Aviation in Coffeyville
This heritage and history warrant recognition of those people and their contributions. Museums provide an excellent avenue to collect and present the activities and accomplishments of past years. Everyone in the area can make their contributions.
Coffeyville has witnessed aviation activities as far back as the year 1900. The first flights were, of course, by free balloon. The first airplanes were brought here during the Fair in 1909. One was the Glenn Curtiss-type Pusher Bi-plane powered by a four-cylinder motor, chain driven with two propellers. These early planes were displayed and flown at Forrest Park. Later a few more planes and gliders were flown here and at the city of Parsons.
The first Coffeyville-owned airplane was a World War I “Jenny” which was brought here by Roy Good in 1920. In 1925, two barnstormers came with a pair of old “Jennies.” They held forth at Abe Cline’s pasture for a week, charging $3.50 for a seven-minute ride.
Aviation developments continued with the location of Old Parker Airport southeast of Coffeyville in 1930. The facility provided many aviation services as well as Airline stops for N.A.T., Safeway, and TWA Airlines. This all ended in 1933 with the dedication of Pfister park Airport north of Coffeyville. Airline flights were discontinued a few years later.
During the period 1929 through 1935, the Inman Brothers operated a Tri-Motor Ford airplane to barnstorm around the area and carry passengers on sight seeing trips. Hank and Sally Duncan operated a flying school during this period.
In 1942 the United States Army Air Force constructed the Coffeyville Air Base. At the end of World War II, the field became the Coffeyville Municipal Airport.
Coffeyville’s past history has seen many aviation activities. Several operators offered aviation services and pilot training at as many as five airports around Coffeyville. Jack Lightstone and Roy Hartwig were the most out-standing Fixed-Base operators in this area.
Jensen Brothers established the Funk Aircraft Manufacturing Company in 1940 in South Coffeyville at Jensen Airport. They built 240 Funk Airplanes during the years 1946 and 1947.
William P. Brown
W. P.’s father, William Robert Brown, fought with the Union Army during the Civil War. He served as a Colonel of the Thirteenth West Virginia infantry. At the end of the Civil War he was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General. After the war ended, W. P.’s father moved the family to Independence, Kansas. To escape a difficult relationship, W. P. Brown left home at the age of 14.
W. P. worked at various jobs in Independence and Cherryvale, Kansas. He met his lovely wife-to-be Nancy from Ohio, when she was visiting relatives in Independence.
The Browns were married in Ohio but moved back to Independence to start a lumber business. They had two sons who died in infancy; a four-year-old son, William, died of pneumonia in 1898, and son Donald died at age 11. Violet was their only child who lived to adulthood.
The Browns moved to Coffeyville in 1890, and turned an old carpenter shop into a lumber company. Several years later, Brown smelled natural gas outside his company’s building and, six months later, he discovered one of the largest natural gas wells in the country. Brown went on to found the Coffeyville Mining and Gas Company and owned several other businesses in the area. Although plans were initiated in 1898, the Brown Mansion was not completed until 1906.
Visit the Brown Mansion Website for more information-Courtesy of the Coffeyville Historical Society.
Brick And Glass
Due to an abundance of natural resources – large deposits of shale, limestone and building stone – Coffeyville had a number of brick plants in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s – including the Standard Brick Company, the Vitrified Brick Company, and the Yoke Brick Company.
When Coffeyville’s four brick factories were operating to capacity some 765,500 bricks were made every day. Today these bricks can be seen literally throughout the world and have become a collector’s item to many.
In the 1900’s bricks were in great demand for sidewalk and street paving. There were 36 blocks of brick streets by 1905 to replace the dust and mud roads.Also, many railroads used bricks for their passenger platforms. Each factory would imprint their brick with a company name or a special design. One of the best known Coffeyville bricks is the yoke brick made by the Yoke Vitrified Brick Company.
Another popular brick is the “Don’t Spit on Sidewalk” brick. According to Montgomery County Historian Ivan Pfalser, this brick kicked off a health campaign that eventually swept the country. Born in Pennsylvania in 1862, Crumbine came to Ford County, Kansas, in the 1880s to practice medicine. Beginning in 1904, he served as secretary of the Kansas State Board of Health for twenty years. Crumbine was concerned about the spread of tuberculosis and other diseases and campaigned for their prevention. He became particularly concerned after observing tuberculosis patients spitting on the floor of a train. Crumbine was especially moved to act after watching one of these patients take a drink from a public drinking cup; he then observed a mother giving her child a drink from the same cup without first rinsing it.
Crumbine’s public health crusade argued for pure food and drugs, elimination of houseflies and rats, sanitary control of water and sewage, and the prevention of tuberculosis. He succeeded in abolishing the common drinking cup, the common or “roller” towel, and spitting in public places. This is where the “Don’t Spit on the Sidewalk” saying came from. Crumbine promoted these campaigns with other simple and easy to remember slogans, such as “Bat the Rat,” and “Swat the Fly.”
Glass in Coffeyville
Coffeyville was the home of both blown glass factories and bottle glass factories.
The art of hand blown glass produced a romantic era for Coffeyville between 1901 and 1916. There were 10 glass plants in the city. A number of homes today have windows of the blown glass from Coffeyville factories, and some collectors have glass fruit jars, plates, and other items which say “Made in Coffeyville.”
Glass blowers, who had learned their trade from their fathers and grandfathers in Europe, moved to Coffeyville with their families. In 1901 the Commercial Club had a banquet at the New Mecca Hotel for eastern glass company men who were looking for a plant site. These men chose Coffeyville. The inducements were the cheap natural gas and the practically free plant sites given by the Commercial Club.
More than 1000 jobs were available in the glass factories at one time and it was said that half the town’s adult population was “glass people.” Glass blowers were highly skilled and earned $75 to $100 per week depending upon the amount of their production. The work was seasonal as the hot furnaces did not burn during the summer.
The Coffeyville Window Glass Company was located by the Katy tracks on the present site of the Acme Foundry. The company employed 175 to 200 workers. One year $200,000 worth of glass products was marketed by the company. Over 700,000 feet of lumber were used in making boxes in which to ship the glass.
The sunflower glass plant was a cooperative built in 1903. It was owned by the workers and located on the Missouri-Pacific tracks. It employed about 200 men.
The Marion Fruit Jar Company was started by the men from Marion Ohio, and apparently was the same as the Ball Brothers Glass Company. It claimed to make one third of the world’s supply of fruit jars. About 200 persons were employed, and in the winter surplus glass jars were piled in fields awaiting the summer canning season and the closing of the furnaces.
Other glass companies once located in Coffeyville were The Coffeyville Bottle Glass Company, The Premium Fruit Jar & Tableware Glass Company, The Pioneer Flint Glass Company, as well as a small experimental plant where two glass workers experimented in making glass caskets.
Taken from “Coffeyville at 100, Incorporated: A History of Coffeyville”
The Daltons had grown up around Coffeyville, and had not always been outlaws. At first, Grat, Bob, and Emmett Dalton had been lawmen in the Indian territory of Oklahoma just south of Coffeyville. Their brother Frank had been a US Marshall. He was killed in a gunfight in Arkansas while trying to arrest some horse thieves. The three Daltons were deputized by Judge Parker, aka “The Hanging Judge” to catch the outlaws that had killed their brother. The Daltons soon found that being lawmen didn’t pay very well, at least not as well as rustling cattle, and began driving them to Baxter Springs Kansas and selling them. Their taste for money and gold soon lead to robbing trains and banks. They practiced their new trade from Kansas to California, becoming one of the most notorious gangs in Western History.
Robbing two banks at once was particularly appealing to the gang because this robbery was supposed to have been their last. The gang had plans to head to Mexico with the loot and retire. Nearly every lawman and railroad detective in the country was after the Daltons.
Three Daltons, Bob, Grat and Emmet, along with Dick Broadwell and Bill Powers wanted to do what no one had ever done before – rob two banks at the same time. After camping on Onion Creek, west of Coffeyville, they rode into town on horseback heading east on Eighth Street early on the morning of October 5, 1892. The Dalton brothers, being former residents of Coffeyville, wore disguises. They had planned to tie their horses between the two banks, but because Eighth Street was torn up, they tied them in the alley close to the jail. That was their first mistake.
Three of the bandits – Grat Dalton, Bill Powers and Dick Broadwell – went into the Condon Bank; Bob and Emmet entered the First National. When the gang demanded money from the safe at the Condon (the vault contained about $40,000), the quick thinking bank employee told him that the safe would not open until 9:30. Grat asked, “What time is it now?” The bank teller told Grat it was 9:20 when in actuality it was 9:40. Grat said, “I’ll wait,” which was their second mistake.
That ten minutes gave the townspeople the time they needed to get to Isham Hardware, grab some guns and ammunition and begin defending the town. When the raid was over, which lasted 12 minutes, four of the Dalton gang were dead and four of Coffeyville’s citizens were killed. Three of the citizens – George Cubine, Charles Brown and Lucius Baldwin – were killed near Isham Hardware. Marshall Connelly died in what is today known as Death Alley. Bob and Grat Dalton and Bill Powers were killed in Death Alley and are buried in Coffeyville’s Elmwood Cemetery. Dick Broadwell escaped on horseback and died about a half mile from the downtown. He was buried at Hutchinson.
Emmett Dalton was the lone survivor of the raid. A doctor treated young Emmett’s wounds, removing twenty-three slugs from his body. He was tried for murder, received a life sentence, but served only fifteen years in the Lansing Kansas State Prison. After his parole, He moved to California and became a real estate agent, author and actor, dying at the age of 66.
The Daltons were “laid out” in the city jail following their death prior to burial. There were souvenir hunters even in the Dalton’s days. Portions of the manes and tails of the Dalton’s horses were cut off and all the strings from the saddles. In addition, pieces of clothing from the gang members were cut off.
The banks were robbed of approximately $25,000. After the day’s banking business was completed and the books were balanced, the Condon came up $20 short and First National was $1.98 over, so fortunately for the banks most of the money was recovered.
The Defenders of Coffeyville
George Cubine was a young boot-maker apprentice that worked for his uncle at the Cubine Boot & Shoe Shop next to the First National Bank. He was firing at gang members inside the Condon Bank when a single bullet hit him in the back, punctured his heart, killing him instantly.
Charles Brown, an older boot-maker at the Cubine Shop, came to the aid of the young George Cubine. He was shot by the bandits before he could get a shot fired. He died three days later from his wounds.
Lucius Baldwin, shot by Bob Dalton as he and Emmett Dalton exited the back entrance of the First National Bank. Baldwin was pulled inside Isham’s Hardware store where he died from a chest wound to the heart.
Marshall Charles T. Connelly was a school teacher and Coffeyville City Marshall. Connelly was killed in Death Alley, just to the West of the Condon Bank. He had stepped out into the alley, unknowingly he was between the robbers and their horses at the far west end of the alley. Marshall Connelly was shot in the back by Grat Dalton who lay wounded on the ground.