NOTE: It appears that this stage company was the first to establish an office in Winfield. It was followed later by the "Adams Express Company" and the "Wells, Fargo Express Company." I HAVE SET UP SEPARATE FILES FOR BOTH THE ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY AND THE WELLS, FARGO EXPRESS COMPANY IN WINFIELD. MAW]
Thanks to Doug DuBois for the picture of the Claim Check at the left. It is a brass claim check which was clipped to the freight carried by the Southwest Stage and Omnibus Company of Arkansas City, Kansas. It probably dates from the 1870's or 1880's. We are looking for more information on the operations of the company.
Emporia News, July 10, 1868.
Henry Tisdale was in town this week, and informed us that he had put in operation his daily line of hacks from Topeka here. This will be a great accommodation to the public, as it will save those desiring to come to Emporia or go to the Railroad some eighteen miles of staging, and then it gives us daily mail communication with the capital.
Emporia News, July 24, 1868.
CHANGED HANDS. We understand the Neosho Valley stage and express line has changed hands, Henry Tisdale having bought out T. C. Hill. Mr. Tisdale is now the owner of nearly all the lines in Southern Kansas. He came here a few years ago as a stage driver. By close application to business and strict honesty, he has become one of the largest stage men in the West.
In the summer of 1870 Parker & Tisdale established daily stage lines at the railroad terminus: Emporia. One branch of their stage line ran south to Eureka and west to El Dorado. Another branch line went through Towanda to Wichita. Still another branch ran up the Cottonwood, across the Flint Hills, and down the Walnut to El Dorado.
At El Dorado the four-horse stage ended; it was necessary for two-horse stage coaches to take over. One of these branch lines went through Towanda to Wichita; the other branch line came south down the Walnut to Augusta, Douglass, and Little Dutch to the towns of Winfield and Arkansas City in Cowley County, Kansas.
Walnut Valley Times, May 20, 1870.
Parker & Tisdale have the contract for carrying the mail from this place to Winfield and return twice a week. We understand that this firm have also the contract from Emporia here, and will put on stages immediately.
Walnut Valley Times, June 10, 1870.
Parker & Tisdale are stocking the road and will commence running tri-weekly coaches from Emporia to Creswell, via Eldorado, Augusta, Douglass, and Winfield in a few days.
NOTE: TWO STAGE COMPANIES (KANSAS STAGE COMPANY & SOUTHERN STAGE COMPANY) BECAME CONSOLIDATED ON JANUARY 1, 1871. THE NAME OF THE CONSOLIDATED COMPANY: "SOUTHWESTERN STAGE COMPANY."
Henry Tisdale was the manager of the line which went to Winfield, Arkansas City, South Haven, and Caldwell. In time he took over as owner of the Southwestern Stage Company.
The Parker & Tisdale stage line was served by Concord coaches; and in the height of incoming immigration, they were loaded to capacity. Relays of fresh pony teams were supplied at proper intervals, so that the stage station keeper was ever ready to unharness, re- hitch the fresh team, and promptly get the stage coach on its way without undue interruption. The stages also served mail routes, which kept the settlers in touch with letters from their eastern families and friends as well as newspapers apprizing them with information about events taking place back home and elsewhere.
C. A. BLISS: Postmaster and Stage Agent, Southwestern Stage Company...
[REPORT FROM "D. D. M." - CORRESPONDENT OF THE STATE RECORD.]
Walnut Valley Times, May 26, 1871.
Winfield is the County seat of Cowley County. Last October the site was an unbroken prairie, now it contains half a hundred houses. C. A. Bliss, formerly of the firm of Bliss & Lee of Topeka, is the postmaster and stage agent, and has besides a large stock of goods, and is getting rich, I think. He says anybody that can't make money in that country, should have a guardian appointed to take care of him. He is a generous and true hearted man, and is well deserving of success.
[ARTICLE RE NEW MAIL ROUTES.]
Walnut Valley Times, May 26, 1871.
Messrs. Baker and Manning secured the passage of a bill in the Legislature, last winter, for the location of a State road from Florence to Arkansas City, and had J. C. Lambdin, of Eldorado, J. M. Herman, of Augusta, and D. A. Millington, of Winfield, appointed viewers. These gentlemen have just located this road, making the distance from Eldorado to Florence thirty-one miles. The Stage Company, in the meantime, have opened a daily route from Florence to Eldorado, and made the necessary arrangements for a permanent line from Florence to Arkansas City, via Eldorado, Augusta, Douglass, Walnut, Lone Tree, Rock, and Winfield.
Prominent gentlemen of this Stage Company came to Eldorado and said that if we would make them a donation of lots, they would establish a daily line from the railroad to our town; and that they would also build their repair shops and offices here, and make this town the Headquarters for all their lines in this portion of the State. We proceeded to "shell out" town lots to the number of twenty-five. We are well satisfied that Eldorado cannot influence the Stage Company to run their lines either by the way of Chelsea or Plum Grove. We expect to get a new route opened from Eldorado via Little Walnut, Hickory and Rock Creeks to Elk Falls, in Howard County. This will supply a large portion of the southeastern part of the County with mail, direct from the railroad. The people on Little Walnut and Hickory Creeks have not had any mail facilities, whatever.
It takes time and work to establish mail routes, and it is necessary for the people to act harmoniously if they expect to secure what they want.
By July 1871 Winfield had three stage lines: the Southwestern Stage Company; a semi-weekly hack run by Isaiah Burns; and a daily stage line along the Walnut Valley.
The Southwestern Stage Company erected a large barn on the corner of Manning Street and Ninth Avenue [Block 108] to accommodate their large stock of horses.
By October 1871 stages were leaving daily from Winfield for the north and south, and a tri-weekly stage was leaving for the East.
[LETTER FROM MR. GROVE, PUBLISHER.]
Winfield Messenger, August 30, 1872.
Our Trip to Kansas.
We clipped the following from the Marion County, West Virginia, Liberalist. Mr. Grove, publisher, visited our town as he states, and upon his return home, gives his opinion of Kansas. While he has exaggerated in very few instances, the main features of his article are correct. We expect to see Mr. Grove here soon with his office to start a Democratic paper as a result of his visit to Winfield.
On the 15th ult. we left our home at Fairmont, West Virginia, westward bound, in view of seeking a place of abode which might offer better advantages to the poor man than Fairmont.
We stopped one day at Muncie, Ind., but not finding that locality to suit us, we again took the train; arrived at Wichita, Kansas, the terminus of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe R. R., the 20th ult., staid there one day, and took the stage for Winfield, Kansas, at which place we arrived before night the same day, distance from Wichita, 55 miles.
We had read and heard much said about the natural advantages of Kansas, and although not doubting it to be a fine country, we were of the opinion that it was overrated, but in this we were mistaken.
Winfield, Cowley County, which is located on the Walnut River in the Southwestern part of the State, was, less than two years ago the home and hunting ground of the Osages. This county can now boast of a population of nine thousand, and Winfield, the county seat, of a population of about eight hundred.
The soil is of the moist fertile nature, consisting of a dark loam, with, in some places, a slight mixture of sand, and is from two to eight feet in depth.
The experience of twenty-five years for some farms have been cultivated during that period in the State by the Indians and missionarieshas proved the fact that this country cannot be excelled in the world for agriculture, including grain growing, stock raising, and fruit culture.
The climate is good. The atmosphere is clear and dry and of remarkable purity. Winters are said to be dry and very short, and cattle can graze out nearly the whole year. The heat of the summer is moderated by the pleasant zephyrs which continually sweep across the broad prairies.
In January 1873 stages from the East, which had been running tri-weekly, were making two trips a week. By April 1873 daily stages of the Southwestern Stage and Omnibus Company were running north and south from Arkansas City to Wichita and a tri-weekly stage was running east to Independence and west to Oxford and Wellington.
Winfield Courier, September 18, 1874.
Forty old racks of bones, branded "S. Co.," at one time horses in the employ of the S. W. Stage Company, passed through town yesterday on their way to winter quarters in Howard County.
Winfield Courier, December 17, 1874.
The stage now comes through from Wichita in a day bringing the mail.
Winfield Courier, December 17, 1874.
Tisdale, of the ubiquitous Southwestern Stage Company, was in town this week looking after his connections.
Winfield Courier, December 31, 1874.
An order from the P. O. Department requires the stage company to carry the mail from Wichita to Winfield, via Oxford in twelve hours daily.
NOTE: First reference to a resident express agent for the Southwestern Stage Co. in Winfield appeared in 1876.
M. L. Bangs....
Winfield Courier, May 4, 1876.
BANGS, our express agent, has made an improvement in the city express line. He delivers the express matter about town on his back.
Winfield Courier, May 11, 1876.
The stage from Wichita last Saturday got sandwiched between Spring and Dog Creeks and the passengers, of which we were one, had to take to the water to find dry land. Hack, horses, and everything went down in the mud. Through the efforts of our worthy local agent, Mr. Bangs, and "Tommy," the driver, the mail and the females were transferred to a wagon and driven back to El Paso for the night. In getting out of our difficulty, we happened to drive over a field of wheat which was under water that belonged to an idiot on Dog Creek. He swam the creek and chased us on foot for about two miles. That was all the good it did him, however, as we hadn't time to converse with him. We saw him the next morning. He brandished a weapon in front of the stage and demanded "damages or blood." Bangs modestly but firmly suggested that "This is the U. S. mail line. One man and one shot gun has no legal right to delay these documents of importance; these letters of business; and these epistles of love that are trying to reach their destination. Stand aside, my friend. Lay your troubles before special mail agent Jno. M. Crowell. He will refer you to Senator Ingalls, he to the Department at Washington, and it will give you redress." We drove on. The fellow sat down and cried. Bangs was too much for him.
Winfield Courier, August 17, 1876.
For some time past the friends of Andy Gordon, of the firm of Shoeb & Gordon, blacksmiths, and the friends of McDonald, the horse shoer of the Southwestern Stage Company, have been discussing the merits of Andy and Mc., as to which was the fastest workman. The question was settled last Friday by a contest between the two, lasting one hour. Andy came off victorious, heeling and toeing seventeen shoes while Mc. quit at fifteen. For the information of the uninitiated we will say that ten shoes an hour is "boss-work."
Winfield Courier, August 24, 1876.
The stage barn has a lightning rod.
By September 1876 the stage and express offices of the Southwestern Stage Company were located in Winfield at the Central Hotel (formerly known as the "Lagonda House"), run by Sid S. Majors and his son-in-law, James Vance.
Winfield Courier, October 5, 1876.
DOC HARE arrived home from the Kansas City Exposition the other evening! When the stage arrived, the boys collected around to get a squint at the distinguished stranger. They wouldn't believe, till Bangs showed them the "way bill," but that hat and moustache belonged to the Grand Duke. They were disappointed to see our 'are so greatly changed. Shoot that hat!
Winfield Courier, November 16, 1876.
Owing to snow drifts, the Tuesday's stage did not arrive until Wednesday at 4 a.m.
Tommy Young, a stage driver for the Southwestern Stage Company for seven years, was presented a pair of fur gloves, raised by subscription, by Deputy Sheriff Finch at Winfield in November 1876 as a token of the esteem for his faithful service. Mr. Young was considered the best driver that ever drew rein between Winfield and the railroad.
In January 1877 B. M. Terrill (called "By" Terrill), a former route agent of the Southwestern Stage Company, moved his livery outfit from Wichita to Winfield, where he rented a stone livery barn for his livery outfit, consisting of brand new buggies, carriages, wagons, and fast horses. He put in a new plank floor, fitted up a comfortable office, and repaired and improved the barn. He soon engaged in a contest with his old firm.
Winfield Courier, February 15, 1877.
The Southwestern Stage coach and By. Terrill's livery team had a trial of bottom and time with their teams yesterday in starting to lead into Winfield from Wichita. The coach was the last to leave Wichita and the teams drove onto Main Street just at dusk neck and neck.
The stage barn of the Southwestern Stage Company at Winfield was kept up by M. L. Bangs, who gave the barn, corn crib, and fence a good coat of whitewash in March 1877.
The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway time table in March 1877 revealed that express and mail were arriving at Wichita daily. Trains were connecting at Wichita with the Southwestern Stage Company for Augusta, Douglass, Winfield, Arkansas City, Oxford, Belle Plaine, Sumner City, Wellington, Pond Creek, Cheyenne Agency, Wichita Agency, and Fort Sill.
By May 1877 Tommy Young had retired and the new stage coach driver for the Southwestern Stage Company from Wichita to El Paso, known as "Mickey" Jim, was seriously hurt while he was crossing a bridge over the little creek at the Dutch Ranche, some few miles south of Wichita, while he was driving his four horses and a heavy coach. The leaders became frightened and backed off the bridge, pulling the whole outfit after them. The horses were all more or less injured, and the coach was smashed into flinders. "Mickey" went down with the coach and horses, sustaining a broken arm and a badly bruised back.
Arkansas City Traveler, June 6, 1877. Front Page.
UNPRECEDENTED HIGH WATER. All Principal Streams Overflow Their Banks.
[From the Oxford Independent.]
Since the time to which the memory of man runneth, there has been no such flood in Southern Kansas as the one with which we have been visited within the past week. After a long time, with no rain to speak of in this valley, copious showers commenced falling on about the 24th of April, since which time nearly every succeeding twenty four hours have been attended with a heavy rain. For a time the people rejoiced and were glad for the timely visitation, until about the 15th of May, when it was generally conceded by the farmers that we were getting too much wet. The prairies were thoroughly soaked, the ravines and small streams well filled with water, but showers came with the same regularity and increased immensity. On Friday and Saturday nights, May 18th and 19th, the clouds apparently gathered in renewed force, the rain descended, and the floods came.
The Arkansas, Ninnescah, and Slate Creek, with all their principal tributaries, were thrown out of bank and the bottoms, to the extent of from one to three miles wide, completely covered with water, corn, and wheat fields submerged, frequently to a depth of from one to three feet, which must inevitably result in great damage to the crops and a loss to the farmers by destruction, damaging and carrying away of loose property. In many cases the farmers living on bottom farms were compelled to vacate their houses and seek a more elevated position, the water having taken possession of the first floor, which, in many instances, happened to be the only one in the house.
The bridge across the Ninnescah, the only one over that stream in the county, having been for days considered unsafe, was finally cut off from dry land by a sheet of water from one to three miles in width, and in many places too deep for fording, and on the morning of May 19th, no longer able to resist the pressure, went down the river.
The bridge over Slate Creek, south of Wellington, the only bridge over that stream, was also on the same day carried away, leaving parties on different sides of the stream most effectually cut off from communication.
The bridge over the Arkansas, at Arkansas City, was the first upon that river to give way, and it is reported to have quietly let loose from its moorings on the night of May 15, 1877, and went whirling down that raging stream. [Wrong! Either May 19 or 20, 1877.]
The bridge at El Paso fell early in the contest, and was carried away on the 17th, leaving the residents opposite no chance for escape except to the high land west of the Cow Skin, a distance of from three to five miles across the bottom, then nearly covered with water, and in places to a depth of from three to six feet, which was fortunately accomplished with no fatal results.
The bridge at Oxford was the last to yield to the force of the surging elements; was yet on Saturday night thought to be safe, but in this we were doomed to disappointment. With the bright sun on Sunday morning, the people of Oxford found themselves cut off from communication with the east, and all that was left of the Oxford bridge inaccessible by the space of over 300 feet, over which rolled the surging turbulent, and apparently angry waters of the raging Arkansas, three span of the west end of the bridge with two massive piers of masonry having entirely disappeared during the night.
The loss of the Oxford bridge is a heavy blow upon the business of Oxford, as well as upon the owners of the bridge. It was supposed to have been the best and most substantial bridge on the river; was owned by a private corporation here; built in 1872, at a cost of $14,500, and reflected great credit upon the enterprising owners, who conceived and executed the enterprise at so early a day and under very adverse circumstances. It was noticeable on Sunday morning that none of the owners appeared more discouraged or exhibited more profound regret at the loss of their property in the bridge than was manifested by the people generally. There is no property in Oxford but could have been better spared, or the loss of which could have been so sorely felt, but such is life.
Arrangements have been made by the bridge company by which a ferry boat will be immediately constructed and operated across the river at this point until such time as the bridge can be rebuilt. We have received or sent away no mail from this point since Friday, May 18th, so we are without news from the outside world. Arrangements are completed for transporting the mail across the river for the present by skiff, but up to date no one has been able to reach the stage road on account of high water in the bottom east of the river.
We have had no authentic communication from above this point, but it is rumored, upon what authority we are unable to say, that both bridges over the Arkansas at Wichita have been swept away by the flood. It is still hoped this may prove to be a mistake, but portions of broken bridges passed this point going down the river, hence there are grave fears that the rumor may be well founded.
Parties have now gone down the river in boats looking after bridges and other property that may have stranded or been carried out upon some of the over flowed bottom lands.
[WINFIELD, KANSAS, CORRESPONDENT: "C. C. H."]
Arkansas City Traveler, August 15, 1877.
Winfield may more appropriately be called "the hub" since she has two daily mails. The first connection of mail between this place and the El Dorado branch road was made last Monday. So Winfield now has two daily arrivals and departures of stage coaches.
Arkansas City Traveler, December 19, 1877.
STAGE STOPPED. "Mickey Jim," the stage driver between El Paso and Wichita, was stopped by a masked man on Monday night and asked if he had any passengers. He replied, "No." The robber then looked in the stage and told him to drive on. This is "Jim's" story, and will have to be taken for what it is worth.
After the above incident "Mickey" armed himself. Later that month he observed a large spotted dog with a black head standing near the road on his run between Wichita and El Paso. "Mickey" stopped the stage and one of the passengers, Charley Allen of St. Louis, got out, pistol in hand, and when he got near enough the animal started down a ravine and a man, hidden in a depression, started off in the same direction as the dog. Several robberies had occurred in this area during the previous week.
[James Fahey, known as "Mickey" Jim while employed as a stage coach driver for the Southwestern Stage Company, drove stage coaches for twenty years in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, and Colorado. He drove a stage into Emporia when it was longing for a railroad and was familiar with Newton, El Dorado, and Wichita. He retired from this occupation in May 1878 and began serving fermented spirits over his bar at the National Saloon in Winfield. In late January 1879 Fahey began the erection of a stone and brick building on East Ninth Avenue after his architect, John Hoenscheidt, received sealed bids. The 25 by 50 ft. two-story building, with basement, was completed in May 1879, becoming a first-class billiard hall. While two cases against him for retailing liquor in violation of law were being appealed in 1880, Mr. Fahey departed from his family, who stayed in Winfield, and opened a wholesale liquor store in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in April 1881. By December 1881 he was the owner of four sections of land in New Mexico underlaid with a vein of 5,000,000 tons of coal. In March 183 Mr. Fahey opened up a restaurant and lunch counter in Newton, Kansas. In August 1884 he moved with his family into their new two-story and basement residence at 505 East Ninth Avenue, Winfield, Kansas, consisting of nine large rooms, thoroughly ventilated and fitted with gas and water. In September 1884 Mr. Fahey rented the Brettun Hotel billiard rooms, carpeting and fixing them up. In October 1885 the first floor of the Fahey building on east Ninth Avenue was turned into a U. S. Post Office and the second story into offices.]
Manager Henry Tisdale and Winfield agent M. L. Bangs visited the stage office at Arkansas City in 1877-1879. Mr. Bangs was kept busy with the company omnibus and arranging for stock to be left at the Southwestern Stage Company's stations on the mail route between Winfield and Okmulgee, Indian Territory.
Arkansas City Traveler, October 1, 1879.
Mr. Bangs, agent of the Southwestern Stage Co., sent stock on Sunday last to be left at stations on the mail route between this place and Okmulgee.
After the first railroad reached Winfield in October 1879, the express business of the Southwestern Stage Company suffered.
In December 1879 Bangs added a new omnibus and baggage wagon to the southwestern transfer line at Winfield.
By August 1880 M. L. Bangs had become an employee of the Kansas City, Leavenworth and Southern Kansas railroad at Wellington. In October 1881 he was with a survey corps of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad at Moline, Kansas.
Arthur C. Bangs, younger brother of M. L. Bangs, was the chief clerk at the Williams House in June 1881. He was hired that month by Henry Tisdale to run the "Tisdale Omnibus and Stage Line" in Winfield. He retained his job as clerk at the Williams House for some time after taking on his role as agent for Mr. Tisdale. The Southwestern Stage and Omnibus Line used the Williams House to handle express matters until J. S. Mann took occupancy of the hotel in August 1881. The company moved to an office on 9th Avenue and began to handle express at all the Winfield hotels.
On November 17, 1881, A. C. Bangs, agent for the Southwestern Stage and Omnibus Line, advertised that the company would run a hack to and from Salt City at least twice a week and as much oftener as the public convenience demanded it.
On March 16, 1882, A. C. Bangs placed the following ad: "Parties wishing Geuda Springs water or transportation can leave orders at Wells, Fargo & Co.'s express office, or at the Brettun House, where it will be promptly attended to."
Mr. Bangs continued working for Henry Tisdale and in August 1883 he and his wife were visited for a week by Mr. Tisdale's wife from Lawrence, Kansas.
In November 1883 Calvin Ferguson sold his half interest in the omnibus business at Winfield to Arthur C. Bangs. Mr. Bangs continued to make money and purchased a new omnibus in January 1884 for $1,000. Illuminated with red and gold paintings, the new bus was considered very attractive.
Mr. Bangs remained loyal to Henry Tisdale. In March 1887 he conducted the business of the Southwestern Stage Company at Arkansas City while awaiting the arrival of a new agent to replace the company agent at that city, Archie Dunn, who had started a livery business. Archie Dunn's sister was married to his brother, M. L. Bangs.