Rawlins  County



Kansas City, Sept. 11 - A special from Achilles, Rawlins County, Kansas, says: At Alliance last night, Charles Peoples and Henry Hall fought a duel with revolvers, in an attempt to settle a feud for years' standing. Both were mortally wounded. (Grand Forks Herald, September 12, 1897, page 8)


Seventeen Rawlins County Citizens Want to Get Free From the Sheriff

Topeka, June 16 - Application was made in the supreme court today under habeas corpus proceedings for the release of seventeen men from the custody of the sheriff of Rawlins County. This litigation involves a large number of cattlemen. The court granted the application and will hear the case July 5. The bond of each of the plaintiffs was fixed at $300.

Some weeks ago, F. B. Glover, representing a Kansas City live stock firm, rented the Oak ranch of 10,000 acres in Rawlins county. When he attempted to take possession of the property his rights were questioned, and a force of fifteen men under the direction of C. P. Dewey of Chicago, who claims a prior right to the property tried to run Glover and his 1,000 head of cattle off the ranch. There was much excitement and a generous display of firearms, but up to date no blood has been shed. The first conflict ended unsuccessfully for the Deweys, but the cattle owned by Glover were later stampeded and driven from the pasture. This is charged to Dewey. Glover secured a temporary injunction May 31 against the Dewey forces and against Mr. Dewey himself. However, the injunction was ignored and 800 head of cattle have been driven on the ranch. Judge A. T. C. Geiger cited the Deweys for contempt. They were brought before the court, but pending trial have instituted habeas corpus proceedings. The men arrested for contempt and who now seek release from the custody of the sheriff are Dempters Hoptt, H. J. Harnhouser, W. J. Ratcliff, Charles Kendall, Charles Boott, Joseph Yates, Walter Wallace, Chauncy Dewey, Albert Winchip, William Brewer, Harry March, G. J. Martin, E. C. McNemar, John Johnson, D. C. Roberison and Albert Long. The attorneys for the plaintiffs in the habeas corpus proceedings are Samuel Kimball of Manhattan, Bertram & Wilson of Oberlin and Howell Jones of Topeka. (Kansas City Star, June 16, 1899, page 2)


A Rawlins County Man Accused of Stealing a House

A Western Kansas Incident as Unique as It Is Interesting - A Court Will Decide It

Atwood, Kan., Aug. 24 - C. M. Eggleston, a farmer living southwest of this city, is under arrest on a charge of stealing a house from the land of J. R. Collier, and has been bound over to the district court.

The house which led to the trouble was built in 1884, in the early days of Rawlins county, and was the first frame house built in that part of the county. Located away out on the high divide, on a piece of school land, it was a land-mark and could be seen for twenty miles. At one time it was christened "The Angels Rest," but later the neighbors dubbed it "Buzzard's Rest."

A few years ago Collier moved to Nebraska and left no one to care for the house. The winds soon loosened the boards and shingles and tore them loose from the building and whirled some of them away across the level prairies. Some were picked up by travelers and passers by. Then there came an exceedingly heavy wind and blew the old rickety house over. After this the boards were rapidly torn loose by the winds and scattered in every direction.
Men who had been neighbors of Collier when he lived in the house met and looked the house over and thought something should be done. The house was disappearing and they thought the best method to save something for Collier, would be to appraise the lumber, which they did and sold it. Eggleston acting for the neighbors in the sale.

Immediately afterward Collier came out and was not satisfied with what the neighbors had done, and thought that it was none of their business what became of his house and that they should have let it alone. He demanded four times as much for the house as the lumber was sold for, and upon Eggleston refusing to give him more than was realized from the sale of the lumber, Collier came here and had Eggleston arrested.

No one thinks for a moment that Eggleston at any time intended to steal the money or wrong Collier, but how does he stand in the light of the law? As stated, Eggleston has been bound over to the district court. (Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital, August 26, 1898, page 6)


Several Persons Believed To Have Been Murdered and Thrown in a Well on a Kansas Farm


Two Toughs in Jail on Suspicion of Being County Treasurer Caddall's Murderers and in Danger of Lynching


KANSAS CITY, MO., April 2, 1890 -- About four miles northwest of Atwood, the county seat of Rawlins county, Kan., is what is known as the "old Horn farm." On this farm is an old well. In 1879, the farm was occupied by a man named Swift, who lived with his daughter, a young woman aged about twenty years. It began to be whispered that all was not well at the farm and Swift was arrested and convicted of a grievous crime. When he was lying in a jail, a party of men pretending to be his friends took him off ostensibly to release him, but he was never heard of since, and it is supposed that his pretended friends murdered him and threw his body into the old well and robbed him of $900.

On an adjoining farm, lived a man with his family named Chlebeard. One day Mrs. Chlebeard died very suddenly, and although it was thought that she had been poisoned by her husband, there was no proof and the authorties never took action in the matter. Shortly after the man mysteriously disappeared and the eldest son gave it out that he had gone temporarily to Germany, but as he never returned it is thought his body also lies at the bottom of the old Horn well.

Soon after a brother going to school disappeared, and the eldest brother said he had gone to Nebraska. He, too, is supposed to be resting at the bottom of the well.

Last December the third brother came home from school in the best of health and was given apple by the elder brother. In fifteen minutes he was in convulsions, and in three hours was dead. Shortly after the boy was taken with the convulsions, his brother threw the body over his shoulder and started toward the "old Horn farm." Meeting a man, he told him he was taking his brother to a neighbor's while he went after a doctor. The boy died.

There was no farm within four miles in the direction in which the man was going with the boy, while there was one within a half mile in another direction. An investigaiton followed and there was found a large quantity of strychnine in the boy's stomach.

Chlebeard and his wife are now in jail on the charge of murder and the well will be examined, and it is expected that a sensation will be revealed which will rival the crimes of the Bender family
(New York Herald ~ April 3, 1890)


A Kansas Murderer Gets a Life Sentence for One of Many Crimes

ATWOOD, KAN., April 4---Judge Bertram yesterday sentenced Gracian Chleborad to 50 years in the penitentiary for murder. Chlebeard is about 80 years old. The crime of which he was convicted was poisoning his younger brother, Joseph, last December. Strange to say although there was proof positive of strychnine in the dead man's stomach, and every circumstances pointed to Gracian as the murderer, the jury returned a verdict of murder in the second degree, acquitting Mrs. Chleborad, Gracians wife, who was indicted with him. The judge, however, made amends for the jury's notion by pronouncing a sentence that virtually amounts to life imprisonment. If the evidence of Chleborad's neighbors is to be believed, the poisoning of Joseph Chleborad was the last of a series of murders that if investigated will prove as horrible as the infamous Bender crimes that were exposed in Sabetha, Kansas, in 1878. The Chleborads lived on a cabin that was originally settled by Mr. Shaw who mysteriously disappeared. Evidence indicated that he was murdered for his money and his body thrown into an abandoned well on the "divide" not far from the Shaw dug-out. After the Chleborad's, consisting of a man and his wife and three sons, of which Gracian was the oldest, took the claim. In the course of this, Mrs. Chleborad died mysteriously and her place of burial was never known. The event occasioned comment, but the people seemed to be afraid of the Chleborad's and it was never investigated. It was generally belloyed however, that she was murdered and her body thrown into the well. Later the old man died suddenly and the neighbors again suspected poisoning. This was followed by a fresh burial in the well. This crime was charged to Grecian Chleborad and his wife, May. A few months later one of the brothers disappeared and Gracian said that he had gone to Nebraska, but the boy never came back, and it is supposed the well received another victim. Last December young Joseph was poisoned and the murderer was decided by a party of neighbors, who met Gracian with the body of the boy on his shoulder, making straight for the old well. He was arrested and the murder pinned. An effort has been made to have the County Commissioners dig out the old well now nearly filled up when proof of all those horrors is likely to appear.
(Boston Journal ~ April 5, 1890)


A mob of 200 Kansas farmers took Robert Read, 53 years old, from a jail at St. Francis. He had kidnapped and killed after brutally maltreating her, a girl 8 years old. The farmers did not care to wait for slow justice and it is difficult to blame them.

The man lynched made no complaint. Standing under a tree with a rope around his neck, he said: "You are lynching the right man. I was drunk at the time." (Steubenville Herald-Star, April 20, 1932, page 1)


Herndon Man Was Given to the Habit of Eating Cigars

Atwood, Kan., Dec. 27---Udo Drath of the firm of Drath Bros., and a prominent citizen of Herndon, Kan., twenty miles east of here, committed suicide yesterday at 3:30 p.m. by shooting himself through the heart with a .57 Sharp's rifle.

Coroner Elmore investigated the case, and it was ascertained that for the past two or three weeks Mr. Drath has shown symptoms of insanity. His brother, Lewis Drath, took him to Omaha for treatment, and he was pronounced of unsound mind, caused by excessive use of tobacco.

One of his brothers testified at the coroner's inquest that lately he had noticed his brother smoke a cigar half way up, and the taking his knife would cut off the burned portion and eat the remainder just as one would eat a cracker. Another brother testified that his dead brother, realizing the odium of the habit he had contracted, imagined that everyone noticied the cough or constant clearing of the throat he was addicted to, and which the Draths had told him was caused by the excessive use of tobacoo. This seemed to be a shadow of his waking hours, and he had often made threats of suicide on this account. Mr. Drath was 40 years old, and leaves a wife and three children.
(Emporia Gazette ~ Wednesday ~ December 28, 1898)


John Magli, Wealthy Citizen of Rawlins County, Takes His Own Life

Atwood, Kan., Jan. 31---John Magli, one of the most wealthy and popular farmers of the county, committed suicide at his home in Beaver township this morning. The only reason found for his action at the inquest was sickness and fear of being called as a witness against a joing keeper of this city.
(Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital ~ February 1, 1898)


Antone Wallace, who resides on a farm near Achilles, was found dead in a room of the Park hotel in Atwood. He had taken over two ounces of carbolic acid. His features were frightfully discolored and one side of the face was scarred white where the acid had run from the mouth.
(Sedan Lance ~ Friday ~ September 25, 1908)


Two Men in Jail at Atwood For Burning Fifteen Tons of Hay

Atwood, Kan., Oct. 28---Albert Robbins and C. Cadwalader are in jail here, charged with setting fire to and burning about fifteen tons of hay belonging to Jonah Foster. Robbins had just been released from jail for stealing from Foster and was heard to say that he would burn everything Foster had.
(Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital ~ October 30, 1896)


Further Details of the Shocking Murder of Mrs. Woodard

Atwood, Kan., March 25---The terrible tragedy which occurred here Wednesday, when John Wesley Cochran, Jr., shot and killed Mrs. Gertie Woodard, daughter of James D. Greason, editor of the Republican Citizen, and then killed himself, seems too awful for the people of this little prairie city to realize.

While nearly everybody in the city was at dinner, young Cochran, who was about 26 years old, entered the Citizen office and shot Mrs. Woodard four times. One of the balls entering the left temple and another entering the chest near the heart. Either of these shots would probably have proved fatal. Mrs. Woodard lived until six o'clock when she died.

After shooting Mrs. Woodard, young Cochran ran to his home, secured a razor, and passing through the room where the family were eating dinner, went to an outhouse and cut his throat from ear to ear. His brother seeing him take the razor and go out, suspected something and followed, but when he found Wesley was dying, the razor at his feet and in his pocket the revolver which Mrs. Woodard had been shot, four chambers having simply shells in them and the fifth without a cartridge. It is possible that had there been another load in the gun that would have been used to take his own life, but failing in that he ran home for the razor.

Mrs. Woodard was not found until half an hour after she was shot. The floor of the newspaper office was soaked with blood. A man passing the Citizen office at one o'clock heard her scream, and looking toward the office saw her fall across the threshold. He ran to her and with the assistance of others carried her into the office where she was placed on a cot. Before dying she told how Cochran had come into the office and put the revolver to her head and fired. Then when she fell he put the weapon against her body as she lay on the floor and shot her; burning her clothing.

Temporary madness is the general opinion of the course. The murdered woman and Cochran were children together, and were both of good family.

Mrs. Woodard was here on a visit, her home being in Cripple Creek, Col., where her husband was when she was shot. He came, but arrived after she was dead.

The families are both protrated by the shock. The two were buried today.

J. D. Greason, Mrs. Woodard's father, was one of the early settlers of Rawlins county, and has published the Republican Citizen here since 1880.
(Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital ~ Tuesday ~ March 29, 1898)


Atwood, Kan., Feb. 15---The Beatrice Creamery company, Haskell and Boswell of Beatrice and Lincoln, Neb., has perfected arrangements with five towns along the Burlington between Orleans and Atwood for the election of sub-creameries. Atwood has the building enclosed, Herndon the foundation laid, Danbury, Wilsonville and Beaver City, Neb., under process of erection. The machinery and engines for Atwood and Herndon, Kan., have arrived and a refrigerator car will be run on this branch to carry the cream to the parent creamery at Lincoln, Neb. (Topeka Weekly Capital ~ Friday ~ February 18, 1898)


ATWOOD, Kan., Aug. 9---A serious shooting affray occurred at Herndon, Kan., Sunday at 2 o'clock p.m. which resulted in the fatally wounding of Albert Felker, shot through the right breast, and his brother Fred through the arm. The shooting was done by John Pettys, son of S. H. Pettys, proprietor of the Hotel Herndon, also of the livery barn in that city. (State Ledger ~ August 13, 1898)


ATWOOD, Kan., August 16---J. R. Ely was found dead in his corn field, 25 miles northeast of here. The coroner's jury found that he was overcome by the heat. Mr. Ely was an old soldier and leaves a wife and daughter. (Topeka Weekly Capital ~ Thursday ~ August 18, 1892)


Atwood, Kan., Dec. 30----Richard J. Stephenson, who settled in this county in 1879, died at his home in Blakeman last evening. He was the only man who ever prospected for coal in this county. (Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital ~ Friday ~ January 1, 1897)


Atwood, Kan., June 8----George McAdams and John Estell, both prosperous farmers of Logan township, met at a dance at Blakeman Saturday night and in order to settle some old trouble, went outside the hall and engaged in a fight. Estell bit off McAdams' first finger on his right hand at the first joint. No arrest will be made. (Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital ~ June 11, 1897)


St. Francis, June 15 - Attorney General Coleman of Kansas, who is to assist the local authorities at the preliminary trial tomorrow of Chauncy Dewey and others charged with the killing of Daniel Berry and his two sons, reached here at noon, together with State Senator Bessin, the leading attorney for the defense. The other attorneys will arrive tonight. Witnesses who have been summoned by both sides reached here this afternoon and with them a large number of settlers from all over this region. (Emporia Gazette, Monday, June 15, 1903)


History of the Dewey - Berry Bitter Feud

The Refusal to Allow the Millionaire Ranchman to Wed the Beautiful Daughter of the Small Ranchman Said to have Led to the Battle - A Weird Ride Across the Plains Under Military Escort - Armed Soldiers in the Courtroom to Prevent Trouble

St. Francis, Kan., June 21 - Romance, tragedy, ambition and the rivalries of great wealth figure in the Kansas feud which has involved Chauncey Dewey, a millionaire, and his loyal cowboys on the one side, and the Berrys and their partisans on the other. The whole state is holding its breath in expectancy of the sequel. Angry settlers who look with dismay on the encroachments of the Deweys, demand blood for blood. They are determined that the life of Chauncey Dewey shall be forfeit for the lives of the three Berrys, who were slain in the prairie battle of Wednesday, June 3.

Governor Bailey, who usually looks on the bright side of everything and is intensely jealous of the fair name of Kansas, has expressed the opinion that Dewey's life will be in constant jeopardy.

"The settlers of Northwest Kansas," he said recently, "are intensely bitter against the Dewey Cattle Company. They are alarmed at the rapid expansion of the Dewey holdings in Rawlins, Cheyenne, Decatur, Sherman and Thomas counties. They are fearful that the immediate future will see all the smaller ranchmen of that part of the state driven out and a complete mastery of the Deweys established. Hostility against the big ranchman has been growing for years. The state and local authorities will do all they can to protect the lives of citizens, but a regiment of soldiers on constant watch might not be able to prevent an ambush from the hills. I am afraid Dewy will take __s life in his hands if he escapes on the charge of murder and goes back into that region. It will be like a challenge to death."

Rockefeller in it

It is not alone the small settler who has a quarrel with the Deweys. Frank Rochefeller, brother of John D. Rockefeller, and a man of unlimited means, has taken an active part in the struggle for supremacy. Mr. Rockefeller has large interests in that part of Kansas. Financially he is a foeman worthy of the Dewey steel, and his wealth is at the disposal of the faction which demands full tribute for the slaughter of a fortnight ago.
Mr. Rockefeller has made an appeal to Governor Bailey. With the Chief Executive he has filed a number of affidavits alleging that C. P. Dewey, the Chicago millionaire, and his son Chauncey, have been harassing and molesting Rockefeller and his men on their ranch. These affidavits charge that the Deweys have used indefensible means in their determination to drive the small settlers out of Northwest Kansas and to come into absolute possession of an immense territory for cattle raising. Governor Bailey, in reply to these affidavits, said the controversy between Rockefeller and the Deweys was a matter for the courts and not for the State Executive to take cognizance of. He was ready to assist to the utmost in the protection of life and property. Beyond that he could not go.

Romance of the Prairies

There is a story that a beautiful girl of the prairies was indirectly the cause of the battle which wiped out the lives of three Berrys. She is Bessie Berry Vaprona, daughter of Daniel Berry, one of the victims of the feud. Miss Berry was married recently to her cousin, Albert Vaprona. It is said the dashing Chauncey Dewey had won her heart and had fallen in love with the girl, but that the other members of the Berry family, embittered by the aggressions of the young ranchman, opposed the attentions of Dewey to the daughter and sister. If report be correct, Miss Berry wept during the ceremony which united her in marriage to Vaprona. Whether Dewey had hoped to make her his bride is his secret. She is educated and refined byond the standard of her neighbors, is fair to look upon, a daring equestrienne and a companion who would grace the Dewey home.
By legal process Dewey had acquired a proprietary right in some of the effects of the Berrys. So long as he was allowed unmolested to enjoy the companionship of Miss Berry he did not push his claims in the courts. When he was forbidden the house, however, it is said he applied the screws to the Berrys in a way that made them wince.

At a sheriff's sale he bought several articles with which the Berrys were obliged to part. The next day he went with several of his trusted cowboys to remove the goods he had purchased. It was this errand, it is said, that participated the battle, although there are several versions of the genesis of the fight and of what took place when the actual battle began.

Two Versions of the Fight

From a Dewey partisan the story is that the big ranchman's cowboys started to load upon a wagon a water tank which Dewey had bought. The Berrys, who were drawn up in the front yard, warned the visitors to desist. The admonishment was unheeded, and shots were fired from the yard. Dewey and his men returned the fire at once. The ranchman is said to have been armed with a Winchester and was prepared for just the kind of trouble he got. The cowboys retreated, firing as they ran, but their aim and that of Dewey was more accurate than that of the Berrys. Daniel Berry, owner of the place; A. B. Berry and G. A. Berry were killed: Roy Berry was shot through one cheek.

The story told by the Berrys differs essentially from that of the Deweys and throws the blame for the clash on the latter. One of the witnesses for the prosecution in the preliminary hearing here said the visitors began shooting without provocation from behind a barricade, and that while the Berrys were armed they made no attempt to use their weapons until driven to it in self-defense.

When the news of the killing became current among the settlers the wildest excitement ensued. The Deweys returned at once to their ranch headquarters, near Colby and prepared to defend themselves against the authorities of Cheyenne County were advised of the crime and Sheriff McCullough, knowing the temper of the settlers, fortified himself with special deputies and appealed to Governor Bailey for a company of militia to assist him in protecting Dewey and his associates, "Al" Wilson and William J. McBride, from possible assassination.

Far and near the settlers armed themselves and organized with the purpose of dealing out summary punishment to those who did the killing. Chauncey Dewey was the special object of their wrath. There is no doubt that if they could have got hold of him the nearest tree would have been utilized in disposing of him or he would have been shot to death in a battle among the hills.

Scarcely anybody believed that the Sheriff and his force would arrive in time to rescue the accused, but Company G, of the Second Kansas State Guards, was hastily mobilized, and with them and his deputies Sheriff McCullough started for the scene of expected carnage. The march was made under pressure, and the rescuing army at last reached the Dewey ranch. The millionaire ranchman and his associates made no resistance, on the contrary, they were heartily glad for deliverance from a dangerous predicament.

A Weird Ride

Then commenced one of the most dramatic pilgrimages ever seen in Kansas. It was the march of the little army and its prisoners to this city, where the preliminary trial was scheduled to take place. There was a caravan of eight heavily laden wagons. This was the armed escort that accompanied Dewey. Every soldier and deputy carried a rifle. The weapons bristled like the quills of a huge porcupine, held ready for instant action.

With glasses the soldiers surveyed constantly the prairies as far as the eye could reach. It was like the frontier experiences of the old days, when pioneers in their schooners anticipated an attack from hostile red men. Every distant horseman was watched as a hawk watches its intended prey. Special vigilance was observed in passing through narrow ravines. Rumors came repeatedly that the settlers were massing at this point and that, armed and determined to take the prisoners from their guardians. To avoid flaunting the sight of the prisoners in the eyes of the Berry avenging party, a route was taken which led away from the Berry ranch, where the shooting occurred. A famous old guide of the region conducted the escort along the least frequently traveled routes.

When the spires of St. Francis came in sight persistent reports reached the escort that settlers were waiting to give the caravan in a warm reception. As a precautionary measure the troops from the other seven wagons dismounted and formed a double cordon around the head wagon which carried Sheriff McCullough and the prisoners. Thus formed, the little army marched directly into the courthouse yard and pitched camp, while hundreds of citizens watched with anxious faces, momentarily expecting an assault.

Double sentry lines were at once thrown out, the crowd was thrust back out of danger and the novel pilgrimage was at an end. Later the soldiery retired to the outskirts of the town and there remained in camp with the prisoners until the hearing. Picket duty was performed day and night, and if there was any concentrated movement planned to capture Dewey and his associates it did not materialize. It is well that it did not, for a bloody battle would have been the result.

The hearing of two days was quite as sensational and dramatic as the procession across the country. The courthouse was like an armory, men with Winchesters and springfields being stationed at every door and window ready to repel any invasion. Every man who entered the room was searched carefully for firearms and sentries stood every minute with their backs to the court watching for the first hostile move that might be made. Orders were to shoot at the first show of violence.

A pathetic incident was the bringing of Roy Berry into the courtroom on a stretcher to testify. There was much suppressed excitement when he replied in answer to a question that he was shot by Chauncey Dewey. He admitted he was armed on the day of the murders, but declared he had made no attempt to use his gun.

At the conclusion of the hearing, no evidence in defense having been offered, the accused men were committed to jail without bail on three charges of murder in the first degree. It is said the defendants were willing enough to be held without bail as they feared for their lives if they were allowed to go free under bond. The intense feeling first aroused by the murders has abated somewhat and it is hoped now that the law will be allowed to take its course, that the settlers are satisfied that justice will be secured.

The Deweys in Kansas

The trouble has been brewing for years. The Deweys are wealthy and purchased large tracts of land in Southeast Cheyenne, Southwest Rawlins and Northeast Sherman counties. They call this large track Oak Range and placed several thousand head of cattle on the land to graze. Chauncey Dewey, son of C. P. Dewey, of Chicago, has personally managed affairs at the ranch.

The Berry family were old settlers in the territory purchased by Dewey and they asserted that they were driven out of their homes and made bankrupt by persecutions at the hands of the Deweys. About a year ago 20 head of high grade Hereford Bulls belonging to the Deweys were shot and killed and at various times other depredations, such as cutting wire fences several miles distant, setting fire to the range, crippling horses, etc., were committed and these acts were believed by the Deweys to have been done by the Berrys. On many occasions revolvers were drawn and threats made and of late months neither the Deweys nor the Berrys were seen unarmed.

Ill feeling has existed between the Deweys and their neighbors ever since the former started their ranch. The land they occupied was procured by them on tax titles and had formerly been owned by small cattleraisers of the vicinity. Rawlins country was settled in 1870. Many families took claims in the county and had made homes, when in 1880, the whole region was scourged by a drouth. This coming so soon after settlement in an untried country and to a people who were not able yet to meet a crop failure, discouraged the settlers and all who could get away abandoned their claims and fled. Not to exceed 1,000 people were left in the county and they were in the cattle business or inhabitants of the towns.

Bought At Tax Sales

By the mortgage route the brothers Dewey - C. P. and A. P. Dewey - became interested in the county. They had made a vast fortune by speculations in Chicago real estate following the great fire of 1871 and when in 1885, the boom took hold of Western Kansas they, in common with other Eastern men who had money seeking investment, made vast loans in Cheyenne, Sherman, Thomas, Rawlins and Decatur counties. These loans were placed by agents and afterward the same men continued to represent their clients in an advisory capacity. Later the Deweys removed all agents except at several county seats, where only one was established. This threw many men out of good commissions and afterward added to the troubles of the people when the feud came.

After the land boom collapsed, in 1887, many landowners neglected to pay their taxes. No taxes were paid after 1890 until 1898, except by men who had ready money. A court in the popular indictments of C. P. Dewey is that when, in 1898 and afterward, the lands of the Northwest began to come back into value he took advantage of the opportunity and bought up tax certificates on every quarter section that was delinquent.

Another charge is that the County Commissioners favored him with large rebates, which made his tax deeds cost him practically nothing. These excited the people, and the annual county elections were full of the Dewey issue in Rawlins and Cheyenne counties.

Prior to 1808 it was the custom of the cattlemen to pasture their herds on the open range - lands owned by Eastern people. It was a right of long established usage, and it had come to stay until C. P. Dewey established his cattle ranch. The Eastern owners waiting for another boom and an opportunity to unload their holdings, paid the taxes, and the cattlemen used the pasture. Dewey's original ranch at Penthoke was not much, but when he began to add to his holdings by tax deeds he widened it and it soon became the biggest enterprise in that part of the country. His ranch house is in Rawlins County, but his range extends over parts of four counties. Soon the Eastern or nonresident, owners, found out that their lands had a value and began to assess the cattlemen for enough grass rent to pay taxes. This incensed the small ranchers and it was another count in the indictment against Dewey.

Chauncey Dewey seems to be breaking down. He spends most of his time in reading, and a marked contrast is noticeable since he left the ranch under military guard. Wilson also shows that the strain is telling on him, but McBride seems to retain his cheerful manner. (Baltimore American (Baltimore, MD), Monday, June 22, 1903, page 5)


Railroads Tied Up in Northwest Portion of the State

Atwood, Kan., April 2 --- The extreme northwest corner of Kansas is buried under a heavy blanket of snow that is two feet in drifts.  The prairie roads are impassable.  The Orleans & St. Francis branch of the Burlington & Missouri River railroad from Atwood to St. Francis is blockaded.  The cuts between these two towns, some of which are 20 feet deep, are filled with solid cakes of ice.  For six days the railroad company has been working every man and snow plow that can be secured, but fewer than 10 miles of the 45 miles west of Atwood have been cleared.  Many cattle have died on the range in this portion of the state.  In nearly all the towns there is a famine in fuel and provisions.

The Burlington & Missouri River railroads cuts down on the Orleans & St. Francis branch from Nebraska and traverses Rawlins and Cheyenne counties.  The towns on this line from Atwood west are Blakeman, Beardsley, McDonald, Bird City, Wheeler and St. Francis.  St. Francis is only a few miles from the Kansas and Colorado line.  It is believed that it will be more than a week before the road can be opened.  The road has been blocked since March 23.  The ice is too hard for the rotary railroad plow.  The workers are now trying to open the cuts by chopping through the ice with ax and pick.

At. St. Francis one of the Burlington trains is snowed up.  One drift near Bird City is nearly a mile long and is 10 feet deep.  It has snowed here every day for a week and the blinding white flakes deter the workers.

It is impossible for the towns west of Atwood to get provisions.  Coal and wood ran out several days ago.  The people are burning the loose railroad ties, fence rails and lumber.

The mail service is stopped.  Letters and newspapers are piled high in the postoffices at Atwood.  The star mail routes between Atwood and Colby, St. Francis and Goodland and other western Kansas points, have not been in operation for two weeks.

The losses on the cattle ranges are heavy.  The standard downfall of snow has kept the cattle moving, and many of them have drifted 40 miles from the pasturage.  Fences that were not strongly built have been torn down.  The strength of those that did stand resulted in the death of many cattle.  The cattle brought up against these fences and some stayed there and froze to death.
(Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital ~ Friday ~ April 5, 1901 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


Atwood, Kan., Sept. 15 --- Atwood, county seat of Rawlins county, has taken a big step forward in providing for the people an unusually attractive pleasure resort.

Atwood is located on South Beaver Creek, a stream which for years has been a favorite with fishermen.  About six months ago the township in which Atwood is located voted bonds to the amount of $26,000 and built a dam across Beaver Creek which now impounds a lake covering more than 100 acres.  This lake adjoins the city of Atwood which is unlike any other western Kansas town in that it is located in a valley and is protected on all sides by higher elevations of land.  No town of its size in Kansas has more beautifully shaded streets and lawns.  There are many clumps of fine shade trees along Beaver Creek and surrounding Lake Atwood.

The lake is now well stocked with bass and every day attracts many fishers and vacationists.  There is probably no better bass fishing within several hundred miles than at Lake Atwood.  The lake is from four to six feet deep except in the old channel of Beaver Creek where the depth is from fifteen to eighteen feet.  In addition to its use for fishing and camping the resort is also a favorite place for bathing and boating.
(Hutchinson News ~ September 15, 1928 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


Atwood, Kan. --- A Colby, Kan., man, enroute home after celebrating his wife's birthday, apparently stumbled into a ditch 15-feet deep early Wednesday and was killed.

Dr. C. E. Henneberger, Rawlins County coroner, said the victim, Robert Blakeway, 49, died of a broken neck.

The accident occurred near U.S. 36 eleven miles east of Atwood.

Two acquaintances, Edward Stanley and Jerald Berry, also of Colby, said Blakeway got out of his car after they argued with him about his driving and walked off into the early morning darkness.  They said they searched for him, and when they couldn't find him, they notified authorities.

The body was found about 9 a.m.

Wives of the three men were traveling in a separate car.  They were returning from Oberlin, Kan., where the three couples had been celebrating Mrs. Blakeway's birthday.

A coroner's inquest was held in Atwood and the death was ruled as accidental.

Besides his wife, Blakeway is survived by two children, a boy, 13, and a girl, 5.
(Hutchinson News ~ March 11, 1965 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


Atwood, Kan. --- Two escapees from the Rawlins County Jail were apprehended near Ludell, five miles east of Atwood, Tuesday.

Accompanying the men---John E. Jones, 23, and Charles Evans, 25---was the 14-year-old daughter of the jail's night dispatcher.  They arrarently persuaded the girl to give them the cell keys and feel with them, Sheriff Bob Bethell said.

The escape was Monday night.  Jones was being held on a charge on contributing to the delinquency of a minor when he escaped, and Evans was charged with driving while intoxicated.
(Great Bend Daily Tribune ~ August 21, 1968 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


Queer Accident to John McDermott, the Engineer

John McDermott, a farmer living between Benkelman and McDonald, Kan., was run over and dangerously injured by a traction engine Monday evening.  The fact that he lives at all exists as little less than a mircle.  He was attempting to start the machine when he discovered that it was on "center."  Without taking the precaution to close the throttle, Mr. MCDermott stepped to the side of the engine and forced the fly wheel in motion. With the quick action that naturally followed, the wheels turned with terrific speed, throwing him in front of the left drive wheel and before he had time to make his escape the rear part of the engine passed over his chest, breaking one arm an a limb and inflicting considerable internal injury, the extent of its seriousness not being known.  While it seem impossible that a machine weighing no less than three thounds pounds could pass over the human chest without inflicting instant death, yet all who were present declare such was the case and on the body of the injured man the course of the wheel is plainly imprinted in the flesh.  Dr. Wathall of this place was at once summoned and at this time the patient shows good signs of recovery, although several months will be required, and even then it is frered that he has sustained such injuries as will cripple him for life.
(Goodland Republic ~ Friday ~ December 7, 1906  ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


Methodists and Baptists at McDonald Will Be Federated

Dr. W. A. Powell, pastor of the Federated church of this city left this afternoon for McDonald, Kan., where two churhes, the Methodist and the Baptist, will be merged.  Doctor Powell will be in charge of a campaign to raise $3,000 more for a $7,500 church which is to be dedicated Sunday.  The doctor will be there over Sunday.  Dr. E. S. Stucker will fill Doctor Powell's pulpit Sunday morning.
(Ottawa Herald ~ Wednesday ~ July 18, 1917 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


Two Parties of Squatters Indulge In a Bloody Strike Near Rawlins, Kan.

ATCHISON, Kan., April 17 --- News has been received here from Rawlins in the remote part northwest Kansas of a desperate battle between two parties of squatters which occurred near there last Thursday.  It appears that eight men had taken up claims there and lived in one dwelling.  The land was also claimed by seven other squatters, who with a number of friends visited the premises Thursday and attacked the resident party, driving them into a sod house.  The battle was then waged all the afternoon, and one of the assailants was killed and two wounded.  After nightfall the besieged party escaped, though two of their number are missing, and at last reports are on the way to Oberlin, twenty miles distant, to secure Winchester rifles and reinforcements.
(Commonwealth (Topeka, KS) ~ Sunday ~ April 18, 1886 ~ Page 1)

The Atwood Citizen has been purchased by Chas. E. Scott.  It is the oldest publication in Rawlins county.
(Topeka State Journal ~ April 6, 1903)


Charles E. Gibson of Rawlins County Isn't Satisfied

"The court therefore rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiff that he be given possession of said land upon paying to the defendant the sum of $417.60, and interest from this date and costs of this action."

Thus reads the decision of Judge A. C. T. Geiger in a peculiar land case from Rawlins county appealed to the Kansas supreme court today.

It is a case in which the judgment was given to the plaintiff, Charles E. Gibson, and Gibson then appealed from the judgment.  In other words, the judgment was handed to him hot end first.

The defendant was John R. Fields.  Fields claimed title to a quarter section of Rawlins county land under a tax deed, which proved to be defective.  Gibson went into court and set up his title to the land.  The evidence showed that Fields had paid $377 in taxes and had reduced 120 acres of the land to cultivation, which work was worth $180.  As an offset, the court allowed Gibson $139.50 rentals and taxes, leaving a balance due to Fields of $417.60.  This judgment did not strike Gibson as a great and decisive victory.  He did not want to pay the $417.  He appeals the case.
(Topeka State Journal ~ May 9, 1907)


Blakeman, Rawlins County, Gives Up Ghost

Townsite Will Be Seeded Down to Alfalfa


B. & M. Tried to Make It County Seat

Atwood Houses Moved There Till Citizens With Guns Interfered

Atwood, Kan., May 25 --- Another northwestern Kansas townsite has passed into history.  The Lincoln Land company, a Nebraska organization, sold the townsite of Blakeman, in Rawlins county, to W. E. Thompson, who will plow it up and sow it to alfalfa.

Only a few of the original promoters of this once promising town are living, one of whom was Cy Anderson, who has been a politician as well as a townsite promoter.  He is now a prosperous farmer and a grower of alfalfa.  he owns a large tract of land in Rawlins county, close to the once promising town of Blakeman.

Way back nearly a quarter of a century a Nebraska organization with the aid of a few Rawlins county people, tried to build up Blakeman and pull the county seat away from Atwood.  In this movement they had the aid of the B. & M. railroad.  Blackeman was only five miles by railroad west of Atwood.

The B. & M. built a branch of their line from Orleans, Neb., to Atwood, thence west to Bird City and St. Francis, in Cheyenne county.  The road was built about a mile away from Atwood, and for a number of years the town was without a depot.  The B. & M. road and the Lincoln Land company were doing all they could to kill off Atwood and build up Blakeman.  Then came a year of partial crop failure in that section, and these two Nebraska corporations thought that this was the proper time to pound the iron while it was hot.


Things went on from bad to worse.  Suddenly some fellow appeared on the streets of Atwood and with a complete moving outfit he was hired to move the buildings from Atwood to Blakeman.  This fellow did move several of them, and put them down on foundations in Blakeman.  The people of Atwood watched the work of moving for several days, but at last they rose up in their might and entered such a vigorous protest that if the town movers hadn't hoisted a flag of truce there would have been bloodshed.

At one time, one of the buildings was being moved to Blakeman when the Atwood people left their places of business and proceeded to where the men were at work, and with one accord and armed with guns, they protested forcibly against the moving of this building any further; they also insisted that no more buildings would be moved from Atwood to Blakeman.


Previous to this time a petition had been presented to the board of county commissioners of Rawlins county asking for the calling of an election for the relocation of the county seat, with the view of moving the county seat from Atwood to Blakeman.  The board of county commissioners had refused to call the election asked for, for the reason that the petition was not sufficient, having not been signed by three-fifths of the electors of the county, as was required by the law in force at that time.  From this decision of the board the people of Blakeman and the railroad company appealed to the supreme court of the state.  And the people of Atwood did not want any more buildings moved from Atwood to Blakeman until the matter was finally setled either in the courts or by election.  The matter was submtited to the supreme court and the decision of the board in refusing to call an election was sustained.

The B. & M. built a big depot and the fight continued for some years after.  The excitement was at fever heat, and had the workmen continued moving the buildings after the Atwood people had organized to prevent it trouble would have ensued right there.  It was the most exciting event that has ever occurred in the history of the town.  Realizing that it was no use to fight further these few townsite "boomers," together with the Nebraska corporations surrendered, and Atwood was declared winner by a decisive majority.


Atwood is still on the map, while the buildings in Blakeman were sold and moved into the country on farms and some of them were moved back to Atwood, while the townsite, cellars thrown in, will be converted into an alfalfa field.

In her palmy days Blakeman had about 500 population, a flouring mill, elevators, bank, newspaper, hotels, several mercantile houses, a large, roomy brick school house, and one of the largest depots on the Beaver Valley branch, which long ago was loaded on a train and moved back to Nebraska.

At one time Blakeman had a larger population than Atwood, which was the county seat, besides it had more business houses.  It is claimed the B. & M. road and Lincoln Land company dropped a big wad of money to beat Blakeman and pull the county seat away from Atwood.  One of the sights yet to be seen on the hill overlooking the former town of Blakeman is a handsome brick school house, good enough for a town of 800 inhabitants.

During the progress of the county seat fight in Rawlins county the head of the Lincoln Land company predicted on the streets of Atwood that her people would see before the close of the fight grass growing on her streets.  he also predicted all sorts of nice things for Blakeman.  And now after so many years since this exciting and memorable county seat fight the Atwood people bear no malice toward any of those who took part in the trouble.  The town never had any overgrowth, it was buit up with the settlement and development of Rawlins county.  Good schools and churches adorn the town, comfortable houses are scattered here and there.  Everywhere is seen the true grit of the pioneers and of those who came later, whose combined efforts have tended in the same direction:  to build up Atwood, and make it what nature seems it have intended, one of the most thrifty and progressive county seat centers in all northwest Kansas.
(Topeka State Journal ~ Wednesday ~ May 25, 1910 ~ Page 12)



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