TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Guide to the Haystack Murder Trial Record, 1890
The Hay Meadow Massacre of July 25, 1888, the bloodiest episode of the Stevens County, Kansas, county seat war, resulted in the murder of Sheriff John M. Cross and three of his deputies. The Stevens County war, 1885-1889, was a series of violent events between the feuding towns of Hugoton and Woodsdale. Both towns wanted to be named the county seat of Stevens County. Hugoton was named county seat in 1887, but this decision only intensified the feud. Following disputes over the election of the county sheriff and the placement of a railroad line, the Marshal of Woodsdale, Ed Short, attempted to arrest Sam Robinson, Marshal of Hugoton, on charges of assault. This resulted in the murder of four Woodsdale men by a posse from Hugoton in a hay meadow at Wild Horse Lake in No Man’s Land (the Oklahoma Panhandle). Only Deputy Herbert Tonney survived the massacre though he was wounded and left for dead. Following the massacre, the governor of Kansas sent the military to disarm both towns.
Six Hugoton men were indicted and convicted for the murders: Cyrus E. Cook, O.J. Cook, J.B. Chamberlain, Cyrus Freese, J.J. Jackson and Jack Lawrence. Sam Robinson escaped indictment due to his imprisonment in a Colorado penitentiary for robbery. Colonel Samuel N. Wood, the founder of Woodsdale, served as a prosecutor at the trial in Paris, Texas, in July 1890. However, in 1891, the Supreme Court overturned the convictions on appeal due to a lack of jurisdiction over the crime.
Butler, Ken. “Kansas Blood Spilled Into Oklahoma.” Blue Skyways. http://skyways.lib.ks.us/genweb/stevens/haymeadow.html (accessed July 19, 2010).
Williams, Robert L. “Judge Jesse James Dunn.” Chronicles of Oklahoma 18, no. 1 (March 1940), http://digital.library.okstate.edu/chronicles/v018/v018p003.html (accessed July 19, 2010).
The Haystack Murder Trial Record, 1890, is a typscript brief written by Samuel N. Wood, counsel for the government and founder of Woodsdale, Kansas, for the Supreme Court case United States v. C. E. Cook, Orin Cook, Capt. C. E. Frease, Johnnie Jackson, Ed Boudin, John Colbert, et al. The brief concerns the jurisdiction of the United States over No Man’s Land as well as the particulars of the murders. In addition, the brief contains Samuel Wood’s handwritten corrections, notes, and signature.
The collection is open for research use.
Haystack Murder Trial Record, 1890, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s “History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project,” 2009-2011.