Reporting Mainstreet

By Eddie J. Shaw

More about Perth, Mrs. (Bessie) C. F. Kingsley of Conway Springs sends us a note and newspaper clippings that tells about Perth when it was a prosperous town 55 years ago. The clipping tells about the McEachern settlement. In this family were the mother and three sons, Neil, Allen and Alex who were too young to take up claims. The family came from Scotland and the town of Perth was named from Perth, Scotland. The land that Perth was laid out on was the claim of the daughter, Katie. She was Katie McEachern Patton and the mother of Mrs. Frank C. Wright of Wellington. (Submitted by Pam McEachern)


Wellington, Kan., May 29 - Wellington's cyclone visitation has made it for the time the chief object of interest for all southern Kansas. No such crowds have visited this city before as those which since earliest day light have been pouring in on every railroad and highway. On all its four lines entering here the Santa Fe has been running excursions from as far north as Hutchinson, south from Arkansas City, and west from Medicine Lodge, while the Rock Island has been equally industrious in forwarding sight-seers to the stricken city. Division Passenger Agent Murdock of the Santa Fe, estimated the crowd at 15,000 which is an exceedingly conservative estimate. It is the common remark of those who have witnessed similar scenes that in the extent and completeness of the destruction it transcends anything in their experience. Other like calamities have been attended with a greater loss of life, but rarely has a picture of such utter desolation and ruin been presented than that seen in the devasted district.

The miracle of it all is that the loss of life was not fourfold greater. This is to be attributed to the fact that the churches and the school houses in the tornado's path were all empty and the business blocks practically deserted excepting the two hotels where eight of the casualties so far reported occurred. The death list remains at the figures given in the dispatches of yesterday, with all the injured ones in fair way to recover, except Mrs. Murphy, the aged lady who was taken from the burning ruins of the Cole-Robinson block and Jesse Brown, the colored barber.

Funeral of the Victims

The funerals of six of the cyclone's victims - Mrs. Sasher, her sister, Miss Kitrie Strahan; Leonard Adamson, Ida Jones, Horton Upson, and Professor James Mayer - took place this afternoon from the Methodist Church. James Hasty was buried during the day by the Odd Fellows, while the funeral of Ed Forsythe will take place tomorrow. The body of Thomas Cornwall had been forwarded to his home near Belle Plain and that of Frank Campbell to Williamsburg, Ky. The ruins have been diligently searched. Tomorrow the work of clearing away the wreck will be vigorously and systematically begun.

Notwithstanding the character of the day, since daylight carpenters, bricklayers and tinners have been busy making the partially wrecked buildings habitable. Temporary shelter has been provided for homeless unfortunates and a relief organization has been organized to raise the necessary funds to keep them from absolute destitution and want. The Presbyterian and Lutheran churches were well protected by cyclone policies and will be rebuilt at once. The twenty thousand dollar school house destroyed will in like manner be in part restored by the insurance companies. Of storm insurance or residence and business property there was to little as to be hardly worth mentioning. The absolute loss will be a quarter of a million of dollars. (Daily Inter Ocean, May 30, 1892)


Arkansas City, Kas., Sept. 6 – Lakin Herron, the pitcher of the base ball club of this city, fell dead yesterday afternoon while playing in a game with the Joplin, Mo., nine. The seventh inning was finished and, as Herron stepped out of the box, he fell lifeless. Over exercise brought on heart failure. (The Guthrie Daily Leader; Guthrie, OK; September 6, 1901 - Transcribed as Written by D. Donlon)


Arkansas City, Kan., Sept. 5 – A cattleman, who came up from the strip last night and is well acquainted with the Doolan-Dalton-Starr band of whisky peddlers, brought in the information that the body of Bill Doolan, the man who escaped from the Coffeville fight, was found five miles from Ingalls, shot through by one of the marshals. (The Guthrie Daily Leader; Guthrie, Oklahoma; September 6, 1893 - Transcribed as Written by D. Donlon)

High School Girl Killed In Bus Crash

Oxford, Kas. (IP)—Anna Marie Rice, 18-year-old student at the Oxford consolidated high school, was killed Tuesday in the collision of an automobile and a school bus in which she and 15 other children were riding two miles northwest of here.

Joyce Walker, 14 another student, suffered a broken clavicle and head injuries which were not regarded as critical.
(Hutchinson News ~ May 4, 1943)


Belle Plaine Murderer Commits Suicide


Showing He Lived Under an Assumed Name

"I never saw a more excited crowd than gathered around the jail in Wellington Thursday morning when it was learned that Christy, the man charged with murdering Ed. Pierce, had been found dead, suspended from a small rope in his cell." These are the words Mr. L. D. Hanaway, a Kansas City traveling man who was in the city yesterday and who was in Wellington on the morning of the suicide.

Every reader is familiar with the leading facts in connection with the Christy murder case. Ed Pierce conducted a hotel at Belle Plaine and on the 9th of June Christy, whose wife was living in the country near that town, engaged Pierce to drive him to her home. A few hours later Pierce was found dead in his buggy and Christy was not to be found. He was afterward captured and brought to this city and placed in the county jail for safe keeping. He was tried in Wellington the first of the week and Tuesday morning the jury brought in a verdict charging him with murder in the second degree.

Early Thursday morning his dead body was found by a fellow prisoner, at the end of a rope which had been tied to a heating pipe in the ceiling of the cell occupied by Christy. The rope had been taken from his cot. He doubled the rope over the heating pipe and then wound it through the bars of his cell. This did not enable him to get clear of the floor, and when found he was standing on his tip-toes with his heels off the floor, apparently having slowly choked himself to death. His features were only slightly distorted. His eyes were closed and he had the appearance of being asleep. His arms were by his side and his hands tightly closed. He wore the same clothing that he has worn since his trial but his coat was tightly buttoned and he presented a better appearance than usual. He had disturbed nothing in his cell, with the exception of the cot from which he took the rope that hanged him.

When his clothing was searched several letters were found, and in the following he inflicted a curse upon his wife and the jury that returned a verdit against him, stating that they are all directly guilty of murdering an innocent man:

"I wish to leave a word to my wife and the jury who brought in a verdict of guilty against me, that they are all directly guilty of murder, and that not one of them will ever prosper. I am entirely innocent of the crime charged in this case, and have not had a fair trial, so I do not care to live any longer. I leave my love and best wishes to all my people back east, and also to my wife's mother and my niece, Edna Muller, and hope they will come and see me. As for my wife, I said when I married her it would be till death do us part, and I will go into the vast unknown with her guilty face burning on my brain. Many thanks to Mr. Holliday, George McCleur and Mr. Fred --------, Caldwell marshal, for many little favors they have shown me. And hoping to meet you all in the world where money does not buy anything, I will say good-bye forever.


"Time alone will show that I am right in this. No one will ever know how I loved this woman, and I hope this will be a lesson to her that she will in the future lead an upright life, and I only hope she will never get another man to marry her."

After Christy's death it was discovered through an identification card which was found in his clothing that he has either been living under an assumed name, or has been in the past. In one of his pockets was found an accident policy, issued October 29, 1902, by the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance company of California for $1,000. It was issued to Edwin Wilson and contained a receipt for the premium of $25.50. It was made payable to his wife Rose.

Accompanying this policy was a card, one side of which read as follows:

"Identification card. My name is Edwin Wilson. Residence, Mulvane, Kansas. Employed by A. T. & S. F. Ry. Should I be killed or injured, notify Rose Wilson, my wife, address Mulvane, Kansas.

Christy was about 35 years of age and the evidence produced at the trial showed that he had led a wandering life. It was stated yesterday that when Mrs. Christy was notified of his death she refused to take charge of the body and that neither she nor her folks card to see him. The body was buried in the potter's field at Wellington yesterday.
(Wichita Daily Eagle ~ Saturday ~ September 19, 1903 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)



Well Known Wellington Man Ended His Life Last Night

A telephone message from Harry Woods of the Wellington News last night stated that Charles J. Humphrey, a man well known throughout southern Kansas, had committed suicide at his home at 6 o'clock. Death came from a pistol shot through the head.

Mr. Humphrey was one of Wellington's wealthiest and most highly respected citizens. He was about 40 years of age and graduated from Amherst college with the class of 1889 and came direct to Wellington, where he has since made his home. He was a member of the board of trustees of the Sumner County High School and attended a meeting of the board yesterday afternoon. He went home and asked his wife to go down and execute some legal papers preparatory to taking a trip to Hot Springs. When she returned it was to find her husband on a bed with a bullet home through his head and the pistol in his right hand.

For some time Mr. Humphrey has been despondent over his health, but his friends did not consider this a matter that would lead him to take his life. During the winter he suffered a severe attack of the grip and had not entirely recovered. For some days he has been straightening up his business matters preparatory to taking a rest and a trip for his health and expected to leave in a few days. It is said that for some time he has been telling his stenographer that he wanted to die, but they laughed at him. Yesterday he took a stenographer home with him to complete his business arrangements to leave and as she left the stenographer laughingly told him he had his affairs in such shape that he could die "any old time." He rebuked her for taking his illness so lightly, but she thought nothing more of the matter.

After the trustees' meeting he went to a hardware store to purchase a pistol, saying that the muskrats were doing considerable damage on his ranch and he was going hunting. He purchased a 38-calibre revolver in the store and on the street conversing with friends he seemed as rational as ever and no one thought he was contemplating death.

No reason can be assigned for the death except ill health. His business mattes are in the best of shape and an estate of some $60,000 is left a wife and baby.
(Wichita Eagle Daily ~ May 5, 1903 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


A Reign of Terror in Sumner County, Kans.---Four Men Shot, One Hung, and Two Wounded

Sumner county, one of the extreme southern counties in Kansas, has been disturbed very much of late by the horrible tragedy at Caldwell, in that county, where two men named Tulden and Anderson were murdered by a man named McCarty, who made his escape into the Indian Territory. The escape of McCarty created no small amount of bad feeling among the people of Sumner county. The result was a vigilance committe, or in plain language---a mob. The following particulars of the outrage are furnished by the Kansas City Times:

This party, according to the statement made by our informant, was composed of horse thieves, gamblers and the reckless roughs of the border, with a few respectable but hot headed citizens. They organized, mounted and passed over into the Indian Territory, and succeeded in finding McCarty, who promptly surrendered himself when called upon to do so. He was taken out into the prairie and shot, and his body left as food for the wolves.

After their return home a terrible shooting affair took place at Wellington, the county seat of Sumner. A reckless fellow, named Jack Lynch, became involved in a quarrel, during which a respectable citizen of Wellington was shot dead, it is said by accident. At the same time a man named Hopkins, and another named Lynch himself was shot and wounded in the legs and feet. Lynch was immediately arrested and confined in jail to await legal action.

Meanwhile the vigilantes, fresh from their trip into the Indian Territory, called their party together at Caldwell, and all marched over to Wellington, a distance of over twenty miles. By some means the Sheriff, or Constable, became apprised of the approach of the vigilantes, and escaped out of town with the prisoner and remained concealed out upon the prairie all night. The mob made a diligent search for their victim, but failed to find him or his guard. On the following night they made a sudden descent upon the town, and succeeded in capturing the wounded man, Lynch, and at once proceeded to hang him to a tree within sight of the town where he was captured.

The border is acquiring the reputation of lawlessness more rapidly than before and during the war.
(Quincy Whig ~ May 14, 1872 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


Yesterday afternoon the police arrested Thomas Jackson on a dispatch from the sheriff of Sumner county. Last night the sheriff arrived, handcuffed him and took him to Wellington. The charge against him, it seems, is bond jumping. He was accused of some minor criminal offense at Mulvane or Belle Plaine, and was released on bond to appear for trial on a certain day. He did not appear and his bond was forfeited.

Jackson is the man who became so notorious here, first as the spotter for the Law and Order League and afterwards for suing a received for the same on the plea that he was a creditor and the institution was insolvent. (The Wichita Daily Eagle, May 1, 1894)


A Belle Plaine Mother Kidnaps Her Own Child

Belle Plaine, Kan., Sept. 25 --- This part of Sumner county is considerably stirred up over an exciting contest for the possession of an adopted child. Mrs. Laura Decker, whose maiden name was Lambert, came here and hiring a livery team and driver, drove to Red Bud, Cowley county, to the home of Floyd D. Myers, where she took her 7-year-old daughter, Pearl, and returned to Belle Plaine.

She expected to leave for home, but before train time, Mr. Myers, who had adopted the child, came to town driving like mad, and had a warrant issued for her arrest on the charge of kidnapping. She was placed under arrest and arraigned before a justice, but before the trial, the case was dismissed. It seems the woman was ill at the county poor farm at the time her child was adopted and knew nothing about it, and now that she is able to take care of it, is anxious to regain possession of the girl. She has been allowed by Mr. Myers to keep her.
(Topeka Weekly Capital ~ Tuesday ~ September 28, 1897)


John Kucera, a farmer living near Bluff City in Souther Sumner County, came to Arkansas City in search of his wife and three grown sons, who left home without notifying him. The sons were all found and were persuaded to return to the farm. They said Mrs. Kucera had departed for St. Louis and her husband followed her. There was no quarrel previous to the breaking up of the family, the wife and sons only wanting to get away from the hard work on the farm.
(Sedan Lance ~ Friday ~ March 17, 1905)

Mrs. Eugene McKibben, living near Mayfield, jumped into a cistern and saved her baby, just big enough to begin to walk, from drowning. She stood in the water which was up to her armpits, holding the child until its father came from the field and drew them out with a rope.
(Sedan Lance ~ August 7, 1902)

A midnight fire at Hunnewell, Sumner county, literally wiped out the business part of the town.
(Colored Citizen ~ Topeka, KS ~ February 25, 1899)

The boomer's camp at Hunnewell was much excited last week over the killing of several horses and the hamstringing of several others by shiftless boomers, who claimed that no one had a right to the advantage which possession of a fast horse would prove in the race for land. Strong talk of lynching was indulged in if the crime could be properly located.

The Ladies Cemetery association of South Haven has taken advantage of the early rush of harvest hands to that section to have the cemetery fixed up. The men have come in a little too early for hearvest and some of them have signified a willingness to work at very reasonable wages until harvest begins. The grouns are being mowed and cleaned up and the old sunken graves filled. It would surprise the community to know the number of graves that have been discovered which had been entirely lost sight of, and also the number of sunken and neglected ones that have been filled up and properly cared for.
(Fair Play ~ Fort Scott, KS ~ Friday ~ July 1, 1898)


Wichita, Kan., October 30 --- A spark from a Santa Fe engine started a prairie fire near Argonia last night, which caused a large loss of property and the death of Mrs. Charles Twining, wife of a prominent farmer and politician of Sumner county. In the high winds the flames became uncontrollable and quickly spread over a wide scope of country, enveloping the farm on which the Twinings lived. The out buildings first caught fire and soon afterward the residence, in which Mrs. Twining had taken refuge, and before succor could reach the scene the building was a wreck and Mrs. Twining's body was buried in the ruins.

A large quantity of grain and hay and many head of stock are reported lost.
(Topeka Weekly Capital ~ Thursday ~ November 5, 1891)

The rich are becoming richer and the poor poorer, say the union labor folks but in spite of this, there is only one pauper in the Sumner county poor house and Sumner county has a population of 36,000
(Topeka State Journal ~ Tuesday ~ October 9, 1888 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)


John Ringling Purchases Interests of Former Wellingtonian

Sale of the five competitors of the Ringling group of circuses to John Ringling, announced Monday, has a local significance because of the fact that it probably removes for all time from the circus world Bert Bowers, a Wellington boy.

Bowers, who joined his first circus when a boy here, made his millions in the show business.  Afterwards, he added to his wealth thru wise investments, and for several years has been in the banking business at his present home in Indiana.

A number of years ago he purchased a home in Wichita for his father and mother, both of whom later died there.  His last visit to that city was last winter, when he came to see his mother at the time of her fatal illness.

During that last visit to this section of the country, negotiations were on for the purchase of the Sparks show by the American Circus Corporation, in which he was one of the heaviest stockholders.  The shows controlled by the American Circus Corporation, which were sold to Ringling this week, included the Sells-Floto, Hazenbeck and Wallace, John Robinson's and the Al G. Barnes wild animal show.

Charles B. Frederick, Wichita man who is spending his first season at home after having been connected with circus life for half a century, and life long friend of Bowers, is confident that the former Wellington youth is out of the circus business for good.

"Bert has so many other interests now that this in all probability means the end of his connection with the circus business for all time to come.  He has made his millions, and could just as well hae retired long ago, but it's hard to get away from the show life once one has gotten it into his system," said the veteran showman.  "He'll probably start out to take a trip around the world in an airplane or something like that."

Frederick expressed the opinion that several of the shows purchased by Ringling will be shelved before the next season opens, while others will be enlarged.  Some of the larger shows have failed to return any profits during the season now nearing a close, according to reports which reach Frederick thru friends in the business he has met during his first year away from the sawdust rings.

Associated with Bowers in the ownership of the five organizations just sold to Ringling were three or four of the leading circus men of the country.
(Wellington Daily News ~ September 11, 1929 ~ Submitted by Susie Cochran)


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