ARKANSAS CITY BANK ROBBERY.
Arkansas City Traveler, August 7, 1878.
THE COWLEY COUNTY BANK ROBBED OF $2,000!
IS IT THE JAMES BOYS?
A SECOND NORTHFIELD.
No Blood Shed, But Everything Done Quietly in Broad Daylight.
Generally speaking, there is little to create an excitement in our town, though we live on the border of the Indian Territory, the harbor for all horse thieves and desperadoes who are fleeing from State Justice.
Last Wednesday, however, our people were rudely awakened from their dream of security from invasions by lawless characters, by the report that the Cowley County Bank had been robbed in broad daylight, and that the robbers were heading west with their booty as fast as their horses could carry them. The particulars, as near as we can gather, from the thousand-and-one statements afloat, are as follows.
At ten minutes of ten o’clock on that morning, four horsemen rode into town, two of whom put up at Finney’s livery stable, and gave orders to have their horses fed immediately, but not unsaddled, as they would want them soon. Behind each saddle was a two-bushel seamless sack and a pair of over-alls, and small saddle bags were attached. They inquired particularly as to the time of day, and also were anxious to gain all the information they could concerning a herd of ponies near Caldwell—the exact location, condition of ponies, etc.
The other two ponies were taken to a different portion of the town, and left standing.
One of the two men who stopped at the stable was known by Mr. Finney as a person who used to herd for Mr. Smythia several miles south of here, who went by the name of Jim Kennedy. This man is about five feet, eight or nine inches in height, dark complexion, with dark brown moustache and chin whiskers trimmed short, and is probably between thirty and thirty-five years of age. The other one was nearly six feet in height, sandy complexion, with light brown moustache.
At five minutes after 12, just after Major Sleeth, president of the bank, had gone to dinner, a man stepped into the bank and requested Mr. Fred Farrar (who, in the absence of his brother, H. P. Farrar, acts in the capacity of cashier) to change a twenty-dollar bill. Mr. Farrar seeing that the bill was genuine, turned to make the change, when the man exclaimed roughly: “Here! Hand that bill back!” Naturally a little surprised, Farrar looked up, only to see the muzzle of a large seven-shooter staring him in the face; and before he could recover from the shock, two men, each with their revolvers cocked and pointed at him, stepped around the counter and politely invited him to come into the back room. Realizing in a moment that resistance was more than useless, Mr. Farrar coolly replied: “All right, sir,” and walked back, when one man guarded him, while the other went through the safe, taking all the money that he could find, the third man standing guard at the door. By the time the money was taken, the fourth man, who had been standing with the other two horses on the corner some fifty yards south, walked into the bank, and two of the robbers waited with Mr. Farrar while the other two went for the horses. Bringing the horses up to the door, they all mounted, turned to Farrar, and with a polite “Good day, sir,” they galloped off. The whole proceedings in the bank had not occupied over five minutes’ time.
Mr. Farrar immediately gave the alarm, and in an instant all was confusion. Men rushed up and down the streets in search of horses and fire arms, seemingly bereft of their senses. C. R. Mitchell and J. A. Stafford were first in the saddles, and started after them in the direction of Salt City. Stafford caught a glimpse of them, and cutting across the country, came near enough to them to fire, which he did. The leader looked around at him and coolly remarking, “You G_d d____d son-of-a-b___h,” leveled his gun and returned fire, the bullet singing past Stafford’s ear, but not striking him. As all the party stopped, Stafford thought he had better go behind a small mound of sand, and just as he dropped down, another bullet from the robbers threw the sand all over his face. Mr. Stafford returned this shot, when the men touched up their horses and galloped easily off. By this time a crowd of our citizens had arrived on the spot and all joined in the chase.
After they had passed the “jack oaks” northwest of town, the pursuers could find no trace of them, and concluded they were hiding in the oaks, when they turned back and sent word to town for more men and guns—that they had the robbers corralled in the oaks.
Here is where the great mistake was made, as the thieves were still going toward Salt City, and crossed the ferry at that place shortly after 1 o’clock.
Our men did not discover their mistake until too late to catch up with them, though the party in pursuit crossed the Salt City ferry one hour and a half behind them.
By this time Bolton Township was aroused, and Frank Lorry, with two more farmers, in company with Mr. Knight, of this place, started west, keeping near the line. They soon struck the trail of the robbers, and hearing that they were not more than a mile ahead, Mr. Lorry told a Mrs. Lucky to send her husband to town for re-inforcements. Mrs. Lucky ran half a mile, with her baby in her arms, to where her husband was plowing, but for some reason he did not come in.
When this party arrived at Peters’ ranch, on the Shakaska, some 20 miles west, Mr. George Peters turned out with them and rendered most valuable assistance in the pursuit, besides furnishing feed for the worn-out horses.
They followed them until Thursday night, when the robbers gave them the slip at midnight, and got away, though the party would have chased them to Fort Sill had the reinforcements been sent. But not meeting these, and their own horses being completely worn out, the party of four were compelled to return. They desire to return hearty thanks to Mr. Peters for his assistance, and are enthusiastic in his praises.
Mr. Farrar described the man who presented the bill as being 5 feet, 10 or 11 inches in height, well built, dark complexion, black moustache and goatee, and with a scar on his right cheek. Another man was described as being about 5 feet, 7 inches, light complexion and smooth face. The fourth man was described as being nearly 6 feet tall, and wore a moustache.
Some think the leader was one of the notorious James boys, but there is nothing reliable as to this. However that may be, it was about the coolest piece of business our citizens ever witnessed, and despite the hot weather, they are not desirous of seeing another.
A reward of $100 each for the robbers, dead or alive, has been offered; and $500 for the return of the money, or a proportionate sum for what can be regained.
Arkansas City Traveler, August 7, 1878.
BURT COVERT, who started from Winfield in pursuit of the bank robbers, came in from the West last Thursday, having lamed his horse, which compelled him to return.
Bank robbery occurred during absence of Traveler editor, C. M. Scott...
Arkansas City Traveler, August 7, 1878.
MR. C. M. SCOTT and FRANK BALDWIN, of Winfield, who have been rusticating in Texas for several weeks, came in last Monday, looking somewhat weather-beaten, but tough, and both having good appetites.
Arkansas City Traveler, August 7, 1878.
After the bank robbery last Wednesday, there were numerous brave men who were loud in their assertions of what they would have done if they had been there. As has been wisely observed, such men rarely get there. Mr. Farrar acted sensibly, and was probably as cool and collected as many older men would have been under the circumstances.
Arkansas City Traveler, August 7, 1878.
To prove that history does repeat itself, we will state that the battle of Brandywine was fought on the 11th of September, 1777, and on the 1st of August, 1878, we witnessed a second brandy-wine engagement that fully eclipsed all the Revolutionary struggles. It was grand. [BANK WAS ROBBED ON WEDNESDAY, JULY 31, 1878!]
Winfield Courier, August 8, 1878.
A BOLD ROBBERY.
Unknown Robbers Go Through a Bank at Noonday.
The James Boys Outdone.
On Wednesday, July 31, 1878, at about half past 12 o’clock, four strangers effected the robbery of the Cowley County Bank at Arkansas City. The amount of money obtained is said to be $2,300. The robbers were seen in town during the forenoon; two of them entered a saloon, called for beer, drank, and sat down in the saloon for some time. The other two walked around town together; and at one time came into the saloon and called for beer, but pretended not to recognize their pals sitting there.
At dinner time two brought out their horses from a stable and hitched them not far from the bank. The two others came towards the bank from another direction and hitched their horses in another place. A drug store is next door to the bank and the salesman was at the door. One of the robbers called for quinine, saying he would step in and get it in a few moments, and the druggist went into his store to weigh it out while the customer patrolled the sidewalk.
Another robber went into the bank, where Mr. Farrar was alone in attendance, Mr. Sleeth having just gone to dinner, and presented a $20 bill, requesting small bills for it. Mr. Farrar proceeded to make the change, but immediately a revolver was presented at his head and silence commanded; at the same time two other robbers appeared with cocked revolvers. One of them led Mr. Farrar into the back room while the other two went through the safe, which was open. They took what money there was to be readily found and then Mr. Farrar was brought out to the door and required to sit down. The robbers made some jokes, thanked him for his kind attention, and promised to call again when they wanted more money. They bade him good-bye, mounted their horses, and rode together out the south side of town, then around to the west side and north past the cemetery. They were each armed with revolvers and a long range rifle.
The alarm was immediately given, and in a very few minutes a large number of men were on horseback, with such arms they could get hold of quickly, in pursuit. Messengers were at once sent over the river into Bolton Township to notify Frank Lorry and Rudolph Hoffmaster and rouse the people with the view of cutting off the retreat into the Territory. Others, including Mr. Sleeth, the president of the bank, rode rapidly up to Winfield for help to head them off in case the robbers should go north toward Wichita. A considerable numbered followed rapidly on the track of the robbers.
Mr. Stafford nearly overtook the robbers and got two shots at them; but they turned on him and fired a rifle shot, just scratching his cheek, and another throwing dirt over him, as he lay close to the ground in the grass to avoid their shots. The robbers then rode on, as other pursuers were coming up. At one place they rode into a grove or ticket and the pursuers immediately surrounded the grove and believed they had corralled their game. They spent a hour or more in searching the thicket, and finally determined that the robbers were not there. They then pursued on to the Salt City ferry. There they learned that the robbers had crossed more than an hour before and had turned southwest through Salt City in the direction of the Territory.
Messrs. Lorry and Hoffmaster had collected a number of men in Bolton and were patrolling the road all the way from Arkansas City to South Haven, two of their men having crossed the robbers’ tracks nearly half an hour before they got along; but their place of crossing this line was so uncertain, it was scarcely possible that Lorry’s men should be at the right place at the right time, so the robbers crossed their line and passed on into the Territory; but Lorry and his men soon got together and pursued.
Burt Covert and others, of Winfield, started out west from Winfield to intercept the robbers, if they went north. They rode over to the Arkansas River and discovered that the robbers had escaped across the Salt City ferry going southwest. Covert and C. G. Holland, of Beaver, having first-class horses and courage, pursued some thirty miles into the Territory and long into the night, until Covert’s horse got so sprained in crossing a bog that he was unable to proceed except at a slow and limping gait. They therefore abandoned the pursuit.
On Friday following Frank Lorry returned. It appears that they got a long ways ahead of the robbers in the Territory and therefore lost all track of them. They therefore abandoned the pursuit and probably passed them on their return.
It is believed that at least one of the robbers was a James. It is evident that they are experienced hands at the business.
Arkansas City Traveler, September 11, 1878.
H. P. Farrar was informed of the bank robbery while rusticating; and S. P. Channell has been down with fever.
Winfield Courier, July 24, 1879.
While at Arkansas City last Thursday evening, our local met Capt. C. M. Scott, from whom he learned the particulars of a dastardly murder which occurred on the Canadian in the territory. It seems that there is a band of white and half breed outlaws inhabiting the region of the Canadian, who make a practice of stealing and murdering everything in their way.
On July 2nd as Moses Stockstill, James Henderson, and a cook and herder were returning from the territory with a lot of cattle, which they had purchased from the Indians, they were met by four of these desperadoes who told them to throw up their hands, and their request not being complied with, they commenced shooting immediately.
Mr. Stockstill was killed instantly and Mr. Henderson was shot while attempting to take a gun from the wagon. The herder was wounded and begged so hard that the roughs spared his life. After taking the horses, cooking utensils, and personal effects of their victims they started for the foot hills. It is supposed at Arkansas City that this is the old stamping ground of the bank robbers. Stockstill has a wife and six children living in Medicine Lodge.
Arkansas City Traveler, August 13, 1879 - Front Page.
In the Chicago Commercial Advertiser of July 31, we find the following account of our thriving city. While the correspondent speaks in glowing terms, he says nothing more than the truth, of which anyone can be convinced by paying us a visit. After commenting upon other points of interest, he says:
I must make a little diversion down the Walnut valley to the junction of the Walnut river with the Arkansas. I want to take the reader with me down to the base of the valley, because the dozen miles to traverse from Winfield to the Arkansas marks a very garden land, wherein are splendid farms and beautiful homes, orchards, vineyards, hedge rows, and groves fairer than the gardens of the Orient, and because, too, it leads to
and the most attractive portion of the Indian border. I remember the Arkansas City of 1876 as a fair and promising village of 500 souls, with its superb location upon a crown of the prairie between the Arkansas and Walnut rivers, its elegant high-school building, half a dozen substantial commercial houses, two banks, a versatile newspaper, pleasant grouping of neat and well kept homes, striking me as an index to a much higher order of social and intellectual life than I ever thought of finding upon the border of the Indian Territory.
The Cowley County Bank, organized in 1872, and conducted with marked ability by its founders up to 1877, is a strong concern, and has a very high standing in business circles. Its capital and franchises were purchased in 1877 by Wm. M. Sleeth, its President, and H. P. Farrar, Cashier, who have continued its management up to the present, with distinguished ability and success. It has ample capital, a large and growing local patronage, a liberal line of collections; like Read’s bank at Winfield, has burglar proof safes, secured by Yale time locks, and is firmly entrenched in the faith of the business community. Both of the gentlemen named are closely and largely identified with the city and county, are men of rare business tact, decided public spirit, and sterling personal character. Here, as at Winfield, there are so many sterling men to name, that to mention any at all seems invidious. It is enough to say of this beautiful little city of prime men and charming houses that
A BRIGHT FUTURE
surely awaits it. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe road will make this the terminus of its Wichita branch until the Indian Territory is open to settlement. The Texas cattle trade is sure to grow into great magnitude on completion of this line early the coming fall. The K. C. L., & S. road will have only fifteen miles to build from Winfield to this point in order to secure a large share of the cattle transportation.
The city is growing rapidly in anticipation of the railway this fall; lots and improved town property are changing hands with increased activity; there was never so much demand for real estate of all kinds, and certainly never a finer opening for investors either in town or country. The cheap wild lands, farm, and town property of today will have commanding value two years hence, when the trade, population, and production of the city and tributary country have doubled. Real estate is cheap today and opportunities for profitable investment are as numerous as they are remarkable under the circumstances.
Winfield Courier, August 14, 1879.
LETTER FROM JOHN C. ROBERTS RE SHENNEMAN.
RECAP: HE STATED THAT THE PEOPLE OF WALNUT TOWNSHIP ARE FOR SHENNEMAN....Mr. A. T. Shenneman at the age of sixteen entered the war of 1861, served till its close, and was honorably discharged from the service. Thus early in life he was inured in the trials and hardships of the fiercest war that has raged in modern times, and which have so effectually marked his career from that time to the present. Besides he has had the requisite experience in the line of duty pertaining to the office of Sheriff. We can say of a truth, as can a great many more, that he has performed duties without any compensation whatever and that too, when the proper officials refused to act at the time called upon to do so.
For instance, when A. B. Graham’s horse was stolen, not one of the proper officials could be prevailed upon to perform their duty. Not so with Shenneman. He was willing to go and did go, although he was not the officer elected to perform that duty, neither was he the deputy. Had he been Sheriff at the time the Arkansas City bank was robbed, instead of lounging around town, he would have pursued those desperadoes in person, and the probabilities are that he would have succeeded in securing them.
With A. T. as sheriff, cattle thieves, horse thieves, and desperadoes of all kinds will give Cowley County a wide berth, as they well know that they will have more than a mere pigmy to contend with.
Arkansas City Traveler, September 3, 1879.
Mr. Fred Farrar can now be found at the Cowley County Bank.
Winfield Courier, October 23, 1879.
A good joke is told on Charley Harter about the Arkansas City bank robbery. After the news had arrived, Charley met Burt Covert on the crossing of Main street and Ninth Avenue, his face pale and hair disheveled, and grabbing him by the arm, said: “B___; B __Burt; Read’s Bank has been robbed; five hun__hundred dollars reward, get Dick Walker and go after them quick.” Burt and Dick went after them while Charley, after his “excitement” had subsided, learned that it was Arkansas City, instead of Winfield, that had been raided, and immediately took steps to capture them if they came within two blocks of Main street.
[“CRESSWELL” FROM ARKANSAS CITY CORRESPONDS WITH EDITOR.]
Winfield Courier, October 23, 1879.
ARKANSAS CITY, Oct. 17, 1879.
ED. COURIER: By a late Telegram I see that Allison is paying his respects to Shenneman. Bill is at his old game, trying to make Democratic capital at the expense of the Republican nominees. Well, here is a conundrum for him and all other Democrats to wrestle with. When the Arkansas City bank was robbed, a general rush was made by all who could go to capture the robbers. “Where was Charles L. Harter, Sheriff of Cowley county, at that time?” Did he spend a nickle, or move a hoof to aid in the pursuit of these bandits? Not that anybody ever heard of.
One great, leading duty belongs to the office of Sheriff, to keep the peace, and to arrest violators of law, horse thieves and robbers. Has Sheriff Harter a record in this respect that any law abiding citizen can take pleasure in? Not that anybody knows of. CRESSWELL.
Arkansas City Traveler, August 18, 1880.
Messrs. Farrar & Sleeth have hitherto confined themselves to a strictly banking business, loaning but little money on real estate. As will be seen by their announcement in another column, they are now prepared to loan home money on real estate at the low rate of ten percent. No more favorable terms can be had anywhere in this part of the State than at the Cowley County Bank.
AD: W. M. SLEETH, President. H. P. FARRAR, Cashier.
COWLEY COUNTY BANK,
ARKANSAS CITY, KANSAS.
GENERAL BANKING BUSINESS.
Interest Allowed on Time Deposits.
DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN
EXCHANGES BOUGHT AND SOLD.
COLLECTIONS PROMPTLY ATTENDED TO.
Your business solicited.
THIRD NATIONAL BANK, New York.
BANK OF KANSAS CITY, Kansas City, Mo.
Arkansas City Traveler, October 6, 1880.
The notorious outlaw, West Brown, broke jail at Henrietta, Texas, last Friday, October 1, and made his escape to the Indian Territory. Sheriff Craig, of Clay County, Texas, offers $1,100 reward for his capture. Brown is well known throughout the Territory and southern Kansas as a fearless, reckless man, and a hard character. He participated in the Caneyville, Kansas, robbery, assisted in the murder of Stockstill and Henderson, stock men, and is thought to have been one of the men implicated in the Cowley County Bank robbery in 1878 at this place. For a number of years he has been roaming along the border of Kansas, making his headquarters at the mouth of the Cimarron. More than $2,000 in rewards had been offered for him before he was captured in New Mexico and taken to Henrietta. On one occasion he traveled four hundred miles to kill a half-breed Indian who had informed an officer of his whereabouts.
Winfield Courier, April 13, 1882. Editorial Page.
Since the killing of Jesse James, we concluded that a sketch of the lives of Frank and Jesse James would be of more interest to our readers than the miscellaneous matter which we place on the outside of the COURIER. We have therefore filled the outside columns this week with a sketch copied from the Kansas City Journal. Of course, this is not a complete account of their depredations and crimes.
The robbery of the Cowley County Bank of Arkansas City on July 31st, 1878, is one of the many omitted. We suppose the parties which robbed the Cowley County Bank were Frank and Jesse James, Dick Liddill, and Ed Miller. At any rate they were old hands at the business and managed coolly and skillfully. They were evidently on their way from the vicinity of Kansas City to Texas and called at Arkansas City for spending money. They got $2,800. They appeared in that town separately in the forenoon and about noon their horses were brought one by one and hitched near the bank. When they met on the street, they appeared not to know each other. When the people of the town had all gone to dinner, leaving only Farrar in the bank and a druggist close by on the sidewalk, one of the robbers sent the druggist into his store to put up a prescrip-tion while he watched outside; two of the robbers went into the bank and asked Farrar to change a $20 bill, while the fourth stood by the horses. Immediately a revolver was put at Farrar’s head and kept him frightened while the other robber went through the bank. The four then mounted their horses and rode quietly away to the northwest. The alarm was immediately given and soon a large number of armed men on horseback were in pursuit. They soon came in range of the robbers and commenced firing, but the robbers fired back and kept them at a distance that was not dangerous to them and continued their leisurely retreat. They crossed the Arkansas at Salt City and pursued their way calmly into the Territory. Though there were probably one hundred courageous men out after them, their skill avoided them all.
Remarks made by Kay:
Several years after the bank robbery at Arkansas City, at the trial of one of the members of the James Gang, in another state, one of the witnesses listed Arkansas City as a point at which they stage a holdup.
The book “Buckskin Joe,” had the following statement by Joe Hoyt.
One hot forenoon in the summer of 1878, when all was quiet, four well-armed men rode into town, fed and watered their horses, then came to my store and ordered a big lunch of crackers, cheese, and bologna. I soon recognized one of them as Jesse James.
I hadn’t seen Jesse before, but his description had been in the papers for years. Since the war, he had robbed banks and trains in Missouri and Kentucky and from Texas to Minnesota. After the Northfield disaster, he was supposed to have gone to Mexico. As a boy he had suffered granulated eyelids, and the rest of his life had the involuntary habit of blinking. He had large eyes, of a light shade of blue. And they were blinking fast at me at the moment.
We joked a little, and he said he had seen me in a circus once in Iowa. About noon he paid for the lunch all round. As he started out, he shook my hand with the remark, “I will see you again sometime, Joe.”
MAJOR WILLIAM SLEETH & FAMILY.
David Sleeth, the father of William M. Sleeth, was born in Londonderry, County Donegal, Ireland, in 1800, and was an infant when his parents, in 1801, came to America and located in Guernsey County, Ohio. David Sleeth spent his active life as a farmer in Ohio and died at Cambridge, Ohio, in 1849. He married Margaret McCracken, who was born in County Donegal, Ireland, in 1801, and died at Cambridge, Ohio, in 1881. David and Margaret had two children, David Sleeth, Jr., and William Sleeth.
William M. Sleeth was born near Cambridge in Guernsey County, Ohio, in 1832. His boyhood and youth were spent as a farmer and rural resident.
In 1861, he enlisted in Company A, Seventy-eighth Ohio Regiment as a second Lieutenant. Sleeth was promoted to First Lieutenant in 1863. He was detailed as acting commissary of Subsistence of the Third division of the Seventeenth Army Corps with the temporary rank of Major. He par-ticipated in the engagements of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Reasca, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta and Sherman’s march to the sea.
Mr. Sleeth mustered out in 1865 and returned to his home state where he taught school for a year. He moved to Fayetteville, Tennessee, where he engaged in the lumber business for three years. There he met A. A. Newman and T. H. McLaughlin, Arkansas City pioneers, who were in business there. Going back to his native town of Cambridge, he married Mary B. Hutchinson September 6, 1869.
Feeling the call of the west and free land, they came to Emporia, Kansas, in October of 1869 to engage in business. He met men who were forming a town company. They were going to locate this town in the soon to be opened “Osage Diminished Reserve” at the junction of the Walnut and the Arkansas Rivers. The town was to be called Walnut City. He joined them and became one of the earliest settlers by coming to Walnut City, now Arkansas City, in March of 1870 as secretary to the town company.
Walnut Valley Times, March 4, 1870.
Messrs. Sleeth Bro.’s have located their saw mill at the north end of Main street, on West Branch (in Eldorado). Their machinery is all new and in good running order. We speak for them a full share of the public patronage.
Walnut Valley Times, March 18, 1870.
Our friend, Wm. M. Sleeth, is taking a trip to the mouth of the Walnut. We are afraid the Creswell fever will “get him down” there, and his mill too.
Walnut Valley Times, Friday, April 1, 1870.
Mr. Wm. M. Sleeth has gone to move his family to Eldorado.
Walnut Valley Times, May 13, 1870. Sleeth’s mill has gone to Creswell.
Comments by Kay: Major Sleeth’s claim of 160 acres would now be bounded by Birch Avenue on the north, F street on the west, Chestnut Avenue on the south and Green Farm road on the east. From an unidentified source we find the following story. “Albert Newman was also was a very early settler. After coming to Arkansas City, Mr. Newman ordered a grist mill and a saw mill to be delivered from the east. When they were delivered to Arkansas City they were to be placed at the Walnut River on East Kansas Avenue. The saw mill became mired on the crude dirt road and Newman tried to extract it for two weeks. Newman became so disgusted that he sold it to William Sleeth who extracted it.” Kay determined that this story was incorrect.
Major Sleeth erected his saw mill east of Chestnut Avenue at the banks of the Walnut River and engaged in the lumber business bofore the end of 1870. This saw mill was water powered and also the first saw mill operating in Cowley County. His brother, David Sleeth, was a partner in the saw mill as well as taking a claim northeast of his brother’s.
Major Sleeth remained in the milling business for two years before selling in 1872 so he could spend more time farming and following other pursuits.
In 1874, The Cowley County Bank was created. It was co-owned by Sleeth and Farrar. William Sleeth was elected president and operated the bank. They applied for a charter to became the First National Bank. The charter was granted and the name was changed.
Arkansas City Traveler, January 24, 1877. Visiting. Major Sleeth left yesterday morning to visit his friends in Illinois and Ohio. He will be absent about a month.
Arkansas City Traveler, January 23, 1878.
Maj. Sleeth sent three loads of hogs to Wichita yesterday.
Arkansas City Traveler, May 15, 1878.
Major Wm. Sleeth is one of the delegates to the National Presbytery, to be held at Cambridge, Ohio, and is now on his way to that place, with his pockets full of Cowley County wheat and hands full of Travelers and circulars describing this wonderful wheat growing region. His wife and child accompany him. Mrs. Sleeth will remain during the summer, but the Major will return within four weeks, probably by the way of Little Rock, Arkansas, in order to have a talk with the steamboat men of that place.
Arkansas City Traveler, September 11, 1878.
Major Sleeth received news last night from Mrs. Sleeth, now visiting in Cambridge, Ohio, that their child was about to die.
Arkansas City Traveler, July 16, 1879.
Mr. Sleeth is erecting three new houses west of town for renting purposes. Messrs. Parker and Canfield have the contract.
Arkansas City Traveler, August 23, 1882.
David Sleeth died on last Monday at 11 o’clock p.m., at the residence of his brother, Maj. W. M. Sleeth, and was buried on yesterday at 2 o’clock p.m. Mr. Sleeth was one of the oldest settlers of Arkansas City.
In 1883, Sleeth erected the banks’ building which is at the northwest corner of Summit Street and Fifth Avenue. This building was later occupied by the Citizens State Bank and is now occupied by the Union State Bank.
Mrs. Mary B. Sleeth died in 1886 and Major Sleeth married Miss Emma DeKnight September 5, 1893, at Chilocco Indian School.
During the panic of 1893 Major Sleeth’s bank (The First National Bank) failed, and its failure severely crippled him financially. Major Sleeth gave up everything he possessed to liquidate the debts of the bank which as a result paid 100 percent to all its depositors. After the failure of the First National Bank, Major Sleeth served as manager of the Water Power Company, and filled that position until his death.
Major William Sleeth died Friday, September 28, 1906. He was 74 years old and died of Bright’s disease of the kidneys.
R. C. Howard wrote the following to give us a glimpse of the character of Major William E. Sleeth. “Soon after I came to Arkansas City in 1884 we had the spring floods. My first remembrance of Major Wm. E. Sleeth was during these floods. The first time I ever saw him was on South Sixth Street, where I happened to go in the capacity of a reporter for the Republican to view the flood and report it. Major Sleeth was at the South Sixth street wooden bridge and was engaged in tieing the north end of it to the big tree at the side of the road on the north side of the river at Sixth street. He had the rope fastened to the end of the bridge and was tieing the rope around the tree to hold the bridge in place when I came along on a cow pony, which I had borrowed for the occasion. The Major was just finishing the job as I rode up. The water was out of the banks of the river and was rapidly getting higher all the time. I will say it was the action of Major Sleeth that saved the Sixth Street bridge at that time. He was doing the work by himself. No one else was in sight except myself. I relate this instance just to show that Major Sleeth had the good of Arkansas City at Heart in those early days. This was true of him until death claimed him.”
Sleeth was a pioneer member of the United Presbyterian Church and was active in this church all his life. He held the office of county commissioner for two terms, and city and township treasurer for six years, and was a member of the city council in 1876.
He was one of the few men who stood for the gold standard. He was the only man in the community who claimed that the opening of the Cherokee strip would be an injury to Arkansas City and that it would take many years for the city to get over it.
Miss Emma DeKnight was born September 26, 1851, at Wilmington, Deleware. She was reared in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she started her teaching career. Both she and her sister, Miss Annie DeKnight taught in that city
In 1881, she and her sister, Miss Annie DeKnight, made a cross-continental trip by train from their home in Pitsburgh, to Sacramento, California. In that time, it was very unusual for unescorted women to travel. They traveled by ‘emigrant train’ where the passengers furnished their bedding and food, cooking it in a compartment furnished for that purpose by the railroad. They arrived at Sacramento, tired and grimy. They changed their clothes and tidied themselves, and then journeyed on to visit relatives in Napa, California.
For the return trip, they decided on a new adventure. They notified school officials in Pittsburgh that they would be late and journeyed home by water, crossing the Isthmus of Panama by land and thence by ship to New York, arriving home in October that year. The sisters continued teaching in Pittsburg until Miss Emma felt the call of the west and came to Chilocco, Indian Territory, to teach in 1884.
Chilocco Indian School opened in 1884, and Miss DeKnight was a member of the first faculity. After two months she informed the Superintendent that she decided to return to her home in the east. The students soon learned of her decision. One little Indian boy told her “Miss DeKnight, I hear you not stay here. Please for us, stay and teach Indian boy and girl the white man’s ways.” The appeal in the boys’s eyes melted her determination to leave and she devoted her life to work. She remained at Chilocco till 1891.
During her service with the Indian schools, she made many trips over the plains of Oklahoma in wagons to pick up students for the school.
In 1891, Miss DeKnight transfered to the Otoe Indian agency where Mr. and Mrs Andrew P. Hutchison were superintendent and matron. Their son Walter Hutchison ( who later became a Traveler reporter) became one of her pupils.
Miss DeKnight married Major Sleeth in 1893. She continued working for several years as matron of the small boys’ home at Chilocco.
After Major Sleeth’s death, Mrs. Sleeth was appointed assistant Postmistress and served from February 1, 1907 to December 31, 1917.
In 1929, the two sisters, then Mrs. Sleeth, aged 76, and Mrs. Robinson, aged 78, made a tour which included Palestine. In Egypt, they rode camels to see the pyramids.
Mrs. Sleeth died Saturday, April 28, 1951 at the age of 99. She remained mentally alert till the end. She was survived by her step-children Pauline and Watt Sleeth.
Eula Sleeth was born in Arkansas City, married and moved to Oklahoma City. She died in July 1948.
Watt Sleeth was the only son of Major Sleeth. He was born in Arkansas City on December 14, 1877. He was educated in the Arkansas City school system. After school, he engaged in the sand and gravel business. He also was a well known band leader of the area.
In 1911, Watt married May Gavin and they made their home in Arkansas City. He managed the Douglass, Kansas gravel plant for eleven years. Seven years before his death, he was employed by the State Highway Department at the local port of entry.
In 1947, Watt Sleeth became ill and resigned from the The State Highway Department. His illness continued for six years and he died July 20, 1953 in Arkansas City.
Miss Pauline B. Sleeth was the youngest child of Major Sleeth. She was born in Arkansas City April 5, 1880. Pauline and her sister, Eula, both graduated with the 1898 class of Arkansas City High School.
The laws of the time allowed graduates of High School to teach the primary grades. Miss Pauline started teaching that fall at the Sleeth school. She taught grades one through five in the same room. She taught two years and then went to the College of Emporia for two years. She returned to Arkansas City and taught for two years at Roosevelt school. She then returned to Emporia to study two more years in order to receive her bachelor of arts degree.
Pauline then taught in the Chase County High School at Cottonwood Falls. She left there to take her masters degree at the University of Kansas.
Miss Sleeth then taught in the public school system in Abilene, Kansas. One of her ninth grade students was Dwight D. Eisenhower. When the Eisenhower Museum was opened in Abilene in 1959, Miss Pauline was one of the invited guests who visited with the General after the ceremonies. She took a years leave of absence to do post-graduate work at the University of Chicago.
Miss Sleeth returned to her home town in 1916 to become head of the English Department. She started journalism and speech classes in 1916-1917 as extra curriculum activities. The interested students stayed after school to attend. She held this position until 1926 when she transfered to the Junior College.
She remained at the Junior College, where she taught English, speech and teacher training until she retired in May of 1951.
Pauline Sleeth died Monday, July 27, 1964.
Amusing story about the Winfield Bank.
Winfield Courier, April 21, 1881.
The Winfield Bank was caught in a rather unpleasant predicament Tuesday. On Monday they had a workman fixing something about their safe, and it is thought he accidentally turned the dial on the time lock; at any rate, when the cashier came to open the safe at the usual time, he found that it would not open. This left the bank dead broke as far as the availability of their cash was concerned. In the emergency Read’s Bank came to the rescue and furnished Cashier Fuller with a roll of bills about the size of a man’s hat, with which the Winfield Bank did business until by close watching they caught the changed time of their lock and got the safe open. These timelocks are sometimes as annoying to the banks as they are to the burglars.