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This is a nice little slice of Americana. After seeing the documentary "Unbeaten", it prompted me to explore more online...
Learn more about Goodland by following the links below:
County Seat Fight
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About this Exploration:
The old First National Bank Building was once the scene of an armed confrontation when Goodland wrested control of county records from Eustis. Temporary Sherman County seat Eustis was determined to keep the county title and had used extra-legal means to do so. But that armed confrontation gave Goodland the upper hand.
Sherman County was organized September 20, 1886, with Eustis as the temporary county seat. To become a permanent county seat, a town was required to receive an absolute majority in a county seat location election. Upstart Goodland offered Sherman County residents the sweetest deal in the permanent county seat sweepstakes. Eustis offered the third-best deal.
In the November 8, 1887, regular election, the slate of candidates from Goodland won nearly every seat. The special county seat election was up two weeks later.
On November 22, 1887, Goodland won 872 of 1,495 votes, a 58 percent majority. When the County Commissioners canvassed (or certified) the votes, Goodland would become the legal, permanent county seat. But the commissioners, who were from Eustis, refused to canvass.
The case went to the Kansas Supreme Court, which ruled that the votes should be canvassed. Kansas Attorney General Simeon Bradford said that Goodland was the legal permanent county seat and that Eustis had no right to keep county records. Eustis ignored them.
Finally, on January 9, 1888, the commissioners declared the Certificates of Election of the Goodland candidates vacant and reappointed the previous county officers. The new officers refused to be set aside and opened their offices in Goodland on the same day.
Four days later, a group took matters into its own hands. In 25 degrees below zero weather, 85 members of the Homesteaders Union Association (HUA) marched from Goodland to Eustis, determined to forcibly remove county records from Eustis to Goodland. The homesteaders were armed with Winchester rifles and highly flammable turpentine balls.
Eustis Major L.R. Dayton was supposed to give the signal for the Eustis men to begin firing. Instead, the marchers seized Dayton as hostage. Some reports also state that they threatened to burn Eustis to the ground. Dayton led the marchers upstairs to the records, which they loaded into wagons and took with them to Goodland. Not a shot was fired.
Goodland finally had possession of the county records, but the fight was not over. The governor sent two members of the National Guard to investigate and Eustis kept on fighting in the courts. The controversy was not settled until May 1888. As the other lost towns of Sherman County had already done, Eustis moved its buildings into Goodland, including the bank building where the records had been kept. It now stands at 1102 Main.
Former towns Voltaire and Itasca have Sherman County townships named for them, but Eustis, which was located at the current intersection of Roads 13 and 65 (Eighth Street Road), survives only as a street name on the eastern edge of Goodland.
The diorama of the record seizure is in the High Plains Museum. An HUA plaque hangs in the County Commissioners' Room in the Sherman County Courthouse.
Goodland, KS 67735