A Fraternity of Gunslingers: True Stories of Wild West Gunmen (1st volume)
This is the first of three volumes. It comprises of mini biographies of a person, place or event during the era called the Wild West. In this book we cover the Hyde Park Shoot Out; Chauncey B. Whitney; Wild Bill Hickok; Death of Morgan Earp; Henry Brown; King Fisher; The Horrell-Higgins Feud; Jim Courtright; Luke Short; James Masterson; Jim Miller and Bill Tilghman. During the course of the people and events we venture into others who's path they have crossed, thus, there is over forty gunslingers within these pages.
Many of these men would bounce from outlaw to lawman, and back. Most died a violent death. And some, are names long forgotten. Wild Bill was known as Duck Bill before he changed it to Wild. This after his first killings.
James Masterson was the younger brother to Bat, but a greater lawman than his brother and a faster draw then Bat or Wyatt Earp. Bill Tilghman stated his law career in Dodge City where he rubbed elbow with the Mastersons, Wyatt & Morgan Earp, Neil Brown, Luke Short and many others. His career covers fifty years. Bat, referring to being a lawman said that Bill Tilghman was the "greatest of them all"
Hyde Park Shootout—Newton, Kansas, 1871
There was nothing special about this day, August 11, 1871, in Newton. The war had ended a few years back, and men were busy doing their best to earn a living. Two men— Billy Bailey and Mike McCluskie, the appointed town marshal—were in the Red Front Saloon deep in conversation. Both men were functioning as special police officers during the election and differed in opinion over the local election taking place that day.
It was no surprise when their argument became a fist fight. Bailey charged first, taking a beating, and was knocked out the front door onto the street. McCluskie charged out of the saloon after him, with his revolver in hand. He exited the doors firing two shots at Bailey, who was still on the ground. The second shot hit Bailey in the chest. The next day Billy Bailey was dead.
Mike McCluskie fled the township to avoid arrest and possible hanging. However he soon received word that if he returned, he would most likely not be found guilty of murder, under the guise that he was in fear for his life. Billy Bailey had a bad reputation as he had killed two men. While such a reputation in the Old West often got men out of trouble, in Bailey’s case it served to free his killer.
Within a week’s time, on August 19, Mike McCluskie was back in town, enjoying himself at Tuttle’s Dance Hall, which was located in an area of Newton called Hyde Park. He had entered the hall around ten that evening. An hour later Jim Martin, a friend who had just come into town by horse back, entered the Hall and spotting McCluskie sat with him to gamble. By 1:00 am Perry Tuttle, the owner, wanted to close down for the night. But since his customers complained he remained open, but sent the band home. McCluskie and Martin, unaware of their surroundings, were at the Faro table in the corner of the room.
Bailey, the man McCluskie killed, had friends. He was a Texan, as were his friends who, when hearing that their friend was shot down in cold blood, promised to get revenge. These men were cowboys, then not considered a polite term; drovers was the acceptable description of their type of work. The Texan drovers dead headed their cattle in Newton, as they, in time, did in Abilene, Hays City, Ellsworth, Caldwell, and Dodge City.
Nearing 2:00 am three such men entered the Hall: Texans Bill Garrett and Henry Kearns, and Kentuckian Jim Wilkerson who ran with the Texas crowd. Garrett was often called Billy, the same name as his friend Bailey. The three moseyed over to the bar, ordered drinks, and waited. One of the three walked over to the Fargo table, sat down, and talked to McCluskie. They were biding their time as they were expecting one more man to join them.
Hugh Anderson was the man they were waiting for. Anderson finally entered the dance hall with his revolver in hand, and without hesitation walked up to McCluskie and yelled, "You are a cowardly son-of-a-bitch! I will blow the top of your head off!" Jim Martin jumped up to intervene, wanting to stop the fight, but it was too late.
Hugh Anderson shot Mike McCluskie in the neck knocking him to the floor. Although bleeding, McCluskie has enough strength to half rise and shoot back. Unfortunately for him but fortunately for Anderson, McCluskie’s revolver misfired. McCluskie collapsed on the floor, face down, while Anderson shot him in the back several times for good measure. Mike McCluskie was definitely dead.
Meanwhile the three Texans—Garrett, Kearns, and Wilkerson—were shooting wildly—but not shooting to hit anyone—to keep the others in the dance hall from getting involved. As they emptied their guns, a young man, James Riley, around the age of eighteen, walked to the front entrance. Mike McCluskie had befriended James who was sickly, ill with tuberculosis. McCluskie had taken James in, mentored him, and made sure that he had food.
Now James stood between the front entrance and the men who killed his friend. He pulled both revolvers from their resting place, aimed at the group of Texans, and fired and fired and fired. The room was filled with black smoke from the gun powder. When his weapons were empty, James turned and walked away, never to be seen again.
Unfortunately, in his wake James Riley shot Jim Martin, the good Samaritan and would-be peacemaker, in the neck. Hit in the jugular and rapidly bleeding to death, Jim Martin managed to run out of the dance hall before he collapsed. Hugh Anderson, the man James intended to kill, was shot in the leg and thigh but did not die. Billy Garrett, his cohort, was shot in the shoulder and chest. Henry Kearns was hit in the chest, while Jim Wilkerson was hit in the nose and leg. Some innocent bystanders were also hit: a railroad man, Patrick Lee, and a man with the surname of Hickey.
The shoot out was over. Martin, Garrett, Lee, and Kearns, all died from their wounds. Only Anderson and Hickey survived. Including McCluskie there were five dead and two wounded, all within a matter of a few minutes. The death toll, resulting from the murder of Billy Bailey, was high; but it wasn’t over yet.
The story doesn’t end here, as there is no end to revenge. The taking of Mike McCluskie’s life did not sit well with his brother, Arthur. For two years, Arthur and his friends looked for Anderson who had been smuggled out by his father, a wealthy cattle rancher, and some friends, among them possibly the mayor of Newton. Anderson had been hidden in a closet in a train car headed towards Texas and was gone before a warrant could be sworn out for the murder of Mike McCluskie. Anderson recovered from his wounds and remained in Texas for the most part. Even though there was still a warrant out on him for manslaughter, he felt safe enough by 1873 to venture back to Kansas.
Arthur McCluskie got wind that Anderson was working as a bartender at a trading post called Harding’s in the southern part of Kansas, near the Kansas/Oklahoma border, in the township of Medicine Lodge. On July 4, 1873, Arthur McCluskie challenged Anderson to a duel, asking him to pick the weapon, gun or knife.
On the day of duel, McCluskie sent a friend to inform Hugh Anderson that he was outside waiting. It was a brutal fight. Anderson emerged from the trading post with his guns. Both men continued to shoot at each other until their revolvers were empty. Both, wounded yet still standing, now pulled their knives and attacked one another. In the end, neither man stood; both had succumbed to death. The number of deaths resulting from the first shooting of Billy Bailey was now eight. Tempers had flared allowing egos and revenge to take their toll.
This gunfight—often called the Newton Massacre, but more commonly known as the Hyde Park Shoot-Out—is little known, since no big time gunman was involved. It was a classic gunfight that one would think only Hollywood could dream up. But this fight happened; the men were real; and the town of Newton became known as ‘bloody and lawless—the wickedest city in the West.
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This novel published in Feburary 2013 by RK Enterprises, publisher.
Los Angeles, California. Copyright © Charles R. King 2013
The rights of C.R. King to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Patents and Designs Act 1988
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