Land Fights

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Land Fights - Land Fights Lasted for Many Years The bitterest...
Land Fights Lasted for Many Years The bitterest struggle—in Allen County's hislor>was the ."lO year war over the lands granted lo the railroads when they laid their lines across Kansas to the Oklahoma bopder. JIosl of these battles were legal duels fought in dusty courtrooms l)ul others were staged along fence rows with pistols, rifles and shotguns. shotguns. A few men .were killed, others wounded and scoresi of families sadly fled the community, stripped of their possessions. When the railroads' first proposed crossing Kansas, Congress offered to a.ssist in financing the venture by granting them large, tracts of huul. The Katy, for example, was (o receive 10 square H>iles of tantt' for each mile of track which, was eoinpleled. In addition, the state offered additional acreage. These grants however, were burdened with several conditions Viui'in some instances the land was already occupied by settlers from the east. l)uring..^this_pcriOd the government government was selling other lands for as low as $1,25 per acre. The railroads were asking from $6 to $10 for similar property. Moreover, they were not always able to give a clear title. Time after time an eastern farmer and his family purchased purchased Kansas railroad land, only to discover upon arrival, thai ij. was already occupied Knraued by - the confii.sion . and threatened with the loss of llieir savings, the citizens foiiiiefi various various associations which were commonly commonly known as Land Leai^ues. The first in Allen Counly was organized May 21, 187:5, with the following officers: .1. W. Pine, president, J. P. Sproiil, vice-president, vice-president, and C, A. Fronk, .secretary. Citizens living in Woodson, Bourbon, Bourbon, Franklin and other counties were invited to .join. Their main charges against the railroads were: 1. The first settlers were induced to buy the land when times were good; the panic of 1873 had so reduced produce prices that the farmers had no hope of ever paying their mortgages. 2. The railroads were not giving clear titles-to the purchasers and perhaps would never be able to do so. • , The objective was to obtain a reduction in the purchase price of railroad lands and legal clarifica- tionof titles. The organizatitin did not attempt to help settle the disputes disputes Which dcvHdped behveen' new settlors and squalters. This first Land League was con ccrned with the lancis which Ihe Katy and the Leavenworth, Lawrence Lawrence and Galveston Rail (-nni- panics held. In 1880 the Missouri Pacific also laid lis lines and re ceived. similar-laiul gHt+its. These added fuel tothe quarrel. The legal aspects Of the land fights wore extremely complicated and finally hinged upon the original acts passed by Congress, a determination determination of whether or nol the roads had fulfilled the conditions upon which- they were lo act|uire [title and whether or not the In- jdians owned the land at the time Congress made the agreement. These legal questions were not finally settled in full until 1914. However, most of the lilies-in Allen County were cleared shoflly after the turn of the century—30 years after the first Land League was : formed. Hut (luring those three decides, there were several raids, killings and peihnps a lynching when groups of men, WeaVy of waiting for lh(> courts lo decide the issue, altem|)ted to take the enforcement of the law into their own hands. Perhaps the most noted of these ca.s.es was the killing of James Ilarclerofic and Robert McFarland by Hugh, Isaac^ .loseph and William William Guillilahd; \vIiTclT occurred in ~ 18ii4. All of. these men \Vere members members of the League. Harclerode and McFarland were building a house on land which the GiiiUilands, father and sons, claimed. claimed. The latter went lo the place where Harclerode and McFarland. were working, attempted .to drive Uiein away, and in the quarrel u-TiTch followed killed them. The'Guillilands were brought to trial and convicted. Hugh and his two older sons .were sentenced to life imprisonment in the slate penitentiary; penitentiary; the third son got three years. After serving a relatively short term all were released ifhd I)H-ttktttt:t.L — .- — Shortly after this shooting, Columbus Columbus C.<irlT'r, who lived in the same community, quarrelled with a man hy the name of Grisham and in the following fight gouged out one of his eyes. A few days later, Carter, Carter, was shot and killqd from ambush. No arrests were made.

Clipped from
  1. The Iola Register,
  2. 30 May 1955, Mon,
  3. Page 29

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