A Boy Named Riley: Newton’s Bloody Sunday, Part 3

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

History is full of unanswered questions, strange events and mysteries.  One in Harvey County is the identity of the second shooter on August 20, 1871.

A sensational event in 1871, the community and state were shocked with the level of violence. Perhaps, one of the most notorious gunfights, killing more than at Dodge, yet no one ever claimed credit.

Did the shooter simply walk out the door and into history?

Did he go,  change his identity, and live as a law abiding person?

Or did he become a notorious outlaw, but deny this crime?  The very mystery has allowed for facts to become obscure and legends to grow.

The area newspapers reported the evening’s gruesome events with relish, but a name is not given to the shooter until later accounts other than “Nemesis” in the article by “Allegro.”  Judge RWP Muse was in Newton during the shooting and was the first local person to provide the name “Riley” for the shooter in the 1882 “History of Harvey County”.  Judge Muse described the shooter;

friend of McCloskey, a boy named Riley, some 18 years of age, quiet and inoffensive in deportment, and evidently dying from consumption . . .” 

According to Muse, the young man was known around Newton as “McCluskie’s Shadow.” He was a “thin, tubercular man who followed the railroad gunman around like a little dog that barked and snapped from behind his master.

Muse theorizes that  after witnessing his friend’s death, Riley “coolly locked the door, thus preventing egress, and drawing his revolver, discharged every chamber.”   He shot a total of seven men, then, his gun empty, he walked out of the dance hall and is never heard from again. (***see note below)

The first retelling of the events of August 20, other than newspaper reports, took the form of poetry.  Theodore F. Price, Dramatic Impersonator, published “Songs of the Southwest” first in 1872 and ten years later a slightly different version.  One section of the lengthy poem was entitled “Newton: A Tale of the Southwest.

The poem identifies the shooter as “Riley.”  Price may have gotten this information from Judge Muse, the only other first hand account to use the name.

“What form strides o’er the threshold red

With weapon fiercely clenched?

He looks upon McClusky dead

With gory garments drenched; Then calmly aimed-the trigger drew-

A Texan died-his aim was true. . . .

Seven gory forms before him lying! That friend was fearfully avenged

Grim Riley turned away.”

sneedshootout

Illustration by Brad Sneed

Over the years exaggerations and errors occurred. In a 1926 article an early settler described the “Newton Massacre” for the Newton Evening Kansan Republican.  John L. Wilson recalled that

the town supported a dance hall at the edge of town.  This place was operated by one who went by the name of Rody Joe. The numerous Texas cowboys engaged on the ranches in this section rallied at that favorite resort.  One specific instance was pointed out when a man by the name of McClucky invaded the dance hall and shot to death nine Texas cowboys as a result of divided opinions.”

There are several incorrect statements in the Wilson account that only add to the misconceptions and misinformation.   Rowdy Joe was a dance hall owner in Newton for a short time before moving to Wichita. In 1871, he was involved in a fatal Newton gunfight with a man named Sweet. By 1873 he was again in the news after a duel with another Wichita saloon owner E.T. “Red” Beard, which was fatal for Beard. Although clearly a violent man, Rowdy Joe was not involved in the shootings on Aug 20.  None of the early accounts have McCluskie or McClucky “invading the dance hall.”

The Newton Evening Kansan Republican tried to answer the question of what happened to Riley in a brief article on 4 May 1951 quoting a “prominent citizen of Newton . . .he revealed the story of ‘what became of Riley?’.”

“Law abiding men knew what had taken place [in Tuttle’s Saloon].  They furnished the youth [Riley] with  saddle and bridle, a livery stable owner gave him a pony and he rode of town that night and wound up in Ellsworth. . . .Nothing more is heard of him, and it is presumed that his pulmonary disease ended his life.”

Author William Moran noted in Santa Fe and the Chisholm Trail in Newton (1971) that at the time of the shoot out there were several newspaper correspondents in town. Certainly,  if Riley could have been found they would have had motivation.  Moran theorized that Riley left on the early Sunday morning train, possibly hiding at the east end train yards until the train left.  A stow-a-way in the baggage car would not have been noticed. Moran concluded, “Riley could have gone to either Emporia or Topeka, and there taken up where he left off at Newton, that of doing odd jobs under an assumed name.

Mari Sandoz wrote in 1978, “then as suddenly as he started the slaughter, the youth with the deadly aim cooly stepped out in to the night”.  A posse was organized to search for Riley, but he was never seen again in Newton.  Some rumors had him “GN” or Gone North; others maintain that he died soon after.

One intriguing theory by cowboy poet Neal Torrey, follows Riley to Nebraska and the Dakotas where he reinvented himself as the famous outlaw “Doc” Middleton.  Middleton was a slim blond man of quiet nature who had as one of his many aliases “Jim Riley”.

middleton

 

To answer the question of who was Riley, Kansas historians, Snell and Wilson concluded in an 1968 article for the Kansas Historical Quarterly that “later historians have assigned the given name of James to Riley, but confirming contemporary evidence cannot be found.

Perhaps  a reporter for the Wichita Eagle said it best in an 1957 retelling of the story: 

“the final, and perhaps most interesting part of the whole story is, of course, the part played by the unknown youth Riley.  He came from oblivion and disappeared into nowhere, but he left his mark on one incident-and on more than one man-in the history of the West.”

1957

One thing is certain, the 1871 season in Newton was lawless and dangerous. McCoy wrote of the 1871 season in Newton:

“A moderate business only was done at Newton, which gained a national reputation for its disorder and blood-shed.  As many as eleven persons were shot down on a single evening and many graves were filled with subjects who had “died with their boots on.”

Judge Muse put the number of violent deaths at 12. Later historians, like Drago, state a closer estimate of “sudden death” for Newton during the cattle town years would be 25 – not 50 that some claim. Today, most historians estimate the number dying a “sudden death” during Newton’s cowtown years at 25.

Newton’s General Massacre continues to interest people.

Louis L’Amour used the events of 20 August 1871 in the 1960 novel Flint. The events described in  “Crossing” shoot out in the opening chapter is loosely based on the Newton events.

“Legend was born that night in Kansas, and the story of the massacre at the Crossing was told and retold over many a campfire. Of the survivors, neither would talk, but one of the dying men had whispered, “Flint!” It was rumored that Flint was the name of an almost legendary killer who was occasionally hired by big cattle outfits or railroad companies.”

 

flint

Numerous articles have been written in journals and magazines retelling the story.  The facts remain the same. Five men died and three were wounded in Perry Tuttle’s Saloon in the early morning hours of 20 August 1871. One was shot by Hugh Anderson and four by a shooter known as Riley.  Following the shoot out, Anderson is transported to Kansas City to recover from his wounds and the second shooter, Riley, disappears.

Sources

  • Kansas Daily Commonwealth (Topeka) August 22, 23, & 27, 1871. Recount events of August 1871.
  • Abilene Chronicle August 24, 1871. Recount events of August 1871.
  • Emporia (Kansas) News August 25, 1871. Recount events of August 1871.
  • Newton Evening Kansan Republican.  20 August, 1921; 24 August 1921; 25 August 1921 ; 27 August 1921; 29 August 1921; 30 August 1921; 2 September 1921.  4 May 1951. Microfilm available at the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives.
  • Muse, Judge R.W.P.. A History of Harvey County: 1871-1881.  1882 Harvey County Atlas, reprinted by the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives. ***Note on Muse’s account: Muse described Riley calmly locked the saloon door, but then Jim Martin could not have left the building. This also relies on the assumptions that a key was in the door and a young man, reportedly not a gunfighter, would have the presence of mind to coolly lock a door.   The earliest descriptions of the event hardly give the picture of an accomplished gunman, rather of someone blindly shooting into a dark, smoky room.
  •  Price, Theodore F. Songs of the Southwest Topeka, Ks: Common-wealth Printing Co, 1872 and 1881.
  • Prentis, Noble L.  South-western Letters, 1882.
  • McCoy, Joseph G.  Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest (1874 reprint 1966, on line www.kancoll.org/books/mccoy.htm
  • Stewart, C.H.  “Newton History” personal recollections written 25 February 1938. (60 years ago-1878) Chisholm Trail Collection, Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives.
  • Wilson, John L.  Newton Evening Kansan Republican 25  January 1926

.Secondary and On-Line Sources

  • Chinn, Stephen.  Kansas Gunfighters s.v. http://www.vlib.us/old_west/guns.html.
  • Smith, Mark.  Gunfight at Hide Park—Newton, Kansas Newton’s General Massacre 19 August 1871 http://www.kansasheritage.org/gunfighters/hidepark.html  (accessed October 25, 2007)
  • Drago, Harry Sinclair.  Wild, Woolly & Wicked: The History of the Kansas Cow Town and the Texas Cattle Trade.  New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1960.
  • Drago, Harry Sinclair.   Legend Makers:  Tales of the Old-Time Peace Officers and Desperadoes of the Frontier  New York:  Dodd, Mead & Co., 1975.
  • Hutton, Harold.  The Luckiest Outlaw:  The Life and Legends of Doc Middleton. Lincoln:  University of Nebraska Press, 1974.  Bison Ed. 1992.
  • Miller, Nyle H. & Joseph W. Snell. Why the West was Wild:  A Contemporary Look at the Antics of Some  Highly Publicized Kansas Cowtown Personalities.   Topeka, Ks: Kansas State Historical  Society, 1963.
  • Moran, William T.  Santa Fe and the Chisholm Trail at Newton. ca. 1971 privately printed,  Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives.
  • Richmond, Robert W.  “Early Newton Scene of Bloody Massacre” Wichita Eagle 1957.  Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives Historical Files,.
  • Rosa, Joseph G.  The Gunfighter:  Man or Myth?  Norman:  University of Oklahoma Press, 1969.
  •  Sandoz, Mari.  The Cattlemen.   University of Nebraska, 1978.
  • Waltner, John D.  The Process of Civilization on the Kansas Frontier, Newton, Kansas, 1871-1873  Masters Thesis, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Ks, 1971.

Articles:

  • Dary, David.  True Tales of the Old-Time Plains  New York:  Crown Publishers, 1979.
  • Prowse, Brad.  “The General Massacre” American Cowboy July/August 1998.
  • Sullens, Joe. “Newton, Kansas: the Town the Old West Forgot” True West May 1984.
  • Smith, Robert Barr.  “Bad Night in Newton” Wild West April 1995.

Fiction & Poetry

  • L’Amour, Louis.  Flint New York:  Bantam Books, 1960. For an interesting discussion on “The Kid at the Crossing” shoot out see: http://www.louislamour.com/novels/flint.htm.
  • McArthur, James I.  Newton, Kansas Oklahoma: Tate Publishing LLC, 2013.
  • Torrey, Neal.  “The Newton General Massacre” http://www.cowboypoetry.com/nt.htm.

The Full and Graphic Account: Newton’s Bloody Sunday, Part 2

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Several newspaper correspondents were in Newton covering the cattle drives that summer.  Murder and revenge filled the headlines in the days following the “General Massacre” adding to Newton’s image of lawlessness. The Topeka Daily Commonwealth reported on the violence on 22 August 1871.

“We received . . . the following full and graphic account of the Newton tragedy, from a correspondent of the N.Y. World.  We publish it to the exclusion of our usual variety of local matter, knowing that it will be read with interest by our readers.

On Sunday last . . . Blood and murder was rampart to an unusual degree. . . .Ever since the shooting affair between McCluskie and the Texas man, Bailey, which resulted in the death of the latter . . . “war” was declared to the bitter end against McCluskie . . .”

Accounts of the shoot out varied.  All agree that Anderson shot McCluskie, and that McCluskie attempted to return fire, but his gun misfired. What happened next, took the fight beyond the two men. After Anderson shot McCluskie, another unknown person began firing.

The Commonwealth/N.Y. World  reporter “Allegro” credited an unnamed “Nemesis” with most of the shooting to avenge McCluskie’s death in an 22 August 1871 article:

“. . . there is an avenging Nemesis on track.  A stalwart figure suddenly appears on the scene.  For an instant he remains motionless, as if studying the situation.  Then a sheet of flame vomits forth, apparently from his hand, and a Texan staggers from the room across the area and falls dead at the door of the “Alamo”.  Another and another and another shot follows, until six men . . . have bowed to his prowess.”

Most accounts agree that Jim Martin, the first person shot by the second gunman, ran out of the door, bleeding from the neck, and fell dead in front of Krum’s saloon, the Alamo.   Martin was a well liked and most agreed that he was an innocent bystander who tried to calm the situation down.  Instead, he was fatally shot.  After Martin, six more men were shot. The original shooter, Hugh Anderson, was severely wounded. Patrick Lee, a brakeman for the railroad, and Texans Billy Garrett and Kearnes were fatally shot, each dying after several days.  Two other men, James Wilkerson and a man known as  Hickey, were wounded and later recovered.

Over the years artists have attempted to illustrate the 1871 "General Massacre in Newton."

Over the years artists have attempted to illustrate the 1871 “General Massacre in Newton.”

At 8:00 o’clock Sunday morning, Coroner C.S. Bowman held an inquest into the deaths of Mike McCluskie (aka Art Donavan) and Jim Martin.  After investigating for four and a half hours, the jury found “that Martin came to his death at the hands of some person unknown, and that McCluskie came to his death at 8 o’clock a.m., this 20th day of August, by a shot from a pistol in the hands of Hugh Anderson.”  The finding angered the Texans, who promised that the bodies of the jury would be found “ornamenting neighboring telegraph poles” if Anderson was arrested. Fear was rampant the next few days in Newton.

The Emporia News reporter concluded that “this was the bloodiest affrays that ever occurred in our State.”

Anderson’s father soon arrived in Newton to insure the best medical care for his son, Hugh. He also appealed to Newton’s leading citizens for assistance with his son.  These businessmen wanted no more trouble and a plan was devised to sneak Anderson out of town on a  train.  Judge Muse recounted Anderson’s escape from Newton.

“The excitement was intense, and the City Marshal, Tom Carson, and his assistants, all heavily armed . . . Were parading the streets, day and night, with warrants for the arrest of Anderson. [His father], a gray-haired and amiable old gentleman . . Bowed down with shame and sorrow at the conduct of his sons,” came to consult with Muse and others.

Once Dr. Boyd determined that Anderson could be moved, a group of men including A. Baker,  George Yocum, Judge Muse and Dr. Boyd began their work. A litter was constructed, and at 2:00 a.m. Anderson was removed from the back door of Hoff’s store where he had been recuperating.

“To avoid detection, we carried him north, past the residence of Dr. Lewis, and there striking the cattle trail, followed it down to the car.  The night was dark and rainy; the grass rank, high and wet, and the ground muddy, and our task a hard one, as we dare not use a light.”

Anderson was placed in a car with a closet that was then locked.  All of this had been arranged with the conductor.  He was to remain in the rail car until he reached Kansas City.

The Abilene Chronicle August 24, 1871 concluded:

“Thus ends the third or fourth chapter in Newton’s bloody history-a town only a little over three months old. . . . But if the worse than beastly prostitution of the sexes is continued, and the town is controlled by characters who have no regard for virtue, decency or honor, it will not soon become fit for the abode of respectable people.”

Despite the efforts of Newton leaders,  violence continued into the fall.  On September 23, Deputy Sheriff Carlos B. King was shot by Thomas Edwards.  While making rounds in a dance hall, King had taken Edwards’ gun.  Later, Edwards shot King as he stood “in the same fated area which drank the blood of Martin and other victims of the Sunday morning horror a month ago . . .”     

By the start of the new year things had begun to change.  The cattle trade  moved to Wichita in the spring of 1872  and with it many of the “cowboy businesses.”  Judge Muse noted many “that depended upon the cattle trade were closed or sold out at very low figures.” A year later the newly established Newton Kansan reported in September 1872 that  “one by one these old barbaric domiciles are being remodeled into fit places for good society.” 

Perry C. Tuttle was one business owner that left early.   Perhaps, he was weary of the violence or realized that the cattle trade was coming to a close in Newton. Tuttle sold his business to shady person whose last known residences was above Tuttle’s saloon, James Shay, in February 1872.

Deed for Block 52, Lot 1, Newton, Ks

Deed for Block 52, Lot 1, Newton, Ks. HCHM Archives, Newton, Ks

Perry C. Tuttle left enough of a paper trail that we know a bit about his life.  Born in Wisconsin in approximately 1845,  Perry was  living with his parents, Chester C. & Betsy Tuttle  in Beloit, Rock County, Wisconsin in 1850. His father was a farmer.  By 1860, the Tuttle family, including Perry,  had moved to  Topeka, Shawnee Co., Kansas. From 1862 to 1865, Perry served with the 11th Ks Calvary Co. E . under Maj. Edmond G.Ross along the Kansas/Missouri border. The 1865 Kansas Census lists  Perry C. Tuttle, age 25,   living in Topeka, Shawnee Co., Ks.  He owned a livery stable and was married to a dressmaker named Bertha.

In 1871, he operated a saloon in the new town of Newton, Kansas.

He next appears in the 1880 Census as a 34 year old Saloon keeper, married to Jane with one small daughter, Frances.  Tuttle died in 1898/1899 and was buried in Graceland Cemetery, Creston, Union County, Iowa.

tuttlegrave

Hugh Anderson reappears in history one more time. He recovered from his wounds in Kansas City.  However, he had to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life.  Mike McCluskie’s brother Art had vowed revenge.   Anderson and McCluskie met again at Harding’s Trading Post in Medicine Lodge, Kansas on 4 July 1873. Art McCluskie challenged Anderson to a dual; Anderson could pick the weapon.  He chose the gun. Both men died in the brutal gun/knife fight that followed. On lookers were “sickened at the brutality.”

New Information has come to light regarding the fate of Hugh Anderson.  See our blog posts on the  Duel that Never Happened. (added on 4 September 2015) and Texas Cowboy, Desperado, Businessman (added 11 September 2015).

Newton’s bloodiest days may have been over, but the stories about  the “General Massacre” were just beginning, including those about the  identity of the unknown gunman. Our next post, “A Boy Named Riley” will conclude our series on Newton’s Bloody Sunday.

Sources

  • Allegro,  N.Y. World correspondent; “To the Editor of the Commonwealth,” 21 August 1871
  • Abilene Chronicle 24 August 1871
  • Emporia News, 25 August  1871
  •  Kansas Daily Commonwealth,  (Topeka) 22 August 1871, 23 August 1871,  27 August 1871, 27  September 1871, 28 September 1871
  • Newton Kansan, 26 September 1872
  • Kansas Census 1865, 1875
  • United States Census, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880
  • http://usgwarchives.net/ks/shawnee/shawnee.htm
  • Register of Deeds, February 28 1872  Lida and Perry C. Tuttle to James Shay, HCHM Archives, Newton, Ks

Accounts:

  • Muse, Judge RWP. History of Harvey County, (1881) Harvey County Historical Museum and Archives, Newton, Ks. First published in Edwards, John P. Historical Atlas of Harvey County, Kansas. Philadelphia, 1882.
  • Hunter, J. Marvin, ed.  The Trail Drivers of Texas.  2 Vols.
  • McCoy, Joseph G. Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest, 1874.

Secondary Sources:

  • Coke, Tom S. “Fight to the Finish” at http://4jranch.com/cokestories/AndersonH. 2001.
  • Davis, Christy. “Rediscovering Newton: An Interpretive Architectural History”  Master’s Thesis, WSU, 1999.
  • Drago, Sinclair Wild, Wooly and Wicked: the History of the Kansas Cow Towns and the Texas Cattle Trade. New York, 1960.
  • Dunlap, Great Trails of the West, New York: Abingdon Press.
  • Miller, Nyle and Joseph Snell.  Why the West Was Wild.  Topeka, Ks 1963.
  • Toews, Dudley Dodgion.  Newton, Remembering Yesterday Today, 1994.
  • Streeter, Floyd B.  The Kaw: Heart of the Nation.  New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1941.
  • Waltner, John. “The Process of Civilization on the Kansas Frontier, Newton, Kansas, 1871-1873” MA These, University of Kansas, 1971.

 

This three part blog series is adapted from our Speaker’s Bureau Program, “Newton’s Bloody Sunday.”  For more info on our Speaker’s Bureau and programs available see:  http://hchm.org/speakers-bureau/