This is not collectible.
While I have lived in Texas for nearly 50 years, I was born and grew to an adult in Kansas. When I tell someone of my origins, they almost always respond in one of two ways: “I have been there but I don’t remember much about it” or “that 400 mile drive across the state on Interstate 70 is really boring.” There is more to the state than that. The wheat grown there feeds the world, and the people are nice, but I will focus on the sometimes lawless history of the state.
Kansas achieved statehood in 1861, but it was far from civilized. From 1850 until 1900 the region was a frontier, and at the center of important events in US history: there was the westward movement of pioneers from Europe and the eastern US and the subsequent conflicts with Native Americans; the Santa Fe Trail crossed the state and the Pony Express and the Oregon Trail passed through a corner; there was a border war because Kansas was a free state and a center of the abolitionist movement, whereas neighboring Missouri was a slave state; and finally the several new railroads were extending westward into hostile territory and furthermore some of the railheads were the destinations of cattle drives from Texas. Each trackable in this series of metal travel bugs is named for towns with interesting histories (at least to me), some of which have connections to my youth.
Before the railroad arrived in Newton, the area was only sparsely populated by a few homesteaders. When the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad arrived on July 17, 1871, Newton became the shipping point of the immense herds of Texas cattle which prior to this time had been driven to Abilene.
With the arrival the large herds of cattle, also came cowboys, gambers, "soiled doves," and roughs of every variety. To accommodate these rowdy men and women, a portion of the fledgling city known as "Hyde Park" developed. The area held no less than fifteen buildings devoted to "social amusement," with such flamboyant names as the Do Drop In, the Side Track, and the Gold Room. In total, the town boasted 27 saloons and eight gambling halls. During these days, Newton was filled with tales rivaled only by Dodge City and was called the "wickedest city in the west."
The cowboys reigned supreme in Newton from during the 1871 cattle season, during which time there were 12 documented killings, although by some estimates, there may have been twice that many. However, by the next trail driving season, the railroad had been extended to Wichita and the City of Newton had passed an ordinance prohibiting the running at large animals in their city.
However, on August 20, 1871, one of the largest gunfights to ever take place in the American West was fought in Newton. Known as the Hyde Park Gunfight or the Newton Massacre, the shootout claimed more lives than many more famous gunfights such as Dalton Gang Gunfight at Coffeeville, Kansas or the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.
The whole affair began when two local lawmen, Billy Bailey and Mike McCluskie, argued over local politics in the Red Front Saloon. McCluskie, an Irishman from Ohio and a rough man by anyone's standards, had made his way to Kansas via his employment with the Santa Fe Railroad as a Night Policeman. Shortly after his arrival, he befriended an 18 year-old man named James Riley, who was dying of tuberculosis. This is relevant because Riley would soon play a major role in the famous gunfight that was to come. Billy Bailey was a Texas cowboy who had probably wound up in Newton after one of the long cattle drives.
Both Bailey and McCluskie had been hired by Newton authorities as Special Policemen to keep order in the city during the heated August elections. Though working in tandem, McCluskie and Bailey had a personality conflict from the start. Constantly arguing, the two men were in the Red Front Saloon on August 11th and their dispute soon led to violence. Starting out as a fistfight, Bailey was knocked out of the saloon and into the dusty street. McCluskie followed, drew his pistol, and fired two shots at Bailey, hitting him in the chest. The wounded man died the next day.
McCluskie immediately fled town to avoid arrest, but returned just a few days later, after he heard that the shooting would most likely be deemed self-defense. Though Bailey never produced a weapon, McCluskie claimed he feared for his life, because Bailey had been in three previous gunfights, in which he had killed two men. In the meantime, several of Bailey's cowboy friends from Texas heard about his death and vowed to take revenge against his killer. On the evening of August 19, McCluskie strode into Tuttle's Dance Hall, located in the disreputable Hyde Park. Accompanied by a friend named Jim Martin, also a Texas cowboy, the two sat down to play faro. Already in the saloon was McCluskie's "shadow," James Riley.
After midnight, three of Bailey's Texas cowboy friends by the names of Billy Garrett, Henry Kearnes, and Jim Wilkerson, also entered the dance hall. All were armed and cowboy Billy Garrett had a history of at least two prior gunfights, where he had killed two men. The three mingled in the saloon, waiting and watching McCluskie gamble. Soon, another Texas cowboy named Hugh Anderson, the son of a wealthy Bell County, Texas, cattle rancher, also entered the dancehall, walking directly up to McCluskie and yelling, "You are a cowardly son-of-a-bitch! I will blow the top of your head off!"
McCluskie’s playing partner, Jim Martin, jumped up and attempted to stop violence, Anderson ignored him and shot McCluskie in the neck. McCluskie in the meantime, tried to return the shot, but his pistol misfired, and he fell to the floor. Anderson, now standing over him, pumped several more bullets into his back. The Texas cowboys, Kearns, Garrett, and Wilkerson also began firing, perhaps to keep the crowd back. However, James Riley, McCluskie's tubercular friend, then pulled his two Colt revolvers and opened fire on the Texans. Although Riley had never been in a gunfight before, and probably couldn't see in the smoke filled room, he unloaded his guns into melee, hitting seven men.
Seriously hit were would-be peacemaker, Jim Martin, who took a shot in the neck before stumbling out of the saloon and dying across the dusty street on the steps of Krum's dance hall. Texas cowboy, Billy Garrett, was shot in the shoulder and chest and died a few hours later. His friend Henry Kearnes also took a mortal wound, but hung on for a week before he died.
Others, who had no part in the squabble, also took some of Riley's wild bullets including a Santa Fe Railroad brakeman named Patrick Lee who was shot in the stomach and died two days later. Another Santa Fe employee named Hickey was also shot in the calf, but the wound was not serious and he survived. The other two Texas cowboys, Jim Wilkerson, and the first shooter, Hugh Anderson were also wounded. Wilkerson was shot in the nose and the leg, but recovered from his wounds. Anderson took two shots in the leg and also recovered
With seven men lying on the floor, young James Riley, who previous to this time had never been in trouble, simply walked out of the smoke filled saloon and was never seen again. Later that day, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Hugh Anderson. However, his father and friend's smuggled him aboard a train to Kansas City. Later he made his way back to Texas and was never brought to trial for McCluskie's murder.
But the affair was not over. Arthur McCluskie, Mike's brother, wanted revenge against Hugh Anderson. For two years, Arthur and his friends kept a lookout for Anderson, who was safely hiding in Texas. But Anderson made the mistake of returning to Kansas in 1873, where Arthur tracked him down in Medicine Lodge, working at Harding's Trading Post as a bartender. Arthur sent a man in on July 4, 1873 to invite Anderson to a duel -- giving him a choice weapons -- either guns or knives. Anderson chose pistols and soon emerged from the trading post. After both men emptied their guns into each other, they then resorted to knives, and in the end, both were dead.
Though the Hyde Park Gunfight received much publicity at the time, it has received little historical attention, despite producing a higher body count than many more famous gunfights. Perhaps this is because there were no "famous" people involved in shoot-out.