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Shoot-Out on YC Square

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Perhaps the most exciting occurrence in the early history of the county was the infamous gun-battle on the Yates Center square (sometime between 1880-1885). Many contradictory accounts of this event exist, but certain details recur within witness testimony and other sources.


It all began around Christmas Eve at a dance near Turkey Creek. A man named Wiley Welch was in attendance, and as he was leaving, took a coat and gloves that did not belong to him. Shortly after, he was apprehended in LeRoy, and returned to Yates Center to await trial. The day of Welch's trial, his brother and at least one-two other men set out to rescue him. They stole a wagon and team of horses from the livery on the west side of the square, but did not realize the wagon's reins were broken. They may have succeeded in their plan to spring Welch, but the wagon could not be controlled.


Welch's brother (John) and company confronted then-deputy Frank Cannady on the south side of the square, where he was walking Welch. John Welch told Cannady to hand his brother over, but Cannady instead drew on him and shot him in the spine. Several shots were exchanged between the desperados and law enforcement, resulting in Welch's friend, Curley DeLang, being shot in the head with a shotgun. Eventually, the team of horses was stopped on the east side of the square near the old court house (on the northeast corner), and Welch's friends were all captured or later died from their wounds.


Some are supposedly buried in unmarked graves in Kalida cemetery. Welch himself was eventually sent to Leavenworth prison, and Frank Cannady would suffer from PTSD for a significant period following the incident.

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