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4. Shedding Blood in Kansas

Chuck Parsons and Norman Wayne Brown University of North Texas Press PDF

“I have seen many fast towns, but I think Abilene beat them all.

The town was filled with sporting men and women, gamblers, cowboys, desperadoes, and the like. It was well supplied with bar rooms, hotels, barber shops, and gambling houses, and everything was open.”

John Wesley Hardin

wenty miles south of Wichita was a crossing over Cowskin Creek, although Hardin mistakenly remembered it as Cow House. There a group of men met the Texans. They were not to cause trouble for the drovers but wanted the herd to be driven west of Wichita, opening a trail to their community to build up “a new town on the north bank of the

Arkansas River.” They furnished a guide, and the group followed a plow furrow. On the north bank of the Arkansas was the new town with the imposing name of Park City, some fourteen miles northwest of Wichita.

Then, it was not yet much of a town; today it is part of ever-expanding

Wichita. Once there, having the river behind them, “a delegation from the new town came out to meet us and invited all those that could leave the cattle to enjoy the hospitality of the new town.”1

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Chapter 3: The Man from Pike County, MO

Mark T. Smokov University of North Texas Press ePub

CHAPTER 3

The Man from Pike County, MO

Powell “Pike” Landusky and family owned a ranch on Rock Creek a few miles from the Curry brothers’ ranch. His nickname was derived from the county he hailed from in Missouri. Landusky, of Polish-French descent, was a lanky six feet tall with exceptionally long arms. His nearly 200-pound frame possessed phenomenal strength and endurance. He had the reputation of a battler and brawler, and was famous for his volatile temper, especially when he was drinking.1

Landusky was nineteen when he left his home in Missouri to travel to the goldfields at Last Chance Gulch (Helena) and Alder Gulch (Virginia City) in Montana Territory. The River Press later reported that he took passage with several friends on the steamboat Henry Adkins to Fort Benton. “Landusky displayed pugilistic propensities, and just before Fort Benton was reached he and some of his associates started a melee, terrorizing the passengers.” They left the boat peacefully at Fort Benton after the captain received support from a group of vigilantes who were in town. Another account says he rode a horse all the way from St. Louis, sometimes with a wagon train, but mostly alone.2

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16. Dreams of a Future

Chuck Parsons and Norman Wayne Brown University of North Texas Press PDF

“Dearest Be carefull with our Sweet Little children for the way a twig is Bent the way it wil[l] Grow”

John Wesley Hardin to Jane, July 27, 1879

ow did John Wesley Hardin later describe this punishment of thirty-nine lashes? He only knew the pain of it being inflicted, not knowing or caring that the administration of lashes was a form of corporal punishment which harkened back centuries. Ancient Jewish punishment demanded that the maximum number of lashes allowed per infraction was forty, given in multiples of three, effectively making the maximum number at thirty-nine. The one left off was to show “compassion,” although no prisoner ever felt there was any shown.

Hardin wrote that his cellmate had betrayed him. The night of the betrayal “about twenty officers” entered his cell and tied his hands and feet.

Down upon the concrete floor, stretched to the extreme Hardin certainly knew what was going to transpire. Two men held the ropes which held his hands; two men held the ropes holding his feet. Then under-keeper

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Chapter 6

Mark T. Smokov University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER 6

Kid Curry Loses Another Brother

A

bout the time Kid Curry left the hideaway in the Missouri Breaks and headed for Wyoming, younger brother John Curry became involved in a water rights dispute and took up with another man’s wife, not necessarily in that order.

Little Rockies pioneer Charles W. Duvall wrote that the four Curry brothers had each homesteaded their own piece of land. “The Curry ranches extended from the east boundary of the Tressler ranch down

Rock Creek which swung south, just east of the Tressler homestead. As

160 acres was all one could homestead at that time these four homesteads were only about a mile and a half long. The home which the Curry’s built and where they all lived was built near a large spring which came out of the north bank of Rock Creek and the homestead joining Dan Tressler.

The Curry home was in plain sight from the Dan Tressler home.”1

Tressler was building up his ranch, and he and his pretty young wife

Lucy seemed to be doing well. Then a romance developed between John

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2. Gunfire in Hill County

Chuck Parsons and Norman Wayne Brown University of North Texas Press PDF

“He commenced to fire on me, firing once, then snapping, and then firing again. . . . I fired with a Remington .45 at his heart and right after that at his head. As he staggered and fell, he said, ‘O, Lordy, don’t shoot me any more.’ I could not stop.”

John Wesley Hardin

ill County lies in north Central Texas, a day’s ride south of Fort

Worth and two or three days’ ride north of Austin in Hardin’s time. The county was created in 1853—the year Wes Hardin was born—and an election was held to select county officials on May 14 of that same year, twelve days prior to Wes’s birthday. James H. Dyer was elected county judge and Charles Davis the first sheriff. That the county strongly supported Secession was made obvious to any who may have doubted by the final vote: 376 for and only 63 against. Home Guards were established to protect the citizens from possible marauding parties; three cavalry units were created and left to fight during the war, mainly in Louisiana and Arkansas. Following the war’s end great resistance was made against the occupation troops. Enough turmoil was reported that

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