W. J. (“JAKE”) KEFFER.
[Note: This gentleman failed in Cowley County; he succeeded in Florida. Interesting items relative to his short acquaintance with an outlaw gang operating around Caldwell, Kansas.]
Pleasant Valley Township 1874: W. J. Keffer, 29. No spouse listed.
Pleasant Valley Township 1875: W. J. Keffer, 33. No spouse listed.
Pleasant Valley Township 1878: W. J. Keffer, 34; spouse, Emma, 28.
Pleasant Valley Township 1879: W. J. Keffer, 35; spouse, Emma J., 27.
Pleasant Valley Township 1881: W. J. Keffer, 37; spouse, E. J., 30.
Kansas 1875 Census Pleasant Valley Township, Cowley County, March 1, 1875.
Name age sex color Place/birth Where from
W. J. Keffer 33 m w Pennsylvania Illinois
FROM THE NEWSPAPERS.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, August 7, 1873.
W. J. Keffer vs. J. C. Smith: continued.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, October 30, 1873.
Proceedings of the Cowley County District Court, to Oct. 29th, 1873, the Following Causes having Been Disposed of.
W. J. Keffer vs. J. C. Smith et al, appeal dismissed.
Winfield Courier, February 18, 1875.
The Traveler says that Samuel Darrah, W. J. Keffer, and J. G. Titus start down the Arkansas in a flatboat with J. C. Lillie, managing Editor. . . .
Winfield Courier, February 25, 1875.
Samuel Darrah and J. G. Titus of this place, and Mr. Keffer of Pleasant Valley, started last Monday down the Arkansas River in a flat-boat bound for Fort Smith. We wish those hardy sailors a pleasant voyage.
Winfield Courier, March 18, 1875.
Sam Darrah, J. G. Titus, and Jake Keffer, the three hardy mariners who left Arkansas City a few weeks ago to test the navigability of the Arkansas River, returned home last Saturday. They report the navigation of the river impracticable for boats larger than the Great Eastern. The party floated down in a skiff as far as Fort Gibson, where they bought ponies to bring them back.
Winfield Courier, March 18, 1875.
District Court Docket.
CIVIL DOCKET. FOURTH DAY.
No. 464. John B. Lauffer, vs. W. J. Keffer, et al.
No. 469. Wyland J. Keffer, vs. Albert A. Newman, et al.
CIVIL DOCKET. FIFTH DAY.
No. 481. Wyland J. Keffer, vs. Henry C. Mowry, et al.
Arkansas City Traveler, January 26, 1876.
Notice is hereby given that the farm in the Walnut Valley formerly owned by W. J. Keffer is now, and has been for the past year, the property of E. N. Darling. All persons are strictly forbidden, under the severest penalty of the law, to take from said premises any timber, logs, or rails, either by the consent or otherwise of the said W. J. Keffer, as he has no authority to sell or otherwise dispose of any of the above named materials.
J. C. McMULLEN, Agent.
Arkansas City Traveler, February 2, 1876.
POND CREEK, I. T., Jan. 26, 1876.
I thought I would drop you a few lines and give you some of the news from this locality. A number of the Osage Indians have been camped here all winter, and have sent out hunting parties to the plains. The parties met with little success hunting buffalo, having to go 50 miles beyond Camp Supply. On their return, when about twenty miles east of Supply, they commenced killing cattle, thereby getting the soldiers after them. On or about the 22nd, the soldiers struck a camp of the Indians, killed one of the Big Hills, and took one girl, one woman, and a small boy prisoners, with about forty head of stolen ponies and mules. They struck one old woman on the head with a revolver, and left her for dead; but the old lady has come in, and is in a fair way to recover. I will write again. W. J. KEFFER.
Winfield Courier, March 23, 1876.
District Court Docket.
The following is a list of cases that will stand for trial at the April term A. D. 1876, of the District Court of Cowley, and have been placed on the Trial Docket in the following order.
First Day, Criminal Docket: State versus W. J. Keffer and Emma J. Hawkins.
Fourth Day, Civil Docket: W. J. Keffer vs. Emma A. Keffer; Emma J. Hawkins vs. E. C. Hawkins.
Winfield Courier, September 14, 1876.
The Republican voters of Pleasant Valley township met at Odessa schoolhouse, Saturday, September 9th. W. J. Keffer was chosen chairman and Samuel Watt secretary. The following resolutions were adopted and signed by all the voters present:
Resolved, That we will support no man for a county office who is not known to be a true Republican, and further that the votes of none be received here but those who pledge themselves to vote for Hayes and Wheeler in November next.
On motion Albert Dean and Saml. Watt were chosen delegates, and J. Mason and W. J. Keffer alternates to the county convention held on the 16th. A motion was made and carried to recommend a man from Pleasant Valley Township for the office of Probate Judge. The names of C. J. Brane and Calvin Dean were mentioned and the meeting adjourned.
Arkansas City Traveler, September 20, 1876.
MARRIED. At South Bend, Saturday, Sept. 10th, by Esquire J. P. Eckles, Miss Emma J. Straub and W. J. Keffer.
Arkansas City Traveler, September 27, 1876.
The following is a list of cases that will stand for trial at the October term, A. D., 1876, of the District Court, and have been placed on the trial docket in the following order.
Criminal Docket: State vs. W. J. Keffer et al.
Winfield Courier, November 2, 1876.
The following are the nominations for the various offices in Pleasant Valley Township: For trustee, Henry Harbaugh; treasurer, S. H. Tolles; clerk, C. J. Brane; justices of the peace, Henry Forbes and T. H. Henderson; constables, Samuel Waugh and Wm. Birdzell; road overseer, district No. 1, Frank Chapin, district No. 2, Jos. Hill, district No. 3, W. J. Keffer.
Arkansas City Traveler, November 8, 1876.
The following officers were nominated in the different townships, and most of them are probably elected.
Pleasant Valley Township. For Trustees of the Peace, Henry Forbes, T. H. Henderson; for Constables, Samuel Waugh, J. W. Birdzell; for Township Trustee, S. H. Tolles; for Township Clerk, C. J. Brane; for Road Overseers: Dist. No. 1, Frank Chapin; Dist. No. 2, W. J. Keffer; Dist. No. 3, Joe Hill.
Arkansas City Traveler, December 13, 1876.
KEFFER says he did not set the fire out in South Bend last Saturday, but found the man who did, and made him pay $5 for damages. The fire destroyed considerable property, burning Mr. Hyde’s 40 bushels of oats, 20 bushels of corn, hay, and stable, Schuster’s hay; and some hay of Tucker’s was burned. Mr. Lewis lost his stable, hay, and corn.
Arkansas City Traveler, July 25, 1877.
The Osages stole four horses from Jake Keffer about a month ago. He managed to get three of them back, and received pay for the other one after some delay.
Arkansas City Traveler, November 7, 1877.
The Race in South Bend.
The TRAVELER reporter arrived at South Bend last Saturday afternoon in time to witness the races, examine the horses, and hear the general talk of the bystanders. Nearly seventy-five people had gathered to see the trial of speed, and although all were interested, very little money exchanged hands. The track was on the Walnut River bottom, on the farm formerly owned by Fislar, and was one of the best we have seen in the Southwest. While it was hard on top, it had a spongy appearance, and gave slightly to the horses’ hoofs, enabling them to strike firm and strong without damaging the feet. The tracks were one-quarter of a mile in length, and far enough apart to prevent the riders striking one another’s horses, and level as a floor. At the starting point on one track was a shoot, or pen, made to prevent the horse from flying the track. This was used by the sorrel colt. For some time considerable parleying was done on how the horses would start, and the race was finally given up on account of a dispute. Simms, who made the race, contended they were to turn on a twelve foot score and run. Phaler, the owner of the gray horse, claimed they were to come up to the score and run. The bets had been a wagon, team, and horses, against a mule and wagon. Finally by allowing Phaler to withdraw the wagon and bet the mule against the wagon, team, and horses, the race was made up, and the horses taken to the end of the tract to start.
“Jack Rabbit,” owned by Dan Phaler, of Dutch Creek, is a gray horse, six years old, weighing 860 pounds, and remarkably well muscled. He is the same horse formerly owned by Hackney & McDonald, for which Phaler paid $360, and mortgaged his farm to pay for. The horse, to our eye, was not in good order for running. The horse was poorly handled and made the race as though he had been overworked or strained.
Some time was taken to get the horses started. Repeatedly they came to the scratch, but something would be wrong. One horse would not get started on the right foot or the other was not far enough ahead.
Finally the “go” was given and both horses sprang into the air and came bounding over the level surface as though shot from a canon. For awhile they ran nearly even; then the little sorrel hugged the ground like a greyhound, and began gaining inch by inch until near the middle of the track, when he ran away from the gray and reached the score several seconds before his adversary. Very little whipping was done, but the speed was good, the sorrel horse making the quarter of a mile in less than 30 seconds.
T. M. Vaughn, Jake Keffer, and Tom Shales were the judges, and gave the race to “John Bascom” by ten feet, although it appeared more like twenty from where we stood.
Other horses were on the ground, and two or three scrub races were run after the main race.
Col. McMullen’s “Sleepy Jack,” was generally admired, and many offered to bet he could outrun anything on the ground. But as no one seemed inclined to risk anything, and the Colonel did not propose to let him run, the matter was dropped.
Lewis Shales, of Rock Township, had his roan pony on hand, but did not have an opportunity to run him. His horse is a small, heavy built pony, branded “L. W. ALLEN,” and has good action.
It was late in the evening when the races were run, and everyone sought their homes as soon as it was over, congratulating themselves that they had seen one fair race if nothing more.
[COMMUNICATION FROM “J. F. H.”—PLEASANT VALLEY TOWNSHIP.]
Arkansas City Traveler, November 14, 1877.
SOUTH BEND, Nov. 8, 1877.
Mr. Nipp has about 200 hogs, 35 of which are ready for market, besides a large lot of cattle in his pasture. Mr. Keffer has about 80 fine hogs, 50 percent of which are ready for market. He has about 100 head of cattle in his pasture. Mr. Sitters has about 20 fine hogs, and 35 head of cattle. Mr. Campbell has a very fine lot of hogs.
A literary society was started on Monday night, Nov. 5th, at the South Bend schoolhouse. Mr. Keffer was appointed Chairman, and Miss Anna Wright, Secretary, for the evening. The society was organized and styled the “South Bend Literary Society.” Twenty-two members were enrolled. The society was adjourned to meet on Wednesday, Nov. 14th. All are invited.
A singing school will be commenced in a week or so. J. F. H.
Arkansas City Traveler, November 21, 1877.
SOUTH BEND. Having bought two hundred and twenty-five acres of stalks, taking in two miles of the Walnut River, timber and all; I am prepared to take in stock of all kinds, on liberal charges, for the winter. W. J. KEFFER.
[COMMUNICATION FROM J. FRANKLIN HESS—SOUTH BEND.]
Arkansas City Traveler, December 12, 1877.
The South Bend literary society met on Wednesday night. A good turn out. The programme for next night is: For debate—Resolved, That Intemperance causes more misery than the sword. Dialogue: Seth Ward and Frank Samson. Essay: Frank McLade. Select Reading: J. Keffer. Declamation: J. Franklin Hess. Song: John Corby. Speech: J. Franklin Hess. Paper: A. Bookwalter. Come one, come all. Lots of fun. Spelling school on Friday night, Dec. 14.
[COMMUNICATION FROM “FRANK SIDNEY JAMES”—SOUTH BEND.]
Arkansas City Traveler, January 16, 1878.
Capt. Nipp and Mr. Keffer have taken 80 hogs to Wichita. Capt. Nipp expects to start with some more in a few weeks.
The literary meets on Wednesday, Jan. 16. New officers will be elected on Jan. 23.
The “Herd Law” debate was decided in the affirmative. The subject for the next night is “Resolved that man is more attached to money than woman?” FRANK SIDNEY JAMES.
[SOUTH BEND CORRESPONDENT: “NITRO GLYCERINE.”]
Winfield Courier, August 8, 1878.
While at Captain Nipp’s, I was shown a stalk of corn on which was an ear ten feet from the ground. The same day I was at Mr. Jake Keffer’s, where I got another stalk of corn, which measured 14 feet and 4 inches in length. It can be seen lying at T. A. Wilkinson’s stable, in Winfield, by anyone doubting the truth of this statement. It is the largest stalk of corn I ever saw. Who can beat it? Bring them along. NITRO GLYCERINE.
Arkansas City Traveler, August 14, 1878.
LOST. On Sunday afternoon, between Arkansas City and W. J. Keffer’s farm, a small gold watch charm resembling a whale. The finder will receive $2 by leaving it at this office.
Arkansas City Traveler, August 14, 1878.
District 42 wants a female school teacher. Apply to W. J. Keffer, Capt. Nipp, or A. H. Broadwell, in South Bend.
Arkansas City Traveler, August 14, 1878.
W. J. Keffer killed a jack rabbit yesterday that weighed 22¼ pounds. Someone had shot a hole through each ear. That was the boss rabbit of the county.
[DISTRICT COURT DOCKET.]
Winfield Courier, May 1, 1879.
CIVIL DOCKET. NINTH DAY.
S. B. Atkinson vs. Jacob Keffer.
Michael Harkins vs. W. J. Keffer.
Winfield Courier, May 8, 1879.
Case dismissed: Michael Harkins vs. W. J. Keffer.
Arkansas City Traveler, June 4, 1879.
An epidemic has broken out among the horses. It is an aggravated form of distemper. Capt. Nipp has lost six and Jacob Keffer four.
Winfield Courier, August 28, 1879.
Case continued. S. B. Atkinson vs. W. J. Keffer. [And leave to answer.]
Arkansas City Traveler, November 19, 1879.
A team belonging to Jacob Keffer ran away on Saturday evening, smashing the buggy to pieces without doing any other damage.
Winfield Courier, February 12, 1880.
Wyland J. Keffer (everybody knows Jake) was arrested last Tuesday on the complaint of one Joseph Morain, for assault with double-barreled shot-gun, on the person of the subscriber, Joseph. Mr. Keffer gave a bond in the sum of $200 for his appearance on the 19th.
[COURT DOCKET: AUGUST TERM, 1880.]
Arkansas City Traveler, Wednesday, September 1, 1880. Front Page.
CIVIL DOCKET. THIRD DAY.
Emma J. Keffer vs. Geo Brown et al.
CIVIL DOCKET. FOURTH DAY.
Emma Keffer vs. A. T. Shenneman et al.
Arkansas City Traveler, October 20, 1880.
W. J. Keffer is busy as a bee with his saw-mill in South Bend, but he takes time to read the TRAVELER, and last Monday stuffed two good hard Republican dollars in our unwilling palm, saying he couldn’t possibly get along without the pioneer journal of the Arkansas Valley. Jake is one of our first subscribers, and has hung to the TRAVELER through thick and thin for ten years.
[COWLEY COUNTY DISTRICT COURT.]
Arkansas City Traveler, December 1, 1880.
CIVIL DOCKET. SIXTH DAY.
W. J. Keffer vs. T. C. Norman.
Arkansas City Traveler, February 2, 1881.
HAY FOR SALE. W. J. Keffer of South Bend has 75 tons of good hay for sale.
[REPORT FROM “NOVUS HOMO” - SOUTH BEND.]
Arkansas City Traveler, March 9, 1881.
We are to have new grist mill where Keffer’s saw mill is.
Our literary society is well attended. Last Wednesday night was a very stormy one, but there was a full attendance. NOVUS HOMO.
Arkansas City Traveler, May 11, 1881.
Among the cases disposed of, in the District court, last Friday, we noticed the following:
W. J. Keffer vs. T. B. Norman, appeal dismissed.
Winfield Courier, May 12, 1881.
The following cases have been disposed of by the court up to date.
Keffer vs. Brown, judgment for defendant.
Keffer vs. Shenneman, case dismissed at cost of plaintiff.
Winfield Courier, August 18, 1881.
Jake Keffer has again been grabbed by the law. This time Uncle Sam is the prosecutor, and the charge is for sending obscure literature through the mails. It seems that Mr. Keffer had been sued by someone and the summons served on him. He returned it to Justice Kelly with a letter in which he defied the law and lawyers; said he had not, and never would have, a dollars worth of property in the county, and for him to send on his summons. Jake’s language was not copied from the classics, nor had there been any effort at elegance or diction. Brevity and force was what the writer wanted, and he got it. A man could retire to private life if he had all the money that Jake has spent in lawing.
Winfield Courier, August 18, 1881.
Hon. J. R. Hallowell, U. S. District Attorney, was in town Monday and Tuesday, trying the Woodruff and Keffer cases before Commissioner Webb.
Winfield Courier, September 22, 1881.
The following is a list of old soldiers in Pleasant Valley township as far as taken.
W. J. Keffer, Co. F, 55th Ill., infantry.
Winfield Courier, October 6, 1881.
Pleasant Valley township.
Old soldiers met at Odessa schoolhouse Oct. 1st and organized. On motion Henry Forges was chosen Secretary. The following comrades were named officers.
Captain: Henry Harbaugh. Fist Lieutenant: Geo. W. Robertson. Second Lieutenant: W. J. Keffer. Orderly Sergeant: Francis M. Wells. First duty Sergeant: Z. B. Meyer.
B. W. Sitter, W. J. Keffer, and J. W. Feuquay were chosen as the committee on general arrangements for the reunion. HENRY FORBES, Sec’y.
Cowley County Courant, Winfield, Kansas, December 22, 1881.
About two o’clock Saturday afternoon a number of cowboys attacked Caldwell with the declaration that they intended to take the town, and a bloody fight ensued, the use of fire-arms being brought into wicked use. All seemed to take an active part, and the fight was a bloody one, resulting in the death of one citizen and two cowboys. Excitement was at such a heat as to make it impossible for the operator at Caldwell to get anything like a full report of the bloody affair up to the time the representative of the Courant was compelled to leave the telegraph office. Finally it got too hot for the cowboys, and they jumped upon their horses and started out of town. The citizens fired on them from all sides, killing one cowboy and one pony, the rider jumping on behind another companion, and they rode out of town, both firing as they went.
A posse of citizens followed the cowboys out south of town about four miles and caught some of them, and at last reports were returning to the city with the prisoners, where the Santa Fe train is waiting to take them to Wellington.
A later dispatch says that the cowboys returning under guard have bucked, not wishing to set it that way, but that the citizens have rounded the cowboys up, and sent to town for more help. The citizen killed was Mike Meagher, an ex-mayor of Wellington, who has ever been considered a brave and daring fellow, and a dangerous man. One of the cowboys shot when the row first commenced, the second as they were retreating out of town, and the third out about four miles.
As we go to press, we learn the cowboys escaped from citizens on foot; and meeting freighters on Pond Creek, took their horses and rode away, twenty citizens in pursuit, Meagher and Geo. Speer killed, and W. C. Campbell wounded.
Cowley County Courant, December 29, 1881.
As many of our readers are interested in the cowboy trouble and would like particulars, we clip the following from the Caldwell Post, which is as authentic as any statement of the affair will be.
“To begin at the beginning of this affair, one would have to get into the secrets of men’s hearts, so we will only begin at the apparent beginning.
“One Jim Talbot, who has been around the city about a month gambling, drinking, bullying, and attempting to bulldoze everyone, was the leader of the party. With Talbot on the drinking spree during the night were Jim Martin, Bob Bigtree, Tom Love, Bub Munsen, Dick Eddleman, and George Speers. Speers did none of the shooting, but was in the act of saddling one of Tablot’s horses when he was shot. Talbot, Martin, Bigtree, Munsen, and Doug Hill were standing, holding their horses near Speers, waiting for him to saddle up.
“After the fighting in the city, and Mike Meagher and George Speers were killed, the five outlaws—Jim Talbot, Bob Bigtree, Bob Munsen, Jim Martin, and Doug Hill—rode off to the east of town, across the railroad track. Some one of the citizens fired at and killed a horse from under one of them. He got up behind one of the other men. A party of citizens organized, mounted horses, and started in pursuit. The outlaws met a man bringing hay to town, with a lead horse in the rear of the wagon. They cut the horse loose and rode it off. At W. F. Campbell’s they got two more horses, those they were riding having been wounded. The party of citizens got sight of them just before they crossed Bluff Creek into the Indian Territory. There were five of the outlaws then, but after they appeared on the prairie beyond, there were only four. They followed at a break-neck pace, both parties keeping up a constant fire for about twelve miles. The outlaws headed for Deutcher Bros. Horse Ranch on Deer Creek, intending to get fresh horses there, but were so closely pressed by the pursuing party that they could not make change and get away. When they reached the ranch, the citizens were only a few hundred feet away.
“The outlaws passed on to the bluff and creek about six hundred feet south of the ranch, dismounted, and took to the brush and rocks, firing all the time at the citizens. The citizens finally drove them over the bluff and into a canyon, where there had been a stone dugout. Into this three of the outlaws went, threw up breast-works of stone, got behind them, and would bang away at anyone who showed an inch of his person to their view. The citizens surrounded the gulch and kept up a constant firing at the fort, but without effect. One of the outlaws took refuge up in a small gulch leading to the west, and was not seen until he fired at W. E. Campbell, who was sliding down the hill on his face to get a commanding point above the fort. The outlaw’s ball took effect in Campbell’s wrist, passing between the two bones. Another ball passed through his clothes six or seven times, and made a small flesh wound on his thigh. This disconcerted the citizens to a certain extent, and it being dark, they could do but little good in fighting. Being up above the outlaws, they were splendid marks for their fire, while the outlaws were in the shadows, so that their position could not be distinguished. Had the fourth man been anywhere else in the gulch, the citizens could have taken them in; but his position covered every point that the others were exposed from. In fact, they held the key to the situation. Thirty minutes more daylight would have told the tale for the outlaws; or had Campbell escaped the fire of the villain that shot him, he could have killed the other three in as many minutes as his position commanded the fort in every corner. The two parties were not seventy-five feet apart at any time during the battle, while Campbell’s men were not over twenty-five feet from him when he was shot. Jonny Hall got a bullet through the top of his hat, missing his head about an inch.
“Reinforcements arrived at the ranch from town about ten o’clock. Pickets were formed around the gulch, but the outlaws had flown before that time. There were only about fifteen men at the place during the evening fight, and most of them returned to town as soon as Campbell was shot, leaving only six men to guard the gulch and over thirty head of horses. The horses required the attention of at least four men, for they were what the outlaws needed.
“The morning round-up revealed the fact that the outlaws had escaped. The entire party, except Sheriff Thralls, Frank Evans, Bob Harrington, Jim Dobson, Sam Sawyer, Mr. Freeman, A. Rhodes, another man, and the writer hereof, came to town. About thirty-five came in, leaving the small party to look up the outlaws, inform the camps below to look out for stolen stock, etc. Our party visited two or three camps on Deer Creek and started for home. We met several parties coming out from town, most of them for fun, others for business. They all returned before night.
“A party of fifteen was organized by the mayor and started out Sunday evening to guard certain cow camps to see that no horses were stolen from them. The outlaws traveled six or seven miles, possibly ten, Saturday night.
“Two freighters were camped on Bullwhacker Creek, about eighteen miles south of this city Sunday night, when Talbot’s party, five in number this time, rounded them up and took five horses from them. Two of the party were bare-headed, and one had a slight wound in his foot. The outlaws started south. The freighters came in about two o’clock, when Sheriff Thralls, with a posse, started his pursuit. Another party of freighters passed the outlaws near Pond Creek during the night. The outlaws were going south.
“A party was organized Tuesday evening, and started to Cantonment to intercept them there. Mr. George Brown was in charge of the party.
“Campbell, the citizen who was wounded in the cowboy war, had twenty-seven holes in his clothing made by cowboy bullets.
“It seems that Tell Walton, of the Caldwell Post, was slightly mixed up in the Caldwell trouble. Friday night before the affray, during the rendering of the play of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Jim Talbot, the man who shot Meagher, indulged in obscene remarks, and was requested by Walton to desist. Talbot cursed and threatened to ‘fix’ him next day.”
Cowley County Courant, December 29, 1881.
From the Wichita Beacon we copy the following concerning one of the victims of the Caldwell tragedy.
“The remains of Mike Meagher were laid out in the parlor of Capt. Steel until 10 a.m., Tuesday, when they were removed to the Catholic Church for the funeral services. The face looked as natural as life, and was more like a quiet sleep than like death. Mike had his faults, but they were more on the generous side than on the mean side of human nature. For the past twelve years, since he has been in this section, his official life has thrown him in contact with the roughest, most desperate and dangerous class, and he has stood many a time between this city and bloodshed by his good judgment, cool bravery, and by the generosity of his nature, which the most desperate recognized. Mike had his faults; there was even blood on his hands, shed while he was an officer. How much of that was on his soul, no one but his Maker can know. We only know that Mike had qualities that drew about him many warm friends, and in this city nearly everybody liked Mike Meagher. His wife is quite heart-broken over her sudden and cruel loss, and for her and the others of Mike’s family we have great sympathy.”
Cowley County Courant, January 5, 1882.
We clip the following from the Caldwell Commercial, which has some connection with the escaped cowboys, but more particularly to a W. J. Keffer, who, if we mistake not, resides in this county and is well known to many of our citizens.
Last Sunday about dusk W. J. Keffer, a freighter between Caldwell and Cantonment, arrived at Gilmore’s stable with the five horses which the Talbot gang had taken from the Harmon’s on the night of the 12th inst. Early on Monday morning we sought Mr. Keffer for the purpose of interviewing him as to where and how he obtained possession of the stock. Keffer at first declined to be interviewed, but a vigorous pressure of the reportorial thumbscrews finally extorted his version of the affair which we condense as closely as possible.
According to Keffer’s story, he had lost three head of horses on the Friday night previous to the shooting in town. The next day he started on a hunt for them. On Monday or Tuesday of last week, he heard of the loss sustained by the Harmon’s, and obtained a description of their stock. Last Friday afternoon, while riding on the bluffs on the other side of Big Turkey creek, north of the Cantonment trail, he saw a party of men riding towards the creek, and having several horses besides those they rode. They entered the timber and disappeared from sight. He then crossed the creek, and in the brush he discovered three of the horses taken from the freighters, and one gray and one black horse, all tied up. There were other loose horses around, but he did not care to stop and examine them at that time. About a mile and a half from where the horses were tied, he met two men riding two of Harmon’s large bay horses. He describes one of them as a tall, dark man, with black whiskers, and a little bald on the front part of his head; the other appeared to be a medium sized man, light complexion, and face shaved with the exception of whiskers and mustache.
Keffer says he did not appear to notice them, but went on to his camp. Keffer says when he met the men, one of them, whom he thinks was Talbot from the description he had of him, dropped behind and asked if he was looking for horses. Keffer answered that he was. The men then rode on without saying anything further. On Saturday morning about 3 o’clock, Keffer says he went to where he had seen the horses tied, and found all five of them, including the two he had seen the two men riding the day before. These five he untied, led out, and started for town. Reached Pond Creek ranch on Saturday evening, where he met one of the Harmon’s, and came into Caldwell on Sunday evening as before stated.
Two freighters who passed Wilson’s camp on Turkey Saturday, arriving here on Sunday night, say that Wilson told them the desperadoes stayed at his place on Friday night, and on Saturday morning. They sent the horses back, saying they intended to keep their word, if they did get into a shooting scrape.
This, of course, contradicts Keffer’s story; but as the latter is an old resident of Cowley County, and has been engaged for a number of years in freighting, he may have told the whole truth and nothing but the truth regarding the manner of obtaining possession of the stock.
Since the above was written, facts have come to our knowledge which go to show that Keffer lied, wholesale and retail, when he made his statement to us. We are informed that the ruffians went to the stage station on the Cantonment road, last Thursday, and stated that they wanted to find a man by whom they could send back the horses they had taken from the freighters. Not finding anyone, they left, and on Friday returned, and finding Keffer there, they turned the horses over to him with instructions to take them to Caldwell. This, we believe to be the bottom facts. Keffer sought to make it appear that he was a great hero and a brave man; hence he invented the yarn about stealing the horses from under the noses of the desperadoes. As a picturesque liar, Keffer has failed miserably.
[Note: Some of the stories refer to Talbott—not Talbot.]
Winfield Courier, January 5, 1882.
Jake Keffer and Mr. Hostetter, of Pleasant Valley, brought in the five horses the Caldwell rowdies rode away into Caldwell last Sunday. Jake says he saw the horses tied to a bush, crept up in the middle of the night, and stole them away. Another man came in and said that Talbott turned the horses over to Jake at Siber’s ranch and instructed him to take them to Caldwell, saying that they had promised to send them back in six days and they proposed to do it. Jake did not get any reward for bringing in the horses. He and Mr. Hostetter had lost three horses and were looking for them when they met the outlaws, and they have not found their own horses yet.
Arkansas City Traveler, January 11, 1882.
The Caldwell Commercial gives a glowing account of Jacob Keffer of this county, for bringing in four horses taken by the desperadoes, who recently fled from that place. Jake made the Commercial man believe he knew the horses were the identical ones taken by the thieves, and at a dead hour of the night crawled to their camp and stole them away, while they were camped on Turkey Creek, where Jake was hunting. The Commercial then gives him a benefit as follows.
Since the above was written, facts have come to our knowledge which go to show that Keffer lied, wholesale and retail, when he made his statement to us. We were informed that the ruffians went to the stage station on the Cantonment road last Thursday, and stated that they wanted to find a man by whom they could send back the horses they had taken from the freighters. Not finding anyone they left, and on Friday returned, and finding Keffer there, they turned the horses over to him with instructions to take them to Caldwell. This, we believe to be the bottom facts. Keffer sought to make it appear that he was a great hero and a very brave man, hence he invented the yarn about stealing the horses from under the noses of the desperadoes. As a picturesque liar, Keffer has failed miserably.
Note: First part must have been covered in missing December 28, 1881, issue.
Winfield Courier, January 19, 1882.
Messrs. Wilson and Hostetter returned from a trip to the Territory last week in search of Jake Keffer and Hostetter’s horses which strayed away. They found them on Turkey Creek.
Winfield Courier, February 16, 1882.
Hackney & McDonald sold the Jake Keffer farm in Pleasant Valley Township to Kyle McClung for $2,500.
Cowley County Courant, April 6, 1882.
Wm. Cotrill and an old lady named Lee, were arrested in Arkansas City Thursday and brought to this city and held for preliminary examination, to answer to a charge of having stolen some household goods from the K. C. L. & S. depot in this city a week or so ago. They were arrested at the instance of Jake Keffer, of Arkansas City, who claims the goods were his and that the parties got them away from the depot by false representations.
Arkansas City Traveler, June 14, 1882.
Col. Alexander, R. H. True, G. A. Rhodes, Ed. Likowski, and W. J. Keffer are among the Cowley County people with Capt. Norton in Florida, raising oranges.
Winfield, Courier, April 19, 1883.
Uncle Joe Likowski returned from Florida last week to attend to some business here. He is well pleased with Florida, and has cleared, mostly with his own hands, two and a half acres of timber land. He says that all of Cowley’s people are doing well there. Jake Keffer is postmaster, proprietor of a new town and a saw-mill with a lease on twelve hundred acres of timber and has made himself rich in a year.
SOUTH BEND. “G. V.”
Winfield Courier, Thursday, February 26, 1885.
It is rumored that Jake Keffer, a former South Bendite, ranks as postmaster in Florida.