Merchants State Bank

When researching your family, have you ever encountered a newspaper article that lead to an event the family likely wanted to forget? I would think that being a director of a bank that failed might fall into that ‘want to forget’ category. But, that is where my research in the Dodge City papers has led.

In February of 1886, the Merchants State Bank was formed and J. H. Crawford was one of the directors.

The Merchants’ State Bank

The Merchants State Bank is a new banking institution of Dodge City, and is composed of some of our most influential and wealthy citizens. Geo. B. Cox is President, F. C. Zimemrmann, Vice-President; James Langton, Treasurer, and the following directors: Goe S. Emerson, W. C. Shinn, O. Marsh, W. G. Sherlock, T. L. McCarty and J. H. Crawford. The office of the bank for the present will be located in the postoffice block. As soon as one of the new building is completed ample room will be obtained. This bank will be one of the best in the country, and will meet with confidence and support.

Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 25 Feb 1886
Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 25 Feb 1886

In 1887, the Dodge City Times was singing the praises of the bank as one of the “most prosperous institutions in the west.” (Dodge City Times 4 Aug 1887) However, by March of 1891, The Dodge City Daily Globe reported the bank had failed.

Gone Under

The Merchants’ State Bank Ceases Operations Friday at Noon

A Full and Complete List of Assets and Liabilities – C. W. Averill Appointed Assignee

Notwithstanding the many rumors concerning the shaky condition of the Merchants’ State Bank it was a matter of great surprise when the doors were locked Friday last. Deposits to the amount of several thousand dollars had been recently withdrawn by parties who knew of the insufficient security that had been taken by the bank upon loses made during the last 18 months. This with the stringent times and depreciated real estate values made it impossible to much longer hold out, and upon the presentation of a check for nearly $4,000 they refused to pay it, for lack of funds. A number of attachments immediately followed. The first being in favor of H. M. Beverley.

The bank was the repository for many school districts, as well as the county and city resources.

The real estate assets of the institution are heavily encumbered and their cash value is difficult to estimate. Although the county may sustain some loss, it will not affect the price of county scrip as there is much more money on deposit in the First National Bank than the total amount of scrip outstanding. Also the amount deposited in the defunct bank was the sinking fund, and should it not all be recovered the loss will be lightly felt by the county.

The complicated affairs of the bank will require some time for a full examination and much litigation will undoubtedly result. A majority of the creditors seem willing to give the bank officials ample time to make settlement. Some, however, seem to think that at least criminal carelessness ahs been shown in the management of the bank and it is not improbable that some prosecutions will follow. A. E. Grier, representing the Rollins Investment Company, of Denver was in the city Monday to investigate the company’s business, they having $4,00 in Ford county scrip which had been forwarded to Merchants State Bank for collection. The county’s check had been given for the amount of the scrip, there being a large amount to the county’s credit, but the check was not accepted by the bank. In some way the scrip has fallen into the possession of the county treasurer and the Rollins Investment Company will bring suit to recover the scrip or its cash value. They have retained Sutton & McGarry to protect their interests.

Shortly after the first attachment issued the county attorney asked that a receiver be appointed, and L. G. Grobety was made receiver. Soon after the receiver had qualified and demanded possession an assignment was made to C. W. Averill. The commissioners and county attorney are awake to the interests of the county, but with the several attachments in the hands of the sheriff, the assignee and receiver each attempting to obtain possession, the assets will be used up in the payment of fees.

The liabilities, with names of creditors, are given below:


H. M. Beverley, Dodge City, treas. $3,495.00
H. B. Bell 11.22
Thos. Brainbridge 100.00
Mrs Brainbridge 3.00
J. R. Bricker 20.00
S. H. Connoway 78.32
Geo B. Cox Co. Treas $20,765.47
Geo B. Cox mortg ac’t 1.00
Geo B. Cox seed com 139.72
Geo B. Cox Flax com 16.67
Geo B. Cox fair ass’n 1.55
J. H. Crawford 12.98
F. W. Coxon 9.92
A. L. Crawford 10.90
J. H. Churchill .35
D. H> Connoway 562.00
G. Davis 138.75
J. M. Doble 9.40
S.W. Furgison 10.00
W.J. Fitzgerald 2.14
Albert Fasig 52.43
P.R. Hobble 144.07
A. Hanna tres dist 16 118.13
E. A. Hickerson Lodge ac’t 176.05
C. L. Kearful 100.00
W.T. Keady 1.20
E. Kirkpatrick .02
Geo. Gray 5.30
Geo H. Karch .78
Thos. Lahey 125.54
L. E. McGarry 165.67
Otto Mueller 2.35
E. W. Marvin 181.42
McCarty & Hoover 34.78
T. L. McCarty 100.06
D. W. Moffit 20.25
W. F. Petillion .17
J. E. Rarden schl tres 100.00
J. H. Ripple .01
J. S. Rush 3.00
A. W. Reudy .01
John Riney schl tres 434.07
T. L. Smith .98
C. E. Smiley schl tres 229.36
Strange & Summersby 45.37
L.K. Soper 19.80
Sam Stubbs 9.11
H. L. Sitler 3.56
E. E. Smith 12.58
Joseph Sizelove schl Tres 118.61
E. T. Thome 12.03
Samuel Wollman 10.56
B.W. Williams .69
G. H. Wilcoxson schl tres 63.25
D. T. Weagly 464.83
Jas. Youngblood .25
Zimmerman hd. Co 12.05
D. H Drake .36
E L. M. Hoare .66
Adam Schmidt 98.30
O. Elswick 800.00
J.F. Dean 50.00
J. M. Kilburn 50.00
J. Beyers 90.00
John Reed 50.00
A. Miller 500.00
J. Collar 1.00
S. S. Griggs 7.00

Dodge City Globe (Dodge City, Kansas) 4 Mar 1891

Then in September of 1891, The Dodge City Daily Globe carried a story describing the cause of the bank failure.

The Recorded Facts

How the Taxes Were Absorbed by the Cox Dynasty

Through the courtesy of the receiver of the Merchant’s State Bank the Globe-Republican scribe has been permitted to make a thorough examination of that defunct institution, and the memoranda therein made by Mr. Cox himself and his employes, most emphatically verify the very worst that has been even suspected by the writer. Space will not permit us this week to give the data in detail, but we have the dates and items carefully preserved for future reference. We will this week briefly summerise the situation, giving fuller details later on in the campaign.

In November, 1887, Geo. B. Cox was elected county treasurer for the first time, over C. N. Van Vilet, who was deputy treasurer under R. M. Wright. In October, 1888, Mr. Wright turned over to Mr. Cox, his successor, every dollar of public funds entrusted to his care as such treasurer, with the books in perfect order. Otto Mueller was installed as deputy by the new treasurer, and has remained in personal supervision of the office until recently, in communication by letter between himself and Mr. Cox, he suggested that the latter return and take charge, while he, Otto, shall make the campaign for election this fall. This suggestion was acted upon and is now in operation.

After taking control of the office, Mr. Cox, who was president and principal stockholder of the Merchants State Bank, made an arrangement, which is permitted by the statutes of this state, whereby his bank was designated by the board of county commissioners as the depository of count funds, on a security bond filed with the county clerk and approved by the board. Mr. Cox gave as such bond his own name and that of one other stockholder and director of the bank, whose stock together with that of Mr. Cox, soon constituted a good working majority of bank shares. — After this, when Mr. Cox had occasion to use money in his private business, or desired to favor a friend or political striker, he could drop into the bank in his official capacity as county treasurer, deposit the cash collections of taxes with Geo. B. Cox, banker. Then Geo. B. Cox, the business man, could write his check or promissory note, leave it with Geo B. Cox, the banker, and take the money to use as pleased him best. The state of affairs continued till the fall of 1889, when the bank had cashed about as much paper bearing the Cox autograph as that gentleman was apparently worth. Then, by herculean effort, and the lavish expenditure of money, he was re-elected against L. Sims, the regular republican nominee. With a new lease of power, Mr. Cox now delved deeper than ever into the treasury vaults In the spring of 1890 the bank held much more paper against him than his entire visible assets could be made to sell for in cash. But as county taxes came in he continued to deposit them in the bank and borrow the money for his own use, and although hopelessly insolvent, took no less than thirteen thousand dollars in addition to what he already owed. The other stock holder who was on the bond to secure the county, was ere this hopelessly involved, notwithstanding which fact he must be provided for, as he had worked tooth and nail for the election of Mr. Cox. Hence he was permitted to take eight thousand dollars of good money. These two hauls left the bank utterly unable to meet the demands of the county, city and school district depositors, and the bond on file with the county clerk having become worthless by the insolvency of the sureties, (who in reality constituted the principal on whose behalf the security was given,) the taxpayers of Ford county have nothing to show for about thirty thousand dollars paid into the treasury as municipal taxes, except the possibility of a slender dividend which the closing out of odds and ends of the collapsed institution may realize. All this money will have to be collected over again in addition to that needed for future current expenses of the county. Old Ford is one of the best counties in the state and by prudent administration of her affairs hereafter, will soon recuperate her wasted resources, but woe be unto us if we again renew the power of the vampire which has to greedily absorbed our revenues in the past.

The Dodge City Globe (Dodge City, Kansas) 2 Sep 1891

The September 10, 1891 issue of the Dodge City Globe contains a letter from Geo. B. Cox outlining where the money went. Later papers have several notices for the sale of property owned by Geo. B. Cox and his wife, Amy. Even though the papers covered the scandal and hinted at criminal charges, a search of the papers thru 1892 did not uncover a criminal trial.

Thus, the Merchants State Bank where J. H. Crawford served as a director in 1886 was a failure five years later.

Iowa House

Have you ever tried to research the history of a house? Recently, I learned that my ancestor, Marion (Washington Marion) Crawford, ran a boarding house called Iowa House in early Dodge City.

Since I knew nothing about the Iowa House in early Dodge City, I decided to see what the newspapers had to say about it.


W. C. Beebe has rented the house west of the postoffice, formerly occupied as a court house,, owned by A. J. anthony, which he will open as a hotel, and will be known as the Iowa house. Mr. Beebe is an old hotel man and no doubt will make the Iowa house strictly first class in every particular

The Dodge City Globe (Dodge City, Kansas) 14 Mar 1882
Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 23 Mar 1882

Notice to the Public

I have recently opened and fitted up the Iowa House, on Front street, one block west of postoffice, in first class style. Everything pertaining to the house is neat and new, and no pains will be spared to make it home-like and pleasant for customers. My tables will always be supplied with the best the markets afford. Thanking the public for their liberal patronage in the past, I hope to receive a fair share of the same in the future. Call and give me a trial.

W. C. Beebe
Prop’r Iowa House

The Dodge City Globe (Dodge City, Kansas) 16 May 1882

The proprietor of the Iowa House has been compelled to rent two or three small buildings in the vicinity of his hotel, to accommodate some of his regular boarders with lodging.

The Dodge City Globe (Dodge City, Kansas) 4 Jul 1882

Preparations are being made at the Iowa House to greatly improve the range and variety of the bill of far, so as to furnish meals equal to the very best in the city. The patronage of the house has been increasing very largely of late, and some much needed improvements have been made in the office, dining room, and other parts of the building.

The Dodge City Globe (Dodge City, Kansas) 4 Jul 1882


P. R. Hobble has taken charge of the Iowa House and no doubt make a success of the management. We wish also good luck.

Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 14 Sep 1882


P. R. Hobble has sold the Iowa House to N. Mendehall of Iowa, who has taken charge of the house. The new landlord has had considerable experience at hotel keeping. We wish him success.

Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 14 Jun 1883


N. Mendenhall has disposed of the Iowa House to Mr. Crawford, a brother of J. H. Crawford. The new Iowa House landlord is lately from Indiana.

Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 25 Sep 1884

Even though the newspapers reported that Mr. Crawford took over the Iowa House, the advertising did not reflect that change in ownership.

Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 30 Oct 1884

In January of 1885, a fire spread from the postoffice East along Front Street destroying most of the block to the East of the Iowa House.

Caught It at Last

About three o’clock last Sunday smoke and flames were seen issuing from the grocery house of Perry Wilden. It was inevitable, in the estimation of everybody who saw them that the buildings in the post office block were doomed to immediate destruction. The first thought was to save goods and the work of relieving the business houses adjacent of their stores was commenced with vigor. a thousand people were soon in the vicinity of the fire and everybody lent a willing hand in the effort to rescue property from the destructive breath of the flames. The first building west of Wilden’s was the Union Restaurant which ended in smoke at the drop of the hat. West of that was THE COWBOY building. Before the flames reached it all of the goods in the lower story had been removed. Marsh & Sons had a splendid stock of clothing and gents’ furnishings goods in the front room and Mr. Robbins had a tailor shop with appurtenances and a choice selection of raw goods in the rear, nearly everything was saved. THE COWBOY occupied the whole of the second story. Material probably to the value of five hundred dollars was rescued form there. The power press was destroyed and a large portion of the type was badly “pied.” A printing office is one of the worst institutions in the world to handle when a fire is around. Across the street west from THE COWBOY building is the Iowa House. By heroic efforts it was saved from destruction. At one time all of the east side was in a blaze. Had this building been destroyed the appetite of the fire demon would not have been appeased until every building in the Iowa House block and been swallowed up. Across the railroad on the south the warehouses of R. M. Wright & Co., and Morris collar caught fire and were destroyed, will all of their contents. The warehouse of the York-Parker-Draper company was said to have been saved by the mineral paint on the outside. East of Wilden’s was the dry goods house of Gaede, Baker Co. The building went up a flying, but the most of the goods were saved. Next was Morris Collar’s hardware store and general curiosity shop. It was impossible to save much of his stock, owing to t he nature of the goods. His stock was valued at $30,000, most of which is a total loss. His insurance was only about $2,000. Next was the hardware store and tin shop of Charlie Shields. It went to kingdom come in a hurry, with most of the stock. Mr. Shields is one of the greatest sufferers of this calamity His stock is worth about $4,000 and he hadn’t a dime of insurance. Now here is where the virtue of Brick is demonstrated. East of Shield’s is the brick store just being erected by Jacob Collar. The brick wall was too much for Mr. Fire. His stomach couldn’t digest the brick and he quit his infernal deviltry right then and there. Jake Collar is the man to whom is indebted the salvation of the buildings in the post office Block east of his new business block.

The Times figured up the losses as follows:

Perry Wilden, loss $11,000; insurance $5,000
Albert Etherington, loss $2,800; no insurance
O. Marsh & son, building loss, $2,500; insured; partial loss of goods, covered by insurance
R. R. Robbins, tailor, loss $100; no insurance
COWBOY office, loss $2,000, covered by small insurance
Gaede, Baker & Co., partial loss of goods covered by $5,000 insurance
M. Collar, building and goods, loss $30,000; insurance $2,000
F. J. Durand, building, loss $1,500; no insurance
J. Collar, two buildings, loss $4,000, covered by insurance
Chas. Shields, stock of stoves and hardware, loss $4,000; no insurance
Gorman & Ramer, loss of stock, covered by insurance

Kansas Cowboy (Dodge City, Kansas) 24 Jan 1885


S. B. McNay has taken charge of the Iowa House and will refit the building for the accommodation of the public. He will afford first-class accommodations. Mr. McNay has just returned from Iowa with his family, and took possession of the house on Monday. He is an agreeable and pleasant gentleman and will make an accommodating landlord. He is bound to succeed.

Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 23 Apr 1885


W. F. Dean has taken charge of the Iowa House and will change the name of the house to the Dean House.

Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 14 May 1885

The newspapers do no reveal any more information about the Crawford proprietorship of the Iowa House. However, in July 1885, the Crawford family built their own boarding house located North of the downtown district.


Do you have any business owners in your family tree? If so, have you tried to locate their business on a map?

While going thru some of my handwritten research notes, I came across a transcription of a newspaper item regarding J. H. Crawford’s grocery store in Dodge City, Kansas. Based on my previous research, I knew that the grocer, J. H. Crawford, was James H. Crawford, the older brother of my ancestor Washington Marion Crawford. I also knew that I could find most of the Dodge City papers for that time period on So I started searching those papers to learn more about J. H. Crawford and his grocery store.

The Journal-Democrat (Dodge City, Kansas) 19 Apr 1884

What I didn’t know was WHERE the grocery store was located. Fortunately, the add provided a point of reference: the post office. But where was the post office?

So I googled ‘Sanborn map Dodge City Kansas’. The first link was to the 1887 Sanborn maps for Dodge City.

1887 Sanborn Map Dodge City Kansas

The Post Office (PO) was at the corner of 2nd and Chestnut in 1887. Based on the ad telling me the store was ‘five doors west of the postoffice,’ the 1887 map would indicate that the store was at the corner of 3rd and Chestnut. But then, I would see ads stating the store was north of the Wright House or a few doors north of the post office. Neither of these statements made sense with the 1887 map.

So, I went back to the Library of Congress to see if there was an earlier set of maps. Fortunately, there was a map from 1884.

1884 Sanborn Map Dodge City

When I first looked at this map, I quickly found the Wright House but I didn’t see the post office. However, careful study of the map revealed the post office in the ‘back’ of a drug store at the corner of N. Front Street and 2nd Avenue.

Now I just needed to figure out when the store was located at the various locations. To do this, I searched the Dodge City newspapers for Crawford from 1882 to 1887. I then created a spreadsheet for the date of the item, name of newspaper and the location of the store if given. Thus, I was able to create a chronological list of the Crawford grocery newspaper items.

This venture into the grocery business started in 1882.

Dodge City Globe (Dodge City, Kansas) 26 Sep 1882
Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 21 Sep 1882

Then in 1884, news items indicate that the J. H. Crawford store moved to Bridge Street.

Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 20 Mar 1884
The Journal-Democrat (Dodge City, Kansas) 5 Apr 1884
Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 10 Apr 1884
Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 24 April 1884

In 1885, James H. Crawford’s nephew Colvin Garrett Briggs opened a restaurant just to the north of the Crawford grocery on Bridge Street.

Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 12 Mar 1885
Kansas Cowboy (Dodge City, Kansas) 2 May 1885

Even though the local news indicated that J. H. Crawford moved his grocery store to a location on Bridge Street, the ads in the various papers continue to place the location ‘west of the post office.’ Thus, it is hard to tell whether J. H. Crawford operated two stores that close together or whether the newspaper just didn’t get the ad changed.

Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 7 May 1885

While reviewing my handwritten notes, I found transcription of an article from the Ford County Globe.

J. H. Crawford of the Indiana grocery, north of the Wright house has an ad which appears in this issue. He has just recently removed to his new quarters and has put in a new and fresh stock of groceries and provisions. Give him a call.

Ford County Globe (Ford County, Kansas) 27 May 1884

When I tried to find a digital copy of the Ford County Globe, I couldn’t find it on Nor did the Library of Congress show a digital holding for the paper. However, I saw the title while search that is listed under the Dodge City Globe. A search of that paper found the May 27, 1884 issue of the Ford County Globe.

Ford County Globe (Dodge City, KS) 27 May 1884
Ford County Globe (Dodge City, KS) 27 May 1884

By December 1885, the ad in those papers had changed to ‘doors north of postoffice’.

Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas) 24 Dec 1885

An ad in the 10 June 1886 issue of The Sun described the location as ‘near corner of Chestnut Street’.

The Sun (Dodge City, Kansas) 10 Jun 1886

In the 23 April 1887 issue of The Journal-Democrat, the ad used both the post office and Bridge street to describe the location.

The Journal-Democrat (Dodge City, Kansas) 23 April 1887

Even though I have found all of these ads for the grocery store operated by J. H. Crawford in Dodge City, Kansas beginning in 1882, I have not found a picture of the store. The Kansas Memory project has several photos of early Dodge City.

On Facebook, O. K. Corral, posted an 1878 picture of Front Street.

A picture of the Wright Beverly & Co. building on Front Street is included in the article, “Top 10 True West Towns in 2018” in the True Wes Magazine. (Scroll down for the Dodge City picture and info).

Even though I haven’t found any pictures of the Crawford Grocery store or the Indiana Grocery, I now have a location and a time period that will help me search for a picture.


In the early days of Dodge City, not only did cattle come into town from Texas, but many of the local land owners raised cattle. Without fences around their land, these herds of cattle were allowed to roam freely, becoming mixed in with other herds of cattle.

Then in late spring, the cattle men would conduct a round-up to gather all of the cattle and separate the herds. The post, 1878 Cattle Drives, discusses this process.

It was the work of only a few hours to “cut out” and separate the cattle and start the herds back to their ranges again. Every animal is known by its brand, so that ownership is easily determined, and those that have drifted miles away during the winter storms and become a part of other herds are picked out in a few minutes, claimed by the owners and started back to the range.

The Dodge City papers provided a way for the local cattle men to register their brands by publishing images and information about the owner in the papers.

The Dodge City Globe (Dodge City, Kansas) 4 Nov 1884, page 8 available on

After round-up, these cattle men had to brand the young calves in their herds. With a large number of cattle needing branded at the same time, these owners were in the market for anything that could speed up the process.

Thus, James H. Crawford’s installation of a ‘branding device’ appears to have been the solution.

About ten thousand head of cattle have been branded this season at the Crawford corrall, on the south side of the river, in the Parker machine. The capacity of this machine is about four hundred head of cattle daily. The price for branding is from seven to ten cents a head. This week one thousand head of Mathers cattle have been branded there. The machine is about twenty feet long and will hold from four to six head of cattle at a time. It is just wide enough for the passage of a full grown animal. When the cattle enter the machine they find on the bottom a wooden frame crossed by iron rods about six inches apart. when the machine is full the frame is elevated by pulleys operated by a horse. The legs of the animals are between the rods and presently the rods strike their abdomens and lift them from the ground, their bodies resting on the rods, with their legs swinging underneath. While in this helpless condition the branding irons are applied. It requires five men to work the machine.

Kansas Cowboy (Dodge City, Kansas) 27 Sep 1884, page 5 available on

Junior High


Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music):

1)  Do you have memories of your Junior High School (or Middle School) years?  Please share several o them.

Instead of sharing about my junior high experience, I’m going to share a couple of items from my dad’s junior high years.

The Class Roll

Adrian, Norma
Anderson, Jack
Arnold, Norma Jean
Arthur, Betty
Bailes, Forrest
Barngrover, Orville
Barton, Virginia
Bayless, Aielene
Beck, Phyllis
Best, Robert
Biehler, Karl
Bierce, Donald
Bierce, Ronald
Bishop, Wanda
Blea, Candida
Bolen, Jimmy
Briggs, Aletha
Brock, Chester
Brody, Mary
Bryan, Billy
Burnett, Betty Lou
Burnett, Geraldine
Burns, Harry
Burr, Verna
Burt, James
Butler, Elanor
Case, Charles
Cleveland, Arnold
Cole, Frank
Conard, Clair
Cooley, Hubert
Cowan, Joleen
Crane, Robert
Crane, Phyllis
Crawford, Eugene
Creech, Verla
Culbreath, Doris
Davis, Coleen
Davis, Harold
Dealy, Thomas
DeFord, Doris
DeFord, Leslie
Deines, Burdena
Doll, Kenneth
Doonan, Eleanor Ruth
Bales, Dorothy
Dover, Darrell
Drake, Jane
Edwards, Bob
Eisenhauer, Faye
Eisenhauer, Marjorie
Ellis, Fred
Eversole, Marie
Finklang, Roselyn
Fleming, Neva
Foulks, Charley
Foulks, Harley
Francis, Thelma
Frankenberger, Theresa
Gean, Patricia
Graham, Ray
Guilford, C. A.
Hahn, Donald
Hargis, Carol
Harms, Carolyn
Harp, LaVonne
Harris, Phil
Heinz, Bobbie
Hensel, Alberta
Hessman, Harold
Holland, Wanda
Holladay, Harvey
Hoofnagle, Glenda
Houser, Mable
Howerter, Wanda
Hunter, Bill
Hutchnison, Kenneth
Imel, Eunice Lee
Innis, Betty
Johnson, Georgene
Johnson, Grace
Johnson, Robert
Jones, Juanita
Jones, Phyllis
Keith, LaVeta
Keenportz, Norma
Kelly, Patricia
Kennedy, Leland
Kennedy, Norman
King, Virginia

Class Roll continued on back of program

Knoy, Joyce
Kregar, Harry
Krueger, Frances
Leasure, John
Leighty, Clydene
Lewis, Opal
Lewis, Spencer
Lighter, Willis
Logan, Bob
Lollar, Nadean
Love, Bobby Jack
McCarter, Barbara
McClendon, Peggy
McDermott, Betty
McElroy, Corabelle
Maden, Bobby
Mallonee, Junior
Manka, Georgia
Mapel, Frank
Maricle, Tommy
Martin, Marilyn
Maskus, Phyllis
Maxwell, Richard
Miller, Carolyn
Morrissey, James
Mussemann, George
Myer, Wanda
Newcom, Delores
Nickels, Doris Marie
Noland, James
Oakes, Richard
O’Bryan, Marvin
Oxford, Vernon
Page, Walter
Parham, Robert
Peoples, Luella
Peters, Johnny
Phillis, Estel
Putnam, Barbara
Quillan, Billy
Railing, Billie Jean
Railing, Melva Deane
Raymond, Ralph
Remigio, Ton
Renick, Mary
Reynolds, Jean
Lindsey, Kathryn
Reynolds, Vernal
Rickman, Marjorie
Riley, Esta Lou
Rivers, John
Roberts, Bob
Robinson, Dorothy
Robb, Gwynne
Rowton, Joan
Sahm, Virgil
Samples, Eugene
Schnellbacher, Ada
Seals, Betty
Setzkorn, Alfred
Shaffer, Phyllis
Shea, Robert
Schiffner, Ella
Shields, Junior
Shuler, Elliot
Simpson, Ruth
Snyder, Esther
Snyder, Jean
Spaniol, Frankie
Stagner, Marie
Swafford, Bob
Taylor, Annette
Theis, Charles
Toynton, Jean
Trent, Jack
Urban, Geraldine
Ward, Gracia
Williams, Dorothy
Williams, Hugo
Williams, Joe
Wimer, Royce
Winfrey, Marjorie
Winger, Lois
Wintamute, Virginia
Westemeyer, Barbara
Woodall, Jenny
Woodard, Algean
Wolf, Roberta
wright, Norma
Yancey, Lyla Jean
Younger, Agnes
Sylvester, Vera

Character of Dodge


What do you think of when you hear the word, character? Do you have a ‘character’ in your family tree?

‘Character’ is the #52Ancestors blogging prompt for this week. Not knowing how to approach this topic, I tried a newspapers search for the term ‘character’ in the Dodge City, Kansas newspapers between 1875 and 1885. I limited the search to Dodge City because that is my dad’s hometown. I used the 1875-1885 date range because it represents the time period in which the Crawford family migrated to Dodge City.

Instead of finding articles about a person, I found several articles about changing the character of the town. One of those articles discussed how the character of the town was appearing in newspapers around the world. So, I changed my search to look for ‘Dodge City character’ in 1883.

That search found a letter from several of the prominent citizens of Dodge City that was published in the Topeka Daily Capital (Topeka, Kansas) on 18 May 1883.

A Plain Statement

Of the Recent Troubles at Dodge City, KS

As Made by the Officials of that City – Simply a Desire to Rid their Community of Blacklegs and Gamblers.

Dodge City, Ks, May 15, 1883 — There has been quite a commotion among the papers of Kansas City and Topeka, and while they would have the readers of their respective papers believe that Dodge is in the hands of a mob, and that the persons and property of peaceable citizens are in constant jeopardy from destruction, the city itself and its inhabitants have been pursuing the even tenor of their way, the city assuming an aspect peaceable — if anything more so than it has for years. The doings of violence to persons and property by the mob in Dodge City is all being done in Kansas City and Topeka through the press, while in fact Dodge City itself, the scene of all the lawlessness as stated, is quiet, orderly and peaceable.

The occasion for what the press have called trouble is only a repetition of what is found to be necessary about every two years in Dodge City; that is, a clearing out of an element composed of bold, daring men of illegal profession who, from toleration by the respectable portion of the community, are allowed to gain a prestige found difficult to unseat. This element has to be banished, or else the respectable people have to be bulldosed and browbeat by a class of men without any vested interest or visible means of support, who should be allowed to remain in a decent community only by toleration, but who, instead, after gaining prestige, they undertake to dictate the government of the better class. This is the element which Dodge City has recently ordered out of town, an act which is done in every town of good government. The facts have been misunderstood, both to and by the press and to the Governor. The true state of facts is about as follows:

At the last April election, Deger and Harris ran for mayor of the city. Harris is a gambler by profession and living in open adultry with a public prostitute, and the interest which he has in the town is merely of a local character. He could close up and settle his affairs one day. The only real estate that he owns, and on which he pays taxes, is a small house in which he lives, and he would not own that only it is cheaper than for him to rent. It is worth about $400. He is a man whose character no respectable man in the community in which he lives would vouch for. He is a man that is recognized by the decent people as a sympathizer friend and shielder of the gambler, thug, confidence man and murderer, who may be arrested by the authorities for offenses against the law. He is always to be found on their bond for recognizance, no matter how glaring the deed or heinous the offense for which they stand charted.

This man was the candidate for mayor representing the gambling element. Dager, who is a man of irreproachable character and honesty, is an old resident o f the town and represented the better class of people and as a matter of course, as was conceded, he was elected by a large majority, but it was very apparent that Harris felt very sore over his defeat. It was also very apparent that he and some of his followers who were mostly composed of gamblers were going to buck against everything the new administration done.

At the first meeting of the new administration it was found necessary to pass and revise certain ordinances and among them was one to prohibit women of lewd character from loitering around saloons and upon the streets. This ordinance was passed upon the application of a majority of the business men including the saloon men of the town. They also passed another ordinance in regard to gamblers, which they considered stringent and loudly denounced it, and upon the application of a committee representing the gamblers, the councilman made conceptions, and in fact, made all the concessions asked, in order to preserve peace and harmony. The ordinance in regard to women, went into effect two days before the concessions was made by the councilmen. The first day and night the women obeyed the ordinance without a single exception, but the second night which was the night of the concession made b the mayor and councilman, Short, Harris and another gambler, who were loud in their abuse of the ordinance, there being no women down town, went to a house of ill fame, and according to their spoken works, forced two of the inmates down to their saloon to violate the ordinance, saying that they would pay the fines and costs assessed against the women. the women, after being tried and fined for the offense had to pay their fines and costs themselves, and when ordered to leave town, and after Short and Harris refused t pay their fines, as above stated, they made a statement as above set forth, before the police judge, and since.

The officers, as was their duty, arrested the women and locked them up in the calaboose, for a violation of the city ordinance. After their arrest, Short, the partner of Harris, who is a gambler and an acknowledged hard character, attempted to assassinate L. C. Hartman, a special policeman who assisted in the arrest, by shooting at him from an obscure spot after night, which happened about as follows:

After making the arrest, Hartman walked down the principal street, and when in front of a general store, which was closed the front being dark, Hartman met Short and another gambler coming up the street. While passing by, Short and his companion, Short turned and drew a pistol and said, “There is one of the son’s of _____; lets throw it into him,” immediately firing two shots at Hartman from his six-shooter. Hartman, in his endeavor to turn upon Short, in some way fell to the ground. Short, supposing he had killed him, started to the saloon of one Tom Land, near by, but Hartman, immediately recovering himself, fired one shot at Short. Strange to say, neither of the shots fired took effect.

Short gave bonds in the sum of 42,000 and afterwards filed a complaining against Hartman, stating that Hartman had fired the first shot, half a dozen of Short’s confederates being ready to testify that he (Hartman) had done so, although there are several reliable business men who witnessed the affair, who will testify that Short fired the two first shots as above stated.

The women were locked up. Short and Harris were bound they should not remain locked up all night, as is customary with prisoners when locked up by city authorities. By intimidating some of the city officers by threats, etc., they affected their purpose. In all these proceedings, Short was the leader and spokesman. He is the man who but a few weeks ago pulled out his pistol and best one of our most respectful citizens over the head until he was carried home on a stretcher, and his life was despaired of for several days. He is a man who, on several occasions, has picked up chairs and broke them over the heads of men who, as it happened, had done something in his place of business that displeased him. He is a man that killed his man, an old gray-headed man 57 years old, in Tombstone, Arizona, and has been run out of that and other places by respectable people. He is a man who was an intimate friend of such men as Jack McCarty, the notorious and well known three card monte and confidence man, known all through the west as being a hard character, and who recently died near this place after being convicted of highway robbery and about to receive his sentence of ten years.

Harris and Short keep a saloon that is a refuge and resort for all confidence men, thieves and gamblers that visit the town, and the statements that have been made in regard to the place kept by Webster are false. He is regarded as a man of personal honor and integrity, and as mayor of the city, an office he held for two terms, he so conducted the affairs of the city, and made such vigorous war on bunko, steerers, thugs and confidence men as to gain the gratitude and respect of every law abiding citizen of the place.

It was very apparent to the mayor and councilmen of the city that this element, with Harris and short at their head, were gong to violate, encourage, shield and protect all violators of the laws of the city, and that the probability was that there would be trouble n the city during the whole of their administration if they and their followers remained. Short had attempted to assassinate an officer in the discharge of his duty, had bulldozed the city officers, had violated, aided an abetted in the violation of the laws, and at a meeting of the mayor and a large number of citizens, including the council, it was after due deliberation and consideration, determined to arrest Luke Short and his followers and let them leave town, and accordingly, he, with six other associates, were arrested on complaint and warrant and locked in the calaboose and precautions taken that they did not escape, and were allowed to leave town the next day. There was no mob violence used whatever. None but regular officers of the city made the arrest, but in the case they were resisted there was sufficient force composed of armed citizens held in reserve to aid in the arrest.

It was afterwards ascertained by one of the parties arrested, who peached on the balance, that it was known by Short and party they were to be arrested, and as soon as the officers came to arrest them it was understood they were organized and that Short was to start the shooting and the balance of the party were to follow it up, but as stated by him “somebody weakened.” The citizens understood the characters of the men they were dealing with and were prepared for them, and this was the occasion for the circulation that it was a mob. It was bona fide citizens armed to aid the officers if necessary in the enforcement of the laws.

Much of the confusion and misunderstanding regarding the situation in our city is due to the misrepresentations made to the Governor by one W. F. Petillon. Petillon is clerk of the district court and lives about six miles north of Dodge City on a claim of 160 acres. He had been recognized and identified as a Harris man some time before the lection, which cam about as follows: Jack McCarty had been arrested at this point for highway robbery, and had given bond for $2,000. Harris, as one of the bondsmen, and Short, having no property against which execution could issue, got a citizen worth some real estate to sign the bond and he (Short) deposited the amount to secure the party so signing. The bond was given for McCarty’s appearance to be tried. McCarty appeared and in the course of the trial it was evident from the evidence McCarty would be convicted. After conviction and before sentence, McCarty escaped. When his escape became known, the clerk, Petillon, was applied to for the bond, he being the proper custodian of the papers in the case. Upon application, he could not give it, as he did not know where it was. He had it at the last day of court and was the one seen to have it last. The bond was never found, although he acknowledged it was properly filed, and it is impossible to obliterate from the minds of a great many respectable people here that Petillon knew why and where that bond disappeared. it has been a noticeable feature that since that time Petillon has been a firm believer and supporter of the Harris and Short combination. This is the kind of man Governor Glick sends for, instead of sending for a proper representative as any reasonable, intelligent, discreet man should to investigate.

The condition of Dodge City at present is orderly and law-abiding, and the prospects are it will so continue if these men remain away. If they are allowed to remain it will be against the will and without the consent of a majority of the law-abiding citizens of this community, and if the Governor, through his interference and encouragement, forces these men back on us he does so at his peril, and if there is bloodshed as a result the responsibility will not rest entirely with the Governor, who had he not given the matter encouragement,, it would have passed by unnoticed, as an occurrence frequent in all cities desirous of being law-abiding, and of good government.

Dated at Dodge City, Kansas the 15th day of May, 1883.

L. E. Deger, Mayor
H. B. Bell
H. T. Drake
George S. Emerson
H. M. Beverly, Councilmen of Dodge City
R. E. Burns, Police Judge
N. B. Klaine, City Treasurer
L. C. Hartman, City Clerk
C. E. Chipman, Assistant Marshal
Fred T. M. Wente, City Attorney
J. L. Bridges, City Marshal
T. L. McCarty, City Physician

About a year after this letter was written, my 2nd great grandfather, Washington Marion Crawford, would move his family from Warren County, Indiana to Dodge City where he would join his older brother who was already living in Dodge City. Obviously the conflict in Dodge City did not prevent my ancestor from moving there. Perhaps that is due to the fact the citizens of Dodge City fought to change the character of the town.