One can take a walk on the sidewalk in what was once Hide Park, also called Hyde Park, in Newton — the location of one of the bloodiest days in the history of the town.
But geographically, the Newton General Massacre and Hide Park has all but been erased. There are no historical markers. No structures preserved from the summer of 1871. The area of Hide Park, in the 200 block of West Second, is now filled with residential homes. One business, a plumbing business, is on the block.
“The people at that time were horrified, and that was not how they wanted the town to be seen,” said Kristine Schmucker, a curator for the Harvey County Historical Museum who has researched Hide Park extensively. “They wanted to downplay it. In Judge RWP Muse's History of Harvey County 1871, he talks about how proud they were that they were able to get rid of that and to overcome the cowboy element.”
The railhead, which attracted the traffic of cowboys driving cattle to cattle yards, moved out of Newton. The cowboys moved with it.
While it is a piece of history that at one time some wanted to be forgotten, it is one of importance. The Newton General Massacre, which left at least five men dead in Perry Tuttle's Saloon, led to gun surrender laws throughout the west. Published reports in newspapers of the day led to Newton being dubbed The Wickedest City in the West.
A new movie is coming out, made by an independent film maker born in Kansas who wrote and produced “Hyde Park.” Since The Kansan reported the making of the movie, and the process of entering the film into festivals and a possible release last year, the story has been the most popular story at thekansan.com.
A piece of history that, apparently, some want to remember despite early Newton erasing it. That does not surprise Schmucker.
“Whenever I post about that (on the Harvey County Historical Society website and blog) it does well,” Schmucker said.
The question of just where it all occurred is one that she is asked often. She has researched the location and written about it as well.
Hide Park was an area south of the train tracks, dubbed hide park “because the girls showed so much of their hide,” according to Schmucker's research. The spelling is called into question as well — contemporary writers refer to the area as “Hide Park,” while Muse referred to the area as “Hyde Park.”
The area was filled with saloons and brothels. The two largest were saloons owned by Perry Tuttle and Ed Krum.
The shootout occurred in Lot one of block 52 in Newton, now the 200 block of West Second — just over a block from the historical museum located at the intersection of Main and Second. According to county records, houses constructed in the area of Tuttle Saloon were built between 1900 and 1920.
There are no historical markers, though the location of Perry Tuttle's saloon can be found through research.
“I always caution people. That is private property. There is no permission for people walking around on yards,” Schmucker said. “We do have the deed, and that is what I am basing it on.”