Newton - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

June 5, 2014


Newton remembers its past as a railhead for cattle drives
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THIS USED to be a cow town. The railway people ruled it and asked cowboys to bring their herds so that they (the cows) could be put on trains and moved to hungry people far away.

It must have been an exciting era. Not a lot happens now in Newton but back then it was “bloody and lawless - the wickedest city in the west." The sort of place you'd want to live. The sort of place where the local newspaper never lacked for news.

In Newton, womenfolk know their place in life...
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Because of that, I set off to find the Red Front saloon. Because there, in August 1871, eight people died in a single gunfight, which the locals who know about it say was more than at the OK Corral.

And who started it? Two policemen, apparently. Or what were known then as law men. It was election day and Billy Bailey and Mike McCluskie had had a few beers and they began arguing about who they'd vote for. Like any good peace-keepers, they began beating the daylights out of each other. McCluskie knocked Bailey into the street and shot him in the chest. Bailey died next day.

McCluskie, considering the situation, thought it best to leave town. And there he moped and thought and decided to go back and argue he'd been defending himself. Bailey was in no position to say otherwise. But McCluskie's friends saw it otherwise. Bailey - a law man, remember - had already killed two men in previous gunfights. And three of them turned up when McCluskie and a friend were playing cards at a dance hall. It was two in the morning.

One shot McCluskie in the neck. McCluskie could still move and he would have shot back had his pistol not misfired. So he was shot several more times in the back. Gunfire then started all over the place and McCluskie, by then not having a good day, was shot in the leg.

It was then that a teenager called James Riley joined in. Until then he'd had nothing to do with it. He hit seven men, one shot fatally in the neck. Others, including a drinker who'd simply been watching with interest, were mortally wounded. Others, including another spectator, were hit but survived.

Riley would have carried on shooting but his guns were empty. So, stuck for other ideas, he just walked out and was never seen again.

You see what I mean about the local paper not lacking for news?

p.s. The saloon's not there any more. They told me at the museum that it'd been demolished and replaced by houses.

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