STOCK AND WOOL GROWING IN NEW MEXICO -- ALSO IN SOUTHEASTERN COLORADO -- PEDRO C. ARMEJO -- CHARLES GOODNIGHT -- WINTERING CATTLE ON THE UPPER ARKANSAS RIVER -- DENNIS SHEEDY.
We have formerly had much to say concerning men and live stock interests of Texas, the Northwest, Kansas and Northeastern Colorado; but we now propose to devote brief space to New Mexican and Southeastern Coloradoan live stock matters.
New Mexico, although comprising an area of more than 121,000 square miles, and a population of near one hundred thousand, and although it is now knocking for admission as a State into the Federal Union, is comparatively little known. This arises largely from the fact that no line of railroad has yet penetrated that Territory nor until within quite a recent date has one been operated to a point sufficiently near torender the journey other than one of great hardship, requiring weeks of time traveling by tedious and uncomfortable modes of conveyances, over a monotonous, dreary country, under a burning sun. Now the speedy locomotive and luxurious car carries the tourist nearly to the northern line of the Territory, and before many summers wax and wane, one or more lines will penetrate the heart of the heretofore secluded land of the Aztecs.
The Territory, with other domain vast in extent; was acquired by conquest and treaty with Old Mexico, as the mother country is termed, in contradistinction to the New Mexico. Long before it came under the jurisdiction of the United States its adaptability to live stock production, especially sheep husbandry, attracted many persons pastorally inclined.
At the time of its conquest, certain distinctively Castilian families had made it their home, and were engaged in wool-growing upon an extensive scale. The leading families did not lose but rather augmented their prestige after the change of rulers, and ultimately became in a sense, dukes and princes of the land, having under and dependent upon them many thousand human beings of the lower order. Many of whom, under a system of peon laws, were but a few removes from actual slavery -- a system of customs and laws whereby a person could sell his services and himself for a stated period of time. Long before the stipulated time expired, necessities, real or imaginary, would arise, and an extension of the peonage would be fixed for a small sum in hand, perhaps a trifle in amount. So from year to year the person would be bound to work for his master who controlled, ordered, and drove him as absolutely and as remorsely as though he were -- as practically he was -- a veritable slave. But the new order of things arising from this has done away with peonage in New Mexico.
The average New Mexican is a bad mixture of Spanish, Indian, and sometimes negro blood, producing in that warm, sunny clime, a degenerate, unenterprising, go-easy specimen of the "genus homo," who is in his seventh heaven when he can get enough to eat and an opportunity to "trip the fantastic toe" nightly at the fandango, to lascivious music, in company with maidens to whom virtue is an unknown and unrespected grace, and to whom modesty is a lost sensibility.
The race, as a whole, is, and has been for centuries, at a standstill. The same rude agricultural implements that their remote ancestors used they cling to tenaciously, resisting all innovations of improved machinery. The wooden plow; mowing hay with a hoe; the ox harnessed or yolked by his forehead; grinding done by hand; transportation on little stupid donkeys, scarce larger than a New Foundland dog, are seen everywhere. In short, a population almost, if not absolutely, impervious to progress, either in business, science, education or religion. Their daily fare coarse and meagre; their necessities few; their ambitions none.
Far different is the case with the families of pure Castilian blood, who own most of the live stock found in the Territory. Sheep constitute the principal live stock interest, and in numbers aggregate many millions; and in value, as in numbers, they out-rank cattle and all other classes of stock.
Along the water-courses a sparse and stunted growth of reddish prairie grass affords a limited supply of hay; but as there is good grazing the entire year, hay is not extensively made or needed. Of that made, by far the greater portion is mown with the common field hoe. Imagine a troupe of men going to the hayfield with hoes in their hands, and ask, can this be in the United States and in the Nineteenth Century?
The uplands and plains are covered with gramma grass, with an occasional tract abounding in the buffalo grass peculiar to Colorado. The gramma grass is superior food for sheep, and in that winterless clime can always be had in abundance. But a small portion of country is under cultivation, and that along the streams in the valleys where irrigation is practicable and easy. The upland, embracing by far the largest portion of the territory, is used, if at all, only for grazing purposes. It belongs principally to the general government. Some large tracts are held under old Spanish or Mexican grants made prior to the Mexican war of 1848 and confirmed by treaty of cession.
Upon the vast, almost limitless plateau, range countless thousands of degenerated sheep, in flocks of three thousand or less, cared for by one person, a "greaser," accompanied and aided by one or more sagacious, powerful shepherd dogs, which maintain a perpetual vigilance over the flock. With the speed of a racer they go to obey the command of the shepherd, and turn the flock as directed. The dogs are reared with the sheep, sucking a ewe, in puppyhood; and the flock is lost without its attendant dog and guardian. Woe betide the unlucky coyote that essays to feast on mutton! If the shepherd dog is apprised of its presence he will speedily annihilate his wolfship. They are very strong and rugged, and as brave as they are muscular. They are an indispensible adjunct of sheep husbandry in New Mexico. A "greaser" shepherd will sigh to lose his friend, groan if his wife or child dies; but if his dog is lost by death, his grief is overwhelming and his anguish cannot be assuaged. The flocks are enclosed in corrals at night, the shepherd sleeping with them, whilst the faithful, vigilant dogs maintain constant guard outside the corral. The corrals are located in the centre of a large grazing district, and as many as eight, ten, or twelve flocks, of three thousand each, nightly rendezvous in the same centre going out in different directions in the morning. The grown wethers are kept in separate herds from the stock sheep and lambs, and are usually sent out to the most distant herding posts. The fare of the shepherd is very common, coarse and scant, being a little coarse meal, goat's milk and kids flesh, all served in the rudest manner and highly seasoned with native pepper used in every dish by Mexicans. Onions are the favorite vegetable, which grow to wondrous size and in the greatest profusion. Flocks aggregating thirty thousand are under the general control and supervision of an overseer, or major domo who is required to look after the general interest of the whole and see that all needed supplies are provided. He receives about $25 per month, the shepherds from $10 to $15 per month in specie. Your Mexican to this day has no use for the greenback, and cannot see any value in a National bank note, hence will accept nothing but gold or silver coin.
The "Greasers" are the result of Spanish, Indian and negro miscegenation, and as a class are unenterprising, energyless and decidedly at a stand-still so far as progress, enlightenment, civilization, education, or religion is concerned. The rudest and most primitive modes of life and of making a living, such as their ancestors practiced five hundred years since, are entirely satisfactory to the present generation, and they look with profound, suspicious indifference upon any proposed innovation of ideas, modes or implements of husbandry, such as mark the advancement of progressive nations of the nineteenth century. Such being the situation but little progress in breeding superior blooded stock is not to be found or expected in New Mexico.
It is claimed that their flocks of sheep are descended from imported Spanish merinoes. There is nothing in their general appearance or fleece that would go to substantiate the assertion. But upon the other hand, the general appearance, the fleece, and the form of the Mexican sheep, would indicate that its relation to the pure blooded Spanish merino of the northern State, is as distant as the era of creation. Nevertheless there is one strong argument in favor of the proposition, that is, that when the Mexican sheep is crossed with the pure blood merino, the offspring will approach the type of the pure blood at an astonishingly rapid rate. Indeed it is claimed that a far superior flock of sheep can be secured by the first cross as above, than from a similar cross with the common coarse wool natives of the north. So satisfactory have the results proved to those who have tried on a large scale the crossing of Spanish merino bucks and Mexican ewes, that it is confidently claimed and asserted that a superior sheep for the western plains can be produced in this manner over any other. It is claimed that the Mexican ewe, like the Texan cow, when crossed with pure bloods, transmits its hardy constitutions, and above all its energetic industry to the offspring, which inherits the form, size, appearance and condition of the male. We believe it is a conceded fact that for ranching in Colorado and western Kansas, that Mexican ewes as a base, are superior to all others. This may and perhaps does arise from the fact that Mexican sheep are cheap, hardy, industrious in seeking food, and perfectly adapted to living on the grass the year round without other food or any special care or attention other than to prevent their destruction by wild animals. Many thousand ewes can be had for from fifty cents to $1.25 per head, taken at the Mexican ranches and can be bought delivered in Colorado at $2.00 to $2.50 per head.
An average flock of wethers will weigh about seventy pounds gross, and dress about thirty-five pounds of mutton, which, it is claimed, is superior in flavor, juicyness and tenderness, to northern mutton.
A limited number of families, mostly pure Castilians, have absorbed and now own nearly all the flocks of New Mexico. Prominent among the number is the Armejo family whose flocks are estimated to aggregate fully two hundred and fifty thousand head of sheep.
The number of "Greasers" required to take care of, herd, shear, and mark this great number, is over one thousand who, allowing five persons, women and children, to be dependent upon and belonging to each man employed, would aggregate six thousand human beings, and would constitute a city of pretentious numbers.
The late Pedro C. Armejo, a young, enterprising gentleman of Albuquerque, opened up a considerable trade in sheep with Colorado, driving from ten to twenty thousand head annually. There was no trouble in disposing of the flocks to the mining towns and cities, or to parties desiring to embark in wool-growing in Colorado. Sen. Armejo had established a lucrative trade, one that afforded bright prospects for great profits. In an evil hour he perished. Charity for the living and pity for the dead alike forbid us to mention the cause of his untimely death. He was a young man of enterprise and the possessor of a bright, vivacious intellect, whose future prospects, so far as wealth could go, were as golden as the heart could have wished.
He was thoroughly educated at St. Louis, Mo., and when through with college, went to New York and took a position in a Wall street banking house for the sole purpose of securing a complete practical business education. At the end of four years he returned to New Mexico and enthusiastically engaged in wool-growing and droving to Colorado.
Flocks of Mexican sheep shear, on an average, about two pounds of wool, which sells in Philadelphia for twenty to forty cents per pound owing to its cleanliness and fineness. As no expense whatever is incurred on account of feed, and but little for labor, the business of wool growing is very profitable in New Mexico; it will be tenfold more so when full-blooded Merinos are thoroughly introduced.
The wool is baled much like cotton, and freighted with ox teams to the railroads in Colorado, and shipped principally to Philadelphia.
Certainly no finer opening exists in the West than in Southern Colorado and New Mexico in wool growing. To one whose tastes, habits and bent of mind will permit him to embark and continue in sheep husbandry, a sure reward and great wealth is almost certain.
There are, comparatively, but few cattle in New Mexico. Although it is in many respects a good cattle country, yet it is better adapted to sheep. There are, however, some large stocks of cattle. It is claimed they do full as well as in Texas. That portion of the Territory of Colorado lying east of the Rocky Mountains has a natural subdivision constituting two distinct districts. This natural line of separation is the water-shed, or grand divide, between the waters flowing into the Platte, Republican and Smoky Hill Rivers, and the waters that flow into the Arkansas River. It starts out from the mountains just north of Pike's Peak, and is traceable almost to the State of Missouri.
That portion of country south of the divide constitutes Southeastern Colorado, and as a distinct section deserves more than passing notice. It is watered by the Arkansas and numerous tributary rivers and creeks, and, as a whole, is one of the finest, if not the finest, live stock country on the Continent. The winters are very mild, the air pure, the climate healthy, the grass fine; in short, nature seems to have exhausted herself in favorable combinations in its make-up. In this district are located many of Colorado's grandest live stock enterprises, including both cattle and sheep. It is a question upon which the present population is greatly exercised, and party lines are closely drawn, whether it is better for sheep or cattle, and which interest shall control and possess the country. An incipient war has been waged between the two factions for several months, which has greatly hindered the development of the country. But all matters of dispute are likely to be speedily and amicably settled. The region is penetrated by the Kansas Pacific Railway, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and the Denver & Rio Grande Railroads. The two latter lines will soon be extended into New Mexico. Southeastern Colorado is more nearly stocked up to the full capacity of the country with cattle and sheep, than any other quarter of the territory; but yet there is abundant room for more. The original stocks were from Texan cattle and Mexican sheep, upon the former of which have been crossed Durham bulls, and upon the latter Merino bucks; in both instances with the most satisfactory and profitable results.
Nearly the entire Arkansas river front for a distance of one hundred miles east of Pueblo, is already taken for stock ranches. Many young men of energy and determination have successfully established themselves and laid broad foundations for great wealth in southeastern Colorado, some of whom have already attained creditable success and distinction among the latter may he named Charles Goodnight, resident six miles west of Pueblo City, upon the banks of the Arkansas river, near the foot of the mountains. He is a native of Illinois, from which State, at the age of eleven years, he went to the northwestern frontier of Texas, where he remained until years of maturity. He was born upon a farm and was reared to a full knowledge and experience of the hard- ships and toils peculiar to that vocation. That fitted him, to no small extent, for the privations and labors incident to a wild frontier life -- such as was inevitable to a life in that section of Texas -- which was subjected to the predatory and bloody incursions of hostile Indians upon one side and bands of lawless Mexican banditti upon the other, rendering life and the prosecution of business a continual hazard -- a perpetual excitement. But young Goodnight was determined to do something to raise himself from poverty's humblest rut, and was prepared to forego the comforts and luxuries of life and endure any necessary privations and hardships that lie in the path to honorable success and fortune. After being in Texas a short time he in company with another young man, took a herd of four hundred and thirty head of cattle, mostly cows, to keep for a term of nine years, upon the shares, i. e.: One half the increase to be divided and branded annually. At the close of the first year they had raised only sixty-four calves all told, the half of which was thirty-two, and the half of that was sixteen calves, worth about three dollars per head The result was decidedly discouraging, and the young men were disposed to give up the enterprise, but upon being encouraged by their patron they determined, although they did not have a cent in money, to see the contract through.
So mounting their cow ponies, of which they had but one each, they again went to the range determined to wrest success from dame fortune, and to carry out the contract to the letter, whether it proved profitable or otherwise.
It was a turning point in Mr. Goodnight's life -- one that well illustrates the firm determination of character that has marked his career, and has contributed to his honorable, future success. At the end of the stipulated term, the young men had as their share of the increase, including some small purchases, four thousand head of cattle worth $8.00 per head, aggregating $32,000 in value. His prospect to secure an ample fortune speedily was all that he desired. But about this date the civil war began, which dashed to earth the bright prospects of the young stockmen. The Confederates took large herds of their stock, and of course paid the rightful owners thereof nothing for it. After serving a few months in the Federal ranks on the frontier of Texas, Mr. Goodnight decided to gather his stock and move it out of the State. Accordingly he started his herds across the Staked Plains and drove them into New Mexico and Southern Colorado, where, to his happy surprise, he met cattle buyers to whom he sold out at very remunerative prices. Mr. Goodnight's first venture as a drover was not only of itself a success, but it developed to him a channel or method through and in which he decided there was a golden harvest for him in the immediate future.
Therefore he lost no time in returning to Texas, where, with the proceeds of his Colorado sales, he was enabled to purchase the entire stock of his former partner, consisting of seven thousand head of cattle. This purchase was made of his former patron instead of partner.
As soon as the stock could be gathered it was put upon the trail for Southeastern Colorado. But the journey was not made without danger, exposure and severe Indian fighting almost daily whilst crossing the Staked Plains, a distance of about four hundred miles. In one of these hostile attacks the Indians killed his partner and captured a large number of the cattle.
With the remaining herds Mr. Goodnight sorrowfully made his way, through daily dangers and untold privation and hardships, into Colorado.
The losses en route by Indians were so great that the advanced prices realized in Colorado for the remainder of the herds did not cover entirely first cost of the stock. Not daunted by the bitter, sorrowful experiences of the previous year, Mr. Goodnight renewed and continued the business of droving for the three succeeding years, realizing a profit of $104,000, a part of which belonged to the heirs of his former partner. The year of 1871 he operated in connection with Mr. Chisolm, and cleared $17,000. He has retired from droving, and two years since put a stock of cattle upon his ranch amounting, in cost value, including $3,000 paid for Durham bulls, to $26,650.00. At the end of two years, by actual record kept for business purposes, the operations stand: Value of cattle now on hand, $27,950; amount realized from sales of stock, over and above the expense of keeping the stock two years, $17,925; which, added to present value of stock, aggregates $45,875; from which deduct the original investment, and the net profit for the two years' operation is $19,225, or $9,612.50 annually, or 36-1/3 per cent per annum -- which ought to be a satisfactory per cent. profit, and an equally satisfactory exhibit in favor of Southeastern Colorado as a cattle country. For the benefit of any reader who may be looking toward Colorado and indulging thoughts of entering its borders to become stock growers, we submit statement of Mr. Goodnight's live stock assets, as appears in an inventory upon his own books kept for business purposes:
400 Texan Cows.............$15.00 per head,....$6,000
The reader may rightly conclude that the above estimated values per head are really lower than are warranted, but it is not the purpose to overdraw the business of stock-ranching. These specific results are given in order that the reader may have a correct conception of the magnitude and profitableness of the live stock commerce between Texas and Colorado during that period, and the profitableness of stock-growing in southeastern Colorado, and not in any sense for the purpose of boasting. Having attained, at least to a reasonable degree, the goal of his ambition, to-wit: a substantial competency, won in an upright honorable business; in the pursuit of which he had spent twenty of life's brightest years, living at best in dugouts, cabins and tents, and often day and night in the open air, enduring hardship, privation and deadly danger, Mr. Goodnight determined to settle down and seek the comforts and quiet repose of a good home, and to bringaround himself those tender endearments without which wealth and life itself is but a blank and a failure. Accordingly, in 1871, he made a purchase of a portion of the "Nolan Land Grant," situate south and west of the city of Pueblo, Colorado, and well located for a large stock ranch, and a desirable home. There he erected his residence, to which soon after he brought one of Tennessee's fairest daughters.
Besides his present live stock interests he stands at the head of the Stock Growers' Bank of Pueblo, an institution especially designed to accommodate the rapidly developing live stock interest of southeastern Colorado.
From early childhood Mr. Goodnight's life has been spent upon the frontier where educational facilities did not exist. Nevertheless he has by application, since attaining the years of mature manhood, educated himself. Naturally he has superior talents and endowments to which he joins a rigid and circumspect moral character, and a diffident modesty rarely met with in the west, which prompts him to shrink from rather than seek publicity. Indeed it may be truthfully said that he despises notoriety and does not desire to appear conspicuously in print. Had the Author been dependent upon him for the items concerning events of his history this sketch would never have been written.
By nature he is gifted with a genius fitting him to commend, even in a land of sovereigns. His life, although cast upon the wildest frontiers and subjected to the rudest circumstances, has been such that he has not lost the higher, nobler, tenderer feelings and sensibilities of an exalted manhood. The secret of his gratifying success is his diligent, persistent application to, and study of his business until he was a complete master thereof, both in theory and practice, coupled with an upright life and an unswerving integrity of character. He has no superiors in the great new west, and his success has been as deserved as great.
It has often been truthfully observed that an inherited fortune ninety-nine in every hundred cases, is an actual curse instead of a blessing to the legatee; especially if he be a young man who has never had to think, or do business for himself. Whether this proposition is absolutely correct or not one thing is certain, nine hundred and ninety-nine of every thousand successful business men in the west began life extremely poor in cash capital -- rich only in energy and manly determination.
It would seem to be a correct proposition that the best inheritance a young man can possibly receive, is a clear, well developed and educated mindÄgood fixed moral principles, energy, and an honorable ambition, with the necessity for self exertion before him. It seems to be true that no one is or can be born with correct ideas and knowledge of business No matter how good a business man the father may have been, the son must needs go through a certain amount of trenchant drilling or experiences before he can comprehend or know how to conduct business successfully. And it is far better that the phases of business life, and a knowledge of correct business principles be learned by actual experience when one is young and poor, than to begin life with hands full, and in after years be compelled to begin anew and not only learn correctly but unlearn all that has been erroneously acquired before. It is indeed more difficult to correct a faulty or false business education and fixed habits, and then learn or acquire a correct knowledge and habits of doing business than to learn correct ones at the beginning.
It does not seriously hurt the child if it totters and falls to the floor from the first stair-step; but if it is carried to the top of the stairs and placed upon the highest step, without a correct knowledge of the effort and manner of its getting there and the danger of falling; its fall to the bottom will be far more probable (and possibly painfully disastrous) than had it climbed up step by step unaided.
The reading public is interested in the history of the early, first efforts of a young man just starting out in the world for himself The smallest incident or event that tests and indicates the metal of which he is composed is noted with deepest interest -- far greater than is manifested in the largest business transactions successfully consummated in after life, when the trying reefs and shoals of poverty and temptation have been passed and the deep, serene harbor of great wealth fully attained.
When a young, inexperienced boy of tender years is thrown upon the world to struggle and provide for himself, surrounded by every imaginable temptation, and allured by gilded vice and iniquity upon every hand, with no one to encourage his efforts toward the path of rectitude and success, but a legion beckoning to ruin; we hail with joy the youth emerge unscathed, circumspect in morals and strong in good well-grounded principles, into bright, promiseful manhood and honorable success. We feel instinctively that for such the world has a sure and bountiful reward and humanity honorable plaudits.
Such an one is Dennis Sheedy, a young stockman well known throughout the West and upon the Pacific Slope.
Born in Massachusetts, at the age of twelve years he was thrown upon his own resources, his father dying broken-hearted from financial reverses and losses which swept his ample fortune away as the furious blast of the tornado sweeps the dust from the street. At this tender age the youth went to the State of Iowa and entered a large whole sale and retail grocery store, in which he remained for five years. In that time he acquired a thorough practical knowledge of the business, including the minutest details.
When he left that establishment it was to cross the plains to Denver. He went in company with a number of teams loaded with freight for the mining districts. Paying a small stipend for conveying a limited amount of baggage, he walked nearly the entire distance.
Arriving in Denver with but a few dollars in cash, he industriously set about obtaining employment, which he soon found in a wholesale and retail grocery and provision house doing a very large business.
Although his salary was good, the expense of living was so great that he soon found no money could be saved in that situation, and he determined to abandon it, greatly to the disappointment of the proprietors. He had went West to seek a fortune and not a mere living, and he determined to go to Montana and try mining. Accordingly he set out over the mountains early in the spring before the snows were off, and endured great suffering and hardship from the cold winter storms. Yet he pushed on, arriving in Montana with only a few dollars, but in good time to begin mining in the spring of 1864. Too poor and inexperienced in mining to begin on his own account, he went to work for a salary per diem.
He was then but eighteen years old and unaccustomed to rough out-door labor, and not of a rugged frame. There were several muscular miners employed upon the same work, and they thought it fitting sport to seek to overdo the young man and drive him from the situation. Upon one warm afternoon when they were wheeling over long gang planks, heavy wheelbarrow loads of rock and debris, the young man having drank too much water and becoming over-heated from great exertion and labor, fell fainting and exhausted from the gang plank. This was the signal for coarse guffaws of laughter from the miners, but the young man soon revived, and to their astonishment, although he was pale and tremulous, remounted the plank and took his wheelbarrow and did do his part of the labor. This was an unexpected manifestation of genuine pluck, which elicited the admiration of the hardy uncouth miners. Young Sheedy told them he came to Montana to mine and he proposed to do it, or die in the attempt; and he did not die, but continued to work for wages until he had earned a net $150.
Then he joined an experienced miner and bought a claim which they soon resold at a snug profit, and another claim was bought and sold.
He continued mining and trading in mines for three months, then bought a small stock of groceries and began business upon his individual account, which he conducted until fall. Then selling out he went to Utah Territory, where meeting an opportunity he sold his gold dust at good figures. Taking an account of his financial standing, he found he had $7000.00 in greenbacks as the result of seven months operations in the mines, which he had entered almost penniless This he regarded as a very encouraging exhibit.
Having had a thorough schooling in adversity he fully apprised of the actual value and power of his means It was the nucleus to which he could add daily -- the key to the pandora box of future fortune -- the trenchant blade with which to hew his way to wealth.
Not wishing to spend the winter idly, he embarked in a general merchandising establishment to his great profit, and the following summer made two successful and remunerative trips to Montana, taking train loads of supplies to the mines, each time selling train and freight at fine prices.
Having acquired a snug capital and a thorough practical knowledge of business, he felt and foresaw the future need of a more complete knowledge of commercial law and the theories of commercial transactions. Accordingly he went to Chicago, Illinois, and entered a Commercial College of high repute. In six months, by diligent application to his studies, he advanced to the front of a class that had been one year in the college. His progress was unprecedented.
While trading in Utah he had observed that the domestic labors of Mormon wives were almost universally performed with and by an old-fashioned large fire-place. He concluded that a train load of cookstoves would be a "hit." So upon leaving college he purchased a cargo of stoves and necessary trimmings; also wagons sufficient to carry them, shipped the whole to Des Moines, Iowa, from whence he freighted them with ox teams to Utah.
Single stoves that cost $24 each in Chicago, sold readily in Utah at $125 to $175. Of course the profits were enormous.
Reloading his trains with supplies he turned it toward Montana in which, not finding a purchaser, he stored his goods and wintered his teams and early the following spring reloaded the supplies and started for Idaho. He encountered deep snow and extremely cold weather in the mountains. Often his progress would be blocked for days by immense snow falls and drifts. Finally, the summit passed and the perilous descent accomplished, a good market was obtained in the Lemhigh mining district. Returning to Montana he sold his teams and the following spring bid adieu to Virginia City so long his home, his center, his base, and went to the city of Helena, where he spent a year merchandising and trading. Then he put a loaded train on the road from Utah to White Pine, Nevada, where, upon arriving, he sold out at good figures, and then took a trip to California.
Feeling that he had seen and experienced enough rough, hard life, clambering over mountains, enduring privations, racking hardships and exposures of life and limb, and that he had acquired a reasonable amount of capital, he determined to look about and seek a country to his liking and settle himself permanently.
In pursuance of this decision, he took two or three trips into Southern California and Arizona, and one trip to Old Mexico, but without finding the goal of his desires. But while upon a trip in Arizona he met several Texan drovers, with herds, en route to California, and from them heard with profound interest of the great numbers, and low prices of cattle in Texas, and inwardly resolved to visit the Lone Star State upon a trading expedition.
Accordingly he took the train for New York City. From thence he leisurely passed to Texas by rail via Orleans. Arriving in the stock growing regions he found, like the ancient queen, that "the half had not been told." Soon after arriving he purchased two thousand good beeves and put them on the trail for California via Western Kansas. But upon arriving at Abilene, in the excellent season of 1870, he received such liberal offers for his stock that he decided to sell out, which he did, of course at satisfactory figures.
On returning to Texas the following spring he found that full too many cattle were being driven, and decided that in Western Kansas during the season, would be the place to purchase cattle advantageously. His judgment proved, as usual, correct.
During the summer he made a purchase of seven thousand head of mixed cattle. Meeting an opportunity to resell three thousand head of his purchase, he put the remaining four thousand into winter quarters on the Arkansas River, in Colorado, near Ft. Lyon. Selling a part of his stock the following summer, he sent thirty-five hundred head into Nevada, where, in the valleys of that State, he established a temporary ranch The following year he marketed near one thousand head of fat beeves, shipping by rail to San Francisco, a distance of 600 miles.
He regards Nevada as a good cattle country. although subjected to heavy snow-falls, endangering great loss by covering the feed, entailing starvation upon the herds. His herd has also increased by breeding near one thousand calves.
With the immature stock a remarkably fine development was made, the effect of transplanting them to more northerly climes and pastures. Indeed this same improvement is plainly noticeable in young Texan stock transplanted to Kansan and other ranges north of Texas. A less growth of horn and better development of form and flesh are the improvements noted. During the fall of 1873, Mr. Sheedy made a purchase of fifteen hundred head of steers at panic prices and sent them into the upper Arkansas river country, and there placed them in winter quarters near Fort Lyon, Colorado. That portion of country along the Arkansas river for a distance of three to four hundred miles east of the Rocky Mountains, is regarded as a very superior stock country and especially well adapted to wintering stock upon the range. Mr. Sheedy regards it as superior to any other known locality in Kansas or Colorado. In that district he has tested wintering cattle twice, both times escaping disastrous storms and serious losses of came. The winters being mild, no cold storms sufficient to warrant calling the season winter, but little other protection is needed for the comfort and convenience of the herdsmen than a common tent, such as is used in summer herding. Indeed for many weeks in the winter months the weather would be as fine as that of September or May in other more northerly latitudes; the warm bright sun shining for scores of consecutive days. Water is abundant, the range unlimited, and of number one quality. Of course the attempt to winter cattle under such circum- stances could scarce fail of success. Mr. Sheedy may be regarded as a cosmopolitan live stock man. His operations have extended and now are conducted upon both sides of the Rocky Mountains, and he is familiarly known among stock men in Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Nevada and California. And wherever known is regarded as a prudent, cautious, thinking business man; one who will not rush headlong into any operation whatever, and never invests until he has fully calculated all contingencies and sees his way through clearly; then never beyond his own means. Having made the latter a rule of his business life, never having signed more than three notes, he rightly attributes his success largely to his persistent adherence to the rule.
Bank interest eats up the profits and substance of hundreds of stockmen annually. It is an insatiable leech industriously sucking life-blood both day and night, whether the day is sacred or secular, sunny or stormy, or whether the markets are good or bad it matters not; "the cry is give! give ! continually." Mr. Sheedy is by no means a timorous, vacillating operator, but when his judgment endorses, he is a nervy, bold trader. He is quite a young man, not having entered his thirtieth year, although his experiences are as great, trying and varied as are those of many years his senior. He may be justly proud of his success, wrought out and attained unaided with his own hands and head. But that pride is not of that vulgar stamp which often characterizes young men of great wealth, but having bared his bosom in the cause of fortune, and wrested success from adverse circumstances and untoward conditions by his own application, energy, sagacity and ability, he may well feel that life has not been a failure. Having acquired a goodly fortune. he now seeks to adorn the mind and fit the man for a walk in life upon a higher plane than that of the mere love and acquisition of money, or the gratification of appetites or passions. His ideas of the purposes and correct aims of life are exalted and his habits and principles fixed upon a firm basis, and having been tried in the ordeal of western life, are as irreproachable as unalterable.
Personally he is impulsive and warm in his attachments, suave and affable in his manner, kind and courteous, though reserved and reticent among strangers. In all his wanderings in the wild West, mingling with every class of characters and surrounded by innumerable temptations, he has been superior to them, and is free from the most ordinary and, we might say, universal vices which flourish luxuriantly in the great New West. His future is one full of promise and hope; his past, one worthy of imitation. His career stands out high and bold as a beacon light, and it may rightly be regarded as a pleasant oasis amid a limitless, dreary desert of innumerable failures.
The central portions of Kansas afford grand opportunities and landed facilities for extensive combined farming and stock growing operations. The districts drained by the Little Arkansas, Whitewater, Walnut and Cottonwood rivers, abound with broad undulating plateaux, whose deep, black, pliable soil is most easily brought into cultivation, rewarding the industrious, persevering agriculturist with generous yields of every cereal indigenous to a temperate climate The amount of effort is small required to produce the most bountiful crops of corn, oats, wheat, and Hungarian grass, or millet on a large scale or upon vast areas of land. The entire district in its wild state, is annually covered with a thick rich growth of blue stem grass, affording unlimited summer range, and millions of tuns of hay for winter feed.
The above section of Kansas may be properly classed as an agricultural and live stock country; one where both branches can be successfully and profitably conducted jointly; feeding the grain products of the farm to the live stock, fitting it for any mart and thus marketing the grain also. Within this vast area many large farming and live stock enterprises, in various stages of development, are located. among which none are more notable than that of Albert Crane, Esq., a resident of Chicago, Illinois, and a gentleman of liberal means.
He has located his ranch enterprise in Marion county, Kansas, near the headwaters of the Cottonwood river, in the midst of a grand rich belt of faultless land. He has secured ten thousand acres of land and placed the entire tract under fence, mostly of post and board, the balance post and wire; and erected such houses, barns, cribs, sheds, and yards as enables both man and beast to shelter comfortably from the occasional storms; besides affording requisite conveniences and facilities for substantial living, and the easy handling of large numbers of stock. Already near eleven hundred acres are broken and under cultivation.
It is his plan to bring the entire tract of land into tame grasses -- principally blue grass -- and to this end has sown one thousand acres of the unbroken wild sod. The wild nature of the land, and the thick, firm turf of prairie-grass, caused this effort to result indifferently; however, in many places the blue grass has taken hold and bids fair to succeed.
Not to be daunted or thwarted, Mr. Crane is sowing timothy. clover and blue-grass seeds mixed, upon one hundred acres of land, which has already been sown to oats or wheat. In this manner he confidently hopes for better success with the tame grass; and it is probable he will not be disappointed. He rightly believes that if he can but secure a good set of blue grass upon all his land that then it will be easy to fatten or winter live stock, without great labor or expense. When he has destroyed the wild nature of the land and the fibrous roots of the native grasses, either by cultivation or depasturing closely and persistently, he will have but little trouble to get blue grass to set and grow rapidly. Then his highest anticipations of profitable live stock operations will be realized. With abundant blue grass pastures, under the genial clime and mild winters of Central Southern Kansas, producing thick, fat cattle, any month in the year, inexpensively and without hard labor, will be alike practicable and highly remunerative. No bank stock of the present day will pay such handsome dividends.
Mr. Crane has placed upon his ranch a herd of fine thoroughbred Short-horn cattle, of the best strains of blood, one of which, especially -- the thoroughbred bull Prince Alfred, a genuine Booth -- is unexcelled as a model animal in every respect. To this herd he proposes to add a score or more of select pure-bloods annually, until it takes rank among the leading ones of the West. Not by any means is his thoroughbred cattle his only live stock interest. More than one hundred of high graded heifers, selected with great care in Illinois, are upon the ranch; which, crossed with thoroughbred bulls, will bring full-blood stock well fitted to any ranchman's requirements who is breeding to low grade or Texan cows. It is Mr. Crane's purpose to give a degree of special attention to the production of superior graded animals and to induce as far as possible every Kansas stockman to improve his herd; and to this end will place low prices upon his young grade stock: a commendable spirit worthy of imitation. one that will bear fruits immediately, and for all future time. Indeed it is difficult to estimate the wide-spread substantial benefits accruing to a large community of stock growers by the location and development in their midst of an enterprise that includes among its purposes or aims the propagation and dissemination of pure blood, or high grade stock at prices within reach of those of limited means.
But Mr. Crane's plans and operations an, broader than yet indicated. Upon his ranch he keeps a herd of three thousand cattle of low or common grades, of which near one half are cows and heifers. which brought an increase of twelve hundred calves in the spring of 1874, all bred from thoroughbred bulls. The result of the first cross of this character is to lose every trace, both in form and color, of the southern mother--in short, brings such a class of stock as would pass for good "native" cattle in any mart. It is past all expectations, almost past comprehension, what wonderful good results are obtained by the crossing of Texan or Indian cows with full blood Durham bulls. It is one of the grandest inducements to enter the safe and profitable avocation of stock growing in the great broad west, which affords so many inviting situations wherein are afforded every essential requisite to attain great wealth in the most healthful, honorable, and profitable of all callings. It is Mr. Crane's purpose to breed and rear cattle rather than to buy and sell them -- in brief to be a cattle producer and not a cattle speculator. He also proposes to make his live stock productions fit for the shambles of New York, and to this end cultivates yearly many hundred acres of corn which is fed to the mature cattle during the winter. In short he proposes to full feed every bullock for which he can produce sufficient corn. Each year a larger area will be planted to corn than on the previous. He proposes to soon add five thousand acres of land to his present estate which will then embrace fifteen thousand acres in one compact tract. Upon this large estate we dare say that there are not five acres of waste land, but every acre is almost exhaustless in soil.
In southwestern Kansas are millions of acres as good as Mr. Crane's, in every way adapted to the joint uses of agriculture and live stock production, at prices ranging from four dollars to eight dollars per acre on long time at low rates of interest.
It is true, to project and successfully develop an enterprise of the magnitude and upon the scale of Mr. Crane's, requires large capital, ability and confidence in the capacities and resources of the country. Only a small per cent. of men have sufficient capital to wield such immense enterprises. But it is not essential to highly profitable ranch enterprises that they should be as large as Mr. Crane's. Live stock ranches and herds on a much smaller scale are eminently remunerative, and with only a proper degree of persistent application and patience, will inevitably yield substantial comfort and independence, if not actual great wealth. But few men bring or send large capital to the west, and we deem it proper to point out the great field for capital and the need thereof in the western States and Territories. There capital can earn great profit for its owner, besides doing good and conferring lasting benefits upon multitudes who are shaping and developing the young plastic States of the west. Mr. Crane's ranch is within twenty-five miles of Florence on the A., T. & S. Fe R. R. and will repay the time, delay and expense of a visit, besides the hospitality and courtesy of its foreman, Mr. Reed, will make the heart glad, and a view of the princely estate and the massive herds will give enlarged views of the broad new west, its privileges and possibilities.