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This account of the murder of A. W. Balfour written by Maude O. Bixler, youngest child of Elisha M. Love, Kiowa County pioneer settler:

On this particular Fourth of July after mother’s death, they were having the celebration at Pryer’s Grove.  This was a large grove of planted trees, north of Haviland and in Edward’s County.  A dirt road ran east and west along the north side and it was surrounded on the other three sides by a pasture.  To enter the grove, you turned off the road and went through a gate at the west end of the grove.

Father drove the little mules through the gate and tied them to a fence post while he took me to the center of the grove where the people were gathering and where the grand stand and concession stands were.  Then he went back to unhitch the mules and tie them to the side of the wagon so they could eat the hay he had brought for them.

He had been quite a while, when I heard shots fired at that end of the grove; then in a short time two men on horses went down the road as fast as their horses could run.

I thought, my! they have started the celebration early.  That must have been the opening salute, but I didn’t think they were going to start the races that early.

In a short time father came to me and said, “A man has been shot, do you want to go see?”  I went with him and there was the man lying there in a pool of blood, begging for water.  Father said, “I am afraid it is fatal.  Begging for water is almost a sure sign.”  He had seen it happen too many times during the war.  They were rushing with preparations to move him to a house, but the nearest was a farm house two miles away and lumber wagons were the only vehicles available.  A man on horseback had already left for Haviland to summon a doctor and also to get word to his wife who lived at Greensburg.

What had happened was Balfour a Deputy Sheriff from Greensburg was looking for two men who were accused of petty theft at Greensburg.  Two strangers had come to Haviland, presumably to work in harvest.  They put up a tent in which one of their wives lived, and they had hired to work in harvest for a Mister Cook who lived just south of Haviland.  Mr. Cook owned a race horse and they had brought him the grove expecting to enter him in the races.  They had picketed the horse at the west end of the grove.

It seemed a few days before a livery man at Greensburg had kept their horses for a short time and when they had left with them, he discovered some harness and some other things were missing.  He was satisfied they were the guilty ones and had secured a warrant for their arrest.  He placed the warrant in the hands of Balfour the Deputy Sheriff.

Naturally, Balfour was not expecting them to be outlaws, so he walked up to one and said, “Consider yourself under arrest.”  The man pulled a pistol out of his shirt, shot him and said, “Not by a D - - sight.”  The sheriff shot as he fell but he was falling and the shot went wild.  It hit the man in the hand.  The sheriff handed his gun to his friend as he fell and said, “Here, I’m done for.”  But by then the two outlaws had hopped on their horses, cut their picket ropes and were out of shooting range.

Father was standing near the gate as they rode through it.  One of them was twirling their pistol around with one hand and swore he was the toughest guy that ever rode through that grove.

A man said to father, “Why didn’t you shut the gate?”

Father said, “I knew better.”

A man, I do not remember his name, marched up and down through the grove, begging for a posse of men to go with him and capture them but everyone was too shocked to move.  No one expected the men to do what they did.

They went back to Haviland and took the race horse back to Mr. Cook, then disappeared.  In a few days the woman and tent disappeared in the night also.

No one had suspicioned them to be bad men except brother Crandall and his step cousin Carry Hazell.  (Our aunt was his stepmother.)  The two boys were working also for Mr. Cook in harvest.  One day it had rained so they could not cut wheat so they went into town.  On the way while the horses were in a trot, they spied a quail sitting on a fence post.  One of the men jerked a pistol out of his shirt, shot, and the quail fell off the fence post.  From then on the boys were afraid of them and kept their money and valuables hid.  Of course they did not have much but it was precious to them.

These men on their way back to Haviland, rode up to the well at my brother Edwin’s farm, got themselves a drink and let their horses drink out of the tank.  My sister-in-law was home and saw them but she never dreamed they were bad men.  She noticed one of them had his hand wrapped with a red bandana handkerchief.

Later it was learned they were the Wyatt brothers, members of the Dalton gang, and that Zip Wyatt did the shooting.  They had fled to Indian Territory.  Balfour died soon after they got him to the farm house.

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Kiowa County History Book, 1979




ANDREW W. BALFOUR – The following true life story is written by Mildred Williams Locke, great granddaughter of the principal character, Andrew W, Balfour.

            My grandfather was killed by the Dalton gang . . . . . . My mother and her twin were born 2 miles north of Croft, Kansas, in a dugout.  There was 8 inches of water on the floor at the time.  My mother and her family moved to Greensburg, the setting for my story on that fatal day – July 4, 1892.

            The family was preparing for a celebration, being a picnic with homemade ice cream.  It was ready and waiting . . . . .

            But there was business to be taken care of first.  Grandfather was undersheriff serving with Sheriff Bonsall.  They went to make an arrest for stolen property at Fellsburg.  It was a tense  situation.  Mr. Anderson, a neighbor, tapped grandfather on the back to tell him something.  Grandfather turned . . .zing . . .a bullet from Zip Wyatt’s gun.  The Dalton gang panicked and started firing wild shots . .yelling defiance to anyone who dared to take them.  Grandfather raised from where he lay mortally wounded, having been shot through the abdomen, and fired two shots, one hitting its target but not doing serious injury.  Mr. Anderson had grandfather taken to his nearby house.  “I’m in no pain, but so very weak.”  He died thirty minutes later.

            C. B. Lee and Mr. Brown brought grandfather’s body home in a spring wagon.  A neighbor had preceded them with the bad news for the family, who were waiting to go to the celebration.  Mother, her twin, a brother and three other sisters were calmly reading, cracking nuts, etc., when Mr. Price arrived with the bad news.  Aunt Bertha screamed; all scampered to their feet to see what had happened . . .”Dad has been killed.”

            Thus the unhappy ending to the 4th of July celebration in 1892.  The ice from the ice cream was used . . .in his own home grandfather was packed with it on this sad day.

            Years later, Zip Wyatt paid with his life for this act of violence.

            Grandfather’s story is ended . . . but the name Andrew, has continued in the family through the years.  His grandson and my brother David Andrew Williams (killed in WWII while carrying a wounded buddy across a mine field in France in 1945).  David’s son, David Andrew, and his son.  At present, David Andrew Williams is pastor of First Baptist Church, Stafford, Kansas.

            It should be mentioned that grandfather was a descendant of Col. Andrew Balfour of Ashboro, North Carolina, about whom much history has been written.  Mildred Locke

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Andrew Balfour is buried in Fairview Cemetery, Greensburg, Kansas, Section A. Block 20, Lot 4.  

(A note from Shirley Weissmann:  The tombstones were placed on the gravesites in approximately the 1950s or 60s by Edith Shaw McMillen, oldest daughter of Bertha Balfour, who was the oldest daughter of Andrew Winfield Balfour.  They read, simply , Father Balfour and Mother Balfour even though Andrew's wife, Perina had remarried after Andrew's death.)

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1888 – 1927

(In Kiowa Co.)

 Balfour is a very old name in Scotland and is prominent in Scottish and English history.

            In 1884, Andrew and Perina Price Balfour, with two children, Bertha ten and Clarence Andrew, eight, came to Kansas from Illinois and settled on land in Pratt County.  Later that year, twin daughters, Georgia and Gertrude were born and in 1887 a daughter Nina made her entrance into the family circle.  In 1888, grandfather moved to Kiowa County, and in 1889 another daughter, Leola arrived to complete the family.  Leola is in her 89th year and still going strong.

            In 1890 grandfather was elected Constable of Center Township.  In 1892, in the capacity of Deputy Sheriff, while serving a warrant for the arrest of a desperado, Zip Wyatt, he was shot and killed.  In the confusion, Wyatt fled the scene and made his escape into Indian Territory in Oklahoma, managing to elude his pursuers.

            Grandmother died in 1945 in her 92nd year.

            My mother, Gertrude married Geter Shull Williams, 1908.  He came to Kiowa County about 1906 from Illinois.  They resided in Greensburg until about 1927 when they moved to Coldwater.  In 1930 they moved to Liberal and remained there the rest of their lives.  Geter died in 1950, Gertrude in 1970.  They became the parents of five children.  Aleen, born June 8, 1908;married Elvin House of Haviland in 1928; Mildred, born March 24, 1911; married Orville Locke; Henry, born 1913; married 1st Rosemary Fischer, 2nd Ellen Cain; David, born 1916; married Addie Blonde; he was killed in 1945 on the battlefield in France, his son David is a Baptist minister; Robert, born 1919, married Emma Hughes, died 1972 on his 51st birthday.

Elvin’s parents were William and Bertha House, also early comers to Kiowa County.  

(Note:  A paragraph about their children has been deleted)

I and my brothers and sister, with the exception of Robert, who was born in Lewis, Kansas, while we lived there for a short time in 1919, were born in Greensburg.

Elvin worked for the city of Liberal in various departments.  His last position before his retirement was Superintendent of the Municipal Airport.  He couldn’t take retirement and is now employed at the First National Bank in Liberal as a Security Guard.  I served twenty-five years as Deputy County Clerk, and in 1968 I was elected Register of Deeds.  I hope to retire at the completion of my present term.  Elvin will re-retire and we plan to do some traveling and explore the wonders of this wonderful country, of which we are very proud.  Aleen Williams House

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            Charles E. Townsend Cooke, born 1867 in Sharon, Michigan, was the sixth child of a family of eight.  His parents were George and Jane Townsend Cooke.  His oldest sister was Martha Cooke Raymond, a well known and respected, long time resident of Greensburg.

            The family moved from Michigan to Mcpherson County, Ks.  Dissatisfied, they moved on to Kiowa County and settled near Haviland in 1884.  Daddy taught his first school at age 16.  In 1896 he entered KU (University of Kansas), specializing in foreign languages.  When war broke out with Spain, he volunteered his services to the armed forces.  He spent two years in the Philippine Islands.  He was the only volunteer from Kiowa County and the first American soldier to step foot on Philippine soil.  After discharge he returned to the University, graduating in 1902.

            In 1906 while he was Editor and Publisher of the Kiowa County Signal, he and mother were married.  They had four children: George Balfour died July 1909 age 21 months; I was born Dec. that same year; Rodney died in 1928 in his 16th year and Nelouise was born Nov. 1920.

            Daddy had many interests but he always returned to teaching.  He read and studied constantly to improve his mind until the day he died.  He took a stab at politics, serving a term as County Supt. Of Schools.  In 1918 he was elected County Clerk but before the end of the term he resigned and returned to his chosen profession.  Mother finished out his term, was elected herself and held the office until 1932.

            Daddy was proficient in seven languages, especially German, French, Spanish and Latin.  He taught German and Latin at the old Kiowa County High School.  At Belvedere he taught all subjects.

            My mother, Georgia, was the daughter of Andrew and Perina Price Balfour.  They came to Kansas in 1884 from Illinois.  My mother and her twin sister, Gertrude, were born in Pratt County, but the family moved to Greensburg in 1887.  Her father was shot and killed while attempting to make an arrest in 1892.

            In 1932 my parents moved to Fort Dodge.  Daddy was librarian and Mother worked at the post office.  In 1939 they came to California to be near me and Neloise.  Daddy died in 1944 and Mother in 1968.

            Neloise has two sons, Charles and William and a daughter, Georgianne, and five grandchildren.  Their father died in 1961.

            In December, 1973, I retired after 26 years with a large corporation in Los Angeles.  My position there was a challenging one and I enjoyed every minute of it.

            I am now devoting my time to genealogy, and have traced both the Cooke and Balfour lines back to the 16th century in England and Scotland.  I am now busy writing papers which, hopefully will soon be ready for publication.  Glenna Cooke Barber

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