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sly. It will require more than one such explosion to roll the rotten
carcass of Kansas politics over and bring the best side up. The
annual assembly of the legislature is the only blot we know of on
Topeka's morals. When that body goes home Topeka society aver-
ages with other Kansas cities.

We meet here C. C. Kellam, Esq., who came from Irasburg, Vt.,
when Topeka was in infancy. 12 Mr. Kellam has seen the town
grow up and is proud of his adopted home. He has a flourishing
store on Kansas Avenue, is prosperous in business and one of the
highly respected citizens of the city. In company with him we
rode horseback through the city visiting the different places of
public interest. The state house, modeled after the old capitol at
Washington, when completed will be, of course, the finest building
in Kansas. It is built of grey stone procured at Junction City, some
50 miles west, and the one wing already finished gives the beholder
an idea of the splendid temple it will be when completed. No
expense is spared in carrying out the architect's plans, but every-
thing is built substantially and for all time. $2,500,000 is the esti-
mated cost of the building completed. We visited several of the
beautiful public school houses, of which Lincoln high school is the
largest, accommodating about 500 scholars. 13 There are over 1,500
school children in the city. Washburn college cost $150,000 and
has an endowment. There is also a female seminary, styled "Sisters
of Bethany," built at the cost of about $100,000 and supported by
charities procured through the instrumentality of the ladies. 14 Both

11. Samuel C. Pomeroy was defeated for re-election to the U. S. senate in 1873 be-
cause of a sensational charge of bribery brought against him by State Senator A. M. York
of Montgomery county. York revealed to the legislature that Pomeroy had offered him
$8,000 in cash for his vote. See "Gotterdammerung in Topeka: The Downfall of Senator
Pomeroy," by Albert R. Kitzhaber, The Kansas Historical Quarterly, v. 18 (August, 1950),
pp. 243-278.

12. Radges' Directory of the City of Topeka, 1872-73, lists Charles C. Kellam, drug-
gist, at 161 Kansas Avenue.

13. Lincoln school was opened in 1871 with a high school department to which one
room was assigned.

14. An act to incorporate the Episcopal Female Seminary of Tecumseh was passed
by the territorial legislature of 1859. Work was begun on the sub-structure of the build-
ing, but in the spring of 1860, proposals more attractive than those made by Tecumseh
were advanced by the Topeka Town Association and the school was moved to Topeka.
The Episcopal Seminary of Topeka was then organized under a charter granted by the
territorial legislature on February 2, 1861. The name was changed to College of ths
Sisters of Bethany in 1872. The school closed its doors in 1928.


of these colleges are in prosperous condition, and certain to improve
year by year.

North Topeka is really the "railroad street" of Topeka. It is sep-
arated from the main town only by the river; but at the foot of
Kansas Avenue is a large iron bridge which really makes the two
places one, and if we mistake not the whole is within the city
proper. 15 North Topeka has sprung up wholly since the Union
Pacific was built. It is perfectly flat, and cut up into numerous
streets, some of which are growing rapidly. Eventually in heavy
business it will lead the original part of the city.

The streets of Topeka are very broad and beautiful. This is an
advantage the prairie cities have over our New England cities. Take
all the room they please and there is no danger of using up the
territory. We failed to notice the horse cars in Topeka, but they
will appear soon. 16

We said that Topeka would some day take the lead of Kansas
towns. We make this prediction because of its being the capital of
the state; because of the enterprise and liberality of its inhabitants,
and because of the railroad and business enterprises already cen-
tered and projected here. She has for railroads the Union Pacific,
the Midland, about completed, and on the south side of the river,
and running from here southeast, and the Atchison, Topeka and
Santa Fe. The latter, among the most prosperous and promising
roads in Kansas, makes its headquarters here, and will next season
erect the largest shops in the state and employ several hundred
hands to be constantly located here. This company has about 600
miles of road running southwest to Newton, in the southern part
of Kansas, and thence directly west to the west line of the state. It
passes through a vast fertile country, yet principally undeveloped,
but still giving to the road a good business.

A bridge company with capital of $175,000 has built shops here
and employs some 200 men in the constructions of iron bridges,
which are shipped to points ordered. 17 A rolling mill company with
a like capital has built buildings and is about to begin operations
with another set of 200 hands. 18 These three enterprises would
make a respectable city of themselves. As enterprise is contagious
it is reasonable to presume that other companies will soon organize
and contribute to the growth of the capital. The farming country

15. The town of Eugene (North Topeka) was annexed to Topeka by ordinance April
9, 1867.

16. Horse cars appeared in Topeka in June, 1881. The line operated five 12-foot cars.

17. The King Wrought Iron Bridge Manufactory and Iron Works of Topeka.

18. Topeka Rolling Mills, North Topeka.


in the vicinity of the city is excellent, but no better than that around
most Kansas towns. Every Kansas city and village must necessarily
have a good local support from farmers.

We meet here also Bill Ruggles, the "Old Drover/' who emigrated
from Lyndon a year ago. When he saw us Bill "te he'd" aloud and
attempted to execute a part of a clog dance, but as his boots re-
minded him that he had undertaken too heavy a job, he settled
down to inquiries about his old friends at home. He inquired re-
peatedly about Lambert, Bela, Nahum, Tyler, Jim, and other brother
drovers, and then took up the farmers who raised the stock, be-
ginning with Chas. Sylvester, whom he called a "thundering good
fellow," and then other business acquaintances would be raked up.
Nobody was forgotten. After exhausting his recollection of names
he would scratch his head and begin at Lambert again and go
through the list, adding a new name when he could think of it. Bill
has rented a farm of 100 acres west of town, has two or three horses
and twenty cows, and runs a milk cart. We saw a good well on the
place and suggested to him that it was doubtless a matter of con-
venience in the business. "Yes," said he, "the cows drink a good
deal of water. Te-he-he. Anybody'd know you's a Yankee or you
never'd thought of that well." Ruggles is charmed with the country
and climate.

We took a short horseback ride over the country this morning.
The roads were very dry and dusty in places. The sun was shining
brightly and the temperature comfortable to one in summer cloth-
ing. "Think of this beautiful day," said Bill, "and then think of
Vermont. I've known sleighing there at this time of the year." We
told him we saw in the papers accounts of good sleighing ten days
ago. He dropped his chin, reflected a moment and then responded
seriously, "I swow." [C. M. C.]

LEAVENWORTH, KAN., Nov. 24, 73.

In a former letter we alluded to the growth and prosperity of this
city during the war, and of her leading importance among the cities
of the far west as late as 1864. But Leavenworth has not fulfilled
her predictions of that date, but is surpassed by Kansas City and
St. Joe, with Atchison, 20 miles north, fast gaining on her. But
Leavenworth numbers about 25,000 people, which is a gain in nine
years of some 8,000. Her vacant lots, and buildings, however,
brought as high a price nine years ago as now.



The question among the river cities from Omaha down to Kansas
City is, which is the best railroad center? All are good and each
claims to be the best, but outsiders are not long in concluding that
Kansas City has the lead, by far, and that she is the center of a
country which is bound ultimately to place her far in advance of all

As a manufacturing point, Leavenworth certainly has the lead at
present. Her two carpet factories are the only ones west of St. Louis.
She has the largest iron foundry and machine shop in the state, two
large furniture manufactories, two establishments for the manufac-
ture of fine carriages and heavy wagons, several sash and door
establishments, and a number of other factories of minor importance.
But what we have enumerated is enough to give her the lead, as
her rivals have little manufacturing enterprise to boast of. She has
one iron railroad bridge spanning the Missouri river at a cost of
$1,500,000. But Omaha and Kansas City have the same.

Leavenworth has 6,000 school children, 8 fine public school build-
ings, and 40 teachers, which she pays liberally. The superintendent
gets $3,600 a year, principals $1500 to $2000, while women teachers
get $700 to a $1000. The whole expense of the schools is about
$40,000 a year. It makes a good tax for the purpose, but when dis-
cussing retrenchment, the liberal support of the schools is never
attacked, and this same liberality in behalf of schools prevails all
over the state.

But churches are not so well sustained. There is not a creditable
church edifice in Leavenworth. By that, we mean not such as could
be reasonably expected from a city of 25,000 inhabitants, and a
growth of 20 years. We discovered one good building in process of
erection, costing at a guess $35,000. The Methodist congregation is
probably the largest in town, and it is rare that 300 are seen there at
one time. The Catholics, however, have done nobly and erected the
largest Cathedral west of St. Louis at the cost of $150,000. Their
good example does not seem to affect the Protestant element.

In the line of residences we find many costing as high as $30,000.
Ex-senator Caldwell and Tom Stevens, a former partner of Gov.
Carney, occupy the two most expensive and showy residences in the
city, costing some $60,000. A Mr. Higginbottom has one nearly
completed which will cost about $40,000. A large class of residences
of the business men could be built for sums ranging from $3,000 to

The only hotel of importance is the Planters, which would rank
fair as first class with anything west of St. Louis. Provided Leaven-


worth is to continue prosperous, an enterprising landlord, "who can
keep a hotel," would find it a good point to exert himself.

The largest grocery house is that of Cochran, Bittman & Taylor,
who will this year do a business of $1,000,000, but the house has
done more. The largest dry goods jobbers are Fairchild & Pierce,
who do this year about $500,000. Former proprietors of this house,
during the war, sold as high as $1,500,000, but that was in the times
of high prices, when prints sold for 40 cents, and also when Leaven-
worth took the lion's share of the western trade. C. B. Pierce, the
junior partner, is a Vermonter from Windsor county, and a graduate
of Dartmouth in the class of 1854. We officed with him in 1863
while he was city attorney, and just as he was emerging from the
crust, below which poverty dwells. By energy and prudence he
came up and was next year made state senator, but was too honest
a man to gather much enjoyment from the company he was thrown
into. At the close of his term, disgusted with Kansas politics and
law, he retired from his profession and formed a commercial partner-
ship with his father-in-law, which has continued and prospered to
the present time. Notwithstanding his large and lucrative business,
we found the head center of his interest and pride in his domestic
circle. During business hours at the store his maximum avoirdupois
is 120 pounds, but at home, located between two cradles and warb-
ling in basso profundo, the melodies of Mother Goose to a pair of
five months boy twins, he is plump 298.

We met here, among other old friends, Ed Russell, Esq., of whom
we spoke in a former letter. 19 There is no man in Kansas who
better understands its history and its interests than Mr. Russell. He
came to Kansas from Gainsville, Alabama, nearly twenty years ago.
After investing his all, some $30,000, in Kansas and Nebraska land,
he settled in Elwood opposite St. Joe. In due time the place gave
promise of rapid growth, when he sold out his lands at a profit and
reinvested in the lots of the forthcoming city. About this time Tom
Osborn, the present governor, was his partner. Elwood began to
grow and Ed's fortune was fast magnifying. But one night while
he was deliberating what use to make of the vast wealth about to
come into his possession, the Missouri river got on a rampage and
% of the Elwood lots, houses and all, took French leave in the direc-
tion of New Orleans. Ed holds the title deeds, but the big muddy
Missouri river still holds possession of the Elwood site. From the
fragments of fortune Ed scraped together enough to purchase a

19. Chase first mentioned Edward Russell in his letter of August 9, 1863.


small farm west of town where he resided until about 1865, when he
came to Leavenworth. Mr. Russell has always figured conspicu-
ously in Kansas politics, but has usually acted outside of and against
the corrupt rings which have disgraced the state. He has been sev-
eral times a member of the legislature and is at the present time
state commissioner of insurance and also county auditor of Leaven-
worth county, both of which are important and lucrative positions.
He loves his adopted state and is confident that in a few years it will
take a foremost rank in the sisterhood of states.

Leavenworth has one German and four English daily and weekly
papers, two exclusively weekly and the Kansas Farmer which is a
monthly. . . . [C. M. C.]

ST. JOSEPH, Mo., Nov. 26, 1873.

A few words from St. Joseph will put an end to this tedious
Western correspondence. This town is in Missouri and opposite
the northern line of Kansas. It is among the old points on the
river and at the present time claims 30,000 people. She is also
claimed as the solidest town among the rival cities and this claim
is doubtless correct. She has many men of wealth, many fine resi-
dences and public buildings and prides herself on moderate and
healthy growth.

Let us enumerate a few of the important things she possesses:
5 fire companies, 6 banks, 3 daily papers, 19 churches, 12 public
school houses, and 4 Catholic schools, 20 hotels, 10 of which are
good, and one the largest west of St. Louis, 15 law offices, 39 doctors,
3 brass bands, 95 saloons, 29 meat markets, 10 livery stables, 96
grocery and provision stores, 8 wholesale and 26 retail dry goods
stores, 3 wholesale and 15 retail drug stores, 13 cigar manufac-
tories, 16 banks, &c. The city is principally noted for her hotels,
affording the best accommodations in this part of the world. She
is nearly destitute of manufacturing enterprises but has a great
trade from northern Kansas and southern Nebraska and north-
western Missouri. She is next in importance to Kansas City and
is a good way from yielding in the race for a first position. You
can start from St. Joe in any direction by rail, and her pretentions
as a railroad center are not without some force.

The city is about as far south as Philadelphia. The weather is
much milder than in Wisconsin, Minnesota and other northern
states, but snow is no rarity. It comes and occasionally gives a


few weeks of sleighing. Located in the Missouri bluffs it is partially
protected from the prairie winds. Apples, pears, peaches, grapes
&c., grow in abundance. St. Joe is not a bad place to live, but with
all due deference to her population we announce that when we
emigrate into this country we shall locate farther down the river,
where every advantage is obtained which St. Joe offers, with the
addition of a little milder climate. [C. M. C.]

Some Notes on Kansas Cowtown Police Officers
and Gun Fighters Continued



(1845?- )

THE earliest issue of the Dodge City Times in the files of the
State Historical Society, October 14, 1876, lists L. E. Deger as
city marshal. His deputy was Wyatt Earp.

In March, 1877, the Times told of a chase after a horse thief with
Sheriff C. E. Bassett. This short item may be found in the section
on Bassett.

Deger was reappointed in April, 1877. The Times, April 7, re-

L. E. Deger has been re-appointed City Marshal, to serve under the new
administration. It was thought by many that a change would be made in
this branch of the government, but the Mayor and Council wisely concluded
that no better man for the place could be found.

Marshal Deger's salary was $75 per month. 1 In his spare time
he was a partner in the saloon firm of McGinty & Deger. 2

In June, 1877, while providing Bobby Gill with incentive, in the
form of "paternal kicks in the rear," to move more rapidly toward
the city jail, Deger was set upon by young Bat Masterson who
objected to his methods. With the help of a policeman and six or
so Texans, Deger subdued Bat and jailed both him and Bobby.
The Dodge City Times article describing this episode may be found
in the section on Masterson.

Because it was a city of transients during the summer when
trail hands swarmed over the plains, Dodge City suffered from
countless fly-by-night operators, con men and petty thieves. In
July, 1877, one such person, who was called "Curley" for want of
a better name, set up shop on the streets of Dodge and began to
offer "chances" on jewelry which he displayed on a portable show-
case. The day Curley set up business emigrants were passing
through the town who soon became the victims of his chicanery.

Finally, as it began to dawn on the visitors that they were being

NYLE H. MILLER and JOSEPH W. SNELL are members of the staff of the Kansas State
Historical Society.

NOTE: If interest in the series on Kansas cowtown police officers continues, the
several installments will be reprinted with additional information and an index, and
offered for sale under one cover.



duped, they appealed to the authorities. The Dodge City Times,
July 14, 1877, reported that the

City Marshal, speaking as a private citizen, said that he would squelch the
institution if the vox populi would back him. The word was said. The
Marshal hesitated not a moment, but repaired to the scene, and gathering
the show-case in his brawny arms, pitched it into the street, contents and
all. Smash! Silver watches, jewelry, silver cutlery, diamond pins and other
valuables rolled in the dust.

There are no jewelry stores in Dodge City at the present writing. It is
not considered a safe business.

Next, Marshal Deger and Dodge City Mayor James H. Kelley
had a set-to which the Times described in its July 21, 1877, issue:


It is seldom we are compelled to give the particulars of an affair in which
the public manifest a deeper interest than the difficulty which terminated
yesterday morning in an open rupture between Mayor Kelley and City
Marshal L. E. Deger. There may be some personal matters which had some-
thing to do with bringing about the result, but of these we will not make
mention, briefly stating what happened at the time of the difficulty:

Yesterday morning about 2 o'clock the Marshal arrested and confined Mr.
Chas. Ronan in the city jail. Immediately after the arrest Mayor Kelley
ordered the Marshal to release the prisoner, and the Marshal positively re-
fused to do so. Finding his orders not obeyed, the Mayor ordered the
Marshal to cease performing the duties of City Marshal, deliver his badge
to one of the other officers and consider himself suspended. The Marshal
refused to recognize the order of the Mayor and continued to act as Marshal,
whereupon the Mayor ordered the Assistant Marshal [Edward J. Masterson]
and policeman [Joe Mason] to arrest him. The Marshal at first refused to be
arrested, and drawing his revolver ordered the Mayor and officers not to
approach him. Here the Assistant Marshal and policeman were placed in a
doubtful position, not knowing their exact duty in the matter. In order to
settle the difficulty in the easiest manner, Mr. Masterson, the Assistant
Marshal, suggested to the Marshal that he submit to arrest in order to prevent
further collision, until the disagreement between himself and the Mayor could
be investigated. This the Marshal consented to and allowed himself to be
confined in the city jail, where he remained only about ten minutes, being
released on his own reconniasnce.

During the forenoon a complaint was filed against Mayor Kelley for inter-
fering with an officer in the discharge of his duty and he was also placed
under arrest. The Marshal's case was tried first. No complaint was filed
against him, and the officers who made the arrest were the only witnesses.
The decision of the Police Judge was that the Marshal had committed no
offense against any of the city ordinances. He was therefore released. The
Mayor's case was postponed until this afternoon at 4 o'clock. Before that
hour a meeting of the City Council was held, and an order passed directing
Mr. L. E. Deger to resume his duties as City Marshal. When the trial came
up for hearing a petition was presented, signed by a majority of the Council,


favoring the entry of a nolle prosequi in the case, and all parties consenting
it was so entered and the Mayor discharged. The municipal machinery is
now running smoothly.

Marshal Deger was instrumental in raising funds for Bobby
Gill to leave Dodge City according to this article from the Times,
July 21, 1877:



We are loth to believe that Dodge City is retrograding in its morals, or
that its people are becoming more wicked and lawless, although it might
seem so to those not understanding the causes leading to some of the diffi-
culties which stained the records of our police court this week.

The City of Dodge City against Robert Gilmore, charged with vagrancy
and having no visible means of support. Robert's sensitive feelings were
very greatly hurt upon hearing that charge, and his plea was not guilty. He
said he knew he was a sinful man and pursued a calling which was not of
the highest order. All he asked of this court was a chance for his life. He
asked the mercy of the Police Judge unto him as a sinner, stating as a prece-
dent that Christ died to save just such sinners. The witnesses for the city
testified that they knew of no visible means whereby he gained a support.
Also that he was the instigator of many quarrels and street fights that he
was not a law-abiding, peaceable citizen. In defense, several witnesses were
sworn who testified that the prisoner had money to pay his bills, and that he
had means of support. On this evidence the Judge was compelled to render
a decision of not guilty. But public sentiment was so strongly antagonistic
to Mr. Gilmore's remaining in the city, and he had cost the officers so much
annoyance, that Robert consented to seek a livelihood elsewhere, if a donation
could be secured to pay his fare to Emporia. Through the efforts of the
City Marshal the money was soon raised, and Mr. Gilmore gathered about
him his earthly treasures and departed. This is the second time Bobbey has
shook the dust of the city from his feet by request, and we hope some day
to see him conducting himself in a more exemplary manner than he has
heretofore. He is not a desperate character, and has good sound sense,
which only needs a proper application to business. . . .

On August 4, 1877, the Dodge City Times noted that "Marshal
Deger resigned his position of Deputy Sheriff this week, at the
request of Under Sheriff [Bat] Masterson."

In spite of its wild reputation, Dodge City had docketed only
204 cases before the police court between the date of the city's
incorporation, November 2, 1875, and August 16, 1877, reported
the Times, August 18, 1877.

Deger's size (he weighed nearly 300 pounds) hampered his

Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) → online text (page 34 of 59)