Sherman County, Kansas


Windings and Meanderings : Meandering in Meadows on the Smoky Creek

The Parson Gets Tangled in the Alfalfa on the Dyatt Brothers' Big Ranch

Not a "half holiday" but a whole holiday was taken last Saturday by the "senior editor" of The Goodland Republic. Brain fag drove him into the wilderness - the North Fork of the Smoky Hill valley. He wasn't hustling piscatorial game, but was fishing for facts.

The day was blazing hot, relieved by a brisk south wind, which was now cool, now hot, as it come from low land or upland. As the pony ambled on, the shimmering of the heated air painted lakes and waving water reeds in the distance, and a steer on a high slope looked like an enormous bull buffalo. His practiced eye told him it was a lusus naturae, a trick of nature, a fraud. Perhaps it was a prophecy - "It is Better Farther On" - true both in time and in ultimate realization.

About the noon hour he pulled up at the manorial mansion of J. B. Dyatt & Bros, with its broad porch facing south, and overlooking the valley in two directions where the Smoky swings away: and which in architectural style reminded one of the "great house" of a southern plantation. The ranch help had come in for dinner and all was in readiness. There was no "second table" - it was democracy and not aristocracy.

We mentioned fishing for facts; and while the dining was in progress, the conversationed hit on the current topics of the day, the doings of congress, European affairs and the statu quo in Mexico. And, meeting a veteran - one of the hands - who was in the Witzel Expedition to the frontier of Mexico in 1865; as also was the Parson: the last mentioned topic of conversation was decidedly appropos.

Well, the facts: There is an auto in the barn; in the big living room there's a long distance phone; just down in the valley on the section line, there's a buggy wheel on a post carrying eight mail boxes, R. F. D. daily service. Just around the bend down the valley there's a school house, located on the eastern edge of the ranch property three miles away - distance is nothing, as the children, if any, can ride a saddle pony to school. The auto in 30 minutes will take you to Goodland. We mention these facts first because they are of greatest importance.

The physical and material facts: The Dyatt ranch properties, some personal and some company buildings, amount to 14,000 acres, contiguous or nearly so. Down the valley to the school house, aforesaid, last year could have counted 72 stacks of native and alfalfa hay. The ranch wintered 1,000 head of cattle for Egan, Jennings & Bennett, beside 150 head belonging to the ranch proper. Haying has just begun, and will continue until cold weather sets in. The corn has been laid by, and a good rain would make some corn after all the hot weather and drought. Last year Mr. J.B. Dyatt raised 4,000 bushels of corn, and he now has nearly 2,000 bushels on hand.

The ranch is four miles wide, north and south, and six miles long east and west, and takes in by the windings of the creek, 10 miles of bottom land, 300 acres of which is in alfalfa and 100 acres is being let stand and ripen for seed, with which it is heavily loaded; and the average height of which is three feet; and even some of the stalks come up to one's armpit. Last year he cut between 600 and 700 tons of hay. It would be a conservative estimate that on this ranch proper 2,000 acres are available for growing alfalfa.

The ranch house and ample out buildings are located in a sightly place about in the center of a great ox-bow bend of the Smoky which crosses the section twice. He has also a large acreage of smoother upland and wide roomy pastures, with living water for stock; and one of the sources of supply being the big spring at the head of Lake Creek, that is 50 by 60 feet wide, with a depth that has never been sounded. In spite of the drouth, the pastures are good and the hay crop is promising. There are three large springs on the ranch and ten miles of flowing water. His pastures are fenced in six separate enclosures and in one is a large cement dipping vat for dipping cattle that cost $600.

The ranch house is surrounded by shade and fruit trees, and those on the hill side are irrigated from a tank supplied by a windmill. Everything speaks of comfort and of thrift.

This is no fancy sketch, as anyone knowing the property will readily admit. This is one of the larger possibilities of creek-bottom farming in Sherman County. But there are others equally promising with hard work and proper improvement. These things are an astonishment to strangers who come in contact with these resources for the first time.

Sherman county is 36 miles east and west. The North Fork of the Smoky Hill river and the South Fork of the Saline river course along the southern boundary of the county, the latter about ten miles from the Thomas county line, and which commences nearly north of the point where the Smoky passes in Wallace county. These two streams, with their principal tributaries, and windings, are easily 100 miles in length. The valleys will average half a mile in width, and the total area embraced in the bottom lands is 50 square miles, and is available for the growing of alfalfa.
(The Goodland Republic, July 14, 1911 ~ Submitted by La Vella Tomlinson)


GOODLAND, Kansas---A C-47 military transport plane crashed and burned west of here last night killing 10 passengers and three crew members.

The crash, not discovered until this morning, a severe electrical storm which swept this area last night. Farmers living nearby said they saw a blinding flash in the vicinity but thought it was a bolt of lightning.

Bodies and parts of the plant were scattered for about a quarter of a mile in a wheat stubblefield three miles west and a mile north of this western Kansas City.

The plane was on a flight from Topeka, Kansas, to the West Coast with a stopover scheduled at Lowry Field, Denver. Watches on the bodies had stopped at 10:10, indicating the plane crashed about 9:10 mountain standard time.
(Trenton Evening Times ~ July 19, 1946 ~ Submitted by La Vella Tomlinson)



Good Chance for Recovery of Wounded Men -- Dead Robbers Said to Have Been Texas Outlaws

Goodland, Kan., Aug. 13---The leaders of the posse which attacked and killed the Union Pacific train robbers at Bartholomew's ranch, near here, Friday, were: William Walker, Jr., sheriff of Sherman county; J. B. Riggs, George Cullins, and C. E. Biddison. In the battle with the robbers Riggs was shot through the lung and through the abdomen. Cullins was shot through the lung, the bullet entering his back. It is thought that Cullins was shot by Sheriff Walker, who mistook him for one of the robbers. This is denied, however, by the sheriff. Biddison did not go inside the house with the posse. He remained in a sunflower patch and shot one of the robbers through the head as he was trying to escape. Sheriff Walker led the way into the house and, although he was shot at many times, escaped unharmed. Hostilities ceased for a time after one of the robbers was killed and two of the posse wounded. The battle was resumed in the afternoon, when the whole town turned out and fired volley after volley from rifle, pistol and shotgun into the house where the surviving robber was concealed. He replied with his rifle at intervals until the house was set on fire with fusees at 6 o'clock. The robber then fired his last shot into his brain. A guard surrounded the house all Friday night and Saturday morning when the ruins had cooled the charred body of the second robber was found.

The condition of the wounded men this morning is better, as both are resting well. No effort so far has been made to locate the bullets that are in their bodies. The doctors say there is a good chance of their recovery.

Word received here this morning from Springfield, Mo., says that from the description of the train robbers it is thought they are two brothers by the name of James and Tom Jones, who were reared in Dallas county, Mo. The body of the larger robber is to be taken up, to discover if possible, if he answers the description sent from Springfield.

There is said to be a reward of $3,000 in Missouri and $1,500 in Texas for the Jones brothers, dead or alive.

The reward of $2,000 offered for the capture of the robbers, dead or alive, will go to the posse which made the first attack on the house. Sherman county wil idemnify Bartholomew for the burning of his property.

Walker was elected sheriff of Sherman county last fall on the Democratic ticket. He received many Republican votes. He is 42 years of age, of medium height, sturdy build, has a reputation for bravery displayed during the county seat trouble several years ago. His wife knew of the attack to be made on the robbers and implored him not to go. Again on Friday afternoon she begged him not to risk his life. He kissed her and told her he could not evade his sworn duty even if he should lose his life. Sheriff Walker took Riggs, Cullins and Biddison with him because they are men who know not fear and will fight so long as life is left.

C. E. Biddison is an engineer in the employ of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad. He is a crack shot with rifle, shotgun, or pistol. J. B. Riggs is the owner and manager of the Commercial hotel in Sherman and one of the most popular business men of the city. George Cullins is a member of one of the pioneer families of Sherman. He is a young man and is employed in a billiard hall. The people of Sheran are ernestly praying for the recovery of Riggs and Cullins but it is feared that one or both may die. On Saturday Sherman talked of sending to Denver and Kansas City for eminent surgeons to attend the wounded men.

The Union Pacific detectives, who had been hunting for the robbers all last week, left for Denver yesterday morning with their Winchester rifles and Colts revolvers.

"Wish you had waited for us," said the detectives to Sheriff Walker, "we would have gotten the robbers out alive."

"Never heard of you railroad detectives taking any prisoners," said one of the Sherman posse.
(Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital ~ August 14, 1900 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


"Gov" Walsh Writes of Christmas Day Hospitality Extended to Battalion of Engineers. Other Letters From Anacondans in Different Branches of Uncle Sam's Service

Writing to his mother here, Tom Walsh, better known to many friends as "Gov," sends cheerful word of the way the boys were treated at Christmas time in the East. He says in his letter, dated Christmas night.

"We have been in Goodland all day, and certainly have had a merry Christmas, as all the townspeople turned out and gave us a great celebration. They are real American people, and I can't say enough in praise of the good things they did for us. They had a dance and a big time, in the town opera house, and invited nearly all the fellows out to dinner. All the autos in town were at our disposal, and we practically owned the town. It is a small town of 2,000 population, and they didn't know we were in until this morning, so didn't have much time to get things ready for us. But, say! they did things right. Nine rahs for Goodland, Kan., and I wish you would let the people at home know that we want them to know how Goodland treated the first battalion of the Fourth engineers.

"The trip has been very nice so far, and the troops are standing up well under it. I tried to send you a telegram today, but the place was closed---I guess the folks were all tryingn to show us a good time.

"Well, mother, we don't know where we are going, but we are starting. So give my best to all the folks and let them know about the Goodland treatment. Tell the Standard, because they are sure some American people. I will have to close, or I will keep on talking about these people all night."
(Anaconda Standard (Montana) ~ December 31, 1917 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


CAMBRIDGE, Ill. --- They disappeared sometime after daybreak, leaving a stack of love letters and their last chance behind them.

He was a doctor, a one-time honor student and Air Force flight surgeon with impeccable credentials. She once taught Sunday school.

Roger and Sharon Ihrig were young, bright and full of promise. And now they were on the run, again.

"The technical term is 'folie a deux,' a French phrase that means 'madness of two'," said psychologist Rip O'Keefe, director of the drug center the Ihrigs flred March 18. "You have two people who individually are marginal at best and who together bring out the worst in each other."

The Ihrigs' road to self-destruction began about 1979 -- failed marriages, failed jobs, alcohol, drugs and finally "a string of motel rooms with bloody sheets and used syringes left behind," police said.

The road led to Galva, a little farm town where, last November, police arrested Sharon in a dime store for shoplifting chocolate bars and a black blouse. In her car, police discovered a rainbow of capsules and bottles of prescription drugs, including injectable Valium.

When Roger learned his wife had been arrested, he filled a syringe with Benadryl, stuck the needle in his arm and walked to the police station. "He was dressed in a sports coat, white shirt and tie that looked like they had been slept in for days," according to a police report.

When he slipped off his jacket, everyone in the station saw that Dr. Roger Ihrig's right shirtsleeve was soaked with fresh, bright red arterial blood.

"I look at all the potential he had," said his lawyer, Dale Haake of Rock Island. "In med school and in the Air Force, he was living up to all the talents that he had andn the result was quite remarkable. Somewhere, something happened."

Exactly what happened is not clear. But the picture emerging from police and military records and reports from former colleagues is of an attractive, gifted young man who had everything, and lost it all.

Ihrig was born 31 years ago, the son of a wheat farmer in Goodland, Kan., where the earth lies as flat as a billiard table. He earned his medical degree from Kansas University in 1974 and served his internship in the Air Force at Alamogordo, N. M.

"I've seen his Air Force records, 120 pages," Haake said. "He stepped into responsible positions that in the past had three or four physicians, and he would do the job all by himself. And at the same time he would improve efficiency, improve patient relations and get nothing but outstanding comments."

Six feet tall, with sandy-colored hair, he jogged for health and read mysteries for fun. He joined the Elks and the Masons.

But about 1979, it all began to fall apart. His seven-year marriage soured and by Christmas occasional injections of Benadryl, an antihistamine with sedative side effects, on sleepless nights had become a twice-a-day habit, police say he told them.

He tried to start a private practice. He failed. He went to San Diego and joined the Navy. He was divorced. His wife got custody of their two sons. Shortly after that, he married Sharon Espinosa, 22, twice-married and someone who "gives me strength," he told police.

When he injected Benadryl, she injected Valium or a hypnotic pain killer, Stadol. They loved each other, fed off each other and were destroying each other.

"This is a very tragic situation where a couple of clearly dependent sick people are using each other to stay ill," O'Keefe said. Ihrig ended his Navy career with five weeks at a military drug treatment center in Long Beach, Calif.

After his discharge last August, he and Sharon searched for a practice. In Vaughn, N. M., a bank refused a loan. In Hoisington, Kan., he closed his office after one week. In Flagstaff, Ariz., police found blood-stained pillows and used syringes scattered about a motel room, blood smeared on the TV screen.

The year before, Ihrig had made a good impression on visits to clinics in Illinois. Nobody wanted to hire him now.

"I would have had no way to recognize him on the basis of our first meeting a few months before," Cottage Hospital vice president David Fleming said of his encounter with Ihrig Nov. 6. "His complexion was blotchy. He was bloated. He had a strange look in his eye and was perspiring profusely."

The next day, the Ihrigs were in Galva, charged with violating drug laws, which carries a penalty of one to three years. Authorities released them on bond. They ran. Canadian border guards returned them to Illinois where they pleaded guilty and were locked up in the squat, red brick Henry County Jail for a reduced sentence of four months.

From his cell, Ihrig wrote to Judge Jay Hanson, acknowledging he needed treatment, saying he wanted to straighten out his life, suggesting he might enter a seminary. In March, after four months in jail, they were released to the custody of Riverside Retreat, a drug rehabilitation center in Rock Island.

Sometime after daybreak, they were gone. Left behind were love letters, written daily from their separate cells, filled with innocent expressions.

On March 30, police arrested Roger and Sharon Ihrig in New Mexico for probation violation. They are behind held in separate cells as they fight extradition to Illinois, where this time they will likely serve the full sentence.
(Springfield, Mass., Union ~ April 17, 1981 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


A very pretty wedding took place Wednesday evening at 5:30, when Miss Helen Harriette Wright, 2122 North Seventh street, became the bride of Mr. William Leeman. The wedding was a quiet home affair, only relatives and a few friends being invited. The Rev. Chauncey H. Blodgett of the Grace Episcopal church officiated. The bride was attended by Miss Katherine Wright, her sister, and the groom by Mr. Carr, who, with his wife, came from Limon, Colo., for the wedding. The bride wore a smart traveling suit of navy blue and a charming hat of white satin and carried bride's roses. Miss Margaret Durnell, accompanied by Miss Thelma Argust, sang "I Love You Truly." Mrs. Leeman is a former employee of the telephone company and Mr. Leeman is foreman of the Rock Island shops at Goodland, Kan. They left immediately for Goodland, where they will reside. (Gazette-Telegraph ~ December 2, 1917 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


The Farmers' National Bank of Goodland, Kan., has been authorized to begin business: capital, $25,000; Joseph H. Hutchinson, President; H. S. Brown, Vice-President: B. F. Brown, cashier. (Wichita Searchlight, September 2, 1905)


Charles O'Brien, a disabled fireman of Goodland has been taken to the Railroad Men's home in Chicago. He fired an engine for twenty years and never had an accident but is now disabled by paralysis. He is the second oldest member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. (Sedan Lance, January 8, 1904, page 6)


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