A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Johnson City KS’

Hugoton, Kansas

Posted by graywacke on January 1, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2073; A Landing A Day blog post number 500.

 Dan –  Before I slip into my accustomed posting mode, take a second to read the sentence just above.  There it is:  A Landing A Day blog post number 500!!

 As soon as I posted, I took a Word Press screen shot.  Of course, I had to go back in to the post so I could add this shot:


Back to the usual . . .

 I’m still below 150 in spite of my second OSer in a row, thanks to this landing in . . . KS; 60/56; 7/10; 149.0.

 Here’s my regional landing map:


Moving closer in, we can see the usual plethora of small towns:


When faced with multiple titular candidates, I do my usual slew of Google searches, looking for the oft-elusive hook.  I spent the most time looking at Johnson City (it being the closest and all), but the winner (obviously) was Hugoton.

 My Google Earth shot shows (surprise, surprise) that I landed in a farm field:


Before moving on to Hugoton, we all need to know what watershed I landed in.  As it turned out, it was tough to figure out which way the drainage went:  northeast towards the Arkansas, or southeast towards the Cimarron.  After futzing around for a while with the GE elevation tool, the winner was the Cimarron (14th hit); then, on to the Arkansas (112th hit), to the MM (816th hit).  What made it tough is that it’s very flat and quite dry, so I could find no streams to follow . . .

 On to Hugoton, from Wiki:

Settlers from McPherson, Kansas established a settlement in what was then west-central Seward County, Kansas in 1885.

 [McPherson wasn’t good enough for ‘em, eh?]

They originally named this settlement Hugo in honor of French writer Victor Hugo.

[OK, OK, so I don’t know beans about Victor Hugo.  After a quick Wiki-peek-ia, I see that he wrote a couple of famous novels:  Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I guess I knew that . . .]

However, the town changed its name to Hugoton to distinguish it from Hugo, Colorado.

[Seems to me that being in a different state is sufficient differentiation!  And Hugoton – I think Hugoville would be better – and it sounds more French.]

 In 1886, the Kansas Legislature established the surrounding area as Stevens County, and Gov. John Martin designated Hugoton as the interim county seat. This set off a violent county seat war with nearby Woodsdale.

Hugoton became the permanent county seat in 1887, but the conflict continued, culminating in the Hay Meadow Massacre.

Are you kidding me?  A “county seat war,” culminating in the Hay Meadow Massacre?  Oh my, I’ve developed quite the Google itch needs scratching . . .

I’ll start with the town of Woodsdale.  Well, after Woodsdale lost the fight and Hugoton became the county seat, Woodsdale just faded away.  Here’s a GE shot of Woodsdale today:

GE Woodsdale

That’s right:  there’s nothing there – nada, zip, rien.  Zooming back a a little you can see where Woodsdale is (was?) relative to Hugoton and my landing:

GE Woodsdale2

 Here’s a broad summary of what went down (from Wiki):

The Hay Meadow Massacre, July 25, 1888, was the most violent event of the Stevens County, Kansas, county seat fight.

In July 1888, Sam Robinson, the marshal of Hugoton and a group of men supporting Hugoton for the county seat planned an outing in No Man’s Land just south of the county (what later became the OK Panhandle).  Ed Short, the marshal of Woodsdale and Woodsdale supporter, learned of the outing and gathered some men of the opposing faction. They caught up with Robinson, Robinson eluded them.

Short, feeling they needed more help, sent for reinforcements. Sheriff John M. Cross, also a Woodsdale booster, and four others headed out to search for the Hugoton party. Not finding them, they camped for the night on a hay meadow at Wild Horse Lake.

Meanwhile, Robinson’s friends had organized a group of Hugoton supporters with the intentions of rescuing him. They met Robinson and returned to the strip. Locating the Woodsdale camp at the hay meadow, they surrounded the meny and killed four of them and injured the fifth.

The Hugoton party, believing they had killed all of Woodsdale group, returned, saying that they had killed the party in a shootout. However, the surviving member and a group of haymakers that witnessed the event stated that the Woodsdale party had been captured, disarmed, and then executed.

The state militia was called out and the Hugoton men arrested, but it was soon determined that no court had jurisdiction in No Man’s Land. Eventually the case was tried before the United States Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Seven men were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. On appeal, however, the Supreme Court held that the Paris court had no jurisdiction and no sentence was carried out.

Here’s some very juicy details from an article by Ken Butler on OKOLHA.net (the article that was the main reference for Wiki):

Not long after Cross and his men had settled in for the night (near two of the haystacks in the meadow), Robinson and his band of men arrived at the Haas camp and abruptly awakened the lot.  The Cross posse had not expected any trouble during the night and only one or two of the men were able to reach a gun, but seeing that they were outnumbered they did not fire.  All weapons were taken from Sheriff Cross and his men.

It is reported that as Robinson slowly raised his rifle he said, “Sheriff Cross, you are my first man” and coldly pulled the trigger.  After killing the Sheriff, Robinson and his men fired their guns pointblank into each of the unarmed Woodsdale posse.

After the men had been gunned down, matches were lit and held to their faces to confirm their death.  Some of the victims were shot a second time.  When confident that all of the Woodsdale men were dead, Robinson and his posse left the bodies of Sheriff Cross and his four men as they fell.

One of the posse, Herbert Tooney had been shot through the neck but was still alive.  He had feigned death so well that he had not been shot again.  After he was confident that all had left, he began to move about and check his companions, but found no sign of life. Tooney slowly made his way to his staked horse and with great effort he mounted the animal.

After riding a few miles, the 19-year old wounded man came upon an old “buffalo wallow”.   His desperate condition prompted him to dismount and lie down in the muck.   A few minutes in the sludge renewed his hope to survive.  Tooney got back on his horse and continued riding north.

 There’s a survival story the likes of which you’ve never heard!  Anyway, Tooney is the guy who testified against the Hugoton group.  Here’s a picture of the actual murder scene – dead bodies and all –  taken (I assume) the day after:

hay meadow massacre

 And this all happened because some pumped up dudes’ egos were out of control ABOUT A STUPID COUNTY SEAT!!!!!  AYKM??  No need to wonder why mankind is always at war . . .

 I need to calm down with some soothing photos, starting with this back-in-the-day shot of Main Street in Hugoton:

 back in the day shot of hugoton

I’ll close with this rural Kansas Panoramio shot by “Mario)))”:

mario))) pano

 That’ll do it.




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