Rooks County, Kansas, the Scene of the Hanging

Max Alwens, the traveling salesman for the well known grocery house of Julius Kuhn, brings the information of a quadruple execution of horse-thieves by a vigilance committee of Rooks County. For notorious desperadoes named Cos, Hutchinson and Ed and Jack Connaughty are the men who were thus summarily disposed of, and they have made a reputation and name for themselves that will at least prevent any great expenditure for mourning purposes. For a long time they held supreme sway in Southwestern Kansas and were a terror to all the surrounding country. Horse-thieving, burglary and robbery was their forte, and they carried on their depredations everywhere. Eventually they were driven from the country and they took refuge in Rooks County, in the Northwestern part of the State, pre-empting a quarter section of land, and building them a cabin. From this time commenced a series of thieving and robbery such as Rooks County had never before suffered from and suspicion naturally fell on these newcomers. A vigilance committee was organized among the farmers and citizens of the village, and a minor committee traced two of the thieves into Nebraska with a wagon load of goods and several head of stock. The Committee returned to Stockton and preparations were begun to arrest the entire gang upon the return of the other two. One night, about two years ago the cabin in which the thieves lodged was surrounded by about twenty excited and enraged men, and the gang taken therefrom as they sat by the fireside. A court was organized, a short trial had, and the verdict of guilty of horsestealing and other crimes was found and the sentence of death pronounced upon the four men. Thereupon a rude scaffold was erected and amid the shrieks and groans and bitter imprecations, curses and oaths, mingled at times with prayer and beggings for mercy that sounded upon the midnight air, the men, one by one were hurled into fearful eternity. There ended the career of four desperate characters, who depended solely on their success in thieving to make a living. While we always deprecate mob law, the sudden demise of these men can certainly prove of no disaster to the county, and it may do great good. (Inter Ocean, February 4, 1876, Page 2)


Rooks County Reord: Mr. Sears, of Ford county, Illinois is stopping a few days at the Commercial House. he owns a timber claim in Belmont township on which he will plant this spring 27,000 trees. (The Iola Register, April 8, 1881)


Allen Pettijohn is sixteen years old and a resident of Rooks County. He got into trouble in Phillips County a short time ago, the Herald tells by taking a watch that did not belong to him. Justice Hickenlooper ordered him to jail for thirty days and fined him ten dollars. (Westerns Kansas World, September 26, 1885)


Sam Kline is not going to take his sheep to Rooks County to winter them. He has sold them - about 400 in number - to Allen Eston of Russell. Sam, we believe is to deliver them to Eaton at Hays City. (Western Kansas World, November 7, 1885)


A Rooks County Distiller caught, Hays City, Kan., Aug. 20 - United States Marshal Howard captured a man named Martin, who is a veritable "moonshiner" and his distillery apparatus near Twin Mound in Rooks County today, and brought the whole outfit to this city with him tonight. (Western Kansas World, August 27, 1887)


In the absence of County Treasurer Gibbs on a trip to Cresson, Rooks County, a portion of the week, James Kelly has been acting treasurer. (Western Kansas World, May 12, 1888)


Our old friend, M. P. Isenberg, of Stockton, was in the city on Thursday and Friday. He used to be sheriff of Rooks County. Whether in office or out of it, he is a right royal fellow. (Western Kansas World, May 12, 1888)


Kansas City, March 12, The Star's Atchison special says last Sunday the 2-year-old child of Jno. Blout, a farmer near Stockton, Rooks County, found a bottle of laudanum and drank a quantity of it. The child died in a short time, and the next day, Mrs. Blunt, crazed by the death of her child drank the rest of the remaining in the bottle. She cannot recover. Mr. Blunt is prostracted and his friends are watching him lest he too may commit suicide. (Weekly Times Herald, March 15, 1890, page 1)


Terrible Story of Destitution from Rooks County, Kansas

Stockton, Kas., Jan. 5 - From Farmington, Rooks County, comes a fearful tifle of destitution. Four years ago John Clifton died and left a widow with five children. Year after year the crops failed and the poor woman was obliged to sell off her stock until at last there was none left. This year finished the fight, and when the recent blizzard came it found the house with neither food nor fuel. The house was located in the Blue Hills, four miles from the nearest neighbor. Saturday some persons passed the house and seeing no signs of life entered the house, where they found the dead bodies of Mrs. Clifton and three of her children, while the other two were in the last agonies of death. They had starved to death. Prompt attention was given to the living, but there is little hope for their recovery. (St. Louis Republic, January 6, 1891, page 5)


Early in January 1871 ten stockmen, James Thomas, Joseph, John and Francis McNulty, brothers - originally from Massachusetts - Tunis Bulas, John Wells, John Powell, Seal Northrup and captain J. owens settled in what later became Rooks county, taking first claims in Stockton township. These ten came from Washington County, Kansas and with the exceptions of James McNulty and Captain Owens all became permanent residents.

On November 26, 1872, Rooks county was organized on petition of more than 40 free-holders and Stockton was selected as the temporary county seat.

McNulty Brothers built the first house in the township in 1871. It was two and a half miles south of the county seat on the south side of the South Solomon river and was said to have been a pretentious dwelling for the time. In the fall of 1871 Mrs. Robert E. Martin came with her husband and family to Rooks County thereby achieving the distinction of being the first woman in the county. The first wedding was not until two years later when William E. Newton, and Mary M. Young were married by E. M. Cooper; justice of the peace in Lowell township. On Christmas day 1871 Myrtle Muade McNuley was born, her birth having been the first one in the county. The first death was not until the spring of 1873 when Erastus Foster died. His grave was the first one in the Stockton cemetery.

Early in June 1875 two men with 35 Texas ponies camped on the South Fork near Stockton and gave notice that they wanted to dispose of their stock. The people of the village soon gathered to inspect the stock while one of the strangers went to town to make some purchases. While the ponies were being examined the sheriff of Ellis county, named Ramsay accompanied by Joseph McNulty, sheriff of Rooks county, rode up heavily armed and announced the ponies were stolen property and ordered the thief to hold up his hands. Instead of obeying the order he jumped behind a pony and made ready to shoot. Both Ramsay and the horse thief were armed with needle guns and fired simulataneously and both dropped dead. The thief's companion was hunted up and fired on. His jaw was broken, but he made his escape.

After the organization of the county the first regular election was December 31, 1872 at Lowell Stockton, Paradise and Bow Creek precincts and these officers were elected: Joseph McNulty, representative; M. Drake, probate judge; John Russell, sheriff; L. c. Smith, county clerk; Joseph Rossard, treasurer; Albert Cooper, surveyor; Thomas Roylan, district clerk; John M. park, superintendent of schools; D. K. Dibble, attorney; L. C. Smith, register of deeds; D. W. Gaun, coroner; Lyman Randall, D. O. Adams, Lewis M. Stults, commissioners. (The Hays Daily News, November 11, 1929)


The only person killed outright by the Rooks county cyclone was Mrs. Grimes, who lived near Rooks Ceneter. AT the point where Mrs. Grimes was killed the cyclone rose in the air and did no further damage. (Western Kansas World, June 20, 1885, submitted by K. T.)



Clears His Partner

George Biggs tried to guess the wheat market, backing his guesses with heavy purchases on the board of trade. When the market went against him, he resorted to desperate measures to cover his losses. He's in jail now, charged with setting fire to his own elevator.

HAYS, KAN., Oct. 22---Heavy losses through speculation in grain, on the board of trade, was followed by crime to recoup his losses, George Bigge, prominent Stockton, Kan., grain dealer, confessed last night to W. A. Elston, chief deputy state fire marshal.

Elston said today that Bigge confessed to him and Deputy Fire Marshal Victo Eaton that he burned his elevator, at Stockton, September 22, to cover the theft of wheat.

Shortly before the burning of the elevator, according to Elston, Bigge lost $22,000 in grain speculation. To cover the loss, Bigge is alleged to have said he sold several thousand bushels of wheat, owned by Joe Sutton, which was stored in the elevator.

Knowing the deal would be discovered, Bigge is quoted as saying he planned to burn the elevator September 21, he went to Kansas City, where he disposed of a car of cattle, and then returned to Phillipsburg. At Phillipsburg the grain dealer hired a taxi and went to Stockton. While the driver waited, Bigge, about 3:30 in the mornign of September 22, set fire to the elevator and returned to Phillipsburg in the same taxi. Elston said the grain dealer confessed. From Phillipsburg he went to Lincoln, Kan., to visit the family.

The investigation which led to Bigge's arrest, was started when the taxi driver, who was required to wait with lights out, became suspicious of the grain man's actions and informed the state fire marshal's office.

The elevator was owned by the firm of Bigge and Graham, but Bigge said Graham was in no way implicated. Both the elevator and the grain were heavily insured against fire.
(Wichita Eagle ~ Friday ~ October 23, 1925)


Trouble Over Sending a Mother to an Insane Asylum Becomes Serious

Atchison, Kan., Feb. 15---There is a good deal of excitement at Stockton over a shooting affair which occurred Saturday night. Two brothers named Wells and their brother-in-law, named Alfred, recently decided to have the mother of the Wells brothers sent to the insane asylum. A third brother of the two Wells brothers, the youngest, objected to his mother being sent to an asylum, and went to the probate court on the date set for the trial with a Winchester rifle. The trial was not held, and Mrs. Wells was taken back to her home.

Friday night young Wells attended a literary society near Stockton, and while returning home he was pounced upon and shot three times and stabbed. Alfred, his brother-in-law, is under arrest, and other arrests may follow. Young Wells was still alive today, but not expected to live. He was married only a few weeks ago.(Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital ~ Tuesday ~ February 16, 1897)


Edward Bigge, of Stockton, Ends His Life With a Revolver

Stockton, kan., March 18----Edward Bigge, a prosperous farmer living about four miles northwests of Stockton, committed suicide at some time after midnight this morning. His remains were discovered at an early hour this morning by members of the family in a grain bin in his barn, the door of which was hooked from the inside.

In his right hand was clasped a 38 caliber American bulldog revolver. In his right temple was a bullet wound which undoubtledly caused his instantaneous death. A coroner's jury was empaneled today and founds the facts as above.

No cause can be ascribed for the act except mental aberration.(Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital ~ March 19, 1901)


Stockton, Kan., July 16---On July 7, 1896, complaint was entered in the police court of this city against E. Powell a drayman, charging him with violating a city ordinance which prohibits the sale of intoxicating liquors within the city limits. The defendant plead not guilty and asked for a continuance until July 13, which was granted. On July 13, the defendant appeared and demanded a jury trial which was granted. Almost a day was consumed in the selection of a jury. The case was stubbornly fought on both sides by the best legal talent in the city. The jury was out eight hours at the end of which time they rendered a verdict of "guilty as charged," and Police Judge Young fined Powell in the sum of $100, this being the minimum fine allowed by the ordinance.(Kansas Semi-Weekly ~ Friday ~ July 17, 1896)


Stockton, Kan., June 11----Stockton has an 11-year-old boy by the name of Jessie Powell who is developing great tact in financial manipulations. A few days ago, finding himself short of ready cash, he instituted an original and unique way of "raising the wind." He started out by borrowing a nickel of various friends until he had 25 cents. He invested his loan in pop checks, where he could get six for a quarter by advancing the cash. As soon as he received the checks he proceeded to pay his loan in the checks at par, leaving him an extra check, which he sold to a thirsty urchin of his acquaintance for its face value, leaving him 5 cents for his venture. This was followed by another scheme still more remunerative. One of his neighbors had a pet wolf that sickened and died. The lady to whom the quadruped belonged gave the young tatterdemalion 10 cents to remove and bury the remains of his wolfship. This he did, but not before he removed the scalp which he presented to the county officials and received a dollar bounty. A few years hence you will hear of this youth with precocious financial ability in Gotham playing the part of a second Jim Frisk.(Kansas Semi-Weekly ~ Friday ~ June 12, 1896)


Farm at Stockton the Probable Witness of an Indian Fight

Atchison, Kan., May 13----H. V. Toepffer, while plowing on his farm, near Stockton, Kan., a few days ago, unearthed the partially decayed bones of a number of human skeletons. The bodies seem to have all been thrown together, and buried in a shallow trench. It is believed that the bodies are those of Indians who were killed in a fight with some rival tribe.(Kansas Semi-Weekly ~ Friday ~ May 15, 1896)


Leo and Leonard Cook, 18-months-old twin babies, were run over by a Central Branch passenger train near the town of Woodston, in Rooks county, kan., and both instantly killed. One of them was cut in two above the stomach and mangled in the most horrible manner. They were the children of Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Cook, who live on a farm near the railroad track. They crawled out to the track during their play and sat on the rails. The engineer of the approaching train was unable to see them until he was upon them.(American Citizen ~ Friday ~ July 5, 1901)


Accident Which Occured Thirteen Years Ago Has Serious Results

Rev. R. B. Beltz of Woodston, Kan., who had his right eye removed at Christ's hospital last Tuesday morning, is improving rapidly and will be able to return to his home in a few days. The accident which caused the injury and subsequent loss of the sight of the organ occurred about thirteen years ago, at which time Mr. Beltz was engaged in the blacksmithing business at Beloit. A piece of flying steel struck him in the eye but the loss of sight did not come till two years ago. The operation of removal was performed by Dr. J. E. Minney of this city. (Kansas Weekly Capital ~ Tuesday ~ April 2, 1901)


Atchison Excited Over a Monstrosity From the Solomon River

Atchison, Kan., Feb. 25----A peculiar combination of fish and beast was recently brought to Atchison from the Solomon river near Woodston, in Rooks county. The head is that of a fish, but it has legs and ears and is equally at home in or out of water. The government stocked the Solomon river in the vicinity of Woodston which supposed German carp a year ago, and the peculiar specimen mentioned was the result. It is said that many similar monstrosities can be found in the vicinity of Woodston. Some claim the specimen on exhibition in Atchison is a salamander, but others claim it is not. It looks as if it might be a combination of catfish, lizard and jackrabbit. (Kansas Semi-Weekly ~ Friday ~ February 28, 1896)


The Masons had a supper Saturday night. It was well attended and enjoyed a pleasant time.

Mr. and Mrs. Lewis of Lucas were present. Miss Armanda Whitlow came with them.

Clark and clift Reece of Plainville attended the supper Saturday night.

Rev. Wilson and g. W. Green went to the funeral at Nicodemas a masonic Bro. William Surtzer died May 23rd at his farm 5-1/2 miles N. West of Nicodemus.

John Savers was in Stockton on business.

Mrs. Margrette Martin returned from Leavenworth last Wednesday where she went in answer to a telegram announcing the death of O. Banyon.

Misses Cora and Emma Taylor Montie Griffin of Plainville made the Stockton people a pleasant call Saturday and Sunday.

Geo. Jones his lady friend Miss Eugine Loyd and his sister Miss Pearl of Bogue Sundayed in Stockton. (Wichita Searchlight, Saturday, May 28, 1910)


Mr. David Cannon, of Denver, Colo., is here settling the estate of the late Mrs. Mary Murry.

Sgt. Albert Scruggs, of the 92nd Div. is at home from over the seas his experience has been wonderful, along with his creditable army record.

Miss Mabel Kirtley came home from Junction City, Thursday.

County Attorney of Graham Co., J. I. Sayers and wife spent a few hours in Stockton, Sunday.

A nine pound boy arrived Saturday morning to Mr. and Mrs. L. D. Fuller, (musical Fullers). Mrs. Fuller was formerly Miss Effie S. Green.

Wheat prospect in Western Kansas are exceptionally good at this time of the year. (Plaindealer, Friday, April 18, 1919)


Rain! Rain! Rain is hindering harvest.

The Priscilla Art Club of Nicodemus was entertained at the home of Mrs. Luke Mitchell Friday afternoon. After their usual work a dainty two course luncheon was served by the hostess.

Mesdames Hattie, Napue, Katherine Henry, Amie Wilson, Bernice Bates, and Blanch White called on Captain G. W. Green who is quite ill at his home. These ladies of Bogue and Nicodemus spent a few moments with words of encouragement and cheer and left a large dish of fresh delicious fruit.

Mrs. Jennie Vaughn motored from Lincoln, Nebr. to Nicodemus to be with her father John Vaughn and other relatives a few days.

Rev. Marshall of Hill City conducted services Sunday at the Pleasant Green Baptist Church.

Mrs. J. I. Sayers returned to her home at Hill City Monday. She has been helping care for father G. W. Green who is improving.

Mrs. Effie Tullu and son L. D. Jr. came from Lorrington, Wyo., Monday,

Nicodemus is getting ready for her usual Emancipation celebration July 31 and Aug. 1st. (Plaindealer, Friday, July 27, 1928)

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