Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stevens County: 1969 Hutch News interview with Claude French about Bonnie and Clyde

French held a variety of jobs
outside the gas field. He came out
in 1928 to work wheat harvest
before returning to southeast
Kansas to graduate from high
school. In 1929, he returned to the
area for good.
French was in downtown
Hugoton the night City Marshal
Charlie Newman was fatally shot
by Fred McBee: McBee had a few
alcoholic drinks before the incident
in the Jewell Cafe owned by Bonnie
Parker and Clyde Barrow — known
locally as Blackie and Jewell
Underwood or Blackie and Jewell
I was us close to the city marshal
as 1 am to you (within arm's reach)
when he got shot out here. He was
Charlie Newman. Fred McBee shot
him. They are both dead now.
I think that somebody had given
Fred a shot in this cafe. He just wa»
a little over inebriated up on Main
Street and was causing a problem
and .the city marshal was going to
take him to jail. It was '31 or '32,
right in there.
They (Bonnie and Clyde) left that

Woodsdale: Survivor Herbert Tonney's first-hand account of the Hay Meadow Massacre

As seen in the Stevens County history book, as well as Legends of America:

"I do not need to swear to the truthfulness of my story, for I have already done so in many courts and under the cross-examination of some of the ablest lawyers in the country. I have repeated the story on the stand in a criminal case which cost the United States government more money than it has ever expended in any similar trial, unless perhaps that having to do with the assassination of President Lincoln. I can say that I know what it is to be murdered.

Woodsdale: Hutchinson News Story May 19, 1933

Mabel Willebrandt May Have Had
Reason For Wanting Federal Post

Former Assistant Attorney General Checked Up on Slayers of
Young Uncle in "No Man's Land" While
In Department of Justice.

Liberal, May 19.- Everyone remembers
Mrs, Mabel Walker Willebrandt,
the thoroughgoing lady
who was a s s i s t a n t attorney general
of the United States during the
Coolldge administration.
Miss Kate Wright of this city
has her own Ideas as to why Mabel
Walker took up law and headed
her career towards that branch of
her profession which would put h e r
Into contact with the d e p a r t m e n t of
justice. She may be wrong, but
a few y e a r s ago, w h e n Mrs. Willebrandt
was holding that office,
a department of justice agent visited
Miss Wright, whose father was
Charles R. Wright, pioneer lawyer
of this southwest country-

Woodsdale: Hutchinson News Story July 24, 1920 about the Stevens County Seat war


Thirty-two years tomorrow,
.July 25, 1888, occurred one of the
tragedies of southwestern Kansas,
the Hay Meadow" Massacre, In
•which Sheriff Cross, of Stevens
• county, and a posse of four, were
all shot down In cold blood, four
of the five being killed outright,
by another posse headed by City
Marshal Sam Robinson, of Hugoton.
Tho following story of that frontier
tragedy of 32 years ago was written
by Tom -McNeal, of the Topeka Capital,
who was living in the southwest
at that time:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Castleton, KS - A Reno County ghost tow

For a fleeting moment, this little town was touched by the silver screen.

It was 1951, Francie White Grilliot recalls. She and her grade-school friends were excited to be part of the background in a Hollywood motion picture being shot on location in their hometown of Castleton - a film to be called "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie." A wardrobe of old-time clothing was kept at the high school, and her mother, a seamstress, was charged to make it fit the extras. 

The film crew transformed little Castleton into Sevillinois, Ill., a town set in 1905. They built a fire station, barber shop, livery stable and other period pieces that were situated around the already existing post office and Santa Fe depot. And for about two weeks, Castleton boomed with activity.

But then the crew packed up and headed west, and the tiny town of Castleton, already well amid rural decline, continued its downward spiral.

The post office closed in 1957, and the red brick depot, which had attracted the eye of the Hollywood producer, was razed in the early 1960s.

"There's not much left," Francie said from the kitchen table in the farmhouse where she grew up.

Castleton, Kansas.

A view of the elevators, which are owned by Mid Kansas Cooperative

Like all towns, Castleton founders had dreams for the stagecoach stop platted by C.C. Hutchinson in 1872. Hutchinson already had founded the city of Hutchinson, which eventually would secure the county seat of Reno County. He named Castleton after his new bride's hometown in Vermont.

Much of what is left can be seen from Tom Grilliot's lane: the tall bins of the cooperative elevator, a few dozen houses and a community church. There's a dozen or two homes, as well

A faded sign on the two-story township building still reads "Sam Eichenbarger, General Merchandise," which, according to a 1970 story in The News, was seen in the film. The basic plot in "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie" centers on a man who moves to a small town and sets up a barber shop, Tom Grilliot said, adding the movie has highs and lows for its characters.
It starred David Wayne, Hugh Marlowe and Jean Peters as Nellie. Peters was Howard Hughes' girlfriend at the time, and Hughes had hired a chaperone to make sure Peters didn't stray. Fresh roses from Hughes arrived at her room at the Bisonte Hotel in Hutchinson every morning, according to News editor Stuart Awbrey's column from the 1960s.
Awbrey said he was traveling west after the Castleton filming, so he stopped in to see the director, Henry King, who was putting finishing touches on the film.
"King was using the studio's biggest sound stage, and on it was a re-creation of what had been at Castleton a few weeks before," Awbrey wrote. "The railroad station seemed to have been rebuilt, stick for stick, and rubbed to the same dilapidated look. And, of course, the barber shop, firehouse and such might have been moved directly form central Reno County. I was stunned."
"What was that bit about getting authenticity in Kansas?" Awbrey asked.
"Well, we salvaged some scenes from our trip," King said. "But after we saw the runs out here, we decided on some script changes. And I wasn't too happy about the lighting we got in Kansas."
Thus, how much of Nellie's release was actually filmed in Castleton is anyone's guess, it seems, although Francie Grilliot says she thinks she saw herself in the film.

The town grew to 450 people. It had two blacksmiths, a livery, a depot, meat market, groceries, hotel, restaurants, hardware and a creamer, the article stated.
Then came the death dealer, Charlie Hornbaker, the unofficial mayor, told The News when the post office close.
"The auto not only ruined our town, but others," he said. "We can now go to Hutchinson in the time it took to hitch up the horses. But who'd want to go back to the horse and buggy days?"

"Like a condemned man marking time on the wall, Castleton chalks up another loss when its weather-beaten, 85-year-old post office closes its doors for the last time Friday - no longer a necessary part of the postal system, wrote News reporter Jim Banman. "The village will mark the passing, as it did the closing of the Santa Fe depot, by digging a few scoops of loam, making a mound and placing a few flowers on it."

,A memorial was erected in the 1950s to those who served their country.

The high school closed in the 1950s and the grade school a decade or so later. In 1955, the Santa Fe ran its last Doodle Bug train, and Hornbaker bought tickets so all Castleton youngsters could have the last ride to Hutchinson.
The post office closed in June 1957, and in the early 1970s moved to Great Bend. It's still on display at a museum.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Carter Spur: Wicked little town nearly forgotten

CARTER SPUR - History, it seems, wants to forget about the wicked little Rice County stop of Carter Spur.

It's been decades since the spot on the intersection where Rice, Reno and McPherson counties meet on Plum Street has been on a map. The Kansas State Historical Society doesn't mention it on its list of more than 5,000 dead towns, although Carter Spur was much livelier than some that have met the same fate.

Only a few old-timers recall the name, and most only recall a few bits and pieces of what happened here. And the only thing that is left of Carter Spur, something that marks the place of wild parties, of drunkenness, gambling and bootlegging, is a small piece of concrete slab next to the abandoned Frisco railway.

No one knows how the stop got started, how it met its final demise or even how it got the name of Carter, although an early 1940s story in The News recorded a Carter family living near Carter Spur.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dashed hopes to be Reno seat part of town's end

By Amy Bickel - The Hutchinson News -

RENO CENTER - Folks in this little settlement had high hopes it would be the Reno County seat.
Its location was prime - the center of Reno County. It already was on a freight trail, and there seemed to be plans by the railroad for a line to run through the hamlet.
"I expect to live to see the day that Reno Center will not only be a larger town than Hutchinson, but also the county seat," local resident and proponent Tom Crotts told a newspaperman in the 1870s.
Fast-forward 140 years and it's evident Crotts was wrong. Hutchinson is, by far, the biggest city in the county and it has the courthouse, to boot.
Meanwhile, Reno Center isn't even a dot on a map, the location just a no-till field south of the tiny town of Partridge, said area resident Jim French.
This, however, is more than a story of a Kansas ghost town. It's about Hutchinson's beginnings, of wheeling and dealing, of how the Santa Fe Railroad steamed into Partridge in 1886 and Reno Center was history.

Altering railroad broke Cash City

  CASH CITY - He has found a few sardine containers and some square nails around the site where a few of his ancestors once lived, noting passers-by would never know the spot amid the Clark County prairie once was home to 500 people.

There were hotels and a blacksmith, shoe and wagon shops, a lumberyard and livery. Cash City even had a doctor, a drugstore and a mercantile, along with a newspaper, the Cash City Cashier, which talked of the town's bright future.