HAMILTON COUNTY, KANSAS

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES
 

WALLACE MITCHELL HUNG FOR MURDER OF OSCAR JOHNSON

Syracuse, Kan., June 27 - Wallace Mitchell the self-confessed murderer who was brought here yesterday from Colorado, was taken from jail early this morning and hanged on the spot where he committed his crime.

Mitchell had his preliminary trial before Justice Waggoner yesterday afternoon, pleaded guilty to the murder of Oscar Johnson and the attempted murder of August Johnson repented the story of his crime with the utmost sang frold and as if it was an every day occurrence and at the conclusion of the testimony was remanded to jail until the September term of court. The cold blooded recital of his fiendish deed had an exciting effect on the people and everywhere on the streets knots of men gathered with his confession as the theme of conversation and it was easy to be seen that a storm was brewing and that summary justice was likely to be visited on the guilty man.

After dark matters came more to a focus, and about midnight a body of men numbering a hundred or more gathered around the water tank and under the lead of an elected captain went to the jail and demanded admittance of the sheriff. This he refused, and declared his intention of protecting his prisoner at all hazards.

Everything Done Quietly

The citizens seemed loth to make any assault on the sheriff but were none the less determined to have their man and two men were again sent to demand the keys, but the sheriff was gone.

Part of the lynchers started in hot pursuit while others went for railroad iron to batter in the doors.

The sheriff however was soon overhauled, but another delay occurred as he had thrown the keys away. After a short search they are found, the doors unlocked and the culprit brought out.

Mitchell was taken directly to the place where the murders were committed and given all the time he desired for prayer and confession. He entirely exonerated Oscar Johnson, the uncle from complicity in the murder and said the sheriff of Las Animas county, Colorado had helped him to make up the story. He then made his last prayer, and at about the hour he killed the boy - 1:30 a.m. he was hanged to a telegraph pole.

The crime was the murder of a boy 12 years old and the attempted murder of his father for money and then an endeavor to implicate another man in the hideous crime.

Mitchell's friends telegraphed today that they did not want his remains, and he will be buried here tomorrow. (Kansas City Times, June 28, 1888, page 1, transcribed by Peggy Thompson)

OFFICERS SHOT BY CAR THIEVES ARE IMPROVING

Hope Held out for The Recovery of Hamilton County Sheriff and Deputy

One Man is Held

But the Other Desperadoes Escaped; Fleeing South of Syracuse

Syracuse, Kans., Sept. 12, - Hope is held today for the recovery of Sheriff Govan C. Mills of Hamilton County, and his deputy, Ray Kumpf, who was shot by car bandits when the officers attempted to take a gang of three men into custody for investigation Saturday night. Both of the officers were shot once, near the heart.

Kumpf, was believed to be out of danger. Sheriff Mills is expected to recover unless complications set in. One of the trio of bandits was captured but the others escaped.

A report had reached the sheriff that four men were acting suspiciously in a car parked on a side street in the western part of Syracuse. Mills took Kumpf and went to investigate. The deputy was unarmed. As they approached the car, three of the men grabbing their guns, while the fourth stood back.

Didn't Draw Gun

Sheriff Mills dropped to the ground, wounded in the left breast before he could draw his gun.

The men fled before a hastily organized posse headed by Louis Henderson, undersheriff. When about twenty miles from Syracuse they stopped and made the man who had stood by during the shooting get from the ar. He was picked up by officers who say that he was a passenger the men had allowed to ride to Syracuse with them when they found him walking along a road. He gave the name of Raymond Norris. Officers believe that he was telling the truth.

The men were driving a Chevrolet car which had an Indiana license tag. Before Norris was put out of the car, they told him they intended to steal another. (El Dorado Times, Monday, September 12, 1927)

SYRACUSE CONVICTED ROBBER BROKE JAIL BUT IS FOUND IN OKLAHOMA

Syracuse, Kan., Feb. 2 - Word was received here today from Sheriff Ellison, at Kimball, O. T., that he had captured Blakesley, alias Fay. One of the three convicted of robbing the lunch room and depot at Coolidge, and was on the track of the other two. These men broke jail here on January 21 and have been pursued by Sheriff Ellison and posse since that date, but this is the first word received from him. (Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital, Friday, February 5, 1897)

1891 ELECTION RESULTS

Syracuse, Kan., April 7 - A warmly contested election today resulted in the selection of the following officers: Mayor, C. Burris; police judge, A. B. Wagoner; council, W. F. Reed, F. M. Dunlang, C. F. Rose, Ben A. Wood and C. L. Ong. (Topeka Weekly Capital, Thursday, April 9, 1891)

MRS. DIXON VISITING

Mrs. Dixon of Syracuse, Kansas, visited the Forum with Mr. and Mrs. R. G. Collins. (Advocate, Kansas City, Kansas, Friday, March 22, 1918)

MR. McCARTHY DENOUNCES TAMMANY ICE TRUST

Mr. McCarthy, the Syracuse undertaker who wants to run on the ticket with Mr. Bryan has denounced the Tammany ice trust. This is eminently proper. (Emporia Gazette, Thursday, June 21, 1900)

J. B. MILLER VISITING

J. B. Miller of Syracuse, formerly of Emporia is in town visiting friends. (Emporia Gazette, Saturday, May 31, 1913)

JAIL BREAKERS CAUGHT

Coolidge Robbers Who Escaped From Syracuse are Retaken

Syracuse, Kan., Feb. 4 - The three Coolidge lunch counter thieves, who escaped from jail here Thursday, January 21 and were pursued into Colorado by sheriff Ellison and posse, for whom fears were felt, were brought in yesterday and are again in jail with little chance of a second escape. Nobody in either party was hurt. The trio will be sentenced Monday. (Kansas Semi Weekly Capital, Friday, February 5, 1897)

COOLIDGE ROBBERS GOING TO STRIPED SUITS

Syracuse, Kan., Feb. 25 - Sheriff Ellison started for the penitentiary today with nelson and Blakesley, two of the three men convicted of robbing the Coolidge depot and lunch room. Nelson gets twelve and Blakesley ten years. Shaw, the other robber, was sentenced for fifteen years, but was granted a stay of execution. (Kansas Semi Weekly Capital, Friday, February 26, 1897)

LIKE  ANCIENT  CITY

LITTLE  BURG  OF  COOLIDGE,  KAS.,  INTERESTING  FOR  ITS  RUINS

In The Palmy Days Of Yore It Was The Metropolis for A Wide Range of Cattle Country, And Thirty Years Ago Important As A Division Point

James Rhodus has returned from Coolidge, Kansas, where he has been the past few months seeking a renewal of his health.  The altitude at this place is 3000 feet higher than here, the air is clear, dry and invigorating.  Coolidge, though a small burg now, is as interesting in its ruins as an ancient city in the Palmy cattle days.  Twenty and thirty years ago it was an important western division on the Santa Fe system.  Here were located the round house, machine shops and Harvey eating house.  The city had water works, electric lights, large wholesale houses, etc.  But its pristine glory has departed.  Coolige became arrogant and antagonistic to the railroad, whereupon the Santa Fe quietly removed the machine shop and round house to Syracuse twelve miles east and made it the division point.  The round house at Coolidge was once the largest in the west, having twenty-four stalls.  Now naught but the huge, gaunt skeleton remains.  On the hill north of town stands the ruins of the water tower and all over town the visitor sees large basement-like pits in the ground where once stood wholesale houses, stores, etc.  This is the main line of the Santa Fe between Chicago and California and there are twelve passenger trains daily including the California limited.  The town is two miles from the Colorado state line.  Mr. Rhodus says spring is much further advanced here than there.
(Evening Star ~ Independence, KS ~ Monday ~ March 15, 1909 ~ Page 5)

TRAIN  ROBBERY

An Exciting Episode on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe At Three O'Clock this Morning.

Train Stopped at Coolidge, Kan., by a Band of Masked Robbers, and Two Men Killed.

The Engineer Killed on Sight, After a Sharp Skirmish the Fireman Falls, Shot Dead

Coolidge, Kas., Sept. 29, 6:10 a.m. -- The regular east bound express, known as the "Thunderbolt," was robbed by a gang of men at 1:30 this morning.  The engineer was killed and fireman and brakeman badly wounded.  The express messenger made a heroic fight, and it cannot be ascertained how much money the band secured.  The train at this writing, is on the side track here waiting for specials to arrive with new engineer and train hands.  The passengers are in a terrible state of excitement and hardly know what to look for next.

The engineer, who was ordered to half refused and was instantly killed, and the fireman was shot down.  By this time th emen in the baggage and express cars were aroused, and when the express messenger was called upon to open the doors of the car, he refused, and a regular pitched battle occured which ended in the messenger being wounded and the train being robbed.  Just how much was secured by the robbers is not known.  The east bound trains generally carry more treasure than the out-going, but not as much ready cash.

A telegram from an operator at a station west of Topeka at 5 o'clock this morning was to the effect that about a dozen men made the attack, and it was very sudden, but even then the train men made a gallant fight but had to succumb at last.

Immediately after the robbery dispatches were sent to Topeka, Dodge City, Emporia, Newton and Las Animas, and special trains bearing armed posses of men were started for the scene to intercept and capture or kill the robbers.

Coolidge, where the robbery took place, is a little station on the Santa Fe railway, 400 miles west of Kansas City, and aside from the telegraph operator is almost uninhabited.  The train which leaves Kansas City at 9:45 a.m., bound west, passes Coolidge at 2:30 a.m., and the train attacked by the robbers left Denver at 2:30 p.m. Friday, and LaJunita at 1:50, and was due at College at 1:50 this morning.
(Ottawa Daily Republic ~ Saturday ~ September 29, 1883 ~ Page 1)

THE  HAMILTON  CO.  ELECTION  FRAUD

We are in receipt of full particulars of the Hamilton county election fraud.  It appears that in connection with the local election, on the first of the month a proposition was submitted to locate the county seat.  Owing to road interests, it seems that stupendous frauds there resorted, too, in order to carry the day.  Committees from Syracuse openly purchased votes, and finding that the election could not be caried in this manner, they are said to have descended to the most infamous methods in order to swell their vote.  One cowvoy voted 19 times while several men from adjoining counties voted and repeated, until the number of votes cast exceeded the total number of actual votes in the precinct by hundreds.  Even then it was found that more were needed, so they stole the books and withheld them until all other precincts had been heard from and then summed up their grand total accordingly.  This is a pretty bad state of affairs, and all connected with it should be punished to the full extent of the law.  Great excitement prevails and threats of lynching are freely indulged in.  We should not feel at all surprised to hear of a collision at any moment, although the good substantial citizens are all advocating law and order.  Our militia has just returned from Parsons but if Hamilton county has need of their services, all they have to do is to get an order from Gov. Martin, and the boys will be on hand.  It matters not with them whether they are strikers or ballot box stuffers, the law must and shall be maintained.

The Border Ruffian, published at Coolidge, Kas., from which our information is largely obtained, has nearly five columns devoted to the complete unearthing of the monstrous fraud.  It handles the matter without gloves and deserves credit for its daring frankness.
(The Ottawa Daily Republic ~ Friday ~ April 16, 1886 ~ Page 2)

MANAGER  OF  THE  STORE  RESPONSIBLE  FOR  CLERKS

The manager of a store is responsible for the failure of his clerks to observe the regulations of the U.S. Food Administration, according to Walter P. Innes, U.S. Foord Administrator for Kansas, who last night approved a penalty against the Farmers' Co-operative Company of Coolidge, Kas., for violation of the fifty-fifty rule.

Paul Rich, county administrator of Hamilton County, penalized the store by forbidding the company to sell flour for fifteen days.  The manager contended that he had nothing to do with the violation of the fifty-fifty rule, but that one of his clerks sold flour with an equal quantity of substitute.  Rich held that did not excuse the store and Mr. Innes approved his stand.
(Wichita Beacon ~ Saturday ~ April 27, 1918 ~ Page 4)

THE  BODY  FOUND  IN  A  TRUNK

An Aged Woman Who Lived Near Syracuse, Kas., Burned to Death

Syracuse, Kas., Feb. 19 -- The aged mother of D. C. Gard, who lived about twenty miles southeast of Syracuse, was burned to death yesterday.  Mr. Gard and a neighbor left the house for a load of fuel.  When they returned a few hours later they found the body of Mr. Gard's mother in an open trunk.  Her arms and the lower part of her body were charred.
(Coffeyville Daily Journal ~ Friday ~ February 19, 1909 ~ Page 1)

BEAUTIFY  CEMETERY

Syracuse --- Four hundred spirea shrubs have been planted this week at Syracuse cemetery following the recent planting of 200 Chinese elm trees.  A rock reservoir is being built also.
(Hutchinson News ~ April 5, 1935 ~ Page 13)

The Syracuse cemetery is being improved with the financial assistance of the Syracuse Mothers' club.  It voted to donate $5.
(Hutchinson News-Herald ~ March 14, 1948 ~ Page 8)

NEW  LOW  IN  VANDALS'  WORK

Syracuse --- Things are back to norma in the Syracuse cemetery but local officials still would like to know identity of vandals who resorted to a new low in so-called amusement here.

The gang overturned about a dozen tombstones in the graveyard.  Presumably the damage was done on Halloween, but it was not discovered until a week later.

W. A. Schaffer, city superintendent, said a check showed 28 headstones were oveturned.  One of the markers weighs about 1,000 pounds.  One small headstone was broken from its base.

Schaffer and a couple of helpers repaired the damage.
(Hutchinson News-Herald ~ November 15, 1950 ~ Page 41)

VANDALS  HIT  CEMETERY  AGAIN

Syracuse --- Cemetery vandals have struck again for the second time in a year here.

Grave markers have been battered and a glass top of a flower box on a grave was battered and broken.  A heavy instrument was used to knock stones fro mone red rock monument.

Last Halloween a dozen headstones were overturned by vandals who were never apprehended.

A marker from an infant's grave was brought to town and tossed on a parking in a residential area.
(Hutchinson News-Herald ~ October 8, 1951 ~ Page 27)

OUTSTANDING  MAUSOLEUM  BEING  BUILT  IN  SYRACUSE  CEMETERY

Syracuse --- A mausoleum which the builders say is the most outstanding work of its kind they have done is being erected in the Syracuse cemetery.

It is build on orders of Mrs. Harry Trussell whose husband died several months ago.

The structure is of Bellingham granite measuring approximately 16 feet square.  It is 12 feet, 4 inches high.  Exterior granite is polished and interior walls will be of marble.

The structure will contain 11 crypts.  A granite walk will be laid to the door.  Four large granite posts will be built at each corner of the lot and two polished urns will be installed.

Mrs. Trussell has employed Walter Heckleman of Heckleman Brothers Co., Chicago, to supervise construction.

Palmer Brothers Granite Co. of Holdredge, Neb., has the consruction contract.  B. H. Palmer, president, says it is the finest structure of its kind hi company has ever built.
(Hutchinson News Herald ~ November 28, 1951 ~ Page 14)

UNLIMITED  WATER

Recent Experiments Show Surprising Results

Artesian Water at Moderate Depth In the Arkansas Valley in Western Kansas

MEANS  MILLIONS  TO  THE  STATE

Syracuse, Kan., Sept. 15 --- A well drilled in by Edward Parsley, of Syracuse, on his rance, a mile south of Coolidge, on the line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, in western Kansas, finds artesian water at a depth of 240 feet.  This is not a new find, for an artesian well has been flowing on E. P. Taylor's adjoining quarter nearly 20 years.  But better than a new find, the Parsley well, by its close proximity to the other well and other evidences, fix and make certain for all time that far below the "underflow" of the Upper Arkansas Valley, itself so valuable for irrigation and domestic use, is a veritable lake of water, which, if tapped, comes to the surface by natural pressure, or which, if necessary, may be pumped.  More than this, it is soft water, making it useful in locomotive engines and other steam boilers.  Hard water will make steam, but it corrodes the boilers, and so the railway companies, especially, are always on the lookout for soft water in semi-arid regions.

Indeed, it is the constant search for soft water by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe for use in its locomotives and in its local shops along the line, and to aiad and encourage manufacturers and other who must have water in their business, that has led to Mr. Parsley's experience south of Coolidge.  By many experiments and much expense the company proved to a certainty that the country along its line in wester Kansas overlies a reservoir of water.  The underflow, at a shallower depth, as certain and beyond dispute, but the deep water was an unknown quantity until the railway company demonstrated its existence beyond a doubt.  Drill holes were put down by the company along the line at intervals, and the deep water tapped without exception.  The latest wells by the company were bored at the foot of Main street, in Syracuse, and water was found in Dakota sandstone at a depth of 140 feet.  One of these wells is to be bored deeper, but for the present it supplies the needs of the company.  It is not an artesian well, but is pumped.  Between the Dakota sandstone and the underflow above it is a deposit of impervious soapstone, or shale, proving that there is no connection between the two.  The underflow is the sunken waters of the Arkansas, and the other is carried from the mountains in the porous sandstone which underlies this region at a depth of 130 feet and lower.

In the Parsley well the water spouted 18 inches above the top of a three-inch pipe from a depth of 190 feet, and 24 inches from 196 feet.  From 240 feet the water spouted five feet above the top, and when a section of 16 feet of pipe was added the water flowed even out of that.  Mr. Parsley will experiment with it more to see exactly how far it will rise in the pipe, and later he will substitute an eight-inch pipe for the three-inche, and the flow naturally will be increased by the change.  From a three-inch pipe in the well on the Taylor ranch adjoining, the flow is about 40 gallons a minute, irrigating 35 acres of orchard and garden, in addition to supplying the family and the livestock.  Mr. Parsley's success has moved the neighbors to bore wells.  J. W. Egger, on Seciton 19, has water to the top of the pipe at a depth of 200 feet, and Paul Rice, Section 29, E. P. Taylor (another well), Section 26, and Edward Ross, Section 36, are drilling with a certainty of finding flowing water.  Over the state line, in Colorado, Lewis Mathews is drilling.

This flow of water even comes to the surface in spots without drilling for it.  Strange to say, Hamilton county, which lies in a region that is labeled "semi-arid" by geographers and geologists, contains perenial springs.  This is not the statement of a "land agent" or of a "boomer," but of an unprejudiced observer who has seen the springs and drunk of their waters.  North of the Arkansas river in this vicinity, tributaries of that stream, are seven creeks---Horse and Big Sandy in Colorado, and West Bridge, East Bridge, Plum, Syracuse and Sand in Kansas (Hamilton county).  These are "dry creeks," as the saying is, serving only to carry off storm waters, but two miles from the river and for a distance of three miles further, numerous springs break from the little bluffs within four feet of the grass-roots, and if opened and properly cared for the supply from each is sufficient for a family.  And they are not in the low-lying flat of the Arkansas Valley, but in the upland.  For instance, 70 feet higher than the town-site of Syracuse, or a total altitude of 3,300 feet, is the Mitchener ranch, where the family has a spring house for the preservation of milk, butter and vegetables.  The bottom of this spring is not to exceed five feet below the surface of the ground, and the flow is sufficient to keep a large pond full to a depth of six or eight feet, from which water is taken for livestock and garden.  This is not on the creek bluff, but 100 feet away from it, and 20 feet lower, in the bed of the creek, for a distance of three miles are numerous water holes, full the year round.  At the Mitchener house and elsewhere along the creek clumps of cottonwoods have sprung up, vigorous and green, standing no less than 30 feet high.  In spots, on top of the upland, the grass is exceptionally green, and wherever these little oases occur, a pick and a shovel will uncover living water at a depth of a few feet.  These things the writer hereof has seen on Syracuse creek, and Mr. Henry Block, editor of the Syracuse Journal, testifies that similar springs break out of the banks of the other creeks enumrated above.

These creeks are always on the west side of the creeks, never on the east side.  Mr. Block says they occur only where the Dakota sandstone crops out, and from the pores of this stone the water flows and comes down the creek bed until it sinks in the sand.  That it is the same water found in the depth of the Santa Fe well in Syracuse is apparent from taste and use, and being so far away from the flat land of the river valley it is an indication at least that the same flow of water, by boring, some day will be found remote from that stream.  At least it is sufficient for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe to continue its subterranean explorations.  Sufficient soft water for locomotive use has been found hear the track in the flats of the valley, but water, if found in abundance in the upland, will make additional crops, and crops make business for the company, and so the company will widen its scope of exploration and look for water wherever signs may invite its drillers.
(Barton County Democrat ~ September 21, 1906 ~ Page 2)

SYRACUSE  TO  CELEBRATE  FIFTIETH  ANNIVERSARY

An organization is being formed at Syracuse, in Hamilton county, to be known as the Syracuse Pioneer Anniversary Association," and the object of which is to play and carry to a successful conclusion a real birthday party commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of settlement of the city of Syracuse, which will be in the spring of 1923.  A temporary chairman, secretary and committee on constitution and by-laws have been appointed to draft necessary articles and by-laws with instructions to report December 14, 7:30 p.m., at which time it is hoped to complete an organization that will merit the approval and cooperation of every citizen in the town.  Among other things suggested, a parade in which the old-time pioneers would occupy the place of honor in as near as possible the character of vehicle in which they landed at the present site of the city, with the costumes of the period.  An invitation to all old timers, wherever located, will be urged to gather for a reunion and to participate int he birthday festivities.---Hutchinson Gazette.
(Liberal Democrat ~ December 14, 1922 ~ Page 16)

GOOD  FOR  TOWN

Anti-Pass Is Doing Wonders for Syracuse

Where the People With Passes "Stop Over"

NEAR  COLORADO  LINE

Those With Transportation Must Stay Over Night

Don't Save Much Money, But What's the Difference

It is common talk at the state house among the politicians accustomed to travel on passes that the federal anti-pass law is going to be the "makin" of Syracuse, Kan.

At any rate, the Santa Fe Railway company has just let a contract for a $60,000 depot and Harvey hotel for Syracuse---and Syracuse is a town of only 500 population.

The part which the federal anti-pass law is playing in the upbuilding of Syracuse is by no means insignificant.  Syracuse is the last station of any side on the Santa Fe before the Colorado line is reached.  It is only 17 miles to the border.  When a politician wants to get a pass for himself or his friend to Colorado----which is a popular resort for Kansas politicians this hot weather----he finds that the railroad officials won't accommodate him.

"Can't possibly take the risk," they say.  "Interstate proposition, and we don't dare to issue anything.  Be glad to give you anything inside of the state."

"Well, what's the best you can do for me, then?"

"We can send you to Syracuse."

"And then what?"

"Well, then you will have to buy your ticket the rest of the way.  And you will have to get off and take the next train, too."

"Have to get off?  Why can't I simply stay on the train and pay my fare the rest of the way?"

"Because that would be an interstate journey, and we can't issue a pass for any portion of an interstate journey.  You must get off at Syracuse and stay over night, and take the train for Colorado the next morning.  That's the rule, there's no other way."

"Well, if that's the best you can do, all right.  Give me a ticket to Syracuse."

Thus it happens that Syracuse is getting to be the greatest tourist point in Kansas.  Every west bound train which passes over the Santa Fe drops off a few passengers at Syracuse, and the hotel business at that town is enjoying a wonderful boom.  In fact Syracuse never before realized its possibilities as an attractive point for summer tourists.  It has never taken sufficient pains to develop the hotel business, and its amusement facilities have been somewhat neglected.  There is really very little there which would be considered attractive to the ordinary tourist, and yet the tourists just simply can't keep away.

As a matter of fact, the Syracuse proposition is rather discouraging after all.  The railroad companies seem to have forgotten to put in any special rates to Colorado from Syracuse, and the pass user after he arrives at Syracuse must pay $12 for a round trip ticket to Denver.  From Topeka a round trip ticket To Denver can be for $17.50.   So this is about the way it stacks up:

For a man who uses a pass:

Ticket from Syracuse to Denver ..................... $12.00
Hotel bill at Syracuse ..................................... 4.00
TOTAL $16.00


 

 


And 12 hours longer on the road.

For the man who buys his ticket: 

Round trip, Topeka to Denver ......................... $17.50



 
Nevertheless there are scores of politicians and friends of politicians who are getting passes to Syracuse, and all for the sake of $1.50.  The railroad company loses $5.50 on the deal from Topeka, and much less than this from points further west.

But the happy hotel man at Syracuse is rejoicing, and the Syracuse busman has bought a new horse and had his wagon repainted.
(Topeka State Journal ~ August 19, 1907 ~ Page 6)

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