Texas Cowboy, Desperado, & Businessman: Hugh Anderson

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

“He sat at the faro-table with the whole of his expressive face in full view, . . . I recalled the hour when three years before, in a Newton dance-house, I was a looker-on and saw the silver-mounted pistol now peeping out at his breast send death into the bosoms of three human beings.  This was Anderson, the Texas desperado, the horse-thief . . . the red-handed murderer.  I had written of the dance-house  tragedy.  I had held him up to public execration . . . had even advised the formation of a vigilance committee to inflict on him summary vengeance.”    (J.H.E., “Meeting of the Desperadoes” New York World, 22 July 1873 reprinted in full in Ellison,   “The West’s Bloodiest Duel-Never Happened!”  p. 3)

 Part 2 of  two posts  For: Part 1.

What Did Happen to Hugh Anderson, Texas Cowboy and Desperado?

One basic fact proves that the duel story written by Allegro/Harington was fiction.  Hugh Anderson lived another 40 years. He married twice, had three children and was a successful stock man.  U.S. Census records show the movements of the larger Anderson family including Hugh in Texas and New Mexico.  He clearly did not die in a duel in the fictional town of Medicine Lodge, I.T. in July 1873.

Hugh Anderson was born in DeWitt County, TX on 25 November 1851.  He was the third of 10 children born to Walter Pool “Wat” and Louisiana “Lou” Bailey Anderson.  In 1868, Hugh and his older brother, Richmond were involved in a “blood feud” between neighboring families named Taylor and Sutton in Texas. Richmond reportedly killing a man during this time.  During the summer of 1871, Wat, sent a herd of longhorns up the trail to the new shipping point at Newton, Ks. His son, nineteen-year-old Hugh was on the drive, perhaps to remove him from the feuding families.

While holding the herd near Newton, Hugh met the soon-to-be famous killer, John Wesley Hardin, who was pursuing a Mexican outlaw named Bideno. Hugh rode with Hardin and was present when Hardin killed Bideno.  Hugh then returned to his duties watching his father’s herd near Newton. Perhaps when he arrived in Newton, he learned of the death of Bill Bailey, who had been shot by Mike McCluskey earlier in the week. The death of Bailey angered Hugh and he threatened McCluskey.  Bailey may have been a relative of Hugh on his mother’s side adding to the motive for vengeance.

After the shootout in Tuttle’s saloon, an injured Hugh was secreted out of Newton by his father with the help of several Newton businessmen.  He returned to Texas.  Maybe the experience taught him something as he seemed to ‘settle down’ and live in a more law-abiding manner.

On July 11, 1872 in Bell County, Tx, Anderson, age 20, married 22-year-old Amanda Tomlinson. In May 1873, their son, Oscar was born.  The supposed duel took place on July 4, 1873. The article in the New York World appeared July 22, 1873.

Three years later, Hugh, still very much alive, but a widower, moved with his young son, and several other family members to McCullock, Tx.   The 1880 Federal Census listed Hugh, 28, and son, Oscar, 7, living with his parents and working as a “stock raiser” in McCullock County, Tx.

Hugh Anderson. Courtesy Simon Duran, Find A Grave #13728884 .

In 1884, at age 32, Hugh married a second time, Mag Cooke.  They moved to Chaves County, New Mexico Territory and Hugh continued to work as a stock man. They have at least two girls. The U.S. Census for 1900 listed Hugh as a widower.  In 1910, Hugh is listed as a stock man and living with his married son, Oscar, and three grandsons.

Hugh Anderson died 9 June 1914 at the age of 62 while herding cattle in Lincoln County, New Mexico. He was struck by lightening “and instantly killed . . . He had taken refuge under a tree while the storm was raging.”

Hugh Anderson. , Courtesy A. Firefly, Find A Grave #13728884 .

Hugh Anderson. , Courtesy Delma Ingram, Find A Grave #13728884 .

Years later, Hugh’s younger brother, Wyatt, described his father’s cattle drive during the summer of 1871 to Newton. He confirmed that Hugh was on that drive and had killed a man in Newton during the big fight.  He also detailed the actions of the oldest Anderson brother, Richmond, who was involved in two killings, one in Texas, the other in Wichita, Ks during the early 1870s.   He made no mention of a supposed duel at Medicine Lodge or anywhere else.

One wonders if Hugh ever read Allegro’s account of his death and what he might have thought of the “West’s Bloodiest Duel.”


  • United States Census 1880, 1900, 1910.
  • Muse, Judge R.W.P., History of Harvey County: 1871-1881. Newton, Ks: Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives, 2013. Originally published in Edward’s Harvey County Atlas, 1882.
  • Ellison, Douglas.  “The West’s Bloodiest Duel-Never Happened!” Western Edge Books, 3 December 2014 at westernedgebooks.com.
  • Hugh Anderson. , Find A Grave #13728884 .

For the full article by Douglas Ellison see The West’s Bloodiest Duel – Never Happened.

“Many of Our Readers Will Remember” Allegro & the Bloody Duel

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

For more about Hugh Anderson in part 2.

We just passed the 144th anniversary of Newton’s famous gun fight and there are still interesting pieces of fact and fiction that surround the event. While researching the actual gunfight, I became interested in the men that reported on the event.  One reporter, in particular, was quite descriptive and detailed, but I could not find out more about him.  He signed his work as “Allegro” and was a correspondent for the Topeka newspaper, The Commonwealth. Recently, I stumbled on some newspaper articles that shed a light on the mysterious reporter, Allegro, and the eventual fate of Hugh Anderson.

The Junction City Weekly Union paper reported in August 1873:

Many of our readers will remember the literary deadbeat “Allegro” who wrote gory letters for the Commonwealth from Newton two summers ago, during the killing season. We had lost sight of him entirely till we saw, the other day, in a New York paper an account of a duel at “Medicine Lodge,” between two men named McClusky and Anderson. . . . Then we knew that “Allegro” was alive, and that the story of the Medicine Lodge duel was a lie.”  (Junction City Weekly Union, 16 August 1873, p. 1)

Clipping from the Junction City Weekly Union, 16 August 1873, p. 1.

Clipping from the Junction City Weekly Union, 16 August 1873, p. 1.

This small article led to all sorts of interesting discoveries, some that gave clues to who Allegro might be and also what really happened to one of the main players of Newton’s Bloody Sunday.

A Correspondent named “Allegro”

In a May 2, 1878  letter to the editor,  a “Citizen” reflected on the “old Commonwealth crowd” of editors and reporters mentioning “Allegro who wrote those blood-curdling letters from Newton” and “who ought not be forgotten.”

According to the letter, Allegro was a “mild-mannered, gentlemanly fellow, but a beat of the first water.”  During the summer of 1871, Allegro spent time as a  fiddler  in one of the Newton dance halls, in addition to serving as a correspondent for the Topeka Commonwealth.  He was finally “bounced [from the Commonwealth] because he took up too much space puffing the saloons where he got his drinks.” From there, Allegro went on to write “lurid sketches of frontier life for the New York World.”  One of those “lurid sketches’ was the story of the duel between Hugh Anderson and Arthur McCluskey in 1873 that the Junction City Weekly Union called a lie.

Late in 1873, the New York World cut ties with the correspondent identified as “Allegro.” According to the New York World  he was “a shyster named E.J. Harrington” living in Washington, D.C. who was “utterly unworthy of confidence or countenance” and belonged in the penitentiary.

The Duel. . . according to ‘Allegro:’ A Short Summary

Allegro submitted the story entitled “Meeting of the Desperadoes Hugh Anderson, of Texas and Arthur McCluskey of Kansas,” which was printed July 22, 1873.  He claimed to be an eyewitness to the event.

According to his account, Art McCluskey, the reported brother of Mike McCluskey, who was killed in Newton by Anderson, arrived in Medicine Lodge, Indian Territory in July 1873 with revenge on his mind.  At Harding’s Trading Post,  Art  McCluskey challenged Hugh Anderson to a duel with “revolvers and bowie-knives.” The two met at the agreed upon place along with “at least seventy spectators.” McCluskey was the first to fire, hitting Anderson across the cheek. McCluskey was also hit in the chest. Soon both men were mortally wounded and out of bullets.

McCluskey, summoning by a supreme effort his remaining strength, drew his knife and began to crawl feebly in the direction of his antagonist.  The latter, who had raised himself to a sitting position saw the movement and prepared to meet it.”

Both men proceeded to hack at each other until the end. According to the article, “McCluskey lived a minute longer than his antagonist.  The dead bodies, firmly locked in each other’s embrace.”


The clipping from the Junction City Weekly Union raised questions about this story.

The Death of Hugh Anderson: The Duel that Never Happened.

In December 2014, researcher Douglas Ellison dug deeper into the facts surrounding the “duel to the death” between Art McCluskey and Hugh Anderson in Medicine Lodge. According to Ellison, the story of the duel at Medicine Lodge, Indian Territory was widely discredited in 1873, including in Newton. The editor of the Newton Kansan, H.C. Ashbaugh, had  misgivings, even though he reprinted parts of the story on the front page on August 7, 1873.

"A Fight to the Death," Newton Kansan, 7 August 1873, p. 1.

“A Fight to the Death,” Newton Kansan, 7 August 1873, p. 1.

Ashbaugh did mention his doubts about the truth of the story on page 3:

“As to the truth of the transaction we are at doubts, since no person in this region of country appear to have known anything about it until this made its appearance.  The events leading to the story, be it true or false one, originated for a fact in Newton.”

One of the most glaring issues is the place where the duel took place. The author described the duel taking place at  “Medicine Lodge is in the very heart of the Indian nation, about a hundred miles south of the Kansas frontier.”

The problem, no such place existed in Indian Territory.

An assumption by later storytellers was that the duel took place in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, and the author of the original tale made a mistake.  However, the author of the story goes to great lengths to describe the place as being in the “very heart of Indian Territory.”  The editor of the Junction City Weekly Union expressed skepticism at the time regarding the place of the alleged duel and called the whole story a lie.

“we saw, the other day, in a New York paper an account of a duel at “Medicine Lodge,” between two men . . . the Medicine Lodge duel was a lie.”  (Junction City Weekly Union, 16 August 1873, p. 1)

In addition to other problems with the story, the account was never corroborated by any other contemporary source even though, according to the article, “at least seventy spectators” watched the duel. In fact, local papers did not even know about the story until three weeks later.  Especially in Newton, the site of the original gunfight in August 1871, the news of a duel involving the one of the principle shooters should have gotten more response.

Despite the skepticism of the time, the story somehow gained credibility.  Over the years, both casual and serious historians, were somehow “gulled into believing and perpetuating a false myth of murder and revenge”  described by “Allegro.” (Ellison, p. 10)  Ellison acknowledges that even though the story “made good reading in 1873, and it makes good reading today,” it is still false.

We don’t know what happened to E.J. Harrington, aka “Allegro.” The last mention found so far, was in the Commonwealth letter to the editor where “Citizen” concludes, “the last I heard of him, he was in Washington, where he struck Hon. S. A. Cobb for a small loan. He maybe in Congress now for aught I know.”  (Daily Commonwealth, 2 May 1878)

Our post next week will look into what did happen to Hugh Anderson and the resulting proof that the story was made up by the Allegro/Harrington.


  • Fort Scott Monitor (Fort Scott, Ks): 12 Nov. 1871, p. 4.
  • Lawrence Daily Journal (Lawrence, Ks): 18 January 1872, p. 2; 20 December 1873, p. 3.
  • Newton Kansan (Newton, Ks): 7 August 1873 , p. 1 & 3: 14 August 1873, p. 2.
  • Junction City Weekly Union (Junction City, Ks): 16 August 1873, p. 1; 14 February 1874, p. 2.
  • Daily Commonwealth (Topeka, Ks): 2 May 1878, p. 2.
  • Ellison, Douglas.  “The West’s Bloodiest Duel-Never Happened!” Western Edge Books, 3 December 2014 at westernedgebooks.com. The article, “Meeting of the Desperadoes Hugh Anderson, of Texas and Arthur McCluskey of Kansas,” featured in the New York World, 22 July 1873 (p. 2 ) written by J.H.E. correspondent for the New York World, was reprinted in its entirety in Ellison’s article.

For the full article by Douglas Ellison see The West’s Bloodiest Duel – Never Happened.  He also investigates several other problems surrounding the tale.