KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS
CATTLE TRADE OF THE WEST AND SOUTHWEST, BY JOSEPH G. McCOY




Chapter II.


THE SITUATION IN TEXAS BEFORE AND DURING THE WAR -- THE ATTEMPT TO DRIVE CATTLE NORTH IN 1866 -- RECEPTION OF THE DROVERS IN SOUTHEAST KANSAS AND SOUTHWEST MISSOURI -- EXPERIENCE AND SKETCH OF J. M. DOUGHERTY -- ALSO OF R. D. HUNTER -- THE OUTLOOK AT THE CLOSE OF 1866 -- THE RESULTS OF THE YEAR.

     For a quarter of a century or more the herds of Texas continued to increase much faster than the mature surplus was marketed. In fact no market accessible existed sufficient to consume this surplus, so the excess grew greater and greater each year and of course the stock less valuable in proportion as it became plentiful. Orleans and Mobile were the only cities of size outside of the State, that consumed any considerable proportion of Texas cattle, and those markets were controlled, in practically monopolized by the Morgan line of steamers, plying between the coast of Texas and those cities. To any one outside of the ship company enormous rate of freight was exacted, practically debarring the ordinary shipper.

     But few attempts were ever made before the war to drive cattle north, although it was done, but not largely or very successfully. The outbreak of the civil war was a disaster great, and almost fatal, to the stock interests of Texas, for as soon as the Mississippi River was occupied and patrolled by the gun boats of the Union forces and Orleans captured, then Texas was, so far as a market for her live stock, was completely walled out. She could not drive North if she would; she would not if she could. A few droves were marketed by surreptitiously swimming the Mississippi River below Vicksburg, and thence were hurried east to the Confederate armies, but the vigilance of the Union gunboats rendered this an extra hazardous business, and but a small amount of it was done. Then dawned a time in Texas that a man's poverty was estimated by the number of cattle he possessed.

     Many ranchmen entirely neglected their stock, for they were regarded as not worth caring for. Stocks of cattle were, in certain sections, offered at prices ranging from one to two dollars per head, and that often without finding a purchaser. The effect of the war on the cattle interest and supply in the North was the very reverse of what it was in Texas, for at its close the bullock -- a select, matured animal, worth five or six dollars in Texas -- was worth in the Northern markets more than ten times that amount. This vast difference constituted a wide and tempting field to the cattle speculator -- a field that he was not slow to attempt to occupy. During the winter and spring of 1865 and 1866 large herds of beeves were gathered in Texas preparatory to driving North the following summer. To give an idea of the value of cattle in Texas at this time, we will here state that an intimate friend, then in the trade, went to a herd of 3,500 head of beeves and purchased 600 head of his choice at $6 per head; then for the next 600 head, his choice, he paid $3 per head; making his purchase of 1,200 head cost on an average $4.50 per head, or something near forty cents per hundred pounds gross weight. At that price beef could hardly be called an expensive luxury, or its production a very profitable business.

We have heard the number of cattle that had crossed Red river during 1866 put down as high as 260,000 head. We believe these figures approximate the number, If not exactly correct. We call readily believe that the bright vision of great profits and sudden wealth that had shimmered before the imagination of the drover, leading him on as the subtle mirage of the desert does the famishing traveler -- nerving him to greater hardships, and buoying him up In many a wild, stormy night, whilst he kept silent vigil over his herd -- were shocked, if not blasted, by the unexpected reception given him in Southern Kansas and Missouri by a determined, organized, armed mob, more lawless, insolent and imperious than a band of wild savages.

     Under the pretext of a fear of disease being disseminated among the so-called native cattle, all manner of outrage, robbery and murder were perpetrated. As is always the case, the men who were most likely to loose the least were the most forward in demonstrations of lawlessness; in short, the principal actors were outlaws and thieves, glad of an excuse to pillage, kill and steal.

     The practice was to go in force and armed to the teeth, surround the drover, insult him by words such as a cowardly bully only knows how to use; spit in his face, snatch handfuls of beard out of the drover's face, tie him to a tree and whip him with anything they could lay their hands on, tie a rope around his neck and choke him. In short, provoke him to a demonstration of resistance or self-defense, then kill him and straightway proceed to appropriate his herd. It was idle to talk about the protection of law, such a thing was utterly impossible. Any one who is familiar with the quick, hot, impetuous temper of the Southern drover will readily admit that he would brook but little of such treatment before he would shoot at his assailants. Many of them paid the forfeit of their lives, often, however, getting in effective work before they were killed. Others took the unencumbered leisure of their return to balance accounts and avenge the wrongs of themselves or their friends, and often right thoroughly and to their full satisfaction did they do it. Southern Kansas and Missouri were the fields to which every rascal in either State annually rallied to cheat and swindle, by bogus checks, worthless notes or any other villainous device, the Southern drover out of his herds. In short, the tactics were to stop the drover by mob violence, then rob or swindle him out of his stock. Could the prairies of Southeast Kansas and Southwest Missouri talk, they could tell many a thrilling, blood curdling story of carnage, wrong, outrage, robbery and revenge, not excelled in the history of any banditta, or the annals of the most bloody savages.

     If the mob could not frighten the drover until he would abandon his stock, or if they failed to obtain a pretext for killing him outright, resort was had to stampeding the cattle. This was easily done by availing themselves of the cover of night, and creeping stealthily until close to the herd, then suddenly rising up and flourishing a buffalo robe or blanket. Of course such sudden and unexpected demonstrations would frighten the cattle and cause them to dash of at full speed, pell mell, in the darkness. Before running far the herd would be broken up into squads, and the farther they ran the greater the fright, often rushing over rocks, cliffs, or high banks. The entire herd would be greatly injured and many of the cattle utterly ruined; some with limbs broken, others with horns broken off, and often weeks were required to re-gather them. Of course, many could never be found, for, whilst the drover with all his available help was engaged in re-gathering the cattle, the members of the mob would be just as busy secreting all they could find, and knowing the country better than the drover, the mob usually got the lion's share. When the drover was exhausted, his horses worn out with hard service, and his case began to be deplorable, some member of the mob would come into the camp and offer to hunt up the lost cattle for a snug price, perhaps five dollars per head. So soon as a bargain was struck the outlaw would mount his horse and in less than a day would return with many if not all the lost cattle. It would not require a Solomon to know that the cattle had been secreted in some out of the way nook, and carefully guarded until as such time as it would be profitable for the thieves to return them to their owner, or send them out to be sold for their own account. The drover had no alternative; he must submit to be blackmailed or lose his cattle entirely. There was little use in thinking about law or justice, much less enforcing the one or expecting the other. There are few occupations in life wherein a man will hold by so brittle a thread a large fortune as droving. In fact, the drover is nearly as helpless as a child, for but a single misstep or wrong move and he may lose his entire herd, representing and constituting all his earthly possessions. None understood this fact better than the mobs of outlaws that annually infested the cattle trail leading from Texas to Sedalia, Mo. If the drover had ready money, and could obtain an interview with the leader of the mob, it was not difficult to secure safe transit for his herd, but it was always expensive, and few drovers were disposed to buy a recognition of their legal rights; many of them had not the money, for they had invested all their available cash in cattle before leaving Texas. Be it said to the credit of the law abiding citizens of Southeastern Kansas and Southwestern Missouri that they neither aided nor abetted the mobs in their thieving and murdering schemes. The fear of Spanish fever was made the pretext for committing the grossest outrages, just as the late civil war was a convenient pretext for lawless plundering, outraging, and murdering of civil, quiet citizens. Of the quarter of a million cattle that came up from Texas in 1866 but few found their way to a profitable market, for they were held back until the weather had become very cold and the grass long since dead and unnutritious, the cattle poor in flesh and weak from poverty and hard usage, and were finally put upon the market unfit for any purpose. Of course they brought a small price per pound and weighed but little, netting the drover often less than first cost in Texas. In fact many cases could be cited where the drover did not realize more than enough to pay freight and other expenses; whereas, had they been permitted to drive the stock direct to Sedalia, Missouri, and there shipped over the Missouri Pacific to St Louis, thence to other markets, fortunes would have been made instead of lost. That the reader may have a correct idea of what the southern drover endured, we present a brief sketch of the treatment one or two of the drovers of 1866 received in Southwestern Missouri.

     James M. Dougherty, a young enterprising drover, then of less than twenty years of age, crossed Red river near Rock Bluffs with a fine herd of cattle numbering over one thousand head, determined to place them upon the St Louis market. Soon after entering the Indian Nation he found in order to avoid paying an arbitrary tax to the Cherokee Indians, he was compelled to turn his course more eastward, and enter the State of Arkansas near Ft. Smith. Then driving in a northern direction a short distance, he was compelled to turn Northwest on account of the rough, rocky, barren character of the country. Soon after, entering the State of Missouri, he was aroused from the pleasant revery of beautiful prospects and snug fortune easily won, by the appearance of a yelling, armed, organized mob, which ordered him to halt. Never in his limited experience had he seen such bipeds as constituted that band of self-appointed guardian angels. Dressed in coarsest home-spun pantaloons and hunting shirts, with under shirts spun of coarsest tow, a pair of rude home made cow-hide shoes, upon whose construction the broad ax and jack-plane had figured largely. All surmounted with a coon-skin cap of great antiquity and unmistakably home manufacture. To this add a score of visages closely resembling the orang outang, bearing evidence of the lowest order of humanity, with but one overpowering passion -- love for unrectified whisky of the deadliest brand. Young Dougherty was told that "them thar steers couldn't go an inch fudder. No sare." Dougherty quietly began to reason with them, but it was like preaching morality to an alligator. No sooner did they discover that the drover was a young man and probably little experienced in life, than they immediately surrounded him, and whilst a part of the mob attacked his comrade and shamefully maltreated him, a half dozen course brutes dragged the drover from his saddle, disarmed him, tied him fast to a tree with his own picket rope, then proceeded to whip him with hickory withes in the most brutal manner.

     Whilst these outrages were being perpetrated upon the drover and his comrade, a pre-appointed Missourian dashed into the herd of cattle at full speed, flourishing at arm's end a striped blanket, all the while screeching and yelling as only a semicivilized being can. Of course this had the intended effect. The cattle took great fright at the, to them, unusual demonstrations, and with a whirl and a snort were off at full speed, rushing wildly over everything before them. Fortunately for the drover, one or two faithful cow boys were in the rear of the herd and quickly divining the trouble and real situation, dashed ahead of the stampeded herd and led it down a long hollow and around a rough high hill, which was thickly covered with timber, into a smooth open valley of prairie, and there adroitly circled the leaders around, and kept them curving until the entire herd was running on a small circle which was gradually contracted until they were rushing round and round in as small a space of ground as it was possible for that number of cattle to occupy. In a few minutes the cattle became quiet, and the cow boys turned their heads to the west and hurried them on for a distance of five miles, leaving Dougherty and his comrade to the tender mercies of the "gentle lamb-like mob." In the mean time, after each one of the Missourians had sated his brutal instincts by whipping their bound victim, they demanded of Dougherty that he would mount his horse and leave the country instantly, not stopping to inquire or look after his herd; but hasten away. His comrade had torn himself loose from his persecutors and putting spurs to his mustang cow pony was soon out of sight in the adjoining woods, where thick undergrowth and foliage afforded early seclusion. Dougherty staggered to where his faithful pony stood, and drawing his lacerated, bleeding body into his saddle, said to his assailants that they outnumbered him and were armed, while he was alone and disarmed, and that under these circumstances he would be compelled to do as they directed. But there gleamed in the drovers dark liquid eye determination to balance accounts with as many of that mob as the future might afford opportunity. Turning his horse's head at right angles from the direction in which his herd had retreated, the drover slowly rode away feeling much more dead than alive. After riding a mile or more, his comrade halloed to him from a cluster of underbrush, not far distant, and then rode out to meet him. Both were glad that they were not killed outright. After wandering slyly about for a few hours, they found the trail of the herd, and gladly discovered it was headed westward, and that it was traveling at a quiet gait instead of running. Putting spurs to their ponies they dashed ahead on the trail as fast as their steeds could carry them. A few hours after night-fall they beheld a small camp fire and approached cautiously until they were sure they were making no mistake. Once in camp the drover soon had his bruised and lacerated body washed and dressed, as well as could be under the circumstances. Before the earliest note of the vigil chanticleer the herd was again put upon the move, headed for the northeast corner of the Indian Territory near Baxter Springs, where it arrived without event of particular note. After Dougherty had halted on the prairies near Baxter Springs, for a few weeks, and had fully recovered from the severe trouncing he had received in Missouri, he started out with a few hundred head of cattle late one evening, and during the night run the blockade, and after lying in a secluded spot during the day, made good his way to Ft Scott, Kansas, where he disposed of his cattle without trouble, and secured a buyer who returned to Baxter with him and purchased the balance of his herd. Having made a satisfactory profit he returned to Texas, and made necessary business arrangements in order to embark in the business of driving as a permanent occupation, which business he has steadily followed ever since, driving from one thousand to four thousand head of cattle to Western Kansas market annually. Although now but a young man in years, yet he is old in business experiences and in a knowledge of the ways of the world. Always acting upon his own judgment in business matters, never having had a partner, but does his own thinking, lays his own plans and personally attends to the smallest details, we need not add is generally successful. Of that quiet, unobtrusive turn, yet social and pleasant; fond of having a good time, but never rude or boisterous; always upright and honorable. Besides having a valuable property in Texas, he has established a fine ranch in Colorado, on which now are over one thousand head of cattle, besides horses and other necessary auxiliaries to success. It is easy to see that before many more years are numbered among the past, J. M. Dougherty will take position among the best and most substantial citizens of the great new West. During the Summer of 1866, the whole country about Baxter Springs was alive with blockaded cattle, the owners of which were trying all manner of expedients to get through Southwest Missouri to some shipping point on the Missouri Pacific R. R. The drover who was fortunate enough to have at his own command cash to the amount of two or three dollars for each head of cattle he wished to pass through to Sedalia, Mo., had no trouble to arrange matters with the leader of the mob, to not only permit the herd to pass on, but give it safe conduct through the country to the railroad. But few of the drovers were so fortunately situated in financial matters as to be able to avail themselves of the opportunity of buying their way, or the permission to go to market. A strong prejudice existed in the minds of the mass of drovers to buying the privilege of exercising a plain, inalienable right, to-wit: to take their stock unmolested to any market to which they might choose to go. But in that day and country a man's, especially Southern drover's, legal rights, without physical force sufficient to enforce them or secure respect thereof, were as useless as a piece of refuse paper.

     A large number or the drovers of 1866, after learning fully the hopeless situation in Southeastern Kansas and Southwestern Missouri, turned their heads due west from Baxter Springs, and drove them along or near the Kansas line near two hundred miles, then turned northwest through the State of Kansas, just west of all settlement, until a point about due west of St. Joe, Mo., was reached; then turning east or northeast, drove to St. Joe and shipped them to Chicago. Or, crossing the Missouri river near Nebraska City, or Brownsville, Neb., pushed into Central Iowa, and there sold to the cattle feeders of that State. Those that took the latter course did very well, for they obtained good prices from the cattle feeders of Iowa, whose corn crops were very good, and millions of bushels thereof could only be profitably disposed of by feeding it to live stock, of which the supply was limited. But some of those who shipped their cattle to Chicago fared badly, either selling at low prices or packing on their own account, which latter operation was more unprofitable than the former. The cattle had been driven so far, and subjected to so much hardship, that they had become poor in flesh and were unfit for any purpose except to be fed during the winter, and grazed until fat the following Summer.

     We might write a volume of sketches and personal experiences of drovers of 1866, but one more will suffice. R. D. Hunter, now a resident of Kansas City, Mo., but of Ayrshire Scottish birth, came to this continent at the age of ten years, with his father who selected Central Illinois, then a comparatively unsettled country, as his home, and devoted himself to farming and stock-raising after the manner of that day and country; about which occupation the subject or this sketch was thoroughly instructed. Reared a farmer it was but natural as well as wise, for him to begin life for himself, following the footsteps of his father. But when Pike's Peak Gold discoveries were heralded over the land, golden visions flitted before the imagination of the young farmer, too bright and persuasive for resistance. In the spring of 1859, R. D. Hunter, with his comrades, rigged for traveling overland, left the "States" for the gold fields of the Rocky Mountains. Arriving at the mountain's base, but a brief stop was made, for each one was anxious to learn what fickle fortune had in store for him. In a short time they were numbered among the residents and miners of "Gregory's Lode" and "Russell's Gulch." The first year Mr. Hunter did fairly and managed to wrest from mother earth's rugged bosom a snug sum of the glittering dust, but not an amount equal to his aspirations. The following year he embarked in a quartz milling enterprise, which proved unfortunate. About this time arose a great excitement among the miners, caused by reports of fabulously rich mines in Arizona, and hither R. D. Hunter turned his face. But the Indians, not liking the proposed inundation of pale faces, waxed hostile; and Mr. Hunter turned his course to the San Juan country, a valley of Southwest Colorado. Whilst in that country he discovered what is now known as "Putnam's Lode," a gold-bearing quartz vein of undoubted great richness; but owing to its location and the distance, the difficulty of access of the country, no more was done in the way of working it, than enough to vest the title in the discoverer. This property he owns to this day, hoping for a railroad to go sufficiently near to make the working of it practicable. The San Juan country proving a failure, save for quartz mining, after spending two years in those regions, Mr. Hunter returned to Denver, and there meeting his family decided to make Denver his home, temporarily at least. But just then came the dark hour of life, the time that tries a man's soul. No sooner had he began to feel that he might enjoy life and home, notwithstanding fortune's frown, then affliction marked him as a victim, prostrating him helpless upon his bed for near a year, unable to so much as raise his hand, all superinduced by hard labor and exposure in the mines, and that, too, without a fitting reward. When health was restored, he decided that gold diggings, with shovel and pick, was not his forte, and returned, after five years' absence, to Missouri, where he soon became engaged in a cattle trade; supplying oxen to freighters. At that date no railroads extended beyond the Missouri river. At that business success rewarded his efforts, and at the end of the civil war, he turned his face toward the Lone Star State in quest of cattle. Before reaching Red River he met, and purchased, a herd of four hundred head, coming north, in the Indian Territory. Having paid twenty-five dollars per head for the cattle, a price which to him appeared very small, he felt that the day had come in which fortune for him was in reach, like a hanging apple, just ready to be plucked. How delusive were these appearances and hopes, the sequel will show. The western line of Vernon county, Mo., was passed but a few miles, on the route to Sedalia, when a coon-skin-capped biped, calling himself the sheriff of Vernon county, summarily took formal possession of his herd and at the same time placed the drover under arrest. About ten thousand head of cattle, with their owners or foremen in charge, were seized and arrested at the same time. Here was a dilemma not expected, one not put down in their almanac of probabilities. How to get out, with the least loss, was the question that perplexed the drovers. During the first night, whilst under arrest, Mr. Hunter hit upon a plan to extricate himself and friends, which he disclosed to them privately, and exacted their promise to perform the part assigned them.

     Early next morning he told the sheriff he did not want to go to jail, that he would prefer to make his own living and not burden the very good people of Vernon county with his support, and if the sheriff would accompany him to Lamar, the county seat, distant thirty-five miles, he thought some friends could be found who would go his bail. To this the sheriff assented, for it would then be convenient to put the drover in the lockup if bail was not obtained. No sooner were the sheriff and his prisoner well out of sight from the drover's camp than, according to previous arrangements, the herds were put upon the trail directly west toward the Indian neutral lands, distant thirty-five miles, and a brisk speed maintained without halting to graze or rest.

     Upon the road to Lamar the drover had a chance to study the face of his captor, and came to the conclusion that he was bacchanalian in his religious predilections, a "persuasion" of large membership, quite common among the denizens of Southwestern Missouri. Soon after arriving at the county seat. they went to a Temple of Bacchus, of which there were several in the village to offer their devotions. As the drover anticipated the officer proved to be an enthusiastic devotee, ready at all times to offer libations, providing the drover would pay the priest, which he was not loth to do. But there is a limit to ordinary human capacity, and so there was to the devotional capacity of that sheriff. When he had passed that stage wherein everything was beautiful and lovely, and the memory of his humble circumstances had fled from his brain, and great wealth and joy inexpressible had taken possession of him -- to the peculiar condition when the ground will come right up and strike a fellow in the face; when all these manifestations were visible upon the county official, to the drover, he concluded that he had given all necessary "bonds," and, whilst the official was blubbering and wallowing in the street, the drover mounted his steed and, bidding Lamar and the sheriff good afternoon, turned his steed westward. About daylight next morning Mr. Hunter overtook his comrades and friends with their herds in the Indian Nation. When he came up to them he found every cow boy, not needed to care for the cattle, marshalled in military style guarding the rear of the last herd. It would not have been altogether healthy for a sheriff's posse to have attempted a re-arrest of those herds or the drovers; but when they were sure they were out of the State of Missouri all fear of disturbance ceased, and they soon halted, rested, and grazed their herds.

     After a few days spent recuperating, the herds were put upon their travels, taking a westerly direction for the distance of about one hundred and fifty miles, then curving northward, the Kaw river was crossed at St. Mary's. On reaching the vicinity of Atchison, a German settlement felt called upon to go upon the war path after the drovers, and would have caused them great trouble and, perhaps, loss but for the kindness of a Mr. Joel Hyatt, a large land owner and a good hearted sensible man of that section, who gave the persecuted drovers an asylum upon his lands, where they rested for two weeks. Then they crossed the river at St Joe and drove in a northerly direction to Bartlett Station, on the Chicago and Rock Island Road, and there shipped their herds. Mr. Hunter decided to take his cattle off at Joliet, Illinois, and put them on Blue-grass pasture, rather than to go direct on to the Chicago market, as his comrades did. It proved a wise decision, for in a few weeks he was able to find a buyer at remunerative prices. The first year, in the Southern cattle trade, closed, and Mr. Hunter stood six thousand dollars better off in cash, aside from experience, which was no small item, for a place and way had been found for future operations.

     In 1867, R. D. Hunter went to Texas and bought twelve hundred head of cattle, which he drove to Omaha, Neb., and sold to Government contractors, at a snug profit. The summer of 1869, found him on the trail from Texas, with a fine herd of twenty-five hundred head of cattle, which were sold in Chicago at paying figures. But in 1870, a herd of fourteen hundred head of select beeves was put upon the Chicago market, and four and one-half to six and one-quarter cents, gross weight, was realized, netting a profit of twenty dollars per head.

     In every business there is bitter mingled with the sweet; this is strictly true in the cattle business, and the year of 1871 was, from a multitude of causes, a bitter, bad year for the drover, and, although not a year of actual disaster to Mr. Hunter, yet it was without that desirable profit. Although he handled about five thousand, and did it to the best of his judgment, yet it was as a year's transaction -- "bad medicine." This was the last year of Mr. Hunter's driving. Since that time he has traded in cattle in the West, and aided the Kansas Pacific Railway in the management of its live stock business.

     In 1873, he established in connection with Capt. Evens, and others, a livestock commission house, with headquarters at Kansas City. This house soon took rank among the leading ones in the West, and has handled many thousand head of cattle, almost invariably to the entire satisfaction of its numerous patrons, which includes many of the largest live stock operators in the West. Each member of the firm is a practical and successful stockman, and their combined capitals enables them to render ample aid to their patrons, besides rendering the firm entirely responsible and safe. As a man he is kind and courteous to all with whom he has business relations; but his manner is bluff and positive, bordering on the hauteur, and to one whom he dislikes he is unmercifully severe. Indeed it is little comfort his enemies receive at his hands. Language fails to express his intense contempt for a little, mean action; and as for a dishonest transaction, or its author, neither can receive other than his severest outspoken condemnation. But for his friends, or for one whom he regards as worthy, he has a big heart, throbbing the warmest pulsations of sympathy. He is strictly honorable in his business transactions, dignified in his manner, courteous in his address, inflexible in will -- self reliant. Such is R. D. Hunter, and all right feeling men freely yield him the pains of honorable, manly success.

     Other drovers of 1866 turned their herds eastward from Baxter Springs, and drove along or near the Arkansas line until they were able to flank the hostile regions and strike the railroad at a shipping point east of Sedalia. But this route was mountainous, rocky, and much of the distance heavily timbered and altogether unsuited for successful cattle driving. The cattle driven over it became foot sore and miserably poor in flesh, and, of course, when put on the St. Louis market, sold for mean prices and weighed very light; so that when the drover had sold out and paid up expenses, but little cash remained to swell his impoverished pocket-book. But by far the larger half of the drovers remained near Baxter Springs, preferring to hope on and keep trying, to risking any untried route with their herds. Soon the frost came and killed the grass, which, after drying a few days, was set fire and the whole country burned over. This was a great calamity to the drovers.

     All along the border a host of sharpers and thieves -- men with good address and plausible pretension -- were anxious to buy cattle, but owing to the unsettled condition of affairs, were afraid to bring the cash with them, but had what purported to be New York exchange, with which they bought cattle of such as they could induce to accept their drafts. Of course their drafts were worthless, but before the drover could find it out and secure himself, the rascal would have turned the stock into some secret confederate's hands and left for parts unknown to the drover. Others used worthless notes and such other devices as villainous ingenuity could invent, and each scheme or plan would surely catch some unwary, confiding drover. Other drovers, to save themselves from loss or financial ruin, placed their herds in winter quarters in Southern Kansas and Missouri. Others found their way into the corn regions of Central Illinois, and there fed their stock until a was found. But the year 1866 was, taking all things into consideration, one of great disaster to Southern drovers. All the bright prospects of marketing, profitably, the immense surplus live stock of Texas, faded away, or worse, proved to those who tried driving a serious financial loss. So the last great hope of the Southern cattle man, for an outlet and market for his live stock, proved but bitter disappointment. Never, perhaps, in the history of Texas, was the business of cattle ranching at so low estate as about the close of the year 1866 and during the following year. The cattle producing portions of the State were overrun with stock. The ranges were becoming depastured, and, as a consequence, the unprotected earth became parched by the hot sun, and permanent drouth threatened. The stocks of cattle would not yield sufficient revenue to pay the expenses of caring for them -- that is, branding, marking, etc. Strange as it my seem, it is nevertheless true, that within the bounds of that great State, no one came forward to open up an outlet for the millions of her matured cattle. Over the business of cattle ranching a deep gloom settled, crushing to earth the hopes of many whose herds numbered multiplied thousands. Such was the condition of affairs in Texas at the close of the year 1866. But is said that the darkest hour is that one just before the break of day. And so it was in this case. Just how and from whence came that brighter hour, that dawn of day, will form the theme of a future chapter.



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