[Logo of the Kansas Heritage Group - a sunflower,

Resorts Other than Saloons, and Pastimes Other than Drinking

UNDER the heading, "A Bloody Prize Fight in Dodge City," the Dodge City Times of June 16th, 1877, gives a characteristic account of the thrilling encounter as follows:

"On last Tuesday morning the champion prize fight of Dodge City was indulged in by Messrs. Nelson Whitman and the noted Red Hanley, familiarly known as 'the Red Bird from the South.' An indefinite rumor had been circulated in sporting circles that a fight was to take place, but the time and place was known only to a select few. The sport took place in front of the Saratoga saloon at the silent hour of 4:39 a. m., when the city police were' retiring after the dance hall revelry had subsided and the belles who are in there were off duty. Promptly at the appointed time, the two candidates for championship were at the joint. Colonel Norton acted as rounder-up and whipper-in for both fighters while Bobby Gill ably performed the arduous task of healing and handling and sponging off. Norton called time and the ball opened with some fine hits from the shoulder. Whitman was the favorite in the pools but Red made a brilliant effort to win the champion belt.

"During the forty-second round Red Hanley implored Norton to take Nelson off for a little while till he could have time to put his right eye back where it belonged, set his jawbone and have the ragged edge trimmed off his ears where they had been chewed the worst. This was against the rules of the ring so Norton declined, encouraging him to bear it as well as he could and squeal when he got enough. About the sixty-fifth round Red squealed unmistakably and Whitman was


declared winner. The only injury sustained by the loser in this fight were two ears chewed off, one eye busted and the other disabled, right cheek bone caved in, bridge of the nose broken, seven teeth knocked out, one jawbone mashed, one side of the tongue bit off, and several other unimportant fractures and bruises. Red retires from the ring in disgust." A shade worse than the prize fight was a bout at lap-jacket, as described in- the "Dodge City Times," of May 12th, 1877. "We, yesterday, witnessed an exhibition of the American national game of lap-jacket, in front of Shulz' harness shop. The game is played by two colored men, who each toe a mark and whip each other with bull whips. In the contest yesterday, Henry Rogers, called Eph, for short, contended with another darkey for the championship and fifty cents prize money. They took heavy new whips, from the harness shop, and poured in the strokes pretty lively. Blood flowed and dust flew and the crowd cheered until Policeman Joe Mason came along and suspended the cheerful exercise. In Africa, where this pleasant pastime is indulged in to perfection, the contestants strip to the skin, and frequently cut each other's flesh open to the bone." Dodge City is especially distinguished as the only town in the state, or the whole United States, for that matter, that ever conducted a bullfight. To use the vernacular of the time, Dodge City "pulled off" a genuine bull fight, according to Mexican rules and regulations, under the auspices of the Driving Park and Fair Association, on the fourth and fifth of July, 1884. The bullfighters were full-bloods of Mexico, and the "Globe" mentioned them as "some of the best citizens of the City of Chihuahua, Mexico, and as intelligent a party of men as any person would wish to meet. Their redeeming trait


is that they cannot be forced to drink a drop of strong liquor." To give local zest and character to the occasion, the bulls, which were of local origin-untamed animals of these plains-were given names purely provincial, the local cognomens of several Dodge citizens being evident For instances, Ringtailed Snorter, Cowboy Killer, Iron Gall, Lone Star, Long Branch, Opera, Ku Klux, Sheriff, Doc, Rustler, Jim, and Eat-em Richard, were the twelve male bovines to snort at the red flag and other means of provoking anger.

An apology or explanation is given of the bullfight, previous to the occurrence, by the manager in charge of the "distinguished party," so-called, which he says is "largely misconstrued and misunderstood. Instead of being a cruel and barbarous proceeding, it is quite the reverse. While the animal is provoked and tantalized to fury, no cruelty to the animal is indulged in; and when the animal is to be dispatched, it is instantly done, and in less cruel and tortuous manner than if a butcher had slaughtered one for the block. The term, 'bull fighting,' is wrongly interpreted."

The manner of the bullfight is given, but the reader is interested in the event as it signalled Dodge City's superiority in entertainment. There were five matadors, four on foot and one on horseback, each dressed in gaudy costume. The weapons used we.e "bandarillos," or tastefully ornamented darts, which were placed on the animal's neck and shoulders, as he would charge upon the matadors. The attractive garbs of the bullfighters, incensed the bulls, and the fight was earnest, each bull being dispatched in order. The account closes the scene with the statement that the excitement was now at its height. An infuriated bull and a slightly injured matador, whose blood was up to fever heat, made short work of the


closing exercises. With much parleying, the animal was dealt a fatal blow.

During the excitement just before our great bullfight, the only one, as has been said, ever to take place in the United States, the boys were cutting out and trying the bulls, to find which would be the most vicious and the best fighters. A gentleman, whom we will call Brown, said it was all nonsense about shaking a red flag in a bull's face; that he knew it would not make him fight because he had tried it. A gentleman, overhearing the remark, said: "Brown, I will bet you a fifty-dollar suit of clothes you can't shake a red rag in a bull's face without his fighting, and [Soule College] you have the privilege of selecting the most docile bull in this lot of fighters." The bet was soon made, and Brown got a red shirt and climbed down into the corral. The bull was looking as calm as a summer morning, and Brown went towards the animal, keeping the red shirt well behind him. As he came close to the brute, he suddenly produced the shirt and flirted it in the bull's face. The beast jumped back in astonishment and kept his eye on Brown while Brown waved the old vermilion garment vigorously. Then the bull shook his head several times, as if he declined to have anything to do with that business, and Brown turned towards us and put his thumb to his nose and made a sign of victory.

Just then an idea seemed to strike that bull. He put his head down and moved swiftly forward. Brown, at first, thought there had been an earthquake. Upon his descent, he thought he would try to run, but the old long horn was inserted in the seat of his trousers, and again he went up, high enough to take a bird's-eye view of the surrounding country. On the twenty-fifth descent, he fell on the other side of the corral, and we picked him up. His mouth was full of grass and sand. We asked him if his views about bulls had undergone any change;


but he walked silently along. We wanted to know how he enjoyed the scenery, the last time he went up; but he would not say. Be merely went into the cook-house, filled up both barrels of his gun with old nails and screws and scrap iron, and he went to interview that bull. Hokey-pokey (or in scientific phrase, Bisulphite of Carbon), was the means of great sport among the gang in early days.

If the stuff was applied to any animal with hair, it had a wonderful effect. For the time being, the animal just went crazy, and it seemed the more sleepy and good for nothing the horse was, the better he would perform under the effects of his medicine. All you had to do was to drop a few drops on the horse, any place, and almost instantly it would take effect.

One of our most prominent lawyers used to drive, to a fine buggy, one of the most dilapidated pieces of horseflesh. The boys would josh this lawyer about driving such a woe-begone, sleepy animal. They thought they would give him a lesson, and maybe he would take the hint and get a good horse. The old horse's name was Dick. Mr. Lawyer hitched Dick in front of his office one day, and the boys were ready. They said: "Colonel, what is the matter with Dick? Be acts so funny-looks like he is going mad. Bas he been exposed to the bite of a mad dog?" Just then the circus began. Old Dick went up in the air, came down, kicking first one foot, then both, then all together, and away he would go, Mr. Lawyer hold of his bridle, holloing, "Whoa, Dick! Whoa Dick! What is the matter with you, Dick?" But Dick paid no heed. Be just kept at it all the harder until he had kicked himself out of the shafts, and then kicked the harness all to pieces, and cut all sorts of shines and capers. Be would lift the lawyer right off his feet, until he had to let go the bridle and give old Dick full sway, and I think he was one of the most astonished men I ever saw. But he


never got on to their racket until the gang presented him with a new set of harness and told him the joke.

I have seen cowboys, who prided themselves on their horsemanship, ride into town, and the boys would dope a horse. The rider would stay with him a long time, but, at last, he had to go. Never yet did I see a man who could retain his seat on a doped horse.

A poor little traveling preacher rode into town, one Sunday, and rode up to a crowd that had gathered on the street, on account of some excitement. Some little urchin got to him with the hokey-pokey, and away went that little preacher. The horse bolted right into the crowd, scattering it right and left, and kicking and squalling and bawling. First, the preachers' stovepipe hat went up into the air; next, his saddle-bags; and then, the poor fellow himself went sprawling over the pony's head. He got up and brushed the dust off, saying, "Some ungodly person has done something to my horse!"

One day a real, typical horseman rode into town, on one of the finest saddlers I ever saw. The man on this horse was a perfect picture of a centaur. He rode up to where a horse auction was in progress and said: "Mr. Auctioneer, I am going east and have no use for this horse, or I would not part with him. He is all that he appears to be, has all the gaits of a saddler, is sound as a dollar, and gentle as a dog. He never ran away, will stand without hitching, and was never known to buck, plunge, or kick." He rode up and down the street a time or two, and came back, and then they doped the horse. Now, of all the running and bucking and pitching and kicking you ever saw, that horse did it, right there. The man stayed with him a long time, and the gang began to think, "Well, here is a man that a horse can't throw." But just then, off he went, and a little further on the horse stood still. The man caught him, led him back, and apologized to the crowd. He said: "Gentle


men, I beg your pardon. I lied to you, but upon my word I never saw this horse act badly before, in any way. I withdraw him from the market. The horse is not for sale." I don't think this man ever did know what ailed the horse.

There was an old man who picked bones and hauled them to Dodge. He had two very old, bony horses. They did not seem to have any life whatever, and the gang thought they would have fun out of the old man, so they asked him if his horses were for sale. Well, he would sell the horse but didn't want to sell the mare. They asked him if they had ever been locoed or would eat the loco weed. "No, indeed, sir! my horses were never known to touch it." "You have no objection to our trying them?" "No, indeed, sir; try them all you want to." So they took the horse out of the wagon, and some one held a bunch of loco weed to the horse's head while another applied the hokey-poky. Now that old horse, like all the balance, just went crazy, and some one got around and applied the medicine to the mare, also, who was still hitched to the wagon. She took wagon, harness and everything along with her kicked out the front end of the wagon, and they liked never to have got her stopped, the way she turned that wagon around. The gang gave the old fellow a ten dollar bill, and he collected his scattered pieces of wagon and went after more bones, wondering what could have ailed the horses and made him lose a good sale.

The gang surely had great sport, until things got so bad there was an ordinance passed, prohibiting the sale of hokey-pokey.

One day two dagoes came to town, leading a very large bear. The bear sure was a good one, and performed many cute tricks. For such a tremendous animal, he was very active. When the gang had seen all they wanted of the bear's tricks, they hokey-pokied him, and we thought


he was active before but we hadn't seen any of his activity. That bear rolled and ran and squalled just like a human, and he cut up all manner of didoes. The Italians tried their best, at first, to soothe down his pain by petting him, but the bear would have none of it and carried on so outrageously that the Italians got afraid of him and retreated to a safe distance. Every once in awhile that bear would spy them and rush towards them, seeking relief, I suppose, but when the dagoes would see him coming with his mouth wide open and his eyes rolling they would turn and fly. They were afraid of his company, thinking he had gone mad. Well, when the effects wore off, Mr. Bear looked pretty sheepish, and the dagoes caught him by the chain and led him off out of sight into a cut, got a railroad tie, and the way! they rubbed that bear's ,stomach, one on each side, until the sweat poured down their faces! I don't suppose they ever worked so hard before. You see, they thought the bear had eaten something that did not agree with him and he had the stomachache. When they got tired rubing, they brought him back, but Mr. Bear, as soon as he saw the crowd, jerked away and climbed a telegraph pole and sat there among the wires until the crowd dispersed. He had more sense than his owners-he would not be hokey-pokied again.

Among the many favorite amusements, pastimes, and fun of the gang was to scare a greenhorn with a big stuffed bull snake. A party who kept a large establishment to entertain the thirsty and gratify the sports with billiards, cards, dice, and, in fact, it was a great and favorite resort for the lovers of fun; also, in his back yard he had a large wire cage, filled with big rattlesnakes. More than a dozen of these venomous reptiles occupied the cage and lived in peace and harmony, up to the fatal day which I shall tell about farther on.

Now then, it was the duty of some loafer or hanger-


on around the saloon to go out and hunt up a greenhorn, invite him to a drink, then tell him about the big den of rattlers, and take him out and show him the snakes, relating an interesting history of this' big rattler and that rattler, how they had bitten a man who died. When he had his auditor absorbed in the story, with his eyes bulged out, and attending to nothing else but the story of the big snakes, the story teller would suddenly say: "Bend your neck and look down there at that monster;" and when his man would bend his head and stoop over, someone would place the enormous stuffed snake on his neck, its tail and its head almost touching the ground from either side. Mr. Man, feeling the snake and, at the same time, seeing it, would give an ungodly whoop, bend his head, and keep jumping up and down, trying to shake it off over his head, instead of straightening up, as he ought to have done, when the snake would have dropped off his back. Then there would be a seance. The crowd would whoop and hollo, and the poor fellow would join them from fear and keep jumping up and down, until, finally, he would get rid of the terrible snake--it would drop off.

Now negroes fear snakes, worse than any race of people on earth, and no sooner would the darkey get ov.er his fright (when the victim chanced to be a darkey), than he would go out into the street and bring in another darkey to go through the same performance as himself. This was his mode of revenge.

One day an old fellow came along, traveling back east to his wife's folks, and he proved to be an easy victim of the gang, but in the end, it was an expense to them. After going through the same performance as the negro, they found he had a prairie dog in his wagon, which the boys persuaded him to let them put into the cage with the snakes, and they told the old man the dog would whip the snakes. They had no idea he would, but


the little fellow made a gallant fight, I tell you. He made the attack and began the fight himself, as soon as he was placed with them, and, my! how he did fight. He just went for those snakes like a little tiger, would grab one in his teeth, lift it almost off the floor, and shake it savagely; and he just kept on until he got all those snakes so riled up, he set them crazy, and they all got to fighting and biting each other. The little dog would get so tired he would rush up the side of the cage and hold on for a litt1e while, until he regained his wind, and then he would jump down and at 'em again, harder than ever. He did make a gallant fight and a long one. It surprised us all that he could last so long, but, finally, the little fellow began to weaken, and the old man declared the fight off. The prairie dog died soon after they took him out of the cage, but he got his revenge; next day there was not on of those dozen big rattlers alive. They must have poisoned each other in the fight. Anyhow, they were all dead-not one left alive to tell of the fight; the little prairie dog took them all with him to the happy hunting grounds. It was a fit ending for such a gallant fight as the little fellow made.



Preface Introduction 01 02 03 04 05 06 07
08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 Appendix Home KS Heritage Kansas History Dodge City History Old West Kansas American West
Lawrence, Kansas,