Ellsworth  County,  Kansas


Manhattan, Ks., August 22, - "Happy Jack," Marshal of Ellsworth, shot and killed Capt. Cad. Pierce, a large cattle dealer and gamester, in Ellsworth, yesterday.

This murderous affray grew out of the shooting of Deputy Sheriff Whitney, last Friday, by the Thompson brothers. Bill Thompson and another gamester were gambling, when a quarrel arose, Thompson striking the gambler a blow in the face. As soon as struck, the gambler rushed out to get his revolver. Thompson, expecting blood, armed himself with a Remington rifle and a shotgun loaded with buckshot, and a pair of navies. His opponent, hearing how well Thompson was armed, kept shady. Thompson's blood being up, and having a grudge against "Happy Jack," he sallied out to find him. Jack, hearing of it, kept out of Thompson's way, concealing himself in Thobe's store. Finally, wishing to see if the danger was past, Jack stuck his head out of the door. Thompson being on the alert, instantly fired upon him with his rifle. Jack dodged back and the ball lodged in the casing of the door, and he made his escape out at the back way. Thompson, failing in putting an end to Jack's existence, strode down the street thirsting for blood. He met Deputy Sheriff Whitney, who was engaged in conversation with a friend, not dreaming of harm from Thompson, who immediately pulled up and fired a full charge of buck shot into his side tearing a terrible hole and frightfully shattering his arm, from the effects of which he died last Sunday. Thompson, after shooting the Sheriff mounted his horse, and accompanied by his brother Ben rode up and down the street of Ellsworth defying the authorities and looking for more victims. These two desperadoes, after cleaning the streets when to Notch town, a disreputable adjunct of Ellsworth, spent some time and then mounted their horses and lit out for Texas. They were followed by a posse who were unable to overtake them. "Happy Jack," learning that Capt. Pierce had offered these Thompson boys if they would kill him, one thousand dollars, went to Pierce's establishment and demanded if it was so. Pierce denied it, but made a motion as if to draw his revolver, when Jack fired, killing him instantly. The town is now under martial law. All the gamblers and roughs are ordered to leave instantly, fifty going down on the express last night.

Pierce's body was brought to Junction City last night, attended by one hundred and fifty Texans on its way to Texas.
Pierce was the owner of seven thousand head of cattle. The Texas are breathing vengeance and threatening to burn the town. Lively times are looked for. All is now quiet in Ellsworth. (The Standard, August 30, 1873, Page 2)

Note: Whitney, well-known lawman and scout who had participated in the Battle of Beecher Island in 1868, became sheriff of Ellsworth County in 1871. Billy Thompson, buffalo hunter and general frontiersman, tried to start a fight over a card game. Whitney stepped in to stop the disturbance and Thompson shot him with a double-barreled shotgun. Thompson was quoted assaying, (when asked why he would shoot someone like Whitney), "I would have shot if it had been Jesus Christ."



Kansas Settlement Attacked


Two Woman and Two Children Captured


Another Settlement Attacked


ELLSWORTH, KANSAS, June 1---Indians are making trouble in Kansas, on the extreme frontier of the settlement.

A party of about twenty-five Cheyennes attacked a small, unprotected settlement on the Saline River, about forty miles from Salina and 160 west of Topeka, on Sunday evening. They came, toward evening, under the pretense of friendship, and massacred thirteen men, women and children. The women were ravished. The killed, so far as known, are the wife and four children of Thomas Alderice; one son, eleven years old, of William Hendricks; Andros Aleson and family, six in number, and the wife and son of Joe K. Strange. The bodies were brutally multialted.

Some excitement prevails. Governor Harvey has called a battalion of troops into the field for six months, and is now at Salina.

A company of citizens have gone up to Salina River, from Salina, to rescue some wounded men.

Indians have been seen near Ellsworth, Harke, Wilson Station, and Fort Hays.

Custer went out with a couple of companies yesterday.

The Kansas Pacific Railroad runs as usual.

Further depredations are not feared. The citizens are protecting themselves, and prompt measures are being adopted for defense. It is said that this is merely a roving band, as there is no evidence of any general attack.

ST. LOUIS, June 1---A dispatch from Topeka, Kansas, says that the Sheriff of Saline County reports that thirteen persons--men, women and children--have been killed in that county by Indians, and as many more supposed to have been. The women were carried off to suffer worse than death. Seattlers in Saline County are coming eastward for protection. A correspondent says that, if the Quaker agents do not hurry up, the poor, innocent savages will destroy all the frontier settlements of Kansas and Colorado.

The settlements on the Saline, west of Solomon, were attacked, one woman killed, one boy wounded, and three children carried off into captivity.

The Indians that attacked the Swedish settlement, in addition to those they killed, captured two women and two children.

A dispatch from Omaha says the Indians along the Union Pacific Railroad remain quiet. At Ports Laramie and Potterman, strict non-intercourse with the traders is enforced by the officers, as it is the intention of the Government to compel all Indians desirous of trading to move on their reservation.

The murders have been committed by roving bands of Indians, no large bodies having been heard of, and the massacres have been the result of guerrilla fighting rather than of a general Indian war. The scene of operations has extended from the Republic and Solomon Rivers to the end of the Kansas Pacific Railway. The settlements in that part of the States are scattered and very much exposed. General Schofield has only a small number of troops at his disposal, but is making the best use he can of them. Governor Harvey has organized two companies of scouts, for which General Schofield will furnish arms. There are now in the field four United States surveying parties, all without military protection. Two of these parties are north of Fort Hays, one between Hays and Larned, and one sixty miles from Hays. This is the most exposed part of the State, and fears are felt for the safety of the surveyors.

Orders have been sent to the commander at Fort Riley to send troops to protect the water stations at Fossil Creek, Ella and Ogallallah, on the Kansas Pacific Railroad.

A band of thirty Indians were seen seven miles from Hays City, Sunday, supposed to be the party that ran the train off the track at Fossil Creek and killed two men. Companies A and D of the Seventh Cavalry, under command of Colonel Weir, were sent after them. Some of them are believed to be white men.

Lieutenant Marsh and a scouting party, a day or two ago, came up with a small war party of Indians, supposed to be those committing depredations on Saline River, near the mouth of Buffalo Creek. He pursued them fifteen miles, until darkness came on, and was then compelled to desist.

One thousand, three hundred Arapahoes had reached Camp Supply. Little Robe and part of the Cheyennes arrived on the evening of the 18th of May. LIttle Robe promised that the tribe would follow him and go on their reservation. While en route from Medicine Bluff to Camp Supply, a quarrel ensued between a drunken teamster and some Cheyennes, which resulted in the death of the teamster. This alarmed the Cheyennes and caused them to scatter, but it is thought they will regain confidence and return.
(Cincinnati Commercial Tribune ~ June 2, 1869)


Isham Douglas and Charles Brody arrested for burglary broke jail here yesterday by sawing through the bars and made their escape. It is now thought that they were more of the gang, and that they were assisted to escape by their confederates. A reward of $50 is offered for their re-capture. (Kansas Semi Weekly Capital, April 23, 1897, transcribed by P. T.)


Miss Hattie Hodgen, of Ellsworth, and the first white girl born in Ellsworth county, is now sixteen. (Western Kansas world. (WaKeeney, Kan.) , June 20, 1885 submitted by K. T.)


Mr. and Mrs. Janssen, of Ellsworth, Kans., have taken a small cottage on First avenue (Daytona, Fl) and will keep house this winter. [The Daytona Gazette-News. (Daytona, Fla.), December 12, 1903 - submitted by K. Torp)


William McCowan, a farmer near Ellsworth, was killed with a disc plow he was using. His wife screamed and fell in a faint when she found the body. Her screams caused the team to run away with McCowan's body under the plow, and it was cut to pieces. He was fifty-five years old and an old settler.
(Sedan Lance ~ June 19, 1908)


Negro Captured After Search Lasting Three Years.


Victims Were Slain With Ax as They Slumbered - Scene of Operations Covered States of Missouri, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Kansas, St Louis Police Make Arrest of Man Accused of Killings.

St. Louis, March 22. - The investigation of thirty ax murders committed in five states since 1911 was reopened here after the arrest of Loving Mitchell, a negro. The warrant on which Mitchell was arrested charges him with the murder of William B. Dawson, his wife and daughter, who were slain in their home at Monmouth, Ill., the night of Sept. 30, 1911.

Since that time communities in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Colorado and Kansas have been terrorized by similar crimes. In every instance the murderer killed an entire family as they slept by the blows of an ax.

Scores of persons have been arrested, but invariably the police were forced to release them for lack of evident. A list of some of the most notable ax murders follows:

H. C. Wayne, wife and child, and Mrs. A. J. Burnham and two children. Colorado Springs, Colo., September, 1911.

William E. Dawson, wife and daughter, Monmouth, Ill., September, 1911.

William Showman, wife and three children, Ellsworth, Kan., October, 1911.

Rollin Hudson and wife, Paola, Kan., June, 1912 J. E. Moore, four children and two girl guests, Villisca, Ia., June 1912.
Mrs. Mary J. Wilson and Mrs. George Moore, Columbia, Mo., December, 1912 Jacob Neslesla, his wife, their daughter and the latter's infant, Blue Island, Ill., July, 1914.

Mrs. E. B. Matthews, 80, Hartsburg, Mo., October, 1914.

Mitchell's arrest followed a search of more than three years. He had been employed near Monmouth, but disappeared after the murders in the Dawson house. He was later traced to Independence, Mo., and from there to St. Louis. The prisoner was taken back to Monmouth by Chief of Polite Morrison and Mayor Brown of that city. Before leaving, Chief Morrison said: "Dawson, his wife and daughter were murdered by three negroes, two men and a woman; revenge for attentions which the negroes believed Dawson had shown their relatives was the motive for the crime; the negro woman in the case I will arrest soon; the other man is now in the Joliet (Ill.) penitentiary." He added that he had no evidence that these negroes were connected with any other ax murders. [The Democratic banner.(Mt. Vernon, Ohio), March 23, 1915]


ELLSWORTH, Kas., May 16 --- Tuesday evening Mr. C. W. Butler, clerk at the Farmers' hotel of this city, during a temporary fit of insanity, attempted suicide.  A 22 caliber revolver was used, and indications are that the muzzle was placed against the head.  The ball entered just above the right ear and ranged upward.  He was not found till yesterday, as no one in the hotel was disturbed by the shot.  He is in a dangerous condition, and his recovery is very doubtful, as the ball is lodged in the vicinity of the brain.
(Topeka State Journal ~ May 16, 1889 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


Ellsworth, Kan., May 18 --- The men's clothing store which has been run for over twenty-five years by the Arnold Brothers has sold out to Arthur Patterson and Mr. Charles Adamek, of this city.  The Arnolds' will go to Wichita to make their future home.
(Topeka Daily Capital ~ May 19, 1912 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


Charles A Sievers of Holyrood, Kan., was arraigned before J. C. Shearman, United States commissioner, Tuesday afternoon on a charge of white slavery.  His preliminary trial was set for Sept. 9.  Sievers is alleged to have violated the Mann act by transporting a woman to Holyrood from Rock Island, Ill., a month ago.  He entered a plea of not guilty.
(Wichita Daily Eagle ~ Wednesday ~ August 30, 1922 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


Jack Cunningham Brought Here from Kanopolis


Was an Employe of the Missouri Pacific

Suffering from a gunshot wound received while on a wolf hunt near Kanopolis, Kan., Jack Cunningham, an engine watchman for the Missouri Pacific Railway company at Kanopolis, was brought to the Wichita hospital in this city last week.

He was under the care of the company physician from Kanapolis and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance from the train, which arrived here about 9:30 o'clock last night.

It was stated at the hospital that both calves of the legs were badly lacerated from the buckshot which had entered his legs.  The entire load from a shell heavily loaded with buckshot took effect in his legs.  Many of the shot were still imbedded in the flesh and as the case required strict surgical attention he was brought to this city.  It was stated that the wounds would not be mortal and that it was not thought it would be necessary to amputate either leg.  Cunningham, it was said will be laid up for many weeks.

The wounds were the result of an accident.  Cunningham was a participant in a large wolf hunt that was held a few miles from Kanopolis Tuesday.  The hunt had been started in the morning and about 1 o'clock in the afternoon the roundup was being made.  Several persons in the party were carrying guns and one man only a few feet from Cunningham is said to have accidentally jarred loose the hammer of his gun.  Almost the full amount of the load took effect in Cunningham's legs.  He was taken to Kanopolis, where medical attention was given until he could be brought to this city.
(Wichita Daily Eagle ~ Thursday ~ January 24, 1907 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)



Effective Sunday, March 19, the city of Kanopolis, 101 miles northwest of Wichita, will get a through passenger train connecting with Wichita.  Passenger trains Nos. 433 and 434, now running between Wichita and Geneseo, will be extended to Kanopolis.  Train No. 433, which now leaves Wichita daily at 7:40 a.m., will run on through to Kanopolis, arriving there at 12 o'clock, noon.  Returning as No. 434, the train will leave Kanapolis at 5 p.m., arriving at Geneseo 5:40 p.m. and Wichita 9:25 p.m., no changes in the arriving and leaving time of these trains with reference to Wichita and Geneseo being effected.  This train now on its arrival at Geneseo, lays there until its leaving time out of that town for Wichita.

In speaking of the new train for Kanapolis, A. H. Webb, superintendent of the Missouri Pacific railway, said to the Eagle: "Kanopolis is an enterprising town and is growing rapidly.  The town needs a passenger train connecting with Wichita, and we are going to put on one a an experiment.  I think the train will make good.  Kanapolis has 1, 200 people and is in the center of a rich farming and grazing country.  Kanapolis is 14 miles from Geneseo, and the extension of the run will make the stretch of this train from Wichita to Kanapolis 101 miles."

Also efective March 19, new freight train service will be established between Geneseo via White River and Colorado districts via Wichita.  Two new trains will be put on, giving a Wichita in and outbound billing to Conway Springs, Coffeyville, Southwestern Missouri and Arkansas freight shipments.  This service will be beneficial to Wichita jobbing houses, as heavy shipments of flour are sent from here to Missouri and Arkansas points, and large consignments of fruit and lumber are received here from Missouri and Arkansas.
(Wichita Daily Eagle ~ Sunday ~ March 12, 1911 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)



Kanopolis, Kan., May 15 --- Sheriff R. W. Bradshaw of Ellsworth shot and killed Ferrica Martinez, a Mexican laborer, at the Royal Salt Works this afternoon while suppressing a riot among Mexican laborers who were drinking and fighting.

The sheriff and Ed Moore, a deputy, answered a riot call and were resisted by a mob armed with bottles, club and knives.  Martinez attacked the sheriff, who stood his ground and shot the Mexican through the heart.  The mob was dispersed and the leaders were arrested.
(Wichita Daily Eagle ~ Friday ~ May 16, 1913 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


Auto Mechanic, Not Manufacturer, Disappears

Henry L. Ford, an automobile mechanic, left his home at Kanopolis, Kan., with a stranger in a motor car, for Kansas City, September 8.  He has not been heard from since.  His wife, who went to Kansas City in search of him, believes her husband may have met foul play.  Ford was 52 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighed 165 pounds, of dark complexion, black hair, brown eyes and a mustache.  He had tatoo marks on his arms and hi cheek bones were high.  A reward for information concerning his whereabouts has been offered.
(Wichita Daily Eagle ~ Sunday ~ October 1, 1916 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)



Petitions are to be circulated soon by the citizens of Kanopolis, Kan., located on the Missouri Pacific, northwest of Wichita, aking the district court to change the name of that city back to Fort Harker.  The reason assigned for making the request is to preserve the historical association surrounding the place.  The annals of Kansas are full of references, it is asserted, to Fort Harker; but because of the change of the name of the town few people of the younger generation knew of the location of the famous fort.

It is also urged by those favoring the restoration of the old name that the present name has no local significance other than to remind the older people of a boom that once had its origin in that locality and for which the citizens do not claim the responsibility.  Kanopolis, they say, is a coined word, signifying the "metropolis of Kansas," which the Kanopolis Journal describes "is ridiculous and is a handicap to the growth of the town."
(Wichita Daily Eagle ~ Sunday ~ June 23, 1912 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)

It is stated that a gentleman from the East, representing a number of enthusiasts, has purchased the old Harker reservation, and purposes to build thereon a city whose fame shall become spread abroad wherever a Kansan can reach.  The name of this city is to be Kanopolis.  One of the reasons given for this selection is, that the point is the center of Ellsworth County, the center of Kansas and the exact center of the United States, according to the calculations made.
(Osage County Chronicle ~ Burlingame, KS ~ Thursday ~ March 18, 1886 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)



Holyrood, Kans., Jan. 30 --- Fire which practically destroyed the general store at Frevert Bros., here, died damage amounting to almost $25,000, it is estimated.

The loss was partly covered by insurance, which is now being adjusted.
(Hutchinson News ~ January 30, 1924 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


A Kanopolis man received injuries to his head when his car plunged into a 15-foot ravine a mile and a quarter east of Hoisington at 10:15 p.m. Thursday.

James Daniel Marbut, 19, required 12 or 14 stitches in a wound in his forehead which he received when his head struck the steering wheel.  He was treated at Hoisington Lutheran hospital and released.

Marbut was driving wet on K-4 highway when he apparently hit a bump or chuckhole in the road.  His car went into the ditch and on into a 15-foot ravine.  The car, a 1949 model, was a total loss, investigating officers said.

The accident was investigated by State Trooper John E. Murphy, the Hoisington police department and the Barton County sheriff's office.
(Great Bend Daily Tribune ~ Friday ~ March 27, 1959 ~ Page 3 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


What Ellsworth Editor Says of St. Clair Matthews

Late Sunday night persons going home found a man by the name of C. S. Matthews in the street on the east side of the Krebs home at Second street and Washington avenue.  He was taken down to the Kolachny restaurant, where it was discovered by the physician who was called in that he was suffering from an overdose of morphine, or some drug of a similar nature.  The physician administered restoratives and washed out his stomach, and then poured in a quantity of coffee.  He then set John Newby and Yancey Carpenter to work walking the man up and down the street.    They kept him going all night despite his objections and desire to lie down and go to sleep.

Matthews came to Ellsworth some time last Fall.  Before coming here he was located in Hays City, where it is said he was pastor of a church.  His insane desire for drink and "dope" soon became known to the people of Hays.  It is said that they raised $100 and gave it to Matthews to go to Kansas City and take the Keeley cure.  Instead of going to Kansas City, however, he is said to have gone to Colorado, where he had a high old time as long as the money lasted.

He then came to Ellsworth.  He lectured here a month or more ago in one of the churches; occupied the pulpit once or twice at other churches, and filled one of the pulpits in Kanopolis once.

Saturday last, it is said, his wife became so thoroughly disgusted with him that she gave him six dollars, money which she had made sewing, and told him to go and never come back to her.  Sunday he was in Kanopolis, and came over from there Sunday night in a drunken condition.  Later in the evening he made the remark that "somebody would be dead before morning."

Tuesday Matthews was able to be around on the street.  He endeavored to get some more "dope" but we are informed that he failed in this.  The city marshal notified him during the afternoon that he had just two hours in which to get out of town.  He left and went to Kanopolis, where he was arrested late in the evening, and placed in jail.  Wednesday morning he went to an acquaintance in Kanopolis with a hard luck story about having missed his train; said that his wife had gone to Salina, and that he wanted enough money to join her.  Upon telephoning to Ellsworth his Kanopolis acquaintance found that Matthew's wife was still in Ellsworth, and that she had no desire to be joined in Salina or any other place by her husband.

Such is the work of whisky and "dope."  The writer has met this man Matthews.  He is well educated, a man of ability.  Those who have heard him in public say he is an able speaker.  His weakness is liquor and other stimulants.  He is to be pitied as well as censured.
(Free Press ~ Hays, Kansas ~ February 8, 1908)



Young Men Hunting on Horses Coe Together on Dead Run -- In Critical Condition

An accident happened at Black Wolf, nine miles west of Ellsworth yesterday afternoon which resulted in the death of two horses and the seirous injury of two young men.  The young men had a narrow escape from death and the only wonder is that one or more of the boys were not instantly killed.

Seven young men, Frank and Henry Weinholdt, Joseph Wild, Charles Klotz, Mildred Wilson, Charles Bower and Henry Grill, all sons of wealthy farmers, had been on a coyote hunt.  About two o'clock in the afternoon they went into a store at Black Wolf to make a purchase of some supplies.  After remaining at the store for an hour or more three of the young men started home leaving the others at the store.  When about a mile out of Black Wolf the three boys discovered that they had forgotten something and returned to town, going at a rapid gait.  At a point near Black Wolf near a cross roads, there is a large growth of sunflowers and it is impossible to see from one road to the other.  At the corner the three young men who were going to town met the four boys who were on their way home, all running their horses.

At the corner the two parties came together with a terrible force, Charles Bower and Henry Grill each being thrown about fifteen feet, the former receiving injuries to his lower limbs, and the latter receiving injuries in his head and on his body, and was rendered unconscious for more than a half hour.  The horses were both so badly injured that it was necessary to kill them this morning.  Both horses had all of their legs broken and received other injuries.

Young Bower is now in the hospital at Ellsworth and is in a serious condition.  Grill is confined to his bed at home and is also in a critical condition.  The other five boys escaped injury.
(Salina Evening Journal ~ Thursday ~ January 11, 1906 ~ Page 3)



Ellsworth is perturbed over the arrest of George Parker, one of its well known horse buyers, in connection with a shipment of horses to Wichita.  An Ellsworth man, Milt Payton, declares that his horse was in the shipment.  Parker found a number of wealthy Ellsworth county men ready to go on his bond immediately after being arrested.

A hearing has been set for May 20 and C. W. Burch of Salina has been employed by the county to assist in the prosecution of the case.
(Salina Evening Journal ~ Saturday ~ May 6, 1916 ~ Page 1)


George Radcliffe, our soldier boy who has been overseas, was mustered out and returned here Friday well satisfied to be home again, and secured a job at once and is now at work at the same old trade.
(Ellsworth Reporter ~ Thursday ~ May 15, 1919 ~ Page 5)


Wm. Peterman, a farmer living in Sherman township, was examined at the court house this morning as to his sanity and a decision was made committing him to the state asylum.
(Ellsworth Reporter ~ Thursday ~ May 15, 1919 ~ Page 5)

William Hanaberry of Holyrood, the young man who was injured the day the tank performed in Ellsworth, underwent an operation at the hospital Monday for a comminuted fracture of the left leg.
(Ellsworth Reporter ~ Thursday ~ May 15, 1919 ~ Page 5)

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