Such incidents as the jumping of the widow
Poggonbergís claim by Dick Roberts occurred on several occasions
that summer, the number increasing as the time went on until
those people who desired to live in Beaver City and do business
there it became necessary to afford some sort of protection to
the weak Ďphysicallyí against the strong, for with the growth of
population not a few had come without firearms.
At first there were conferences between twoís
and threeís of the business men. These were followed by
conferences of a half dozen or more in various private houses,
the men in all cases being personal friends who could trust each
other. Finally they called a public meeting for the evening of
October 26, 1886, and at this meeting a set of rules were
adopted by oral vote for the governing of Squatters and the
settling of disputes over claims. These rules make interesting
reading because they were written to cover a neat swindle which
one of the early residents worked, according to report
subsequently made in Congress on some innocents in Ohio. The
rules were as follows:
Article 1. We, the undersigned, do agree to
support and assist in carrying out the following regulations and
requirements in regards to holding claims in the Neutral Strip
of the Indian Territory.
Article 2. That any person of legal age shall
be allowed to hold one claim and one claim only, of 160 acres of
land until April 1st, 1887, provided that he shall by this time
have broken at least five (5) acres or put other improvements
thereon equivalent thereto.
Article 3. Any person may be allowed to take
and hold claim for each member of his immediate family, to
consist of father and mother, brother and sisters, sons and
daughters who are of the required age, provided, he will make
improvements on each claim as provided for in Article two.
Article 4. That each signer of these rules
and Regulations and all others taking land when required shall
furnish in writing to _____________________or committee of
proper description of his claim, also a proper description of
each claim which he may be holding for each member of his
Article 5. That all persons who have
heretofore or hereafter come in person to take, select, or
purchase claims and go away with a bona-fide intention of
returning, shall be entitled to all the benefits of these rules
and regulations, and all non-residents who have claims surveyed
and other bona-fide improvements made shall have four months
from this date to come upon their claims, as required by these
rules and regulations, otherwise, their claims shall be
Article 6. That in case any person shall jump
or trespass, or in any way damage a claim or claims of any of
the signers of these rules and regulations, or of anybody
entitled to the benefits of these rules and regulations said
person or persons shall be politely solicited to get off said
claim, stop trespassing, and make good any damage done thereon;
and if, after twenty-four hours, no attention shall be paid to
said notice, measures sufficiently severe shall be resorted to
compel such person or persons to comply with said notification.
"Measures sufficiently severe meant shooting
to death, as was afterwards demonstrated in practice." It was
the third article that proved unsatisfactory to the squatters,
however, and furnished the opportunity to swindle outsiders. One
George Scrange had marked out a large number of claims for one
hundred and sixty acres each by plowing a furrow around it. They
were all well located, and will be very valuable when title can
be obtained. He had taken them on the plea that they were for
various relatives. Then he had gone east and had inserted the
following advertisements in the Portsmouth, Ohio, Blade and
CHEAP HOMES: McAllister & Scrange locators of
land in Neutral Strip, Indian Territory, can give you the best
situation and figures on land. See Capt. A. J. McAllister, on
board steamer Louise. Finest climate, best farm, purest water in
the country. Titles clear and terms Easy. McALLISTER & SCRANGE,
In the language of Congressman Payson, when
No Manís Land was before Congress for legislation (see Record
July 25, 1888, Page 7,546) "every man who published of that
kind, or is in any way connected with them, is a thief and a
robber. It is an attempt on their part of secure from the honest
people of the country under false pretenses their money."
The people of Beaver City say that Scrange is
not at all abashed by his exposure. Certainly he has not lost
prestige here, for the village paper makes not of his coming and
going as respectfully as it does those of other people, while
Addison Mundell, the first city marshal, and at present the
locator of claims, "told the reporter than Scrange is interested
in a number of town sites that had been surveyed in the strip,
and added that if the reporter wanted to get in on the ground
floor, he would write to Mr. Geo. Scrange, care of J. V.
Ellison, Cincinnati, Ohio. Ellison according to Mundell, being a
capitalist who is furnishing Scrange (perhaps unwittingly) with
money for his operations.
It was not so much on account of a swindle on far away people
that the squatters here objected to the rules written by Mr.
Scrange, however. They did not like the idea of helping to
protect him in gobbling up large breadths of land to which they
as actually settlers had a better right. Accordingly half a
dozen meetings were held to consider the position of the public
and Strip, and as a result a call for a meeting was issued, "to
proceed at once and prepare a code of bylaws for our future
adoption also to prepare a form of quit-claim deeds for our
common use in the transfer of claims from one part to another."
This call was signed by thirty-four men and one woman. The
meeting was called for and held on November 9th, 1996, and was
presided over by Dr. O. G. Chase. It was at this time that first
steps were taken which resulted in one of the most unique
governments every organized by civilized men.
It is interesting to note that this meeting
was "called by the aforesaid subscribers, at 7 oíclock in the
school house" according to the minutes now in possession of Dr.
Chase. Although there had as yet been no form of government
established, the citizens had got together early in September
and built a sod walled house in which their children could
attend school, the teacher being paid by volunteer subscription.
At this meeting two resolutions historically
important, were adopted, they read as follows:
Section 3. To enable us to consolidate our
strength, and to know the wants of the whole territory, it is
also suggested and hereby agreed upon that the entire population
of Cimarron Territory turn out on February 22, 1887, and hold
election in their respective neighborhoods as near in conformity
to law as possible, electing in each representing district three
representatives who shall meet in Beaver City on the 4th day of
March, 1887, as a territorial council.
To carry out the objects set forth in
preceding section as president, vice president, secretary and
treasurer is hereby elected and authorized to act as a local
council, constituting a Board to be known as the respective
The phrase in section 3 which reads "It is
also suggested and hereby agreed upon" is characteristic of the
suggesting and in the same breath come down with a thumping
agreement to carry out the suggestion. It will be observed, too,
that they have decided on a name for their Territory. It was
called Cimarron, from the River of that name that flows across
the northeast corner of the Strip, the Territory was divided
into districts. To make a government at all good, it was
necessary to have the whole territory represented, for
settlement had been formed and claims located throughout the
whole 167 miles of its length, Beaver being only a much envied
At this meeting also the first attempt to
levy a tax was made. Few ever paid the taxes provided for but
the resolution which referred to the subject is interesting
because it defined some of the powers of the respective Claim
Board, the first government of the Strip.
Section 5. The Respective Claim Board is
authorized to proceed at once to have printed for squatter
claimants use blank quit claim deeds and for each parcel of land
or town lot the president and secretary shall execute a deed to
the original re-claimant when called upon to do so; but if any
contest appears to exist; or doubt to the priority of right
existing in the claimant, then the matter shall rest and no deed
issue until all parties interested shall have a change for
hearing, and evidence filed in writing, if demanded, and the
decision rendered by the board of three disinterested citizen
arbitrators, selected in the usual way by parties interested.
Either party feeling themselves aggrieved may appeal to the new
Board of five arbitrators, selected as above but must state such
appeal within five days, and pay to the secretary of the company
the sum of five dollars.
The election came on in due course of time and there was a
spirited contest in Beaver City, but it is doubtful whether
settlers in the west end of the Strip ever heard there was to be
an election. If they did they paid no attention to it.
Nevertheless, three delegates to represent three districts were
declared elected, although they all lived within a few miles of
Beaver City. The election returns were made to Dr. J. A.
Overstreet, the secretary of the respective Claim Board and in
his report the nine delegates who had been elected gathered in
the school house on March 4th as the first legislative body in
No Manís land. Their names are attached to the following oath to
which they subscribed.
We, the undersigned members of the
Territorial Council of Cimarron Territory and officers of the
same do hereby solemnly swear that we will support the
Constitution of the United States, and faithfully execute and
enforce the laws of said United States and also laws adopted by
Territorial Council for the government of said Cimarron
Territory, to the best of our ability. O. G. Chase, President;
Merritt Magann, Clerk; Rm M. Overstreet; J. G. Snode; James
Lane; Robert A. Allen; Elmer Tompkins; Thomas Waters; W. J.
R. M. Overstreet was a Presbyterian preacher,
and Robt. A. Allen a Methodist preacher. The first business
attended to after organizing was passing a resolution at the
request of Re. Overstreet, he said that there was a grave defect
in the Constitution of the United States, and he hoped that in
the documentary organization of the new territory the mistake of
the fathers of the American republic would not be repeated. He
therefore moved the adoption of the following measure which, as
printed is the verbatim copy of the record;
Whereas, the residents of Cimarron Territory are without the
protection of law of any state or recognized territorial
government, and recognizing the urgent need thereof, and
desiring to adopt and establish rule and law for our protection,
safety and government, do hereby recognize Allí Mighty God, to
be the supreme ruler of the universe, the creator and preserver,
and governor of individuals, communities, State Nations, and
recognize the laws of the United States as our organic law and
adopt the same with the constitution of the United States as the
foundation and basis of all laws and rules for our government
and so far as may be to execute and enforce the same.
Therefore be it resolved by the
representatives of Cimarron Territorial Council Assembled, that
we do hereby declare ourselves the Territorial Council of said
Cimarron Territory, and do hereby adopt the constitution of the
United States and the laws thereof, as the ground work and
foundation for all our laws or rules to be adopted for our
Another resolution which looked toward the
dividing of the Territory into seven representative districts,
or counties of four rows of townships each, taken vertically
across the territory was passed; also one providing for a
general election, to be held on the first Tuesday after the
first Monday in November, "for the purpose of electing nine
senators and fourteen delegates, who shall meet in Beaver on the
first Monday in December, A.M., as Territorial Council."
This was the end of their work on the
constitution of Cimarron territory. They then turned to making
laws under that constitution and here is the first one passed.
It was introduced by delegate Elmer Tompkins and was unanimously
"Be it resolved by the Territorial council of
the Cimarron territory "That regularly ordained ministers of the
gospel are hereby authorized and empowered to solemnize the
rights of matrimony for parties having first procured from the
secretary of any auxiliary Council or from the secretary of the
Territorial Council a certificate authorizing such ceremony
between the parties therein named which certificate with the
return of the officiating minister endorsed thereon be returned
to the secretary having issued the same within 30 days from the
performance of such ceremony.
A fee of $1.00 shall be charged by the
secretary issuing such certificate, and he shall keep a true
record of all certificates issued and returned to him of
marriages solemnized, and local secretary shall make semi-annual
returns thereof to the Territorial secretary. Such certificates
shall only be issued by the secretary to parties that he is
satisfied are of legal age and able to make a civil contract."
The term auxiliary council refers to the
governing body which it was hoped would be organized in each
THE FIRST EXECUTION
There is no way of learning who was the first
man killed in No Manís Land, for no doubt a great many died here
by violence at the hands of the Indians before Beaver City was
through of. Very likely a number were killed in the Strip by
white men, but the first two who were killed as a punishment for
crime, and as a warning to evil doers that the people of Beaver
city might dwell in peace were O. P. Bennett and Frank Thompson.
They were, as the people here say, executed. To one who hears
the story from the executioner it seems as though they were
murdered and in a brutal and cowardly fashion, whatever their
previous crimes may have been, and that some other motive other
than the desire to preserve the peace of the community animated
the people who were dead.
As has already been told Bennett was on of
the proprietors of the first dance house in No Manís Land. The
business died out before Christmas, in 1886 Bennett and Charley
Tracy put in a stock of dry goods, groceries, etc., in the
building which has been used as a dance house. The change of
business did not increase the popularity of the proprietors with
the young men, who had recently remembered the old business with
sorrow, nor did it improve the morals of the proprietors. The
first grievance against Bennett grew out of his old business.
The first against Thompson was the stealing
of a rifle. Thompson broke into a room occupied by Addison
Mundell and took a Winchester. Mundell had Thompsonís house
search for it without success, and Thompson swore he would shoot
Mundell for making the search. He met Mundell in front of the
post office one day and got the drop on him, But Rube Chilcott,
a stalwart frontiersman, grabbed Thompsonís six shooter before
it was discharged. Rube was anxious only for the lives of
innocent bystanders of whom there were a number including two or
The next of which Bennett was guilty was an
attempt to steal a pair of mules. The mules were brought down
the trail from Kansas with the harness on, and stopped at the
livery stable for feed. Tracy saw them and concluded they were
stolen and determined to "round them up." They let the man ride
away with the mules and an hour later got on their horses and
with six shooters loaded started after the outfit. They followed
the trail to the farm of Thomas Pemberton. The mules were in the
corral there. "Is the owner of them mules here?" asked Bennett.
"Yes," said Pemberton, as he was standing in the door of his
house. "Well, we want him" "What for," "The mules are supposed
to be stolen and we want the man and the mules."
Pemberton disappeared in the house. When he
came out again he a Winchester rifle at his shoulder. "You can
have the man or anything else you want," said Pemberton.
They didnít want the many or anything else
except to bet back to town as soon as possible. The man was a
friend of Pemberton and had come down after a wagon he had
Some weeks later Bennett and Tracy drove Mr.
Hinton off a couple of lots on which he was building a house
because Hinton would not be blackmailed.
Bennettís last act of this kind was after
Thompson stole Mundellís rifle. He went upon a claim adjoining
town of the south side which George Scranage had plowed around.
Bennett furnished Thomason with such lumber as necessary to the
building of a small dug-out, and in this age had no right to any
claim save the one he was living on elsewhere. Thompson had a
perfect right to improve and live on this one, but Scranage
wanted it for a brother-in-law named W. J. Kline. As a matter of
fact, Thompson wanted merely to make Kline pay blackmail for he
did not move on the claim until he heard Kline was coming.
Kline and Scranage took the matter before the
respective Claim Board, nominally, but really before the
business men of the place. The meeting was public, was well
attended, and everyone was free to make speeches, a privilege of
which many availed themselves. Thompson pleaded his right to
take up any unoccupied claim. Scranage argued that Kline was a
settler in goof faith, and Thompson a boomer. Thompson said
(Truthfully too) that Kline had come merely to get hold of a
claim and would never work the land. Bennett and the two Tracys
were there to side in with Thompson, but the citizens were
almost unanimously against the four and for Kline and Scranage.
The previous misdeeds of Thompson and his friends were retold
with marked effect.
At the fifth meeting which was held on the
night of March the 1st, 1887, it was determined to oust Thompson
form the claim the next day and the determinations were carried
into effect by those who had rendered the decision against
Thompson. About 11 oíclock on the morning of the second Scranage
and Kline and a chum of theirs names L. N. McIntosh, who had
helped Scranage in taking up claims to which he was not
entitled, got a gang together, which include Addison Mundell and
a tough of the toughest character named W. P. or Billie Olive.
Bill as a matter of fact, himself executed some months later.
Armed with rifles, shot guns and six
shooters, the gang started up the trail to go to the dug-out and
drive Thompson out. Mundell was the last man to start up the
trail and was some two hundred yards behind the rest.
He says when going along the trail he heard
his name called, and on looking around he saw Thompson over at
the house west of the trail, where he got his meals. Thompson
had come down for an early dinner, had put his pony in the
stable and was on his way to the house. Mundell said that
"You --------- -------- ---, are you going to
that claim? Iíll stop you now," and raised the Winchester.
No one else heart Thompson say that or
anything else; and it is not likely that a man of Thompsonís
experience would have been so slow with his rifle as he must
have been to enable Mundell to get in the first shot. Mundell
said he whirled around as he heard the words brought his rifle
to his shoulder and fired, shot Thompson through the right knee,
all while Thompson was trying to take aim.
"I throwed my gun down and pulled as a man
would shot a bow and arrow," said Mundell in telling about it.
Two eye witnesses told the Sun reporter that
when Mundell saw Thompson come from the stable door he ran
behind a low sod wall at the side of the trail, and thence shot
Thompson, who was walking unsuspiciously homeward.
When Thompson was shot he fill to the ground
but managed to crawl into his house. The woman who was living
with him called Dr. O. G. Chase. The doctor found the knee
completely ruined and amputation necessary. He therefore
temporarily bandaged the wound, intending to get Dr. J. A.
Overstreet to assist in cutting off the limb during the
afternoon. He left the wounded man lying on the bed placed on
the floor, and went home to dinner.
Meantime, the report of Mundellís rifle had
brought Kline, McIntosh and Billie Olive, and the rest back down
the trail. They had started out to run one man out of the
country; they came back determined to kill three men. The
wounding of Thompson, instead of exciting their pity, whetted
their thirst for blood. They went down to the store of Bennett
and Tracy, but found only O. P. Bennett there. They wanted
Charley Tracy very badly, but were too eager to kill somebody to
stop and hunt him up. Bennett saw that danger was ahead but he
was taken by surprise and could make no defense. He did not even
have his six shooter with him.
"Yer partner, Thompson, wants to see you,"
said Mundell to Bennett. "Heís been hurt, I want you to take
care of him"
They escorted Bennett out to the house where Thompson lay on
the floor groaning with pain. The door was open and Bennett
walked in ahead of the rest. He was smoking a big meershaum
pipe, and had just put his right hand to it to take it from his
mouth that he might speak to Thompson, where he heart the
clicking of the hammers of the guns in the hands of his
executioners. Whirling partly around he threw up his left hand
as if to ward off the bullet. Thompson stopped groaning and
began to beg for mercy. Then the posse fired. One bullet pierced
the hand that Bennett had raised and passed through his head. He
fell headlong with his pipe in one hand and the other still
raised. Thompson was shot full of bullets as he laid there on
his bed. The two were killed very much like wolves in a den.
There is but one man of the posse who will
talk about the killing. Mundell justified his killing of
Thompson even when helpless, on the plea that Thompson had
already tried to shoot him at the post office. As for the
others, Billie Olive is dead and the rest say nothing.
The posse then went back to the store for
Charley Tracy, but Charley had jumped on a pony and fled for his
life. Pat Tracy was then told he might close out the business.
This he did inside of two weeks. No one here knows where he is
An inquest followed: Here is the verdict of
"We the jury appointed to view the remains of
O. P. Bennett and Frank Thompson, find that they came to their
death from gunshot wounds received at the hands of many law
abiding citizens, thereby inflicting as near as possible the
extreme penalty of law as it should be in such cases. The
deceased were bad citizens - one having run a house of
prostitution and the other living in open adultery in our town.
Each was accused of stealing and receiving stolen property, some
of which was found on their premises after they were killed.
They had each been firing into houses, holding a dozen or more
claims and driving honest settlers away from the country and
their untimely end is but the results of their own many wrong
doings. (Signed) J. A. Overstreet, M.D., Laf Wells, James
Deveris, Joseph Hunter. H. D. Wright, G. E. Myers, Jury. O. G.
While the charges against the deceased were
all doubtless true, it is also true that Beaver City at this
minute knew several of its most prominent citizens were doomed,
were the death penalty inflicted on all who have guilty of the
After the inquest came the funeral. It was
the first funeral service in No Manís Land. The R. R. M.
Overstreet officiated. His text was taken from the 8th and 23rd
verses of the 94th Psalm, as follows: Understand, ye brutish
among the people; and ye fools when will ye be wise? And He
shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall put them off
in their own wickedness: yea, the Lord or God Shall cut them
The sermon was very comforting to the posse
that had "cut them off." Dr. O. G Chase says that after the
ceremony the preacher came to him and said: :We will mould
public opinion, and let the young men to the work."
The people here say that there were goods
worth five thousand dollars in the store, and that Bennett was a
third owner, that Pat Tracy made charges in the book that
deprived Bennettís heirs of the amount due. Bennett, however,
had other property, such as horses and buildings, which brought
at auction $800 cash. The Rev. R. M. Overstreet, W. J. Kline and
W. M. Dow took charge of the estate as administrators. They have
never made any public report of what they did with the money. It
is said that one of the items of the bill for funeral expenses
was $210,00 for hauling the corpse to the grave a mile and a
half from town. Mr. Dow says that the estate just paid the
expenses of settling it.
Bennettís father is a man of wealth in
California. He came as far on his way to No Manís Land after the
death of his son as Meade Center, in Kansas. He was afraid to
come further. Mr. Dow went up there and made a report on the
settling of the estate. There nothing left of the eight hundred
TO ORGANIZE A
Possibly the killing of Thompson and Bennett
raised the standing of the "Territorial Council of Cimarron
Territory" in the estimation of the people; it certainly raised
the councillers in their own estimation, for at the next meeting
of the council which was held on April 15th, 1998, an
astonishing number of bills were introduced and passed. This
meeting is noteworthy from the fact that a Chaplain, a Rev. R.
A. Allen, officiated for the firs time. President of the Council
O. G. Chase, read a long message, "On the State of the
Territory" thereby taking upon himself somewhat of the character
of Chief Executive. The message is preserved in full in the
A seal for stamping all bills was brought in
use at this meeting also. It was bought by the president.
The first two bills were introduced by the
Rev. Overstreet. They related to the public highways. A road
overseer to be elected annually in each township was provided
for, and each claim of 160 acres and each male citizen between
the ages of 21 and 45 years who owned no claim was to be taxed
three dollars a year for the benefit of the highways. It was
provided that "Improved but unoccupied claims may be sold for
the tax where the claimant is not known, but a protest notice of
such sales shall be given of the time and place of such sale,
thereby giving full notice to the public of the sale."
No one ever paid the tax and no road overseer was ever
elected, but during the past year the men of Beaver City turned
out voluntarily on several occasions and worked the trail
through the sand hills north of the river, as well as the main
street of the village, and put the roads in excellent condition.
Council Bill No. 4 provided an enacting
clause for all subsequent bills thus: Be it enacted by the
Territorial Council of Cimarron Territory in Council Assembled.
To show just how this council tried to do the
work of a lawful legislature the following bill is given
verbatim except the enacting clause:
COUNCIL BILL NO 6 -- An act concerning cattle
That all personal property except growing
crops is subject to mortgage. Such mortgage is void until
delivery to mortgagee or until the mortgage or copy thereof
shall have been filed with the clerk on the auxiliary council in
the vicinity of where the property is to remain. The mortgage
may stipulate the rights of the mortgagee, otherwise the
property will be held by the mortgagor. The time and manner of
advertising to foreclose shall also be stipulated in the
mortgage, otherwise thirty days notice shall be given in writing
to the mortgagor giving time and place of sale.
Another bill providing for the division of
the territory into several counties of twenty-four townships
each; also for the election in November of a new legislative
body of nineteen senators and 14 delegates. The Senate district
was formed by the meridian line, and the delegates were to
represent the county. But it was provided that seven of the
delegates and six senators should be elected at large, which
meant from Beaver City, Beaver being the center of population.
The people who lived beyond the limits of Beaverís influence
would have objected to this but for the fact they didnít care a
cent about the legislature or its enactments. Although an
election was held that provided no one living over forty miles
was elected and the vacancies were filled by those who met on
the first Monday in December as this bill said they could do.
Meantime the original council of nine held
several meetings. They had resolved to meet once a month, but
could not get a quorum very often.
The meeting of August 2nd was interesting for
two reasons. First in spite of their utter lack of power to do
anything lawful, this council passed a bill of ten sections
providing for the organization of corporations. Second,
President Chase forgot all about a little political deal he had
made with the Rev. Overstreet, and a split occurred. Here are
the sample sections from the law governing corporations:
Section 4. Such articles of incorporation
must state name of incorporation and its place of business. The
general nature of said business to be transacted. The amount of
its capital stock and the manner in which it is to be paid in.
The duration of the corporation. By what persons the affairs of
the corporation are to be conducted and the times they will be
elected. The highest amount of indebtedness to which corporation
is at any time to subject itself. Whether private property is to
be except from corporate debts.
Section 5. The corporation may commence
business as soon as articles are filed with the territorial
secretary, and their doing shall be valid if the publication in
newspaper is made.
Publication of what? Of course there was
never any corporation that took advantage of this bill.
The political deal what this: The Rev. Mr.
Overstreet had agreed to support chase for president of the
council on condition that Chase should support him for delegate
to Washington, for it had early been determined to send a
delegate to work for legislation which should extend over this
territory with protection of United States laws. At the August
meeting of the council the Rev. Overstreet proposed that
provisions for a delegate be made. President Chase forgetting
that deal ruled the matter out of order on the grounds for
putting men in nomination for election by ballot should be
called. The Rev. Overstreet did not attend any more Council
A convention to choose nominees was called at
Rothwell on September 14th. Fourteen delegates representing
fourteen out of the 158 towns in the territory were present. The
preacher was not mentioned as a candidate. After twenty ballots
J. G. Snode of Paladora, had seven votes; J. E. Dale, five with
two scattered. So both Snode and Dale went before the people.
Then Dr. Chase came out as an independent and on the face of the
returns beat the other two out of sight. As the returns were
made to the Doctorís son-in-law, who had previously been elected
secretary of the council and as the number of votes somewhat
outnumbered the voters in some localities, the opposition were
suspicious of the returns. Mr. Dale who led Mr. Snode in the
returns, decided to go to Washington also. He said Dr. Chase had
been counted in "by the ring that wants to run the whole
country." Dr. Chase retorted by saying, that Mr. Dale was backed
by the thieves and land grabbers who had all along worked
against the efforts of honest citizens to establish law and
order; and further, unfortunately, by the friends of an honest
but disappointed candidate. The stranger who talks to both sides
will conclude that both Chase and Dale told the truth.
Here is the copy of the ticket voted by the
Repudiating all other platforms, we ask for
Territorial Government United States District Court, and United
States Land Office within the borders of the Public Land Strip,
as other territories have.
For Congress, O. G. CHASE - For Senatorial
W. H. MILLER, Optima; S. S. ---
BAKER, Mineral City: JOSEPH HUNTER, Beaver
City; J. R. LINLEY, Beaver City; J. B. MORSE, Clear Creek; J. G.
SNODE, Paladora. - For Senator First District, THOS. P.
BRAIDWOOD - For Delegates at Large, GEO. REEMER, JAMES LANE, R.
R. ALLEN, A. G. BENDER, E. T. BIRMINGHAM, ELMER TOMPKINS, ALEX
WRIGHT - For Delegate Seventh District, G. T. PEMBERTON - For
Territorial Secretary. W. B. OGDEN - N. B. Immediately after
counting the ballot must be returned, with the talley sheet and
poll book to W. B. Ogden, territorial secretary at Beaver.
Candidates must see that each neighborhood appoints its own
election officers, and open the poles November 8, 1998.
THE SHOOTING OF
Among the thirty-four men who signed the call
for the mass meeting at Beaver City at which were made the first
crude efforts to establish some sort of law and order in the
territory was W. P. Olive. It will be remembered that Mr. Olive
was one of the executioners of O. P. Bennett and Frank Thompson,
and one of the charged against Thompson; was that he was living
with a woman unlawfully. Mr. Olive had been all along one of
Beaverís other citizens who were outraging good morals as
Thompson had been doing, but Olive had appeared among those who
wanted law and order, and thus had escaped the fate of Thompson.
He had found safety, as others did in hypocrisy. He had come
from Smoky River in Nebraska, where he had just killed a man
just show that he was not afraid to kill one and has lived with
slight labor in Beaver City since early in the summer of 1886.
His means in getting a living consisted
chiefly in stealing cattle on the range and slaughtering them
and selling the meat to citizens in Beaver City. This was his
occupation during the days when the good citizens were
considering the advisability of Killing Frank Thompson and O. P
Bennett for stealing a rifle or jumping a claim. There is, or
was, a constant warfare prevailing between the settlers and the
Nomad cowboys. The cowboys not infrequently drove their herds
into settlers fields and destroyed their crops. The theft of a
few steers was looked upon as sort of providential retribution
for the previous sins of the cowboys.
Occasionally Billie went out with some
friends, rounded up a few wild horses that are still found on
the plans west of here. Early in September, 1887, Billie went
away on such a trip as this and was gone a week. The woman he
lived with took advantage of his absence to flee from the
country, for Billie, when drunk, abused her shamefully. Billie
came back, found her gone, and followed and overtook her at
Cimarron, a station on the Santa Fe railroad. The woman, to
escape Billieís wrath, told him a lie. She said that William
Henderson, the saloon keeper in Beaver City had told her that
Billie was not coming back. Billie took her home and spoke to
Henderson about the womanís story. Henderson denied it. That
night - It was a night of September 14, 19\887 - Billie with
John, commonly called "Lengthy" Halford, another friend, went on
a spree. They gambled and drank all night and the next morning
went to Hendersonís saloon. Here Billie "drew down his
six-shooter on Henderson" and said" "Set up the drinks or Iíll
Henderson set them up without delay. While he did so Billie
shot the lamps and glassware to pieces about the saloon, and
fired several shots into Hendersonís trunk in one corner of the
room. After drinking the crowd went out.
In few minutes Billie appeared through the
back door of the saloon, Winchester in hand he ordered Henderson
to throw up his hands. With his hands up, Henderson asked what
"Go down town," said Billie, and thereupon
Henderson marched out the door and down the street, with his
hands above his head, while Billie walked behind, striking him
in the back with the Winchester.
Pretty soon Lengthy Halford came along and
both men pounded the helpless saloon keeper. The business men
and their customers gathered at the doors and windows of the
stores along the street and looked on but did nothing.
Then Olive got tired of pounding his victim,
and aiming the rifle at him pulled the trigger. The cartridge
failed to explode and Henderson began to run. Olive pumped a new
cartridge into the chamber, and pulled again but neither this
one nor the third one exploded. People here regard Hendersonís
escape as little, if any short of miraculous. No other such
failure of cartridge was ever knows.
Meantime Halford had fired several shots at
Henderson from a six-shooter, but he was not a dead shot as
Olive was. Henderson fled across the Beaver river to the sand
Several hours later he returned. He was
called on by about all of the business men of the town and
advised to bushwhack Olive. They determined that Olive and
Halford were bad citizens and should die. Henderson got a rifle
and with three other citizens started up town behind the
buildings that lined the west side of main street. He was told
that Olive was prowling down the east side of the street with
Halford, pistol in hand looking into every saloon for he had
head of Hendersonís return. As Olive stopped to look into the
building now occupied by
Frank Palmer, so Henderson, peeking around the back end of a
building across the street saw him, and drawing his rifle up
behind the wall he was concealed behind, shot Olive through the
It was by this time sun down. Halford fled to
Nichols store near by and escaped the men who were with
Henderson. He got a girl who was living with him and putting her
on the horse, mounted another, and the two fled down the bottom
lands of the Beaver river east of town. It was not long until
the citizens found his trail and were in hot pursuit. Four hours
later they overtook him. Leaping from his horse, he dodge the
volley of bullets which were sent after him and escaped by
crawling away in the tall prairie grass, although his pursuers
rode up and down for hours in the search.
There was no inquest. Oliveís body was sent
to his mother, who came from Nebraska, as far as Dodge City,
Kansas, to get it. Within a year she had also to bury her
husband, who was also shot to death and with much the same
reason as Billie.
A GOVERNMENT FOR
There had been a little shooting scrape some
weeks before Oliveís taking off. Charlie Redmond and John Massey
had been roping, that is, lassoing each other. Redmond got the
lasso over Masseyís neck and downed him. Massey got up and there
was a short fight. Redmond got the worst of it and then friends
interfered. Massey left the saloon and went across the street.
Redmond followed him and shot him across the small of the back.
It was a flesh wound of little consequence.
The shooting of Massey set the people talking
about the necessity of some sort of city government with police
force attached. The shooting of Olive after his attempt on
Hendersonís life make them act. On September 15, 1887, an
election was held and the following officers were chosen:
Mayor, J. Thomas; Councilmen, John Garvey,
Thomas Braidwood, J. H alley, and M. Mesaur; Clerk, F. B Ogden;
Treasurer, J. A. Ovestreet.
The city government was organized the next
day without any other formality than the calling of the
councilmen to order by the mayor, and thereupon a commission was
issued to a city marshal as follows: Beaver City, N.S.I.T.,
September 16, 1887. -- Know Ye, that at a regular meeting of the
Board of City Council of Beaver City, held on the 16th day of
September, A. D. ADDISON MUNDELL was commissioned City Marshal
to continue in said office during the pleasure of said City
Council.---J Thomas, Mayor. Attest: Wm. B. Ogden, Clerk.
The marshal received fifty dollars a month
for three months. The saloon keepers contributed three dollars a
month each, and all other business men three dollars each. The
tax receipts dwindled to thirty dollars a month at the end of
three months and after six months to a sum not worth collecting.
It was during the ebb-tide of collections
that two deliberate murders in Jim Donnellyís saloon occurred.
An account of which will be given further on.
Itís further worthy of note that this city
organization is still preserved, and that it is respected by the
people. It was through its workings that the main street had
been graded and the trail north of town improved.
THE LAST BLOOD SHED
IN BEAVER CITY
When the story of two deliberate and cowardly
murders has been told and the record of life taking in Beaver
City will be complete to date. The murder and result in other
parts of the territory which averaged not more than fourteen a
year among the seven or eight thousand people, are illustrated
by those done here. In all five men have been killed here and
two wounded. The first two of these last killings is interesting
too, from the fact that the murderer was put on trial before a
No Manís Land Court, and although really guilty was acquitted
for want of evidence.
About February the 1st, 1888, two strangers
drove into town and registered at the hotel and Eugene Brusher
and Andrew H. Morris of Beloise, Kansas. It was afterwards
(officials) learned that the real name of Morris was John A.
Clark. They said they had come to locate stock ranches, and as
they had money, there were welcomed by everyone. Part of the
welcome was numerous invitations to drink, all of which were
accepted. The men stayed in town several days making several
trips into the surrounding country, meantime to look up claims,
but returning each night to Beaver, where they invariably went
on a spree.
On the night of February 3, they were in Jim
Donnellyís saloon next to the hotel with a number of others,
apparently having a good time. In the crowd was Dr. J. R.
Linley. The doctor wore a silk hat. He was the only man in town
allowed to wear a hat of this kind, and it was only his
reputation as a good fellow that saved the hat from being a
target for the six shooters of the cowboy. "Shoot" was a
business rather than a slang phrase.
In the course of the horse play before the
bar Dr. Linley exchanged hats with Brusher. Without an instance
delay Clark drew a revolver and shot Brusher through the head,
the bullet entering just below the hat brim. Brusher fell dead
in a hap before the bar. Clark called for another drink, and
then began to crew up his face in an endeavor to cry.
City Marshal Mundell, who was playing poker in the back room
of the saloon and did not realize that any thing had happened
until a boy came from the front room and said nonchalantly, in
answer to a question about the noise, that a man had been
Clark surrendered his pistol at Mundellís
orders, saying that he had intended shooting the hat. Next day
Clark was arranged before Mayor J. Thomas and the jury on a
charge of murder. The trial lasted for three days and at the end
City Attorney E. E. Brown, was obliged to accept the plea of
guilty of criminal carelessness, Clark was fined $25 which he
paid. Clark was advised privately to leave town, but remained
and so lost his life.
A few days after the shooting came William
Brusher, a brother of Eugene. He had never seen Clark. After
going over the testimony in the case he pretended to be
satisfied that the shooting was unintentional, and at once made
friends with Clark. On the evening of February the 8th the two
were in Jim Donnellyís saloon where Eugene Brusher had been
killed. They were shaking dice for the drinks at ten oíclock
when Brushere excused himself and stepped outside the front
door. There was one unpainted pane of glass in the front window,
through which Clark could be plainly seen. Brusher drew a heavy
revolved, aimed it carefully, fired and shot Clark through the
heart. Then he jumped on a horse, which he had standing there
ready all the time and galloped out of town. A posse pursued but
never overtook him. He was afterwards heard from at Rush Center,
Kansas, but the civil authorities of No Manís Land made no
effort to extradite him and try him for his crime.
Clark had been the owner of a hotel at
Beloise, Kansas, which he burned for the insurance money, and
Brusher was the sole witness of the crime. Clark had induced
Brusher to come to No Manís Land with the intention of getting
rid of him and had taken the first opportunity to do him up.
Clark was buried beside Frank Thompson and O.
P. Bennett, and his part of the traveling and camping outfit
which he and Bennett had brought were sold to pay the expenses
of the funeral.
NO MANíS LAND
As may be inferred from what has already been
told of the history of this country the first ambition of the
people was to have the strip organized as a separate territory.
It was only a potato patch in size as compared with the states
and territories that bounded them, but it was larger than Rhode
Island and Delaware, in fact could support a greater population
than both of these states put together.
According to the people here the rapid
settling of No Manís Land attracted no end of land sharks, who
made every effort to grab the land under cover of law. They
prepared a bill which Senator Plumb, of Kansas, got through the
senate which would have extended the laws of the United States
over the territory by attaching the Strip to Kansas for judicial
"It ordered the completing of the survey of
the Strip, but made no appropriations for the expense of the
surveyors. So, of course, the survey could not have been
completed and Senator Plumb knew it couldnít. It made no
provisions whatever for any local government.
Had this bill become a law the owner of the
land script of whom the people here say Senator Plumb is the
chief, would have gobbled the best of the territory including
town sites. The sole protection for life would have been the
United States Court at Wichita, some hundreds of miles away. The
power of this court is seen in the condition of affairs in
Indian Territory, over which it extends and where over three
hundred lives were taken unlawfully during the year, and blood
would have flowed like water under this bill in No Manís Land,
and Plumb knew it. This bill was actually worked through both
houses, but when President Clevelandís attention was called to
the effect, he vetoed it.
A similar scheme which the people here say
that Senator Plumb had on foot was the location of a land office
at Vorhees, Kansas, a town site in which they say the Senator is
largely interested. This included the attaching of the Strip to
Kansas for judicial purposes.
A third bill was the Oklahoma bill, this received the united
support of the people in No Manís Land. I creates a new
territory, with local government complete, out of that part of
the Indian Territory west of the civilized tribes, and including
No Manís Land. This bill is, of course, strongly opposed by
cattle owners, who occupy the whole part of Indian Territory
included in the bill. The people here asserts that Senator Plumb
is interested in the cattle, and is the mouth piece of the cow
men. One company pays the Cherokee Nation over two hundred
thousand dollars a year for a lease of seven million acres.
Other companies pay equally absurd prices for other parts of the
land. In spite of the depression in the cattle market these men
are getting rich hand over fist. This territory is the last
foothold of the cattlemen for all other ranges throughout the
West have been invaded by the much hated home seeker. Itís a
misfortune for the people of No Manís Land who have in equity a
right to the claims they occupy, that their demands for law and
justice would have to wait on the discussions of the propriety
of opening a part of Indian Territory, but there seems no other
hopes for them. The area of this territory is too small to
permit them to be organized as a separate territory and as
already shown the bills to attach them to organize territories
have been conceived in the desire to defraud. What with the
influences of the cattleman and the opposition also, of the
people of western Kansas, who want their vacant land settled
before No Manís Land is opened, the people here are likely to
start before they get the legislation which alone is needed to
create here a remarkably flourishing community.
Very little can be learned here about the
making of silver coin and of moonshine whiskey in No Manís Land.
There is a distillery, they say, over on Clear Creek, and the
product is brought here and taken elsewhere about this Territory
and sold. Two men ventured to "bootleg it" into Kansas, and got
caught by prohibitionists, and are now in the State prison. None
of the saloon keepers here pays a license, although all of them
did so until Dr. Chase went to Washington as a delegate and
learned that there was no law under which they could be punished
if they refused to pay. The counterfeiting was done in a sod
house in the northeast corner of No Manís Land not far from
Englewood, Kansas. There were two men in the business and they
got on very well for a time by dodging back across the line
whenever the officers got after them in Kansas. But they
ventured over once too often and were caught and are now in
prison. Had they come to Beaver and got caught they never would
have been sent to prison.
THE CLIMATE IS HARD
From the Territorial Advocate of
"Who could wish for a finer climate than
ours? Grapes are still hanging on the vines still uninjured by
frost. There has been no fire in our office for two weeks except
a little each morning. It is unnecessary to go to California to
find a perfect climate."
From the Territorial Advocate
of September 21st:
"The Advocate failed to make its appearance
last week. This due to a cyclone which carried the roof of our
office away and covered the type and presses with mud.
We have worked hard to get things in order
for this issue, and hope our friends will excuse us."
NO MANíS LAND
Let the man about town who has seen it all
and is weary of life come to No Manís Land and attend a ball. He
can attend a hop on almost any evening by giving an hours
notice, but the balls which begin early and last all night are
an event of such occasions as the Fourth of July; Decoration
Day, and other holidays, and no holiday passes without one.
There was one on Christmas even. It had been
looked forward to and prepared for ever since the ball on
Thanksgiving night. In each issue of the Territorial Advocate
the editor had written paragraphs about it. There was one
sentence in each paragraph, which, though not likely to attract
the attention of stranger at first, would nevertheless be
remembered by him when he reached the dance hall. The sentence
was this: "Gentlemen will attend at the clock room and deposit
their hats, etc., etc." meaning six shooters. The only gentlemen
allowed to carry six shooters beneath the roof of the hall was
the one in charge of the cloak room. He kept one handy to insure
that no one else carried one into the dancing room.
Evening dress in No Manís Land is different
from what it is in New York. All wore high heeled boots, and a
few of the more dudish among them had their boots blackened. As
a rule the lower end of their trousers were tucked into their
The music was furnished gratuitously, of
course. There were three violins and an organ. The organ was
brought from the Methodist church. Mr. George Blake, the city
recorder, was (the) leading violinists, and Dr. J. R. Linley and
Rube Chilcott, played second. Mrs. George Blake and Miss Birdie
Easter presided alternately at the organ. Both are very graceful
dancers. It was therefore a matter of regret among the gentlemen
that no one else could play. All things considered however, Mr.
Olive McClung came to be the most popular woman on the floor and
it is quite certain that her figure and bearing as well as her
features, would attract favorable comment anywhere.
As the gentlemen passed the cloak room each
received a number. This was to prevent trouble on the ball room
floor. In announcing a square dance, the floor manager, Oliver
McClung invariably said something like this: "Partners for a
quadrille Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12."
There was room for three sets on the floor,
and the numbers were called in regular succession, so that no
one of the fifth-nine gentlemen present could dance more
frequently than any one else. There was no restriction on the
ladies, of course, and they danced in proportion to their
popularity. In justice to No Manís Land gallantry it should be
said that there was seldom any wall flowers.
When a dance was called the gentlemen
"russled" for their partners, and took their places on the floor
in the order in which their numbers were announced. Then each
stood about in his place and rested his weight first on one foot
and then the other, and looked frequently toward the music stand
as if impatient to begin. The ladies settled their skirts and
touched up frizes and back hair, while the fiddlers gave a few
preliminary saws on their strings to make sure that their
instruments were in tune.
At last the preliminary thump of his foot and a nod, Mr.
Blake would play the opening note while the stage driver, Jack
Farley or some other "would shout" honors to your "partners".
There was that about the movements of the
dancers especially of the gentlemen in shirtsleeves and with
trousers tucked into the tops of their high heeled boots, which
the word sprightliness scarcely described. Even the sod wall two
feet thick trembled particularly when Farley shouted "shake them
feet", meaning thereby "balance all."
If the dances were different from what New
Yorkers were accustomed to, it was in every way modest and
pious. If a few of the ladies were married no one would have
suspicioned anything, for no one saw nor heard anything, and
only thought of the business in hand until ex-Marshall Mundell
took McClung to one side and exhibiting a copy of the National
Detective Review called attention to this notice which appeared
below the portrait of the McClungs:
$50 Dollards Reward: For the location of
McClung and wife. Were at Medicine Lodge, Kansas, on July 24,
2888. Noted Dead Beats.
It is interesting to note that a part of the
Christmas eve entertainment was the childrenís festival at the
Presbyterian church. The program was short. I contained ten
numbers, and included the usual carol, recitations, and giving
of presents to the little ones. Superintendent Breckenridge told
the Sun reporter that the program was made short so that
everybody who wished to do so could go early to the dance.
Apparently everyone wished to go.
The popularity of the dances in Beaver may be
inferred from this fact that young and old drive and ride all
the way from forty to fifty miles away in Kansas.
"We have to keep the women contented" said
Dr. Chase, in telling why dances were held so often. But he was
speaking for the men as well as the women, for waiting for the
Strip to come in its weary work.
THE FIRST CHURCH IN
NO MANíS LAND
The Rev. R. M. Overstreet organized a
Presbyterian church in Beaver City on June 12, 1887, with ten
members, including himself and four other members of his family.
A new church building 24x40 feet large was erected at the cost
of nearly $1,000, but a large part of the money came from the
Home Missionary Board, of the church in New York City. More
members have moved away than have been added by new arrivals,
while there have been no converts.
THE OPENING OF
Up to the meeting of Congress in December,
1887, the whole territory boomed along in a what that delights a
western heart. Even the completion of the Ft. Worth & Denver
railroad through the Panhandle of Texas which then stopped the
freighters train over the Jones & Plummer trail did not check
the prosperity of Beaver City let along the influx of settlers
who were looking for homesteads. Claims changed hands at prices
that farms with good titles would not have brought across the
line in Kansas. But when the fiftieth Session of Congress had
grown old and nothing had been done for the relief of No Manís
Land its people began to get discouraged. Their capital had been
sunk in improvements and currant expenses. They had nothing left
o live on. Not only were the influx of the settlers topped but
many of the residents began to "haul their freight" which in the
vernacular here means to leave the country. The Majority of
these people, however, left such improvements on their claims as
will enable them to return and hold them whenever the strip
comes in. There was probably at one time a population of 12,000
people in No Manís Land. Now there may be 8,000
Nevertheless, many of those who remained are
full of hope and no less than forty new houses were added during
the past six weeks. To the three hundred to which Beaver
contains. They are as a rule sod houses of cheap box frames, but
they will serve to hold the town lot as the boom arrived.
To trace the history of other parts of No
Manís Land than this, the metropolis, is out of the question.
There are dozens of small settlements and a half dozen villages
to twenty or more houses in every one of which there have been
fights, murders, lynching, and the usual lawlessness to be found
on the frontier. To give in detail half the tales of the sort
which the Sun reporter took note would fill many pages of this
paper not to mention the common place killings of which no note
was taken. But the record of events at Beaver is tolerably
complete, and that will give an idea of what occurred elsewhere.
To the man who comes from a land where trees grow the scenery
about Beaver seems at first sight utterly desolate. The Barren
sand hills which are found all along the north bank of every
stream in this country fairly seems to dance in the glare of the
sun even on a winter day. The lowlands were once covered with
trees but these all have long since been cut away. The table
lands between the streams are only a little less dreary than the
sand hills. But in a day or two, or at most a week, this feeling
wears off. There is something about the sweep of the uplands
that excites the imagination and fascinates the eye. The hills
may be a picture of desolation but one is found confessing that
in the sense of grandeur exceed the depression which their
desolation at first creates. The whitish buffalo grass which by
reflecting the sun light, had at first made the eye ache is seen
at last to be of a delicate shade of green that is delightful to
The one difficulty in the way of farming is
the south winds. The trade winds from over the sea sweeping
across the Gulf of Mexico are over the land until deflected to
the north by the Rocky Mountains. They drive along the broken
prairies for hundreds of miles. Heated above by the direct rays
of the sun and heated below by those rays reflected back from
the white buffalo grass sod. They come like the breath from the
furnace in which Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, fell down and
they destroyed the face of the land.
Crops that mature before the first of July
flourish luxuriantly every season. Other crops flourish about
two years out of five for wet seasons are had that often. When
crops can be irrigated as in the bottom lands there is a growth
almost beyond belief.
Two crops of ordinary garden vegetables are
raised every season and each crop is in itself a wonder. As the
country is settled up and the buffalo grass turned under the
climate will change and this land will be as good as it is in
Kansas -- no better and no worse. Central Kansas used to get
burned up as this country now.
But in spite of this obvious drawback, there
will be a tremendous influx of population here as soon as the
laws of the land reach the country. Two railroads, one near each
end of the Strip are built to the line and have stopped there
only temporarily. The country has been so much talked about
everywhere throughout the west that thousands will hasten hither
as much from curiosity as for any other reason as soon as
property is secure. There will be a mushroom growth of partial
wilting down again and then No Manís Land will become a humdrum
country of farms with only a curious early history to make it