Baca County History

by the Plainsman Herald

Boston, Lamar, & Sam Konkel’s “An Outlaw in Lamar”


There are many connections between Lamar, Colorado and the 1886-1887 Boom towns of Southeast Colorado. If you have not familiarized yourself with those boom towns click here to see a map.  The news about migration to Southeast Colorado and those new towns was often reported in newspapers such as the following from the March 24, 1887 issue of the Buena Vista Democrat.

Five Declaratory filings were made 1887

Also from the same March 24, 1887 issue:

Lumber heading to springfield

Boston probably more than any of the other 17 towns sprouting up on the Southeast Colorado prairie in 1886-1887 made an effort to connect to various communities, including lamar.  The following reports provide examples of said efforts.

boston willing to pay phone expenses 1887
Bent County Register (Lamar Colorado)
May 28, 1887 Page 2 Library of Congress

In 1887 many of those little towns which were started had a band.  The Boston, Colorado Cornet band was apparently a very talented group with the leader of the band, Freeman Newton, leaving Old Boston for a job with the Topeka, Kansas Orchestra just a couple of years after the establishment of the town.  They were talented enough for an invite to play on a float which was entry number thirteen (see below) in the May 24, 1887 parade celebrating the first anniversary of Lamar, Colorado.  

boston band is 13th entry in parade

Bent County Register (Lamar Colorado) May 28, 1887 Page 2 Library of Congress

More on the Boston band and another parade is provided in the second clipping below on Lamar’s 36th anniversary in 1923.

boston band and the jennings mentioned in lamars 36 anniversary
The Garden City Herald (Garden City, Kansas) · 08 Jun 1922.

Many other clippings note residents of the towns passing through Lamar on their way to other destinations.

Bent County Register (Lamar, Colorado)
12 Nov, 1887 Library of Congress.

The Taloga Star (Taloga, Kansas) · 16 Dec 1887.

In 1918 and 1919 the Springfield Herald had a regular series called “Persons, Stories, and Incidents of Old Boston and the Old Days,” written by Springfield Democrat-Herald editor Sam Konkel.   Each issue looked basically like the one below with the only changes being the subtitle.

outlaw in lamar

Konkel was the editor of the Boston, Colorado Paper 1887-1889 and then the Springfield paper from 1913 -1930.   Many times these editors would visit other newspaper offices and the note below shows Konkel darkening the doors of the Bent County Register in April 1887.   

Sam Konkel visits Lamar paper
Bent County Register (Lamar, Colorado) April 2, 1887

Many of these articles provide the  foundation for the historical account of Boston, Colorado which I wrote, “Old Boston: As Wild As They Come.”   

There were a few other tales Konkel provided in this series. This puzzle piece in the history of Southeast Colorado is provided in the January 17, 1918 issue of the Springfield Herald. Several times in his writing Konkel mentions Judge Doughty. Doughty ran an ad for his law practice in many issues of the early Springfield Herald such as the one below.

Ad for law practice of Judge Doughty Lamar 1898
Springfield Herald, Dec 31, 1897.

An Outlaw at Lamar

One day last week a man prominent in Lamar gambling circle cut off the Marshal and his deputies with a nickel six-shooter, after having tried the heads of some of those citizens with it — World, June 21st 1888

It was the afternoon of the day that the incident occurred.

We don’t know whether it was a breach of confidence or a breach of promise or of etiquette or some other breach the culprit was guilty of, but there was sure a breach in the ranks of the agressors when the said disgressor turned his shining six shooter on the official mob that was wanting to put him in limbo.

Lamar at that time was in the primer of its history. There were only frame houses then and they were unpainted and somewhat unpretentious.

The sidewalks were something like old Boston had in those days — boards. And the street looks something like the road down this way before they were shipped.

And out in the middle of the street stood this gambling knight, like some wild animal at Bay his eyes flashing defiance, and his shining nickle-plated peacemaker in his hand — and the minions of the law, with their bravery at stake wondering what to do next.

Once and Twice and Thrice the chief defender of the faith—the same being the the city marshal essayed to engage the wary knight errant in private converse, and each time the defender of personal liberty turned the speaking end of that nickel shiner down on them and the said defender of Lamar’s holy ordinances faced about and return to the sidewalk.

As we remember it now, the man who wanted not to be interned was finally given his way about it and walked back to the saloon and the show was over for that day.

The Judge Doughty tells it after the marshal had been bluffed into good behavior, the august mayor of the pompous city—to be, shoved his hands down  into his jeans pockets, and said a short prayer and crossed himself, and then ambled unconcernedly towards the  bad man talking about the weather, and started in on the future greatness of the imperial city, when the gun was turned the ugly weapon down on him with exclamation —

“Throw up your hands you blankety-blank”

But the mayor having said his prayers and crossed himself knew that whichever way he went whether up or down — provided the daring man got him he would be in a better place than Lamar anyway, jerked his hands out of his pockets with a plug tobacco in one of them and remark that —

“By___ I’m going to take a chaw of terbacker — if it’s the last act of my mayoral administration.”

And the outlaw left actually laughed at the mayor with his hand still Skyward kept right on walking and talking, saying to the personal liberty man to have a chaw with him — regular old fashioned  Sweet Navy that our fathers and mothers used to chaw on”  etc. etc.

And then he begin to admonish the bad man to put up his gun became peaceable and  law-abiding and to join them in the great missionary work of saving and reformation and to the end that he might live happily ever after, etc —

And the outlaw to avoid being further punished by the mayor’s religious exhortation told the mayor he was a damn good feller and turned around and walked off.

Whether the bad man then turned from the error of his ways, afterwards joining the Saints or the Holiness people or becoming a great salvation captain,  Judge Dougherty has not advised us; but we are presuming he finally died with his boots on and went down to plead with the old Nick for the other Lamarites when they came down that way.

In conclusion, by the way of an explanation as both the  writer of these old-time historical sketches and Judge Doughty are  conscience is on veracity, and sticklers for moral uprightness, and as there is a slight variation in the observations taken at the time. —

Therefore is our idea to the set personal liberty defender, to the special delectation of Judge Daddy and others, pulled off the second matinee and that moral and upright town and hence the entertainment seen by us were on different occasions.

Next time again

Konkel often closed the series articles with little phrases such as the one above.  Here are a couple of other ways he would close.

“Ditto Next Week”
“Next Week Again”
“Something Else Next Time”

On occasion the closing was something like the following:

“Right at this point we find we have “overdrawn” on our space account, so we will squirt some embalming fluid into the rest of the yarn to keep it from spoiling, and will give it to you the next time.”

FINAL NOTE: This issue of the Springfield Herald, which contained “the article “An Outlaw in Lamar” has both the date and the year  scratched out and penciled in with a different date. This is shown in the image below and I am not sure what was intended.   It doesn’t appear to me the sequencing of that issue was wrong.

why is the date scratched out

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