A new book by Adrian Zink, “Wicked Kansas,” explores the salacious side of Kansas history.
Kansans like to think of their state as a land of industrious, law-abiding and friendly people and for the most part they are correct. But its history has many tales of murders, cons, extra-judicial killings and other crimes. Its restive frontier attracted menacing characters, such as a cowboy who murdered a man for snoring, the serial-killing Bender family and the train-robbing James-Younger Gang.
Although the area was eventually settled, the scandals did not cease. Learn about how a quack doctor nearly won the governorship and how a decommissioned nuclear missile silo housed the largest LSD manufacturing operation in American history.
These wild and degenerate stories include county seat wars and more. The chapter on “Secret Lives” starts with “The Ellinwood Man Caves” and ends with a “Baseball Star with a Dark Secret.” The first segment is about the attraction known today as the Ellinwood Underground, and the “baseball star” has a central Kansas connection as well. William “Farmer” Weaver made it into professional baseball in the 1800s and stayed in the game for years. After moving to Larned in 1910 to manage the Larned Wheat Kings, he was arrested in 1911 for violating the state’s rape statute.
Zink is also the author of “Hidden History of Kansas,” also published by Arcadia. The publisher’s website allows shoppers to browse by subject or by state. Other Kansas titles include “Wicked Wichita” and “Kansas Tycoon Emerson Carey,” about the Hutchinson salt magnate.