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Spotted Horse is no more. He departed this life last Monday morning, at
the hands of the city marshal, H. N. Brown. The manner of his death and
the circumstances leading thereto are about as follows:

Spotted Horse was a Pawnee Indian, whose custom it was to make
periodical visits to Caldwell with one or more of his squaws, bartering their
persons to the lusts of two-legged white animals in whom the dog instinct
prevailed. Last Friday or Saturday Spotted Horse drove into town in a
two-horse wagon, with one of his squaws, and went into camp on a vacant
lot between Main and Market streets. About half past six on Monday morning
he walked into the Long Branch Restaurant with his squaw and wanted the
proprietors to give them breakfast. This they refused to do, when he left
and wandered around town, taking in the Moreland House, where he was
given a sackful of cold meat and bread. From thence he and the squaw
went over to E. H. Beals' house on Market street, north of Fifth. Mr. Beals
and his family were just sitting down to breakfast when Spotted Horse and
his squaw walked in without the least ceremony and demanded something
to eat. Mr. B's. wife and daughter were considerably alarmed, and the
former ordered the Indians to leave. They went out and then Spotted Horse
handed to the squaw the bundle of grub he had obtained at the Moreland,
and walked back into the house, up to the table and put his hand on Miss
Beals' head. Mr. B. immediately jumped to his feet and made signs for the
Indian to go out, at the same time applying an opprobrious epithet to him.
The Indian immediately pulled out his revolver, and Mr. Beals told him to go
out and they would settle the trouble there. Spotted Horse put up his pistol
and walked out, and Mr. B. after him. Once outside, the Indian pulled his
revolver again, and Mr. Beals seized a spade that was at hand. Just about
this time Grant Harris run up to the Indian and told him to go away, that
he ought not to attack an old man. The Indian then opened out with a
volley of abuse, directed to Mr. Beals, in good plain English. Young Harris
finally induced him to put up his pistol and leave.

The next heard of S. H. and his squaw was that they had walked into the
back door of the Long Branch kitchen and helped themselves to breakfast,
Louis Heironymous being the only one connected with the restaurant present
in the building at the time, made no objections, and the two reds had a good
feast.



COWTOWN POLICE OFFICERS AND GUN FIGHTERS 163

It appears that after breakfast the squaw went to the wagon, while Spotted
Horse strolled into Morris' grocery, one door north of the Long Branch.
Meantime a complaint had been made to city marshal Brown in reference
to the Indian's conduct at Beals' house, and the marshal had started out to
hunt him up, finally finding him in Morris' grocery. The marshal approached
Spotted Horse and requested him to go with him to Mr. Covington, in order
that the latter might act as an interpreter. The Indian refused, when the
marshal took hold of him. Spotted Horse didn't like that, and commenced
to feel for his revolver. The marshal pulled his out and told the Indian to
stop. On the latter refusing to do so, the marshal fired at him. In all four
shots were fired by the marshal, the last one striking the Indian about where
the hair came down to his forehead, and came out at the back of his head.
Parties who were present state that if the officer's last shot had failed, the
Indian would have had the advantage, because he had just succeeded in
drawing his revolver when the shot struck him.

The Indian was shortly after removed to the ware house two doors north,
where every attention was given him, but he died in about two hours without
uttering a word, although he seemed to be conscious up to within a few
moments before breathing his last.

Coroner Stevenson was telegraphed for and came down late in the after-
noon, viewed the body and held an inquest that night. On Tuesday morning
the jury brought in a verdict that the deceased came to his death by a gun
shot wound in the hands of H. N. Brown, and that the shooting was done in
the discharge of his duty as an officer of the law, and the verdict of the entire
community is the same.

The squaw, we are told, upon hearing the first shot fired, hitched the
horses to the wagon and drove off as fast as she could toward the Territory.

Toward the end of May, 1883, Brown, Wheeler, and Hollister
again teamed up to arrest a thief. The Journal reported the story
on May 31, 1883:

On Tuesday morning Constable McCulloch might have been seen wending
his way to the office of Squire Ross. Preceding him was a lively young man
of apparently twenty-five summers, or some'ers about, who bore upon his
broad and stooping shoulders a heavy saddle, such as the festive cowboy is
wont to sit upon while chasing the flying bovine, a saddle blanket and other
paraphrenelia necessary to clothe a range horse. As the two took their
solemn and stately walk up the stairs leading to the justice's office, with the
bearer of burthens in the lead, our curiosity became excited, and, following
the cavalcade into the sacred precincts of justice, we ascertained that the
bearer of the saddle was one who gave his name as John Caypless; that, in
company with two others, he had been loafing around the outskirts of the
town for three or four days; that the attention of Brown, Hollister and Ben
Wheeler had been called to the fact; that on Friday night Moores & Weller
lost a saddle, which fact they reported to the police. On Monday night they
ran across Mr. Caypless and interviewed him so successfully that he finally
consented to show where his wicked partners who had vamoosed the ranch
had hid the saddle. They accompanied him to the spot, which proved to
be the ravine near I. N. Cooper's place, on Fall creek, where, hidden in a



164 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

clump of bushes, the saddle was found. Mr. Capless* attendants, taking into
consideration the fact that he had packed the saddle to its hiding place, con-
cluded that he could carry it back to town, which he did. Caypless, on
examination, was bound over, and, as the poor fellow had missed his break-
fast, Mac took him to get a square meal, after which the train took him to
Wellington, where he is now receiving the hospitalities of the hotel de Thralls.
Had Caypless and his friends succeeded in their schemes, there is no doubt
that other saddles would have been missing, like-wise three good horses.

The Caldwell police force, made up of Henry Brown and Ben
Wheeler, was more than paying its own way. The Caldwell Jour-
nal, August 2, 1883, reported:

Marshal Brown and his assistant, Ben Wheeler, have certainly earned their
salaries for the past five months. During that time they have run into the city
treasury, for fines for violations of city ordinances, the sum of $1,296, being
just $421 more than the salary they have received for that time. A very good
showing for a quiet town like Caldwell.

Ordinarily the arrests which Marshal Brown was required to
make during his day-to-day routine consisted of nothing more seri-
ous than apprehending persons gambling, operating "houses of
ill fame," carrying weapons within the city limits, fighting, swear-
ing, and disturbing the peace. A fine of from one to ten dollars
was usually assessed and the offender released. 5 On December 20,
1883, however, the Caldwell Journal reported a more serious ad-
venture of Marshal Brown's:

NEWT BOYCE KILLED.

Newt Boyce, a gambler, was shot last Saturday night by City Marshal Henry
Brown, and died about three o'clock the next morning. The coroner was tele-
graphed for, but word was sent back that he was out of town. Squire Ross,
therefore, had a coroner's jury impanneled, and proceeded to hold an inquest.

The testimony went to show that on Friday night Boyce had some trouble
in a saloon a few doors north of the post office, and had cut a soldier, and
one of the proprietors of the saloon, with a knife. Ben Wheeler assistant city
marshall, afterward took the knife away from Boyce and made him go home.
Subsequently while Brown & Wheeler were in the Southwestern Hotel, some
one informed them that Boyce was out again and liable to do some harm.
The officers started out to hunt him up, and while passing Hulbert's store, saw
Boyce in there. Brown stepped in, and seeing a knife and revolver lying on
the counter, which B. was paying for, pushed the implements to one side,
arrested Boyce, and put him in the cooler, where he stayed all night.

The next day he was brought before the police judge and fined, but at the
time did not appear to be angry at the officers for what they had done. Dur-
ing the day, however, he got to drinking, and made threats against both
Wheeler and Brown.

About an hour before he was killed, Wheeler saw Boyce in the saloon
north of the post office, dealing monte. B. asked him where Brown was, at
the same time applying epithets regarding Brown. Wheeler afterward met



COWTOWN POLICE OFFICERS AND GUN FIGHTERS 165

Brown and told him to look out, that Boyce was a dangerous man, and was
liable to do him some harm. Brown then went to the saloon, and some words
passed between the two men, Boyce remarking that as soon as he was through
with that game he would settle with Brown.

Shortly after Wheeler met Boyce in front of Moore's saloon, and B asked
him where Brown was, that he wanted to see that fighting S. B. etc. Wheeler
told him that Brown was in the saloon, but advised Boyce to go home and
behave himself. While they were talking, they heard footsteps, as if some
one [were] approaching the door from the inside. Boyce immediately stepped
to the alley way between the saloon and Moore's, and, as he did so, Wheeler
noticed that he had his right hand under his coat, on the left side T. L.
Crist came to the door, and Wheeler, seeing who it was, turned to go north.
Boyce immediately jumped out of the alley way, pulled his pistol, cocked and
pointed it directly at Wheeler's back, but seeing Crist at the same time, he
put back the weapon and started down the alley.

Crist called to Wheeler and informed him regarding Boyce's actions, and
while they were talking Brown came out of the saloon. Wheeler informed
him what had occurred, and cautioned him to look out, that he believed Newt
Boyce intended to do him some harm. Brown said if that was the case he
would go and get his Winchester, because he didn't want to be murdered by
any one.

After Brown got his gun, he and Wheeler walked north on the west side
of Main street, and when opposite UnselTs store they saw Boyce standing on
the sidewalk in front of Phillip's saloon. Brown immediately started across the
street, and when within about thirty feet of Boyce, called out to him to hold
up. Boyce ran his right hand into his breast, as if feeling for a weapon, and
stepped around so as to put one of the awning posts between himself and
Brown. The latter fired two shots from his Winchester, and Boyce started
toward the door of the saloon, at the same time telling Brown not to kill him.
Brown followed him into the saloon, and shortly after entering it, Boyce fell.
Dr. Noble was called in, and an examination showed that the ball had struck
Boyce in the right arm, close to the shoulder, broken the bone and penetrated
the right side. Every effort was made to save his life, but he expired the
next morning from the loss of blood.

Boyce had a wife here, who had the remains encased and started with them,
Tuesday, for Austin, Texas, where Boyce's father lives.

The verdict of the jury was that the deceased came to his death at the
hands of an officer while in the discharge of his duties.

On January 24, 1884, the Caldwell Journal suggested that the city
police should be elected constables :

The JOURNAL nominates for constables of Caldwell township, to be voted
for on February 5, Messrs. Henry Brown and Ben Wheeler. The boys would
make excellent constables, and the offices would be a great advantage to them
when pursuing criminals outside of the corporations. When a city marshal
makes an arrest outside of the corporation limits of the city in which he is
serving, he does it as a private citizen, and if he kills a man while resisting
arrest, he can be successfully prosecuted for murder, whereas were he a con-
stable he could make the arrest legally and be protected by the statutes.



166 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

No record was found of their subsequent nomination or election.

On March 27, 1884, the Journal announced Brown's marriage:
BROWN-LEVAGOOD

But he did not Lev(a)good girl at all, but took her unto himself for better
or for worse, in true orthodox style, at the residence of Mr. J. N. Miller, in
this city, last evening. Rev. Akin officiated, and in a few quiet remarks joined
Mr. Henry N. Brown and Miss Maude Levagood in the holy bonds of wedlock.
A company of select friends witnessed the ceremony, and extended congratula-
tions to the happy couple. The JOURNAL, metaphorically speaking, throws its
old shoe after the young folks and wishes them a long and prosperous life.

Apparently Brown intended to settle permanently in Caldwell
for on April 10, 1884, the Journal reported that "Henry Brown has
bought the Robt. Eatock place, and has gone to house-keeping/'

Also in April Brown was appointed city marshal for the third
time. 6

Less than a month later Caldwell was shocked to learn that its
marshal and assistant marshal had attempted to rob a bank at
Medicine Lodge. The Journal May 8, 1884, elaborated on an
earlier dispatch:

A TERRIBLE DAY!
MEDICINE LODGE WITNESSES AN ATTEMPTED BANK ROBBERY,

TWO MURDERS AND FOUR LYNCHINGS IN ONE DAY.

CALDWELL'S FORMER MARSHAL AND ASSISTANT THE LEADERS OF THE BAND.

RETRIBUTION, SWIFT AND SURE OVERTAKES THE DESPERADOES.

THE BRAVERY OF THE MEDICINE LODGE MEN.

Last Thursday morning a dispatch came to this city stating that the Medicine
Valley bank, at Medicine Lodge, had been attacked by robbers Wednesday
morning, and that the president and cashier were both killed. This much last
week's JOURNAL contained. This was considered startling news enough to
justify a second edition of the paper, which contained all the particulars that
could be obtained.

Not until late Thursday evening was the startling announcement flashed
over the wire that Caldwell was directly interested in the affair, other than
as a sister city mourning the loss of her neighbor's prominent citizens; but
when the news came it fell like a thunderbolt at midday. People doubted,
wondered, and when the stern facts were at last beyond question, accepted
them reluctantly.

The evidence that has since come to light shows that the plan was of
mature deliberation, and that it had been in consideration for weeks. Just
who the originators were will, perhaps, never be known. It is surmised that
it was originated in this city this spring; that it was a deep-laid scheme to
perpetrate several robberies, the Lodge first, the banks at this place the next,
and a train on the Santa Fe the next. This is, however, only rumor; but from
remarks made by members of the band before they were captured, it can
be accurately conjectured that they had an extensive campaign planned,



COWTOWN POLICE OFFICERS AND GUN FIGHTERS 167

which only the vigilance and bravery of Medicine Lodge men prevented being
carried into execution. That the termination was as short as it was terrible
is a matter of congratulation.

THE START.

One week ago Sunday afternoon, Henry N. Brown, marshal of this oity,
and Ben F. Wheeler, his deputy, having obtained permission from the mayor
to be absent from the city for a few days, mounted their horses and rode
out of town, going to the west. The excuse they made for leaving was, that
there was a murderer a short distance down in the Territory, for whom there
was a reward of twelve hundred dollars, and they thought they would be able
to capture him. Previous to starting, they both had their horses shod for
running, and supplied themselves with a large quantity of ammunition. Both
carried 44-calibre revolvers and Winchester rifles. They were joined, it is
supposed, on Monday by Smith and Wesley, cowboys. The former worked
on the T5 range, and the latter for Tredwell & Clark. Both were hard men,
and at the last Smith showed himself to be the bravest man of the party.

The first news that reached here was brought by telegraph Thursday evening.
It was in few words, and caused more excitement than there has been in this
city for years. People gathered on the streets, and business for the evening
was stagnated. Every one discussed the matter, and not until a late hour
were the streets deserted. The telegram was received about 6:30 Thursday
evening, and in an hour was known all over the city.

The following is a copy:

MEDICINE LODGE, Ks.,\
May 1, 1884.J
BEN S. MILLER, Caldwell, Kan.:

The bank robbers were Brown and Wheeler, marshal and deputy of Cald-
well, and Smith and Wesley. All arrested. Tried to escape. Brown killed.
Balance hung. Geppert dead. Payne will die.

CHAS. H. ELDRED.

Of the account of the tragedy at Medicine Lodge, we can give it no more
accurately than it was published in the Cresset, of that city. We reproduce it
entire. It will be remembered, however, that this was published last Thursday
morning, and that there are facts that have since come to light:

Our little city was yesterday (Wednesday, April 30) thrown into a state
of intense excitement and horror by the perpetration of a murder and attempted
bank robbery, which, for cold-bloodedness and boldness of design, was never
exceeded by the most famous exploits of the James gang.

The hour was a little after nine, a heavy rain was falling and comparatively
few people were upon the streets, when four men rode in from the west and
hitched their horses back of the bank coal shed. The bank had just opened
up; Mr. Geppert, had taken his place and begun work on settling the monthly
accounts; E. W. Payne, president, was sitting at his desk writing, when, as
nearly as we can learn, three of the robbers entered. According to a pre-
concerted plan, we presume, one advanced to the cashier's window, one to the
president's window, while one seems to have gone around into the back room to
the iron lattice door. Almost immediately after the men were seen to enter the
bank,



168 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

SEVERAL SHOTS WERE HEARD,

in rapid succession. Rev. Friedly who happened to be just across the street,
immediately gave the alarm, and Marshal Denn, who was standing near the
livery stable, across the street from the bank, fired on the robber outside, who
returned the fire, fortunately without effect. The robbers now saw that the
game was up, and broke for their horses, mounted and rode out of town, going
south. It was but a few minutes until a score or more men were in hot pursuit.

To those who remained, on going into the bank, a horrible sight was pre-
sented. George Geppert, the esteemed cashier, lay at the door of the vault

WELTERING IN His BLOOD,

and dead. A hole in his breast showing where the ball had entered and prob-
ably severed the carotid artery, told the tale. Mr. Payne, the president, lay
near him

GROANING WITH PAIN.

An examination showed that a pistol ball had entered the back of the right
shoulder blade, and ranging across had probably grazed his spine and lodged
somewhere under the left shoulder blade.

[Mr. Payne died Thursday morning, May 1st, about 11 o'clock, having
suffered for twenty-four hours, eighteen which he was conscious. We give
his obituary in another place. ED. JOURNAL.]

THE PURSUIT.

Going back to the pursuing party, we get the story of the exciting chase
from a participant. The pursuing party first came in sight of the robbers
beyond the crossing of the Medicine south of town. The party, seeing that
they were about to be overtaken, turned and opened fire. Several volleys were
exchanged. While the fight was going on, Charley Taliaferro and we believe
one or two others rode around the robbers and headed them off on the south.
Seeing that they were cut off in this direction they left the road and started
almost west, toward the breaks of gypsum hills, but were so hotly pursued
that they took refuge in a canyon some three or four miles southwest of town.
The boys in pursuit surrounded the canyon to prevent the possibility of escape,
and George Friedley and Charley Taliaferro came in for reinforcements. In a
short time every gun and horse that could be brought into service was on the
road to the canyon. Before the reinforcements arrived on the ground, how-
ever, the robbers had surrendered. The surprise of the captors can be better
imagined than expressed when, on taking charge of the outfit, they found that
they were all well known. The leaders of the gang were

HENRY BROWN, MARSHAL OF CALDWELL,

and Ben Wheeler, assistant marshal of the same city; the other two were well
known cowboys, William Smith, who has been employed for some time on
the T5 range, and another cowboy who is known by the name of Wesley, but
having several aliases.

Of these men, Brown is the only one who has acquired any notoriety. His
history on the frontier began with his connection with "Billie the Kid" in New
Mexico. It is said that he was a companion of the noted desperado in some
of his most exciting adventures. Of late years, however, he seemed to have
sobered down. Some three years since he was elected assistant marshal of
Caldwell, and for the past two years has occupied the position of marshal of
our neighboring city. In appearance Brown does not show the criminal



COWTOWN POLICE OFFICERS AND GUN FIGHTERS

particularly. He is a man of about medium height; strong, wiry build; wears
no beard except a mustache, and his face indicates firmness and lack of physical
fear. During the time he has held his office he has killed several men, but
was generally considered justifiable.

Ben Wheeler, the man who fired the shot that killed George Geppert, is a
large and powerfully-built man, dark complected, with rather an open counte-
nance. So far as we know he has never been noted as a desperado. He has
occupied the position of assistant marshal of Caldwell for the past two years,
and has been considered, we believe, a good officer. His action yesterday,
however, showed him to be the most cold-blooded murderer in the gang.

Wesley is rather under medium size, and has an evil, reckless expression
of countenance, and is just such a boy as would aspire to be a desperado.

Smith is also an undersized man with dark complexion and rather a hardened
expression of countenance.

When the party were brought in they were surrounded by a crowd of
exasperated citizens, and cries of

HANG THEM! HANG THEM!

sounded on every side, and for a while it looked as though they would be torn
from the hands of the officers and lynched on the spot. A somewhat calmer
feeling came over the crowd, not that the feeling was any the less intense,
but the desire to do the job up in a more business-like style was greater.

All afternoon little knots of quiet, determined men could be seen, and all
over town was that peculiar hush which bodes the coming storm. Little was
said, but the impression prevailed that before many hours the bodies of four
murderers would swing in the soft night air.

So ended the most exciting and the most sorrowful day in the history of
Medicine Lodge. No bank robbery ever chronicled in the annals of crime was
ever bolder in its design or accompanied by more cold-blooded murder in its
attempted execution. That the desperadoes failed in accomplishing their full
purpose was not the fault of their plan, but was due to the courage and prompt-
ness of a number of our citizens and others a promptness and courage, in
fact, which has rarely been equaled on any similar occasion anywhere.

CLOSING SCENES.

About nine o'clock the stillness of the night was broken by three shots fired
in rapid succession, and at the signal a crowd of armed men advanced toward
the jail and demanded the prisoners. This was refused, but, notwithstanding
their spirited resistance, the sheriff and his posse were overpowered and the
doors of the jail opened, when the prisoners who were in the inner cell un-
shackled made a sudden

DASH FOR LIBERTY.

In an instant the moonlight was so mingled with bullets that it was a highly
unsatisfactory locality for a promenade, and the fact that no one except the
prisoners was injured is a matter of wonder. Of the robbers, Wheeler, Smith
and Wesley were captured, Wheeler badly wounded. Brown ran a few rods



Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) → online text (page 19 of 59)