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Dewey-Berry Feud, Rawlins County, Kansas

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Re: Dewey-Berry Feud, Rawlins County, Kansas

Tom Howell (View posts)
Posted: 1078016566000
Classification: Query
I was researching some of the Frank Rockefeller ranches in Kansas at the turn of the century when I can accross this. I was raised near the Rockefeller Ranch in SE Kiowa County, Kansas. He acquired a number of ranches in the late 1890s to early 1900s. I think he sold everthing out by 1905 an moved back to Cleveland, OH.


Dewey/Berry shooting over water tank killed three, wounded two

Sherman County Historical Society
June 3, 1903: Use Rifles on D.P. Berry and His Sons With Terrible Effect — Roy Berry Says He Was Shot With Rifle in Hands of Chauncey Dewey — The fight occurred over the removal of a water tank, but trouble had been brewing long.

Wednesday afternoon at 3:00, in the southeastern part of Cheyenne County, on land occupied by one of the Berry boys, was enacted the most tragic shooting affair in the memory of the oldest residents in northwest Kansas. The fight was between the Berry boys and the Dewey men. The dead are D.P. Berry, father; Alpheus Berry, son; and Burch Berry, son. The wounded are Roy Berry, cousin of the Berry boys, mortally wounded; and Beach Berry, son, wounded in the leg.

The news of the killing was telephoned from McDonald, a small town in Rawlins County, to Colby by Beach Berry, who had managed to escape with a flesh wound in the leg, saying that four had been killed and to send coroner, sheriff and physicians to the scene at once. Later reports confirmed the accuracy of his report.

D.P. Berry was shot in the pit of the stomach, the bullet ranging upward. He died instantly. Alphaeus Berry was shot in the back of the head near the base of the brain and killed. Burch Berry was also shot in the head and died instantly. Roy Berry was shot in the cheek, bullet ranging downward. Beach Berry received only a flesh wound in the leg.

The story of the shooting has its beginning in the removing of personal property. A sheriff’s sale had been held June 2, 1903, on the southwest of 1-5-37, then occupied by one of the Berry boys. The water tank was bought by the Dewey men and the windmill by the Berrys. In the afternoon of the next day, eight armed horsemen and two teams hitched to lumber wagons set out to get the tank.

The Dewey men report that as they were loading the tank, the Berry boys opened fire with Winchesters. A battle at once ensued, resulting in the killing of the Berrys. One horse of the Deweys was killed.

Feeling here is decidedly against the Deweys, and the citizens express the opinion that the Berrys were taken unawares and shot down in their tracks. They further say that it does not seem possible, if the Berry had any show and were armed, as they are crack marksmen, that the Dewey men could have played such havoc without receiving the disastrous fire of the Berrys. The shooting affair is the closing chapter of a long-standing feud between the Dewey ranch people and the Berrys. The Dewey Cattle company owns land on all sides of the Berrys and range thousands of cattle in that section of the country. The clash of arms was not a surprise to people who knew something of the warlike feeling of the antagonists.

June 12, 1903: Charge Murder inCold Blood — Coroner’s Verdict Says Killing of Berrys Was Premeditated
— Chauncey Dewey, Clyde Wilson and William McBride Under Grave Charges at St. Francis — In Custody of State Militia to Protect Them From Retribution of People — During all of Thursday and Friday there was a continual stream of people from the surrounding country to the place where the shooting occurred.

The spots where the victims fell were red with blood, and the evidence of death was on every hand. The bodies of the dead were laid out on boards in an empty corner of the corn crib. Ice was packed around the corpses to keep them in condition until the coroner should turn them over for burial.

The funeral of D.P. Berry, Alpheus Berry and Burch Berry was held at Bird City Saturday, and they were laid to rest in the Bird City Cemetery. Large crowds from all parts of the country swarmed to witness the last sad rites of father and sons who came to so untimely an end.

Reports say that McBride was the only one of the Dewey men out from the protection of the sod wall, and that he killed old man Berry, first knocking him down with the butt of his revolver and then shooting him in the abdomen as he fell. The ball ranged upward to such an extent that the ball came out between the shoulders of the victim, showing that he was shot while in a prone position. The two sons were killed instantly, one being shot at the base of the brain and the other in the temple.

Roy Berry, the first man shot, receiving a wound in the cheek, says their assassins were determined to let none escape if they could help it. The shot in the cheek brought him to the ground.

In a moment, he recovered and raised himself to run when a ball went through the crown of his hat. He knew it would be instant death to move again, and so he fell to the ground as if dead, and lay there until the Dewey crowd had left Beach Berry’s wound in the leg was nothing more than a bruise from a riffle ball which struck him on the thinly covered part of the hip and glanced. The tried to kill him, however, for they sent six shots after him while he was running the gauntlet from the barn to the corn crib and house. His escape was a miracle.

Roy Berry, who was thought to be mortally wounded, is still alive, and the chances of his recovery are encouraging.

After the shooting, Mrs. Berry attempted to go to the aid of her husband and the brothers but was ordered to return to the house under pain of instant death.

The shooting affair leaves two widows and one little child. The appalling character of the crime committed on these western homes by the slaughter of its defenders, has no parallel in the history of northwest Kansas.

Sherman County Historical Society
June 28, 1903:

Ranch manager testified to troubles with Dewey

June 28, 1903: Dewey treatment of the big Rockefeller ranch as told in sworn testimony by Percy E. Walden, who has been the resident manager of the Rockefeller ranch, in townships 4 and 5, Ranges 36 and 37, of Rawlins County since the 20th day of December, 1901, operations thereon.

Said ranch consists of about 13,500 acres of land, owned or leased, and is enclosed by 40 miles of good and lawful fence consisting of posts and four barbed wire.

The sworn oath states that “Shortly after I took charge of said ranch, C.P. Dewey, who occupies adjoining ranch, which is managed by Chauncey Dewey, the son of C.P. Dewey, turned his cattle within the Rockefeller ranch by opening the gate and driving the said cattle therein, and I went to said Chauncey Dewey at his headquarters on his ranch and asked him to remove his cattle, and he replied, ‘I’m not going to do it. Those cattle are going to stay right there.’

“And Dewey further said, ‘We intend to have for our range the territory between the Rock Island and the Burlington railroads and from Atwood to the Colorado line.’

“Said territory being about 60-40 miles and consisting practically of Cheyenne and Rawlins counties and the north half of Sherman and Thomas Counties, and thereafter, said Dewey over my protest, by force, kept about 120 head of cattle within the enclosure of the Rockefeller ranch until about the last of February 1902, when they were removed and about 80 head of mules turned in and therein maintained by force of arms.

“I turned said mules out several times, whereupon his man drove them back and came to my house said Dewey man said to me, ‘I have order to fire on the first man I catch turning those mules out, and I intend to carry out my instructions.’

“Said man was W.J. McBride and was then armed with a Winchester rifle and a six shooter. During the whole year, 1902, and up to and including the 20th day of January, 1903, gangs of men in the employ of said Dewey, usually armed, have frequently, maliciously and unlawfully over protest and remonstrance, cut the fence on said Rockefeller ranch.

“The fences cut by Dewey and his men were placed one foot inside the line located by the surveyor of Rawlins County as the line bounding up the premises owned by said Rockefeller, and all the land trespassed upon as hereinbefore stated was at all times herein stated and now is in the peaceful possession of said Frank Rockefeller and under my control.

“The last act of the fence cutting was on the 20th of January, 1903. Employees of Dewey, five in all, armed with Winchesters and six shooters.

“They informed me that they had instructions from Chauncey Dewey to cut said fence and they intended to do it. And thereupon by force of arms, each of them began cutting said fence, and for a distance of about three and one fourth miles cut each of the four wires of said fence on each side of every post.”

June 29, 1903: Ordered to Move — C.P. Dewey & Co. Order to Vacate Government Land — (From the Atwood Patriot) — C.L. Henderson, an agent for the interior department, was in this city last week. His mission here was to investigate the conditions which led to the murder of D.P. Berry and two sons, Alpheus and Berchard, on June 3.

As a result of his visit, Dewey & Co. have been officially notified to remove their fences enclosing government land. If this is not done within a reasonable time, agents of the government will do it for them, by force if necessary.

Mr. Henderson will report to the department that the Dewey pasture encloses about 6,000 acres of government land, a portion of which has been entered for settlement. In addition to this it is a fact which should be understood but is not generally known that the Dewey Cattle Company range over and control the use of land not their own. Only about 25 percent of the land enclosed in their pasture is owned by them, including all tax titles.

June 30, 1903: Prisoners Brought to Goodland Under Militia Guard and Taken to Topeka Upon Writ of Habeas Corpus — Hearing Set for July 6 — Chauncey Dewey, William J. McBride and Clyde Wilson, charged with the murder of Daniel P. Berry and his two sons, in charge of Sheriff McCulloch, of Cheyenne County, and the state militia, arrived in Goodland Sunday afternoon at 12:30 o’clock and pitched their tents just north of the freight depot.

They started on foot from St. Francis Saturday morning and covered the distance of 35 miles in two days. Chauncey Dewey and McBride were perched upon the spring seat of one of the baggage wagons, and Wilson was sprawled out on the baggage.

Everyone else walked except Sheriff McCulloch, who rode horseback ahead of the troopers as though he were a general commanding the army of the United States.

The whole affair was spectacular and pompous as it was ridiculous. As soon as the party halted for encampment, picket men were at once ordered to walk their beats as though the soldiers and the prisoners were surrounded by the treachery and villainy of a lawless people. Loaded guns, set with bayonets, were carried on the shoulders of the guardsmen, and the utmost precaution exercised against any possibility of demonstrations of violence.

A.T. Lucas, Sheriff of Shawnee County, acting as special marshal of the Kansas Supreme Court, and his deputy, came here from Topeka Sunday morning.

They had a writ of habeas corpus for the prisoners, who were taken to Topeka Sunday night, where on Monday arguments were made before the supreme court on applications for bail.

The militia accompanied Sheriff Lucas and his men as far as Phillipsburg where the soldiers walked across the country to the Missouri Pacific and took a train for their homes in Osborne.

SubjectAuthorDate Posted
ZenCity 1059300487000 
jonefab 1062471007000 
Jones,G. 1068770021000 
Tom Howell 1078016566000 
Dinah Faber 1068921883000 
travisberry1 1190320614000 
hempridge 1358435956000 
Steve Berry 1380916746000 
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