The trials of Wiley Welch

A coat theft in 1880 led to one of Yates Center's earliest gun battles, and the killing of John Welch. This week's Just Prairie installment revisits those notorious events.

By

Local News

June 1, 2020 - 9:45 AM

The sandstone memorial to the Davidson family warms in the sun near the unmarked grave of John Welch, who was fatally wounded in the gunfight on the Yates Center square.

I was sitting in Kalida Cemetery, near the final resting place of John Welch, who was killed in the infamous gun battle on the Yates Center square sometime around April 1880, when the town was only a few years old.

It began when John’s brother, Wiley, and other cowhands from Garnett had left a dance out at Dry Creek in northwestern Woodson County one frozen Christmas night.

Perhaps grimacing at the thought of the frigid wind sweeping across the open ranchlands, Welch stole a coat and pair of gloves belonging to Warren Walters.

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