Cattle Men and Drives

      H. B. (HAM) BELL ONCE TOLD THE AUTHOR, "YOU COULD HEAR more about `cutting' and 'round-up' and 'rounding-up' in Dodge City in the old days in fifteen minutes than you could hear in Chicago or St. Louis in a lifetime."

      The summer of 1867 saw the first herd of cattle on its way north from Texas to Abilene, over the Chisholm Trail. For the next two years this trail was the great cattle highway of the southwest. During the 1870's Dodge City was the greatest cattle market in the world, hence the coined name, "Dodge City, Cowboy Capital of the World." The cattle drive began in earnest in 1875-76 and, in 1877, 250,000 head were driven in to the city to start the long train ride to eastern markets. Being the border railroad town, Dodge City became at once the cattle market for the southwestern frontier and, very shortly, the cattle business became enormous, being practically all of that connected with Western Kansas, Eastern Colorado, New Mexico, Indian Territory, and Texas. Cattle were driven to Dodge City from all these points for sale and transportation, but the regular yearly drive from the ranges of Texas was so much greater in numbers and importance than the others, that they were quite obscured by it, while the Texas drive became famous for its immensity.

      From 1875 to 1876, there were nearly 250,000 head driven to Dodge City. In 1877, there were over 300,000 and the number each year continued to increase until the drive reached nearly a half million. The "Kansas City Indicater" placed the drive north from Texas, from 1866 to 1878, at 3,413,513 head. The town held the trade until 1886 when the dead line was moved to the state line. In fact, Dodge City received more cattle than any other town and longer in terms of years and was easily considered the greatest cattle market in the world.

      The cowboy's life was one of hardship and danger, exposure and privation, accidents and stampedes, while horse and cattle thieves harassed him with fear of losing his mount and herd. Often he owned a share in the herd. He was the finest horse-


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man in the world and aimed on being a dead-shot and usually was. During the herding season, he rode seventy miles a day and most of the year slept in the open. His life in the saddle made him almost worship his horse and it, along with a rifle and six-shooter, completed his happiness. He delighted in appearing rougher than he was and being able to use the slang of the range as nobody but a tough cowboy could. He spent months on the trail leading northward toward Dodge City where he expected to shoot up the town and keep himself plastered while the boss dickered with the many cattle purchasers who had their headquarters at the Dodge House, the hotel owned by Cox and Boyd.

      Cattlemen had their own loose laws and were inclined to look upon official law and order lightly. If cattle were stolen, the boss outfitted a cowboy with several horses and packs to scout around camps to be on the look-out for them. Old time sheriffs and marshals had to be a bit tougher and smarter than the character with whom they had to deal; however, lawmen trod lightly. Hadn't the townsmen practically begged for the trade?

      Many drives had come up the Western or Dodge City Trail from as far away as Brownsville, Texas. Often there were as many as five herds ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 head awaiting transportation. Oftentimes, as one old timer said, "It looked like all Texas was in Dodge City boiling over with buyers and drivers." It was said each drink raised the price of a steer $2.75, the the main subject of conversation had to do with the cattle trade-beeves, steers, cows, cocktails, and toddies. Generally there were 75,000 head of Texas longhorns grazing around town. The drive reached 300,000 yearly, later increasing until it reached nearly a half million a year, while news of this great cattle market spread far and wide.

      Gertrude Dunning Gammon, Fort Collins, Colorado, wrote the author, "One merely needs to read early history of cattle days in Colorado to realize the importance of Dodge City, Kansas, as a cattle capital through all the years since the Santa Fe trails reached there in 1872. Records in my possession show that Dodge City was the center of cattle in and out of a vast territory.

      "In looking through files 80 to 90 years old, I ran across the original receipt, of which I am sending you a copy for the Ford

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County Historical Society, from the early day Bank of Dodge City. It shows deposit of $10,850 to meet incoming E (Bar E ) Texas Longhorns. (Richard W. Evans, Dodge City attorney, is the son of R. W. Evans, the cashier who signed the receipt.) The price was $16.50 a head, probably a small herd in those days. Julien Gammon, my husband's father, and his riders met these cattle at Dodge City and trailed them to O. Z. headquarters on the Upper Big Sandy.

      "O. Z. was a post office settlement in El Paso County, (Colorado Territorial Map by Rand McNally), near the present town of Ramah, Colorado."

      A check to confirm Mrs. Gammon's claim brought interesting facts to light famed Dodge City is still the largest auction market in the world and bills itself as the Cattle Capital of the New West. Only terminal markets, say in Chicago, sell more cattle but they are not auction markets, for cattle are sold by different commission firms for a commission, not on a competitive basis. The cattle auction at Amarillo, Texas, does not match Dodge City in stocker and feeder cattle. The Norfolk, Nebraska, sale barn sells more livestock than Dodge City barns, with a much larger proportion being hogs and sheep. At Dodge City 90 percent of all livestock sold is cattle.

      Modern day sales are on a vast scale. During a one week period, 370,000 cattle were auctioned off, mostly stockers and feeders, while in the modern feed lots in the vicinity of Dodge City nearly 30,000 more head were being fattened for market. Miss Victoria Trussell, Dodge City Livestock Commission Company, reports sales of cattle for two days, April 9th and 10th, 1960, totaled a million dollars. Sales the same week at McKinley-Winter Livestock Commission Company, according to Karl Winter, brought the week's total to nearly three million dollars. Both say sales are getting larger each year.

      Today, replacing Texas longhorns are black Angus and sleek white-faced cattle. Unlike the old trail herds, urged ever onward along the dusty trail by the cracking of whips and the shouting vernacular of cowboys, cattle arrive these days by diesel trucks and streamlined trains from as far away as Florida, California, and Washington.

      The Texas longhorn got its first foothold in Kansas, in 1857. At that time, a herd was pushed through to Abilene, Kansas, on the Kansas Pacific Railway, the first herd to have been driven to

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an established shipping point in Kansas. The cattle drive there reached its peak in 1870. Then began the drives to Newton, Wichita, Great Bend, Caldwell, Hunnewell, Ellsworth, Hays, and finally Dodge City, westward, at the end of the railroad, became the shipping point for trail herds. By 1876, Dodge City had become famous as a shipping point, outclassing all other markets. In fact, it shipped more cattle than any other town in the state. In those early cattle days there was many a cattle baron, each with a brand of its own. Beatie Bros. Cattle' Company flourished at a point now known as Manzanola, Colorado, and the Hardesty Bros., near Dodge City site, operated from as early as 1871. John Durfee was foreman for them from 1871 to 1878. Barney O'Conner, who passed away in Garden City in 1933, was one of the state's leading cattlemen during his lifetime in Kansas. He was a rider for W. B. Grim's outfit from 1871 to 1873. In fact, all the far away cattlemen were well known in Dodge City for it was here their cattle were driven to be shipped to market. "Doc" Barton earned the title of King of Cattlemen. Doc Barton's connection with Dodge City dates back to 1872, when he brought cattle up from Texas. Because he was named the King of Cattlemen, it is fitting that an interview with him by Tom Stauth of Dodge City, Kansas, February 4, 1940, be given in full as follows:

"Few men now living have had a more interesting history than Mr. Welborn Barton, known all over the Southwest as 'Doc Barton' of Ingalls, Gray County, Kansas. Doc Barton was 90 years old the 22nd day of last December. When the writer called on him at his home at Ingalls this afternoon, he found a tall, slim, upright man, still active and quick in his actions, his mind clear and active and with the early history of the great Southwest still fresh in his memory, and eager to tell about it to a most interested listener.
"In the summer of 1872, Doc Barton started north from Burnett County, Texas, with 3,000 head of longhorn Texas cattle. His trail outfit consisted of 12 men and they were some three months on the trail before they reached Finney County, Kansas, where Garden City is now located. They started out from Texas looking for a ranch location, having heard of the fine pasture on the High Plains of what is now Western Kansas. Much of the way, they blazed a new trail and took rather a

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round about route to avoid the Indians on the War Path in numbers along the Cimarron River in what is now southwest Kansas and northern New Mexico. They crossed the Colorado River and went on west to what was known as the Concho River and followed it to the Staked Plains. From there they drove to the Pecos River and followed up its course to Horse Head Crossing. After crossing the Pecos they followed up its west side to North Spring River in New Mexico, and gradually swung toward the Raton Pass where they crossed the mountains and drove on north to the Arkansas River. They held the herd for some three months in the Garden City territory and then worked down the Arkansas to near where Ingalls is now located.
"That was before the railroad reached Dodge City, although much of the railroad grade was partly completed to what is now the west line of Kansas. Large crews were working on the grade and a ready market was found for the cattle.
"When they reached what is now Ingalls, Kansas, they found a large corral still standing on the river flats just east of where the present Ingall's bridge now crosses. There were also the remains of Soddies and Dugouts as well as the remains of a few Dobies on the river bottom just north of the corral for there was the regular camp ground of the old Santa Fe Trail which crossed the Arkansas River at what was known as `The Cimarron Crossing' of the Arkansas. Doc says the crossing was just west of the north end of the present bridge, although the crossing was not then in use and had not been for some time because of the Indians to the south and west. The regular trail was then going on up the Arkansas River and the Cimarron Crossing was not again regularly used.
"Doc Barton's home now stands on the old Santa Fe Trail camp site. There was another camp ground on the south side of the river where the Achorn Ranch is now located. Often times the river was so high that the old Santa Fe Trail outfits had to camp and wait for more favorable conditions. Those going west camped on the north side of the river and those going east on the south side. Doc recalled that at one time there were something like 100 U.S. soldiers camped near where his home now stands. Besides the Indians to the Southwest, there were many of them to the north along the Pawnee. Many buffalo were to be found north and south of the river, and he stated that

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buildings near the Cimarron Crossing had undoubtedly been destroyed by the buffalo.
"In the spring of 1877, Doc returned to Texas and that summer again started north from Mason County, Texas, with a new trail herd of 3,000 cattle. This time there were nine men and most important of all, he was accompanied by his wife who made the trip with the outfit. This time they followed what was known as the San Antonio Trail to Dodge City. A little over a month was needed for that drive.
"In 1882, Doc made his third trip over the old cattle trails. That time he started from Louisiana, again with 3,000 head of long horns. His route that time followed the Chisholm Trail much of the way and he drove to Dodge City and west up the river to his Ingalls' headquarters.
"On one of his trips he camped and held his herd for some time on Crooked Creek near the Big Bend where the Dobie Walls Trail crossed that creek. Later this was the location of the Chipman Ranch about a mile and a half west of the Ford County line over in what is known now as Gray County. Doc is familiar with much of the history of these famous old cattle trails and never tires of telling about his experiences on them. He was personally acquainted with John Chisholm and his two brothers. One of the brothers, Jesse Chisholm, acted as trail boss for John Chisholm who owned the Chisholm Trail herds. He stated that the real Chisholm Trail did not go to Dodge City but went east to Wichita as well as to Abilene. "He recalled that there were three trails converging on Dodge City, uniting about five miles south of the river. One was the Camp Supply Trail which branched off southeast and that the other two were known as the Dobie Walls Trail and the Jones and Plummer Trail. He said that the Dobie Walls Trail left the Jones and Plummer Trail south of the Mulberry, something like half way to Crooked Creek, crossed Crooked Creek at the Big Bend and went on southwest to about where Meade and the Meade State Lake are located and on the south. The Jones and Plummer Trail went to Fort Elliott in the Panhandle of Texas.
"Doc also recalled that about 1885 Ben Hodges drifted into his ranch headquarters near Ingalls and hung around for nearly a year but never really was a rider for him. As he recalled,

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Hodges had drifted north to Dodge City with one of the trail outfits and kept on drifting about the range.
"Doc also recalled that shortly after he came north with one of his trail herds, D. B. Hungate came in from the north with a herd, threw it in with his and worked with his outfit for several years. D. B. Hungate, locally known as `Bate Hungate' for many years was a county officer in Gray County. Doc said he got his nickname of `Doc' from an uncle who was a doctor.
"All in all, it was a most interesting hour and a half the writer spent with Mr. Barton. The time flew on wings, all too quickly and it was with regret that we took our departure, promising to return at the first opportunity."

      Doc Barton was his name to everyone who knew him. He signed his name D. Welborn Barton. His actual name was Doctor Welborn Barton, so he came honestly by his nickname. His brothers Decatur and Alexander were often associated with him in the cattle industry, especially in Texas. In Kansas, the Barton Company personnel in charge of cattle operations were Doc Barton, his brother Alexander (Al) Barton, J. D. Eubank and Tom Connell. Their home was a dugout in the foothills by the river. Cheyenne Indians were camped in large bands on the Pawnee north of them, and the bands of Southern Indians, Kiowas, Comanches, and Cherokees, roamed to the south. Freighter and emigrants were occasionally attacked and some murders committed, yet, strangely, to the best of Doc Barton's belief his company never lost an animal through the Indians.

      Doc Barton practically introduced the cattle industry into Gray and adjacent counties in Kansas. He was forced out of the cattle business suddenly, for after the big blizzard of January 1886, out of 12,000 head of cattle, only 500 remained, all the others having been killed or frozen to death.

      Always where one mentions the cattle drives, it brings to mind the all important cattle trails. As the railroad and civilization pushed westward, one by one, the old trails were abandoned. The first to close was the famous Chisholm, followed by the Jones and Plummer, the Goodnight, the Tascosa to Dodge City, the Rath Trail, and eventually the last survivor, the Western Trail. It was equally well known as the Fort Griffin and Dodge City Trail, established in 1876 by Jack Potter, trail driver of Clayton, New Mexico.

      Few people knew how certain business men co-operated to

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keep the drive on the Western Trail. Charles Rath could speak with authority on this subject for already the store owners in Dodge City and his partner in Fort Griffin, Frank Conrad, had plans afoot to get their employees on the trail bringing in herds from southern Texas, which would assure both firms of their share of the Texas trade and make the Dodge City, Fort Griffin Trail, the Western Trail, more popular with other trail drivers. Two records verify this assertion, the first from the Dodge City Times, the other from the Fort Griffin Echo. The news items follow

"Mr. W. H. West (Rath employee) who has been with Conrad and Rath for a long time, is now on his way from that point to Dodge with a herd of cattle. He will arrive in June." The other, "W. F. Kelley of San Antone has been here several days working the cattle trail in the interest of Conrad and Rath of this place and Wright, Beverly and Co., of Dodge City. Mr. Kelley had charge of two or three large herds of cattle belonging to Siner Bros. of San Antone. Later left for Dodge City and would keep posted."

      The Western Trail had come into being the latter part of 1875 and was used continuously for the next five years. It started at Brownsville, Texas, and headed due north through San Antonio, Kerrville, Pegleg, and reached Fort Griffin, went on to Vernon, Doane's Crossing, Altus, Camp Supply, and Dodge City, and from there farther north to Ogalalla, Nebraska. What a business it brought to Conrad and Rath's store at Fort Griffin and Wright, Beverly & Co. in Dodge City. Lucky indeed they were to have this cattle trade which was even increasing with every passing herd of longhorns in 1876. For at that time, the buffalo hide trade was not what it had been and the merchants were beginning to complain that no hides were coming in. Hunters had to go farther to make their kills, had longer freight hauls, and were hampered in their hunting by the Indian depredations. By the late seventies, the Texas cow punchers were driving tens of thousands of longhorns over this Western Trail. Along with the herd came a crew of cowboys, a cook, and a horse wrangler, who cared for the saddle horses and cut out the ones to be used for the day. The longhorns meandered along, grazing far out on the prairies, while the cowboys kept them headed straight for Dodge City, the Cowboy Capital. But at every

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stopping place, especially a wild and woolly one like Dodge City, the whole crew at one time or another spent his money freely as he also gave way to pent up feelings in shooting up the town. Merchants stood for this, in a way riding along with them, for their trade was the life-blood of any business which catered to their needs. This influx of cattle continued until Kansas slapped on the quarantine that ended the Texas drives through Kansas.

      The old Dodge City of the trail days, buffalo and cowboy period, the Dodge City of the '70's and '80's, had a reputation not to be envied for inebriety and bad order. But with the breaking up of the drive, the closing of the cattle trail, and the closing of the great cattle ranches by settlement, the buffalo hunters, cowboys, gamblers, and bad men disappeared, leaving Dodge City a chance to become the city it is today.

      Heinie Schmidt has a word to say about trails in this quoted article, "The Last Trail from Texas." It follows:

From 1872 for a period of fourteen years, Dodge City reigned supreme as the undisputed Cowboy Capital. One by one the trails closed as the railroad and civilization pushed westward into the plains country. The first to close was the famous Chisholm, followed by the Jones and Plummer, the Goodnight, the Tascosa; to Dodge City, the Rath Trail, and the last survivor of them all, the Western Trail, sometimes called the Fort Griffin and Dodge City Trail. This trail was established in 1876 and continued in use until 1886, when the final chapter was written in the history of the old cattle trails.
The trail was blazed by Jack Potter of Clayton, New Mexico, and originated at Brownsville, Texas. It passed through San Antonio, Kerrville, Fort Griffin, Peg Leg, and Doan's Crossing, all in Texas. Then it led to Camp Supply in Oklahoma, and on to Dodge City, a distance of over 1,000 miles which required some 90 to 100 days to complete.

      In a published book, "Some Southwestern Trails," Jack Potter tells this story:

"Of the three great trails along which longhorn cattle were pointed out of Texas, to markets a thousand miles away, the Western Trail came into existence. The shifting settlements of Texas and Kansas were pushing the drivers west; Indians were being pushed back east to reservations in present Oklahoma; and ranchmen in need of herds were taking the ranges that they had, and the buffalo had left. But everybody was in need of money, our ranges were covered with cattle

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and we were hell-bent on driving them.
"The Western Trail, sometimes called the Fort Griffin and Dodge City Trail, because its herds touched at those two points on the frontier of Texas and Kansas, was laid out in 1876. The earlier Texas trail that merged with the Chisholm trail in Oklahoma, was giving too much trouble to the nesters along its course. Cowmen in South Texas came up by way of San Antonio and out through the hill country, where we were ranging, prospecting a course and figuring on the right of way. They got it.
"In the seventies we were driving tens of thousands of longhorn cattle up this trail from the great breeding grounds of Texas. With a crew of cowboys, a cook, and a horse wrangler, to handle our remuda, we poked along some ten to twelve miles a day, with thousands of longhorns always headed, every step of the way, straight toward the shipping pens of Dodge City, notorious Cowboy Capital of the World.
"We forgot our worries in the rip-snorting village of Fort Griffin and refilled our chuck wagon with frijoles, bacon, and dried fruit at Doan's crossing, on the Red River. We bargained for peace with the Comanche Indians as we crossed Indian Territory with a generous gift of our bosses' beeves. We swam the Canadian River in flood, crossed the hot dry sands of the Cimarron, and washed our woes away when we bellied up to the bars in Dodge. From there we drove herds that stocked the west all the way from the Black Hills of the Dakotas to the head waters of the Missouri. We settled half a world without knowing it, and we had a barrel of fun.
"But the settlers and barbed wire caught us. They closed Kansas by rigid quarantine to these wild longhorns and the wilder boys who drove them. Already in the late 80's we could tell that the country was getting crowded. And so we packed our beds, and cut our mounts, and drifted farther west to other jobs on a fresher range where at least we still had room to bend our elbows and blow about the wonders of the Western Trail."

Reference: Articles by Heinie Schmidt: Ashes of My Campfire; Article by Tom Stauth Kansas and Kansans, Vol. 5, page 2107; Connelley, Dodge City Globe; The Rath Trail, Ida Ellen Rath; Letters from Jack Potter to Author.

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Dodge City History