Riley Lake, Barber County, Kansas Barber County, Kansas.  

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Riley Lake

Riley Lake.
Photo courtesy of Carol (Lake) Rogers.

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Riley Lake of Lake City, Barber County, Kansas
Photo courtesy of Carol (Lake) Rogers.
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The Barber County Index, May 24, 1934.


Funeral services for Riley Lake, pioneer southern Kansas cattleman, were held in Lake City last Saturday afternoon in charge of Rev. J. P. Woods of Anthony, assisted by Rev. T. J. Davis, pastor of the Methodist church of Lake City. Burial was made in the Lake City cemetery.

Mr. Lake who had been ill for many months died in Wichita, Thursday morning, May 17, at the age of 71 years. He came to Kansas with his father, Reuben Lake, in 1868, coming to Lake City, in 1872 where the father established a cattle ranch, founded the city and became the first sheriff of Barber County. Riley Lake grew to manhood on the ranch and was prominently identified with the cattle industry from young manhood. He held extensive herds along the Medicine River, and previously he and his father had large herds on the open range. In the early days of the county he engaged in the freighting and stage coach business, operating a line from Wellington to Medicine Lodge and up the Medicine River and on to Coldwater and Dodge City.

During his long years of residence in Barber County, Mr. Lake became prominent as a Democratic leader, serving as county chairman for his party, and for many years as a county commissioner. He was a Shriner and 32nd degree Mason.

Riley Lake was one of the few remaining of that band of hardy pioneers who made Kansas. Resourceful and persistent, disappointments and set-backs did not discourage him for long. He made his plans again and went at the task from another angle. He made fast friends - many of them - and an occasional enemy - but friend or enemy - all who knew him held for him a vast amount of respect. His place in the community where he lived most of his life will not be filled. He will be greatly missed.

He is survived by his widow, to whom he was married in 1895; two sons, Dan of Wichita and Russell of Lake City and a daughter, Mrs. Homer Eagles of Larchmont, New York; two grandchildren; and a sister, Mrs. F. B. Gordon of Lake City.

Last of Riley Lake Stages with Charles B. 'Keno' Armstrong driving. Taken in Medicine Lodge, Barber County, Kansas, early 1900's.

Photo from the collection of Carol (Lake) Rogers, courtesy of Kim Fowles.
Last of Riley Lake Stages with Charles B. "Keno" Armstrong driving. Taken in Medicine Lodge, early 1900's.
Photo from the collection of Carol (Lake) Rogers, courtesy of Kim Fowles.

Photograph taken about 1903 south of the Grand Hotel in Medicine Lodge, Barber County, Kansas. This party was leaving for the Kingman Ranchers Picnic, an annual event. Left to right: the driver, Charles B. "Keno" Armstrong, Frank Gordon and Elbert Heflin. Center row, left to right: Cassie Watson Kitchen, Mrs. Scott Rupert and Mrs. Irena B. Gordon, wife of Frank. Rear, left to right: Jerry Gano and Scott Rubert.

The Kiowa Herald, November 5, 1885.

A shooting affray occurred at Medicine Lodge on Wednesday between Riley Lake, son of Reuben Lake, of Lake City, and G. M. Martin, an attorney, of Medicine Lodge, in which the latter received serious if not fatal wounds. Martin was shot twice -- once in the head and again in the leg. A dispute arose over the election. It is said Martin fired the first shot, but without effect. Lake made no attempt to escape, and was taken in charge by the officials.

Also see:

Reuben LAKE, father of Riley Lake.

Nevada Jane (Pierce) LAKE, first wife of Riley Lake.

Charles B. "Keno" Armstrong, Barber County stagecoach driver.

Bill Horn, Barber County stagecoach driver.

Lake City Plot Map, Barber County, Kansas
From Standard Atlas of Barber County, Kansas, 1905.

Sectional Map of Comanche County, Kansas This map shows routes of the stagecoach lines in Comanche County, note the Lake Stagecoach route.

Donald R. "Cannonball" Green Founder of the Cannonball Stagecoach Line; father of Greensburg, Kansas.

"The first roads were simply mowed swaths from one location to another. In one instance a prairie fire burned off the grass and it was hard to find the road toward Kinsley. This road quickly became a "main-traveled" road. Some freighting was also done from Medicine Lodge. Stagecoach lines started and did a thriving business. One of the first was the Coldwater-Kinsley line, owned by Doak and Clinton. Soon Col. D.R. Green had his famous "Cannonball" stage line in operation between Kingman and Coldwater, giving daily service. The Coldwater - Nescatunga - Sun City - Medicine Lodge line started with Riley Lake as principal owner and R.A. Callaway as driver most of the time. Pat Gallagher also had a line between Coldwater and Sun City. Later the "Western Stage Line" started between Coldwater and Ashland, stopping at Protection and Red Bluff. The following year, a stage line ran out of Coldwater to Avilla and Comanche City." -- Excerpt from Coldwater Centennial Notebook, by Evelyn Reed.

Riley Lake and Rube Lake of Lake City, gave us our first stage coach line from Medicine Lodge and "Keno" was the best driver that ever held "ribbons" over six mules. He drove a rockaway stage, now extinct.

-- Excerpt from Early Days In Coldwater, by C.M. Cade, The Western Star, March 17, 1922.

What old settler in Comanche-co. did not at some time take a ride on one or more of the flying stage coaches which made regular trips between Coldwater and Kinsley, Larned, Kingman, Medicine Lodge, and later with Ashland, Protection and Avilla? Then for a time Coldwater and Comanche City (by way of Avilla), Protection and Kinsley, Ashland and Dodge City and Avilla and Kiowa were connected by stage lines. In some cases trips would be made each way every other day, but between the larger towns daily stage lines were maintained.

I wonder if there are not a good many old settlers still living who remember the owners and drivers of those stage lines - such men as "Cannonball" Green, Riley Lake, "Keno", M. L. Baxter, Sam Presson and the firm of Rosenbaum, Lehr and Frazier. They were the fellows who did much to "blaze the way" for the splendid civilization of today in this country. They knew every foot of country over which they traveled, and they were acquainted with hardships which tried men's souls.

-- Excerpt from More About the Early Stage Lines, The Western Star, July 10, 1925.

Thanks to Carol (Lake) Rogers for contributing the photo of Riley Lake, to Kim Fowles for arranging the contribution and to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above obituary to this web site!

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