Away back in the ‘70s when Justice Johnston of the supreme court was a young lawyer in the new town of Minneapolis, Kan., the gang of young fellows who had located in the then frontier village, were thrown on their own resources for amusement. It is fair to say, however, that they managed to have something doing most of the time, for those young fellows were resourceful in their day and generation.
Among the crowd was one young man who figured out more schemes to pass dull time away than any other one in the bunch. On one occasion he got possession of a vacant double stall in a livery stable, boarded it up like a room and then provided himself with a pair of light boxing gloves. He took a few boon companions into his confidence and the plan was ready to be put into operation. The originator of the scheme was husky and knew something about the art of boxing. This was also true of several of the fellows who were in with him. With this as the basis, the rest of the plan was simple. A guileless stranger or possibly a resident of the town who was not on, would be invited up to the new room under one pretext or another; the door, which had been fixed up as an entrance to the box stall, would be opened, the victim induced to go in; then the door would be locked and he would be told that he must now take care of himself. There was nothing for him to do but put on the gloves and put up the best showing he could. This went on for several days and several victims came out more or less battered up. The originators of the plan were getting their money’s worth of sport and more. The scheme was voted a complete success.
There was a preacher who had located in the little new town on the prairie. His name was Bradbury. He was a quiet and earnest expounder who made friends among all classes and attended strictly to his own business. It occurred to some of the denizens of the new town that it would add materially to the gaiety of the world if the preacher could be steered into the box stall and compelled to put on the gloves. The leader of the gang agreed on his part to polish the gentle shepherd off in good shape, but not do him any serious injury.
At the hotel where the preacher boarded were several of the young men who were in the plot. They engaged the reverend in conversation regarding a new literary club they were organizing or something of that sort and gave him a pressing invitation to come up and talk with some of the organizers. The preacher was unsuspecting and more than willing to go. He wanted to help as far as he could to advance the general culture of the town. Quite a crowd saw the minister being led up to the pen and followed on the scent of fun. When Rev. Bradbury was safely inside of the stall the gate was closed on him, he was given a pair of boxing gloves and told to take care of himself. He looked about him in mild wonder for a minute and then with a quiet smile said, "Well, boys, I seem to be in for it. I suppose that I will have to do the best I can." Then he began to deliberately remove his coat and vest and it was noticed by the onlookers that when stripped down to his shirt he showed remarkable physical development. There was also something a trifle ominious in the manner in which he inspected the gloves and tried their weight. A few of the fellows began to have a sort of sneaking notion that possibly the parson might have had some previous experience, but he had always been so quiet and earnest in preaching the Word that it could hardly be possible that he had ever been a pugilist. When the parson had removed his collar and carefully tied on the gloves he announced that he believed he was ready. The leader of the gang, who was to polish him off, made a pass at him, and the parson sidestepped in a way that was a revelation to the amateurs who were running the game. Then something happened that hadn’t been put down on the bills. The parson’s right shot out strong and swift and sure and caught his opponent on the point of the chin, and for the next 12 or 15 seconds that gentleman lost all interest in the subsequent proceedings. The other members of the gang were working with him in the corner of the stall with crude methods, trying to restore him to consciousness.
From that time on as long as he stayed in Minneapolis Parson Bradbury had everything his own way. If his church needed money all he had to do was to indicate to the gang what he wanted and he got it.
It developed that at one time in his life he had been counted as scienced in the art of bruising and later he had worked among the slums and toughs of New York, where it was necessary at times for even a preacher of righteousness to practice the art of self-defense.
From that time Rev. Bradbury was held in high esteem in the town of Minneapolis, but none of the gang ever again tried to inveigle him into putting on the gloves. – Mail and Breeze