[logo:Kansas Heritage Group]

Kansas History Web Sites

Cimarron Chronicles, Saga of the Open Range

Found manuscript turns into
book about Meade County history

Article by Ben Standard

Several years ago LaDonna Meyers discovered a manuscript written by Carrie Schmoker Anshutz and M. W. "Doc" Anshutz in her mother-in-law's attic. She had uncovered a treasure - a first hand account of life in the pioneer days of Meade County. Carrie's parents were the first family to homestead here. The manuscript was completed in 1935 and was typed on yellow legal paper. The fragile document was fading and difficult to read. LaDonna spent the next two years transcribing the story with the help of Carrie's granddaughter, Mary Anshutz Finney. The resulting book is named Cimarron Chronicles.
[Photo: Cimarron Chronicles book cover.]

Cimarron Chronicles, Saga of the Open Range

Nancy Ohnick of Ohnick Enterprises is publishing the book. LaDonna brought Nancy the book to have a few copies printed for family and friends. Nancy recognized the value and importance of the book and knew that there would be interest in it throughout the region.

The first part of the book was written by Carrie and tells how her family immigrated from Switzerland by way of New Orleans and the Mississippi River to Iowa and then to Meade County in 1879. The second part is Doc story. Doc explained their intentions for the book in this way, "It will be the story of the first settlers and of the sheep ranch. It will be the story of the first cattle ranchers, the cowboys who rode the ranges of joyous and carefree, and the cattle business that was such a thriving and important one for many a year."

The book is a comprehensive history of Meade County. Local readers will recognize many of the early family names and locations. She describes the difficulties and the joys of living in what was then still a wilderness. There was no rain during the family's first year here. Her writing style is informal and exciting. Her sense of humor is evident as she tells her story. The book includes photographs by F. M. Steele, a noted early Meade County photographer. The wagon Mr. Steele used to transport his equipment is on display at the Dalton Gang Hideout.

Carrie's family established their home in southern Meade County near the place where Stone School was built in 1887. Carrie was the first teacher at the school, where she was paid $20 for a three-month term.

Charles Rath, famous buffalo hunter, seated on rick of 40,000 hides in Robert Wright's Dodge City hide yard in 1878, with M.W. (Doc) Anchutz (in white shirt, back left). Courtesy: FCHS.

Doc's story begins when he arrived in Spearville in 1877. He soon met Prairie Dog Dave and accompanied him on a buffalo hunt. Doc provides a detailed description of the land as they traveled from Dodge City through the Crooked Creek Valley of Meade County. His part of the book concentrates on how the cattle business developed. Doc tells stories of the cattle trails and of the development of ranches throughout the region.

Carrie wrote articles for the local newspaper and for the historical society. A few of her stories may be familiar to people who have studied Meade County's history, but are given in much greater detail in this book. Doc's stories, however, are largely unknown. Both Carrie and Doc provide details that are will be interesting to readers who are curious about the history of our region or who are doing genealogical research.

The book is a hardcover volume that is available in bookstores throughout the region and from Nancy's website Prairie Books, PO Box 969, Meade, KS 67864-0969. Tel: (620) 873-2764.

Related site: The Jones and Plummer Trail

Site author: George Laughead Jr. Thanks to Lynn H. Nelson.

Return to the Kansas History Web Sites or the Kansas Heritage Group.
Site previously maintained at the University of Kansas. Posted: 07 January 04