STOCK PROTECTIVE UNIONS.
For many years outlaw gangs operated in Texas, Indian Territory, and Kansas, stealing tens of thousands of dollars worth of cattle and horses from both the Indians and white settlers. These gangs often started in Texas, driving the stock north through the Territory, always under charge of some outlaw along the route, driven by hidden and unused trails through a country so sparsely settled that often days elapsed without a human being in sight to identify either the stock or the thieves.
In Volume I—The Beginning, History of Cowley County, Kansas, the story is related of a Vigilante group who took action in Kansas in 1870 due to the pistol whipping of a veteran of the Civil War, Mr. Crawford, and the theft of his stock near Wichita. Three of those involved (James Smith, Jack Corbin, George Booth) were hanged near Douglass, Kansas, along with Lewis Booth, a brother of George Booth. Later four more of the gang (William G. Quimby, Michael Drea, Dr. James Morris and his son, Alex) were hung.
In 1872 a herd law went into effect in Kansas, which required stock owners to take care of their own cattle, horses, hogs, and sheep. Stock were not permitted to run at large unless with a herder. One could travel for miles and miles along the primitive roads and trails with fields on either side and no fences.
The early-day Vigilantes were replaced by different entities to protect stock, generally called “Stock Protective Unions.”
At Arkansas City a series of events brought about the demise of its Stock Protective Union in 1877. In June that year complaints were made by citizens of cattle running at large and injuring shade trees and gardens. Citizens were advised by City Marshal W. J. Gray that the cattle must not be turned loose until the herders came for them. Owners of such stock were held for damages. In October Marshal Gray began taking up cattle from the town herd, which no longer had herders, and a number of owners had to pay charges to retrieve them.
East of Arkansas City across the Walnut River a Stock Protective Union existed. Henry Coryell was the Captain. G. H. Shearer was the clerk. They held their meetings at the Parker Schoolhouse. South of Arkansas City was the Stock Protective Union of Bolton township.
At Caldwell, Kansas, a series of meetings was started in 1877 by area stockmen; as a result, an organization was started in that city with the purpose of assisting stockmen who were located in the Indian Territory or holding stock there to protect themselves.
In 1878 the wonderful profits to be made in raising stock were pointed out. It was noted that if properly attended to, a man with $1,000 invested in stock could make himself wealthy in ten years. Horses could be bought from $40 to $75 each; ponies from $20 to $40. Milch cows could be purchased for $25. Calves ranged in price from $3 to $5; yearlings from $8 to $12.
Ads were placed by those willing to handle stock. W. J. Keffer, who lived at South Bend, bought 250 acres of stalks, taking in two miles of the Walnut river, timber and all. He took in stock of all kinds, on liberal terms, for the winter. Dennis Harkins, of East Bolton township, advertised that he would herd cattle in the Territory five miles south of Arkansas, and corral them every night for 20 cents per head for each month, handy to timber and water.
Stock raisers in East Bolton township began making arrangements to put their stock on the range in the Indian Territory in March 1878.
The stock men of the northern part of Indian Territory held a meeting at Norton’s old ranch, Saturday, April 27th, to talk over matters of general interest to themselves.
Objections were raised by many to wire fencing, which inflicted many severe wounds upon stock enclosed therein.
R. L. Walker, the former Cowley County Sheriff, and Nathan Hughes, M. D., from Arkansas City, were appointed by the Secretary of the Interior as Special Agents for the unoccupied Indian reserves and Government lands in March 1878. The duties they were to undertake were many: stop all timber depredations, collect tax on cattle in the Territory, arrest all parties trafficking in liquor within their jurisdiction, and general supervision of all matters not assigned to the different Indian Agencies. In April they sought a suitable place for their headquarters. Within a short time Walker resigned.
Dr. Hughes went to Denton, Texas, where he made arrangements with cattlemen who intended to pasture cattle in Indian Territory. He then established his headquarters on the Cimarron River at the stage crossing, where he issued permits to all who wanted pasture privileges, for sixty cents a year, or five cents per head each month. In May 1878 he went to Washington for a conference. Like Walker, he resigned.
Bolton Township Stock Protective Union.
Bolton township in Cowley County was positioned south and west of Arkansas City. In time the area that was south of the Arkansas river became known as “East Bolton” and the area that was west of the Arkansas river became known as “West Bolton.” By 1878 the Stock Protective Union at “East Bolton” became very important to area stockmen. The object of the organization was to prevent stock stealing, and follow the transgressors.
Lyman C. Norton.
Lyman C. Norton, a cousin of Prof. Henry Brace Norton and Capt. Gould Hyde Norton, two of the founders of Arkansas City, came from Illinois in the early days with his large family. He settled in Creswell township, living on a farm just north of Arkansas City. He purchased 400 acres in Bolton township south of Arkansas City on which he raised wheat and kept cattle. L. C. Norton was a member of the board of directors of the Arkansas City Bank, owned by Col. J. C. McMullen. His oldest daughter, Lillian, became assistant principal of the school in Arkansas City. She married Guy L. Kennedy in June 1876. They soon moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Lucius E. Norton, only son of L. C. Norton, often stayed at the Bolton township residence when not attending school in Arkansas City. It was noted in November 1876 that Lucius had given up his abode to a family of seven cats, which were having a general jubilee with the vermin of the Norton ranch in Bolton township. L. C. Norton began to rent the house in Bolton township. He later established another abode for his use when in that locality.
J. W. Feagins.
By October 1877 the house formerly used by Lucius E. Norton was rented to J. W. Feagins of Iowa. In 1878 Mr. Feagins became very nervous when warned by the Stock Protective Union that suspicious characters had been observed and to keep a look out for horse thieves. An attempt had already been made to steal Feagins’ team, and he went to bed very nervous. About 1:00 a.m., on May 6, 1878, Feagins was awakened by L. C. Norton’s mules snorting. He grabbed up his gun and went out to the horses; and when he was about fifteen paces from them, he saw two men mounted on their backs. He leveled his Spencer rifle on the nearest one, and pulled the trigger just as he heard the click of the thief’s pistol. After the report of the gun, he saw the man fall on the horse’s withers and heard him groan as if in terrible agony. In a few minutes both of the thieves were out of sight. About thirty minutes later the horse that had the wounded man on it returned. Later that morning the two squads of the Bolton Township Stock Protective Union, under charge of Captains Hoffmaster and Lorry, were ordered out, and began scouring the country.
About 9:00 a.m. Lyman Herrick brought back the other horse, which he found tied to a tree on Chilocco creek about six miles from the State line. The lariat was spotted with blood. A man’s footprints were observed by Herrick leading to a wheat field, where all trace of them was lost. In July 1878 a body was found in this wheat field.
Lyman Herrick came from Canada with his wife and sister-in-law, Mary Urquhart, and became a resident of Bolton township. A musician, Herrick was in great demand whenever a band was needed. In 1875 Wellington made arrangements to have a band from Arkansas City discourse sweet music at their Fourth of July celebration, which called for ten pieces. Several members of the band were absent. After much skirmishing around, nine musicians were found. The tenth member of the band was a dummy; or in other words, a make-believe player with a silent horn. The following gentlemen went to Wellington with Lyman Herrick: E. R. and W. S. Thompson, Rob and Tom Baird, C. R. Sipes, Frank Speers, Rit Berkey, Charley Balcom, and Al. Wells. Everything went off serenely and the band got their pay.
In June 1877, while in the company of Miss Urquhart, Mr. Herrick attempted to ford Wolf Creek in Indian Territory, about sixteen miles from Arkansas City. Both managed to extricate themselves, but his team of horses was drowned. Lyman Herrick moved back to Canada in 1881.
The Bolton Stock Protective Union in 1878 became alarmed over the number of horse thieves in Cowley County. Men were becoming desperate when their very existence depended on their horses, which were constantly being stolen from them. Before C. M. Scott left on his Texas trip, the S. P. U. asked him to purchase a brace of bloodhounds to enable them to track thieves.
Scott left on Wednesday, June 26, 1878, and found very few bloodhounds in Texas. None were for sale. During the time that Scott was gone, the Arkansas City Traveler was handled by E. G. Gray and H. P. Standley. James Christian handled some of the editorials.
Born September 29, 1819, at Isla Lecale, Down County, Ireland, James Christian came to the United States when he was 15, locating at first in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he learned the trade of a saddler. In 1842, at the age of 23, Christian began the study of law in Kentucky. Due to a lack of funds, he was compelled to take other jobs while he continued to study law. He married in 1846, at the age of 27, Malinda G. Ross. He was admitted to the bar in 1851, at the age of 32, and commenced practice in Missouri. In 1854, at the age of 35, James Christian came to Kansas and located at Lawrence. A year later he was elected first clerk and recorder of Douglas County and was clerk of the probate court. On December 5, 1855, at the age of 36, Christian was admitted to practice in the supreme court of Kansas: the date on which the court was organized. As mentioned in Volume II, The Indians, Cowley County History, James Christian was present May 21, 1856, when the “Sacking of Lawrence” took place. When a mob gathered with ropes to hang Pomeroy, he saved him and Judge Miller of Lawrence by concealing them in his office. On August 21, 1863, when “Quantrill’s raid took place, the James Christian family was saved by a young lady, who was taking a ride out on the prairie with her boy friend. She was caught by the raiders while her gallant friend hastily rode off. She became friendly with her captors and pleaded with them to spare different members of her family, including “Uncle Jimmy” in her list. She succeeded in sparing the lives of a number of people in Lawrence during the raid. James Christian was appointed by President Lincoln as commissary of subsistence in the army, with the rank of Captain. He held this position until 1864, when at the age of 45, he was mustered out. A year later he was appointed by President Johnson as U. S. Attorney for Dakota Territory.
James Christian came to Arkansas City in 1875, at the age of 56, with his family. He had three daughters: Georgia, Molly, and Linda.
At the Christmas Eve festival given by the ladies of the Methodist Society in Arkansas City, a fancy table was supplied with ornamental articles, among which was a veteran law book, 131 years old, contributed by Judge James Christian for exhibition.
Judge James Christian was a Master of Sharpsburg Lodge No. 11, in Kentucky, in 1849; and of Prairie Lodge No. 90, in Missouri, in 1850. He was the first Master of the fourth lodge of the Free Masons organized in the Territory of Kansas. He helped to organize the first Grand Lodge in Kansas, but owing to political troubles, the lodge was listed as sixth on the list inasmuch as it was located in that abolition den, Lawrence.
A Scrap of Kansas History.
Judge James Christian supplied the following story to the Historical Society of Kansas, which was desirous of scraps of the unwritten history of Kansas in order to illustrate the lives and acts of its early settlers. Judge Christian thought the story would shed a little light on one of the saddest events that ever occurred in the early days of Kansas settlement: the death of Gaius Jenkins at the hands of James H. Lane, familiarly known as “Jim” Lane.
“The circumstances of the killing, the supposed causes that led to the terrible calamity, the trial of Lane before Justice Ladd, and all the facts connected with it, were published in the papers of that day, so that a republication of these facts would throw no new light on the subject. But as nearly all the principal actors in the drama are now in their graves, I now propose to give a little scrap of history—a link in the chain of causes that produced that catastrophe—that came under my own observation, and of which I had personal cognizance at the time.
“Those familiar with the early events in Lawrence will remember that shortly after Col. Lane settled in that place, in the spring of 1855, one of his children died and was buried on his claim, a short distance southwest of the old ‘log house’ he then lived in. Around the little grave was a neat paling fence.
“In the fall of that year the ‘Kansas troubles’ commenced. Col. Lane was, as all will remember, absent much of the time during that winter and the following year of 1856, and his family, with the exception of little Jennie, was then in Indiana. During the troubles, and while Lane was absent pleading the cause of the Free-State party, Jenkins, being a settler on the same claim, took forcible possession of Lane’s log house, and plowed up and cultivated the land that Lane had broken up, and on which his child was buried.
“In 1857, on the return of Lane and family, all traces of the grave were gone, having been plowed over and cultivated the previous year, and the fence removed so that not the faintest trace of where the grave was could be found.
“Lane and myself spent several days hunting and digging about where we supposed the grave was located, and both came to the conclusion that the body had been dug up, as no trace of the coffin could be found or any part of the paling fence. When we concluded it must have been raised by someone, Lane instantly laid it to Jenkins, his enemy and claim contestant. I shall never forget the expression of his face as, with compressed lips, he exclaimed: ‘Such a G_d d_____d ghoul is not fit to live! If I was only certain that he dug up my child out of revenge on me, I would kill him at first sight.’
“The tears started in his eyes. I tried to calm him by telling him we might be mistaken in the exact distance from the house—that as the ground had been plowed over, and no mound perceivable, the body might still be there.
“‘Yes,’ said he, ‘but why did the d____d brute tear the paling away, and plow over the grave so that it could never be found?’
“This was a conundrum that I could not answer, but had to admit it was a most beastly and inhuman act. The remembrance of that child’s grave still rankled in his breast against Jenkins until the fatal encounter in 1858, when Jenkins was slain.
“‘General’ Lane, until the day of his death, believed that Jenkins dug up the child and threw it away. Whether he was guilty or not, God only knows, but these are the facts as I saw and heard them. Lane, with all his faults, was a loving and an affectionate father, passionately fond of his children. JAMES CHRISTIAN.”
Activities Under Judge James Christian.
In March 1878 two well appearing young men rode into Arkansas City and stopped for the night. In the morning they sold their horses very cheaply, claiming they were from Sumner County and needed money. In the meantime a postal card was received stating that two horses, a sorrel horse with white face and a bay horse, had been stolen from Thayer, Kansas, about 100 miles distant. One of the horses had been purchased in the meantime by Mr. A. J. Riddle, a dry goods merchant, who traded a suit of clothes for it. The postal card was directed to the City Marshal, and was handed to Wm. Gray, who, with constable Morgan, examined the property, found the description almost exact, and arrested the two men in the saloon without resistance. They had a preliminary trial before Judge Christian and were bound over to appear at the next term of the District Court to be held in May. In default of bail, they were committed to jail. Their demeanor before Judge Christian was such as to make anyone believe they were guilty, as they declined to give their names or answer any questions. Before taking them to jail, Mr. Riddle recovered the clothes he had traded them, but he did not recover the $4 in cash he gave as booty.
On March 25, 1878, on complaint of Wm. Gray, city marshal, L. H. Gardner was arraigned before Judge Christian for selling intoxicating liquors without a license. Amos Walton acted as attorney for the city, and C. R. Mitchell for the defendant. After hearing the testimony, the evidence failed to sustain the charge, and Mr. Gardner was discharged. The cost will have to be paid by the city. It is the opinion of the Police Judge that no one can sell liquor without a license under the city ordinance, for medical purposes or otherwise. This will compel all drug stores to take out a license, unless the ordinance is amended.
On March 28, 1878, Judge James Christian wrote a letter to the editor of the Lawrence Standard, in which he described activities occurring in Cowley County.
“In the past 48 hours we have had copious showers. The ground is now soaking wet, and it is pouring down rain. This insures our wheat crop, unless some unforeseen event happens to injure or destroy our prospects. Our wheat crop never looked better at this season of the year. In many places it is two feet high, much of it jointing. But the oldest inhabitant never heard, saw, or dreamed of such a season as this. Our peach trees are nearly all out of bloom, and the leaves are out quite green in the woods; some trees, as the maples, are almost in full leaf. The prairies are quite green—as much so as I have seen them in May. Our farmers are preparing for harvest already, selecting their reapers, harvesters, and headers. This season nearly all the harvesters are supplied with self-binders. In a few years, if our agricultural machinists keep on inventing, our farmers will have nothing to do but oversee and give instructions, ring a little bell, and the horses will hitch up themselves and go to work, plow and sow, reap and mow, and haul the grain to market.
“Our implement dealers have the sidewalks encumbered with plows of all descriptions—
breakers, stirrers, sulky, and gang plows of all kinds, patterns, patents, and descriptions, besides a lot of implements that I don’t know the use of.
“With such machinery skillfully handled in our productive soil, with seasonable weather, who can contemplate the amount of produce that Cowley County might raise and export? Oh, if we only had an outlet down the Arkansas river to New Orleans direct, instead of going 1,100 miles around by way of Kansas City and St. Louis to get there! It is exactly the same distance from this place to Fort Smith, Arkansas, as it is to Kansas City, Missouri, and precisely the same distance to Napoleon, at the mouth of the Arkansas, that it is to St. Louis. At Napoleon we are only 615 miles above New Orleans—48 hours by steamer—while St. Louis is 1,240 miles, usually six days by steamer.
“With the Arkansas River open for navigation from this place or Wichita to the mouth, there need be no famine in China, India, or elsewhere. The fertile valley of the Arkansas, like the Nile of old, would be the granary of the world. Its mild and healthful climate, rich and productive soil, must soon attract the attention of emigrants to its mines of hidden wealth. If our Government would spend one-fifth the amount in the cleaning and improving of our noble river that she does on some eastern harbor or ocean project, our most sanguine hopes would be more than realized, and it would pay the world at large in getting cheap food for the starving millions.
“We want no protection from the Government for our labor. All we ask is a cheap outlet to the sea, the highway of nations, down to the Father of Waters. Broad or narrow gauge railroad bonds may, like physic, be thrown to the dogs.
“I see your people and Kansas City are on the right track—the agitation of river navigation and improvement. It is the poor man’s best hold. No pooling or combination in that. The mud scow and the floating palace have the same rights there. It is open to all, like the king’s highway—the rich man’s coach or the tinker’s cart. Keep the ball rolling. Hurrah for Eads and river navigation. JAMES CHRISTIAN.”
In April 1878 James Christian, a Democrat, was elected to the office of Police Judge. A month later James Morgan was appointed as City Marshal. In June that year two cowboys from Texas arrived in Arkansas City and proceeded to fill up on “tanglefoot.” They then rode up and down main street with their carbines strapped on their backs. They soon made inquiries as to the whereabouts of “that G d d d city marshal.” They got their wish fulfilled. Morgan wasted no time in pulling one cowboy from his horse and ordering the other one to dismount. They followed him to the Police Court with about as much nerve as a sheep, where Judge Christian collected eight dollars each from them.