[RKW STARTED FILE YEARS AGO.]
The Walnut Valley Times of March 21, 1873, stated “On January 1st, 1870, T. A. Wilkinson, John Brown, G. H. Norton, and John Strain staked out and claimed the four claims upon which Arkansas City now stands, as the location of the new town. H. B. Norton took a claim adjoining the town site on the north, H. D. Kellogg took a claim south of the town site. When this party arrived at the mouth of the Walnut, they found the bottom and timber claims taken by H. Endicott and his son, Pad, and G. Harmon, Ed. Chapin, Pat Summers (Somers), Mr.(Dan and his wife Julie) Carr, Mr. (James) Hughes, and one or two others.”
The February 10, 1870 special census of Cowley County lists James Hughes.
James Hughes was born in March of 1843 in Boston, Mass. His parents were John and Margaret Hughes who had emigrated from Ireland. He grew up in Boston during the time the Irish were swarming to America. Many businesses had signs reading, “None need apply but Americans.” By the age of 13, James had gone to sea. The Captain of his ship discharged him by saying “the work is too hard for you” and recommended that the boy go to Chicago to find work.
James, and his sister (Meg) walked the 950 miles from Boston to Chicago, along the railroad right of way. There they both found work, with James employed in the Stockyards, as a teamster.
His occupation during the Civil war is intermixed with enlisted service and employment as a civilian teamster.
After the Civil war he was employed as a drover on the Santa Fe Trail from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The distance was about 800 miles and took twelve weeks to make the round trip. Hughes made several trips before he became a army scout carrying dispatches..
James Hughes joined a group of men who decided to homestead in the new county that became Cowley. He arrived in November of 1869. James Hughes told his son that the men found hay put up in stacks but the Indians would allow no one to use it except themselves for their horses and bedding. It may have been hay put up by the John Tull group who had been forced by the Indians to withdraw to Cambridge.
James staked his claim about a mile north of the present Country Club. The description is SE quarter of section 17, Township 34, Range 4 East. His sister Margaret “Meg” was living with him in 1871. She was six years younger than James. Meg had come to Kansas to homestead but after an encounter with Indians, she took the stagecoach back east and has not been heard of since. His neighbors were Dan Purdy, Brainard Goff, Allen Melton, Daniel Beedy, John O. Ryan, E. F. Green, W. R. Johnson, Lyman Goff, Sam Perkins, and Melvin Baker.
James Hughes met Sarah Ann Ireton at a church supper in Winfield. They were married
April 26, 1876, in the Catholic Church, at Wichita. They had seven children, Jonnie, Mabel Elizabeth, Charlie, John Ben, Edward Daniel, James Lee, and Pearl. All of the children are listed as being born in Arkansas City.
Leaving his wife and family in Cowley County, James became one of the Oklahoma Sooners. Knowing land would be opened for settlement in 1889, he and some friends slipped across the border and located the land they wanted to claim. This land was 75 miles south of Arkansas City and about three miles from the Cimarron river. The legal description is Southeast quarter, section of Section 27, Township 18 n of Range 1 east. The wife and children joined him after the run and she had to file the claim in her name as James had already used his homestead rights.
Madison Reeves started contesting James Hughes claim to the land in 1889 and a quarrel developed. James was charged with assault with a pistol with intent to kill Madison Reeves. The hearing was scheduled for July 22, 1889 at Guthrie. He was found guilty, but the case was overturned because the incident happened in Indian Territory and United States law did not apply.
The case was concluded in 1895 when Hughes lost. The Hughes returned to their farm in Cowley County.
The Klondike gold rush started in 1896. James Hughes left on April 28, 1897, for Alaska. He returned two years later, unsuccessful.
After raising another grub stake, he left to return to the Klondike. He became stranded in British Columbia over the winter. In June of 1899 he shot and killed Alexander McCauley. He was arrested by the Mounties and held for trial. After a long trial, Hughes was found not guilty, and discharged.
James Hughes left for Nome, Alaska, after the trial, probably catching the boat in Vancouver. He appears to have been in Alaska for two years and made a living there, but returned home after June 1902, with little to show for his adventures.
He remained on the farm until 1915, when he and his wife moved to 502 North Sixth. He died there, of a lung absess April 23, 1921, at the age of 78.
There is a lot more detail to this story. Parts of the details are told in “Blaze Marks on the Border,” by Mrs. Violet Rinehart, “Between the Rivers” by Ruth Norris Berger and Bess Riley Oldroyd, “The History of the Cherokee Strip,”by Herbert Marshall, and “James Hughes, Biography of a Western Pioneer,” by LaRoux Gillespie. All of these books are at the Cherokee Strip Museum or the Arkansas City Public Library.
FROM THE NEWSPAPERS.
Arkansas City Republican, July 24, 1886.
TANNEHILL, KANSAS, JULY 22, 1886.
John Hughs came in from Stanton County, where he sojourned for one year. He now speaks of his “farm out west.”
[THEY HAD HUGHS...COULD THIS BE A REFERENCE TO JAMES HUGHES?]