. Fullerton, January 22, 1932, from the Len Gratteri collection. “There was one peculiarity about that hanging which I think probably never occurred at any other hanging. That is that the lynchers were short of ropes and they hanged the largest man, Ben Wheeler, with one rope and Smith and Wesley, who were smaller men, they hanged together with the other rope.”
173 Wheeler was so close to death that the coroner’s jury wasn’t sure if he was dead or alive when the noose was fitted around his neck. “Wheeler came to his death by gun or pistol shots or hanging.” (Barber County Index, May 2, 1884, “Coroner’s Verdict.”)
cemetery. The marker, if there was one, has been lost, perhaps shot up or carried off by former adversarial cowboys. A wooden marker would have simply deteriorated over the years. In any case, Caldwell city records do not record a plot under his name and his grave site within the cemetery is unknown.
His motive for taking part in the fiasco has puzzled historians and researchers of the robbery from then until now. Major Drumm, when prompted for his opinion, replied:
“That is what is puzzling the people of Caldwell. I am sure I am at a loss to account for his conduct. He was married about three weeks since to a most estimable lady, and that doubtless had something to do with the matter. It probably made him ambitious and created in him a desire to earn a better support. With this in his mind he probably thought he could rob the bank at Medicine Lodge and return to Caldwell without creating any suspicion. After all I am at a loss to account for his strange action, as I took him to be an upright man in every respect.”174
Speculation abounds that Brown’s reasoning for doing the robbery was spurred by an overburden of debt resulting from his marriage and the purchase of their home. But an examination of his probate records does not support that theory. His house cost $900 (equal to $20,700 of today’s dollars) and represented the preponderance of his debt. (His probate records reveal a balance of $735.80 was owed on his mortgage at the time of his death.) At that time, in addition to his regular salary, he was earning an average of $33.86 ($779) per month for an average of 16.9 arrests that he had been making each month at $2.00 ($46) per arrest. At that rate, using only the money earned for the arrests he made, he could easily have paid for his house in just over two years time without disturbing his regular salary.
174 Caldwell Standard, May 8, 1884.
The Caldwell Standard offers a more plausible explanation, though perhaps only a rumor. Rather than being overextended, perhaps he had a plan:
“. . . it has been stated that a short time prior to Brown’s marriage he told the young lady, who unfortunately became his wife, that about the first of May he would have about $15,000, [$345,000] and that he intended to invest some money in cattle, and start a ranch in the Indian Territory.
He must have then had in mind the attempted robbery. Circumstances all point to the fact that the robbery was contemplated weeks before it was undertaken.175
♦ ♦ ♦
The Caldwell newspapers assert that Brown fatally wounded Payne either with a single shot or with two shots. The Caldwell Standard reported on May 7 that “He [Payne] lived long enough to make a statement that Brown shot him, while Wheeler and Wesley killed Geppert.” The following day, the Caldwell Journal, too, named Brown, obviously taking the information from the Standard’s report.176 But it is important to note that the Caldwell Standard and Journal are the only true primary references naming Brown as Payne’s assassin. The Medicine Lodge newspapers, the Cresset and Index, do not name Brown as Payne’s killer—in fact, they do not name his killer at all; nor does Payne, himself, in the newspaper report of his deathbed statement.
Since George Freeman’s Midnight and Noonday was published in 1890, it has been established as the first primary source to be consulted in virtually any study of the Medicine Lodge robbery. For the most part, it has been accepted as an unquestioned true account. Among other
175 Caldwell Standard, May 15, 1884.
176 The Caldwell newspaper reports, details of which conflict with one another, were based on hearsay, almost certainly third-hand accounts constructed of stories taken to Caldwell by visitors to or from Medicine Lodge.
concepts, it has firmly implanted in the minds of successive researchers, writers, and historians, the premise that the bank cashier, Geppert, was a hapless victim as was bank president Payne, who, it reports, was killed by Brown.
Then along came T. A. McNeal’s book in 1922 telling a different story—a story that, for the most part, seems to have been neglected.
In his book, When Kansas Was Young, respected and reliable T. A. McNeal reports that after the captives were incarcerated, his brother, J. W “Joe” McNeal, in his capacity as county attorney, entered the jail to record affidavits of their statements.177 “And then the men facing their doom told this remarkable story to the county attorney.” In one profound statement, T. A. McNeal reiterates the depositions as told to him by his brother. His version counters the Midnight and Noonday tradition and if true, frames the saga in an entirely different light; in effect, demanding a re-evaluation of the generally held perception. McNeal wrote:
’’They said that the bank robbery was a frame-up to save the cashier, who was short $10,000; that Wylie Payne was not expected to be in town as he had arranged to ship some beef cattle on that day; that when they found him in the bank they concluded that they had been double crossed and when Payne reached for his gun Wesley shot him178 and then Wheeler had shot the cashier.”179
♦ ♦ ♦
Henry Newton Brown along with Billy the Kid and several others were indicted for the murders of Lincoln
177 It would have been J.W. McNeal’s responsibility to record sworn statements of each of the prisoners. Had there been a trial, those affidavits would have become part of the case file of each individual but because no files developed, the affidavits were lost.
178 Recall that Brown, in his letter to his wife, said that he did not kill any one, but . . they did.”
179 McNeal, When Kansas Was Young, p. 158.
County Sheriff William Brady and Deputy Sheriff George Hindman; also for the murder of “Buckshot” Roberts at the famous Blazer’s Mill fight. On November 13, 1878, in a futile attempt to cool the rampant hostilities, Governor Lew Wallace granted a general pardon which temporarily let the fugitives off the hook. Then roughly four months later he rescinded the pardon and revalidated the indictments adding additional crimes and additional names to the list. As far as is known, Brown was never exonerated and as no evidence to the contrary has yet been found, it is presumed that Brown was still under indictment while marshal of Caldwell—still wanted for murder in New Mexico until the day he died.180
♦ ♦ ♦
“Whatever else can be said of Brown and Wheeler; they tamed Caldwell. What had been the toughest, gaudiest, hell-roaringest town on the border now was a quiet country town.”181
180 There were two indictments with cases docketed: “Territory of New Mexico vs. John Middleton, Henry Brown, William Bonney, alias Kid, alias William Antrim;” and “United States of America vs. Charles Bowdry, ‘Dock’ Scurlock, Hendry Brown, Henry Antrim, alias Kid, John Middleton, Stephen Stevens, John Scroggins, George Coe, and Fred Wait.”
181 From Grant Harris’ notes sent to this writer by his grandson,
Robert T. Harris.
“The End” — Wheeler, Wesley, and Smith at Medicine Lodge. Original gauche art by Bob Boze Bell of True West Magazine; created for the book William Sherod Robinson alias Ben Wheeler by Len Gratteri, Rod Cook, and James Williams.
For those not familiar with the antics of Billy the Kid and the history of the famous Lincoln County War, a little background is in order. In a nutshell:
The murder of John Henry Tunstall (the major good guy) by Frank Baker and William Morton (gun-hands for Murphy, the big boss of the bad guys) struck the spark that ignited the Lincoln County War. Billy the Kid, Henry Brown, Tom O’Folliard, Doc Scurlock, and some others of the Kid’s bunch, had worked for and were loyal to Tunstall and swore to avenge his murder. Shortly after, they became participants in a posse, 13 in all, led by Constable Dick Brewer (just before he was shot through the forehead by Buckshot Roberts at the Blazer’s Mill fight). After a five mile chase, they caught Baker and Morton who begged that their lives be spared. Constable Brewer reluctantly guaranteed their safety if they would surrender. His promise angered the Kid and his pals who had sworn to kill the two.
Talk among the posse members prophesized that the two would be killed in spite of Brewer’s promise. William McCloskey, one of the posse members who had been a friend of Baker and Morton stated that he would die before letting the two be killed.
Over a hundred books, articles, and movies tell the story of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War with varying degrees of fidelity. All of these narrow down to several varying accounts relating the fate of William McCloskey. In all of the various accounts in which his death is addressed, three separate scenarios emerge.
Pat Garrett, in his book The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid,, says McCloskey was killed by Frank McNab:
“. . . About twenty or thirty miles from
Roswell, near the Black Water Holes, McNab and
Brown rode up to McCloskey and Middleton.
McNab placed his revolver to McCloskey’s head
and said: “You are the son-of-a-bitch that’s got to
die before harm can come to these fellows [Morton and Baker], are you?” and fired as he spoke. McCloskey rolled from his horse a corpse. . .”
In his book, The Saga of Billy the Kid, Walter Noble Burns agrees by relating a second hand account that he heard supposedly quoting the Kid to say that:
“. . . Suddenly Frank McNab and Hendry Brown spurred up their horses and drew rein alongside of McCloskey and Middleton.
‘So you are the brave hero,’ roared McNab to McCloskey, ‘who will die before he sees these two fellows killed. Alright. We’ll send you to hell along with them. ’
He stuck his six-shooter into McCloskey’s face and pulled the trigger. The flame leaping from the muzzle burned McCloskey’s eyebrows and blackened his skin with powder burns and he fell out of his saddle dead. . .”
But Frank McNab, as quoted by Ash Upson in his letter to the Silver City [New Mexico] Independent, denies the charge and names Morton:
“. . . Morton was riding side by side with one of the posse, when he [Morton] suddenly snatched McCloskey’s pistol from his scabbard and shot him dead. . .”
I recently received a copy of a letter from the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon, Texas, that I believe illustrates the true story. The letter, dated August 15, 1927, is from Florencio Chaves, a member of the posse and witness to the killing, to J. Evetts Haley. In it, Chaves names Henry Brown as McCloskey’s killer.
“. . . I was with the party that captured Morton and Baker. We went down from Lincoln to try to catch an Indian who worked for Beckwith . .
. Billy [the Kid], [Fred] Waite, [John] Middleton,
Henry Brown, and Dock Scurlock were along. A man named McCloskey told the McSwain [McSween] bunch [the Kid’s group] he wanted to stay with them. Doc Scurlock said that he did not
tell the truth; that he was [in] sympathy with the Murphy [big boss bad guy] because he did not want us to go after Baker and Morton. After we got them [after the posse captured Baker and Morton], Scurlock told the bunch this question as they were coming up the road with Baker and Morton: ‘If
you go to McCloskey and ask him what is the best way to kill those fellows, I’ll bet you he don’t want to kill them.’ This was to show whether McCloskey was with the other bunch [with the Murphy faction]. Billy, [Jim] French, and Waite were in front of Baker and Morton. Waite came back to Doc Scurlock who was behind, and Waite asked McCloskey: ‘How’s the best way to kill those sons of bitches?’ McCloskey said: ‘No, don’t kill them; take [them] to jail and sheriff’s hands and leave [them] to [the] law.’ French came back to McCloskey’s place, and without saying anything else, Henry Brown jerked his gun and shot McCloskey, killing him immediately. Baker and Morton heard the shots, knew that they were next, and made a break. Billy the Kid, French, Tom O’Folliard, a tall fellow, all went to shooting at them and I don’t know which killed them.”
Marshal Henry Newton Brown, former cohort of Billy the Kid and veteran of the famous New Mexico Lincoln County War, later became, many believe, Caldwell’s most respected and most effective lawman during Caldwell’s uproarious Chisholm Trail era. The lawmen that the citizens of Caldwell had been accustomed to were boisterous, hard-drinking ruffians who were not much better behaved than the roughshod cowboys they dealt with. While understandably held in contempt by the unruly cowboy class, Marshal Brown was generally well liked by the townspeople. In stark contrast to his predecessors, he neither smoked, drank, nor gambled and was noted to be in attendance at many social functions. He was also to be found at the Methodist Church regularly on Sundays. Early in his first term, the citizens of Caldwell presented to him a magnificently engraved gold and silver mounted Winchester rifle in recognition of his admirable work of “cleaning up the town”. (The rifle is now displayed in the Kansas Historical Museum in Topeka, Kansas.)
Marshal Brown married Miss Alice Maude Levagood on March 26, 1884. The adopted daughter of Caldwell brick manufacturer Richard Rue, she had taught at the Wichita Indian Agency School, Indian Territory in 1882-3, and at Anthony, Kansas in 1883-4 before meeting Brown. According to George Freeman in his book, Midnight and Noonday, “Henry Brown married one of Caldwell’s brightest young ladies, who had long been one of the leaders in society and a favorite of her associates . . .” She was quite possibly the most highly regarded prize that Caldwell had to offer the young men of that era.
On April 31, 1884, barely a month after the wedding, Caldwellites were shocked to learn that their marshal had collaborated in a bizarre plot. It was a puzzlingly uncharacteristic act, the motivation of which to this day has left historians and biographers in a perplexing quandary. Marshal Brown, his deputy, Ben Wheeler, and two Cherokee Outlet cowboys, John Wesley and Billy
Smith, attempted to rob the Medicine Valley Bank in neighboring Medicine Lodge. The story is well known: after killing the bank president and a teller, their attempt failed. After a 10-mile pursuit, they were finally trapped in a muddy box canyon and after a gunfight with the posse, they were forced to surrender. Brown was killed in his attempt to escape - shot nearly in two as the story goes (with #8 buckshot according to the Medicine Lodge lady whose great-grandfather had hand-loaded the shells that took Brown down.) The other three were lynched. For the full interesting, entertaining, and true story, read Henry Brown, Outlaw Marshal by Bill O’Neal. A good historical novel based on Henry Brown is Prince of the Plains by Troy Boucher. (Both books are available at the Carnegie Library.)
As have so many others, I, too, have pondered Brown’s motivation in the attempted heist as well as various other aspects of Brown’s life and death. But the question foremost in my mind over the years, and the most intriguing, has been the location of his final resting-place. For some time, I have collected bits and pieces of information surrounding Brown’s career in Caldwell. Around the first part of September, 2003, some of the bits and pieces began to form a picture. Several factors then compelled me to believe that Henry’s remains could quite possibly be found in one of two side-by-side plots in the Caldwell Cemetery.
My thought process began with the consensus of Medicine Lodge historians, which relates that the four robbers were all buried in “Potter’s field” across the then west Medicine Lodge cemetery boundary. It was located on the slope at the edge of what was called “a gully” by Medicine Lodge cemetery sexton Carol Ritter. All agree that all four were initially buried there but that Brown, Wheeler, and Smith were subsequently exhumed at various times; Mrs. Brown bringing Brown’s remains to Caldwell and Wheeler’s wife and/or brother and Smith’s family removing their remains to Texas. (John Wesley, the only one of the four robbers remaining in Medicine Lodge, now enjoys a
new tombstone complete with an enclosing wrought-iron fence recently bestowed by caring citizens of Medicine Lodge.)
George Freeman in Midnight and Noonday states:
. . . At the request of the gentlemen from Caldwell, the bodies of Brown and Wheeler were exhumed, and the boys reported that the features of the dead men were as natural as if they were merely asleep.
The bodies were shrouded and buried in pine coffins. Their last resting-place is just over the line of the Medicine Lodge cemetery.
No doubt the “boys” Freeman refers to were Ben Miller, Harvey Horner, Lee Weller and Johnnie Blair who journeyed to Medicine Lodge, in part to confirm the identity of Caldwell’s marshals. However, Freeman’s assertion that it was the outlaws’ “last resting-place” is in doubt. Freeman, in his zeal to tell a good story, has been shown to be an inaccurate reporter at times, presenting hearsay as fact in his book (which, regardless, is still noted to be the definitive commentary on early day Caldwell.)
In any case, the evidence supports a different account:
In October of 1976, Robert R. Foster of Austin, Texas wrote a deposition that establishes provenance of Brown’s Winchester rifle. The document now resides in the archives of the Kansas Historical Museum at Topeka. In it, Foster states that his grandmother “. . . met and was a good friend of Mrs. H. N. Brown when she went to get his body and brought it back to Caldwell, Kan. She had his 73 Winchester and pistol . . . .” (This pistol is reputed to now be in the possession of Mr. Dilbert Ash in Medicine Lodge.)
Nellie Snyder Yost in her book, Medicine Lodge, quotes an elderly resident of Medicine Lodge who said that before Brown could be buried, his wife claimed the body, placed it in a lumber wagon, and took it back to Caldwell for burial.
The assertion that Mrs. Brown brought Henry’s body back to Caldwell is not in dispute and as far as I can tell, is generally accepted as fact. Several other accounts support that contention.
Living in Caldwell at that time was Mrs. Alice Brown’s brother-in-law, Jonathan Newton (Newt) Miller. He came to Caldwell in August 1880 and was appointed Assistant Marshal under Marshal John Phillips on April 4, 1881. He operated a dray service (horse and wagon hauling), and a stable at the rear of the York-Parker-Draper store and bought and sold horses. Alice and Henry Brown were married in Miller’s home.
From the few available fragments of information surviving, I surmise that Alice, being alone after Brown’s death and her parents having already left Caldwell, leaned on Miller quite a lot. I suspect that he helped her in many ways: to dispose of her house and furniture and assist with Brown’s probate matters, etc. I gather that he did a bit of leg-work for her — to help shield her from public view, perhaps to help her avoid the stigma, real or imagined, produced by her late husband’s demise. A Commercial article relates that Newt Miller raffled off a fancy Spanish bit that Brown had obtained from Albert Witzleben, proprietor of York-Parker-Draper, for $35. The article ends with the statement that “The sole object in making up this raffle is to get as much money out of the bridle as possible for the unfortunate young lady who is Brown’s widow. She is closely related to Mr. Miller, and hence his interest in the matter.”
Mrs. Brown moved to Devils Lake, Dakota Territory in August following Henry’s death. Miller, himself, moved to Devils Lake several months later.
Concerning the earlier reference that “Maude brought his body back in a wagon:” — The rugged seventy-mile trip from Caldwell to Medicine Lodge would likely have taken two exhausting days at minimum — each way — a daunting chore for a delicate lady of polite society. It seems reasonable to suggest that her brother-in-law, Newt Miller,
owning a dray service, may very well have provided or at least assisted in the transport.
Brown’s remains were then re-interred. The old Arnold Cemetery, or “Boot Hill,” as it is commonly referred to today, was no longer in use at that time (1884) as indicated by an article in the Caldwell Journal on October 8, 1883 that stated
Remove your dead. To all whom it may concern: All parties who have dead friends buried on section 36 north-east of town, known as the Arnold cemetery, are hereby requested to remove same between this date and the 1st of December 1883. [Signed] P. W.
At this point, I was convinced that someone had brought Henry Brown back and re-interred him in the new Caldwell cemetery. There is no record of Alice burying Henry Brown there but if she cared enough to endure that grueling four-day trip and bring him back to Caldwell, it seems that she must have intended to provide him a proper burial — and surely not in a nondescript grave in “potter’s field.” It made sense to me that if she didn’t purchase the plot and arrange the burial herself, then someone did it on her behalf — a friend, someone close.
That someone, it seemed to me, could quite logically have been “closely related” Newt Miller.
I searched through the big cemetery record book at the City Building; intently glancing over the entries denoting the names of the purchasers of the cemetery lots, wondering if the name Jonathan Newton Miller might soon appear.
But it didn’t. It was the first big disappointment.
Then I began to wonder about other of his friends — people close to him. I surmised that surely some influential men of Caldwell at that time that were friends of Brown would have felt obligated to Mrs. Brown and responsible for Henry regardless of his awful transgression — perhaps city officials who felt obliged. Wouldn’t they, out of respect for
her, have taken it upon themselves to see that Mrs. Brown was “looked after?” Wouldn’t they feel duty-bound to see to it that Henry was given a proper burial?
I thought of several men who might fill the bill:
John W. Nyce was in the newspaper business, was elected City Clerk March 1, 1884, and later became a banker. He was heavily involved in civic affairs and was Treasurer of the Sumner Lodge, a fraternal group whose membership included the upper echelons of Caldwell society and business leaders.
Albert Witzleben was proprietor of Caldwell’s prestigious York-Parker-Draper store. He was elected City Treasurer March 1, 1884. In Brown’s last letter to his wife he told her, among other things, to “. . .go and see Mr. Witzleben and Mr. Nyce, and get the money. . . .”
J. M. Thomas was a real estate broker and Justice of the Peace several terms. He was also appointed City Trustee. Newt Miller and Judge J. M. Thomas had legally assumed responsibility as sureties for Mrs. Brown’s probate bond as administrator of Marshal Brown’s estate.
Levi Thrailkill was the owner of the Blue Front Grocery on South Main and was elected to the Caldwell city council on April 4, 1881. (Thrailkill served on the coroner’s jury at the inquest over the death of George Wood.) He was Chaplain of the Sumner Lodge.
William Morris was elected Mayor March 1, 1884, and was Mayor of Caldwell at the time of Marshal Brown’s death. When Henry and Alice bought their house on North Main Street on April 2, 1884, Mayor Morris and Levi Thrailkill co-signed for their home loan. Judge J. M. Thomas witnessed the loan document. After the robbery, Thrailkill and Morris arranged to release Mrs. Brown from her home loan obligation with Caldwell Savings Bank and together they assumed the loan payments.
Disappointed after failing to find Miller’s name as the purchaser of a plot, but still convinced that someone had to have purchased his resting-place, I started again to look
through the book. This time, rather than names, I looked for dates in the time frame that a plot for Brown might have been purchased. Toward evening, as Freda Cink, the City Clerk at that time, was winding down her day and making ready to close up shop, I, too, was ready to call it a day. Then suddenly, like a gunshot, a date exploded out of the page and slammed me between the eyes: “May 1, 1884!” — the very next day after Brown was killed!
Immediately, I shifted my glance to find the purchaser’s name. I was stunned —.
It was Levi Thrailkill!
Thrailkill had been an extremely close friend — a friend so close that he co-signed Brown’s home loan!
The pieces now seemed to fit into a reasonably credible picture. Marshal Brown was killed while attempting his escape on April 30, 1884. The next day, May 1, Medicine Lodge authorities telegraphed the news to Ben Miller in Caldwell and the people of Caldwell learned of the affair and of Brown’s death. For his good friend, Levi Thrailkill, to have purchased Lot No. 227 in the new Caldwell cemetery on that very same day seemed to be too great a coincidence. Adding a mysterious twist to the puzzle, Caldwell cemetery records indicate that his son, John Lewis Thrailkill is buried there. The records and the tombstone on that plot indicate that the child was born and died on the same day: February 13, 1883, fifteen months before Thrailkill purchased the plot. The Caldwell Post of Feb 15, 1883, (the next paper to be printed following the child’s death) printed the obituary of Fannie Thomas, wife of J. M. Thomas but made no mention of the death of the child, John Lewis Thrailkill. In addition, an obituary for the child could not be found in any Caldwell newspapers following that date.
Moreover, Thrailkill had endowed three of the six plots of the lot. The young Thrailkill, according to the records and the placement of his stone, occupied plot number one leaving the adjoining two plots unused.
I mulled it over in my mind several weeks and the more I thought about it, the stronger the argument became. I shared the theory with my friend, Prof. Troy Boucher, author of Prince of the Plains and knowledgeable on the subject of Henry Brown. He found the theory agreeable. I then approached David Mardis and sexton Marc Marcrum and explained my reasoning to them. After discussing it at length, we all agreed the rationale was sound, and that Brown could very well be in one of the two plots. We talked about ways to prove or disprove the hypothesis and discussed the idea of providing a dignified grave marker that might serve as an epilogue that would respectfully acknowledge with solemnity Brown’s place in Caldwell’s history. Finally we determined that we would explore our options about how to proceed.
If remains were found, we reasoned, any number eight buckshot found within the torso should provide good evidence that the remains would be Brown’s. Also, bone fragments traumatized by gunshots, particularly in the spine area, should help in identification. DNA testing would not be an option because we had no access to a relative with whom to compare.
David contacted Dr. Mary Dudley of the Sedgwick County Forensic Center with whom he had prior professional associations, and solicited any insight, advice, or comment she might offer. Dr. Dudley became interested in the project and contacted noted WSU forensic anthropologist Professor Peer Moore-Jansen, who also showed great interest and commitment. Prof. Moore-Jansen had recently collaborated with TV personality Bill Kurtis in his search for the remains of outlaw Jesse James.
The project was organized and on Halloween day, the two plots adjoining that of John Lewis Thrailkill were excavated in hopes that the remains of Henry Brown might be found. Prof. Moore-Jansen conducted the project. Two archeology professors and half a dozen of their students assisted Prof. Moore-Jansen in the venture.
Both plots were excavated to a depth exceeding six feet. No remains were found
The location of Marshal Henry Brown’s gravesite remains unknown.
—Rod Cook December, 2003
Over the many years since the failed 1884 Medicine Lodge bank robbery, it has been ingrained into the minds of aficionados of the Henry Newton Brown saga that his previous association with Billy the Kid was unknown to the citizens of Caldwell. The legend seems to be nearly universal and it is now accepted as fact.
Traced to its root, the origin of the legend is found in the words of cowboy, detective, entrepreneur, and writer, Charlie Siringo: “He begged me to not give him away as he intended to reform and lead an honorable life. But I regretted afterwards that I didn’t tell the citizens of Caldwell of his past.” In his book published in 1912, A Cowboy Detective, pp. 13-14, Siringo relates that he was introduced to Brown by Billy the Kid himself when the Kid’s gang was camped on the Tascosa LX ranch where Siringo had earlier been foreman.
Siringo’s account has been given credence and wide dissemination in a number of later books. A major example is Sam Ridings’ statements in his 1936 book, The Chisholm Trail. They repeat Siringo’s claim taken from A Cowboy Detective:
Brown’s identity was not generally known in Caldwell at this time, nor until after the raid at Medicine Lodge . . . . (Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 496)
In Caldwell, during the time that Henry Brown served as marshal of the town, was but one man who knew him or of his past life. That man was Charles A. Siringo. . . . Hendry Brown knew that Siringo knew him, and after Brown’s death he freely told of his knowledge of Brown, and that he had been called upon by certain parties in the interest of Brown while he was marshal, and threatened with sure and certain death should he ever reveal Brown’s identity. . . . Siringo said that it appeared that Brown was making good and had permanently forsaken his evil ways, and he felt
sure that he would continue to do so. For this reason he thought that it would not only be an injustice to Brown, but also to the people he served, to reveal the facts as to his past.”
(Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 499)
In subsequent years, that story has been picked up and the notion that Browns past was unknown has been repeated in countless succeeding books and articles until it is now embedded in current history books as fact.
While the popular tradition still persists that the public at large was unaware of Brown’s past, perhaps more likely, it was rumored and even well known in certain circles but the subject avoided or quietly ignored. Several instances appear in the primary sources indicating that this was indeed the case. Seven days after his death, an article in the Caldwell Standard, “Extra” of May 7, 1884, claimed that “Brown was known to have led a wild life before he came here. But to what extent only a few persons knew.”
Interestingly, Pat Garrett’s book, The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, was published on April 17, 1882. In it, Garrett relates clearly and in great detail Brown’s adventures with the Kid. The book was a national best seller and surely appeared on the bookshelf in Caldwell’s stationery and bookstore well before Henry Brown became an assistant marshal on July 1 of that year. The bookstore served as the post office at that time. Because door-to-door delivery of the mail had not yet come into effect, all citizens were required to pick up their mail at the bookstore. So, it is surmised that the book would have had wide exposure to the citizens of Caldwell and suggests that more than “only a few persons knew.”
Brown had worked on several of the ranches in the Cherokee Outlet and made no secret of his background. He had worked with Charles Colcord and other cowboys in Colcord’s camp and both he and his past were well known to the ranchers and cowboys of the area. Colcord knew about Brown’s past in New Mexico and said he learned a lot about Billy the Kid from him. Colcord and many of the
Was brown's past Known ?
Outlet cowboys who knew Brown were frequent visitors to Caldwell and it seems very unlikely that they felt bound by any sense of honor to keep his secret hidden—or that it was meant to be a secret to begin with.
Major Drumm knew about Brown’s past when he recommended him for the marshal’s job. The Caldwell Standard on May 8, 1884, quoted Drumm: “. . . he was a most desperate man, and was known to be very reckless at a former period of his life.”
Even the folks in Medicine Lodge knew. Brown died on April 30, 1884. Early the very next morning, the Medicine Lodge Cresset reported that Brown’s
“. . . history on the frontier began with his connection with “Billie the Kid” in New Mexico. It is said that he was a companion of the noted desperado in some of his most exciting adventures.”
Mrs. Elaine Forman is one of the contacts I have made over the years. Her husband is a great grandson of Henry
Brown’s brother-in-law, Edgar LaRue, son of Richard Rue, the Caldwell brick maker. (Richard Rue was Alice Maude Levagood’s adopted father.)
Mrs. Forman sent me copies of some early LaRue family photos that were found in an old trunk that had belonged to her husband’s father (or
grandfather) after he had died several years ago.
This is one of the photos she sent to me. According to the word-of-mouth belief passed down in their families, the photo, taken in Wichita, is Henry Brown.
The above photo, in the public domain many years, purports to be (a young) Henry Brown and Fred Waite, another of Billy the Kid’s henchmen. It was perhaps taken in Tascosa, Texas, shortly after the Lincoln County War at about the time that the two dropped out of the Kid’s gang.
At left is a copy of a tintype, claimed to be of Henry Brown and Ben Wheeler. The picture was reportedly made in Wichita.
Note Brown appears to be holding a pocket pistol.
For Comparison
These two photographs are known to be authentic photos of Henry Brown
The three photographs shown on the preceding pages shown side by side. (Note hair on forehead.)
Henry Brown’s Brother-in-Law:
Heber Creel, Alice Maude and Henry
Brown’s brother-in-law, was a very interesting man. A number of years ago, i wrote an essay titled Triumph and
Tragedy, in which I attempted to illustrate the dichotomy of the lives of two sisters named Alice, one married to Henry Brown and one married to Heber Creel. I tried to contrast what a great life Alice Creel had compared to that of disgraced Alice Brown. I was mightily impressed with Creel’s resume and spelled it out as follows:
Heber Creel achieved success in a number of notable undertakings. To say that he was a man of extraordinary accomplishment would be a gross understatement.
Born in 1855 at Waverly, Lafayette County, Missouri, he graduated from West Point in 1877 embarking on a long and spectacular military career. Early on, as a Second Lieutenant, he saw duty at Fort Totten, Dakota Territory, on the shores of an immense body of water located in the upper portion of what is now North Dakota. Translated from the Indian tongue its name meant Spirit or Devils Lake. In 1878, he escorted a contingent of Northern Cheyenne from the Black Hills to Fort Reno, I.T. where he
wrote a grammar and dictionary of the Cheyenne language as well as a work on North American Indian sign language now preserved in the archives of the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While stationed at Ft. Reno, he married Alice Rue and purchased several properties in Caldwell where his new wife lived while he traveled about as his army duties dictated.
As a junior officer with the 7th Cavalry, he was a key player along with Dull Knife, Little Wolf, and Little Chief during the tumultuous Cheyenne uprising known as the Dull Knife Raid. His exploits are reported in a book titled The Indians Last Fight or the Dull Knife Raid written by Dennis Collins in 1915.
The year 1882 found him back at Ft. Totten where he was the first to claim land in that area. By July of 1883, he had completed the survey and platting of a new city he named Creelsburg, now known as Devils Lake, the Ramsey County Seat. He was its first postmaster; established the first newspaper in the area, The North Dakota Inter Ocean; and was instrumental in the early development of the town.
Heber Creel’s father had been a lawyer and classmate of the noted statesman, Hon. “Sunset” Cox. His grandfather, Dr. David Creel, was a colonel in the war of 1812 and was foreman of the Grand Jury which tried Aaron Burr for high treason. Creel’s grandmother and Stonewall Jackson’s mother were sisters. A cousin of Creel was Hon. George W. Mannapenny, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs whose error resulted in the misplacement of the southern Kansas State Line. The resulting confusion produced the ownership confrontation that created the Cherokee Strip. He had mistakenly defined the state line to be collinear with the Southern Boundary of the Osage Diminished Reservation which coincided with “E” Street in north Caldwell.
Besides being founder of Devils Lake, Creel was engaged in military/governmental affairs, largely in the development of the Dakota Territory. He functioned in such dignified positions as to be among the privileged few to
engage in business luncheons with U. S. President Chester Arthur. He headed numerous public, military, and governmental offices among them first serving as Judge Advocate General then Adjutant General.
Eventually he rose to the rank of Major General (National Guard); was appointed Supervisor at Large of the Indians of the United States and later was elected a Senator of North Dakota.
In compiling a list of the prominent and influential men of North Dakota, a foremost station must be accorded to [then] Colonel Creel of Devils Lake, Ramsey County. He is a man of the highest honor and is respected by all with whom he has to do.
(Compendium of History and Biography of North Dakota-1900.)
After his death, the man who was Marshal Henry Brown’s brother-in-law, had a World War II Liberty ship, the USS Heber M. Creel, named in his honor.
♦ ♦ ♦
In the Triumph and Tragedy, essay, following the radiant remarks in praise of Heber Creel, I ended the piece by inviting the reader to visualize how much better Alice Creel’s life was by being married to Creel, than was the life of her poor, disgraced sister, Alice Brown.
Then, I learned the about the dark side of the man: about Creel’s less than honorable army resignation, domestic and financial affairs, many criminal charges, bullying, and carousing. Alice was an abused wife.
“. . . [He] has whipped his wife until she was compelled to leave him [and] has drawn his pistol on his wife’s brother because he defended his sister.”
(Devils Lake Inter-Ocean, October 16,1886)
During 1883-4, when he had plenty of money to squander at the gaming table, it was his custom to remain down town all day carousing and spreeing from place to place. It was rare for him to
pass the day without getting into a row.... [If he] got the worst of it he was just as certain to go to his house and get even by whipping his wife. He could always rely on her to be at home to receive a trouncing.. He enjoyed himself in this pastime until the spring of 1884, when one night, being in a more sanguinary mood than most, he used his pistol instead of his fist, striking his wife in the face and on the head with the weapon until the blood flowed freely. Fearing that her life was in danger, she escaped and went to her parents’ [Richard and Rachel Rue] home on Rock Island.
The facts got out and there was a general indignation among law abiding people. The night after the brutal affair occurred, the writer of this article met half a dozen men on their way to Creel’s house. Their purpose was to give him a coat of tar and feathers. [The writer, Henry Hansbrough, then editor of the paper and later North Dakota US Representative and U.S. Senator, dissuaded the
group.] Creel has whipped his wife since then....
The foregoing fact can be substantiated by many credible witnesses in Devils Lake.”
(Devils Lake Inter-Ocean, October 23, 1886)
Several times, her brothers, Edgar and John, confronted Creel on Alice’s behalf due to his ill treatment of her. Sometime before 1910, she went to an attorney to ask about divorcing him but was advised against it and didn’t carry through.
On one occasion, the drunken Creel rode his horse into a Devils Lake saloon on Fourth Street and shot up the place. I can’t find the date of that occurrence
In the fall of 1881 during the last great buffalo hunt, Alice Creel (as well as the entire LaRue family, then known as Rue) was living here in Caldwell while Heber traveled around the country as his Army duties dictated. They had been married only about 2 ½ years when Lieutenant Creel had an affair with Nancy LaRose, an Indian girl 15 or 16 years old, the daughter of Octave and Mary Jane LaRose. The result of that affair was a child, Jeannette.
Shortly after, caught in an affair with another officer’s wife, Creel was forced to resign his military commission or face “court-martial for conduct unbecoming an officer.”
Creel was a domineering bully even if he did do more than anyone in the area to get the Devils Lake portion of Dakota Territory opened for settlement. As Devils Lake’s initial developer, he profited tremendously by the settlement of the region. However, gambling losses and legal fees for defenses for himself and his friends wiped him out.
Richard and Rachel Rue, Marshal Henry Newton Brown’s father and mother-in-law, were natives of Richmond, Indiana and came to Kansas in about 1867 or ‘68, first to Lawrence then to Caldwell in 1879. Their parents were founders and influential in the beginnings of Richmond and Wayne County Indiana where Richard’s father was a judge. Richard Rue established brick factories in Caldwell and Anthony in the early 1880’s and apparently was well heeled and influential in the business community. His wife, Rachel Jane, deeply involved and a leader in various activities at the Methodist Church was the sister of Hon. William S. Holman, an eleven term congressman of Indiana who was prominent in shaping the early history of the state of Indiana.
In 1883, six months before Alice’s marriage to Brown, the Rues, one of Caldwell’s most prominent families, sold out and moved to Devils Lake, Dakota Territory, a brand new town being formed by their son-inlaw, Heber Creel. Their eldest sons John and Edgar, who had owned property in Caldwell, also went to Devils Lake where they became prominent in the grain elevator business. Articles in the Caldwell papers reflected the town’s loss and dismay at loosing one of its leading families. Upon leaving Caldwell, the Rue family changed their last name to LaRue, a factor that created much difficulty and confusion when I was tracing their presence in Devils Lake.
Most Caldwellites are familiar with the story of Caldwell’s infamous lawman/outlaw, Marshal Henry Brown. The magnificent Winchester rifle given to him by the grateful citizens of Caldwell for a job well done is now proudly displayed in the Kansas Historical Society Museum in Topeka.
The genteel lady that was to become Brown’s wife, twenty-two year old school teacher Alice Maude Levagood, had taught at the Wichita Indian Agency School, Indian
Territory in 1882-3, and at Anthony, Kansas 1883-4. Then she met Henry Brown in Caldwell, at that time a tough frontier town at the end of the famous Chisholm Cattle Trail, where her home had been established by her adopted parents, Richard and Rachel Rue. Marshal Brown married Alice Levagood-Rue on March 26, 1884, in the home of her brother-in-law, former Caldwell Assistant Marshal Jonathan “Newt” Miller. Miller’s wife was Alice’s sister Lydia, one of Richard Rue’s nine daughters. Richard Rue had been a brick manufacturer while in Caldwell and supplied the bricks used in construction of Caldwell’s then new schoolhouse. Richard and his wife missed Alice’s wedding though, having previously moved to a brand new town in Dakota Territory called Devils Lake.
Brown befriended Grant Harris, a young man employed at a Caldwell newspaper and the two had shared a room at the Southwestern Hotel prior to the nuptials. Harris attended the wedding and in his later years reminisced about Brown’s hesitancy to remove his guns during the procedure. Only when Rev. Akin, early day Caldwell Methodist minister, refused to perform the ceremony did Brown reluctantly hang his gun-belt on a nearby chair. According to Harris, upon being pronounced “man and wife” Brown strapped his guns back on before kissing the bride.
And most Caldwellites know the rest of the story: Barely a month after the wedding, Marshal Brown, his deputy and two T5 Ranch cowboys from the Cherokee Outlet attempted to rob the Medicine Valley bank in neighboring Medicine Lodge. Almost immediately upon entering the bank their plan went awry; unintended violence erupted and in a fateful moment their attempt deteriorated into an instantaneous blaze of gunfire. It was a disastrous failure resulting in the death of the Bank president and a teller. After a 10 mile pursuit, the would-be robbers were finally cornered in a muddy box canyon and after a long gunfight with the posse, were forced to surrender. Later that evening, when an enraged mob stormed the jail to seize the condemned gang, Brown
somehow writhed through the crowd for a brief moment of flight to freedom but his life quickly ended in a hail of gunfire. The other three were summarily lynched. The widow Alice Levagood-Rue-Brown then sold their possessions and by the following August had moved to be with her adopted parents, the Rues, in Devils Lake.
Several interesting gems of historical trivia combine to establish the basis of a fascinating footnote to the story concerning the Brown/Levagood-Rue marriage. The first factor stems from notations found in several obscure Lincoln County War references. In them Henry Brown is surprisingly alluded to as having a young Mexican wife when he was a cohort of Billy the Kid in New Mexico prior to his coming to Caldwell.
Second and equally surprising is a statement found in an old Caldwell newspaper that suggests that Brown’s wife, Alice, also had been previously married.
MARRIED CREEL-RUE, in the Territory south of
Caldwell, May the 10th 1879 by the Rev. Armstrong,
Lieut. Creel, of the 6th Calvary, of Ft. Reno, and Miss
Alice Rue, of this place. (Caldwell Post - 15 May 1879)
These particulars revealed a totally new, unexpected, and unexplored facet of our local history. Its investigation fostered my research project spanning a year and a half that involved a myriad of contacts with Devils Lake researchers, historians, librarians, and museum curators; genealogical searches; letters, telephone and email conversations with Rues, LaRues, and Levagoods in various locales of the US and Canada; and research in early Caldwell newspapers and microfilm. In Devils Lake, for instance, it is said with absolute certainty that Heber Creel married Alice H. LaRue. Confusing when it was known that in Caldwell that she was Alice Rue.
In substance, the findings show that Richard Rue had two daughters named Alice; an adopted daughter, Alice Maude Levagood Rue who married Marshal Henry Newton Brown and a natural daughter, Alice Holman Rue who married Lt. Heber Creel.
♦ ♦ ♦
As unlikely as it is to find two Alice Rues bound into the same story and in the same locale, it is even more unlikely to find two Henry Browns entwined into the same saga. Yet two Henry Browns were found in Lincoln County; both involved in its upheaval, both wanted for murder.
While many aficionados of Lincoln County’s early history believe that Billy Boney and his boys acted on the side of the law, the fact remains that Henry Newton Brown along with Billy the Kid and several others were indicted for the murder of Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady and Deputy Sheriff George Hindman; also for the murder of “Buckshot” Roberts at the famous Blazer’s Mill standoff. On November 13, 1878, in a futile attempt to cool the rampant hostilities, Governor Lew Wallace granted a general pardon temporarily letting the fugitives off the hook. Then roughly four months later he rescinded the pardon and revalidated the indictment adding additional crimes and additional names to the list. So far as is known, Brown was never exonerated and as no evidence to the contrary has yet been found, it is presumed that Brown was still under indictment while Marshal of Caldwell—still wanted for murder in New Mexico until the day he died.
Caldwell’s Marshal Henry N. Brown has been confused in many chronicles concerning that era with his contemporary; Henry C. Brown, another of the players that figured in New Mexico’s troubling times.
The Rio Grande Historical Collections/Hobson-Huntsinger University Archives of the New Mexico State University Library has perhaps the most complete information on Lincoln County War history, events of that era, and the cast of characters involved. Within its mountainous volume of historical documentation I found a marriage license recording the marriage of Henry C. Brown to Margarita Estrada on Sept 19, 1882 in Lincoln County, New Mexico—thus, the confusion resulting in the mistaken reporting of a previous marriage of Caldwell’s Henry N. Brown.
Further investigation yielded an obscure prison record of Marshal Brown’s New Mexico double. “Henry C. Brown - Scars: Gunshot wounds to neck, right wrist, right cheek, and head. Offense: second degree murder - plead guilty. Sentence commuted from hanging to life imprisonment then to 12 years. Release: 1889. Killed by gunshot in Socorro, N.M. in 1890.”
Many Henry Brown devotees speculate about his true motive for stepping out of character to become involved in the ill fated robbery that brought public disgrace, shame to his wife, and caused the end of his life—a tragic end after seemingly turning his life around to achieve a goodly measure of success and respect. Countless historians and biographers have mulled over that question through the years. My recent findings regarding his wife’s family tend to add another chapter to the story of his life that exposes yet another possible explanation to ponder. Might he have felt intimidated by his in-laws because of the relatively lofty stature of high achievers in their family? Might he have been driven by the thought that money could facilitate his promotion to a higher station—one that satisfied his perceived notion that he was expected to rise to the level of their higher position?
The little that is known of the genteel lady, Alice Maude Levagood-Rue-Brown portrays an intriguing life. A member of an exceptionally prominent family, she had a college degree, rare for females of her times; she taught Cheyenne Indians in the Oklahoma Indian Territory; she had a grandfather who was a judge, a congressman uncle, a general and senator brother-in-law, a Caldwell Assistant Marshal brother-in-law, and a marshal and outlaw husband. It must have been fascinating.
As stated in another section, Mrs. Elaine Forman is one of the many contacts I have made over the years. Her husband is a great grandson of Henry Brown’s brother-inlaw, Edgar LaRue, son of Richard Rue, the Caldwell brick maker. (Richard Rue was Alice Maude Levagood’s adopted father.) Edgar had been a Caldwell businessman and property owner before moving to Devils Lake, Dakota Territory in 1884.
Mrs. Forman sent me copies of some early LaRue family photos and copies of paintings that were found in an old trunk; passed down from Edgar’s era to his present family descendants.
These painted portraits are of Richard and Rachael Rue. They are Mrs. Forman’s husband’s great grandparents and Henry Brown’s father and mother-in-law. As is still the case today, painted portraits could be afforded only by the well-to-do.
Alice Maude Levagood Brown, wife of Marshal Henry Brown in 1899 at 40 years of age
Alice Holman Rue Creel Alice Maude Levagood Brown
Compare the two Alices. Mrs. Forman told me that on the rear of the photo on the right is handwritten: Alice -1899. The photo on the left appears in a book by W. L. Dudley titled Devils Lake Illustrated and is identified as Alice Creel. (about the same age) The striking difference confirms the photo as Alice Brown.
This Forman family heirloom is a silver tea set with which Heber Creel served tea to General George Custer.
Former Superintendent of Palmer Hospital Will Be Buried on Monday
Following a long illness Mrs. Alice M. Brown, superintendent of the Palmer hospital for a number of years and for five years matron of the city park and the originator of the park first aid idea, died yesterday morning at 10 o’clock at the residence of Miss Mabel Watt, long time friend, 301 West Armstrong Street.
Funeral services will be held Monday morning at 10 o’clock at the Goodwin funeral home, Dr. Harry L. Crain, pastor of the First Presbyterian church, will officiate and interment will be in a mausoleum crypt in Green Lawn Cemetery.
Interesting facts regarding her early life were revealed yesterday in a short obituary written by herself and found in a book prepared some years ago. It showed that as a girl she taught on an Indian reservation and came in personal contact with “Buffalo Bill,” the famous scout and Indian hunter, being a stage passenger with she and her companions on a return trip from the then Indian Territory.
The short history of her interesting life as prepared follows:
Mrs. Alice M. Brown was born in Michigan. The daughter of David and Phoebe Levagood, and graduated from Park College, Parkville, Mo., with the class of 1882. She went to her home in southern Kansas and obtained a position in a government school at Anadarko, Indian Territory, where she taught Indians. They went by stage, traveling day and night, stopping long enough to change horses and get something to eat. There where five teachers in the party. There many interesting things took place during the school term. They returned to the States by
stage. On the return trip William F. Cody, then known as “Buffalo Bill” was one of their number on the return trip,
In 1883 she was married to H. N. Brown who passed away many years ago.
She went to Devils Lake, North Dakota, and taught school and proved up 100 acres of land. Later she went to Valparaiso, Ind., normal school for a year.
She came to Frankfort in 1891 and entered the employment of Drs. Strange and Palmer and in 1899 Dr. Palmer opened the Palmer. Mrs. Brown was made superintendent of the hospital and continued to serve until the hospital closed. She was appointed matron of the T.P.A. park playground for five years, from 1925 to 1930, establishing the first aid station at the park.
She retired from active service in 1931.
Slver Henry Brown Rifle nameplate
On New Years Day, 1883, the townspeople bestowed a present upon Marshal Brown:
A few of the citizens of this city appreciating the valuable services of Mr. Henry Brown, city marshal, concluded to present him with a suitable token of their esteem, and so settled upon an elegant gold-mounted and handsomely engraved Winchester rifle, as an article especially useful to him and expressive of services rendered in the lawful execution of his duties. The gun was presented to him Monday, Mr. Frank Johnes making the presentation speech, and a handsome one it was, too (we mean the speech this time). On the stock of the gun is a handsome silver plate bearing the inscription "’Presented to City Marshal H. N. Brown for valuable services rendered the citizens of Caldwell, Kanas, A.
M. Colson, Mayor, Dec., 1882.” Henry is as proud of his gun as a boy of a new top. He appreciates the present very highly, but not half so much as he does the good will shown and approval of his services by the citizens of this city, as implied by the present.
The rifle is neither a “one of one hundred” nor a “one of one thousand” but is of equal, top of the line quality. It is a .44-40 caliber 1873 model with a pistol grip and set trigger.
Extensively engraved, including gold and silver barrel band inlays, its receiver and butt plate are “gold washed.”
The rifle was given to Brown only 11 days after his appointment as marshal and may have originally been intended for Marshal Carr. Such a rifle is likely to have been special ordered from the factory. It is highly improbable that the order could be filled and shipped in only 11 days.
In October of 1976, Robert R. Foster of Austin, Texas, penned a deposition that establishes provenance of Brown’s Winchester. In it, Foster states that his grandmother “. . . met and was a good friend of Mrs. H. N. Brown, when she went to get his body and brought it back to Caldwell, Kan.” She gave it to P. J. Foster, the husband of her good friend, Molly Foster. The rifle passed to Foster’s son who sold it to Doctor M. B. Aynesworth in 1955 for $150 and a .22 caliber automatic pistol. Upon Aynesworth’s death, the rifle was sold at auction in Austin, Texas. The auction was held on October 10, 1976, and T. L. Rhodes of Richardson, Texas, won the rifle with the highest bid; $13,000. Rhodes sold it to the noted firearms expert and author, R. L. Wilson, for an undisclosed sum. The James H. Woods Foundation of St Louis, Missouri, then made a donation to the Kansas State Historical Society of $60,000 which was in turn paid to Wilson in return for the rifle. The famous rifle is now displayed at the Kansas Museum of History at Topeka, Kansas.
On several occasions, I approached the Kansas Historical Museum in Topeka requesting the loan of the Henry Brown rifle to display during the Sumner County Fair and various other local celebrations. Each time, I was told in no uncertain terms that they would never allow the rifle to leave the museum. Sometime in 2003, Prof. Troy Boucher and I decided that we would attempt to fabricate a duplicate. At first, they refused to remove the rifle from its display but after much finagling; the museum board honored our request for close-up photos of the rifle which would allow us to duplicate the engraving. They declined my request to do the photography myself but arranged for their in-house studio to provide the service. I spent a day at the museum and we photographed every square inch of the rifle.
Henry brown's Famous winchester
Later, after vetting a number of professional gun engravers, Troy and I decided that the cost of the project was more than we had anticipated - between six and eight thousand dollars.
Photographing the Henry Brown Rifle
Detail of engraving on the Henry Brown Rifle
Author at the Kansas Historical Museum in Topeka, Kansas, with the Henry Brown rifle.
Following is an excerpt from the handwritten statement given to Dr. M.B. Aynesworth by Robert R. Foster dated October 10, 1976, at the time he sold the Henry Brown rifle to Dr. Aynesworth. The statement establishes provenance of the rifle. It also establishes the existence of a “pistol” belonging to Henry Brown that Mrs. Brown had had in her possession after his death.
“. . . in Caldwell, Kansas, where my
grandmother met and was a good friend of Mrs. H.
N. Brown when she went to get his body and brought it back to Caldwell, Kan.
She had his 73 Winchester and pistol. The gun was given to him for cleaning up Caldwell,
Kan of the outlaws, which he did. Mrs. Brown had no use for the gun and pistol so he gave it to my grandfather. He later came to Taylor, Texas, and brought the guns. The guns were handed down and that is how I received it [the rifle]. The pistol was lost. . . .”
Note that the text speaks of a pistol - singular. It can not be determined by the text if that pistol was a sidearm confiscated along with the rifle in the wake of the Medicine Lodge robbery; or, if it was a second pistol kept in the home. We know from primary sources that the rifle was returned to Mrs. Brown but nowhere is any mention of a pistol or pistols being returned (it is known that Brown was a two-gun pistolier and may have had two revolvers at Medicine Lodge). It has also been reliably reported that Brown did have a pistol drawn during the holdup. We also know that many personal items belonging to the four prisoners “disappeared;” purloined by their captors. Brown’s sidearm(s) could have disappeared along with them. Following is an article that appeared in the Wellington Monitor-Press on September 29, 1998, that illustrates that possibility.
“O. P. Michael has presented to Cashier McLean of the Farmers bank the Colt’s revolver which Brown, the city marshal of Caldwell, carried in the Medicine Lodge raid in 1883 and with which he shot the cashier of the Merchants and Drovers bank. The weapon is of the old-fashioned cap-and-ball pattern and looks as though it had seen considerable service. It was taken from Brown when the gang was captured by a citizen of Medicine Lodge, who was one of the posse that hunted the robbers down among the canyons, and was presented to Mr. Michael. The old relic with its grewsome (sic) history will find a place in Mr. McLean’s cabinet of curiosities.”
I suspect that the article is a reprint of a much earlier article. It is at once suspect having referred to the Medicine Valley Bank as the Merchants and Drovers Bank which was actually in Caldwell and therefore has dubious credibility.
However, we must assume the possibility (or perhaps, probability) that two or more six-guns are in question.
Two six-guns have surfaced that can be considered candidates as guns Henry Brown owned but, unlike the rifle that has iron-clad provenance establishing its authenticity, these six-guns only provide a good likelihood.
One is owned by Mr. Dillman Ash, of Medicine Lodge, who owns the ranch where the Medicine Lodge bank robbers were captured in Jackass Canyon.
Author with Dillman Ash’s reputed Henry Brown six-gun
A Tale of Two Six Gums
Six-gun, belt, and holster owned by Dillman Ash.
The pistol is a .44 caliber Remington. When the spent cartridge ejector assembly is removed, the name Henry Brown is exposed engraved along the barrel. The holster appears to have been fashioned as a cross-draw rig that positions the revolver on the left hip (with the butt protruding forward) for a right handed man.
In earlier writing, I mistakenly reported that in his Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters, Bill O’Neal credited Brown with five kills, thinking the five kills matched the five notches on the grip of the Remington.
I was wrong. In reality, O’Neal credits Brown with killing only four men (and two “possible killings or assists”).
♦ ♦ ♦
The other is a .44 Caliber Colt Army Model 1860 belonging to Mr. Steve White of New Richmond, Wisconsin. Originally a percussion (cap & ball) revolver, it has been converted to chamber standard .44-40 center-fire cartridges.
Steve White’s converted .44.
Mr. White inherited the gun from his father who died in 1985. But his grandfather had it long before that - just how long, Mr. White does not know.
When Mr. White’s grandfather acquired the pistol, it was accompanied by a letter written March 13, 1938, from an earlier owner, Ben Fletcher, to the man that he sold it to, a Mr. Tomson (the man that grandfather White acquired it from). Fletcher states that he bought the pistol “in the [18]90’s from a guy named Forster down in Texas.” (Note the quoted spelling is correct - FORSTER.)
A Tale of Two Six Gums
Letter accompanying the White conversion
The six-gun has H*B engraved in the butt strap
and, like the Ben Wheeler pistol, has its barrel shortened (5 ½’) and machined for a dovetail front blade sight adjustable for windage.
Recall Robert Foster’s (correct spelling: Foster) letter to Dr. Aynesworth; in part:
. . . in Caldwell, Kansas where my grandmother met and was a good friend of Mrs. H.N. Brown when she went to get his body and brought it back to Caldwell, . Kan. She had his 73 Winchester and pistol. The gun [rifle] was given to him for cleaning up Caldwell, Kan of the outlaws, which he did.
Mrs. Brown had no use for the gun and pistol so she gave it to my Grand father [Foster]. He later came to Taylor, Texas and brought the guns. The guns were handed down and that is how I received it [rifle]. The pistol was lost.
The “guy named Forster down in Texas” that Mr. Fletcher acquired the pistol from could very well have been Foster rather than Forster - Robert Foster’s grandfather “down in” Taylor, Texas.
The FORSTER / FOSTER match, as well as the HB engraving, seems to me to be too incredibly close to be mere coincidence, but it is certainly not hard and fast evidence. However, I tend to believe that the pistol(s) Brown used in Medicine Lodge was confiscated there and was the sidearm he used in his normal duties - more likely a Colt model of 1873 or, perhaps the Remington that Mr. Ash has in Medicine Lodge. The Colt single six became available in 1873. Eleven years later, in 1884, Henry Brown would surely have retired the old conversion and acquired more modern sidearms. The conversion that Foster had (that may be the same six-gun in Mr. White’s possession today), could very well have been the old pistol Brown used in New Mexico years earlier as a poor, young cowboy—long since retired to a trunk in the Brown’s home.
Pictured at the right is a Derringer owned by Jerry Pitstick of Dayton, Ohio.
The original owner was Judge James Kelly Sr., a police judge in Caldwell
In the early 1880s.
Judge Kelly’s son, James Kelly Jr. was a partner in ownership of the Caldwell Post newspaper.
Judge Kelly’s daughter,
Emma Florence was married to Assistant Marshal Ben Wheeler’s brother, Andrew “Bud”
Robinson. The couple lived in Caldwell. Judge James Kelly Derringer

Pictured at left is the .41 caliber 1877 Colt “Thunderer” that
originally belonged to the late Frank Terwilliger’s grandfather, Frank
Albert Terwilliger.
Frank’s grandfather made seven cattle drives up the Chisholm Trail and is reputed to have carried the pistol on at least three of those drives. Terwilliger’s Colt is the same model favored by Billy the Kid.
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♦ ♦ ♦
Author with Ben Wheeler’s six-gun
This is the famous Model of 1873 Colt .44-40 Singleaction Army revolver originally owned by Assistant Marshal Ben Wheeler; now owned by my friend Len Gratteri of Sisters, Oregon. The Colt factory letter of authenticity that describes its nomenclature states that it was one of 50 revolvers sold to Simmons Hardware Company of Saint Louis, Missouri, on October 30, 1883. Simmons was a wholesale distributor for the multi-state area that included Hulbert Hardware Store in Caldwell. Wheeler purchased the gun new sometime in the 6 month period between November 1883, and May 1884, at Hulbert’s in Caldwell.
“Ben Wheeler Caldwell, Kansas.” is stamped on the frame at the butt. The barrel has been shortened to a length of 5½ inches. Barrel and frame have been machined and dovetail sights adjustable for windage have been added both places; front and rear.
The photo above shows the Wheeler six-gun as displayed for special guests in Len Gratteri’s home. (The gun is normally kept in a safety deposit bank box.) Also in the case is one of the nooses used in the Medicine Lodge hanging. Also in the display is the marshal’s badge worn by both Henry Brown and Ben Wheeler.
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According to Tom Mitchell, Caldwell’s premier gun collector and authority on firearms, after the death of Chester Heizer, a Caldwell attorney and avid gun collector who died in the late 1950s, the surviving family appointed Walker Young to dispose of Mr. Heizer’s gun collection. Included in Heizer’s collection, was a matched pair of nickel plated Colt frontier single-action six-guns (with the original double holster rig) that belonged to South Haven native, Gordon Lillie, also known as the famous showman, Pawnee Bill, who wore the rig in all of his shows. At one time, Pawnee Bill partnered with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.
Tom says that Young sold the pistols to Les Roberts who lived in Topeka at the time. Where the guns have migrated to by now is anyone’s guess.
Pawnee Bill
On any Saturday afternoon in the early 1950s, Caldwell’s Main Street could be fairly clogged with cars. Saturday was a big day in Caldwell, particularly for the “farm folk”—their day to “come in.” Beginning early in the morning, the streets came alive and the sidewalks and stores began to fill as shoppers meandered from here to there, occasionally stopping to chit-chat with neighbors. It was a festive day for friends and neighbors to gossip and catch up on the week’s news. At times, every parking space on Main Street was taken with many more cars “double parked,” thus trapping cars parked in the diagonal spaces. The owner of a trapped car could expect to wait from five to twenty minutes for the owner of the double parked car to return before being able to back out of his space.
On any Saturday, dressed in the authentic working cowboy attire of an earlier period of his life, Cowboy Joe could be seen strolling on Main Street with a smile and a friendly hello for everyone he met.
Old time storyteller Joseph “Cowboy Joe” Wiedeman Jr. was a colorful Caldwell resident who was born in 1870 and lived in the general Caldwell area most of his life. Joe was about 14 or 15 years old helping in his father’s butcher shop during Marshal Henry Brown’s heyday and was witness to Caldwell’s tumultuous period as it unfolded from 1879 to 1885. (He died in 1965 at 95 years of age.) Several articles appeared in the Messenger during the 50s that narrated some of Joe’s commentaries about the Caldwell of his youth. But, Joe tended to stretch his historical remembrances somewhat, occasionally mixing fantasy with factual history. Disappointingly, some of the dubious stories he told of early Caldwell have been quoted in several non-fiction chronicles of the Old West; picked up and disseminated as fact in subsequent volumes.
One of his whoppers that made it into non-fiction history books was taken from Joe’s letter to the editor appearing in the Caldwell Messenger on March 7, 1957:
One day a man told [Marshal Henry] Brown that there was trouble at the Red Light [Saloon].
Brown told the man "Wheeler and me will go down and see what is going on.” Those in the Red Light watched the front door. Brown and Wheeler went in the side door and knocked five or six down with a six shooter and told them to throw up and took 25 of the Red Lighters to the Justice of Peace, Mr.
Riley. When Mr. Riley saw the bunch he said "Oh boys, you have been having some fun.” Brown yelled out "Fine every [expletive] $25.00!”
However, in reality, the Red Light had been closed and was advertised for sale in the June 22, 1882, issue of the Caldwell Commercial—the very same issue that announced that Henry Brown had just begun his tenure as a Caldwell lawman by being appointed assistant marshal. The building sold for $400 several days later. It was then moved and had been turned into a store house and granary by August of that year, long before Brown became marshal with Wheeler as assistant. (Brown was not appointed marshal until December 21 or 22, 1882. Wheeler was appointed assistant marshal the same day.)
♦ ♦ ♦
When I was a young boy in the early 50s, Cowboy Joe was a frequent patron at my father’s ice cream shop. Whether Dad believed them or not, he loved to listen to Joe’s stories. Occasionally, when Dad would repeat one of Joe’s stories at our supper table, my brother and I were all ears.
One of Joe’s tales that Dad repeated to us—the champion story of them all—is still reverently retold in our family. According to Cowboy Joe:
One day, he happened to be in a saloon when a stranger walked in. While downing his drink at the bar, the stranger spotted a man sitting with four or five others at a round table playing cards. He sauntered over to where the man was sitting, grabbed the chair and spun it around to where the man was facing him while still seated in the
chair. With great surprise, the man looked up inquisitively at the stranger, perturbed by his rude intrusion. “What the . . .?”
“Are you so-and-so?!!” the stranger demanded. Immediately upon the man’s indignant affirmation that he was indeed so-and-so, the stranger pulled out his sixshooter and stuck the end of the barrel squarely against the middle of the seated man’s forehead. Without hesitation, he pulled the trigger, and muttered “Thought so.” Still seated upright in the chair, the dead man’s arms fell limply to his sides, and his head fell backward over the back of the chair. In seconds, the gunsmoke cleared and he remained there, sitting upright with his head back, eyes wide open staring vacantly at the ceiling. The stranger holstered his six-gun and with hate burning in his eyes, he jammed his little finger up to the second joint into the .45 caliber hole in the dead man’s forehead. After reaming the bullet hole a time or two with a twisting motion of his finger, the stranger withdrew the bloody finger and wiped it off on the dead man’s shirt. He then nonchalantly walked out of the saloon, mounted his horse and rode away.
This story was never reported in any of the local or regional newspapers of the day. So • • • was it a factual occurrence—another of a countless number of undocumented violent altercations that have been lost in Caldwell’s violent past?
• • • Or, did Cowboy Joe just make up a good yarn for Dad’s enjoyment?
What I Learned About J. S. Danford
J. S. Danford is today commonly regarded as a scoundrel and a villain and a blight on Kansas’ past. In 1881, Danford arrived in Caldwell, Kansas, with a spectacularly impressive resume and built the first banking house in Caldwell: The Merchants and Drovers Bank. Very soon, he became a major power in Caldwell. By the end of the year, the Merchants and Drovers as well as his other three banks had all failed; mayhem erupted in Caldwell and the name J.S. Danford has been stigmatized ever since. He was indeed one of Caldwell’s and Kansas’ more interesting characters of the early 1880’s. Besides leaving an indelible imprint in the pages of Kansas history, he left an intriguing past before arriving in Caldwell—and, a sensational trail after leaving.
Before coming to Caldwell, young John Spencer Danford appears to have been remarkably ambitious and industrious; bold and confident in his approach to new challenges. With a talent for enterprise and an adventurous streak, he explored an amazing number of diverse ventures. Apparently successful in each, he never stayed with one very long—always moving, always trying something new. Along the way, he had business associations with many of the most well known, influential, and highly regarded personalities of this region; “movers and shakers” we would call them today. He was, in fact, one of them and like them, his veracity was unquestioned.
Coming to Kansas from Ohio, he established himself in El Dorado, in 1869 with $1,000 and entered the real estate business. The next year, in March of 1870, having had previous experience as a writer, Danford and T. B. Murdock published the first issue of the Walnut Valley Times newspaper in El Dorado. T. B. Murdock was the brother of Marshal M. Murdock, founder of the Wichita Eagle, Kansas’ premier newspaper. The next month Danford was instrumental in the surveying of a new town
site called Cresswell. Murdock bought out Danford’s interest in the Times in June of that year. According to the Emporia News, Danford was a “strict member” of the Methodist Church and highly regarded in the area; called on to give speeches at social functions, etc. He was appointed Cowley County Clerk in July and acted as the Cowley County tax collector.
In December of that year, he, with J.C. Fraker, President of the Wichita City Council, organized the first bank in Butler County, the Walnut Valley Bank.
The year 1872 found Danford a director of the National Bank of Wichita along with several of the most venerated names associated with Wichita history: William “Dutch Bill” Greiffenstein and J. R. Mead. Greiffenstein earned the title “Father of Wichita;” is considered its founder and was its mayor two terms. William Street in downtown Wichita is named in his honor. In 1864 J. R. Mead became the first white settler when he opened a trading post on the site of the future city of Wichita. The next year Jesse Chisholm pioneered the Chisholm Trail when J. R. Mead set him up to head southwest with a wagon load of Indian trade goods. Later, Mead was president of Wichita’s first railroad, the Wichita & Southwestern.
In 1873, Danford promoted the First National Bank which absorbed the Walnut Valley Bank. Danford sold this bank to V.P. Gossard, a past associate, and quite possibly a close friend, who had been a co-director with Danford of the National Bank of Wichita and of the Walnut Valley Bank. The sale exposed a hint of Danford’s true colors that would become so evident a decade or so later. It was said that the bank was in a failing condition when Danford sold the bank to Gossard and that Gossard was deceived at the time of the purchase as to its actual financial condition. Gossard had been closely involved in the bank previously and, it seems, should have known its condition. In any case, soon, the bank failed and an angry depositor shot Gossard dead. Apparently Danford was untouched by the controversy and
escaped the fracas unscathed and with his reputation intact.
In November of 1875, Danford participated in a meeting with Cyrus K. Holliday, founder of the Santa Fe Railroad, and Kansas Governor Charles V. Eskridge concerning the formation of the Walnut Valley Railroad. In January of the next year, Danford was one of the directors of the Creswell Town Company. The infant town of Creswell was later to become Arkansas City.
Over the next several years, he invested in various other ventures and prospered. After accumulating $25,000 and a collection of real estate, he organized the Osage Bank in Osage City, Kansas, and after three years, organized the Harvey County Savings Bank. Danford lived the life of a respected gentleman banker.
Then the Santa Fe entered Caldwell which became the end of the Chisholm Trail and shipping point for the thousands of cattle driven up from Texas. Danford had previously learned the ropes in lending money to Texas cattlemen and laid plans to capitalize on the mounting boom that Caldwell was experiencing. He sold the Harvey County Savings Bank, came to Caldwell, started the Merchants and Drovers Bank, and made his home in Caldwell.
Former Caldwell resident Chet Foster lived in the house on South Market that Danford built for himself. Mr. Foster tells the story of how after Danford built the house, he foreclosed on himself then had the bank take possession and price it very low for a quick sale. Then Danford bought the house himself at a fraction of its initial cost.
Shortly after, he opened banks in Hunnewell and Carbondale and built a larger building next door north of the Merchants and Drovers; called the Danford Building; it is the building that now houses Caldwell’s reconstituted Opera House.
It was mid 1881 - Danford was 36. About the middle of November, Danford’s world began to crumble.
♦ ♦ ♦
For some two or three weeks, rumors of the bank’s instability had been whispered, but the depositors didn’t consider them credible. Having faith in Danford, no runs were started. But on a Monday, several drafts on a New York bank came back protested. The cashier, W. D. C. Smith was asked the reason for their return. Smith’s conciliating answer was not well received and as the days passed, more and more, the depositors’ anxieties increased as they were being told that they would get their money if they would only wait. Many accepted the put-off simply out of friendship for the bank, while many, wishing to show their confidence for the bank, would continue to deposit their hard earned cash.
Depositors had so much faith in the Drovers Bank it was eight days after they were asked for time to pay checks before a run on the bank was made. On Saturday morning, one depositor presented a check for $1,000 and they asked if he would accept $200. By the assistance of a revolver, he persuaded the cashier to pay the check in full.
(Caldwell Post, December 11, 1911)
Sometime in late November, 1881, cashier Smith slipped out of Caldwell removing all the cash, notes, and other movable assets of the bank to a safe place unknown to the Caldwell depositors. All that was found in the bank’s vault by the citizens was “a pile of nickels and a newspaperman's note for ten dollars”. Danford was then seen stealthily making his exit from the city. Noting his obvious flight, a group of citizens hurriedly discussed the issue then sent a man on a fast horse to overtake him and force his return to Caldwell.
A version of the ride is related by cowboy Oliver Nelson, a contemporary of that period, in his colorful autobiography, The Cowman’s Southwest:
The depositors held a consult, then offered ’’Twenty-five plunks to the man that brings ‘im back.” A peeler named Jim Talbot, who had rolled in a short time before and was engaged in exchanging kale for a good time, happened along.
He said he could use the dough; he’d just take the job. He called to the stable man a block away,
”Hey, Jack! Saddle Slim and bring him out: don’t waste no time.”
. . . Then he said to his mount, ”Go to it,
Slim; we got to gain five miles in twenty-five.” So Slim lay low and stretched out. . . . Talbot soon came up 'longside. He said ”Turn Back, Mr. Dan; the town wants to pin a ribbon on you and say good-bye when you pass out.”
When the stage rolled in, the whole town was at the reception. They had a lot of rope and some guns. They unloaded Danford at the Leland Hotel . . . One mourner said he’d give twenty-five dollars to anyone that would shoot him. Talbot pointed his .45 full cocked, and said, “Out with your money,” but the fellow backed down. Then Jim said, “I’ll send him out for twenty . . .,” but no one would hand over that much. Talbot was given the job of entertaining His Eminence at five plunks a day. [Talbot was paid to guard Danford.]
A warrant was issued charging Danford and Smith with embezzlement and for accepting deposits after the bank was known to be in a failing condition. They were arrested and taken to Wellington where their bail was fixed at $25,000 each.
Shortly before their bail was arranged, about one hundred mounted depositors of Caldwell, representing about $50,000 of deposits; fully armed with shotguns, rifles, and revolvers, appeared and demanded the surrender of Danford and Smith from the Sheriff. The mob, with prisoners in tow, started for Caldwell, but Danford, fearing they would be hung on the way, proposed to charter a special train to bring them back to Caldwell. His suggestion was accepted; the train was procured, and probably saved his life.
When the guilty parties were brought back to Caldwell, a crowd relieved the sheriff of any further responsibilities and started toward the timber with the two prisoners, their revolvers and a couple of ropes. The prisoners soon told them all they knew about banking . . .
(Caldwell Post, December 11, 1911)
They were then locked up in the bank and held there by mob force for several days.
The debacle shook the financial foundations of Southern, if not all of Kansas and the Cherokee Outlet and touched high offices far removed from the lowly Merchants and Drovers Bank of Caldwell. The Arkansas City Traveler reported that the governor’s brother and a group of dignitaries from Topeka went on a hunting trip in the Indian Territory and that “Gov. St. John intended to be of the party, but he felt obliged to forego the anticipated pleasure on account of the Danford trouble.”
Judge William P. “Tiger Bill” Campbell was a well known and highly regarded figure in Wichita courtrooms from the 1870s well into the 1930s. Before becoming a judge in Wichita, Campbell had been the Butler County Attorney and a friend of Danford earlier when he brought offenders before Danford who had been a police judge or Justice of the Peace in El Dorado. Danford called for his old friend Campbell, who by then had become a judge and wielded a significant portion of influence, to come to his aid.
The judge was met at the Caldwell train station by a group of irate citizens led by the same Mr. Jim Talbot “with a gun and a rope,” who gave the judge ten minutes to remount the train and head back to Wichita. It was reported that some Caldwell old timers quoted the judge to say: “Gentlemen, you are over generous in giving me 10 minutes to get out; two minutes will be quite sufficient.”
Regardless of his ill reception by the Caldwell crowd, by December 5th, Judge Campbell had drawn up a settlement between Danford and his creditors and by the middle of the month Danford had been released and
tempers cooled. Details of the settlement seemed to be progressing relatively smoothly and Danford bit-by-bit regained an uncertain measure of credibility.
Just days later, on the 17th of that month, Jim Talbot (the man that earlier had returned Danford to the Caldwell depositors and volunteered his services as Danford’s executioner) sparked a small war of rebellion in Caldwell known as the Talbot Raid. The Caldwell townspeople armed themselves against Talbot and his squad of gunslingers and past animosities were hotly addressed in the streets of Caldwell. Together they peppered the town with generous portions of lead and prompted the immortal headline banner of the Wichita Times: “As we go to press, Hell is in session in Caldwell.”
♦ ♦ ♦
Then during the second week of January, 1882, flexing his rejuvenated muscles again, Danford turned the tables and sued S.S. Richmond, one of the principal leaders of the Caldwell crowd who was appointed trustee of the assets of the Merchants and Drovers Bank, for $100,000. By February 2, forty-five more Sumner County residents were added as defendants in Danford’s suit for $100,000 damages citing their part in his forceful abduction and for the ill treatment he received while held in illegal detention where he claimed his life was threatened.
By February 9, his legal suits had provided enough leverage to successfully get the attachments on his property at Caldwell discharged and, wonder of wonders, seven days later he was a bona fide candidate for the U. S. Senate!
Then out of the blue, on December 13, 1882, the Arkansas City Traveler announced:
“ITEM: J. S. Danford, he of the savory bank
fame, has been examined by an eminent medical
expert, and pronounced hopelessly insane.”
Then, the Caldwell Commercial reported:
“Mr. J. S. Danford is very seriously ill and it is impossible to tell when he will be better. His present condition is the result of a concentration of causes, starting with the terrible shock to his nervous system by the brutal mob at Caldwell, and going through more than a year of anxious business work, culminating in the disappointment of a business trip to Denver, and terminating in complete cerebral exhaustion and paralysis of the brain. Seventeen days ago he was brought home from Denver in a state of dementia, from which there has been very little improvement. Dr. Eastman of the State Insane Asylum [predicts] little promise of speedy recovery.”
Several months passed and Danford’s brain recovered. On April 5, 1883, “A full and complete
settlement has just been made between J. S. Danford and the Merchants and Drovers Bank of Caldwell, Kansas, on the one hand and their creditors on the other. By the terms of this settlement, all the Sumner County property, real and personal, held and owned by J. S. Danford and the Merchants and Drovers Bank was accepted in full settlement of all claims against them. These claims amounted to nearly $76,000. This is a settlement also of all claims or damages on the part of J. S. Danford, and by its terms he agrees to dismiss the suit for $100,000 now pending in the courts against S. S. Richmond and others. Then it was the old Danford back at it again: October, 1883, found him in Washington Territory with a henchman, Dan Ainsworth, of Newton, Kansas, establishing another bank and yet another the next year in Independence, Oregon.
Records show a legal suit involving a bank run on J. S. Danford and Company, Spokane, Washington, in 1884. And in the same year a suit regarding the insolvency of Danford’s Bank of Spokane County was recorded with a list of nine indictments against Danford. On October 1, 1884, an article appeared in the Arkansas City Traveler proclaiming:
“ITEM: Everybody in the country
remembers Danford, the Caldwell banker, who stole a pile of money from his depositors a few years since. He has again come before the public, this time at Cheney, Washington Territory, [Spokane County] where he stole $20,000, and skipped out to Victoria, B. C., from which place he openly defies his victims. He ought to be hung.” (Arkansas City Traveler, October 1, 1884)
Eventually, Danford decided that the banking business might become bad for his health and ended up spending his last days in Chicago, Illinois, as owner of an insurance brokerage. He died in 1914
Burton H. “Barbecue” Campbell, one of the largest and wealthiest ranchers of the 1880s, lived in Caldwell for some time during that era. He was the First General Manager of the most famous Texas cattle ranch: the "XIT;” largest range in the world under fence; some three million acres. It covered portions of ten counties which apparently helped perpetuate the misbelief that the brand -XIT- stands for "Ten In Texas".
Campbell and A.B. Blocker (an ancestor of the actor, Dan Blocker, “Hoss,” of the old television series, Bonanza) came up with the famous brand "XIT."
Campbell built the imposing stone house at 1155 North River Boulevard located on the west bank of the Little Arkansas River in the Riverside district of Wichita. Years ago, when I lived in Wichita, the house was known as the Campbell Castle. It is now an exclusive bed and breakfast and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The house that “Barbeque” Campbell built in Wichita.
Campbell was a connoisseur of fine horseflesh and maintained a stable of some of the finest. It appears that he challenged Ben Wheeler to a horse race and lost the bet:
Ben Wheeler, our Assistant City Marshal, has a hoss. Barbecue Campbell also has a hoss.
Last Saturday the latter thought twenty dollars’ worth that his hoss could beat Ben’s hoss. When the race was over, Ben was two X’s ahead.
(The Caldwell Journal, December 13, 1883)
♦ ♦ ♦
Wilbur E. “Shorthorn” Campbell was another wealthy and influential cattleman that lived in Caldwell. Having a home and headquarters a mile and a half east of Caldwell, he moved his family there in 1879 and lived there until 1887.
In his earliest days as a ranchman, Mr. Campbell was known as "Shorthorn" Campbell to distinguish him from several other Campbells in the Caldwell area. A well known breeder, he developed an exceptionally outstanding herd utilizing only blooded shorthorn Hereford bulls. Later, he became known as "White-face" Campbell.
He had huge holdings of land and cattle in the country west of Caldwell and continually increased his holdings. The largest single purchase made was in the development of what would be known as his Kiowa ranch. It was a portion of the recently ceded Cherokee Strip. Two and a half miles north to south, the land included in this purchase extended some 15 miles east from the west boundary of the present town of Kiowa.
Following the famous gun battle known as the “Talbot Raid,” the fleeing outlaws hurriedly left town and upon reaching "Bovine Park" -- the Campbell headquarters a mile and a half east of Caldwell -- they rode into the yard and at the point of a Winchester, commandeered a saddle horse from a group of men who were digging a well near the Campbell house. Mr. Campbell saw the incident from a window of his home, but was persuaded by Mrs. Campbell not to become involved. When the outlaws left, Mr.
Campbell, well-armed, joined the posse in pursuit and became its leader apparently by common consent.
Eventually, the outlaws holed up in a canyon, where there had been a stone dugout. They threw up breast-works of stone, got behind them and would bang away at any one who showed himself as a target.
The posse surrounded the gulch and kept up a constant firing at the fort, but without success. One of the outlaws took refuge up in a small gulch leading to the west, and was not seen until he shot Campbell through the wrist as he was sliding down the hill on his face to get a commanding position above the fort.
The outlaws escaped in the dark and Mr. Campbell was taken to his home. The shot in the wrist proved to be quite serious (he also received two other less serious wounds) and he nearly died from loss of blood. Later, his wife counted 27 bullet holes in his clothes.
♦ ♦ ♦
Judge W.P. “Tiger Bill” Campbell, as a then Sumner County judge, signed the order incorporating Caldwell as a city of the third class on July 22, 1879.
“Tiger Bill” was a well known and highly regarded figure in Wichita courtrooms from the 1870s well into the 1930s. He was first known in Caldwell in early 1881, when he befriended Caldwellite David Leahy, a windy newspaper man who, in later years as a reporter in Wichita, wrote a number of dubious and self aggrandizing historical stories. Leahy tells about the outrageously high times he and Campbell had at “Danford Hall;” the Caldwell opera house.
Before becoming a judge in Wichita, Campbell had been the Butler County Attorney and a friend of Caldwell’s errant banker, J.S. Danford earlier when he brought offenders before Danford who had been a police judge or Justice of the Peace in El Dorado. Danford called for his old friend Campbell, who by then had become a judge and
wielded a significant portion of influence, to come to his aid.
The judge was met at the Caldwell train station by a group of irate citizens led by Jim Talbot (the Talbot of Talbot Raid fame) “with a gun and a rope,” who gave the judge ten minutes to remount the train and head back to Wichita. It was reported that some Caldwell old timers quoted the judge to say: “Gentlemen, you are over generous in giving me 10 minutes to get out; two minutes will be quite sufficient.”
Judge Campbell is the same Judge Campbell who sued Maggie Wood immediately prior to “Maggie’s War of the Roses. ”
In 1880, Grant Harris came to Caldwell as a youngster of 15 years and went to work for Tell Walton at the Caldwell Post as a printer. Young Harris roomed with Caldwell’s Marshal Henry Newton Brown at the Southwestern Hotel up until the time that Brown married. He later became a follower of the original “Oklahoma Boomer” David Payne. Harris printed the first issue of Payne’s newspaper, The Oklahoma War Chief in Caldwell.
In later years, he became editor of the Wagoner (Oklahoma) Tribune and related many of his experiences and observations while living in Caldwell including this occurrence at the wedding of his friend Brown:
The wedding was marred by a slight difference of opinion. When Brown stood up with his bride to be, as usual he had two six-shooters strapped around his waist. The minister, a Reverend Aiken, looked at Brown a moment and then said: “To me it seems unbecoming for a man to be married as you are. Please take off your guns, at least during the ceremony.”
“These guns have not been out of my reach for years, and I’ll be married with them on,” Brown retorted.
“Then you will have to get someone else to perform the ceremony,” the minister replied, looking straight into Brown’s eyes. Brown glared a moment, reached down and unbuckled his belt and laid the guns on a sofa about 10 feet away. As soon as the ceremony was completed, Brown stooped over, picked up his guns and strapped them on, and then kissed his wife.
Harris made many other notable observations in the latter years of his life:
“Caldwell then had become the gaudiest town in the entire west. It had out-grown Dodge City. Its dance halls, saloons and gambling houses did more business than those of Abilene . .
. and had the largest dance hall in Kansas—the Red Light.”
“Whatever else can be said of Brown and Wheeler; they tamed Caldwell. What had been the toughest, gaudiest, hell-roaringest town on the border now was a quiet country town.”
And my favorite:
“There were over 40 professional gamblers living in Caldwell . . . and two small churches.”
A number of years ago, I made contact with Harris’ grandson, Robert T. Harris, of Wagoner, Oklahoma, who sent me a transcribed copy of some of Grant Harris’ handwritten notes in which he relates some of his experiences in early day Caldwell. Following is a great story Harris tells in his notes about his first evening in Caldwell. It took place on the eve of the famous Talbot Raid in Caldwell’s first opera house, the very same building housing our “new” opera house, recently renovated by the Caldwell Historical Society.
He writes in the third person which makes me suspect that he was composing the story for an article. The ensuing years appear to have jaded his memory somewhat as he refers to the gang leader, Jim Talbot, as Jim Bigtree.
♦ ♦ ♦
Tell W. Walton, editor of the Caldwell Post, had come to Wellington looking for a boy to work for him in the printing office in 1880 and Harris jumped at the chance.
Walton and the boy went down from Wellington on an “accommodation” freight train, arriving there [Caldwell] about 8 o’clock in the evening. The Kendall Kompany, a theatrical stock company well known along the border, was
playing in Caldwell that night and before leaving for Wellington, Walton had made arrangements for Mrs. Walton and a friend, Mrs. Milt Bennett [Milt Bennett was the first treasurer of the Cherokee Strip Livestock Association], to go to the show, he joining them there when he returned.
When Walton and Harris entered the show they found the ladies near the front of the house with two vacant seats beside them and the row of seats just behind them occupied by five heavily-armed cowboys.
Walton spoke to the cowboys in a friendly way as he and Harris took their seats, but in return received only sullen looks and a remark by their leader that “there’s that ------now!”
A week before Harris’ arrival in the “Queen City of the Border” as Caldwell residents referred to their city, a group of cowboys headed by Jim (Big Nose) Bigtree [actually, Talbot] had ridden into town, shooting up a saloon or two in a display of playfulness. Walton in his paper that week had bitterly condemned the cowboys’ behavior, adding it was high time to put an end to such altogether too common performances.
The celebrating cowboys took offense to the editor’s remarks when told of them (it being extremely doubtful if they could have read them themselves) and sent word to the crusading editor they intended to shoot him on sight the next time they came to town.
Everyone in the house, even the players on the stage, sensed that trouble was brewing after Harris and Walton arrived in the theater and the cowboys and Walton’s party attracted more attention from the audience than the actors.
Aside from an occasional insulting remark directed at Walton by one or another of the cowboys, nothing serious developed. Just as the stage performance neared a close, “’’Cherokee Bill”” [Comanche Bill], a notorious border character, crowded between the cowboys and Walton’s party, sat down facing the cowboys, laid a 45-caliber
revolver across his lap and loudly and firmly announced to one and all: “”Tell Walton is my friend and if anyone wants to start something he’s got to do business with me first!””
When the show was over Walton and his party left the theater unmolested, but two or three times during the night someone shot into the Walton home, without damage to its occupants.”
[Early the next morning, Tom Love, one of the gang, with a shot from his six-gun, shattered a window in Moores Brothers Saloon (Karl’s Apple Market) and thus provided the spark that exploded into what has gone down in history as the “Talbot Raid.”]
This yarn, apparently originating in a Wichita newspaper, was reprinted in the Caldwell Weekly Advance on July 26, 1894. Some truth; some outrageous
nonsense—all in all, intensely entertaining.
Bloody Work of the Early Marshals of Caldwell, Kansas
Wichita, Kan., July 12- When George Flatt became marshal of Caldwell, Kansas, in 1880, Caldwell was king 1 bee of tough towns. Abilene and Dodge City had had a their day. “Wild Bill’ had civilized Abilene with a cut-off shotgun, and “Pa Masterson” was engaged in ruling Dodge City with a pair of heavy six-shooters. Caldwell being on the Indian territory border, was the headquarters for Dave Payne’s Oklahoma boomers, the Cherokee Strip and Texas cattlemen and cowboys, as well as a paradise for bad men with killing, and the Mecca of gamblers. Unless a man carried an arsenal, swore like a pirate and gambled like a fiend, he was not in good standing in society, and either left or some one “planted” him out in the graveyard on the hill.
For a long time, the “killers” ran the town, and no Marshal could be kept alive in the city long enough to preserve order. Then George Flatt turned up. His chief and only recommendation was his nerve. He was known as a bad man. He had a handsome wife, who doted on his manly beauty and devilish courage. To show the people that he proposed to run the town on border principles, Flatt at once started in for a reign of terror. This he brought about by killing three cowboys one day and two Indians the next. Then he “lined up” the Mayor of the town and made him eat crow.
That settled it, and the toughs gave him a wide berth. A plot was fixed up to get rid of a man they could
not control, and one dark, rainy night , some one let loose a charge of buckshot, which struck the Marshal in the back. He dragged himself up against a building, pulled his six-shooters, and was discovered dead with a gun in each hand.
Mrs. Flatt sent to Chicago for a Pinkerton detective, and offered a large reward for the apprehension of her husband’s murderer, but to this day, the killing is a mystery.
Frank Hunt, Flatt’s deputy, took the vacant place. Hunt lacked the nerve his chief possessed, but was on the bad man order. One night he went to the Texas House to dance. Filling up on liquor, he went inside and sat down near a window to cool off. Suddenly the lights went out, and once more Caldwell was without a policeman. The ball went on, and Hunt was “planted” in next day with proper and becoming ceremonies, half the town getting drunk, and the next morning three men were discovered dead in one saloon.
“Bart” Carr succeeded Hunt, but did not succeed in making much of a mark, although he did escape with his life. He was a handsome gambler, but lacked the requisite nerve to run such a town as that. The Mayor and City Council were powerless once more. Crime ran riot, and murderers boldly proclaimed their blood thirsty deeds on the highways and byways. The cemetery on the hill grew larger and became more densely populated with the dead.
One day a Texan rode into town over the old Chisholm Trail. He was bronzed blonde, with a Winchester, two sixshooters, and a record as a fighter. He had been engaged in the John Chisholm war in Texas and had been a partner of “Billy the Kid.” His name was Henry Brown, and he was broke. He had heard that “Bat” Carr wanted an assistant, and he hunted him out.
“I hear you want a man to do a night shift on the police,” he told Carr that day. “If you do, I’m your man.”
“We bury a marshal here every forty-eight hours,” said the Marshal, with a laugh at the crowd. “Still, if you don’t object to that feature of the business, I guess you can have the place.”
“Suits me to a dot,” was the laconic reply. “Shall I get to work right away?”
The boys learned that a new man was on duty, and prepared to have some fun at his expense. The next day, the town turned out and buried two of the would-be jokers. Brown was proving a tough customer. A week went by, and a minstrel show struck town. They advertised to wear plug hats, and “Sandy Jim” and his crowd proposed to have some fun shooting holes through the tiles. The show manager heard this and decided to omit that part of the program, but Brown also learned of this decision, and insisted that the parade take place as advertised. He was so urgent, and his six-shooter so prominently displayed that the minstrel men were between the devil and the deep blue sea, and concluded to go ahead as they had first intended.
“I’ll take care of any one who shoots at your hats,” Brown had said, and he kept his word.
As the processions passed down the main street, “Sandy Jim” was sitting on a store box. With a yelp of derision, he pulled a gun and plugged a hole through a high hat. Before his comrades could imitate his example, Brown was down on them. He got the drop on “Sandy” and compelled him to throw away his guns. Then he ordered him to run. There was nothing else to do, so “Sandy” started. Brown let him get almost out of range, then quickly raised his gun and shot him through the head.
By this time, Brown’s name was a terror on the border. He gave it out that “Bat” Carr was no man for Marshal of such a town and ordered him to resign and leave. This, Carr did. Then Brown took his place. He put on a chum named Ben Wheeler as his assistant. The
Council were compelled to indorse this high-handed outrage, and even brave Mike Meagher, the Mayor, was terrorized.
Some time after this, Spotted Tail, an inoffensive Ponco Indian chief, gave Brown some surly answer one day and the Marshal shot him so full of holes that there was barely enough of him left to bury. Ben Wheeler followed his chief’s lead and began to get a record on his own hook. Newton Boyce, a popular gambler, fell under the ban of their displeasure and was locked up by Ben Wheeler. Boyce said Brown was a cowardly murderer, and the Marshal ordered him turned loose. As Boyce left the city prison, Brown appeared with a gold plated Winchester rifle in his hand. He opened fire on the defenseless gambler and before he stopped, pumped five bullets in to his body. This was too much to overlook. Mike Meagher called the Council together and they proceeded to depose King Brown. Wheeler informed the marshal of what was going on in the Council Chamber and accompanied Brown to the meeting. The two desperado officials took possession of that body of men, compelling them to rescind the order removing Brown as marshal and actually forced them to pass resolutions indorsing Brown’s course and giving an order for a new Winchester rifle for him. This done, he let them adjourn and go home.
Matters went from bad to worse until one day the Marshal and his assistant rode out of town saying they were going down into the Strip after some outlaws. They stopped at a cow camp and two cowboys joined their party. The next morning all four rode into Medicine Lodge and up to the doors of the principal bank. The cashier had just opened the big safe door when Brown, Wheeler and Smith entered the room. Brown ordered him to throw up his hands, but he refused and started towards the safe. The desperado put a ball through his heart. But the cashier crawled to the door, pushed it shut and threw on the combination before he died. Wheeler shot the President as he ran out of his office to see what the shooting was about.
Then, the four desperadoes shot their way out of town. Barney O’Connor, then, as now, a prominent cattle man, organized a party and chased the murderers into the Cedar Canyon, where they were captured. They were taken back to Medicine Lodge that same afternoon and their photos were struck. That night a mob took them from jail, strung them up and shot them full of holes. Thus finished to of the worst criminal officers Kansas ever saw, and Barney O’Connor is still the owner of the gold-plated Winchester that the Caldwell Council voted to Brown.
George Brown, a namesake of the desperado, but no blood relation, was next sworn in as Caldwell’s peace preserver, Willis Metcalf was his assistant. One day Brown and Metcalf went up to a cowboy ranch to arrest three Texans, George Brown was shot through the head and killed and Metcalf was warned not to give any alarm for an hour on penalty of death. The murderers then went down to a hotel got a drink and rode out of town
Fourteen years have made wonderful changes in the administration of municipal affairs of Caldwell and in the character of its inhabitants. The desperadoes vanished long ago, never to return, and today there is no more peaceful, nor at the same time, more enterprising town in all the west than this which was once the scene of so much bloodshed.
Referenced by “< >” Notation in THE FOLLOWING TALBOT RAID TEXT
1. Occidental Saloon
2. Mike Meagher’s Arcade Saloon
3. Jim Talbot’s house
4. Red Light Saloon
5. Leland Hotel
6. Opera House aka Danford Building
7. Robinson’s Saloon
8. Clifton Hotel / Ray’s Restaurant
9. Moores Brothers’ Saloon
10. Opera House stairs
11. Comanche Bill Mankin’s house
12. Doorway / stairs to police judge’s office
13. Passageway
14. Backdoor of George Brown’s gun shop
15. Passageway
16. Talbot’s position at corner of shed
17. Meagher’s position at corner of Opera
18. Passageway
19. Pulaski Building
20. Talbot’s second firing position
21. Where Meagher was shot
22. Chinese laundry
23. Sherer’s barber shop
24. Hubble’s store
25. “Common” open area
26. Front door of A.C. “Lengthy” Jones’
blacksmith shop
27. Kalbfliesch Stable
Map of Talbot raid locations
Caldwell, Kansas, 1881
Mike Meagher, a one time Caldwell marshal and its third mayor, was shot dead in the Talbot Raid.
The Talbot raid
“Hell is in Session in Caldwell!”
By Rod Cook
Jim Talbot, handsome, bold and daring, with his henchmen behind him, defiantly stood in the middle of Caldwell’s dusty Main Street with a six-gun in each hand. He fired two shots at Marshal John Wilson and cried, “Hide out, little ones!” It was a warning to the few youngsters happily playing outdoors on the unusually warm December afternoon, but the crowd of agitated citizens that surrounded him heeded his warning and scattered.
Thus began what history has dubbed The Talbot Raid, a shooting war between the citizens of the fledgling Kansas frontier town of Caldwell and James Daniel Sherman, a hotheaded cowboy calling himself Jim Talbot, along with his cadre of reckless young cowboys.
The bold and fearless form of Jim Talbot was the center of the firing. He stood bravely to the front, with revolver in each hand, firing at the men he had premeditated to kill. Shots fired by the citizens were striking the buildings and tearing up the ground in all directions near the fearless leader who stood undaunted by shot or bullet, watching for the men who were to be his victims.
Those who were unfortunate enough to be in the city shopping hurried themselves to a place of safety, some taking refuge behind dry goods boxes, while others in their fright, rushed hither and thither looking for a better place to hide and escape the stray bullets which were crashing through the glass front windows of the stores and tearing through doors and windows of the dwelling houses, damaging pictures, breaking mirrors, and defacing the walls of the buildings.182
182 Freeman, Midnight, and Noonday, (1984 edition) p. 253.
Upon receiving word of the ongoing battle, the Wichita Daily Times headlined in their December 17, 1881, issue: “As we go to press, Hell is in session at Caldwell!”
Caldwell, a lively Kansas border cowtown, then the terminus of the legendary Chisholm Trail, had seen its share of violence in the few years since its inception. Almost from its start, violence visited the growing settlement. Only three months after the opening of its first store, settlers were raided by Indians on Bluff Creek just south of town and within one year’s time, Caldwell had racked up its first four murders, had hosted two lynchings, and witnessed its first classic gunfight: two cowboys shot it out and killed each other.
Succeeding murders along the border have followed each other so rapidly since then, that many of them have never been chronicled.
Years ago, when there was no law, the murderer did not consider it necessary to flee, but simply kept a sharp outlook for the “avenger of blood.”
Of late years, however, there has been some effort made to enforce the laws, and these desperadoes have been more wary in their lawlessness. Yet the immediate cause of their depredations has never been removed. The large majority of brawls that have terminated in murder, began in dance and bawdyhouses. In every instance the murderer’s brain has been fired by strong drink very frequently sold in violation of law.183
On July 7, 1879, several days before Caldwell, becoming known as The Border Queen,184 was incorporated as a city of the third class, two Texas cowboys were on a drunken hurrah and terrorizing the town. Continuing their rampage in Jim Moreland’s Occidental Saloon <1>, two Caldwell men, Constable John Wilson and a citizen named
183 Sumner County Press, December 22, 1881.
184 Border Queen was the name given to Caldwell by the drovers plying the Chisholm who found its haunts a delightful diversion after their daunting drive through the inhospitable Indian Territory.
George Flatt, volunteered to flush them out.185 Wilson and Flatt entered the saloon and Flatt, planting a six-gun on the bar, confronted the Texans. They both leveled their pistols at him and demanded him to “throw up!” Flatt’s unyielding reply was “I’ll die first!”186 and in an instant his six-guns were in his hands. In the same moment, Wilson joined in and all four men blazed away. When the gunsmoke cleared, the Texans were dead.187 Although the verdict of the inquest credited Flatt with both deaths,188 it was later believed that Wilson had downed one of the Texans with his second shot while taking a bullet in his wrist and another in his thigh.189
Early the next month, Flatt was appointed Caldwell’s first city marshal, an appointment that the city would later regret. He was rarely seen sober and was continually belligerent; loud-mouthed, confrontational and ready to fight. He was incensed when, in early April of the next year, 1880, ex-Wichita City Marshal Mike Meagher was elected Caldwell’s third mayor and immediately fired him. Flatt became more infuriated yet when he learned that he had been replaced by his own assistant marshal, William Horseman, who only months earlier had also been his partner in ownership of the OK Saloon.
185 Two months previously, Flatt had been Moreland’s partner for a short time. He had one half ownership of the Occidental from February 18, 1879 to May 3, 1879.
186 Caldwell Post, July 10, 1879.
187 Freeman reports on page 188 of Midnight and Noonday that after the gunplay, Flatt was so keyed up that he emptied both six-guns into the boardwalk in front of the saloon, then entered the saloon and physically accosted Moreland who he thought had instigated and encouraged the Texans’ raucous celebration. The Sumner County Democrat, of July 9, 1879, gives an eyewitness report that Flatt bashed Moreland on the head with his pistol knocking him to the floor.
188 Midnight and Noonday, p. 191
189 Midnight and Noonday, p. 188. However, in a short-lived controversy following the event, someone claimed that the chambers of the Texans’ pistols’ cylinders were found to be fully loaded after the fight, implying that Flatt had fired the shots that wounded Wilson and a bystander, a Mr. Kiser. Caldwell’s officialdom denied the claim and immediately put the issue to rest. (Midnight and Noonday, p. 191.)
Flatt then became even more confrontational. When it was demanded that he give up his guns, he taunted and dared the marshals to take them. He had the town buffaloed to the point that the officers were hesitant to approach him. He brazenly held the town in a grip of fear two more months until the early morning of June 19, 1880, when a shadowy faction of townspeople conspired to take matters into their own hands. Leaving the IXL Saloon after midnight, Flatt and two companions walked down Caldwell’s main street. Belligerent to the last, Flatt boasted to his companions that he was the “. . . cock of the walk in Caldwell.”190 Moments later he was assassinated in a hail of gunfire at the hands of the covert squad and the citizens of Caldwell were gratefully rid of a tyrant. Mayor Mike Meagher and the entire Caldwell police force were indicted for the assassination but were all later exonerated.
♦ ♦ ♦
Before moving to Caldwell, Meagher, as Marshal of Wichita, had collared a celebrating stage coach driver in Wichita named Sylvester Powell for assault and put him behind bars. It was New Year’s Eve, 1876. Powell’s incarceration didn’t cool his hostility—immediately upon his release from jail, he went gunning for the Marshal. Meagher happened to be in the outhouse at the rear of Mayor Hope’s saloon when shots burned through the privy door. With a bullet wound in his leg, Meagher charged out of the privy to take on Powell hand-to-hand. He met Powell in storm of gunfire taking another bullet through his hand in the fray. After a brief skirmish and a single shot from Meagher’s pistol, Sylvester Powell lay dead.
Mike Meagher moved to Caldwell in the spring of 1879 soon after it became apparent that the Santa Fe would extend its tracks from Wichita southward to Caldwell to meet the Texas herds coming up the Chisholm Trail. With many other like-minded entrepreneurs, he was sure Caldwell would boom and afford a lucrative business
190 Caldwell Commercial, June 23, 1880.
opportunity. Shortly after his arrival, he established his Arcade Saloon <2> and in April of the following year, he was elected the Border Queen’s third mayor and served as Caldwell’s city marshal briefly in August of 1881.
Mike had been appointed a deputy U.S. marshal in 1874 and had been a five term city marshal of Wichita. There, Wyatt Earp had worked for Meagher as a policeman. Drago, in Wild, Wooly & Wicked, states:
“In 1959, ninety-three year old Wichita native, Captain Sam Jones, was asked in an interview: 'Captain, did Wyatt Earp tame Wichita?’
The Captain replied, 'If anybody cleaned up Wichita it was Mike Meagher. Wyatt was just a policeman.”
♦ ♦ ♦
Caldwell was a hellion. To accommodate the nearly constant saturation of fun hungry cowboys, particularly during the trail driving season when the influx of the drovers was greatest, the town’s entrepreneurs provided alluring establishments where they could drink, gamble, and partake of the delights of the demimonde; in general, spend their money freely and raise hell in general. Records compiled from contemporary Caldwell newspapers reveal 31 saloons known to have existed in the Border Queen during the first half of the 1880s. Caldwell’s police docket books record the names of 131 known prostitutes of that period.191 Grant Harris, a resident at the time, reported “There were over 40 professional gamblers living in Caldwell.”192
191 There were surely many more prostitutes whose names were unrecorded. Years ago, the docket book recording activity from February 11, 1881, through April 1, 1882, was water damaged and discarded. As a result, knowledge of all of the police activity of that period is lost. Sadly, this was the period in which many of the most tumultuous historical incidents occurred, including the Talbot Raid.
192 From Grant Harris’ notes arranged by Phil Harris in October 1936 and sent to me by Grant Harris’ grandson, Robert T. Harris. In his later years as editor of the Wagoner, Oklahoma Tribune, Grant Harris recorded memories of his early years as a youngster living in Caldwell.
Understandably, her marshals didn’t last long. From the time of Flatt’s demise, seven marshals193 served the Border Queen during the short year and a half until December 1, 1881, when John Wilson, Flatt’s partner in the Occidental Saloon gunfight, was appointed Marshal of Caldwell.194 George Freeman wrote in Midnight and
Noonday that Wilson was regarded “. . . on the order of the desperado.” but was “. . . a good man behind a six-shooter” and “a man with an indomitable will.”195 Wilson had
previously worked for Mike Meagher as a policeman in Wichita.196 Although noted as a consummate drinker, he had proven himself a fierce man to confront and a good man with a gun. Then 27 years old, his mettle would be severely tested before the month was out.
♦ ♦ ♦
Ten year old James Daniel Sherman, a Missourian by birth, witnessed his father’s violent death at the hands of three Confederate sympathizers. His mother died shortly after and he was taken in by relatives, one of which was his mother’s sister. While living in his aunt’s household, he spent a number of his teenage years in the company of a cousin. They were about the same age and were close pals. The teenage cousin was Sylvester Powell who, in the future, would be killed in Wichita by Marshal Mike Meagher. It is believed that that act motivated Talbot to seek Meagher further yet in the future—to exact revenge.197
193 William Horseman, C.F. Betts, James Johnson, John Wilson, Mike Meagher, James Roberts, and John Rowen.
194 The November 24, 1881, issue of the Caldwell Post reported the details of an arrest made by Wilson. “You don’t know who I am, do you? I am Lieutenant Powell, United States Army, by God, sir!” Wilson replied “I am John Wilson, City Marshal of the city of Caldwell, State of Kansas, by God, sir! And you will go with me to the cooler. Come along, sir!”
195 Midnight and Noonday, p. 186.
196 Miller & Snell, Why the West was Wild, p. 646.
197 Robert DeArment presents the definitive biography exposing Talbot’s life before and after the Caldwell fight in Revenge, published by Scarlet Mask, 2004.
Years later, James Sherman assumed the name Jim Talbot. In the spring of 1881, he moved his wife, Allie, infant daughter, and three or four year old son named Jimmy, to Caldwell from Texas198. He rented a house <3> for them next door north of the Red Light Saloon <4> from a perennial Caldwell lawman named Dan Jones199. Talbot was said to be five feet, ten and about 170 pounds200 but was described by a contemporary as “. . . one of the most powerful men I had ever seen. He could take hold of two ordinary men and handle them easily.”201
Leaving his family in Caldwell, Talbot went back to Texas and turned to outlawry. During this time he was “. . . wanted in several places for horse stealing and shooting men,” and was “. . . a bad outlaw202.” Escaping the
clutches of the Texas Rangers, he went to work as a cowboy on the infamous Millett brother’s Baylor County spread. The Milletts were notorious for hiring only hardened hoodlums and misfits. It was said that “When the Milletts run the spread there wasn’t anybody but a rustler or gunman could get work with them.”203
Talbot rode for the Milletts until coming up the Chisholm with a Millett herd. Arriving in Caldwell in late November of 1881, he immediately made his presence known when he captured John Spencer Danford,204 the founder, president, and owner of the Merchants and Drovers Bank of Caldwell. Danford’s bank, in ruinous straits progressing over the past several weeks, had
198 Talbot’s 1895 trial testimony as reported in the Wellington Monitor Press, April, 18, 1895.
199 Caldwell Commercial, June 23, 1880
200 Caldwell Post, January 4, 1883, Sumner County Sheriff Joseph Thralls description.
201 Records, Cherokee Outlet Cowboy, p. 175.
202 Caldwell Post, January 4, 1883.
203 Saunders, George W., Trail Divers of Texas, University of Texas Press, p. 145.
204 Danford built the large building that occupies the south east corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street. The building was known as the Danford Building. It was also known as the Opera House which occupied the upper story of the building. His Merchants and Drovers Bank adjoined the south side of the building.
abruptly closed its doors and its assets were illicitly removed and secreted to a site unknown to the depositors. Danford, proving himself a shyster, made a clandestine exit from the city, but, before too far into the Indian Territory, he was discovered as the only passenger on a southbound stage.205
When the townspeople got the news, Talbot mounted his racehorse and determined to catch Danford and return him to the depositors. Talbot overtook the stage several miles below Polecat Creek, some 15 miles south of Caldwell in the Cherokee Outlet, and turned the stage around at the point of his six-shooter. When the stage rolled in, Danford was greeted with hatred:
. . . the whole town was at the reception.
They had a lot of rope and some guns. One mourner said he’d give twenty-five dollars to anyone that would shoot him. Talbot pointed his .45 full cocked, and said, “Out with your money,” but the fellow backed down. Then Jim said, “I’ll send him out for twenty dollars,” but no one would hand over that much.206
The errant banker was taken to the Leland Hotel <5> and held by a number of armed citizens, one of which was a colorful character known as “Comanche Bill” Mankin. “Comanche Bill” stood with a Winchester on half-cock pointed at him until he was arrested and taken to Wellington by the Sumner County Sheriff.207
After that incident, Talbot and Comanche Bill became friendly and spent time together. Compared to Talbot, Comanche Bill, in spite of his roguishly sounding name, had a more peaceable inclination than his friend, Talbot, whose reputation grew more ominous as the days progressed.
“Jim Talbot has been around the city about a month, gambling, drinking, bullying, and attempting to
205 Nelson, The Cowman’s Southwest, p. 32.
206 Nelson, The Cowman’s Southwest, p. 32.
207 Caldwell Commercial, December. 29,1881.
bulldoze everyone . . 208 He had no employment but
owned a race horse which made him a little money from time to time, and was an occasional horse trader.209
Also coming with the Millett herd were several hard-case cowboy friends of Talbot:210 Bob Johnson, aka Doug Hill, who had a disfigured left hand with the little finger cut off; a memento of a knife fight with a Mexican cowhand; Bob Bigtree, about six feet tall but exceptionally slender at about 150 pounds; Jim Martin, with the tip of his right thumb shot off; and Bob Munson, aka Mel Slocum, wanted for murder in Texas.211 Talbot was then 31 years old. The ages of the other men were not recorded other than Hill who was said to be “. . . hardly more than a boy . . .”212
Apparently living off of recently earned wages:
The four men soon entered upon a life which they would perhaps designate as “one continuous round of pleasure.” They all visited and spent much time at the dance hall and bar connected with the [Red Light] saloon, and they visited the saloons and gambling halls; in fact they spent most of their time at these places. None of them went long without a drink of some kind, and on various occasions they became very drunk.213
A short time later, Dick Eddleman and Tom Love fell in with the group. There is no recorded description of Eddleman and nothing is known of his background. Love’s real name was Thomas Love Culbreth. He was wanted in Milam County, Texas, for a murder he committed in 1875.214 Apparently, Love had had been in the town for some time previously. An item in the Caldwell Commercial
208 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881.
209 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 11, 1895.
210 Colcord contradicts, saying Talbot “. . . picked up three cowpunchers who worked on the Gorham range [in the Cherokee Outlet] adjacent to that of the Comanche Pool on the west.” (Colcord, The Autobiography of Charles Francis Colcord,” p.111)
211 Wichita Daily Times, December 20, 1881.
212 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 18, 1895.
213 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p.471
214 DeArment, Revenge, p. 68
of September 22, 1881, reported: “Tom Love, a well known Texas boy, has purchased an interest in the Moreland Restaurant, where he will be pleased to meet his friends.”215 With the addition of these two, the nucleus of The Talbot Gang, seven in number, was complete. “Talbot was their leader and his home was their headquarters.”216
“These men were desperadoes and were constantly giving the marshal trouble by their daring feats and the free use they made of their sixshooters. They visited the numerous places of amusement, accompanied by the prostitutes of the Red Light dancing hall and made disturbances by using loud, obscene language in the presence of ladies, or by their braggadocio, which they displayed while they were under the influence of whiskey.”217
The Sumner County Star reported that they “. . . commenced a career of wild revelry which continued for two weeks during which they frequently came into conflict with the city authorities.” The Monitor Press echoed
This interference by the authorities, with what these people considered their inalienable prerogative, caused an overgrown feeling of resentment in their whisky-befuddled brains.
Several loosely associated hangers-on soon became involved. A confederate named Tom Delaney was reported to have been connected but how he participated in the gang is not recorded. Another was a local ne'er-do-well named George Spear who was a vociferous supporter of the gang— for which he later paid dearly. Spear was hired by Mag Wood to manage the saloon portion of the Red Light Saloon after her husband, George Wood, was shot and killed in the Red Light, his own saloon, several months earlier.
In addition to the gang’s belligerent antics in general, Talbot had inflamed the ire of Marshal Wilson and Mike Meagher in the early days of December when he was
215 Caldwell Commercial, September 22, 1881.
216 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 11, 1895.
217 Freeman, Midnight and Noonday, (1984 edition) p. 251.
arrested by Wilson. “Talbot was running this horse on one of the streets . . . when he was arrested by John Wilson, the city marshal, and Mike Meagher. Talbot drew a revolver and, striking each of them over the hands, broke their hold on his horse’s bridle bits and rode away.”218 Then, several days later, Talbot and his boys “. . . were disturbing a gambling game that was running in Michael Meagher’s saloon. Meagher and Talbot had some words about it. Talbot stepped out of the saloon and remarked that he would ‘burn powder in Meagher’s face for that in a few days.’”219
By December 16, the town’s endurance was wearing thin. It was to get much worse. That evening, a stage play, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was performed at the Opera House220 <6> by the Kendall Kompany (spelling is theirs), a theatrical stock company well known along the border. The evening’s events were later recounted in the remembrances of Grant Harris221, who was at the time a young man employed by Tell Walton, editor of the Caldwell Post.
He reported that the normal decorum observed by the usual polite audience was obliterated when Talbot and four of his gang, heavily armed, invaded the house arm-inarm with their prostitutes. “Their conversation was so loud and obscene as to disturb the whole house.”222 Shortly after, Harris and his boss, Walton, entered and proceeded to sit in the two vacant chairs next to Walton’s wife who had already been seated in the row directly in front of the gang.
218 Testimony of H.L Woods at Talbot’s 1895 trial as reported in the Sumner County Star, April, 18, 1895.
219 Wellington Monitor Press, July 3, 1884.
220 The building occupied the south-east corner of 5th Avenue & Main Street. It was known as the Opera House and was also known as the Danford Building; the two terms were used interchangeably. The Opera House itself occupied the second floor. The ground floor was subdivided into two business establishments. The building was built by J.S. Danford, the errant banker noted earlier in this article.
221 Grant Harris’ notes.
222 Sumner County Press, December 22, 1881.
Previously, Walton had bitterly condemned the cowboys’ conduct in a scathing editorial, commenting that it was high time to put an end to their outrageous behavior. The celebrating cowboys had taken offense to his remarks and sent word to the crusading editor that they intended to shoot him on sight the next time they came uptown.
Walton spoke to the cowboys in a conciliatory manner as he and Harris took their seats, but in return received only sullen looks and a remark by their leader that “there is that [expletive] now” followed by additional obscene jibes from the rest of the crew. At length, Walton gathered courage, faced Talbot and demanded the brigands quiet down. “In return, Talbot cursed him and declared that he would “fix him the next day!”223
Their diatribe continued until
“Just as the stage performance neared its close, ‘Comanche Bill’ crowded between the cowboys and Walton’s party, sat down facing the cowboys, laid a .45 caliber revolver across his lap and loudly and firmly announced to one and all:
‘Tell Walton is my friend and if anyone wants to start something he’s got to do business with me first!’”224
With Comanche Bill’s intrusion, the confrontation subsided, calm was restored and the play concluded without further incident.
In past writings, “Comanche Bill” Mankin, 22 years old at the time, has been mistakenly regarded as in the desperado class, as one of the gang, or, at least, a supporting sympathizer. In reality, his role in the fight was as a neutral conciliator. While he was a friend of the gang; drank and caroused with them on occasion, he was also a friend of Marshal Wilson and Mike Meagher. Although reputed as a somewhat notorious character, it is known that he had been the city marshal of Hunnewell, a town 12 miles east of Caldwell, immediately prior to that period and
223 Sumner County Press, December 22, 1881.
224 Grant Harris’ notes.
may well have continued to hold that position at the time of the fight.225 Contemporary sources show him to have worked with Wilson to moderate the gang’s mayhem when they got out of hand and that he attempted to steer them out of trouble.226
After the opera, Comanche Bill and the gang convened in Meagher’s Arcade Saloon where Meagher, George Spear, C.H. Challes, and several others where drinking and playing poker. A riotous jamboree commenced lasting until dawn. Meagher and Spear fought over their card game until more sober heads separated them. The gang ordered rounds of drinks for the house then refused to pay. They continued intimidating Meagher; harassing, threatening, and humiliating him all night. Violent confrontations erupted throughout the evening and early morning of the next day. At one point, Talbot took a six-shooter away from Meagher.227 Amid the chaos,
Comanche Bill took a pistol away from Love who was trying to shoot Meagher.228
♦ ♦ ♦
The fateful sunrise of Saturday, December 17, 1881, dawned clear and bright. It was an exceptionally warm Kansas morning for that time of year. The riotous Arcade convention finally broke up at daybreak. It had been a foreboding omen, foretelling the upheaval that would follow that day.
Leaving the Arcade, the gang, with Comanche Bill, Spear, and Challes, reconvened in Robinson’s Saloon <7>
225 The Caldwell Commercial, September. 22, 1881, reported that Mankin was still Hunnewell City Marshal at that time. No record revealing the end of his service can be found.
226 Assistant Marshal W.D. Fossett testified at a later time that Mankin had tried to prevent the shooting at some risk to his own life. Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of Assistant Marshal W.D. Fossett.
227 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony
of Marshal John Wilson.
228 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony
of Edward Heiflinger.
and the gang resumed drinking and loudly voicing their threats against Meagher. “Meagher was drinking and considerably under the influence of liquor. Many of his warm friends knew this and had prevailed on him to leave the street and had arranged to have him go to Wichita on the afternoon train.”229 But Meagher, taking the gang’s threats seriously230 and fearing for his safety, instead, went to Marshal Wilson’s house, awakened him, and “. . . asked to come down town and stop a riot; that Jim Talbot and party wanted to kill him.”231 Shortly, Marshal Wilson entered Robinson’s and asked Comanche Bill to get the gang to quiet down. Comanche Bill tried to get them to go to Ray’s Restaurant <8> located in the Clifton Hotel <8> and finally persuaded all but Talbot and Love to go with him.
Instead, Talbot and Love went into the Moores Brother’s Saloon <9> where Love, still intoxicated, shot out a window pane. Wilson, still in the vicinity, with Assistant Marshal William D. “Bill” Fossett,232 went in and arrested him counter to Talbot’s strenuously defiant objections. Enraged, Talbot abandoned the argument and ran toward Ray’s Restaurant to rally his boys while Wilson and Fossett headed toward the police judge with Love in tow.
It was about 8:00 am when Talbot burst into Ray’s and exclaimed “Boys, they have arrested one of the boys— let’s take him away from them!”233 They hurriedly left the restaurant and intercepted Talbot, Fossett, and Love a few
229 Wellington Monitor Press - July 3, 1884
230 Meagher certainly had reason to be apprehensive. Morehouse, on page 8 of his book, The City Marshall, relates a conversation in which Meagher foretells his demise: “The stage drew up and Wash Walker, Powell’s old pal, was on the box. Meagher and Walker eyed each other, but neither spoke. After the stage drove off, Meagher, in a low voice, almost as if he were talking to himself, said, “Boys, there is the only man on top of ground that I am afraid of. They will get me some day.”
231 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of Marshal John Wilson.
232 An excellent biography of Fossett is W.D. "Bill" Fossett: Pioneer and Peace Officer, by Jim Fulbright, Mid-South Publications, 2002.
233 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of Comanche Bill Mankin.
yards east of Fifth & Main, the main intersection of the town, where Martin and Munson temporarily freed Love from the officers. A crowd materialized and “There was considerable flourishing of revolvers and loud talk.”234 Ill advisedly, Meagher entered the fray attempting to support Wilson when Martin and Munson drew their irons and threatened Meagher. Unarmed, he pushed their guns aside and said, “You fellows won’t shoot.”235 Then, more
determined, Talbot and Love threatened to shoot Meagher, compelling him to retreat up the staircase <10> on the east end of the Opera House. Marshal Wilson stepped to the bottom of the stairs, and shielding Meagher, drew his six-gun and announced that he would “. . . shoot the first man to make the attempt.”236
The confrontation had intensified into a short-fused standoff when Comanche Bill entered the scene, induced Martin and Munson to give up their guns, and displayed his considerable influence over the gang by immediately negotiating a truce. The end result was that Wilson agreed to allow the gang to deposit their guns at Talbot’s house rather than at the city offices and to let the gang return to Ray’s restaurant if Love, Martin, and Munson promised to go to the police judge and pay their fines after finishing their breakfast.237 The gang agreed and a tentative peace prevailed for the time being.
The gang took their firearms to Talbot’s house as agreed and then returned to Ray’s; all except Love, who lay down to sleep at Comanche Bill’s house <11>, adjacent to Talbot’s house toward the north. Honoring Wilson’s prior request, Comanche Bill went back up town to see Wilson who swore him in as a special police officer. He then went back to his house and went to sleep.238
234 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 11, 1895.
235 Wichita Beacon, December 21, 1881.
236 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of Marshal John Wilson.
237 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 11, 1895.
238 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony
of Comanche Bill Mankin.
At Ray’s Restaurant, Talbot and his gang “. . . discussed the situation and the events of the past few days and decided that Meagher ought to be killed and Talbot said he would kill him at the first opportunity.”239 Talbot then went to the home of friends named Goddell where his wife and children were visiting several blocks toward the northwest. At about 1:00 pm, William “Red Bill” Jones240 knocked on Goddell’s door and reported to Talbot that there was a stormy confrontation brewing downtown with Martin and Munson hotly protesting Wilson’s arrest of Martin who had rearmed himself.241 242
Just as Talbot and Red Bill were leaving the Goddell house to go downtown, ex Caldwell Assistant Marshal Jonathan Newton “Newt” Miller (who later became a brother-in-law to Caldwell’s famed Marshal Henry Newton Brown) was passing by in his wagon and they hitched a ride with him to the northwest corner of Fifth & Main. Just as they arrived, Marshal Wilson, with Martin in custody, was coming down the stairs from Judge Kelly’s court
Emerging from the building, Wilson and Fossett were attempting to push their way through the milling crowd of 25 to 30 men, some of whom were armed, that had assembled at the stairs.243 The marshals were intent on escorting Martin to the York, Parker, & Draper store to get the money to pay his fine.244
Martin was complaining bitterly that the fine was too high as Talbot jumped off of the wagon, and called out
239 Sumner County Star, April 18, 1895.
240 William “Red Bill” Jones, an apparent Talbot sympathizer, has in the past been confused with a perennial Caldwell lawman, Daniel William Jones. An example is Miller & Snell, Why the West was Wild, page 225.
241 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of Marshal John Wilson.
242 Deposition, Jonathan Newton Miller, Case 699, Kansas vs. Talbot, et al
243 Deposition, Jonathan Newton Miller, Case 699, Kansas vs. Talbot, et al
244 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 11, 1895
“hold on there, boys, hold on!”245 Aggravating the
situation, he elbowed his way through the crowd and with a curse proclaimed to the crowd that Martin “needn’t pay any fine if he didn’t want to.”246 More tension mounted as Talbot, backed up by Martin, Munson and Bigtree, confronted Fossett and, in a test of strength and wills, physically took Martin away from him.247 Order
deteriorated more rapidly then as Wilson, “. . . drunk and in a mood to shoot,”248 pulled out a couple of six-shooters and, covering Martin and Munson, ordered them to throw up their hands. Instead of complying, both men backed out into the crowd and dodged behind some of the bystanders.”249
Building force upon force, Talbot produced two six-guns and fired two shots into the air alerting his boys, as well the lawmen and the crowd, that all bets were off and the matter would be decided by gunfire—Hell’s session had at last begun.
With the flourishing of firearms, the crowd dissipated immediately. After that, the order of events that quickly followed is an uncertain flurry of actions.
“Talbot started to run south, turned around and fired two shots at me [Wilson]”250 And then:
“. . . he fired at someone in the middle portion of the block to the south of him and on the west side of the street [vicinity of Meagher’s Arcade Saloon]. It was presumed that it was Mike Meagher at whom he was shooting, as he was in that vicinity, and it was the evident intention of the party to kill him. This shot was immediately
245 Deposition, Jonathan Newton Miller, Case 699, Kansas vs. Talbot, et al.
246 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 11, 1895
247 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of Marshal John Wilson.
248 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 18, 1895.
249 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 11, 1895.
250 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony
of Marshal John Wilson.
returned by someone in the vicinity of where it had been aimed. Talbot was then joined by his three companions,251 and they took their stand in the middle of the street, near where Talbot had fired the first shot.”252
“The bullets flew thick and fast, and still the daring Talbot stood as a target for the guns of many citizens.”253
Very soon, Talbot with Martin, Munson, and Bigtree,254 was joined by Hill, and “. . . he and his men paraded down the street in the best hooraw fashion, shooting out the window panes and eventually drawing the fire from the marshal and his men who lay concealed among the alleyways and beer barrels of the town.”255
“A number of citizens armed themselves to assist the marshals. Each man armed with a gun or revolver was in hiding behind the stores, outhouses, and any place that would serve as a fortification or would shield them from the shots fired by the desperate Jim Talbot and his gang.256
Because sidearms were more readily accessible, this initial battle was fought for the most part without long guns. With continuous firing of their six-guns, it is likely that Talbot anticipated the depletion of the gang’s ammunition. It is suspected that he planned to withdraw from the skirmish, when that moment arrived, through the safety of an opening between two buildings <13> on the east side of Main Street that served as a passageway257
251 Martin, Munson, and Bigtree.
252 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 474.
253 Freeman, Midnight and Noonday, (1984 edition) p. 254.
254 After the raid, Bob Bigtree told Charles Colcord “. . . about some fellow shooting at him from behind a well curb in the street with a little twenty-two caliber pistol. When Bob saw him he walked over, took the “toy” from him and threw it into the well, remarking, “If you want to get into a fight again, get a real gun—you might put somebody’s eye out playing with that damn thing!” (Colcord, The Autobiography of Charles Francis Colcord,” p.111)
255 Christman, Lost Trails of the Cimarron, p. 228.
256 Freeman, Midnight and Noonday, (1984 edition) p. 253.
257 This passageway was between what was known as the Donaldson Building and the next building toward the north. The Donaldson fronted
leading part of the way toward his house. They retreated northward up Main toward this opening “slowly and deliberately, firing as they went.”* 258 Talbot’s pistols were empty when they arrived at the passageway and he yelled out, ”boys, come to my house and get our Winchesters and give them hell.”259
If it was Talbot’s strategy to exit through the safety of the passageway, it was well planned. It was only one block due east from the passageway’s entrance on Main Street to his house on Chisholm Street. The gang, except Love and Eddleman, entered the passageway and emerged at a point ten or twelve yards short of the alley that divided the two streets. When they got into the open near the alley, “people commenced shooting at them from upper windows and from near Czapalinski’s blacksmith shop.” From there they ran the remaining distance over open ground and under fire to Comanche Bill’s house. Located next door to Talbot’s house, Love had been asleep there most of the morning. They woke him up and he joined the group but when they asked, Comanche Bill, who had been awakened by the gunfire, he refused to go with them.260 Then they ran to Talbot’s house. Because Talbot’s family was still at the Goddell home, they found the door locked. Still under fire, Talbot commanded the boys to “. . . break the door in.”261
Once they were safely inside Talbot’s house, the town became quiet. During this lull in the fight, the officers and townspeople armed themselves with long guns. Those
onto Main Street and occupied the north-east corner of 5th Avenue & Main Street, the town’s main intersection. The Citizens Bank took up the main floor. The second story housed the police judge’s court and a lawyer’s office. Offices and apartments occupied the third story. The post office and a news, book and stationery store was located in the basement.
258 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 474.
259 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 11, 1895.
260 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony
of Nellie Whitson, “Comanche Bill’s woman.”
261 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony
of Nellie Whitson, “Comanche Bill’s woman.”
living nearby hurried to their homes and got their shotguns and rifles. Others took advantage of local gun stores:
Mr. A. Witzleben, of the York, Parker,
Draper Mercantile store, and Mr. C. W. Willet, of the Hardesty Bros. house, showed themselves to be men in every particular during the hurrah.
These gentlemen handed out their stock of arms to the citizens as long as there was a gun left, without receipts and in many instances without knowing who was taking the guns. The Two houses had about $800 worth of guns262 out at one time, and some of them have not been returned yet. . . .263
At Talbot’s house, he and each of his boys retrieved a Winchester and they headed back uptown. Martin and Munson went back through the same passageway the gang had used in their previous retreat and emerged onto Main Street where the battle resumed, this time with rifle fire. The citizens that were on the street were forced to quickly take cover.264 “The officers and Citizens sheltered
themselves as well as they could and shot at the desperadoes who hid behind buildings and outhouses. Every building in that vicinity is riddled full of bullet holes.”265
From his house, Talbot made his way south to Fifth Avenue, then west up the hill, taking a position at the stairway that was attached to the east end of the Opera House; the same stairs that Meagher was obliged to mount earlier in the day. He began firing toward the south at Fossett who was on the west side of the alley dividing the block between Main and Chisholm Street; and toward the east at George Brown266 who was standing in the back door
262 Due to inflation, the purchasing power of the 1881 dollar was about 24 times greater than that of today’s dollar. The guns that cost $800 in 1881 would require over $19,000 today.
263 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881.
264 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 11, 1895.
265 Sumner County Press, December 22, 1881.
266 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of George Brown. George Brown would later become a Caldwell city
of his gunsmith shop <14>. Bigtree and Hill ran south on Chisholm Street to the middle of the next block south of Fifth Avenue, then worked their way west between the residences intending to cross the same alley and go on to Main Street via a passageway along side of the Clifton Hotel <15>.* 267 Their advance was halted by rifle fire coming from the east facing windows of the upstairs apartments on the west side of the alley. Stopping short of the alley, they found cover, returned fire toward the windows, and began firing at Fossett.
Eventually, Talbot ran from the Opera House stairs to a new position behind a small shed <16> a short distance across the alley south-east of the stairs. From Main Street, Meagher advanced east on Fifth toward the alley on the north side of the Opera House, unknowingly toward Talbot’s new position. Hearing gunfire from the alley, he stopped short of the north-east corner of the building and cautiously peered around the corner <17> to see where the action was. He was spied by Talbot who was across the alley behind the shed “fifty or seventy five feet away.”268 They began firing at each other. “When one of them would peer around the corner of his building, the other would attempt to snap-shoot him before he could get his head back.”269
It should be noted that Talbots’s position, if he fired right handedly, offered superior cover than that of Meagher. Each time Talbot fired, it was necessary that only his rifle and a small portion of his body needed to protrude past the corner of his building to be exposed to Meagher’s fire. On
marshal. He was killed in the line of duty in the Red Light Saloon. Brown accosted two lawbreakers at the top of the stairs. A struggle ensued and the marshal collapsed from a bullet through his head. The patrons and prostitutes of the house were stunned to witness “. . . the body of George Brown at the head of the stairs, his face covered with a clot of blood and his brains spattered on the wall and floor of the building, while the gore dripped through the floor to the rooms below.” (Caldwell Commercial, June 29, 1882)
267 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 11, 1895.
268 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 475.
269 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 475.
the other hand, Meagher’s position, if he fired right handed, required him to stand away from the corner of his building exposing nearly all of his body to Talbot’s fire.270
It is very likely that it was for this reason that Meagher abandoned that initial position and retreated back to the corner at Main Street. There, he turned south onto the east side of Main and ran 50 feet, or so, to a passageway <18> on the south side of the Pulaski building <19>.271 Intent on securing a better position, he turned east into the passageway where he was joined by Marshal Wilson.
“Talbot possessed the same shrewdness as did Meagher, and when he missed [seeing] the marshal from behind the building where he had been concealed, he immediately suspected that his antagonist had taken this course.”272 He stepped into the open, onto the sidewalk north-west of the shed, to a new position <20> where he could look west, past the Opera House, all the way up the sidewalk to Main Street and see that Meagher was gone. The new position allowed him a clear view of the south-east corner of Pulaski’s building where he probably was certain Meagher would appear.
Coming to the east end of the Pulaski building, Meagher and Wilson met Edward Rathbun273 and saw Fossett nearby exchanging shots across the alley with Hill and Bigtree. Fossett had also been shooting toward the north at Talbot before he moved from the shed. Unaware of Talbot’s new position, Meagher, Wilson, and Rathbun moved past the end of the building, unknowingly into
270 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 476. In later years, Sam Ridings, author of The Chisholm Trail, was an attorney and occupied an office in the building that had housed the Opera House. He recalled chips in the bricks still present at the corner of the Opera House building where Mike Meagher had stood, He noted that these holes were made by bullets from Jim Talbot’s rifle and were made where Mike Meagher’s head had been.
271 The building was occupied by the Hockaday Brothers’ hardware store.
272 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 475.
273 Edward Rathbun ran a freight line between Caldwell and Fort Reno and was a stagecoach driver for the Southwestern Stage Company.
Talbot’s field of fire <21>, to join Fossett in the firefight with Hill and Bigtree. Their attention was focused toward the east at Hill and Bigtree.
Soon, Bigtree moved south to a position near the Chinese laundry <22> at the end of the alley. At about that time, Hill stopped firing at Fossett and directed his fire “at two men at the rear of Pulaski’s store.” Nellie Whitson later testified “After his [Hill’s] last shot, I saw this man stagger and fall.”274 At about the same instant, both Wilson and Rathbun saw Talbot raise his rifle. “I took hold of Meagher and warned him to look out. I heard the report of the gun, and Meagher moaned, ‘I am hit and hit hard!’”275 Rathbun said “Good God, Mike, are you hit?“ He replied, “Yes; tell my wife I have got it at last.”276 Wilson and Rathbun sat him up on a box on the south side of Pulaski’s store out of the field of fire and rejoined the fight. Meagher was first taken into Sherer’s barber shop <23>277 then carried home on a discarded saloon door.278 He was 38 years old.
Shortly after Meagher was shot, Wilson,279 with exmayor W. N. Hubble, went to the vicinity of the Chinese laundry where Bigtree had taken cover and was shooting toward the north at Fossett. They most likely went to the back door of Hubble’s store <24> where they would have a very good position to fire toward the laundry. In any case, they were instrumental in routing Bigtree.280 Bigtree
274 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of Nellie Whitson, “Comanche Bill’s woman.”
275 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of Marshal John Wilson.
276 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of Edward Rathbun.
277 Testimony of witness Calhoun at Talbot’s 1895 trial as reported in the Wellington Monitor Press, April, 18, 1895.
278 Personal conversation with Mike Steele, great nephew of Meagher’s brother-in-law, Captain John M. Steele, who took Meagher’s body to Wichita to be buried in the Highland Cemetery.
279 After the raid, John Wilson was shot and killed on the streets of Wellington, Kansas, while on duty as Wellington’s city marshal.
280 The Chinese laundry was located approximately twenty feet due east of the back door of Hubble’s store.
returned to Hill’s position, then, together, they headed back to the north side of Fifth to regroup with the others.
Their retreat marked a turning point and the beginning of the end.
By then, the citizen’s fire power had become overbearing. “Caldwell at that time was a western frontier town where most all of its citizens bore arms and knew how to use them. By the time Meagher was killed, the citizens had gathered in great masses, and most of them carried a gun of some description.”281
Martin and Munson retreated from Main Street, probably by way of the same corridor between the buildings that they had previously used in their advance.
“The firing had got to be general by this time, and whenever he [Talbot] saw the smoke of a gun he sent a shot in return.”282 But he continued his main fight with Fossett until he saw Hill and Bigtree, under fire, running north across Fifth Avenue to join Martin and Munson at his house, or at the Red Light next door where their saddled horses were tied. As he witnessed the barrage of firepower directed toward them, he faced the realization that his insurrection was overwhelmingly outgunned. He abruptly abandoned the fight and ran to join the others, displaying an escape that was:
. . . one of the most spectacular ever witnessed. Dozens of men were shooting at him with all kinds of firearms. His course was over open ground, a distance of about one hundred and fifty yards down a gradually sloping hill and in covering this distance he would zigzag, run, fall down, and roll over. He accomplished this escape successfully and without a scratch, and reached the point where their horses had been left.283
281 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 473.
282Talbot’s testimony given at his 1895 trial as reported by the Wellington Monitor Press, April, 18, 1895. Testimony of H.L Woods at Talbot’s 1895 trial as reported in the Sumner County Star, April, 18, 1895.
283 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 477.
The gang’s horses had been left, saddled, “on the common <25>”284 adjacent to the Red Light toward the east. Hubble, perhaps pursuing Bigtree in his retreat toward Chisholm Street, followed and observed the gang’s movements and realized that they intended to converge at the common where they could escape on their horses. Running to the east door <26> of A.C. “Lengthy” Jones’285 blacksmith shop: “He took rest with his rifle against the
side of the door of the shop, and with as much deliberation as if he was shooting chickens’ heads off, he killed most, if not all of these horses.”
Talbot’s horse had been left there unsaddled with the others. George Spear, in an effort to assist their escape, left the Red Light and went out to saddle it. Spear was shot by an unknown citizen and died in the attempt.286
“The firing was commenced with renewed vigor by the citizens after the death of Spear . . .”287 Realizing that their horses could no longer facilitate their escape, and still under fire, they altered the course of their flight and headed toward “Big George” Kalbfleisch’s stable <27> further north. “While the desperadoes were running for the livery stables, the bullets fired by the citizens flew thick around them . . .”288 The firefight had lasted about one hour up to that point.289
284 The “common” was an undeveloped, open area behind Talbot’s house and the east side of the Red Light Saloon bounded by the alley on the east. Ridings The Chisholm Trail, p. 475) says the horses were hitched at the rack in front of the Red Light, but the Wellington Monitor Press of April, 11 and18, 1895, both specify the common area which seems more likely.
285 A.C. Jones, extraordinarily tall and slender, was known as “Lengthy” or “Long” Jones.
286 Spear was “shot through the heart” according to the December 22, 1881, issue of the Sumner County Press. The name of the person who killed Spear was not recorded but it has been presumed that Hubble made the shot, intentionally or accidentally, as he was shooting the horses.
287 Sumner County Press, December 22, 1881.
288 Freeman, Midnight and Noonday, (1984 edition) p. 255.
289 Talbot’s statement in a letter to the Kansas City Sunday Times reprinted in the January 19, 1882, issue of the Caldwell Commercial.
Once there, they selected four horses which the stableman saddled at gunpoint.290 By about two o’clock, Talbot, Martin, Munson, Hill, Bigtree, Love,291 Eddelman, Delaney, and Comanche Bill292 had all appeared. 293 “While the horses were being saddled, a strict watch was kept by the outlaws, who [were] prepared to shoot the first man that attempted to reach the livery barn . . .”294
Talbot, Martin, Munson, Hill, and Bigtree rode out of the barn on four horses carrying an extra saddle.295 They were “fired on from every and all concealed places imaginable.”296 After they left, Dick Eddleman drew his pistol and ordered the stableman to saddle a horse for him. When his order was refused, he put his gun away, asked the stableman not to “give him away,” and left the stable.297 In the best scenario that can be deduced from the several recorded accounts—some that vary—they believed that Talbot’s horse was still alive and the extra saddle was meant for that horse. They stopped behind Talbot’s house
290 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of stableman Richard Wilson.
291 After the raid, Tom Love became a successful rancher and lawman who helped track down outlaw Bill Cook, aka, The Cherokee Kid.
292 About two weeks after the raid, the January 5, 1882, edition of the Caldwell Post reported that “’Comanche Bill’ has bid farewell to these parts and gone to Colorado.”
293 Eddleman, Delaney, Love, and Comanche Bill were arrested shortly after the others escaped on horseback. All but Eddleman were found not to have participated in the shooting and were released. Eddleman escaped from the Sumner County Jail in Wellington but was captured and was still incarcerated when, interestingly; “The boys put up a job on a greeny in the City Hall Friday night last, which put the aforesaid greeny into a conniption fit from fear. [Marshal] John Wilson and Tom Love got Harve Horner’s old horse pistols and made for each other, swearing vengeance and swinging the old fusses around in a desperate manner. The greeny scooted, and did not show up again until Monday.” (Caldwell Post, February 2, 1882)
294 Freeman, Midnight and Noonday, (1984 edition) p. 255.
295 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of stableman Richard Wilson.
296 Talbot’s letter to the Kansas City Sunday Times was reprinted in the January 19, 1882, issue of the Caldwell Commercial.
297 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881, Synopsis of Evidence, Testimony of stableman Richard Wilson.
and remained there under siege for about 30 minutes.298 Finding the horse dead, they abandoned the saddle, and with Talbot riding double with someone,299 the five fugitives rode past the Red Light onto Fifth, then east out of town on four horses. “Crowds of men on horses, and well armed, followed.”300
At the edge of town a block and a half east of the Red Light, they crossed the Santa Fe track. “Two of their horses had been wounded, and after they got beyond the railroad track, where Fifth becomes the main road out of town, one horse was killed and his rider wounded.”301 Shot in the heel, Hill, the wounded man “. . . climbed up behind a companion, and the five desperately continued on three horses.”302 In another thirty yards, they crossed Big Casino Creek and riding up the hill out of the creek bottom, they met “Uncle Mose” Swaggart heading into town with a wagon load of hay. Swaggart was leading a horse behind the wagon and one of the desperados untied and then mounted the horse. When Swaggart objected, “Talbot raised his Winchester rifle, and pointing it at Uncle Mose said: ‘sit down, old man! You see that crowd of men with guns coming? They are all after us. And you had better be quiet.’”303
Riding a little over a mile farther, at the confluence of Fall Creek and Big Casino Creek, one of their horses that had been badly wounded, couldn’t climb up out of the creek bed and was abandoned.
Once again, they were five desperate men on three horses. Hotly pursued, they very soon found themselves at the home of Wilbur E. “Shorthorn” Campbell, a wealthy and influential cattleman whose ranch, known as "Bovine Park," was headquartered about two miles southeast of Caldwell. They rode into the yard and, at the point of a Winchester,
298 Wellington Monitor Press, April, 11, 1895.
299 Cowley County Courant, December 22, 1881.
300 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 479.
301 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881.
302 Sumner County Press, December 22, 1881.
303 Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 478.
commandeered two horses304 from a group of men who were digging a well near the Campbell house. Mr. Campbell saw the incident from a window of his home, but was forbidden by his wife to become involved.
Then, they headed south, each man with a mount. Mr. Campbell, well-armed, joined the posse in pursuit and became its leader by common consent. Led by Campbell, the posse got sight of them shortly after they crossed Bluff Creek into the Indian Territory. Once on the prairie beyond, one of the desperados dropped out and only four of the outlaws continued to be pursued. The posse “. . . followed at a break-neck pace, both parties keeping up a constant fire for about twelve miles.”305
Eventually, on a horse ranch owned by Charley Moore, the gang was forced to take refuge in a canyon that drained into a small stream called Deer Creek. The posse took positions all around the rim of the canyon and the firefight continued. It was reported that during this battle, Talbot had a forefinger shot off.306 Colcord reported that Bigtree was shot in the hip.307
Campbell secreted himself in a small gully and attempted to slide down into a good firing position above the desperados’ stronghold. His effort was thwarted when he was discovered, and forced to scramble, he narrowly escaped a rain of fire. Of the three wounds he received, a shot in the wrist proved to be the most serious and he nearly died from loss of blood.308 Later, his wife counted 27 bullet holes in his clothes.309
At sundown, the shooting subsided and the Talbot Raid ended in a standoff. Shortly after dark, the fugitives
304 One of the horses was a “reputable” race horse, one of many blooded horses Campbell owned. (Ridings, The Chisholm Trail, p. 478)
305 Cowley County Courant, December 22, 1881.
306 Leavenworth Times, December 21, 1881. This may or may not be accurate reporting, when taking into consideration that the same article claimed that Talbot was once “one of Billy the Kid’s cutthroats.”
307 Colcord, The Autobiography of Charles Francis Colcord,” p.112.
308 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881.
309 Caldwell Post, December 22, 1881
stealthy evaded the posse’s night guard sentinels and disappeared into the darkness.310
♦ ♦ ♦
Several weeks after the fight, the fugitives drafted a statement in which they attempted to present their side of the story. The letter was sent to the Kansas City Sunday Times and reproduced in the January 19, 1882, issue of the Caldwell Commercial.
THE CALDWELL COWBOYS Put in a Defence [sic] for Their Recent Fight Down There
To the Kansas City Sunday Times.
IN CAMP, January 12. [1882] --- We have noticed through the columns of your paper the account of the so called cut-throats. You are aware of the fact that every story has two sides, so we wish to inform the readers of the Times that we have been very basely misrepresented. In the first place, we were not drunk at the time of the fight.
In the next place we never rode into the city of Caldwell. We had been in town about one month and had always abided by its laws, and as far as helping ourselves to anything, it is false. We never molested any thing that was not our own. As for Meagher, when he was killed we were not mounted. He had two six shooters in his hands at the time he was shot; and more, he went to Hubbel’s store and borrowed the pistols. It seems to be the general opinion that Meagher was a leading man in Caldwell. Do you know his business? He was nothing more than a saloon keeper and ran a keno table. Just a few days before the row, he was arrested and had to give bond for selling whisky in Caldwell. It has been published that the row grew out of the killing of George Flat: this is also false. It never entered our
310 Robert DeArment details the aftermath of the raid in his comprehensive biography exposing Talbot’s life before and after the Caldwell fight in Revenge, published by Scarlet Mask, 2004.
minds. The very reason the row came up was that the honorable Marshal of Caldwell, John Wilson, was on a protracted drunk and stationed a posse of men in the Exchange saloon and told them to shoot every man that moved—that is, cow boys— then arming himself with two pistols and then throwing them down on every one of the cow boys, telling them to throw up our hands, which we refused to do. He then withdrew his weapons and proceeded to organize a mob to take or kill us. We went and got our guns and marched to the front and engaged in a fight, which lasted about an hour. We then went and got our horses and started to leave town and then we were fired on from every and all concealed place imaginable. The second skirmish lasted about thirty minutes and then we were forced to ride. We were pursued by about 100 armed men. They at length got us rounded up in a washout and there we stayed until night: then we got together and left. After the mob had dispersed, Wilson turned to shoot one of the boys in the back and this is why the row come up. George Spears was shot by the town mob. He had no hand in the fight whatever. He was a friend to the cow boys and that was the cause of his death. He was just as honorable a citizen as Caldwell had. The Assistant Marshal acknowledged that Wilson was drunk, and that if he [Wilson] had let things alone every thing would have been alright and there would have been no row. We did take the freighter’s horses and told them that we would return their horses in six or eight days and on the seventh day we took them back. They told us that if they were situated in the same position that they would do the same thing and did not blame us. Caldwell citizens seem to think that Talbot was one of Billy the Kid’s gang. This is a bare falsehood; he has never seen the Kid and has never had any acquaintance with him whatever. We notice that it was stated we had a fight at a ranch on Wagon creek; this is a mistake; we never was at Wagon Creek and took saddles and horses. We never took any horses but the freighters. We are willing to go and stand our trial if we thought
we could get justice, but this we know we cannot get. This is the true facts of the row.
[Signed] Dug Hill
Jim Talbot Bob Munson
Bob Bigtree Jim Martin
♦ ♦ ♦
Mike Meagher was buried in the Meagher family plot in Highland Cemetery at Wichita, Kansas.
James Sherman, alias Jim Talbot, was found living in California in 1895. He was taken to Kansas and tried at the Sumner County Courthouse in Wellington for the murder but was exonerated. Doug Hill pleaded guilty and was incarcerated four months for the crime.
It was never established who actually made the shot that killed Mike Meagher.
Rod Cook July 2012
♦ ♦ ♦
Saunders, George W., Trail Drivers of Texas, University of Texas, 1924.
Colcord, Charles Francis, Autobiography of Charles Francis Colcord, C.C. Helmerich, (privately printed), Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1970.
Chrisman, Harry E., Lost Trails of the Cimarron, Sage Books, Denver, Colorado, 1961.
DeArment, Robert K., Revenge, Scarlet Mask, 2004.
Freeman, George, Midnight and Noonday: or the Incidental History of Southern Kansas and the Indian Territory-18711890, (1984 Edition) University of Oklahoma Press,
Norman, Oklahoma, 1984.
Nelson, Oliver, The Cowman’s Southwest, H. A. Clark, Glendale, California, 1953.
Police Dockets, Caldwell City Records, Caldwell, Kansas.
Records, Laban S., Cherokee Outlet Cowboy, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 1995.
Ridings, Sam P., The Chisholm Trail, Co-operative Publishing Co., Guthrie, Oklahoma, 1936.
Caldwell (Kansas Commercial.
Cowley County (Kansas) Courant.
Leavenworth (Kansas) Times.
Sumner County (Kansas) Press.
Sumner County (Kansas) Star.
Wellington (Kansas) Monitor Press.
Sumner County (Kansas) Star.
Wichita (Kansas) Beacon.
Wichita (Kansas) Daily Times.
Caldwell (Kansas) Post.
Original Talbot trial documentation: Case 699, Kansas vs. Talbot, et al, Sumner County Courthouse, Wellington, Kansas -- Hutchinson Salt Mine Storage Unit, Hutchinson, Kansas.
Grant Harris’ notes arranged by his son, Phil Harris in October 1936, and sent to me by Grant Harris’ grandson, Robert T. Harris.
Caldwell Post, “Synopsis of Evidence,” December 22, 1881.
Series of personal interviews with Michael Steele, grand nephew of Mike Meagher.
• “I am the cock of the walk in Caldwell.” Ex-Marshal George Flatt seconds before being assassinated by a shotgun blast.
• “I’ll go to church when I get well. ” A cowboy before dying of “delirium tremens” [aka “dt’s”] in a Caldwell saloon. (Six Years on the Border, Mrs. J.B. Rideout)
• “Let ‘er rip.” Medicine Lodge bank robber, John Wesley, just before being hoisted back-to back with Billy Smith.
• “Tell my wife I have got it at last.” Mike Meagher after being hit by a slug from Jim Talbot’s rifle.
• “Do the best you can, and be a good girl.” Red Light Saloon owner, George Wood, to his wife Maggie after being shot by Charlie Davis.
• “Boys, I never expect to pass that clump of trees.” Tom Smith as he approached Ryland’s Ford on the Chikaskia where he was lynched.
• “Pull when you’re ready. ” Medicine Lodge bank robber, Billy Smith, telling the mob to commence with his lynching.
• “Here I am. Come on in here if you want anything.” Eugene “Dan” Fielder to Michael McCarty just before being shot by McCarty.
• “There, McCarty, you have killed that man.” McCarty replied “well, he is out of luck, that’s all.
• “God, boys, I’m shot!” George Peay upon being murdered by O’Bannan.
• “I’m killed! He did it out there!” Lawman Frank Hunt after being shot in the Red Light Saloon.
• “Hold on, John, wait - me get my gun!” The renegade Pawnee Spotted Horse in the act that caused his death at the hands of Caldwell Marshal Henry Newton Brown.
• "Here’s your twenty-five cents.” Bob Sharp to Douglas Riggs as he lay dying of multiple stab wounds inflicted by Riggs over a disputed 25 cent gambling debt.
• "You are too much of a coward to shoot. If you are going to shoot, why don’t you do it?” Quoted by J.W. Stephens just before being killed by G.W. Padgett. Regretting his fowl deed, Padgett confessed, "Boys, I am sorry for this. I wish I had that bullet back. This is the seventh man I’ve killed. ”
• "There’s other fellers mixed up in this, and I will tell everything if you will only spare my life!” Assistant Marshal Ben Wheeler just before he was lynched.
• "Lay me on a soft bed. ” Uttered by an unknown gunshot cowboy just before dying on a hard Caldwell floor. (Six Years on the Border, Mrs. J.B. Rideout)
For Serious Researchers
Books in my library that reference Caldwell.
Books Specifically Concerning Caldwell
Coke, Tom S., Caldwell: Kansas Border Cow Town, Heritage Books, Westminster, Maryland, 2005.
Cook, Rod, George and Maggie and the Red Light Saloon, iUniverse, New York, 2003.
Cook, Rod, The Legend Accounts: Narratives of Experiences in Caldwell’s Legendary Tunnels, Self Published, 2006.
Freeman, George, Midnight and Noonday: or the Incidental History of Southern Kansas and the Indian Territory1871-1890, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 1984.
Gratteri, Cook, Williams, William Sherod Robinson alias Ben Wheeler. With a revealing look at Henry Brown and the little known history of the Medicine Lodge bank robbery, Nortex Press, Waco, Texas, 2010.
O’Neal, Bill, Border Queen Caldwell: Toughest Town on the Chisholm Trail, Eakin Press, Austin, Texas, 2008.
Police Docket Books, Caldwell City Records, Caldwell, Kansas.
Postlewait, Dilmond and Evelyn, Caldwell, Kansas (Sumner County) City Cemetery, Publications, Mt Vernon, Illinois, 2000.
White, Donald, The Border Queen: A History of Early Day Caldwell, Kansas, (Two) Gregath Publishing Company, Wyandotte, Oklahoma, 1999.
Books Including a Caldwell Segment
Adams, Andy, Cattle Brands: A Collection of Campfire Stories, Houghton Mifflin, 1906.
Adams, Andy, The Log of a Cowboy: A Narrative of the Old Trail Days, Houghton Mifflin, 1903.
Andreas, A. T., History of the State of Kansas: Counties, Towns and Villages, Atchison [Kansas] Historical Society, 1976.
Barber County Historical Society. Chosen Land: A History of Barber County, Barber County Historical Society, Medicine Lodge, Kansas, 1980.
Barnard, Evan G., A Rider of the Cherokee Strip, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1936.
Baughman, Theodore, Oklahoma Scout, W.B. Conkey Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1907.
Bell, Bob Boze, Classic, volume three, Tristar Boze Publications, Phoenix, Arizona, 2007.
Blanchard, Leola Howard, Conquest of Southwest Kansas, Wichita Eagle Press, Wichita, Kansas, 1931.
Boucher, Troy, Prince of the Plains, Publishing, College Station, Texas, 2002.
Brown, Jean McBrayer, A History Of Kiowa: Old and New on the Cowboy-Indian Frontier, House of Usher, Lawrence, Kansas, 1979.
Burns, Walter Noble, The Saga of Billy the Kid, Doubleday, New York, New York, 1926.
Chrisman, Harry E., Lost Trails of the Cimarron, Sage Books, Denver, Colorado, 1961.
Coke, Tom S., Old West Justice in Belle Plaine, Kansas, Heritage Books, Bowie, Maryland, 2002.
Coke, Tom S., The Life and Times of Lawman Joe Thralls, Heritage Books, Westminster, Maryland, 2006.
Colcord, Charles Francis, Autobiography of Charles Francis Colcord, C. C. Helmerich, (privately printed), Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1970.
Colins, Dennis, The Indians’ Last Fight: or the Dull Knife Raid, Press of the Appeal to Reason, Girard, Kansas, 1915.
DeArment, Robert K., Deadly Dozen: Forgotten Gunfighters of the Old West, Volume Two, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 2007.
__________., Revenge, Scarlet Mask, Evansville, Indiana,
Drago, Harry Sinclair, Great American Cattle Trails, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, 1965.
Drago, Harry Sinclair, Wild, Woolly & Wicked, Book Craftsmen Associates, New York, 1960.
Dykstra, Robert R., The Cattle Towns, Alfred A. Knoff, Inc., 1968.
Edwards, John P., Historical Atlas of Sumner County, Kansas, Self Published, 1883.
Forbis, William H., The Cowboys, Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, 1973.
Fulbright, Jim, and Emerton, Thurel, Robbery on the Rock Island: The Tale of a Gun, Mid-South Publications,
Goodlettsville, Tennessee, 2000.
Fulbright, Jim, Trails to Old Pond Creek: & Travel in Northwestern Oklahoma, Mid-south Publications, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, 2005.
Fulbright, Jim, W.D. “Bill” Fossett: Pioneer and Peace Officer, Mid-south Publications, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, 2002.
Gard, Wayne, The Chisholm Trail, University of Oklahoma Press, 1954.
Gray, Jim, The Desperate Seed: Ellsworth, Kansas on the Violent Frontier, Kansas, Cowboy Publications, Ellsworth, Kansas, 2009.
Deffenbaugh, Daryl L., The George Neff Story: Charged With Two Murders, Convicted of One in Sumner County, Kansas, 1947, Self Published, 2008.
Halsell, H.H., Cowboys and Cattleland, Parthenon Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1938.
Hunter, Marvin J., The Trail Drivers of Texas, University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, 2006.
Jackson, Mary E., The Life and Times of Nellie C. Bailey: Or a Romance of the West, Donohue & Henneberry, 1887.
James, Marquis, The Chisholm Trail, Viking Press, New York, 1945.
Lamar, Howard R., Charlie Siringo’s West: An Interpretive Biography, University of New Mexico Press, 2005.
Lee, Wayne C., Deadly Days in Kansas, Caxton Printers, Ltd., Caldwell, Idaho, 1997.
Lefebvre, Irene Sturm, Cherokee Strip in Transition, Cherokee Strip Centennial Foundation, Inc. 1992.
McCullom, Beverly, Meandering: Medicine Lodge in the 1880’s, self published, 1991.
McLaughlin, Denis, Wild and Woolly: An Encyclopedia of the Old West, Barnes & Noble, New York, 1975.
McNeal, Thomas Alan, When Kansas Was Young, Capper Publications, Topeka, Kansas, 1934.
Miller, Nyle H., and Snell, Joseph W., Great Gunfighters of the Kansas Cowtowns 1867-1886, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1963.
Miller, Nyle H., and Snell, Joseph W., Why the West was Wild, Kansas State Society, Topeka, Kansas, 1963.
------------, My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon: A
Treasury of Pioneer Stories, Capper Publications, 1956.
Nelson, Oliver, The Cowman’s Southwest, H. A. Clark, Glendale, California, 1953
O’Neal, Bill, Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters, University of Oklahoma Press, , 1979.
O’Neal, Bill, Great Gunfighters of the Wild West, Eakin Press, Austin, Texas, 2001.
O’Neal, Henry Brown: The Outlaw Marshal, Creative
Publishing, College Station, Texas, 1980.
Onley, Glen, Sunset, Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2003.
Osborn, Jennie, “Memories,” Barber County Index, Medicine Lodge Kansas, 1935.
Rainey, Mrs. George, In Memory, Self Published, Enid, Oklahoma, 1945.
Rainey, George, No Man’s Land, Self Published, Enid, Oklahoma, 1937.
Rainey, George, The Cherokee Strip, Co-operative
Publishing, Guthrie, Oklahoma, 1933.
Rayfield, Alma Cochran, The West That’s Gone, Carlton Press, New York, 1962.
Records, Laban S., Cherokee Outlet Cowboy, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 1995.
Rideout, Mrs. J.B., Six Years on the Border: Or Sketches of Frontier Life, Presbyterian Board of Publication, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1883.
Ridings, Sam P., The Chisholm Trail, Co-operative Publishing Co., Guthrie, Oklahoma, 1936.
Rister, Carl Coke, Land Hunger. David L. Payne and the Oklahoma Boomers, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 1942.
Sanders, Gwen & Paul, Sumner County Story, Mennonite Press, Newton, Kansas, 1966.
Seely, Debra, Grasslands, Holiday House, New York, 2002.
Shafer, Melvin & Della, The Scoop on Sumner County, Kansas: A Collection of Facts, Chronology and Trivia, Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society, 2003.
Shepler-Lytle, The Chosen Land: History of Barber County Kansas, Barber County Historical Society, 1980.
Sill, Phillip Allen, The Robbing of the Medicine Valley Bank in 1884, Senior Thesis, McPherson College, 2002.
Siringo, Charles, A Cowboy Detective, W. B. Conkey, Chicago, Illinois, 1912.
_______, A Texas Cowboy: or Fifteen Years on the Hurricane
Deck of a Spanish Pony, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1979.
Snell, Joseph W., Painted Ladies of the Cowtown Frontier, Self-published, Lowell Press, City, Missouri,(no date given).
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Strickland, Fred, Small Glitters in the Sands of Time, Self Published, 2003.
The Cherokee Strip Livestock Association
Tower, Mike, The Outlaw Statesman: The Life and Times of Fred Tecumseh Waite, Author House, Bloomington, Indiana, 2007.
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Wellman, Paul I, The Trampling Herd, Carrick & Evans, New York, 1939.
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Original Format

Book 5 x 8 inches , 342 pages