Skip to main content

tv   Exploration and the Cattle Drive Era  CSPAN  November 17, 2013 3:50pm-5:02pm EST

3:50 pm
charles m russell center for the study of art of the american west at the university of oklahoma. this event was hosted by the cherokee strip regional heritag. >> tonight, professor byron price is going to tell us about exploration in the cattle drive era, 1865 and 1893. professor price currently holds the charles m russell memorial chair and is director of the charles m. russell sent ter university of oklahoma. he is also director of the university of oklahoma press. he is also director of the university of oklahoma press. he graduated from the united states military academy at west point in 1970. he earned an m.a. in museum science at the texas tech university in 1977. we'll have to forgive him that he is a texan.
3:51 pm
he has nearly 25 years' experience in the museum profession, including executive director of the panhandle historical museum. executive director of the national cowboy hall of fame. and western heritage center in oklahoma city. and executive director of the buffalo bill historical center in cody, wyoming. published numerous journal articles on western american history of art and written several books including cowboys of the american west and the chuck wagon cookbook. if you'd like to learn more about "the chuckwagon cookbook," why, professor price will be here afterwards over here at the desk to sign copies of that and
3:52 pm
to talk with you about chuckwagon cooking. in addition to his writings, he has served as a consultant for several television series and specials, including for the history and discovery channel, "unsolved mysteries," "the gunfight at the o.k. corral" and "cowboys and outlaws." also, he has been a consultant on programs for oklahoma public television, including "cowboys of the tall grass." it's a pleasure to introduce and i hope you'll help welcome, professor byron price. [ applause ] >> thanks very much. such a pleasure to be here in cherokee outlet with all of you this evening, especially to be involved in this program of the cherokee strip regional cultural center. sure like to thank andi holland
3:53 pm
and her staff for the wonderful arrangements to make this lecture possible. as i look out in the crowd, i already see at least one person who knows more about this subject than i do. bob clemmy is here. for those of you who don't know bob, he's marked most of the bob, he's marked most of the bob, he's marked most of the bob, he's marked most of the chisolm trail and 400 set 400 markers. if you really want to know where the chisolm trail goes, you'll need to talk to him, he's the expert. tonight, i want to talk about cattle trails and trailing from the end of the civil war to the 1890s. it was an interesting period in american history and the history of the west. it was a period that has been masked in many ways by folklore and the films and television which have taken all reality out of the experience. but in many ways, it was even ,
3:54 pm
which have taken all reality out of the experience. but in many ways, it was even more fascinating than what you may read in books or see in films. as many as 10 million head of cattle and 1 million horses were driven between the end of the civil war and the turn of the 20th century. the profitable driving of wild longhorn cattle to distant markets, weeks and even months away from their point of origin, called for careful organization and movement of cattle, horses, men and supplies. droving methods that were used on the great plains evolved from time-tested southern and midwestern practices, which, in turn, traced their ancestry to the shores of great britain and spain. after the civil war, however, droving, like ranching itself, underwent a metamorphosis. as corporate business practices
3:55 pm
eclipsed the informal methods of prior decades. but even after rail connection had been established with northern markets in places such as kansas city and st. louis and chicago, it was still much cheaper to trail livestock to kansas, where the beefs either were sold to local buyers or shipped to central livestock markets, than it was to ship direct from texas by rail. contrary to the assertions of many early range historians who believed that antebellum cattle droving never achieved a definite technique of its own, trailing livestock before the civil war was at least as methodical and specialized as that of the post war period. a texas newspaper correspondent acknowledged in 1859 that the stock growing and the stock driving were separate and
3:56 pm
distinct branches of business. for the interest of the farmer, should be kept so. the earliest drives out of texas occurred during the spanish period and the earliest market for texas beefs were to new orleans. and in this map you see, you see some of the principal droving routes to places like shreveport, alexandria and the big market in new orleans. most people aren't aware of that very substantial cattle droving period. and it will be part of what i'll be talking about a bit tonight. also before the civil war, cattle herds were being driven to missouri to supply overland immigrants during and after the gold rush, and to illinois,
3:57 pm
where the feeders, corn feeders, fattened the beefs and then sent them on to market in chicago and new york. but the real market for texas beef occurred in the post-civil war period. there were a number of different routes, much of which are shown on that map. and they were multiple routes because the routes moved from east to west. thanks to the development of the railroad network in the west. but there were other factors involved, the removal of the plains indians from their free-roaming status to reservations opened up vast corridors through which cattle could be driven. the vast herds of buffalo were
3:58 pm
wiped out, leaving an environmental niche that allowed cattle to flourish on the great plains from texas to canada. the southern plains red river war in 1874 and the sioux -- great sioux war of 1876 and '77 accomplished this. and allowed also the opening of finishing ranges and the extension of cattle trails from kansas railheads initially up to the dakotas, wyoming and montana territories.cattle trails from kansas railheads initially up to the dakotas, wyoming and montana territorie kansas railheads initially up to the dakotas, wyoming and montana territorie kansas railheads initially up to the dakotas, wyoming and montana territoriekansas railheads initially up to the dakotas, wyoming and montana territories. another thing that caused the trails to move from east to west was the coming of farmers and the establishment of cropland. they looked dimly on trail herds trampling their crops. at least until the development
3:59 pm
of barbed wire which was not too far in the future. and as the barbed wire was strung and the farmers settled in, the cattle trails were forced westward. the greatest perhaps factor in the movement of these trails from east to west was what was called texas fever. sometimes called spanish fever. and at other times called tick fever. it was a malady carried by ticks. texas cattle were immune. the cattle of midwestern farmers in kansas, missouri and illinois were not. when this malady began to wipe out those herds in the midwest, they got upset. and it caused the cattle trails to move westward. the easternmost trail, known as
4:00 pm
the sedalia and baxter springs trail, later known as the shawnee trail, was in use before and just after the civil war. passed through austin and waco and dallas, crossed the red river near preston, and led eastward north of oklahoma. the route split into the various trailheads at st. louis, sedalia, independence, westport and kansas city. also branches to baxter springs and other towns in eastern kansas. in use as early as the 1840s, drovers began to encounter trouble there in 1853 due to the texas fever i mentioned. suddenly, drovers were confronted by vigilance committees of local farmers and prohibitions enacted by the missouri legislature banning
4:01 pm
texans, in indian territory, cattle from the premises. drovers took their herds up the eastern edge of kansas for a while, but, again, increasing opposition from farmers who induced their territorial legislature, passed a protective law in 1859 thwarted these efforts. during the civil war, the shawnee trail was virtually unused. but in the spring of 1866, trail traffic resumed and an estimated 200 to 260,000 longhorns trekked northward. although some herds were forced to turn back, others managed to get through, while still others were delayed or diverted around hostile settlements. with six states enacting laws in the first half of 1867, against trailing, texas cattlemen realized the need for a new trail that would skirt the farm settlements and thus avoid the trouble over tick fever.
4:02 pm
in the spring of 1867, illinois livestock dealer, joseph g. mccoy, built market facilities at abilene, kansas, negotiated a favorable freight rate, and persuaded the kansas pacific railroad to build a sighting at abilene, at the edge of the quarantined area. the legislature had only quarantined the first half of -- or the eastern half of kansas. and so abilene lay just outside or just on the edge of the quarantine area. mccoy built stock pens and loading facilities. and he notified by mail and and he notified, by mail and newspaper, cattlemen that the market was now available and there would be no trouble driving. that fall, mccoy shipped 35,000 head from abilene. the number multiplied each year
4:03 pm
until 1871 when some 600,000 head reached that kansas community. a new trail -- the new trail gains its name from a mixed blood stock cherokee trader from present-day wichita kansas named jesse chisolm who freighted goods to indian villages more than 200 miles to the south. the name "chisolm trail" was originally applied only to the trail north of the red river. the entire trail was early called the kansas trail, the abilene trail or the mccoy trail. about 1870, newspapers in texas began referring to the whole route as the chisolm trail. and that name stuck. the herds followed the shawnee
4:04 pm
route as far as waco before splitting and continuing on to ft. worth and then crossing the red river at red river station. the main route from san antonio across indian territory was joined by many feeder trails. only two are shown in this map, but there were many others further down, as far as the rio grande. except at river crossings, cattle followed the route in a general northerly direction, but with so many herds moving north, the trail was often broadened just to find enough grass for grazing. on entering kansas, branches of the trail eventually reached various railheads.
4:05 pm
after 1871, abileine ceased to be a viable cattle market and so the trail at various times led to towns like ellsworth, junction city, newton and wichita, kansas. in 1884, the last year of its operation, it was only open as far as caldwell in southern kansas. and many of the herds that were shipped from there were held right here in the cherokee strip and fattened up on the cherokee grass, so they could make a strong appearance at the shipping timing.
4:06 pm
before closing on account of the 1885 kansas quarantine law, the chisholm trail had been followed by more than 5 million cattle and 700,000 horses. the western trail took the place of the chisholm. it was known as the dodge city trail and the fort griffin trail, opened in 1874 while the chisholm trail was still in prominence by a cattle drover, john t. by 1879, the western trail was the principal thoroughfare for texas cattle. and the railroad had allowed the railing heads to move further west out of the line of settlement for at least a few
4:07 pm
years and allow trail driving to continue to flourish. often, cattle herds were shipped from the railheads, but often, they were sold to drovers who would take them further north, either to fill contracts for indian reservations or military posts. or later, young steers were taken up for finishing on the northern ranges of the dakotas and montana and wyoming. the western trail across the brazos to doan's crossing on the red river and through not just one, as shown here, but several different routes across indian territory to dodge city on the sante fe railroad, which was the first and most important terminus of the trail. or they continued on up to the union pacific railroad terminus at ogalala, nebraska, another of the famed cow towns of the era. again, quarantines, farm settlement and barbed wire took their toll. and the last reported drive on
4:08 pm
the western trail was made in 1893 by john rufus blocker, who was one of the famed texas trail drivers. he took his drive that year as far as deadwood, south dakota. by that time, from 3 to 5 million cattle had been driven to northern pastures to markets, and to markets along the route. from the beginning, cattle droving was largely the province of professional contractors and speculators. each spring, veteran drovers appeared on the texas ranges. although these individuals were well known to consigners, strangers bearing letters of introduction occasionally appeared to purchase herds. some owners sold their animals outright. but more often, sold them on terms, frequently for half-cash and the balance after the sale.
4:09 pm
droving during the pre-civil war period was not, however, confined to regular traders, there were a wide variety of business arrangements existing between groups of neighbors and friends and relatives, who engaged in intermittent cooperative marketing ventures. a single drove of 211 beefs delivered to a market in east texas drover in july of 1854 represented 15 different stockmen had cattle in that drive. the largest cattle owner owned 78 head and the fewest owned one. by eliminating the middleman, such arrangements potentially yielded greater profits to those who participated, but also placed ranchers at risk to the market and to trail hazards. during the three decades following the civil war, however, a handful of professional contractors, both individuals and partnerships, carried three out of every four cattle to market.
4:10 pm
such drovers appeared to contract for texas cattle each spring and fall during the two seasons of heaviest demand and following the spring and fall round-ups. delivery dates were set, the round-ups conducted and herds prepared at several points for the trek to market. drovers sometimes put together several herds to be started on the trail at different times. although a few mixed droves containing stock cattle of all ages and descriptions occasionally appeared, mature beef steers at least 3 years old, but usually 4 and older, comprised the vast majority of herds entering the market. and as i mentioned, there were the younger steers that were eventually driven all the way to the finishing ranges on the northern plains where they were double-wintered, as it was
4:11 pm
called, and then placed on the slaughter market. in contrast to their post-civil war counterparts, which frequently numbered several thousand heads, droves of the antebellum period, most consisted of 100 to 500 animals, but many of these droves were even smaller than that. only occasionally did droves numbering 1,000 head enter louisiana. and if you've driven through louisiana on i-10, which was one of the -- follows one of the principal drove routes, you know some of the difficulties that might be encountered, woods and swamps and achafalaya basin being principal among them. though the practice was frowned upon, drovers sometimes augmented their herds with
4:12 pm
strays picked up. when bill mcfadden confronted drover abel "shanghai" pierce, whose herd possessed 80 such cattle belonging to other stockmen, pierce is said to have roared in the rooster-like voice that gained him his nickname, "by god, i don't hire hands to keep cattle out of my her. i hire hands to keep them in. i hire hands to keep them in." on the move, a trail herd traveled only about 10 to 15 miles a day, depending upon conditions along the route. leisurely pace punctuated by extended pauses for grazing, allowed beeves to maintain an even gain weight. over decades of greatest activity, trailing cattle
4:13 pm
attracted an estimated 25 to 35,000 drovers. because some segments of the older beef routes to new orleans passed through woods or treacherous swamps and rivers, a larger drover-to-cattle ratio was needed than required on the great plains. going to louisiana, one herder for each 30 -- 35 to 50 animals appears to have been standard, whereas in the post-civil war era, 10 or 11 men handled 2500 to 3,000 cattle, much larger ratio. labor practices of the pre-civil war period continued in the early years of the postwar, as footloose young men and cowboys really were boys, eager for adventure formed the cadre of most droving outfits.cowboys really were boys, eager for adventure formed the cadre of most droving outfit really were boys, eager for adventure formed the cadre of most droving outfit really were boys, eager for adventure formed the cadre of most droving outfitreally were
4:14 pm
for adventure formed the cadre of most droving outfitadventure fo of most droving outfitmost droving. the diverse lot who joined the outfit of 30-year-old charles goodnight and his partner, oliver loving, was perhaps typical. thomas brooks, an ex-school teacher, hailed from east texas. cross-eyed nathan bronner was from kentucky. one-armed billing wilson, on the dodge from federal authorities, had been a part-time saloonkeeper and vigilante. john milton rummens had been a sante fe trail bull whacker at the age of 14. at least three former slaves made the drive. ranchers usually could not afford to send the regular cowhands north on the trail, nor or even accompany them on the drive. most ranchers found it cheaper and more convenient to engage the contractor to deliver their herd for a set fee. professional trail outfits handled some 85 to 90% of all trail traffic. crews typically made up of young men in their teens and 20s, many of whom civil war veterans, most of them serving for the
4:15 pm
confederate army, predominated. cw ackerman, for example, on his first drive to kansas in 1873, the oldest man in the crew was 25. and the rest ranged in ages from 18 to 22. indeed, trail drives enjoyed a rigorous occupation -- or was a rigorous occupation, if you have, of deprivation that demanded the vigor of youth. about three out of every four to have first taken the trail or appeared to have first taken the trail between the ages of 16 to 22. that's 75% of the drovers would be 16 to 22. at least one made the drive from belton to abilene in 1868 at the ripe old age of 11.
4:16 pm
in some cases, entire outfits and partial outfits were made up of hispanic and/or african-american trailhands. most of those where the entire crew was african-american, or hispanic were from the coastal region of texas. and in the case of african-americans, from deep south, texas in the case of the mexican vaqueros. whatever the general population was, the likely composition of an individual trail herd would reflect that. i did some research in the 1880s census and found cowboys hailing from every imaginable country, especially european, scandinavian, some chinese cooks and certainly a diverse group of individuals. george saunders estimate that
4:17 pm
only about one-third of all drovers repeated the experience. however, three-quarters of the 175-odd first-person accounts contained in the famous book "the trail drivers of texas" acknowledged participation in more than one drive. and nearly 60% mentioned going up the trail more than twice. only about 20%, however, drove the trail for five years or longer. and this number dwindled steadily to less than 5% at the end of a decade. in other words, only 5% of drovers managed to make a drive each year during a decade. william b. slaughter, one of the exceptions, logged more than 20 years on the trail. as deliveries of cattle accelerated during the two decades that followed the civil war, the droving labor force expanded rapidly to keep pace, keeping wages relatively stable.
4:18 pm
indeed, whether a ranch hand or a trail hand, the wages of cowboy work and cooks rarely exceeded 30 to $40 a month. and most of the time was less. trail bosses drew $100 for their trouble. w.t. wright recognized that he never went north, because range work paid better than trailing. besides, he reasoned, "i never liked to get up and herd cattle at night, so never had any desire to go to kansas." yet the cowboy experience was only a transient for most before other jobs beckoned. said f.m. polk, another disgruntled ex-drover with loftier aspirations after his last trip up the trail.
4:19 pm
"on my way home, i reviewed my past life as a cowboy from every angle and came to the conclusion that about all i had gained was experience, and that i could not turn that into cash, so i decided i'd had enough of it. and i made up my mind to go home, get married and settle down to farming." the economic and social responsibilities of marriage curtailed many droving careers. about half of the small sample of first-person accounts of the trail drivers of texas reported quitting droving before or during the year of their marriage, while about another 20% continued droving, some for more than a decade. don't know how their relationship was, but apparently, might have been pretty good. not all trail drivers were men. a few women also made the trek. a woman dressed as a man, for example, joined a trail crew for four months in 1888 on a drive
4:20 pm
between new mexico and colorado before she was exposed, so to speak. amanda burkes of catula, texas, provided a detailed account of her trip up the trail with her husband's herd to newton in 1871, and mrs. william b. slaughter wrote ably of an 1896 excursion between fort sumner, new mexico and kansas. likewise, sally ritus mentions a journey she and her baby made up the trail with one of her husband's herds. parts of the american south and midwest, livestock was often trailed to market by dismounted drovers. drovers who trailed herds from louisiana to southeast texas before the civil war, rarely rode more than two horses on a drive, and often had just one. but the wildest disposition of
4:21 pm
texas longhorns and the distances in topography of the routes north and west from texas during the post-civil war era, however, largely precluded so few horses. on longer drives from western texas and southern texas, remunas of as many as four and even six horses per drover were common. these drovers paid a lot of attention to their saddles, as you might imagine, if you were going to drive several hundred miles or even 1,000 miles, you would want what you sat on 12 or 15 hours a day to be as comfortable as possibl so in the early years, they were riding the famous mother hubbard saddle, which was developed from
4:22 pm
spanish models. they called it a mother hubbard, because it slipped down over the horn and slipped over the cantle. and this -- what was called a mochilla was a covering that was quite easy on the bottom and on the legs, apparently. and so this was the first reall quite easy on the bottom and on the legs, apparently. and so this was the first really favored droving saddle. some called it an apple horn, because the horn resembled the shape of an apple. when they went north into places like denver and cheyenne, they ran into saddlemakers who were making a much heavier saddle that was good -- especially good for trail work and heavy range work. this double rig, half-seat trail saddle, done by a fort worth maker here, a tackaberry, is
4:23 pm
built from ideas that were borrowed from the northern plains and ended up on texas stock saddles, which were some of the best. let's see. this image is not from the -- from a trail-driving perspective. it is a ranch chuckwagon, but i wanted to talk a little about feeding trail hands and the chuckwagons taken on the trails were very similar to those used on the ranches, so as -- were the cookware and so forth. so this will do nicely for talking about trail driving as well as feeding on round-ups. feeding nomadic cowboys on the trail, often far from convenient sources of supply, called for
4:24 pm
ingenuity, self-sufficiency, and perseverance in the face of adversity. early drives to louisiana stopped at beef stands, located at convenient intervals, generally about a day's drive apart along most available routes. they had a little inn where the drovers stayed, had shelter beds and so forth. they had large corrals, they were only corralling 200 to 500 head generally. you could sleep the night without worrying about a stampede, and move out the next morning and drive another 10 or 12 miles and come to the next beef stand. the availability of food and supplies along those routes lessened the need for supply wagons and pack mules, participants in early drives usually carried their meager possessions, a little flour or cornmeal, chunks of cornbread, biscuits, salt, sugar and coffee, with them on their saddles. if cooking was required, each
4:25 pm
cowboy fended for himself, most cooking meat and bread dough on sticks over a fire. by the 1850s, a few ox-drawn supply carts or wagons, mostly of the two-wheeled variety, patterned after the spanish carrettas, began to supplant pack animals on drives from texas to louisiana, missouri, california and other points. by the 1870s, the place of these carts had been taken by heavy-duty freight wagons pulled by teams of between two and six horses or mules, depending upon the weight of the load and the difficulty of the trail. historians credit perhaps too much freighter-turned-rancher charles goodnight with creating the prototype chuckwagon in 1866, a simple wooden cupboard bolted to the rear of a freight wagon. i suspect this was being done before goodnight's time. but the design of this chuck or
4:26 pm
grub box, as it became known, perhaps drew its inspiration from portable writing desks of the period, or the compact mess chests then popular with travelers, campers and soldiers for cooking and dining in the field. chuck boxes, by contrast, were usually larger, much larger, the upper reaches of which carried a variety of tin cans and wooden boxes containing items in more or less constant use, including staples, spices, tableware and other small utensils and medicine. larger and heavier items, like earthen crocks, wooden kegs, iron pots and pans, occupied the lower shelves of the container. below the chuck box on many wagons hung a wooden storage
4:27 pm
compartment known as the boot, containing pots and dutch ovens. suspended hammock-like between the wheel axles dangled a cradling, made out of generally green cow hide, brimming with kindling wood or cow chips as fuel. iron bars along the sideboards of the wagon hung stake ropes, picket ropes used to secure the outfit's night horses. there was a tool box on the side, and one or more 35-gallon water barrels positioned on wooden plat forms braced by strap iron. the wagon box itself held bulk quantities of flour, beans, sugar, molasses, corn, lard, canned goods, dried fruit and an assortment of crates, carton,
4:28 pm
boxes and kegs, as well as quantities of bacon and fresh beef wrapped in cloth or canvas tarps. a fully loaded chuckwagon moved out to a discordant symphony of changing pots and pans and wagon wheels. the cook and his wagon traveled in the company of the outfit's horse herds, acting as a pilot on their way to the new campground. upon reaching the new campsite, the cook quickly unharnessed his team and with the help of the wrangler and perhaps another helper began to pitch camp and prepare the next meal. the most accomplished chuckwagon chef could prepare a meal in an hour or less, once the fire was started. as lynchpins to the crew's health and morale, experienced and competent trail cooks always were in demand and rarely looked
4:29 pm
long for a job. cooks often doubled as doctors and dentists, relying on a variety of home remedies of patent medicines and whiskey to relieve the pain and suffering of the sick and injured crew members. contemporary critics both praised and damned the abilities of the men who cooked for trail drives and round-ups in the late 19th century. one drover, a.w. capp, proclaimed the cook on his 1871 drive to kansas, "the only man in the outfit that everybody could cuss." that was his quote. good or bad, cooks were well paid, their wages varying according to responsibility and working conditions. they invariably drew a little higher wages than the rest of the outfit, except for the trail boss. and a few of the best commanded twice as much as an average cowboy. and even the least drew wages comparable to those of top hands.
4:30 pm
although most outfits provided three meals a day, some trail bosses served only breakfast and supper. drovers likely to miss a meal sometimes carried cold biscuits and perhaps a piece of bacon or onion or pickle to keep your belly satisfied and their mouths moist until the next meal. breakfast and dinner were served and consumed at a business-like gait, requiring only 35 minutes. coffee strong and black was the universal beverage of choice among drovers. a trail crew of 10 or 11 men consumed about a pound of coffee at every meal. green coffee beans in 100-pound sacks, costing 25 to 30 cents a pound in the 1880s.
4:31 pm
once roasted, the beans were placed in a flat-sided coffee grinder. boated to the side of the chuckwagon, and if beans were in short supply, you could make an acceptable substitute from parched maize and even the parings of sweet potatos. meat was the mainstay of the drovers' diet and often the only fresh food on the menu. for many drovers, bacon, salt pork and wild game, including deer, antelope and even bison, were served far more frequently than fresh beef. after all, trail bosses wanted to arrive at the market with the same number of cattle that they started with, or more, and not slaughter them for food along the way because the shortage came out of his -- his take.
4:32 pm
any beef that was consumed was likely from strays of other herds. strays were used to pay the tolls that indian tribes sometimes levied on drovers that were crossing their reservations. one contemporary observer estimated that vegetables and fruit made up less than 10% of a trail hand's diet. beans, navy, red and lima, were by far the most common foods on a trail drive. because of their expense and bulk, not to mention spoilage, drovers only carried canned products, prunes, currants and apples with a few fresh potatoes, onions, pickles and wild fruit added from time to time for variety.
4:33 pm
canned goods were still uncommon on trail drives during the most of the 1880s, but by the early 1890s, airtights, as they were called, appeared on chuckwagon menus with increasing frequency. during the heyday of the open range of the 19th century, most cooks served hot bread. and i'd love for you to take a look, this is a typical, what a typical chuckwagon carried for one of the drives up to montana. leaving the texas panhandle and the vicinity of tascosa, the sorts of things that were carried. you could see that there's extract of lemon. you've got allspice and mustard and vinegar. syrup, five gallons of that. this is a pretty well-appointed chuckwagon, for the most part. much better than in the early years of droving, when things
4:34 pm
were not quite so -- they weren't quite so, well they were a little more parsimonious, let's say. there was hot bread at every meal, sourdough for the most parts. corn meal was used for the biscuits only on some days, because it was more prevalent than the beef ration. liquor lock sweetening was more common than sugar, it was the cheapest syrup on the market, less than half the cost of maple and only about two-thirds the price of ribbon cane syrup. this shows the process of running the herd through sort of
4:35 pm
two counters who were actually -- there's two counters and then two more who are checking the count of the other two before taking off on the trail. this is a wonderful image done by f.m. steele, a kansas photographer, who went out from kansas into the field to shoot trail drives as they were moving forward on their route. this one happened to be coming from new mexico to kansas. we often think of everything going north and south, but things went east as west as well. you could see not only the drovers here and undoubtedly, you had them all come to be in the picture, because he hoped to sell a picture to each one of them. and the chuckwagon here in the center, but it gets really a marvelous view of a typical
4:36 pm
trail herd on the move. there are precious few images of trail driving. photography arrived in the field in the great plains after most of the trail driving was done. it arrived as the trails were being driven. but few photographers were willing to get into the field. and the equipment was heavy and bulky and not -- didn't facilitate shooting trail drives in action. it was not until the early part of the 20th century, around 1910, that a texas photographer, owen smith, actually captured a
4:37 pm
trailing drive on the move, between the matador range in texas around roaring springs to lubbock. a short drive to be sure. but nevertheless, one that shows a trail herd in action. a trail drive was a well-oiled machine. the droving crew operated like a team. this team had positions to play, it had veterans and rookies. it had coaches. and it had management. and this shows you the layout of a typical cattle drive, if you discount this huge mass of cattle in a ball. in reality, this herd would have been spread out much further, but this does show the positioning of the various
4:38 pm
drovers with the trail boss in front. the chuck wagon, remuda and wrangler off to the side. frequently, they were already ahead of the drive. trail boss experienced, knows where the water is, knows where the danger is. and this out front, his more experienced hands riding at point and at swing and at flank to keep the herd not too bunched so that they will overheat and lose weight, and not too wide so that they become difficult to manage. and then the rookies and the younger drovers are riding drag. the very youngest often was the horse wrangler, hence the song, "little joe, the wrangler."
4:39 pm
this is the view from the drag, and it must have been a drag. very dusty, particularly after the trail had been tromped down. good early in the droving season. shortages of water and fuel goo season. shortages of water and fuel often posed serious problems for trail crews. trail bosses, therefore, sought campsites convenient to fresh water when they could, lakes, creeks, buffalo wallows, whatever was available, from which chuckwagon water -- could be in those barrels -- the 35-gallon barrels could be replenished. the typical 35-gallon barrel lasted an outfit only two days, if they didn't have enough source of water. as the threat of texas fever in the eastern line of agricultural
4:40 pm
settlement and barbed wire forces cattle westward, it became more logistically challenging. wood and water were often scarce, although stands of mesquite, cedar, shinry could usually be found in the breaks along rivers and creeks. the incessant demand for campfire fuel often meant the harvesting of cow or buffalo chips from the prairie. when traditional fuels were scarce or wet and the drovers resorted to a variety of substitutes, including sacks of corn, sides of bacon, nd parts of the chuckwagon itself. they weren't opposed to breaking off a bit of the chuck wagon and using it to start the fire.
4:41 pm
drovers normally carried 30 days of food and enough to get to the next resupply point on well-traveled and now legendary paths like the chisholm and the great western trail. drovers secured fresh provisions as outfitting centering such as fort worth, fort griffin, texas, dodge city and in mishaps occasionally placed drovers in jeopardy. after running short of food in indian territory in 1877, one troubled crew subsisted on beef, salt and coffee for eight days before they located a buffalo hunter's camp and could get other kinds of provisions. river crossings, especially when waters were high and turbulent, took their toll on wagons and teams and supplies and cowboys and cattle. few rivers and streams coulafen
4:42 pm
coullfew rivers and streams coulyfew rivers and streams coul afew rivers and streams coul few rivers and streams could chuckwagons cross with ease on bridges or ferries. one of those places was that suspension bridge in waco, which was regularly used by trail herds. the absence of such conveniences forced trail crews to float their wagons across on log rafts. no method of crossing, however, was foolproof, as frank simpson's trail outfit discovered on the south canadian river on their way to osage country. after forfeiting their wagon and supplies to the raging waters, simpson and his men endured three days of hunger and bitter cold until a party of soldiers came to the rescue with enough food and clothing to tide them over until they could refit. two men could usually hold 3,000 head of cattle without trouble at night under favorable conditions.
4:43 pm
they mounted a slow walk, the guards circled the herd in opposite directions, often singing or humming softly to calm their wards. their melodies were so prevalent that night herding was often called singing to them. each drover took a shift at night, generally two to four hours. during periods of threatening weather, trail bosses bolstered their guard. night riding during a spell of hard weather, cowboy john baker remembered was quote no pink tea party. close quote. simple acts like striking a match or even spitting might start a herd to run. a frightened covey of quail and a crowing rooster were known to have caused stampedes. the first sign of trouble, every rider in camp scrambled for his night horse, the most
4:44 pm
sure-footed in his string, and departed at a gallop for the head of the herd. on attaining the point, that is, the shoulders of the herd, the horsemen attempted to turn the leaders into a mill, get them running in a circle, because that meant they weren't putting much distance between themselves and the chuckwagon. so they were sort of running in place, if you will. when riders could not turn the drove, they simply tried to keep up with the herd and keep it bunched in order to minimize the number of strays that they would have to gather at first light. the drovers who endured the exhilaration and terror of a stampede never forgot the experience. a few unfortunates did not live through them. reaching the end of the trail after such hardships was a cause for celebration.
4:45 pm
in peak years of droving, kansas cow towns, such as abilene and dodge city, welcomed as many as 400 droves annually, and this was a considerable economic boon, as you might imagine. here's dodge city, kansas, in its heyday. point out a sign that says you'll turn in your firearms upon entering the city limits. this is the way frank leslie's "illustrated monthly" showed an early trail herd arriving in dodge city, all with the drove moving down main street. they may have taken a bit of artistic license in this portrayal. this is more like the way it really worked. this is the bar cc outfit,
4:46 pm
delivering cattle to the shipping pins to the sante fe railroad, canadian texas, 1887. a much calmer and more realistic view of the way cattle were delivered to market. these were the shipping pens. every cattle town of any consequence that was on the railroad had a set of shipping pens like this. these pens are virtually new and they coincide with the establishment of the canadian as a rail shipping point further in texas in 1887, although, as i said, most of the droves were driven on up into kansas and even as far north as the canadian border. the civil war photographer, alexander gardner, photographed this remarkable scene in
4:47 pm
abilene, kansas, in 1867, on the very verge of the first cattle shipment from abilene on the chisholm trail. very exciting photograph, that if you had a stereo viewer, you could see this image in three dimensions. and here is how an artist depicted the loading process during that same period of time. at the end of trail, many outfits sold their remudas and chuckwagons to drovers headed further north. and with their saddles in hand, and using special fares, known as cowboy passes, boarded trains home. in other cases, skeletal crews brought wagons and horses back to texas. but before they left the cow towns, it was -- drovers
4:48 pm
invariably went to get a bath, went to get re-outfitted, whether it was boots or saddles. and trail towns welcomed this cowboy trade with a variety of outfitters, restaurants, saloons, gambling dens, sally joints, which is houses of prostitution were known. fabled drinking establishments with names like the long branch, the white elephant, occidental and last chance enjoyed their patronage. cowboys often spent their entire droving wages on a single spree. some simply left their money with the bartender asking only to know when it ran out. many wanted to record this posterity and for their families, and so visited the local photographer after they had finished up their bath and
4:49 pm
gotten re-outfitted, so that they looked presentable. oftentimes, the photographers had gun belts and weapons on hand so that the drovers could put them on. generally, drovers didn't carry firearms on their persons. they were mostly locked in the chuck box. and they didn't carry them in town because they were prohibited. so, the only time you would have them would be in the photographer's studio and provided by the photographer. this accounts for how, in some ways, how the fact that these pistols are pulled around the front to show what they are and, on occasions, they hang kind of
4:50 pm
awkwardly, like the guy doesn't wear it all that much, but he sure wanted to live up to the reputation that the newspapers and so forth had created. and while in town some cowboys did live up to their wild reputations. they typically arrived at their destination with a flourish. sometimes discharging their six-shooters on the town limits until their ammunition was exhausted. some of the bolder cavaliers rode their horses directly into saloons where they demanded service while still in the saddle. charlie russell did it best in in without knocking. once reoutfitted, many sat for the photographer in poses that advocated or evoked their free life. where alcohol, firearm and women
4:51 pm
were involved, quote, if one required a little or large amount of trouble, he could easily find it, said one ex-bartender, adding, however, that peaceable men were rarely molested. the average cost of driving to abilene, kansas, 700 miles, taking two months, was figured in 1869 at about $2 a head. beside a margin of about 20% for stampedes, theft, et cetera. but as the cattle trailing industry became more efficient in its methods, the cost of delivering a herd dropped. various estimates of the cost during the 1880s, ranged from 60 cents to 90 cents a head. depending where in texas the drove originated. and at least one prominent trail boss claimed that 3,000 head of south texas beefs could be driven to a kansas railhead
4:52 pm
for a total cost of no more than $1,000 or 33 cents a head. of this amount, wages accounted for about 74% of the total droving costs. food amounted to 21%, and miscellaneous costs accounted for the remaining 5%. the cattle contractors who charged ranchers fees ranging from $1 to $1.50 a head for their services achieved a profit margin of between 10 cents and $1.20 a head. less losses that averaged less than 3%. in any given year, most contractors delivered multiple herds, and they made a fair living. although cattle trailing was profitable, ever-growing western settlements, the threat of texas fever and the growing number of texas fever and quarantine of texas livestock doomed its continuation.
4:53 pm
in order to fend off the inevitable, texas cattlemen in 1884 proposed a national trail to be created under federal supervision running from doan's crossing on the red river north through the indian territory and present oklahoma panhandle, colorado, nebraska, wyoming, south dakota, montana to the canadian border. in 1886, a texas congressman introduced the national trail bill in the u.s. house of representatives, but it was blocked in committee by railroads and northern cattle interests. the failure of the national trail coupled with these quarantines and the continued settlement of farmers stringing of barbed wire brought an end to what some have called the greatest migration of livestock in world history. thank you. i'd be happy to take some
4:54 pm
questions. do people need to come up front here? if you have a question, please come up, so that you can be on, on camera. >> what was the months they traveled? >> what months? the slaughter season was during the winter. so after the fall round-up, the droving season, there were actually two. there was one in the spring and one in the fall. the spring drove started when the grass began to get green enough, so that you could sustain the herds across. and it went as long as the market was strong. sometimes they drove partway, stopped, and waited for a favorable market. grazed in the area, because most of the areas that they were moving through were public domain and they were feeding off the public grass.
4:55 pm
>> any other questions? yes, sir? >> -- spent all that money making abbean such a -- fd and then what led to abilene being abandoned as a major destination? >> well the farmers had moved out into the region and the legislature had moved the quarantine line west of abilene. and barbed wire and all of that just, you know, trail herding could not accommodate a lot of -- negotiate a lot of settled areas. and so those were the principal reason. >> did the indians figure into this at all? >> yes, they figured into it, in the respect that many of the drovers were moving across their territory.
4:56 pm
and they naturally were smart enough to want to profit from the fact that these beefs were eating their grass on their allotments, so they began to charge. generally in terms of -- smart cattlemen would cut out some beef or two or get one of those strays they had picked up along the way to resolve the toll issue. and so they -- and the five tribes area rounded up their own herds and drove them to market. so they were cattle traders, buyers and so forth. actively involved in the trade. yes, sir. >> is this the time after the buffalo were extinct? >> yes. by 1880, that was all done and in many areas well before that.
4:57 pm
>> what was the average number of deaths on a drive? >> i don't know that i've ever seen any figures. although it -- there are many accounts of deaths during stampedes. during water crossings. and sometimes brushes with outlaws and native people. bob, what did i get wrong? >> sounded okay to me. >> okay. thank you. thank you very much. this november 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of president kennedy's assassination in dallas. join american history tv on november 23rd and 24th for eyewitness accounts of the events surrounding that fall day in 1963.
4:58 pm
we'll air footage of the kennedy funeral and president johnson's address to congress. watch ceremonies from dealy plaza in dallas and the jfk library in boston. and we'll take your phone calls. remembering jfk, 50 years after dallas here on american history tv on c-span3. >> i started with teddy roosevelt. i knew so much had been written about teddy that i needed another story. i got into taft knowing they had been friends and broken anart 1912. then when i figured out what the difference between them it was teddy's public leadership, taft's failure as a public leader. so i started reading about the progressive era and the public and the magazine and the press and these guys stood at the center of it. they played a signal role. even the best historians writing second early will say these people wery in vanguard of the progressive movement. then i started reading about
4:59 pm
them. and i didn't know the others. i didn't know mclore so he came into my life. >> tonight, doris kearns goodwin on c-span's q&a. if you are a middle or high school student, c-span's student cam video competition wants to know what's the most important issue congress should address next year. make a 5 to 7-minute video and be sure to include c-span programming for your chance to win the grand prize of $5,000 with $100,000 to total prizes. the deadline is january 20th. get more info at ann arbor on american history tv. with the help of our comcast cable partners for the next hour we'll explore the history of this city of about 115,000 and the surrounding area. coming up, we take you to the places on the campus of the university of michigan where presidents kennedy and johnson made speeches that launched some of their most important
5:00 pm
initiatives. >> your imagination and your initiative and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs. >> we travel to the willow run bomber plant to learn about its history and meet others who help us understand the roots of the area. >> a way of looking at national, state and local issues as they affected slavery or as slavery affected them. >> we begin our special look with a trip to the detroit observatory to hear how this place transformed the university of michigan into one of the first research universities in the united states. >> it's ironic that this very important building and this very important foray bothe sciences is in a state where cloud cover will wreck the conditions for viewing four out of five nights.
5:01 pm
but this is the -- if you wanted to run with the big dogs, this is what you had to be doing. we are at the 1854 detroit observatory. it is the second oldest building on the university of michigan campus. only the president's house is older. and this was the first building built that was a dedicated scientific research facility. the building is part of a campaign to transform the university of michigan that was first proposed by henry philip tappan who was the first president of the university. he didn't get here until 1852. he wanted to transform the university of michigan into a research university. prior to that time, michigan was mostly a sort prove vincial college where you really had to know your classical, greek and latin and be able to stand up and recite same. and he was really enamored of the prushian educational system. in the prushian educational system there was a


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on