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Coffeyville,Kansas lies immediately north of the Kansas-Oklahoma line in a sandy basin bounded on the west and south by a low range of hills, and on the east and north by the Verdigris River. The city is quartered by Eighth Street, running east and west, and Wal-nut Street, running north and south. The business section is at the center, and residences occupy all but the north quarter, the industrial area.

 

James A. Cortey hauled two loads of lumber from Humboldt, about sixty miles north, and built a house and trading post near the present intersection of Fifteenth and Walnut Streets in July 1869. The construction of the Lawrence, Leavenworth & Galveston Railroad through the region in the following year resulted in the growth of a settlement around Coffey's establishment. The village, named Coffeyville, was south of what is now Twelfth Street and west of Walnut Street, near the northern border of the Cherokee Strip. Great cattle lands extended south-west. The Cookson Hills to the east and south were a rendezvous for desperadoes in their grim game of cat-and-mouse with frontier sheriffs.

Coffeyville throve on cattle and railroad trade. Cattlemen and cowboys, who flocked to the settlement by scores, called it Cow Town. The population numbered several hundred at the end of the first year. Cafes, saloons, dance-halls, and gambling houses multiplied. Cowboy "law" with its round of riots, brawls, and shootings, prevailed. Twelfth Street, the main thoroughfare of Cow Town, was known as "Red Hot Street." Old-timers allow that it was well-named.

Octave Chanute, civil engineer for the railroad, acquired a tract north of Cow Town in 1871 and platted "a railroad addition to the town of Coffeyville." A subsequent act of the legislature, sponsored by the railroad company, provided for its incorporation as a separate town. When the first election was called in March 1872, citizens of the older Coffeyville realized that their town was in danger of losing its name. Highly indignant, they filed suit in the district court challenging the legislature's act. They won the case and the act was declared unconstitutional.

Parkersburg at the southeast, meanwhile, taking advantage of the quarreling Coffeyvilles, became an increasingly formidable rival for border trade. To protect their interests the two Coffeyvilles joined forces and were incorporated as one town in 1873.

The Dalton family settled near Coffeyville in 1882. Adaline Lee Younger, mother of the tribe, was said to be a relative of the notorious Younger boys who terrorized the Missouri Valley States in post-Civil War days. The bloody Dalton raid, favorite theme of Coffeyville's cracker box historians and story-tellers, occurred on October 5, 1892. In a running gunfight, following attempted bank robberies, four bandits and four citizens were slain. "The city," said the Coffeyville Journal, "sat down in sack cloth and ashes to mourn for the heroic men who had given their lives for the protection of property . . . and the maintenance of law in our midst."

Coffeyville boomed in 1903 with the development of natural gas and oil fields in Kansas and nearby Oklahoma, so that by 1910, with a population of about twenty thousand, it ranked sixth in size among the cities in the State. Its transition from an average market town to an important industrial city, its present status in southeast Kansas, was completed by 1915.

Local factories produce flour, bricks, pigments, tank cars, chemical products, stock feeds, roofing tile, structural steel, and machinery used in the oil industry. About a thousand inhabitants are employed in refining petroleum and manufacturing gasoline and lubricants. Since 1930 Coffeyville has been a center of organized labor activities in Kansas. Labor leaders participate in all civic enterprises and Labor Day is celebrated annually by the entire population.

Points Of Interest

The MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM , 1008 Maple St., is a three-story structure of brick and limestone, built in 1925 in memory of Coffeyville citizens who served in the World War. Six Doric columns above the east entrance are flanked by life-sized figures of stone, symbolizing war and peace. The south facade is similarly columned. The auditorium seats 2,800 and is the scene of the annual Industrial Festival.

The PLAZA, 9th and Walnut Sts., contains a group of buildings at its center, several of which figured in the Dalton raid. The building at the south end of the Plaza block, now occupied by a real estate office, formerly housed the Condon Bank. Its facade is scarred by bullets fired at the Dalton gang.

Shortly after 9:30 a.m., on October 5, 1892, Jack Moore, William Powers, and Bob, Grat, and Emmett Dalton galloped into Coffeyville, hitched their horses in an alley between 8th and 9th Streets, just west of Walnut Street, and strode boldly to the Plaza. Grat, Moore, and Powers entered the Condon Bank. Bob and Emmett swaggered across the street into the First National Bank.

C. M. Ball, cashier of the Condon Bank, when ordered to surrender the funds, stalled for time by telling the bandits that the safe was operated by a time lock that would not open until 9:45 a.m. "That is only three minutes yet, and I will wait," said the outlaw's spokesman. Bob and Emmett, meanwhile, forced the employees of the First National Bank to open the vaults, and stuffed a grain bag with $21,000 in gold and currency.

The bandits had been recognized and the alarm had been given. Two hardware stores, Bowell's and Isham's, threw open their supplies of guns and ammunition to the citizenry, who stationed themselves behind wagons and sent a volley of shots through the windows of the Condon Bank.

When the firing broke out, rheumatic old men who had hobbled with difficulty a moment before, dived into convenient barrels with acrobatic agility. Pedestrians crawled headfirst under culverts and remained there trembling, unmindful of protruding hindquarters. Men of wide girth squeezed behind thin hitching posts or scrambled under porches. Scarcely a box, fence, or doorway on the Plaza was unoccupied.

The bandits who had been tricked into waiting for the time lock to open (the safe had been opened at 8:00 a.m.), burst from the Condon Bank and raced through a withering crossfire toward the alley where their horses were tied. "They were running with heads down," said a witness of the gunfight, "like facing a strong wind."

Bob and Emmett ran from the rear door of the National Bank. Emmett carried the grain bag over his shoulder while Bob, Winchester in hand, covered his retreat. Firing with deadly precision he wounded Thomas G, Ayers, and killed George Cubine, Lucius M. Baldwin, and Charles J. Brown.

Bob and Emmett reached the entry to "Death Alley" where they joined Grat, Moore, and Powers. Converging townsmen fired steadily at the bandits. Bob emptied his gun and then slumped, mortally wounded, at the base of a barn. Summoning his last ounce of strength, Grat shot and killed Marshal Charles T. Connelly. Powers fell headlong, his body riddled. Moore struggled onto his horse and died in the saddle a half mile away. Emmett, shot through the hips, his right arm shattered, but still clutching the bag of money, mounted his horse and returned to where Bob lay dying. As he extended his arm to pull Bob up beside him, he was knocked from the saddle by a slug in the back.

Thus ended the Dalton raid. Less than fifteen minutes had elapsed since the bandits entered Coffeyville. The 16-year-old Emmett was the only survivor. He had been hit twenty-three times. Sentenced to life imprisonment, he was subsequently pardoned after serving fourteen and a half years. He later established himself in California as a contractor and real estate dealer. He died at Los Angeles, aged 66, on July 13, 1937.

FOREST PARK, 8th St. at the east limits of the town, a 4O-acre tract, is the site of the Montgomery County Fair held annually in September. In addition to the fairground buildings, there are picnic grounds, children's playgrounds, fields for football and baseball, and camp grounds at the north end which are equipped with running water, gas stoves, and screened shelter houses.

The NATATORIUM, 2826 Walnut St., is a health resort built by W. P. Brown in 1909. It contains a dance floor, a gymnasium, mineral springs, medicinal baths, and an outdoor swimming pool of mineral water.

 

Websites about Coffeyville, Kansas:

  1. City of Coffeyville,Kansas 
  2. Coffeyville Chamber of Commerce
  3. Montgomery County Government
  4. The Dalton Defenders
  5. Coffeyville attractions and Historic sites 
  6. Coffeyville, Kansas on Wikipedia
  7. Coffeyville, Kansas: The Town That Stopped the Dalton Gang 
  8. The Dalton Gang's Last Raid, 1892 
  9. Coffeyville History 
  10. Dalton Defenders Museum 
  11. Kansas Facts: Montgomery County Facts