Herder Wagonmaster Lose Lives

      Chalkley M. Beeson was an indefatigable worker at whatever he undertook and never went after anything that he did not succeed in it. It was greatly through his efforts that the Masonic Hall was built. In the Masons he reached a high mark. He was known as a great mixer and was widely known throughout the state. He twice represented Ford County in the legislature and was sheriff of the county several times. He was one of the celebrated scouts who accompanied the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia on the great buffalo hunt.

      He was the originator, leader, and owner of the famous Cowboy Band in fact, he was the whole thing. At one time he drove stage between Denver and Colorado Springs. He had acquired a very good musical education in Colorado, at one time playing a steady engagement in Pueblo, and playing with the best of musicians wherever he went.

      He came to Dodge City to collect money he had loaned on property, staying to take over the property. He invested money in a herd and the first range he herded over was on the Sawlog Creek. W. H. Harris was his partner for some time. The Beesons ran a theatre for many years. He acquired much valuable farm land and when the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway were coming through, he gave them a generous slice of his land for their right of way.

      If anyone in Dodge City was a living legend, Chalk Beeson would be that one for he was a great mixer and uttered many quaint expressions that set people roaring with mirth. "Everyone to his own liking the old man said as he kissed the cow," he was wont to say at the end of hearing an improbable tale, in his clear toned voice that carried to the far corners of the saloon or dance hall, and oftentimes to by-standers on the walk before the door.

      Chalk heard the tales of the new-comers to the city, the boasting know-it-all, who made trouble for himself and everyone around him. Their tales he invariably ended with this pithy remark which stood for putting a man in his place, "I'd just


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like to comb his hair backwards." At this time no man ever did; he parted it in the middle or on the side.

      Then there was the weather, a favorite bit of conversation with everyone. If on a tour and trouble developed, while the mechanic worked on the rig or car, or if there were strange folks to meet anytime, Chalk wasted no time getting acquainted. When the matter of weather came up, as it always did sooner or later, Chalk would stand sidewise and squint at the sky, then offer a remark that always sent his listeners into peals of laughter and giving them a very good reason never to forget CHALK BEESON, "It's all clabbered up!" he'd say as though quite surprised himself.

      How right he was! For seldom can one look at the sky in the West when clouds aren't floating by. But, how few people would think of that, only Chalk's remark, "It's all clabbered up.

      Then Chalk had another expression and habit which were always good for a laugh, even from the local men who were in the "know." Let there come a lull and Chalk would start to liven things up. He'd start poking around under things, peering here and there, until finally he would make a grab, then look up all elated, "Thar she is folks," he'd roar, "as the old man said when he found the bull!" One day report reached Dodge City that three men were hanging to a big cottonwood tree a large lone tree, in the center of a nice little bottom near the crossing at Sawlog Creek, about twelve miles northeast of Dodge City. Then someone remembered that long after sundown, the day before, a small party of men had entered town, bought a piece of rope, and quietly mounted and rode away. They were after the Owen's gang, noted horse thieves, holding a bunch of stolen horses in horse-thief canyon.

      The owners, themselves, having stolen the horses, hied away, leaving at least three men and a boy to guard them overnight. One was young Callahan, a youth of twenty-one years, son of a preacher currently residing in Emporia, Kansas, who had hired out to herd horses for Owens, a noted horse thief residing in Dodge City.

      Ham Bell had cautioned the young man about working for Owens, saying, "You are sure to get into trouble if you stay on. You're new in the country and I just wanted you to know."

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      Young Callahan replied, "Maybe I will get out later but he is owing me money and I will stay until I get it."

      "Sometimes," Ham Bell advised, "it pays to lose money."

      The boy who was herding, reportedly, was fourteen years. Years later, news leaked out that young Callahan had pled for the boy's life, saying the boy had no part in taking the horses and did not know they were stolen. His life was saved but the two men and young Callahan were swung from the giant cottonwood tree in horse-thief canyon.

      All were buried in a shallow grave beneath the branches of the cottonwood. Later, Ham Bell, undertaker, was asked to get young Callahan's body and send it on to Topeka, Kansas, for burial. He had an uncle there, Dr. Callahan, and perhaps it was where the family came from but of course ministers travel here and there with no permanent home until retirement. In 1937, The Dodge City Writers Guild, along with Mr. Shepherd, a photographer, took Ham Bell to the site, along the Sawlog, to point out the grave site, and got an excellent picture of Ham Bell and the giant cottonwood tree.

      Annie Rule, wife of a carpenter and boyhood friend of Ham Bell, arrived in Dodge City in 1875, in the same wagon train as the Streators, Schmidts, and Muellers. Mostly, the new arrivals were without money, so when Annie came to Ham Bell's place for a bucket of water, he gave her fifty cents, the first money she had in Dodge City. She later married Anderson, a cattleman. She lived in one rooming house for 56 years and the homeless always found a home with her, a real welcome in Annie Anderson's home. Boys who drifted into town broke and hungry could depend on her to keep them from starving until they had work and rarely did they ever take advantage of her generosity. Annie Anderson had a room on Second Avenue, upstairs in the Mullin building, until her death.

      Walter Streator, mentioned in the above group, came from Ellsworth in 1875. Their first home was a pitched tent on the present site of the postoffice. He first operated a restaurant and later was a dirt contractor, playing quite a part in the laying out of the town buildings. His oldest son, Herman, became a town barber in the days when a man had his own mug, razor, and hair tonics, principally bay run, lined up neatly on a shelf behind the barber chair. Another son, Otto Streator, worked for the Santa Fe; another, John, worked for

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Ernest Hendricks at the old Dodge House. He had a wonderful memory about old time events. He died September 24, 1934.

      The Adam Schmidt family came early to Dodge City, becoming at once a good influence for the better things in life. Heinie Schmidt tells of his father, his character, and his occupation, in an article titled, Adam Schmidt, with the subtitle, Early Dodge House Recalls Village Blacksmith, High Plains Journal, February 11, 1960:

As I was passing through a Western Kansas town recently, I saw the skeleton of a once flourishing and essential place of business the now almost obsolete blacksmith shop. What a pathetic picture it presented, the weather-beaten, abandoned lonely sentinel of the past.
In retrospect I saw a replica of the same shop, reflected in a large frame building which occupied the site of the Rock Island depot at Dodge City today. Over the entrance in big black letters were these words: ADAM SCHMIDT, BLACKSMITH AND WAGONMAKER. The owner was my father, who in fact as fiction was the village blacksmith.
Memory paints a picture of this old structure that no artist could put on canvas. The building was a veritable bee-hive of activity. It was entirely surrounded by large freighting wagons, chuck wagons and occasional stage coaches, and a score of cow ponies and oxen.
All were waiting the skillful touch of the smithy's or the wagon-maker's hand to ready them for the long trek over the trails.
As I recall this scene, I cannot but think how indispensable the blacksmith and the blacksmith shop were in those days. Theirs was the all-important task of keeping the wheels of industry rolling, and the feet of the ponies and oxen shod to withstand the stony surface of the trails. The blacksmith shop and the smithy were essential in those days as the machine shop and the mechanic are in these mechanized days.
I remember watching my father as his hands shaped the hot iron into branding irons, the certificate of ownership of the great cattle barons. I watched with pride as he heated the finished products of his hands and burned the brands on the walls of his shop. I watched with delight as he fitted the shoes on the wiry ponies and the stubborn oxen.

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On the adjoining lots I could see the kids of the neighborhood gathered on the playgrounds provided by my father. I could see the men playing a game of horse shoes, popular those days. Longfellow, in his picture poem of "The Village Blacksmith" writes

The children coming home from school
Look in at the open door.
They love to see the flaming forge
And hear the bellows roar
And watch the sparks that fly like chaff
From the burning floor.

At this Southwest blacksmith shop the kids would stop on their way home from school to have my father fashion them horse shoe nail rings. The rings were made by bending a horse shoe nail to fit the size of the finger, with wedge-shaped head of the nail serving as a set. At one time every kid in the Boot Hill school had one of these rings. There still are many of them among the old timers in Dodge City.
Let me say that my father, the village blacksmith of pioneer Dodge City, was no gunman. In fact, he never carried a gun. He simply worked at his trade in which he took great pride. A fine job of work seemed reward enough for him. He labored from sun to sun every day except Sunday with no vacation. I don't remember that he was away from his forge and anvil more than twice in his life-both times because of illness.
He came to St. Louis from Bavaria, Germany, when but ten years of age. A year after his arrival, both his parents, died in the same week from the Black Death scourge that swept the country. He was raised by an uncle and was hired by him to a blacksmith to learn the trade when he was fourteen years old.
At the age of twenty, he volunteered for service in the Union army, serving three months in the infantry, re-enlisting and serving in Company B, Second Missouri Light Artillery, for three years and six months.
He was in the same battle with Grenville Dodge when he was wounded. Col. Dodge afterwards served as commander at Fort Dodge, in whose honor the fort was named. Fort Dodge, Iowa, also was named after Col. Grenville Dodge.
The village blacksmith had the rare privilege of hearing Abraham Lincoln speak twice. Once in St. Louis, Lincoln

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and Stephen A. Douglas spoke on the same day. Again at New Orleans, where the troops were massed for the siege of Vicksburg, there were three regiments of Germans, two of Irish, and two of French. Many of the Germans did not understand English commands and were addressed in their native language. Hearing this General Grant demanded to know by what authority this was being done. The commanding officer handed him letters from Lincoln authorizing the use of the German language. Grant read them, saluted, and rode away.
After receiving his discharge Adam Schmidt went to Abilene which then was a cowboy capital, and opened a blacksmith shop on the old Santa Fe street. He was an eye witness to the fight between Wild Bill Hickok and his deputies and some Texas cowboys. He often said that Calamity Jane saved Bill's life by shooting the horse out from under a cowboy who was riding up behind Hickok for the kill. From Abilene he went to Ellsworth, where he again opened a blacksmith shop. A picture of main street shows his shop there with several cowboys standing near the door. It was at Ellsworth that he held the only public office in which he served that of councilman.
Leaving Ellsworth, he went to Fort Hays under contract with the government for a year. At Fort Hays, he met Buffalo Bill Cody who often visited there.
His next move was to Dodge City. He made the trip overland, camping near where Jetmore now stands at Duncan Crossing. At Dodge City, he purchased the blacksmith shop of Andrew Johnson which occupied the present site of the Standard Old station at Second and Trail street. Two years later, he built a new shop on the present site of the Rock Island depot.
My father never learned to read English, and I had to read aloud to him. He was interested in all matters pertaining to the good of America and Southwest Kansas. It was remarkable what he retained in his mind. He could repeat facts and figures by the hour.
He thought it was his patriotic duty to attend all public meetings of every nature that had for their objective the betterment of the country and community. I, as the oldest child,

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had to go with him. These, he said, were good lessons in Americanism. He was an ardent admirer of the Italian patriot, Garibaldi, and was nicknamed Garibaldi after him. The kids shortened the name to "Uncle Garry" which pleased him very much.
My father was a powerful man, standing six feet two inches in height, square shouldered, and as straight as a soldier. He had a grip in his hand that could crush your bones. His strength and ability to handle wild ponies of the west is illustrated by the following incident related by Chester Evans of Lebo, Kansas. Evans was working on his uncle's ranch near the present site of Scott County lake, and was in a battle between the Cheyenne Indians and soldiers from Fort Dodge, commanded by Col. Lewis. Lewis was killed in the fight. Evans suffered a fractured leg in the fall from a pony and rushed to Dodge City for medical treatment. The picturesque blacksmith shop attracted his attention and he hobbled over there on his crutches. A horse shoer was vainly trying to shoe a wild cow pony, but could not get the job done. A tall man, clad in a leather apron, came out of the shop and said, "Is he too much for you? Let me try my hand." With that he took the hind foot of the horse in his powerful hands, and soon had the shoes on. "There," he said, "I don't think he will bother you the next time."
Seeing the boy on crutches, my father said, "Come into the shop and I will make you a cane." Evans still has the cane in his possession.
Father had nothing but contempt for those who, in the face of difficulties, pulled up and left the country. This was brought to my attention one morning when I called him to breakfast. A long line of white covered wagons were wending their way past our house on the Santa Fe Trail and painted on the white canvas covers were all kinds of signs, such as, "To Hell with Kansas," "Back to my wife's relation," "Goodbye Grasshoppers," and others. Seeing them, my father became very angry, saying to me, "See them, Son? There they go ! They are no good here or anywhere else ! I came here to stay!" And stay he did. On the contrary whenever a homesteader stopped at the shop to have some repairs done on his wagons or have his horses or oxen shod, father would drop all his work and hasten

224 Early Ford County

out to welcome him, assuring him that he had come to the right place to settle and that he would make it all right.
In later years, the shop was the headquarters for wheat haulers. This was before the days of tractors, combines, and trucks. The wheat was cut with headers and binders and stacked to be threshed later. There were no elevators and the haulers had to scoop the wheat into box cars. They would bring their lunch, as well as feed for their horses, and they used my father's shop as a dining room. I am sure that my father personally knew every man who marketed his grain in Dodge City in those days.
The old shop was razed when the Rock Island depot obtained possession of the site and moved their depot in from South Dodge.
My father's life is beautifully expressed in Longfellow's poem when he says:

Toiling, rejoicing, sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes.
Each morning sees some task begun,
Each evening sees it close:
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend
For the lessons thou hast taught,
Thus at the flaming forge of life,
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

      The life story of the Blanchett family is closely connected with the growth of Kansas. Some member, from one to six of them has been in Kansas since 1859. In 1858, A. D. Blanchett started from Illinois for the Colorado gold fields, landing in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he learned the gold fields were a good place to keep away from. He was joined by his brothers, john R. and Andrew.

      Andrew Blanchett had soon entered the government service ind was in charge of wagon trains which carried the goods of :he east over the old trails and brought back the productions )f the wonderful west. In the year of 1864, he was killed by by Comanche Indians in a fight near Dry Route in Ford County

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and with him were two well-known Kansas men, Thomas and Jerry Field.

      The date was August 14th, 1864, on a Sunday afternoon. Andrew Blanchett was a big man and they buried him in a gun box, leaving his legs and feet to stick out the end of the box. He was buried abut 300 feet northeast of the Block House on a knoll where the Indian Trail running from the north and south crossed the trail called the Dry Route, running east and west, on the Santa Fe Trail.

      He had been feeding and resting the oxen in a valley northwest of the block house when a band of about 300 Comanches swept down from the north. His men were east of the block house shooting prairie dogs and were unable to help him. Blanchett was shot twice through the body and died two hours after the encounter. However, he had killed seven Indians, five with bullets and two with the butt of his revolver.

      The above information was given to the author by Orville Jennings Blanchett, of Fowler, Kansas, a relative of the slain man. The following information is taken from an article by Col. Milton Moore, of Kansas City, Missouri, for the Kansas State Historical Society. (Vol. 10 page 414) In this article, the name Blanchett is incorrectly used as Andrew Blanchard but the two names are listed elsewhere in the Annals of Kansas as Andrew Blanchett (Blanchard).

      In August two trains of Stuart, Slemmons & Co. reached the mouth of Pawnee Fork, and found awaiting them a Mexican train bound for some point below Santa Fe, also a small train of fourteen wagons under the direction of Andrew Blanchett of Leavenworth. The S. S. trains were under the charge respectively of Charles P. McRae and John Sage, both of whom were men of experience and tried courage. The four trains, having a force of men numbering more than 100, were allowed to proceed.

      Thomas Fields, of Jackson County, Missouri, route agent for the S. S. company, was elected captain of the combined trains. He was a man of many years experience on the plains and had been engaged in more than one contest with the Indians. The rule of travel was: The train having the advance today should go to the rear tomorrow, and so on. Blanchett, having light wagons which could be moved easily and rapidly, was

226 Early Ford County

dissatisfied with the rule and refused at times to be governed by it, with the result hereinafter stated.

      On Sunday, August 21, the trains, after a hard morning drive, reached the head of the cut-off road, which left the river some miles below the present Dodge City and ran over the hills to old Fort Larned, not touching the Arkansas valley again until the crossing of Walnut Creek. McRae was in front, followed by Sage, the Mexican, and Blanchett, in the order named. The region was known to be dangerous by the wagon-masters, because near the great trail of the Indians in their journeyings from north to south and the reverse.

      McRae went into corral just south of the road about ten o'clock a.m., and Sage and the Mexican in their order, but well closed up. The three first trains corralled so as to leave room for Blanchett's train, with its rear resting on or near a bayou in such a way that it would be practically impossible for a band of Indians to sweep around it. Instead of camping at the place designated, Blanchett continued on and went into corral about a half mile beyond McRae. The cattle were placed south of the trains near the river and guards put out. The train men were armed with Minie rifles and these were to be carried in slings on the left sides of the wagons.

      At about one o'clock in the afternoon the camp was quiet-many of the men asleep; one big fellow was lying on his back under his wagon singing "Sweet Eloise," and three men from McRae's train were out more than 100 yards towards the ridge, shooting at prairie dogs.

      Suddenly, the cry of "Indians" came from one of these. A glance at the ridge showed it to be covered with mounted Indians, and a dozen or more coming down the slope at full run, evidently intending to overtake the three men before they could reach the corral, and were in a fair way to do so, and possibly pass between Sage and McRae. Six Negroes of the second mess, instead of running inside the corral and firing from behind wagons, as they would have been justified in doing boldly opened fire on the advancing party and walked out to the road towards them. Nevertheless five of the Indians dashed through between the trains of McRae and Blanchett and very near the latter. Probably forty or more passed around the head of Blanchett's train and came in south of it. The ridge was still covered with mounted men who had

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not then descended into the valley. When Blanchett saw the five Indians pass by the mouth of his corral he mounted his pony, drew his revolver, an ordinary .36-caliber, and rode out after them, evidently not noticing those who had passed around the front of his train. By the time he had gotten possibly 200 yards from his camp, the Indians who by that time had concentrated, to circle around him, lying on the sides of their ponies and covering their bodies with shields. By this time the train-men in the corrals of McRae and Sage had gotten their arms, and those on the south side opened fire but at too great a distance to protect Blanchett.

      The Indians closed on Blanchett and either knocked him off his pony, or pushed him off. As he fell, his fourteen teamsters and one night herder left their corral, and without a word of command formed a line and charged, firing rapidly as they advanced. The Indians hesitated, before giving up their victim, but finally retreated. Blanchett was finally able to get on his feet and run to his men, who brought him to McRae's camp, where he died in an hour. He had been shot one or more times, lanced behind one shoulder, and an arrow had entered his back near the spinal column, and protruded about eight inches out through the stomach; this he pulled through himself before reaching his rescuers. When his pistol was found, which he had dropped, two chambers were empty, but there was no evidence that he had wounded any of the Indians. We buried him by the side of the road and upon our return in the fall it appeared that his grave had been opened, but whether by savages, wolves, or loving hands, we never knew.

      As all of Blanchett's herd excepting two oxen had been taken it was necessary to communicate with Fort Larned, the nearest military post. The night herder of Blanchett's train offered to go upon this perilous undertaking. Without a word of parting, when it was dark, lie mounted the pony off which Blanchett had been shot and rode away towards the hills, saying he would keep away from the road and travel under the `tops of the ridges.'

      When the soldiers arrived, the commanding officer took possession of Blanchett's wagons, and within an hour McRae, Sage, and the Mexican were moving on to their several destinations, under an escort, commanded by Capt. John H. Butcher, Company H., Eleventh Missouri volunteer cavalry.

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Dodge City History