A Photo Album: 519 Main, Newton, 1879-1992.

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

With the recent crumbling of the front facade of the building at 519 Main, Newton, and the discussions of how to proceed, we thought it might be of interest to take a look back at the building at 519 Main.

Probably the second oldest photo in the museum’s collection of Newton’s Main Street. Taken in 1879-1880, the photo is of the west side of the 500 Block looking south.

500 Block Main, Newton, 1879-1880

Opera House

Recent research has also revealed that an earlier Opera House was located at 519 Main.

519 Main, Newton, Kansan 50th Anniversary Edition. 1922 
Sprinkler’s Furniture & Undertaking

519 Detail
Opera House 1878


Although the photographer meant to focus on floats and bands, a lot of clues can be gathered from parade photos.  From 1900 on through present day, these photos highlight a changing Main Street.


West side of Main, 1901. Western Journal of Commerce, 1901.


500 Block Main, Newton, Ks , 1911


519 Main, second floor visible in background, 1921.


500 Block Main, 1941.


500 Block Main, 1957.


500 Block Main, 1963.


500 Block Main, 1965.


500 Block Main, 1977.


500 Block Main, 1992.





“The Most Bloody Affrays”

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

After the shooting of Deputy Sheriff Carlos B. King in the fall of 1871, the violence in Newton calmed.  Most of the businesses associated with the earlier violence had moved on with the cattle trade. With incorporation of the city and the creation of Harvey County, came order and laws. However, the community would be shocked once again in November 1872 with “one of the most bloody affrays.”

Just before closing, the editor of the Newton Kansan received news of a violent morning on Newton’s Main street.

“Before closing for press this morning one of the most bloody affrays, within the limits and before the eyes of an enlightened community took place in this city. . . We have to chronicle the murdering of Geo. Halliday, Esq,  well know and highly esteemed and  prominent citizen of this city.” 

The man accused of the murder “one of the most murderous and wicked men in the country, especially when under the influence of . . . liquor” was Mike (M.J.) Fitzpatrick.

“Ordinarily Good Friends”

On the morning in question, George Halliday was at James Gregory’s Gold Rooms Saloon, 515 Main, Newton.  Even at the early hour of 10 am, he was reportedly intoxicated.

500 Block, Main Street, Newton, Ks in 1879, Showing the location of the Gold Room Saloon. This photo was taken 7 years after the Halliday shooting.

At the same time M. J. Fitzpatrick “had been upon a drunk for perhaps two weeks” and as a result “that wicked nature of his had began to overcome his senses.”  The previous evening, he had “hunted several parties of his associates with pistol in hand to kill them” with no success. This was his mood when he entered the Gold Room Saloon at 10 am and saw his friend, George Halliday.

Some comment passed between the two men that “were ordinarily good friends.” Whatever was said caused Fitzpatrick to strike Halliday on the head with the revolver “at the same time he pulled it down to his breast and miss fired once, pulling it again and it was discharged, killing Mr. Halliday almost instantly.”

“Put an End to his Existence”

Following the shooting, Fitzpatrick “walked into the street defying any person to attempt to touch him. Crowds of men immediately rushed to satisfy themselves  as to the affair and in two minutes fifty men ran for firearms and swore him to death.” 

The City Marshall, Jack Johnson, did attempt  to arrest Fitzpatrick, “who immediately drew the revolver on him.”  At which time, Johnson “calmly surveying the situation . . . crossed the street, borrowed a Henry rifle and in another minute put an end to his existence . . . in front of Hamill & Co store.”

“Ordered  to Leave Town and Never Come Back”

Within fifteen minutes of the shooting, a committee was formed to search out  “several hard cases  . . . and ordered them to leave town and never come back.” 

“There Lying Dead”

At the same time a Coroner’s Inquest was convened with John Reid, Justice of the Peace of Newton Township, Harvey County, Ks as the acting coroner. Twelve men, six for each case, were called as jurors.  In the case of Fitzpatrick, the jurors included D. Hamill, who owned Hamill & Co located “first door north of the depot” where Fitzpatrick lay dead. Seven witnesses were called. After hearing the statements the jurors, “at the body of M.J. Fitzpatrick, there lying dead”  decreed that Fitzpatrick “came to death from a gun shot wound, in the hand of a lawful officer whose attempts to arrest him” failed.

The cost of the Inquisition was $16.15.

Testimonies and statements were also taken related to the death of George Halliday for the consideration of the six jurors. Five witnesses were called to describe the events of the morning.

It was ruled that his death was caused by the actions of M.J. Fitzpatrick. The cost for the Halliday Inquisition was $14.65.


George Halliday, Attorney at Law

The same paper that reported his death included a small notice advertising his services as an Attorney at Law and real estate agent.

Newton Kansan, 7 November 1872

Active in the public since his arrival in Newton in 1871, George Halliday was well known in Newton and his former home, Topeka.  Shortly after his arrival in Newton, Halliday was appointed justice of the peace following the resignation of Judge C.S. Bowman on August 31, 1871.   On February 29, 1872, he, along with R. M. Spivey, was instrumental in the organization of Harvey County, introducing bill H.B. 504 which created the new county. Just seven days prior to the fatal encounter, Halliday was listed as a Republican delegate from Newton.

Gravestone in Greenwood Cemetery, Newton Ks.

Born in Scotland in 1837,  he married Jennie Roe on November 5, 1871 in Kansas.   Halliday was held “high in the esteem of his neighbors.” 

Mike “M.J.” Fitzpatrick

Although newspapers from the time do not reveal a great deal about M.J. Fitzpatrick, it is apparent that he was known in Newton.  The August 22, 1872 Newton Kansan lists M.J. Fitzpatrick among men gathered to form a “Grant & Wilson Club.” 

Newton Kansan, 7 November 1872.

The November 7, 1872 newspaper that detailed the shooting also announced the formation of the Newton Hook & Ladder Fire Co the previous evening; among those elected to positions, M.J. Fitzpatrick, foreman.

What happened to cause M.J. Fitzpatrick to go on a drunken rampage on a week day morning and shoot a friend dead remains a mystery.

“One of the Best Days . . “

The editor of the Newton Kansan concluded:

“While we lament the death of Mr. Halliday, we believe this has been one of the best days our thriving young city has ever seen. Our respectable and law-abiding citizens have taken the matter into their own hands, and will see that hereafter Newton shall give no shelter to men who live by murdering and robbing good people, but shall win that reputation near and far that shall be to it an honor not a disgrace.”


  • Harvey County Coroner’s Reports, Box    File Folder 01.04 HCHM Archives, Newton, Ks.
  • Newton Kansan: 22 August 1872,  5 September 1872, 31 October 1872, 7 November 1872, 14 November 1872,21 November 1872,  27 March 1873, 7 April 1873.
  • The Weekly Newton Democrat: 15 November 1872.
  • Daily Commonwealth: 25 February 1871,  31 August 1871,  5 November 1871, 29 February 1872.
  • Daily Beacon: 7 November 1872.
  • Wichita Eagle: 14 November 1872, 28 November 1872.
  • Topeka Weekly Times: 18 January 1872, 25 January 1872, 1 February 1872, 7 March 1872, 14 March 1872, 30 May 1872, 2 June 1872, 14 November 1872.
  • Weekly Commonwealth: 13 November 1872.

Most Widely Accepted Project in Harvey County

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

The creation of shelterbelts and windbreaks in the late 1930s and early 1940s, involved the cooperation of individual farmers, the US Forest Service, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration. During the Dust Bowl years, the effects of years of over working the prairie became obvious.

Wind & Soil Erosion on C.F. Wilmore Farm in Lakin Township, Harvey County, Ks.

While campaigning for president in Montana,  Franklin D. Roosevelt came up with the idea of wall of trees to combat hill-side wind erosion.  His initial idea was a single solid wall of trees several miles wide running from the Canadian border to the Texas panhandle. A more realistic plan called for a series of walls from North Dakota to Texas.

Shelterbelt Project, major planting areas, 1933-1942. Credit: US Forest Service, Wikimedia Commons CC.

By 1942, there were 220 million trees, stretching 18,600 miles from North Dakota to Texas. The Shelterbelt Project was a successful federal program.  The goal was to reduce erosion and lessen water evaporation from the soil of farm lands across the United Sates, in addition to reducing the amount of dust pollution from the wind storms.

Forest History Society, Durham, NC

Agroforestry Poster created by Joseph Dusek, 1936-1940, WPA Poster Collection, Library of Congress.

Harvey County, Ks

The Harvey County Extension Office played an important role in providing farmers with the information and trees to implement these measures in Harvey County in 1939-1943.  The Annual Reports written by H.B. Harper, Harvey County extension agent, provide insight into the farmers that participated, the demonstrations given and the success of the program in Harvey County.

“Windbreaks have Become Rather Popular” 1939

In 1939, a section titled  Farm Forestry is included in the Annual Report of the Harvey County Extension Agency.  H. B. Harper, Harvey County Agricultural Agent, noted that Harvey County was involved with the Prairie States Forestry Project with the purpose to “promote the planting of trees.” With cooperation from  the Forest Service, Harvey County farmers were  able to plant 284 acres of trees on forty-seven farms.

List of Farmers Participating in 1939


Harper also reported that “trees planted for windbreaks have become rather popular.”  In 1939, 4,200 trees from the Fort Hays Nursery were planted on eighteen farms in Harvey County.

List of Participants in 1939.

He noted that the purchase of the trees was possible  under the Clark-McNary distribution program.

Letter to H.B. Harper, County Agricultural Agent from W.G. Baxter, US Dept of Agriculture, Forest Service. 23 September 1939. Harvey County Extension Collection, HCHM Archives, Newton, Ks.


“More Enthusiasm Must Be Mustered” 1940

In 1940, Harper reported that 40 farms had shelterbelts “using 133,252 trees is a major accomplishment.” Demonstration planting meetings were held at two farms, Jonas Voran’s farm, located in Garden Township, and Waldo Voth’s farm in Pleasant Township. Despite Harper’s optimism in his opening reports, the tone for section on “Farm Forestry” was subdued.  He noted that “more enthusiasm must be mustered into 1941 if Harvey County is to achieve as much as it should in the worthwhile project.” 

1940 Annual Report Projects

“It might happen here.
“But it can’t happen here.”

“Good care . . . will insure any farmer an excellent wind-break”

“Needed to Prevent Erosion”
“Demonstrating the planting of a windbreak”

“Must be protected from rodent injury.”

In 1940, nineteen miles of trees were planted on forty-two farms.  Adding the number of trees to the 1939 number, a total of 40.4 miles of trees planted on 89 farms. Harper concluded his 1940 summary noting that “land use planning is a new baby in Harvey  County. Through community and county planning committees, we are assured of a real progress in 1941.”

“Popular This Year” 1941

In the 1941 Annual Report, Harper noted: “The program instituted through the forestry service four years ago has been very popular this year.”

“Demonstration on the Correct Method.”

“Farm Shelterbelt”

A.C. Dettweiler, Halstead Township, received acknowledgement for his farm and the successful shelterbelt that was 3 years old in 1941.

“Tremendous damage” 1942

In 1942, the report included a list of farms participating in the program, noting that “tremendous damage was experienced on many shelterbelts and windbreaks June 12, 1942, but all have recovered.”

“Most Widely Accepted Project” 1943

The 1943 report was the last one to specifically mention Farm Forestry, Shelterbelts & Windbreaks. Harper noted briefly that there were “73 miles of shelterbelts growing on 154 farms . . .. this was one of the most widely accepted project of this nature to be promoted in Harvey County.” Harper concludes by noting that the project will be available again next year.

Great Plains Shelterbelt Project

Today, the Great Plains Shelterbelt Project continues to promote this  proven conservation practice across the U.S.


  • Harvey County Extension Agency Collection, Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives, Newton, Ks.
  • Orth, Joel. “The Shelterbelt Project: Cooperative Conservation in 1930s America.” Agricultural History, vol. 81, no. 3, 2007, pp. 333–357. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20454725.