LETTER FROM DELL WALTERS
Below is a letter from Dell Walters (b. 1874) to Jennie Walters Hoffman (b. 1884) in 1966, the year before his death at age 93 in Blackwell OK.
He relates stories of their father John when he was Allen Cty sheriff 1870-1890 (approx.) and the family lived over the jail. When Linda Hurley was small, her grandmother told her stories of her mother Elmira McKenzie Walters, bringing food to prisoners and attempted jail breaks, etc. Her great great grandparents McKenzie (Joseph and Sara Love) brought their family to Iola in the late 1850's/early 1860's, so most of their children were married there soon after. John Walters, his sister Hester (and possibly another sibling Henry) arrived around 1859, but she can't find any indication that their parents were with them.
Linda Hurley visited the jail this past November, and it is really something to see that place, and also several other addresses in Iola where the family lived over the years. She is going to try and get back there again soon. Her grandmother was bookkeeper at The New York Store, The Iola Register and a couple other businesses.
Transcribed letter from Dell Waters to Jennie Walters Hoffman in 1966 where the letter starts off at:
(page 2) And that cost me 4.00 to ride the 3 blocks and now the weather is getting bad again and will have to get a round trip, 80 cents for six blocks. Mrs. Corneil is at home again and it may be in a few days, I will be getting my meals at home.
Jennie I sent Alphia and old picture of the jail at Iola and also a little history of the old happenings that occured there. Where as you have heard that when father was overpowered by a mob that took the ex-preacher Dobson from the jail and hung him in and old straw and rail to stable just accrossed the creek on State Street. You also know
(page 5) and that was really a hard old life. That was when ? were fighting over the vacant rail road loand that the State of Kansas had turned over to them. One or two men were killed by mobs and taht was dads job to arrest them and he receivd threates to stay out of their territory, he went out there alone, when they were not expecting him and brought a ? to ? and he had to place guards on top of the jail roof for several weeks to keep them from moving the prisoners and about that time, There was a couple of women there that had husbands in jail for stealing horses
(page 7) may wonder how I remember all of this. Well the fact was that I spent most all my time in the sells playing ? with them. And there is the place that received my nick name Judge that I carried for years aftewards by my boy friends. They gave me that by being placed on a Kang Ger Rue bunch and Jennie about the same time there was this family living on a farm not far from their ? as the Benders. They were running a restaurant feeding the travlers coming through and they would knock them in the head and burrey them on the farm, but finally they were discovered and in the middle of the knight they attempted to escape and headed for the Indian Territory. And our Uncle WIlson McKenzie was the Sheriff of the county where he lived with a possey followed the Benders and later captured them. But that question has always been in drought for Uncle William never would tell what happened to them. But others would said that they were hung on trees where they were captured. Old Kate Bender was a very familiar name at that time. And at one time Uncle Dames Drake showed me a red bud tree about a half a mile from the Main road at west of Iola where horse thieves had been hung at different times.
So old Kansas was really a tough place to like in the early days.
Jennie I have told all the news of the happenings that I can now remember. Ha.
I wrote to Alphia of some of the wild doings at Iola and sent her the picture of the jail. And her children they thought that I had sent them a lot of history. And I am sending you Alphias letter of what they had to say and if you write to Alphia I wish that you would send them part of this letter.
(Submitted by Linda Hurley)