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The Rath Trail
by Ida Ellen Rath


[Photo: Dodge City's Front Street, 1879. Courtesy, FCHS.]
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission
of the
Ford County Historical Society.
All rights reserved

     It was in July, 1872, when A. A. Robinson, Chief engineer of the Santa Fe railroad and his assistants surveyed the townsite of Dodge City, five miles west from Fort Dodge, on the north bank of the Arkansas River, although just off the Military Reservation. [1] There the Santa Fe would soon be pushing its Way, and did reach the new townsite in September of the same year.

     The Dodge City Town Company was formed with Robert M. Wright as president, Major E. B. Kirk, quartermaster at Fort Dodge, secretary-treasurer. These two men, along with others from the fort, came to watch the survey; also A. J. Anthony, George W. Reighard, H. L. Sitler, Major W. S. Tremain, post surgeon. Title to the public land upon which the new town was located was conveyed to the occupants of the townsite, August 30, 1873, according to public records at the court house. [2] And they in turn conveyed title to the land to the Dodge City Town Company.

     The Charter of the Dodge City Town Company was filed August 30, 1872. It was drawn up August 15, 1872, to be designated and known as Dodge City -the SW 1/4, of Sec. 25, less that portion embraced in the military reservation, and the SE 1/4, of Sec. 26, less that portion embraced in the Fort Dodge Military Reservation and lots numbered 1 and 2 of Sec. 35, With some exceptions as to Military Reservation of Fort Dodge all in Township 26, Range 25, County Ford, and containing in the aggregate 320 Acres, more or less.

     There were seven directors: Robert M. Wright, Herman J. Fringer, Henry L. Sitler, and Lyman B. Shaw, all of Fort Dodge; Richard I. Dodge and W. S. Tremain, of New York; and Edward Moale of Maryland. [3] Signatures, with seals, were: H. L. Sitler, R. M. Wright, A. J. Anthony, A. J. Peacock, W. S. Tremain, David Taylor, Herman J. Fringer, Sam Weichselbaum, Edw. Moale, Richard I. Dodge, Lyman B. Shaw, and A. S. Johnson. The signing Was before Justice of the Peace, Lyman B. Shaw, and notarized by Herman J. Fringer, 8th July, 1872.

     The new Dodge City Town Company raised capital, $6,000 by selling 600 shares of stock at $10 a share, probably in lots of 10

1. Cowboy Capital and other notes.
2. Information found by Carl F. Etrick.
3. His signature is without the final "e."


shares. Anyway, at least one certificate has survived, No. 76, listing 10 shares which was sold to R. W. Evans, December 22, 1884. As late as June 28, 1884, the Kansas Cowboy, carried an advertisement for Fred M. Weinie, Insurance, Real Estate, and Collection Agent, stating the firm had houses for rent and that they were also agent for the Dodge Town Company and Notary Public, next door to Tepe's Shoe Shop. Later the firm was listed as Weinie and Boyer when they ran an advertisement in August, 1888.

     As late as June 25, 1874, the Dodge City Messenger carried this advertisement:

Dodge City Town Company, Ford Co., Kansas. Inducements offered to actual settlers! Prospects of the town better than any other in the upper Arkansas Valley! Free Bridge across the Arkansas River! The town a little over one year old, and contains over seventy buildings! Good school, hotel, etc. AT & SF RR depot in town.

And this at the bottom of the long advertisement,

Enquire of: R. M. Wright at Chas. Rath & Co. store or E. B. Kirk, Secy and Treas., Fort Dodge."

     August 21, 1873, the occupants of the townsite were R. M. Wright, E. B. Kirk, W. S. Tremain, A. J. Anthony, H. L. Sitler, A. J. Peacock, Charles Rath, Morris Collar, P. Ryan, George B. Cox, R. W. Evans, A. B. Webster, John Haney, Jacob Collar, F. C. Zimmerman, James H. Kelley, Herman J. Fringer, G. M. Hoover, and T. C. Tupper. The occupants of the Townsite raised funds to buy out homesteads by selling shares at $10 each in the company, thereby having an amount of $6,000. Presumably when a man could raise $100 he bought ten shares in the original townsite.

     One abstract carried through to other hands was the Patent, Date, May 1, 1874, Consideration Full Payment, Certificate No. 5145, Osage Trust Land, Rec. Vol. 10 page 508, L. E. Lippincott, Recorder, General Land Office, Filed September 29, 1874, at 1 P. M. and recorded in Vol. "A" patents, page 62, granted by United States of America, by U. S. Grant, President, to H. J. McGaffigan. This tract of land, 302.78 Acres, Was bought in by Mr. McGaffigan, Probate Judge of Ellis County, Kansas, and Ex-Officio Probate Judge of Ford County, Kansas, in Trust for the Occupants of the Townsite of Dodge City, Kansas. [4]

     The transition is further carried on by the judge's transfer of the land to Occupants of the Town-site, Dodge City, Ford County, Kansas, by Warranty Deed, Date August 21, 1873, Consideration $1.00, date of acknowledgement, August 7, 1873, before D. Witt C. Smith, Clerk District Court, Ellis County, State of Kansas, and filed February 23, 1878, at 3 P.M. and Recorded in Vol. "A" Page 491. The members of Occupants of the Town-site are listed as R. M. Wright, W. S. Tremain, P. Ryan, John Haney, James H.

4. Abstract in Author's possession does not calL for the whole number of acres but a number of lots in the original patent.


Kelley, E. B. Kirk, G. M. Hoover, A. J. Peacock, A. J. Anthony, Geo. B. Cox, Jacob Collar, Herman J. Fringer, F. C. Tupper, Charles Rath, Morris Collar, R. W. Evans, F. C. Zimmerman, H. L. Sitler, and A. B. Webster.

     Again there was transaction No. 3, when the Occupants of the Town-site of Dodge City, Ford County, Kansas, gave a Warranty Deed, date August 30, 1873, Consideration $100, to the Dodge City Town Company. The acknowledgment was August 30, 1873, before Herman J. Fringer, Notary Public, Ford County, State of Kansas, Filed November 12, 1873, and Recorded in Vol. "A" page 13. This instrument further lists the wives of the married men: Alice J. Wright, Emma Peacock, Carrie Rath, S. G. Tremain, Bridget Haney, Fanny Collar, M. H. Zimmerman, Mary Kirk, Calvina Anthony, Mary Collar, L. Ryan, A. H. Cox, Sarah A. Evans, A. J. Webster, and Anna H. Tupper. Quite possibly the husbands listed the wives names, hence the many initials instead of names.

     Then there was the affidavit in which S. Gallagher, Jr., states, "That he was well acquainted With G. M. Hoover, H. L. Sitler, Herman J. Fringer, and James Kelley, who with others conveyed to the Dodge City Town Company, by Warranty Deed, dated the 30 day of August, A. D. 1873, lands in Sections 25, 26, and 35, Township 26, Range 25, in Ford County, Kansas, and knows at the time said conveyance was made, said G. M. Hoover, H. L. Sitler, Herman J. Fringer, and James Kelley, were unmarried." This Was notarized by W. G. Lee, December 9, 1886, While J. G. Jernigan was Register of Deeds.

     Other transactions named in the abstract author examined were: Alfred J. Peacock and Emma L. Peacock, his Wife to W. J. Fitzgerald, Quit Claim Deed, March 17, 1888, before William Fuller, Notary Public, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory; A. J. Peacock and Emma L. Peacock, his wife, to the Dodge City Town Company, a Quit Claim Deed, November 15, 1888, consideration $200, before Edward B. Critchlow, Notary Public, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory; W. J. Fitzgerald, a single man, to the Dodge City Town Company, a Quit Claim Deed. November 3, 1888, Consideration $1000. Before D. W. Moffitt, Notary Public, Ford County, State of Kansas; the Dodge City Town Company, by W. S. Tremain, Secretary and Treasurer, to The Public, Plat, May 31, 1876, before James Langton, Register of Deeds, Ford County, State of Kansas, description, Plat of Dodge City, Kansas, located on Lots 5, 6, and 7 of Sec. 25, and Lot 5 and N1/2 of SE1/4, of Sec. 26, and Lots 1 and 2 of Sec. 35, Tp. 26, Range 25, in Ford County, Kansas; the Dodge City Town Company, by Alden Speare, President, to The Public, a Supplemental Plat, September 7, 1885, before Geo. L. Goodwin, Notary Public, Suffolk County, State of Kansas, listing the same tracts of land as in the first plat.


     Then G. M. Hoover, J. G. Egan, and W. A. Coats, Trustees of the Creditors and Stockholders of the Dodge City Town Company, for a consideration of $100, February 15, 1906, gave a Quit Claim Deed to R. S. Crane for the three lots 4, 5, and 6 in Block 67, before E. F. Kellogg, Notary Public of Ford County. It also included deeds to other lots, not mentioned in this particular abstract.

     The first acknowledgment was for G. M. Hoover, as above; the second for J. G. Egan, as Trustee, March 28, 1906, before Chas. E. Cheney, Notary Public, City of St. Louis, Missouri; the third acknowledgment was for W. A. Coats as Trustee, March 23, 1906, before Grant J. Aiken, Notary Public, County of Hillsboro, Florida. This deed recites as follows:

And whereas, on or about the 21st day of August A D 1892, Said Dodge City Town Company became dissolved by reason of expiration of the time for Which it was chartered, according to the statutes in such case made and provided, the said real property hereinbefore described not having been previously conveyed by the said Company: And whereas, at the date of the dissolution of the said Company, as aforesaid, the persons constituting the membership of its Board of Directors, were as follows to wit: Alden Speare, A. S. Johnson, G. M. Hoover, J. G. Egan and W. A. Coats: The officers of said Company then being as follows: to-wit:
President, Alden Speare; Vice-President, G. M. Hoover; Secretary and Treasurer, W. A. Coats: And Whereas, the said Alden Speare and A. S. Johnson, are now deceased: And Whereas, no receiver Was appointed for said Dodge City Town Company; Now therefore, the said G. M. Hoover, J. G. Egan and W. A. Coats being the sole surviving members of said board of Directors and Officers and managers of the affairs of said Corporation, at the time of its dissolution and being by virtue of the statutes in such case made and provided; the Trustees, for Creditors and Stockholders of said dissolved Corporation, have executed this Deed for the uses and purposes herein expressed.

     And with this last execution the City of Dodge City was definitely on its own, and what a town it has turned out to be.

     The first commissioners of the new town included Charles Rath and he was on the board continuously until October 27, 1877, when his resignation was tendered and accepted on account of absence from the county. He was also on the City Council much of the time.

     In the report of the City Council April 3, 1877, in regular monthly meeting at 3:00 p.m., Charles Rath was absent. Others present were G. M. Hoover, Mayor; H. E. Gryden, City Attorney, and the councilmen, D. D. Colley, H. B. Bell, J. Mueller, and G. B. Cox. During this meeting, a petition signed by F. C. Zimmerman, Chas. Rath & Co., M. Collar & J. Collar, praying that the license for dealers in general merchandise be regulated so


as not to exceed $40. per annum, that there be no additional charge on coal, jewelry, and lumber. The petition was duly considered and accepted. By 1874, the town Was getting very well organized. The county officers were Attorney, L. D. Henderson; Clerk, W. F. Sweeney; District Clerk, John McDonald; Sheriff, Charles E. Bassett; Pro bate Judge, Geo. B. Cox; Treasurer, A. B. Webster; Register of Deeds, M. J. Bruen; Superintendent of Schools, M. Collar. Again Charles Rath is listed as County Commissioner, along with A. J. Peacock, A. J. Anthony, and the station agent Was J. H. Phillips.

     There was a good frame schoolhouse and fifteen pupils; superintendent, Mr. Wilder. Mrs. S. A. Newbold was superintendent of the Union Sabbath School. Mrs. Calvina (A. J.) Anthony was a Sunday School teacher and gave certificates, signed Mrs. C. Anthony, for perfect attendance. Mrs. Lucy Charvoz, niece of Charles Rath, has one of them. And beyond all this it Was rumored that the U. S. Land Office would be located in Dodge City.

     The weather was very cold and by February, the latter part, the ice on the river was eight inches thick. Money was scarce and trade of all kinds even whisky, a Western staple, "was dull beyond precedent." However all Government supplies for the forts and also for the Indians in Oklahoma Territory were shipped to Dodge City by rail and transported by government trains to Fort Dodge, and Camp Supply, which was located ninety-five miles directly south in the Indian Territory. H. J. Fringer was the post master and for some time the post office was in his drug store; he often found it necessary to advertise uncalled-for letters. The mail for Camp Supply left Tuesdays and Saturdays and back to Dodge City Mondays and Fridays.

     Meantime, the county commissioners had met. They allowed Cox and Boyd a bill of $117.16 for bed and board furnished frozen men in January and February, Presumably the men who were caught in a blizzard and frozen to death. Also they agreed the "Toll House" should be known as "Poor House" and Cox and Boyd allowed seventy-five cents a day for keep. Much of the freighting was going south into the Indian Territory, the stage coaches and mail.

     And again Indians were causing endless trouble. The Dodge City paper reported June 26, 1874,

Indian News! Matters on the Canadian! One thousand lodges! Three thousand Indians camped on the Canadian!" Before that the Camp Supply mail had been fired on. Settlers driven off! Sun City burned! [5] Five men killed and scalped! Five Indians put to sleep. James Hanrahan lost all his stock. Mail attacked again, the agent killed,

5. 80 miles from Dodge City on Medicine Lodge River. between Mullinville and Medicine Lodge.


and five other persons, all scalped. All of which resulted in the Camp Supply mail being started out with a guard of thirty-one mounted men.

     But the buffalo hides and meat kept rolling into Dodge City, to Charles Rath and Company, to Myers and Leonard's Pioneer Store. The town was fairly blossoming out with stores and other business places. One could walk along Front Street and read the signs or read about them in the Dodge City Messenger -- Billiard Saloon, A. J. Peacock, Prop., the place for "SPORTING ON THE GREEN" Wine, liquor, Cigars, and billiards; O. K. Clothing Store, M. (Morris) Collar; R. W. Evans Staple and fancy groceries; F. C. Zimmerman, Fire Arms, ammunition, Hardware, stoves, tinware, clocks, jewelry, Lumber, flour and grain, Agricultural implements, all kinds Sporting articles, AGENT FOR SHARP'S IMPROVED SPORTING RIFLES -best in use. Agent for ORIENTAL POWDER. Also repairing rifles. Main Street; Billiard Hall, Saloon, Waters and Hanrahan ! Hoover and McDonald, Wines and liquors; Groceries, Pants and jackets, Farm produce raised and sold, Isaac Young; Restaurant, Kelley and Beatty, props., Open day and night! Dodge City Hotel, Cox and Boyd, situated near the railroad tracks, tables Supplied With the best the market affords, also livery stable connected With the house; Herman J. Fringer, Drugs, medicine, perfumery, and dye-stuffs. Charles Rath & Company carried a full length column in the Messenger, extolling outfitting goods, Ammunition, groceries, liquors, clothing, and furnishing goods, at lowest prices - Will pay highest prices for all kinds of furs and hides -also deal in meats, Main Street, Dodge City, Kansas. [6]

     The Dodge City Messenger advertised many things. Among them,

a book Marriage Guide; Harper's Weekly at $4.00 per year. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. 3,000,000 acres of land in Kansas, 11 years credit, 7% interest, Liberal reduction to settlers -A. E. Touzalin, land commissioner, Geo. H. Nettleton, Supt.

     And one whole column was devoted to advertising the Dodge City Messenger!

     The paper reported the buffalo hunt on which Charley Dunn and his brother Bill had gone, how they never returned. That was in 1872. No one ever heard of them again and it was supposed they Were killed by Indians. The men had money on deposit at Charles Rath Mercantile Company and it was never called for. In those early days, the men at the store cared for a man's money, even as a bank, While he Was away on hunting trips, on freighting trips, or a gambling spree.

     At the time the Santa Fe reached Dodge City, September 1872, there were a thousand men working on the railroad and

8. Main street was undoubtedly Front Street.


they were for a time camped at different sites along the tracks, as well as the new town of Dodge City. The grade work was being rushed through to the state line for the time limit was one day in October and Cyrus K. Holliday did not relish the thought of losing the large land grants. The first Santa Fe depot was a box-car, with the wheels removed. In it, the first station agent J. H. Phillips, began working in the new town.

     Ox-trains rolled into the city, the bull whackers swearing and swinging the huge bull whips, their explosive cracking heard above all else. They forded the Arkansas River, coming into town from the south and as they left with their heavy loads. Nearing the city, after weeks on the prairie, buffalo hunting outfits, gave vent to the release of the rigors of the long hunt by swearing and yelling at the top of their lungs. And this first year, 1872, was considered by many to be top year for the slaughter of buffalo, although it was especially a cold season. The hunters and skinners Were holed up in the city during the worst of it, and during this time one of the most exciting things happened that ever was to startle its inhabitants.

     Among the hunters was Kirk Jordan, well liked by most of the hunters and townsmen. At this time men were in a sympathetic mood for him because he was up in arms about what had happened to his sister and her family. [7] Indians had wiped out the whole family, his sister, brother-in-law, and children. Their home and all its contents were burned. All their stock was run off and stolen. This had happened in the northwest part of the state but word had traveled quickly to Jordan about the tragedy. All hunters and plainsmen feared and distrusted Indians for all had more or less suffered at their hands, and many of these men actually hated the sight of an Indian.

     Always white men were stirred deeply by these Indian atrocities but this one had struck nearer home, it seemed, probably because Kirk Jordan had sworn to kill the first Indian he saw no matter what the consequences. By a rare and ominous streak of fate, brought about by the white men's lust for slaughtering buffalo, W. D. Lee of the firm of Lee & Reynolds, brought an Indian to Dodge City, presumably to show him the wonders of the city, but in reality the Great Sioux chief, Spotted Tail, came on a mission.

     Although often associated with the Cheyenne, Chief Spotted Tail was an acknowledged leader, and often spoke for the different tribes. His mission was concerned with the slaughter of buffalo and he was to speak with his old friend Charles Rath and with Fred Leonard. Spotted Tail was a Brule Teton Sioux Chief.8 He was born

7. Cowboy Capital, page 163 and Vol. 16. page 261. KSHC.
8. Data furnished by Lester B. Wood.


about 1833 near Fort Laramie, Wyoming. He was not a hereditary chief, but rose by virtue of his fighting prowess. He won his wife in a duel with a subchief and his valor was proven on many occasions. His demonstrated leadership in battle was largely responsible for his selection as a head chief When the old chief died. The claims of the hereditary candidate, and of the hopeful one of riper years and longer experience could not compare with his achievements. He signed the treaty in 1866. In 1876 he was appointed head chief of all the reservation Sioux. He was killed in 1881 at the Rosebud Agency in a quarrel with Crow Dog, who was later acquitted on the grounds of self defense. But at this time Spotted Tail was in his prime, accounted a very important head man by the Indians, the proper one to send on a mission.

This material was prepared by
Lynn H. Nelson
Lawrence KS
12 November 2001
(© 2002, Ford County Historical Society, Inc.)
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