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Coffeyville - Page 2
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Oil was first discovered in 1881 by a man digging water well
on West Ninth Street. Around the same time, farmers were also
reporting an oily substance oozing out of the ground. By 1882,
school enrollment was 428. In 1884, a board of trade was
organized in the city.
In 1888 an
incident occurred in Coffeyville which startled the whole
state and led to an investigation by the state officials. A
package directed to Winfield was left at the express office on
October 18th. While still in custody of the express agent it
exploded and killed Mrs. Upham and her daughter, Mabel. It was
a package of dynamite and a political murder was intended by
the party who prepared it.
By 1889, the city supported a number of manufacturing
establishments including a cheese factory, two saw mills, a
flour mill, a fanning mill; and two corn mills. The following
year, Luther Perkins erected a new building in
with a design that conveyed the permanence and elegance a
proper town should display. When completed, it housed
professional offices and his new C. M. Condon and Co. Bank. By
that time, the
legendary outlaws of the 1870s and 1880s were mostly dead, in
prison, or keeping a low profile and
a bank robbery was the farthest thing from his mind.
That; however, would soon change.
1892, occurred the most famous event in
Coffeyville history, when the
Dalton Brothers and their accomplices
attempted to rob two banks. Early on the morning of October 5th,
Emmett Dalton, along with
Bill Power and
Dick Broadwell set out towards
Kansas. Shortly after 9:00 a.m. to find the city's streets filled with people. Tying their
horses in an alley across from the banks, they dismounted and
marched down the alley, three in front and two in the rear.
outlaws, disguised with false beards, divided into two
Broadwell entering the C.M. Condon & Co. Bank, and
Emmett crossing the plaza to enter the First National
Bank. However, the citizens of
aware that the crimes were taking place, attacked the outlaws
while they were robbing the Condon & Co. Bank.
Power charged out of the bank into the plaza. All three
were hit has they ran towards the alley.
Emmett, who had secured $20,000 from the First National
Bank, ran around a block, pausing long enough to kill two
citizens and entered the alley at about the same time that
Grat and the others got there. In the alley, the outlaws
were fired upon by the citizens and a battle began, which
lasted 12 minutes. When it was over,
Dick Broadwell were dead and 21 year-old
Emmett Dalton was
seriously wounded. Out of the ten citizens who took part four
were killed and two wounded.
Emmett was sentenced to life in
prison at the
Kansas State Penitentiary at Lansing, but after 14 years,
By the turn of the century,
Coffeyville had become the largest city in Montgomery
County and one of the most important towns in southeastern
Kansas. By that time four railroads converged in the city -- the Atchison, Topeka
& Santa Fe; the Missouri, Kansas
& Texas Railway; the Missouri
Pacific, and the St. Louis & San Francisco. By that time, the
town boasted a population of about 5,000. At about the
same time, progressive businessmen of
were recognizing the possibilities of the large deposits of
clay, sand and shale in the area and the potential of natural
gas as a fuel.
Over the next few years,
expanded into an industrial city and by 1910 supported nine
glass factories, six brick and tile plants, an oil refinery,
four foundries, a plow factory, two box factories, two planing
mills, a carriage and wagon factory, paper factory, zinc
smelter, pottery works, and other manufacturing facilities.
Its population flourished, supporting some 12, 687 residents
and numerous public improvements to support them, including a
sewer system, waterworks, fire department, police department,
nine public school buildings, a street trolley, and electric
lights. Other businesses also included five banks, four
theaters, a hospital, three daily and three weekly newspapers,
four flour mills, numerous grain elevators, two ice plants, a
packing house and all lines of various retail trade.
continued to grow and by 1915, its population peaked at about
18,500. However, by the very next year, the glass factories
had closed their doors. But,
strong industrial base continued to support the thriving
community which moved into the future over the next century.
By 1940, the town continued to support some 17, 355 people and
in 1960, 17,382.
Since that time; however, it has gradually declined. Because
Coffeyville's primary economy has never been based on
agriculture, though it is significant, its reliance on
industry and manufacturing allowed it thrive unlike many other
small Kansas towns. Today, the town supports more than 10,000
residents and continues to support a strong
industrial base, including John Deere
Coffeyville Works, the Acme Foundry, CVR Energy (formerly
Farmland Industries), the Rea Patterson Flour Mill, Sherwin
Williams, and in 1999, became the home of one of Amazon.comís
largest fulfillment centers.
Coffeyville's history is preserved at the Dalton Defenderís Museum, located at
113 East Eighth Street.
The museum houses not only memorabilia and photographs from
in 1892, it also features many items from the early days of
Coffeyville. At Dalton Defenders Plaza
and Death Alley, visitors can walk the same path taken by the
in 1892 as they attempted to rob two banks simultaneously.
Markers show the locations where four
citizens were killed and the old jail in Death Alley displays
replicas of the
Daltons as they were laid out following their
death. Bullet holes from the gun battle still appear on the
north brick wall in Death Alley.
Perkins Building, which was the site of the
Condon & Co.
Bank held up in the Dalton Raid, continues to stand and is
open to the public on weekdays.
Unfortunately the First National Bank building no longer
stands, but its doors, can still be seen at the Dalton
Defenderís Museum. Located throughout
are murals depicting the cityís history. Three of the
Dalton Gang members, namely
Grat Dalton, and
Bill Power, are buried at the Elmwood
Cemetery just off Eldridge on South Walnut (Highway 169.) For years, their graves were marked with only a
metal pipe which was the hitching post to which they tied
their horses on the day they died. However, years later,
Emmett Dalton provided a proper
headstone. The graves of two of
Coffeyville's defenders -- Charles Brown and George Cubine
are also buried here. The grave of another
Dalton Brother --
Frank Dalton, who was killed in 1887, in the line of duty as a
U.S. Deputy Marshal, is also buried in the cemetery.
Brown Mansion located on South Walnut built in 1907, takes
visitors back the elegant lifestyle lived in the early 20th
century by W.P. Brown. The 16 room Mansion contains the
original furniture, wall and floor coverings, a Tiffany Chandelier, five bedrooms, three full baths, a ballroom and more. The
mansion is open sporadically, or can be scheduled for tours,
as well as private parties, weddings, or other special events.
Heritage Museum, dedicated to early
aviation and pioneer pilots of the area, features memorabilia
from the Coffeyville
Air Base, airplanes, and other displays. Situated in a 1930ís
era hanger, it is located in Pfister Park and open on weekends
or by appointment.
Coffeyville, Kansas Official Website
Compiled and edited by
of Kansas, updated May, 2015.
images available for photo prints & editorial downloads
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