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posted
I came upon this newspaper article a few days ago. I have read of the story in other places.

Southwest Chronicle September 6, 1888

Thieves Of Squaw Canon
A man who lives eighteen miles south and two miles west Of Liberal, was in the city last Saturday and reported that
a fight had occurred the night previous, between a party of men who pretended to be catching wild horses between the Beaver and Palo Duro rivers, but who had been making a business of stealing the settlers stock, and the vigelence committee of the Strip, resulting in the killing of seven of the thieves and two of the committee. Since that time no other news has been heard and in all probability the "Stripper" got reports mixed re­garding the exact location and intended to report the affair in Squaw Canon in the west end of the Neutral Strip. The following from Richfield is a correct report regarding the status of affairs.
RICHFIELD, KANs., Wild stories come in daily from the Squaw Canon country, and the horsethief hunt. Allowing the usual per cent. for romance the facts seem to be that the settlers are making a general war upon the horsethieves with all possible vigor but owing to the strength of the latter and the nature of the country the progress is slow but one outlaw so far has been killed and no settler, nine horses have been captured. Parties have gone from here to reinforce the settlers, some of the thieves have abandoned Colorado and came into this state, Pursuing parties arrived here today having tracked their stock into Kansas. One of the party had lost eight head of stock, all he had, through the thieves in the western end of the Neutral Strip. It is alleged the thieves out-number the settlers, and they are well organized, operated by means of confederates, usually fast women are sent out to locate desirable stock and report.

From what I remember this was a well planned vigilance committee that included men from several states although most were from Boise City and Elkhart. I have seen other newspaper reports of this and I seem to remember something in the Stanton County history book.

Squaw Canyon is really a complex of canyons about 10 miles east and a mile north of Robbers Roost by Black Mesa where William Coe had his troubles several years earlier.

Any idea who these horse thieves may have been ?
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Hugoton, Stevens Co, KS | Registered: Mon March 31 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I was right about remembering a story in the Stanton County history book. It quotes a story from the Johnson City paper. The history book editors didn't know if "the strip" referred to No Man's Land or the National Cattle Trail. Johnson and Manter are near the Colorado line about half way between No Man's Land and Trail City, Print Olive's old stompin' ground.

JUSTICE DEALT FROM THE CHAMBERS OF WINCHESTER-
17 Horse Thieves Receive There Reward"”Three Settlers Killed In The Battle.
"For some time the settlers living along the public land strip have missed horses and cattle being taken from the pastures and picket lines and being driven away by a gang of thieves. Suspicion pointed to a band of campers who claimed to be there for the purpose of capturing wild horses.
"The night after it became known that such a camp existed in the neighborhood, a group of 40 citizens organized and armed themselves with Winchester rifles and proceeded to where they were camped, and appointed a committee of six men, who commanded surrender.
"The campers immediately opened fire upon the committee, which was the signal for attack, and from all around them the deadly volley poured into them as fast as Winchesters could be fired. When they discovered they were surrounded, they fought desperately, but no living thing could long face a storm of bullets as thick as hail.
"In twelve minutes the firing ceased, and 17 outlaws lay stretched on the prairie in death ... The settlers lost three men killed and ten wounded.
"When will this harbor for all the criminals, murderers and outlaws be placed under law? It certainly would evoke one long breath of relief from the settlers of southwest Kansas if Congress would place this island of crime under a strict code of law. This public land strip stands with open invitation to all criminals encouraging robbery and murder on its borders."
Johnson Pioneer
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Hugoton, Stevens Co, KS | Registered: Mon March 31 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If this story is true, and it appears to be, this had to be one of the largest gunfights in Wild West history between vigilantes and outlaws. It would be interesting to find out who was involved in the gunfight and the deaths that occurred. Much of the history of this particular area has not been researched, hopefully someone will look more closely at this area.
 
Posts: 373 | Location: Indian and Oklahoma Territories | Registered: Wed February 04 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Here is one possibility.

There is a story online about No Man's Land and the beginning of Beaver City.

It can be found on the Old Meade County website which hosts pages for the Meade County (Kansas) Museum and the Dalton Gang Hideout Museum.
home page http://www.oldmeadecounty.com/museum.htm
the story is at
http://www.oldmeadecounty.com/nomansland.htm
It starts with this disclaimer.

This text was taken from a small booklet printed by the Herald-Democrat in Beaver. It is written by a reporter for the New York Sun in the late 1880's, a fact that is best kept in mind as it is read.

The man in question is at Chapter 3 entitled "The Jaw Was Shot"

it says . . .
It was not until August than any one was purposely shot. The victim's name was Richard Roberts, though he was called Dick Davis. Roberts drove up from Tascosa, Texas, bringing two young women for the dance house. He was one of the wild west show cowboys, with long hair and no end of fancy trimmings to his clothes and swagger to his gait. He was around town for two or three weeks, and began to think he owned it. However, while standing on the west side of the street opposite the dance house telling how great he was, some of his audience, disgusted with his bragging, said "Shoot the Jaw."

There upon a man literally shot his jaw, there was a flash of a revolver held by Soap Read, also of Tascosa, and a 44 calibre bullet crushed through both sides of Roberts lower jaw. The bone was splintered into nearly a hundred pieces, and every tooth but one on each side was knocked out of his mouth and fell on the ground.

It finishes with the statement . . .
He is now with a gang of horse thieves and said to have their headquarters in Squaw Canyon, near Rabbit Ear Mountain in the west end of No Man's Land.

As a side note, the fellow at the museum is named Goodnight, a descendant of Charles Goodnight the famous cattle rancher. He also claims that his grandfather, a F. L. Goodnight, had his finger shot off by Grat Dalton.

That story is online here. . .
http://eccchistory.org/BankRobery1892.htm
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Hugoton, Stevens Co, KS | Registered: Mon March 31 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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After searching a lot of obscure newspapers from Morton County Kansas, I've managed to piece together some elements of the story.
Apparently the horsethief gang had raided the area earlier and a stolen horse that later showed up in the possession of "Billy The Kid".
This isn't THE "Billy the Kid", a later article says that up until May he had been town Marshal of Boston, Colorado. When a US Marshal showed up to arrest him on an old charge, he suddenly left. The town knew about this charge but disregarded it because it had happened in his teenage years.
According to the (Richfield) Leader Democrat he gave the name of William Cornlias but his real name was Smith. "His mother is living near Caldwell. Kansas, and from her the day before he left he recieved $200, the result of her summer's farm produce. He wrote for the money to pay his debts." (Leader Democrat quoting the Boston World).
He joined up with the Squaw Canyon horsethieves and apparently talked them into revenge on Morton County. They sent some prostitutes to case the town, but they were arrested and find. The suspicious characters with them cleared out also.
Then someone set fire to the Blue Front Livery in Richfield. It was suspected that this was a distraction to commit robberies while everyone was busy with the fire. The fire was detected early and nothing happened. Next "Billy The Kid" showed up at nearby Taloga. The banker noticed him hanging around, set the timelock on the vault, and left. "Billy" held a woman customer hostage and got a few dollars from a storekeeper before leaving.
Apparently the gang had been causing as much trouble for Boston and Minneapolis Colorado as well because they got up a posse of 150 men that chased them into the corner of Kansas where a Richfield posse joined them and shortly were also joined by a group from the Boise City area. They apparently had several confrontations but finally pushed the gang back into Squaw Canyon.

There are still a lot of questions left unanswered. I don't even know where Boston or Minneapolis were. I'm thinking they were somewhere along present day US 160 since one article says that when a farmer caught "Billy" they took him on to Trinidad for fear of a lynch mob.
I still don't have names for the posse members or the horse thief gang.

This whole things takes in many hundreds of miles but you sure can see how No Man's Land was a drain for everyone's wanted and unwanted.

One thought that has ocurred to me is whether this could have been an operation of the Anti Horse Thief Association. Does anyone know if they were organized on Colorado by 1888. I know they had a Kansas district and a Western Oklahoma District but I don't know what dates they were active or what jurisdictions they had.
Baca County was part of Las Animas at the time but the area was almost entirely one big cattle ranch.
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Hugoton, Stevens Co, KS | Registered: Mon March 31 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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WOW !
The story just got even bigger

I just discovered a fairly rare self-published book entitled
" A Place Called Baca" by Ike Osteen

It's a one-man history book of Baca County Colorado.
He has a whole chapter on the town of Boston, and it's demise.

The story begins with a stolen horse being found at the livery stable.
It seems the town was dominated by a bunch of badmen. One had a reputation as a gunman having shot some people in cold blood, including a man named Phillips down in Squaw Canyon.
He tells how town marshal "Billy The Kid" had been mistreated by this gang even though he was as much a criminal as they were.
When the townsfolk tried to ambush some of this group at the saloon, the got thier revenge on the town by taking it hostage and destroying all the firearms in town. After they had their way with the businesses there wasn't much left.
He reports that most of the people moved to Kingisher, Oklahoma.

Now heres the shocker. Three of this bunch were the Jennings Brothers.
A photo on page 23 of this book shows the J. F. Capansky Saloon with a group of people out in front.
The caption nderneath reads
Al Jennings, John Jennings, Andy Capansky, Grandma Capansky, Able Capansky, Bert Capansky, Frank Jennings, Grandad Capasky??, and Cap Parrott.

This might line up with Frank later being in Denver, Colorado, where he was a court clerk.

This story has gotten so big it may take me years to make any sense out of it all.
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Hugoton, Stevens Co, KS | Registered: Mon March 31 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I hadn't remembered it before but Al Jennings did mention Boston in his biography "Beating Back". The story starts on page 29 and only goes a few sentences. He glosses over the whole thing with. "
A fire swept away most of the houses. A band of cowboys rode into town and "shot up" all that remained - which finished Boston."

I was sort of brainstorming and decided to work backwards and try and match up my gang of horse thieves with any known. The guy I came up with fits like a glove except for one thing, the 1888 date.

Dutch Henry Borne operated in exactly the same places and ran the largest horse thief operation ever known. One story even said he may have headquartered at Wild Horse Lake at one time. Does anyone know of Dutch Henry being somewhere else at the time.
The last date I have on him is about 1879.
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Hugoton, Stevens Co, KS | Registered: Mon March 31 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Apparently the event was pretty well known at the time as it even made the New York Times.

---------
The New York Times
September 20, 1888

NO MAN'S LAND.

From the accounts which occasionally come from that quarter it would appear that the tract known as the Public Land Strip, but more expressively styled No Man's Land, is becoming a sort of thieves' paradise. This is not the fault of the honest and industrious pioneers who have gone thither in anticipation of the action of Congress opening the lands to settlement and placing them under the protection of the law. But in the nature of the case a region thus left outside of the pale of the statutes is fastened upon also by evil-doers as a sort of refuge. Murders and lynchings have been reported from that quarter of late, and now it is announced that the people of half a dozen Colorado villages. Boston, Springfield, Villas, Minneapolis, and Carris, and also Richfield. in Kansas, are uniting to make an expedition against its horse thieves. The "Seven against Thebes" may thus be rivaled by these later seven against Squaw Canon. This latter place, a special retreat of the outlaws, is spoken of as "a natural fortress," so that the 200 troopers who are. to go there in search of stolen horses and to hunt out the thieves may find no easy task.
There is urgent need of putting an end to this anomalous condition of the Public Land Strip. Last December a Mr. O. G. Chase presented himself at Washington and asked recognition in the House as a delegate for this tract, which he called the Territory of Cimarron. That of course was out of the question; but the fact that he was chosen by settlers as their representative showed the necessity of doing something for them. It was a tract containing more. than 3,600,000 acres, extending 167 miles east and west and 34 north and south, with good water and soil having, it was said, several thousand people living on it, yet without courts, without law, without real ownership of land, since the lands had never been thrown open for sale. Kansas and Colorado. are north of it and Texas on the south, while New-Mexico furnishes the western boundary and the Cherokee Strip the eastern. The Cherokees have claimed this as an extension of their land strip, but there is very little expectation that this claim will be substantiated.
The, cattle companies Were not long in discovering that the Public Land Strip could be put to use. Some of them recognized the claims of the Cherokees by taking a lease. of it from them. A few years ago settlers began to go upon the tract, running their risk of being eventually allowed to buy the lands they occupied. They built not only houses, but some churches, with intent to form permanent communities, and waited for Congress to furnish them with courts, laws, land titles, and a Territorial organization. Whatever regulations the-people had for living together in peace and order were necessarily those only of common agreement, often pursuant to votes in their organized meetings. But of late the ability to misuse this state of things has evidently attracted favor among horse thieves, who have sometimes both robbed the people there and carried their booty to Kansas or Colorado, and stolen horses in these States and carried them across the border to their haunts in No Man's Land.
A possible arrangement would be to unite No Man's Land with the western portion of the Indian Territory and constitute a new Territory out of it. It would be. necessary in that case to obtain the consent of the tribes now in that western portion and provide them with equally good lands in the eastern portion. The Government, however, has unoccupied lands which it could use for the purpose, and this plan might also allow the carrying out of the severalty law among those Indians. At all events, something should be done to put an end to the present status of No Man's Land.

--------------

Woodsdale Sentinel
September 7, 1888

Chasing Horse Thieves

A special by courier to the Garden City Sentinel from Johnson City, Stanton county, which is on the Colorado line and within one county of "No Man's Land," says, under date of the 30th, that they are having hot times with a gang of horse thieves at Minneoplis, over the Colorado border. A gang of eighteen of the thieves came up from the neutral strip to make a general raid. They established a rendezvous and then went out in twos and threes. They were gathering horses in all directions when a posse of citizens set out after them and overhauled them on the edge of the strip. The thieves had about seventy-five horses and a fight occurred, and one of the thieves was killed. When last heard from this gang was being chased through No Man's Land by a posse of about one hundred and fifty citizens.

----------------

I just wished there was some consensus of opinion on the numbers in all these stories. I still don't have any names. I think I'll be making a trip to Springfield soon. It's just a little place but it is the county seat. In the mean time I'll call ahead and make sure they have the newspapers. I really hope I don't have to go all the way to Denver.
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Hugoton, Stevens Co, KS | Registered: Mon March 31 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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12, have you checked the Dodge City newspaper or any of the northern New Mexico papers? In 1888, newspapers were a scarce commodity in Indian Territory and any reporting of an area that far out would have been confined to the section repeating stories from other areas. I'll try to get to OU next week, they have the Dodge City rag and several other historic sheets.
 
Posts: 512 | Location: Cortez, Colorado | Registered: Fri December 12 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Regarding the Jennings being in Colorado, the following is from an article I put in a recent issue of Oklahombres. It might help...
Fans of the exploits of Al Jennings have been left with the impression the Jennings boys migrated from Kansas to Oklahoma Territory at the same time as their father. Such is not the case. Prior to his arrival at Kingfisher, Ed practiced law in several places; one being the raw frontier village of Purcell, Indian Territory where a local newspaper, the Territorial Topic of January 9, 1890 noted his arrival, saying... "Mr. Edgar E. Jennings, a young lawyer late of Trinidad, Colorado, arrived in our town on a visit to his brother's during the holidays and liked the place so well he has concluded to stay and join his fortunes with the rest of us. He and Mr. J. F. Sharp have formed a co-partnership in the law business under the firm name of Jennings & Sharp. The Topic wishes the new firm success."
It seems the brother Ed came to visit was none other than Deputy U. S. Marshal Al Jennings. The circumstances leading to Al's sojourn to Purcell came about because on March 1, 1889, Congress approved an act establishing the Muskogee, Indian Territory court, a Civil Court with authority over crimes exclusive of offenses punishable by death or imprisonment in Indian Territory. Then, on March 23, the President issued a proclamation announcing Noon, April 22nd, as the time for a race for homesteads within the Oklahoma District, a 2 million acre wedge of land unassigned to any Indian tribe and beginning directly across the river from Purcell. This decree was followed on April 10th by the U. S. Attorney General assigning the responsibility of keeping the peace in the Oklahoma district to the U. S. Marshal's office of the Indian Territory District Court. In a panic, newly appointed Marshal Thomas Needles reportedly appointed nearly 300 deputies to meet the challenge. One of the first hired was William W. Ansley, who was assigned to Kingfisher where he became acquainted with the Jennings family. Following the run, Ansley was stationed at Purcell as the Chief Field deputy for the Indian Territory court. By the spring of 1890, Al, as noted by Smith's Territorial Directory, was stationed at Purcell and working for Ansley as a deputy for the Indian Territory District. On the 24th of December, 1889, Deputy Al was shot at by a Milo Reeder, returned the fire and wounded his assailant. The Topic of March 20, 1890 remarks... "Marshals Ansley, Jennings, and Smith, with a full outfit, started Saturday for Anadarko and from there to the border of Greer County after desperados..."
In the spring, Al and Ed were joined by their brother John. The Topic of March 27, 1890 makes clear these three were the Jennings brothers when it proudly tells readers... "Judge Jennings of Kingfisher, father of Professor J. J.; Attorney Ed; and Dept. Marshal Al Jennings, is here this week visiting the boys..."
Al's sojourn into law enforcement lasted only until June, 1890. The Topic informed..."Al Jennings has resigned his commission as Dept. U. S. Marshal and has been admitted to the bar at Paris, Texas to practice in state and U. S. courts. We congratulate our friend upon his entry to the profession in which he will no doubt attain a high place." The Topic's imprudent opinion of Al seems to have been influenced by its regard for Ed, John, and their father as the June 19th issue had this to say of his skills... "Judge J. F. Jennings, of Kingfisher, O. T., father of our Ed and Al...is one of the best orators in the west, a man of talent...Professor J. J. Jennings will lead the band on the 4th of July. This insures good music for us."
In July, the Topic announced...A. J. Jennings has formed a partnership with R. S. Dinkins to practice law at Ardmore..." The same issue informed readers Ed had just returned from a visit with his parents at Kingfisher. As circumspectly explained, John left Purcell, the Topic saying... "Professor John J. Jennings, the famous cornet player, was here Tuesday. He was on his way from Kingfisher to Ardmore where he will aid the ˜wind-jammers' in making music at the barbeque on the 25th." Thirteen months later, Ed, also left Purcell, having terminated his partnership with Sharp in favor of a practice with John at El Reno. Then, in 1894, the trio of brothers moved to Woodward and infamy.
I believe, Frank during this time had joined his father at Kingfisher, as an oldtimer's opinion of the Jenning's brothers was..."only Ed seemed to have the stuff in him to succeed...Al just loafed and Frank dealt cards in a gambling house for a living..."
 
Posts: 512 | Location: Cortez, Colorado | Registered: Fri December 12 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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12, found this today when I reviewed a book called "Lost Trails of the Cimarron," by Harry E. Chrisman, first copyright: 1961; 2nd edition University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, copyright 1998. This is a book of anecdotes concerning the settlement of the Cimarron River in northern Oklahoma, Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and New Mexico, and unavoidably the northern reaches of the Texas Panhandle. Chrisman's dates are often estimates given by individuals in their remembrances, so this info might fit.
At page 145-146: "Lyman Savage, an old timer...once told of the gang of horse thieves that headquartered for a while at Sodtown, [in No Man's Land,] about 1885. Their rendezvous was about two miles from Sodtown, which was two miles from the Texas line and a half mile west of Coon's Creek. Sodtown was the home of Al, Charley and Lyman Parsons...There were about fifteen members of the horse thief ring, and they were led by the Chitwoods from Medicine Lodge, Kansas.
One evening a vigilante committee from Kansas slipped into the Chitwood hangout on Coon Creek while the brothers were absent. They made Chitwood's mother prepare their supper, and had Bill Chitwood, another brother, serve it. They stacked their arms in an adjoining room while they ate.
Bill knew about when his brothers would return so he slipped from the house and met them down the creek a ways, warning them of the committeemen at the house. The three Chitwoods then returned to their shack, got the drop on the committeemen and after working their heads over with their own rifle butts sent them whimpering back to Kansas. Chitwood later came by Lyman Savage's house, offering committemen's guns for sale!
Later, Kit Chitwood was in a blizzard and froze his feet. The amputation left him a cripple. Once the Chitwoods were tried by Beaver City's committeemen, posing as law men. Only one of their number was found guilty, a man named Montgomery. Montgomery was placed on a cracker box, a rope around his neck tied to a wagon tongue. A committeeman kicked the box away and the man strangled to death...The Chitwoods were ordered to leave that night, which they did, going to Texas.
B. E. Steadman, an old timer of the Strip added...Jim Chitwood, he said, once prevented a hanging committee from executing an old man named Fowler...
Jim Chitwood was once shot while laboring in another man's vineyard. They brought the doctor blindfolded to Chitwood's hangout. The doctor was returned, paid, but could never recall the way back to the place.
When Chitwood left No Man's Land, he first took his family to Texas, then he went to Idaho, later sending for them. He was elected Sheriff of an Idaho county and made a good lawman.
 
Posts: 512 | Location: Cortez, Colorado | Registered: Fri December 12 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Channel Twelve

Regarding Dutch Henry, I have actually been researching his life and career for several years and am working on a biography. During the 1870s, he was all over the Indian Territory, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas panhandle, New Mexico Territory, & Colorado.

The period reports and later pulp stories about his being arrested at Fort Smith for the theft of government mules is correct to a point but actually occurred in the SW Indian Territory, taken to Fort Smith where he was convicted, escaped from the penitentiary at Little Rock in early 1876, and remained on the lamb through 1879 when finally rearrested in Colorado, taken back to Fort Smith, and ordered to serve out the rest of his prison term in the House of Correction at Detroit, Michigan. He got out of prison about 1881 and moved to Colorado where he engaged in mining speculation and settled down to the life of domestic tranquility in Pagosa Springs, CO where he had a wife and children. He is buried in the cemetery there.


On the Trail
Diron Ahlquist
Secretary, Oklahombres Inc.
 
Posts: 376 | Location: Oklahoma City, OK | Registered: Wed December 10 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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There are some names mentioned in this report, which seems to relate to the Squaw Canon shoot-out, although the story dates from April 1888, not September:

"NO QUARTER" TO OUTLAWS

KANSAS FARMERS TAKE VENGEANCE ON A BAND OF HORSE THIEVES.

All But Three of the Gang Captured or Otherwise Satisfactorily Disposed Of - Prisoners Summarily Riddled With Bullets or Dragged to Death at the Lariat's End.

WICHITA, Kan., April 23. - Ever since last fall farmers in the counties of Texas and Kansas, adjoining Indian territory, have been sorely annoyed by horse thieves who have been unusually bold in their periodical raids. Some time ago the vigilantes, armed with Winchesters, six-shooters, and lariats, started on the trail of the marauders. While the vigilantes were travelling through the western part of the territory ten days ago they suddenly ran across the thieves in a deep ravine. When the vigilantes rode up the crest of the ravine, the thieves, who were in the command of Bill Higgins, alias "Scar Face," sprang to their horses, but in mounting one of their number was shot dead. The others put spurs to their animals, and were soon throwing dust and bullets into the eyes of their pursuers. The horses ridden by the vigilantes were fatigued, and were in no condition to give the outlaws' horses any kind of a race, but the chase was begun and the trial of the thieves followed. After a furious ride, lasting all day, the vigilantes succeeded in driving the gang upon a butte near a small creek, where preparations were made for a desperate resistance.
As the vigilantes approached they were met by a volley which brought down one of their number - Peter Ackerman of Medicine Lodge, Kan. One by one the rifles of the outlaws were silenced, until but few flashes answered the vigilantes' rifles. Three of the outlaws escaped, but "Scar Face," Hank Windom and "Curly Bill" were captured. "Curly Bill" and Windom were riddled with bullets, but "Scar Face,"although nearly dead from the loss of blood, was dragged to death, suspended by a lariat fromthe pommel of a saddle. Four other members of the gang were found dead behind their stone barriers.

The above comes from the Grand Forks Daily Herald, 23 April 1888, although versions appeared in other newspapers, sometimes datelined Wichita, 21 April. One paper credited it to the Kansas City Times.
 
Posts: 4 | Location: United Kingdom | Registered: Mon July 07 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I can find no mention of this event or of any of the names given. It is very similar to an incident that happened two years earlier near Medicine Lodge.

http://genealogytrails.com/kan/barber/newspaperarticles1.html

SIX DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON

Biggest Day in Old-Time History of Medicine Lodge - Four Men Robbed A Bank

President and Cashier Shot

Mistaken Flight of the Robbers into A Blind Canyon - Later, After a Break for Liberty, One was Shot and Three were Hanged

May 1, 1884 Henry Brown; Billie Smith; John Wesley; Ben Wheeler. Medicine Lodge, Barber county. Robbery.
-----------------------
INCIDENT AT MEDICINE LODGE
April 30 1884 four men who rode into Medicine Lodge, and held up the First National Bank. The cashier, reached for his own revolver but two shots hit him in the head, killing him instantly. Another blast killed the bank President Ed Payne who fell at the door to the vault. Reverend Bill Friedly yelled to town Marshall Ted Dean who was standing down the street at Herrington and Smiths grocery store. Dean opened fire as the robbers fled Medicine Lodge riding hard. In just minutes a citizen posse of every gun and horse in town gave chase, capturing the robbers in a nearby canyon. Leading the gang was Caldwell Kansas Marshal Hank Brown and his deputy Ben Wheeler. Brown had once raided in New Mexico with Billy the Kid but appeared to have reformed. He was just a few weeks earlier presented a unique gold plated Winchester in appreciation of law enforcement service. But that evening a crowd of angry men marched on the jail. Reports say Brown tried to escape and was shredded with shots from everywhere. The other four robbers were hung vigilante-style from a large Elm tree south of town. The coroners report of this incident states the deaths came either by gun or pistol shots or hanging. Hank Browns one-of-a-kind gold-plated Winchester is now on exhibit at a museum in Topeka.


This incident was discussed in a thread here back in 2004 entiled "John Ward interview mentions "Billy the kid" in Indian Territory".

Medicine Lodge is about 275 miles from Squaw Canyon, And your story seems to occur down into Indian Territory while Squaw Canyon is in extreme western No Man's Land near the Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas borders.
It is east of Kenton and just below the Baca County, Colorado line. In fact Squaw Canyon is formed by two dry creeks joining in to one. One leg of this "Y" goes on north into Colorado and "Ys" with another creek forming a much small canyon called West Squaw Canyon. I suspect that these creeks were used as a route for the thieves to enter into Colorado and Kansas. This is in between the Aubry Trail and the "Dry Route" Santa Fe Trail Cutoff. It is very close to the famous Willow Bar Crossing.
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Hugoton, Stevens Co, KS | Registered: Mon March 31 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I finally have a name. George Letler. It looks like I need to take another look at the Richfield paper. Here's what I've found.
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Grant County Register
September 1, 1888

Special to the Garden City Sentinel

Richfield, Kan. Aug. 28 - Geo. Letler, in the county jail here to await trial at the next term of court in Stanton County for horse stealing, escaped through the carelessness of the sheriff, but was recaptured after an exciting chase of several miles on the prairie.
Parties here have organized a posse to start after Colorado horse thieves. If any captured, the court will not be troubled with them.
------
Sounds like a Tex Ritter movie I once saw.
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Hugoton, Stevens Co, KS | Registered: Mon March 31 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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According to ODMP for Kansas 1888 Sherriff John M Cross of Stevens Co Kansas and 3 Deputies {T.Eaton} {B,Hubbard} {R.Wilcox} were killed and another Deputy {Tooney} wounded after an ambush by the Hugoton Kanas Marshal and 5 others in the "Hay Meadow" Massacre which occurred in "No Mans Land" of Oklahoma Panhandle July 25, 1888 {all six were tried convicted of murder and sentenced to hang but convictions voided in 1891 by US Supreme Court because killings were in "No Mans Land". See http://www.odmp.org/officer/3643-sherriff-john-m.-cross} This started because two towns were in a fight to become county seat of Stevens Co Kansas.}
Thought I'd mention it because of "No Man'S Land"in O.T.
 
Posts: 41 | Registered: Tue October 28 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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That's right. We've discussed this some recently under the topic "The Eastern District of Texas Court". Most of these memorial type web sites get a lot of the facts wrong so be careful. I realize it is difficult to keep a web site up to date and I should try to help them correct the errors but my own site is hopesly out of date also.
The men were Cyrus W. "Ted" Eaton, Bob Hubbard (an alias), Rolland T. Wilcox and Herbert Tonney. The conviction weren't exactly overturned they were voided and a new trial ordered by the US Supreme Court on appeal that the court had erred in handling the case. Due to political pressure from throughout the US and behind the scenes in the federal government, a new trial has never occured. It's still pending !
The two towns were Woodsdale and Hugoton. If you notice my location at the bottom of the post, I live in Hugoton. There is a ton of material available private as well as public that can be found here to research.
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Hugoton, Stevens Co, KS | Registered: Mon March 31 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yesterday I was planning a short trip up to the Squaw Canyon area and was noting some of the landmarks along the way. I plan to go north of Boise City and cross the Cimarron River before turning west toward the canyon. Just before the river I noticed a Flag Springs and thought I remembered that name from somewhere. When I looked at the county library I found a story about the Battle of Flag Springs. It was written by the man who was in charge of the train of freight wagons that was attacked by Indians at the springs. He was freighting supplies for Juan Baca.
He and most of he others survived of course and went on with the job.

Today I found this mention Flag Springs, and William Coe.

http://okietreasurehunter.blog...homa-outlaw-and.html
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As a side note, an Indian that rode with Captain Coe and his gang claimed on his deathbed that the gang had stumbled across the remains of a pack train that had been attacked by Indians. Part of this pack train supposedly contained $750,000 of gold and Spanish coins that was scattered about at the site of the attack. The Indian said that the treasure was gathered up and buried in the area of Flag Springs where it was found.
--- quote ---

I don't put any stock in most of these treasure stories anyway but it does suggest that Coe was familiar with places way east of Robbers Roost. The horse thieves I am looking for were nearly ten years after Coe was hung but does anyone know what happened to the rest of the gang?

For that matter, is there any information on who they were? I'm beginning to wonder if my horse thieves are a remnant of the Coe gang.
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Hugoton, Stevens Co, KS | Registered: Mon March 31 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Just got back from Squaw Canyon. The place is impressive but pretty inaccessible except by horseback.

I sort of hit the jackpot when I stopped at the Cimarron Heritage Museum at Boise City. The lady there was surprised that I had even heard of Squaw Canyon as many of the locals didn't know of it. Then it was her turn to surprise me, she said that she live there and the canyon is just out her back door! he lives just north of the state line in Colorado. It is also near the old townsite of Boston.

She was able to supply me with several locally written articles by old pioneers which give a few pieces of the story. The man named Phillips was a settler who had tried to make a claim in Squaw Canyon by a spring. The cattle company feared he would fence off the spring so they sent the "moderator" out to kill him. This is the same man who caused the trouble in Boston. This guy has a very famous name and I'd rather not give it until I find out if he is the same man or not. There is some that he is.
The horse thieves took over the big rock house house that Phillips had built for a base of operations.

Sort of Robbers Roost part 2.

She also provided me with a story about how Squaw Canyon got it's name.

I now have about 50 newspaper stories on the horse thieves. If I can't come up with more specific information I may just try to write a mystery type story with a lot of unanswered questions.
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Hugoton, Stevens Co, KS | Registered: Mon March 31 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good job. This has been a fascinating journey and I'm grateful you have shared it with us. Squaw Canyon and the discussion on the Cross case points out how little we know of the panhandle region. I am really looking forward to reading your final analysis of this incident.
 
Posts: 512 | Location: Cortez, Colorado | Registered: Fri December 12 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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