Graves On Old Boot Hill

My Grandfather Fred Kirkpatrick, Sr. was born in Dodge City in 1889. His father was prominent attorney and sometimes County Attorney from about 1880 on. Fred became the City Engineer after serving in WWI and working with the City for some time and so he had a hand in the early development of the town.

He was so proud of the brick streets that he designed and had installed. But there is another story that I thought you all might enjoy.

The City was expanding North and there was a need for water and sewer lines for the neighborhood being developed and so my grandfather was in charge of those projects.

As they dug the sewers by hand, many graves were found and one of the men was very spooky about ghosts and would panic when bones were struck. The graves were exhumed and taken to Maple Grove and reburied there but regardless, this man was scared to death. Nearly.

One day late in the day he was working down in the trench and my grandfather was inspecting the work. A cat walked by and SOMEONE threw the cat down on this poor mans bare back. The cat lit with claws extended and the man screamed bloody murder and came up out of that ditch in one leap, running back to town.

My grandfather said the man never even came back for his paycheck. I didnt get it til later but the smirk on Grandpas face MAY have implicated him in the crime of tossing the cat.

True story and just a day in the life of Dodge City, Kansas 1940

Ford County Lake - Old Lead Pencil the Catfish

Old Lead Pencil The Catfish of Ford County Lake



My grandfather Glenn Hoofnagle was one of the greatest fishermen I have ever known. He would catch fish when no one else did and Ford County Lake near Dodge City was no exception. It was a muddy sort of affair NE of Dodge and being surrounded by farmland tended to be muddy in color.


The lake was built in a small depression in the land and there were rocky outcroppings in this area and it must have been a small canyon looking spot before the lake was there. The dam is small but holds water back and has been enjoyed for many many years by people of the area.


There is an old 4-H camp there and the Boy Scouts use that location for activities.


The lake went through some dry spells much like all of Western Kansas and would get extremely low during these periods revealing the rocky overhangs that surround the lake shore. My grandfather had fished through these times and would memorize the rocky overhangs and then utilize that information when the lake refilled.


On these overhangs the constant wave action against the bluffs had eroded caves back under the edges and when the lake returned to normal levels, big catfish would live back in those areas.


My grandfather was one of the first people I ever heard of to use plastic worms and his technique was not like any I have ever seen since either. He would throw it out and slowly reel it in. Now slow to him was one reel crank maybe a minute. That would creep the worm along the bottom so slowly and it was impossible for me to do it as I was a kid and had no patience for that. I have used this technique since and it works unbelievably well.


So he often went out to the lake after work to ply his skills and at one particular spot would get a bite from a huge fish just as the worm would get to the edge of the overhanging cliff. A tough fight would ensue and the fish would go back under the overhanging rock and saw off the line. He used bait casting equipment with braided line so this was no small fish.


Each week my grandmother would write us about grandpa losing the fish once again and they began to call him “Old Lead Pencil” as they figured out that his whiskers were probably about the size of the old lead pencils that people used in the old days. These were solid lead and no wood around them and about as big around as a standard wooden pencil. So this was a big fish.


This weekly battle went on all summer and finally grandpa decided he had to try something different so the next time he got the fish to bite, he hauled back and pulled as hard as he could before the fish could get under the rocky cliff. The fish came up and eventually came to net and it was over 40 pounds.


The fish had been hooked so many times and broken off that his mouth was a total mass of fishing line and hooks and they were amazed that the fish could even eat in that condition. I would like to say that he released the fish but those were the days of using what you caught to supplement your diet and Old Lead Pencil was dipped in corn meal and provided excellent table fare for many meals to come.  

Dodge City Kansas Bait Store

My grandfather on my mothers side was adopted by some people named Hoofnagle and lived near Satanta, Kansas. His birth mother was a young woman named Ross from Wichita and she gave him up for adoption due to being unmarried and her wealthy parents were mortified.

Later in life, she became an invalid and I recall Iola being taken care of by this son she had denied. But the story really is about Avenue D in Dodge City once again.

Glenn Hoofnagle and Guy Quillan had a paint store in Dodge for many years and did painting around the area. Later in life he also had a bait shop in his back yard there. The main reason was that there was no place for people to buy fishing bait and he loved to fish so would accommodate other people.

Many a weekend I spent with Grandpa seining minnows from the Arkansas River to sell during the week. I was always scared to get in the deeper holes which seems funny now that there isn't any water in the river there and hasn't been for 40 years I guess.

He had a cellar and raised worms for sale too.

Grandmother Mabel Hoofnagle was a Gillette by birth with many family members there in town. She always had Peonies flowers in abundance and sold them for $0.25 a bunch as she "always wanted poor people to have flowers to decorate the graves" on Decoration Day. That's our memorial day now.

IF you remember going there as a child I would love to hear from you.


Brick Streets In Dodge City

Just a short story here. My grandfather, Fred Kirkpatrick, Sr. was the City Engineer in Dodge for many years serving as assistant engineer in the early 1900's also. 

I am not sure why concrete was not used on the streets but Dodge, just like the other Kansas towns of the time, began using bricks for paving. These were laid on a sand base over a harder substrate like concrete and took a huge amount of labor to install. The best part about them was repairs could be made to water lines or other buried infrastructure and the street repaired to like new condition. 

I assume that the heavier vehicles today have as much to do with the demise of these streets as anything as their design load probably wasn't intended to support bigger trucks etc. They do last a long time and even though they get rough ,many are still in use today 100 years later. 

My grandfather loved the brick streets of Dodge and was so proud to have been instrumental in the construction of so many. So when you drive down those cobblestone avenues, you will now know who to blame.

The Womens Hat Shop - The Hat Box

My grandmother Kirkpatrick was born in 1900 and came to Dodge City as a young woman to work. Her and her twin sister had both been to college and that was a very rare and new occurrence in those days. 

She had learned to make hats and that being quite the rage among women then for the next 30 to 40 years she worked at that job even in the years when I would visit them for extended times and I was about 13 years old. 

She worked then at a store called The Hat Box. I would ride my bicycle downtown and visit her about every day. I recall the store being about a block east of the Sante Fe Depot and North of Front Street about a block. It sat about 2/3rds the way down the block from where Hwy 50 turned at the Depot and was on the North side of the street. 

My memories are of sweet smelling older ladies scurrying around the store. Hats were perched for display everywhere and some had feathers poking out of them. I think at that time they were boxy little things that sat atop a woman's head and I never recall seeing my grandmother dress up without a hat on. 

Growing Up In Dodge City 1937

This story comes to me from my father who was born in Dodge City on October 21, 1930. Today he divides his time between Luray, Kansas and South Fork, Colorado.

Once upon a time, well really the time was about 1936-37.  We had just moved back from Hutchinson, where my father had worked for the Hutchinson Foundry as a salesman for a  year or so while the City of Dodge was trying to accumulate enough money to pay their employees.  It was the middle of the depression, and no one had any money to speak of.  We moved into a house on Sixth Avenue which was about 3 blocks north of Lincoln Grade School.  I was a second grader and Miss Tulis was my second grade teacher.  Getting started there was not hard since I had attended there before our move to Hutchinson and knew all the kids in my grade.

     Our house was a nice one story on a corner lot.  And best of all it had an old chicken house behind it which immediately became a "club" house.  Not that we had any important meetings there, but it was a place a fellow could get away.  The reason I mention this is that it had some old oak flooring stored in it, and that provided for some really great inventions.

     Our neighbors two houses to the north had a bunch or kids.  The Winfrey's had twin boys, a couple of years older than me, named Larry and Darrey, and a girl named Margie, who was a year younger than me, and a younger boy who was an infant when we lived there.  Anyway we had great times playing together.  

     The area around where we lived was hilly and so provided some exciting entertainment if you were lucky enough not to kill yourself.  One of the great things was that the whole area had sidewalks which served as a place to skate.  We had the clamp on type of skates, which would expand as your shoe size changed.  Now we come to the oak flooring I mentioned.  I cut one of the pieces of flooring and put it between my legs and had a great brake by leaning back and pulling up which caused the wood to drag on the sidewalk.  You could control your speed that way which was really important when you were skating down the steep hills just east of our house.

     Another great entertainment was to walk on stilts. Here again the oak floor was a godsend.  I should mention that my dad made my first stilts, which had long handles and whose foot rests were about 8 inches off of the ground, but they were good enough to learn and master the art of stilt walking.  So after becoming proficient at stilt walking, I graduated to a pair of oak flooring uprights with the foot rest about two feet off the ground, and the tops of which just came to my waist when on them.  I got so I could run on them and jump on them and they became a great source of transportation. There were of course a few spills, but nothing serious.

      Since I have mentioned Lincoln grade school, I should also mention our flag pole which was about 6 inches in diameter, and made of steel and painted with aluminum paint.  The flags were flown every day when the weather was good, and were always taken down at night, to do otherwise was to desecrate the flag.  That has nothing to do with the insane attempt at licking the pole in the dead of winter, lots of kids learned the hard way that your tongue would immediately be frozen to the pole.  It always looked like a losing proposition so I never tried it.


Dodge City Flood of 1965

FROM the Dodge City Weather Service.   

FROM the Dodge City Weather Service.


I was only about 9 years old when this occurred but my memories are vivid about not only Dodge City but Denver and Pueblo as well as other small towns along the way.

Our family was on vacation in Oregon visiting my Dad's brother when the flood hit. My dad rushes us homeward since we had family in Dodge City but there was nothing that could be done for them so we might as well have stayed out there.

We came down through Denver and Pueblo and I remember the railroad boxcars all scattered by the floodwaters and our drive down the Arkansas River had scenes of flooding in every town with some detours.

Towns were built along the River long ago for a source of water so are subject to floods that occur. I recall driving past Lakin an then Kendall where the highway was washed out and the sheriff was guiding people through the area

Garden City was a disaster and every town was flooded as we neared Dodge. The storm had dumped over 24 inches of rain in the upper reaches of the drainage and it had no where to go but down the river. John Martin Reservoir filled to over capacity and they had to open the gates wide open thereby unleashing a torrent downstream on the people below. Testimony from a worker on the dam said it was shaking with strain and its a miracle that it held

If you visit that dam today you can still see old logs along the upper edge of the dam from that high water level. At least you could see the trash 5 years ago when I last visited.

Dodge City was flooded badly and I remember the water marks on buildings in South Dodge 10 feet up on the walls. My Aunt Alice lived down there and her house was flooded horribly near Sunnyside School. Her sons were cleaning up when we arrived and there was about 2 feet of nasty mud in the house.

My Grandparents lived above the high water mark so we did not have to help them. My father was a pastor and he felt like we needed to check on things in Great Bend where we lived.  I remember Kinsley and Larned being flooded horribly and Pawnee Rock had water in every house there. Garfield also had massive damage being right on the river.

Great Bend had some few days warning and a valiant effort was put out to save the City. Men and boys and machinery converged West of town and in a few days time built a low dirt berm extending from the river up to the airport and higher ground. It actually did save the town from the floodwaters but just barely.

Later efforts along the River building huge dike systems have eliminated all but the worst threats from the Mighty Arkansas River today. But the smaller towns who could not afford these dikes remain at risk for the next deluge. Towns like Coolidge, Lakin, Syracuse, kendall, Ingalls, Garfield, Kinsley and others are right in the path for the next event.               Movie showing the flood.



J.M. Kirkpatrick, Attorney Dodge City, Lodge Brother to Wyatt Earp

I am finally at the end of a long journey so it seems. For over ten years I have looked for a picture of my great grandfather, J.M. Kirkpatrick. He was born in 1854 and went to Dodge City about 1873 or before. My grandfather seemed to think he came west at age 19 so that would have been 1873. He and his brother Edward who was a year or two older came to Dodge to work and since J.M. had passed the bar exam, he was an attorney and Edward had a furniture and mortuary store. Those types of stores usually went hand in hand in the western states.

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Moving Boot Hill Cemetary

My grandfather Fred Kirkpatrick Sr. was born in Dodge City in 1889. He saw a lot of history there over the 95 years he lived in the area. He was also the City and County Engineer for probably over 40 years and maybe longer so he was involved with all of the street, water and sewer projects as Dodge grew from a Western Kansas cattle town to a booming stockyard and beef processing and farming community.

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Egg Money - Mabel Gillette Hoofnagle and Alice Gillette Bradley

Mabel and Alice and the Egg Money

This is a story about Mabel Gillette Hoofnagle and Alice Gillette Bradley, two sisters who grew up south of Dodge City at the turn of the century. By the time I was a boy old enough to remember, they were older of course and Mable was my grandmother on my moms side. She had married Glen Hoofnagle whose real name was Ross as he was adopted by Harvey Hoofnagle when a small child. They lived out by Satanta and the Gillettes by out that way also.

Alice lived in South Dodge which by definition was everything south of the railroad tracks. That was part of the original town and grew mainly due to the cattle herds coming in from that direction and the close proximity to the Arkansas River which was vital to towns back in the early days for water.  Wright Park is down there along the river and we spent many a summer afternoon there with the Bradleys and Weiss and Hoofnagles at picnics.

So Alice like many people, had chickens in her back yard. She had a chicken house and pen and provided eggs to people for extra cash money. Now we are talking 10 ro 15 cents a dozen here back in those days but gasoline was 15 cents a gallon too then.

Alice's house was on a railroad spur line and we used to go over there and play on the railroad cars and get in trouble whenever my grandma took me down there to visit. hah. Just a side note.

So Alice would come to my grandmothers on Saturday and deliver eggs for the week and I was often there as my father, Fred Kirkpatrick, came to Dodge to help Charles Williams with a Friday night meeting he was preaching at. I always spent the night at Mabels as they were so much fun.

So they would sit at the kitchen table and talk and talk and talk and talk. Then it came time to leave and Mabel would ask what she owed. Alice would say,. "Now Mabel, you know that two weeks ago, you didn't have change and gave me a quarter so I owed you 15 cents?" And Mabel would say, "No, Alice, I think you gave me two extra eggs that week so I owe you two more cents for those, too." Alice: "Mabel, eggs are 10 cents a dozen so that's not a penny each." Mabel:" but alice, I know I didn't have a nickel last week and you said it was okay?" Alice: "Yes but Mabel, you gave me some tomatoes three weeks ago and a cucumber last Sunday at church?.

So you get the drift., This would go on and on and on while Grandpa Glen and I would sit in the living room and just giggle at them. ITS one of our favorite family stories about Grandma and Alice.

Early Family History Dodge City Kansas-Trip East

My great grandfather was a full blooded Indian although we don't know of what tribe. We do know from conversations I had with my Grandmother, that he lived in either Arkansas or Louisiana most likely or maybe Missouri. Her Mother, Mrs. A.R. Gillette went on her honey moon to see him. She only met him that one time and the story here relates that to you.

My great grandfather, A.R. Gillette told his children that being of Indian descent back in those days was not something you wanted to be known for. They had lived in town until one day some marauding Indians came into town and killed everyone but them. From that day on, they were blackballed from living with the whites so always lived in the country. A.R. Gillette, the son, came west to homestead land south of Dodge City, Kansas. Doing so helped him escape many of the prejudices found in the east and also gave him a chance to have his own farm for free.

They went to visit the old man the one time and Grandmother Gillette related that he sat around on the cabin porch a lot in a blanket and never said a word to her. Some Indians came into the yard several times to raid and all he had to do was stand up and look at them and they would leave. He must have been known among the tribes there.

She also said that the mother was nowhere to be found and no mention was ever made of her again. She was probably white or of white descent and I assume that the name Gillette came from her as its not an Indian name. She may have been from Lousianna also but no one seems to have known and back in those days, no one asked either. Too bad.

They settled on a farm south of Dodge City, Kansas and raised a large family. Names associated with that family are Gillette, Bradley, Hoofnagle, Kirkpatrick, Weiss, Burnett, Klack, Thomas and others.

If you would like more info on Dodge City please feel free to ask.