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In 1880, Osawkie, Kansas is engaged in a feud with neighbor towns Mandaroon and Jones City over which town should be the county seat, a position marked by the possession of the safe containing local citizens' records. While the men fight in the hills, the women of Osawkie mourn their long absence. The announcement that the men are returning with the safe causes the women to celebrate, but they grow doubly angry when their husbands and boyfriends show up too exhausted for a proper homecoming. The next day, Matt Davis helps build the town courthouse and commiserates with Sheriff Joe McClure about why Joe's daughter Liza will not set a date to marry him. As Joe explains that Liza feels that Matt is more interested in the town than in her, the stagecoach bearing the satin for Liza's wedding gown arrives. The townswomen, including spinster Cassie Slater, rough Cousin Emmy and coquette Birdie Snyder, tease Liza, who spurns Matt's attentions until he charms her into kissing him. She almost agrees to set the date, but when Matt is distracted by a commotion at the courthouse, she leaves in a huff. Meanwhile, traveling salesman and ladies' man Roscoe Dobbs arrives, causing Cassie to faint after he kisses her. At night, Matt serenades Liza outside her house, and the whole family is pleased to witness her run into his arms, although Joe struggles to explain to his curious teenaged son Newt why love and sex cause so many problems. The wedding follows soon after, and the highlight of the reception occurs when Cassie drinks spiked punch and tries to lasso Roscoe. Later, Matt carries Liza over the threshold, but as soon as she readies for bed, he learns that the Mandaroons have stolen the safe back, and infuriates her by racing to town to form a posse. Osawkie's men immediately take off again to Mandaroon, only to find that the Jones City men now have the safe. They join the fracas underway in Jones City, but are waylaid by a bout of mumps that has taken over the town. Three weeks later, the men are still recovering, and send a note to the women explaining that they now must return to Mandaroon. Upon reading the note, the women gather in town to discuss how they can settle the feud. Meanwhile, the men appropriate the safe but quickly come to an impassible river. There, Matt sends Newt with another message, and when Liza reads that the men still are not returning, she seizes on Cassie's recollection of the Greek women of Aristophanes' play Lysistrata , who went "on strike" against their husbands to end a war. By the time the men come home, the women have barricaded themselves in an abandoned fort, and although the men storm the fort, the women remain resolute. After drinking at the saloon all night, the men want to give in, but Matt convinces them that to do so would be to give up all control over their wives. Just then, Newt arrives to announce that the water level in the river has fallen, exposing the safe, and the men rush out to defend it. At the river, a fight among the three rival towns commences, but ends when the safe falls into a bed of quicksand and is lost forever. Osawkie's men travel straight to the fort, but there, Liza informs them that a truce must be signed between the cities before they will unlock the gate, and just then, the other towns's men arrive, looking for their women. When their wives are revealed to be in the fort, too, the leaders of the three towns agree to found a new, neutral site as the shared county seat, and the ladies open the gate. By the time the joyous crowd disperses, Birdie and Reverend Maxwell are holding hands, while Roscoe and Cassie plan to marry, and Newt, after receiving his first kiss, finally understands what the big deal is all about.