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Gunfight at Hide Park--Newton, Kansas

Newton's General Massacre

19 August 1871

Kansas Heritage thanks Mark Smith for contributing this material.


Hugh Anderson ???? - 7/4/1873

Son of a wealthy Bell County, Texas, cattleman. Although from a good family, Anderson ran with a rough crowd. He had helped Wes Hardin run down Bideno, the Mexican who had killed Billy Cohron in 1871. In August 1871, he was in Newton working as a cow-boy. During the gunfight, he was wounded in the thigh and leg. That same day, a warrant was issued for his arrest for the murder of McCluskie. He father and friends smuggled him aboard a Kansas City bound train. He then moved back to Texas to recover from his wounds. On July 4, 1873, he was killed by Arthur McCluskie (Mike McCluskie's brother) in a particularly brutal dual where both contestants emptied their guns into each other, then went after each other with knives. Anderson was never brought to trial for the murder of McCluskie.

William "Billy" Bailey ???? - 8/11/1871

Also known as "Bill Wilson" and "William Baylor". Bailey was not present at the Hide Park Gunfight, but it was his murder by McCluskie that started all the players down the road to their bloody end. A tough man, it was said that Bailey had won at least three other gunfights, killing at least two men. Along with McCluskie, Bailey had been hired as a Special Policeman during the Newton elections. A long running feud between Bailey and McCluskie culminated with Bailey being shot in the chest and killed by McCluskie on election day. Bailey's friends, the Texas cow-boys, vowed revenge.

William "Billy" Garrett ???? - 8/20/1871

A cow-boy from Solado, Texas. He was shot in the shoulder and chest by Jim Riley during the gunfight. He died several hours later.

Hickey ???? - ????

Either a shoveler or foreman for the Sante Fe Railroad. He and some friends were innocent bystanders during the gunfight. He was shot in the calf (reported as a flesh wound) by Jim Riley.

Henry Kearnes ???? - 8/27/1871

A cow-boy from Texas. He was shot in the chest by Jim Riley during the gunfight. He died a week later.

Patrick Lee ???? - 8/22/1871

A brakeman for the Sante Fe Railroad. He and some friends were innocent bystanders during the gunfight. He was shot in the stomach by Jim Riley. He died two days later.

James "Jim" Martin ???? - 8/20/1871

Also known as "John Martin", "Happy Jim Martin", and "Good Natured Martin". A cow-boy for Refugio, Texas, Martin was known and well liked by both the Newtonians and the Texans. He was shot in the neck by Jim Riley. His jugular severed, he stumbled out of the saloon, across the field, and died on the steps of Krum's dance hall. He died while attempting to stop the gunfight.

Mike McCluskie ???? - 8/20/1871

Also known as "Arthur Delaney" and "Art Donovan". A rough man by anyone's standards. Earlier in the year, he had been charged with garroting a man to death, but the charges were dismissed. An Irishman from Ohio, he had been employed by the Sante Fe Railroad as a Night Policeman. He was making a living in Newton as a gambler. During the August elections, he was hired by the Newton authorities as a Special Policeman to help keep order. During the elections, he got into a fight with another Special Policeman, Billy Bailey. By the time the day was over, McCluskie had killed Bailey. It was the killing of Bailey, a Texan, that led to the Hide Park Gunfight. McCluskie was shot in the neck and back by Hugh Anderson during the gunfight. He died six hours later.

James "Jim" Riley 1853 - ????

Where he came from, or what happened to him after the gunfight is unknown. Around Newton, he went unnoticed. 18 years-old and dying of tuberculosis, he was called "McCluskie's Shadow". Apparently, McCluskie had taken a liking to the boy, and made sure he didn't starve. There are no records or remembrances of Riley ever being in trouble. He was reported as wearing a pair of Colt's revolvers.

This would not be unusual during the time when caps-and-balls pistols were notorious for misfiring. Most men who carried guns during that period usually carried at least two, and sometimes more. Probably the least experienced gunman in the gunfight, he managed to turn what should have been a simple revenge killing into a massacre. Riley killed four men (Garrett, Kearnes, Lee, Martin) and wounded three men (Anderson, Hickey, Wilkerson). He was not a gunfighter. His first shot killed one his friends who was trying to break up the fight, and subsequent shots killed one bystander and wounded another. He was obviously just firing in the general direction of the men who had just killed his friend and mentor, McCluskie.

Perry Tuttle ???? - ????

Owner of Tuttle's Dance Hall, where the gunfight took place. He was a witness to the shooting.

James "Jim" Wilkerson ???? - ????

Although from Kentucky, he rode with the Texas cow-boys. He was shot in the nose and leg by Jim Riley during the gunfight. He recovered from his wounds.

The Rest of the Story...the timeline for the Hide Park Gunfight


August 11, 1871 (Friday):

Mike McCluskie and Billy Bailey argue during the day. Later that night, they meet at the Red Front Saloon. An argument and fistfight ensue. Bailey is knocked out of the saloon and into the street. McCluskie follows with gun drawn. He fires two shots at Bailey. The first misses, and the second hits Bailey in the chest.

August 12, 1871 (Saturday):

Bailey dies from his wounds. Jim Riley warns McCluskie that Bailey's friends (the Texas cow-boys) will be looking for revenge. McCluskie takes the train to Florence.

August 19, 1871 (Saturday):

McCluskie returns to Newton via train. Jim Martin arrives in town by horseback.

10:00 p.m. McCluskie goes to Tuttle's Dance Hall.

11:00 p.m. Martin goes to Tuttle's Dance Hall.

August 20, 1871 (Sunday):

1:00 a.m. Perry Tuttle attempts to close down the dance hall. The customers refuse. Tuttle lets the band go home.

2:00 a.m. McCluskie is sitting at a faro table in the corner of the dance hall.

Billy Garrett, Henry Kearnes, and Jim Wilkerson enter. They have come for the sole purpose of killing McCluskie. Two stand by the bar waiting for Hugh Anderson to arrive. One sits at the faro table and talks with McCluskie.

Anderson enters, gun in hand. He walks directly to McCluskie and yells, "You are a cowardly son-of-a-bitch! I will blow the top of your head off!"

Jim Martin jumps up and tries to stop the fight.

Anderson shoots McCluskie in the neck, knocking him to the floor.

McCluskie half-rises, gun in hand, and attempts to shoot Anderson in the chest. The pistol misfires (a painfully common experience with caps-and-balls revolvers). Mortally wounded, he cannot attempt a second shot. He falls face-down on the floor.

Anderson stands over McCluskie and fires another shot into his back.

Garrett, Kearns, and Wilkerson begin shooting their pistols. Apparently, they were not shooting at anyone. They may have been attempting to keep the crowd back (one of them may have shot McCuskie in the leg).

(Note: At this point, there are some conflicting stories. Some say that Riley turned and locked the door before he began shooting. This story has two major problems: 1) It assumes that Perry Tuttle always left the key in the door, and that Riley, who was not a gunfighter, had the presence of mind, in the midst of all this pandemoniom, to calmly turn and lock the door. Not likely. 2) Jim Martin was the first one shot. Hit in the jugular and rapidly bleeding to death, he ran out of the door and feel dead. An impossible feat if the door was locked).

Standing by the door, Riley pulls his pistols and begins shooting.

(Note: Riley is credited with waiting for the Texans to empty their guns before he started shooting. This too is probably more myth than truth. After three or four shots from the Texan's blackpowder pistols, the poorly lit room would have been filled with smoke, making it impossible to see who was shooting. It also assumes a tremendous amount of concentration on Riley's part. That is, it assumes that an eighteen year-old, who had never been in a gunfight, could calmly count the shots coming from four different guns. His first shot belies that coolness... he shot his friend. The truth is, is that Riley very likely just pulled his guns and started shooting in the general direction of the Texans).

Jim Martin is the first hit by Riley. He is shot in the neck. His jugular is severed and he runs out of the saloon, across the filed, and dies on the steps of Krum's dance hall.

Riley shoots six more people: Patrick Lee, Garrett, Hickey, Anderson, Wilkerson and Kearnes.

  1. Anderson is hit in the thigh and leg. He survives his wounds.
  2. Garrett is hit in the shoulder and chest. he dies later in the day.
  3. Hickey is shot in the calf. He survives his wounds.
  4. Kearnes is shot in the chest. He dies on August 27th.
  5. Patrick Lee is shot in the stomach. He dies on August 22nd.
  6. Wilkerson is shot in the nose and leg. He survives his wounds.

His guns empty, Riley walks out of the dance hall and is never heard from again.

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