Hyde Park Gunfight in Newton
On August 20, 1871, one of the largest
gunfights to ever take place in the
West was fought in Newton,
Kansas. Known as the Hyde Park
Gunfight or the Newton Massacre, the shootout claimed more lives than many
gunfights such as
Dalton Gang Gunfight at
Kansas or the
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in
When the Santa Fe Railroad extended its line to
in 1871, this new frontier town succeeded Abilene as the terminus of the
Chisholm Trail. Like other
Newton quickly filled up with
gambling parlors, brothels, and inevitably -- lawless and violent men.
The whole affair began when two local lawmen by the names of
Mike McCluskie argued over local politics on August 11th in the
Irishman from Ohio and a rough man by anyone's standards, had made his way
Kansas via his employment with the Santa Fe Railroad as a Night
Shortly after his arrival, he
befriended an 18 year-old man named James
Riley, who was dying of tuberculosis. This is relevant because Riley would
soon play a major role in the famous
gunfight that was to come.
Bailey was a
cowboy who had probably wound up in
Newton after one of
the long cattle drives.
Both men had been hired by
Newton authorities as Special Policemen to
keep order in the city during the heated August elections. At that time,
the fledgling city was trying to form a new county and who would lead
these efforts was a major debate among the locals. Though working in
Bailey had a personality conflict from the start.
Constantly arguing, the two men were in the Red Front
Saloon on August
11th and their dispute soon led to violence. Starting out as a fistfight,
Bailey was knocked out of the
saloon and into the dusty street.
followed, drew his pistol, and fired two shots at
Bailey, hitting him in
the chest. The wounded man died the next day.
McCluskie immediately fled town to avoid arrest, but returned just a
few days later, after he heard that the shooting would most likely be
deemed self defense. Though
Bailey never produced a weapon,
claimed he feared for his life, because
Bailey had been in three previous
gunfights, in which he had killed two men.
In the meantime, several of
cowboy friends from
about his death and vowed to take revenge against his killer. Late on the
evening of August 19, 1871,
McCluskie strode into Tuttle's Dance Hall,
located in an area of town called
Hyde Park. Accompanied by a friend named
Jim Martin, a
cowboy, the two sat down to play faro. Already in the
McCluskie's "shadow," James Riley.
After midnight, three of
cowboy friends by the names of
Billy Garrett, Henry Kearnes, and Jim Wilkerson, also entered the dance
hall. All were armed and Billy Garrett had a history of at least two prior
gunfights, where he had been successful in killing two men. The three
mingled in the
saloon, waiting and watching
McCluskie gamble. Soon,
Hugh Anderson, the son of a wealthy Bell
Texas cattle rancher also entered the dancehall, walking directly
McCluskie and yelling, "You are a cowardly son-of-a-bitch! I will
blow the top of your head off!"
Though Jim Martin jumped up and attempted to stop any violence,
Anderson ignored him and shot
McCluskie in the neck.
McCluskie in the
meantime, tried to return the shot, but his pistol misfired, and he fell
to the floor. Anderson, now standing over him, pumped several more bullets
into his back.
In the meantime,
cowboys, Kearns, Garrett, and Wilkerson also
began firing, perhaps to keep the crowd back. James Riley,
friend, then pulled his two Colt revolvers and opened fire on the Texans.
Though Riley had never been in a
gunfight before and probably couldn't see
in the smoke filled room, he unloaded his guns into melee, hitting seven
Hit were would-be peacemaker, Jim Martin, who took a shot in the neck
before stumbling out of the
saloon and dying across the dusty street on
the steps of Krum's dance hall.
cowboy, Billy Garrett, was shot in the
shoulder and chest and died a few hours later. His friend Henry Kearnes
also took a mortal wound, but hung on for a week before he died.
Others, who had no part in the squabble, also took some of Riley's wild
bullets including a Santa Fe Railroad brakeman named Patrick Lee who was
shot in the stomach and died two days later. Another Santa Fe employee
named Hickey was also shot in the calf, but the wound was not serious and
The other two
cowboys, Jim Wilkerson, and the first shooter,
Hugh Anderson were also wounded. Wilkerson was shot in the nose and the leg,
but recovered from his wounds. Anderson took two shots in the leg and also
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With seven men lying on the floor, young James Riley, who previous to
this time had never been in trouble, simply walked out of the smoke filled
saloon and was never seen again.
Later that day, a warrant was issued for the arrest of
However, his father and friend's smuggled him aboard a train to Kansas
City. Later he made his way back to
Texas and was never brought to trial
However, the whole affair was not yet over. Now, Arthur McCluskie,
Mike's brother, wanted revenge against
Hugh Anderson. For two years,
Arthur and his friends kept a lookout for Anderson, who was safely hiding
Texas. But Anderson made the mistake of returning to
Kansas in 1873,
where Arthur tracked him down in Medicine Lodge. Working at Harding's
Trading Post as a bartender, Arthur sent a man in on July 4, 1873 to
invite Anderson to a duel -- giving him a choice weapons -- either guns or
knives. Anderson chose pistols and soon emerged from the trading post.
After both men emptied their guns into each other, they then resorted
to knives and in the end, both were dead.
Hyde Park Gunfight received much publicity at the time, it
has received little historical attention, despite producing a higher body
count than many more famous
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral or the
Shootout. Perhaps this is because there were no "famous" people
involved in shoot-out.
of America, updated April, 2017.
August 24, 1871, Abilene Chronicle
During the fracas
McCluskie received three pistol shots, any one
of which would cause death. He must have exhibited great courage and
bravery ere the fatal bullets pierced his body, for the barrels of his
six-shooter, when picked up, were found to have been emptied of their
charges. He lived but a few hours.
Another Texan, whose name we have been unable to ascertain, was
also shot and killed.
As far as we have been able to learn the names of the wounded are
as follows: Pat Lee, a brakesman on the railroad, a looker-on, in the
abdomen, probably fatally; Billy Garrett, a Texan, in the arm, slight;
_______ Hickey, a section boss on the railroad, in the calf of
the leg, slight; Jim Wilkerson, a Texan, in the nose, slight; Henry
Kearnes, in the right breast, fatal;
Hugh Anderson, the supposed
instigator of the riot, thigh and leg, not serious. The brakesman, Lee,
and Kearnes, will probably die.
On Monday evening last threats were made, by many desperadoes, that
in case Tom Carson, late a policeman in Abilene
Wild Bill Hickok,
city marshal], was placed upon the police force, that they would kill
him. He was, however, appointed a police officer, and that evening
patrolled his allotted beat as unmolested as if he were in Abilene, no
disturbance whatever occurring.
Thus ends the third or fourth chapter in
bloody history -- a town only a little over three months old. Let its police
force be strengthened by good and honest men, and all violators of the law
be made to suffer the extreme penalties of its wise provisions. Then
bloodshed will cease. 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.
August 25, 1871, Emporia News
Wholesale Murder At
Newton. Five Men Killed And Six Wounded. The Jury Ordered To Leave. The
"Leading Man" Not Arrested
On Sunday morning last [August 20] a row occurred at
resulted in the murder of two men and the wounding of nine others, three
of whom have since died from wounds received in the affray. This affair
occurred in one of the sinks of iniquity near the town called a "dance
house." A former resident of this town who was at
Newton gives us the
following particulars of the affair:
It seems that this murderous affair was the result of several less
fatal shooting scrapes which have been happening at
Newton for some
It must be borne in mind that the state of society in that town is
now at its worst. The town is largely inhabited by prostitutes, gamblers
and whisky-sellers. Pistol shooting is the common amusement. All the
frequenters of the saloons, gambling dens and houses of ill-fame are
armed at all times, mostly with two pistols.
About two weeks
ago a Captain French, from Texas, had George [or Arthur] Delany, alias
Wm. [or Mike] McCluskie, a St. Louis hard case, arrested on a charge
of garroting. He was tried before Esquire [C. S.] Bowman, and they
failed to prove anything against him.
On the day of the election on railroad bonds, McCluskie and a man
named Bailey, both of whom were on the special police, got into a
difficulty about the matter of the arrest, and about a woman. Bailey's
got drunk. The difficulty commenced at one of the dance houses, just
out of the town, and after coming to the village, Bailey's was shot
and killed by McCluskie. French and other Texans, among whom was one
named Bill [or Hugh] Anderson, then swore they would put an end to
McCluskie's life, and break up his crowd. Several small difficulties
occurred between the parties and their friends. At 1 o'clock last
Sabbath morning, when all but one of the dance houses were closed, and
most of their frequenters had left, the murderers proceeded to carry
out their desperate threats. One of these disreputable places remained
open. McCluskie was one of the loiterers. It proved to be his last
hour on earth. Could he have known this, he would doubtless have
preferred to spend it elsewhere.
Several of the bloodthirsty Texans entered the
place, accompanied by a few lookers-on, who had found out the intentions
of the murderers. One or two innocent men were shot in the affray who were
present only to see. Directly Anderson entered, and immediately the bloody
work commenced. With murder in his eye, and his foul mouth filled with
oaths and epithets, he stepped up to McCluskie and shot him. The ball
entered McCluskie's neck. He sprang to his feet and shot Anderson, and
then fell to the ground. The shooting then became general. McCluskie was
shot in three places, and died in a couple of hours. John Martin, a herd
boss, was shot through the jugular vein, and died. Bill Anderson, an owner
of Texas cattle, was shot through the thigh; John Anderson, his brother,
was shot through the right arm and lungs; [William] Garrett was shot
through the lungs, and has since died; Patrick Lee, a railroad employee,
was shot through the loins, and has since died. He was in no way a party
to the difficulty. Hickey was shot in three places, and we believe has
since died. [Jim] Wilkinson was shot through the jaw and nose. Bartlett
was shot in the left shoulder.
On Sunday, two other white men and a negro were shot, but our informant
did not learn their names. Neither of them were killed. A coroner's jury
was called on Sunday morning, and after an investigation, which lasted
from 8 o'clock a. m. to 12:30 p. m., they found Bill Anderson guilty of
manslaughter, they having proved that he fired the first shot. They
adjourned, and soon after received notice that if they did not leave at
once their bodies would be found Monday morning "ornamenting neighboring
telegraph poles." On Monday morning three of them came away on the early
train, and the other three went to Wichita. Anderson came on the same
train and went to Topeka to have his wounds attended to. Anderson and his
men had such control over the crowd that the officers were afraid to
The Texans were talking Sunday night of burning the town and running out
the prostitutes and gamblers. Several of them left, and as we have heard
of no such action on their part, we conclude they have abandoned the
This was one of the bloodiest affrays that ever occurred in our State, and
we hope that measures will be taken to prevent its recurrence.
and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated April, 2017.
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