restricted access Goodland
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127 w e s t b o u n d 28 Ed & Son Exit 27 marks Edson, population fifty. The town was named because Ed Harris and his son settled here in 1888. A tragic event occurred just north of what is now Edson in 1867. Because of Indian uprisings, Lieutenant Colonel George Custer and 1,100 soldiers from Fort Hays (see 157E, p. 175) were camped along the Republican River north of this location. Lieutenant Lyman S. Kidder, along with a ten-man escort and an Indian guide, was sent with a message to Custer declaring, “Beware the hostiles.” Unfortunately , Custer had become restless and had decided to travel northwest to Fort Sedgewick. Lieutenant Kidder found Custer’s old camp and assumed he had headed south. On July 2, 1867, Sioux and/or Cheyenne Indians attacked Kidder and his party. None of the soldiers survived. Their bodies were found by Custer’s men ten days later. goodland 26 Winning the County Seat When counties were being formed, towns competed to be chosen as the county seat. These competitions were always bitter and sometimes even violent and destructive. You probably take your county seat for granted today, but in earlier times in this sparsely settled region, having the county government locate in your town was a big deal. Being the county seat “put the town on the map,” so to speak, and held the promise of economic development, political clout, and enhanced civic status for the citizens. Goodland, just ahead, captured the Sherman County seat, beating out several competing towns. According to The WPA Guide to 1930s Kansas, this is what happened. Prior to the founding of Goodland , a hard-fought and bitter election resulted in voters choosing the town of Eustis to be the county seat. At the vote count, people representing the different towns came heavily armed with clubs, bowie knives, and pistols, but amazingly, none of these weapons were used. When Goodland was formed, citizens in the towns that lost the election combined forces with the people in Goodland and held an election to snatch the designation from Eustis. Recalling the weapons brought to the last vote count, Goodland supporters 128 d r i v i n g a c r o s s k a n s a s ordered twelve repeating rifles from Pennsylvania to supplement their arms for this election. Goodland won the 1887 contest without incident, but after the courthouse was built, leaders in Eustis refused to surrender the county records. The leaders of Goodland devised a plan to retrieve the records. They secretly hid 300 men in Goodland’s empty courthouse and then sent their new sheriff to Eustis to arrest, individually , every man in that town! The entire male population was rounded up on false charges, including cattle stealing, wife beating, polygamy, murder, and even harboring a dog without a license . The men went willingly, anxious to clear their names before a judge. They were taken into a courtroom, where the judge began a mock trial. Meanwhile, as soon as the trial started, Goodland’s 300-man army headed for Eustis to seize the records. An old-time local resident , Colonel George Bradley, saw the men slipping away from the courthouse and figured out what was happening. He got in his buggy and rode to Eustis to confront the Goodland men. When they encountered Bradley, these men opened fire around his feet, then continued their raid on the Eustis courthouse. They successfully made off with all the records except for the official returns for the 1887 election, which were hidden in a trunk at the county clerk’s home. Bradley, knowing this, stole the records from the clerk’s home on his way back from Eustis. Later, a local banker who wanted to expedite Goodland’s county seat designation then offered to hire—of all people—Colonel Bradley as a detective and pay him $1,500 if he could solve the crime and produce the stolen election records! But before Bradley could take advantage of this offer, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that Goodland was indeed the county seat and the election records were no longer needed. Colonel Bradley then burned them. Goodland residents experienced all this strife for the honor and, more important, the financial benefits of having their town as the county seat. Goodland is now a town of 5,700, whereas Eustis is not even on the map. 22 Rainmakers Rainmakers first appeared in Goodland during...