October 2015 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
Joseph McCoy - Wikipedia

Joseph "Cowboy" McCoy (December 21, 1837 – October 19, 1915) was a 19th-century entrepreneur famous for promoting the transport of Longhorn cattle from Texas to the eastern United States.

Early life

Born in Sangamon county, Illinois, he is often cited as the inspiration for the phrase "The Real McCoy" because of his reputation and reliability and because he called to himself by that phrase (others say the real honor goes to Elijah McCoy and his oft-imitated lubrication system, the boxer Kid McCoy, or other candidates). Joseph McCoy made good on his pledge to Texas ranchers that if they would drive their Texas longhorns from Texas to Kansas that he would have them shipped by rail to other markets and that the ranchers would receive a good price for their stock.

In the 1860s, cattle ranchers in Texas faced difficulties getting their longhorn cattle to market. Kansas homesteaders objected to the cattle crossing their land because the cattle might carry ticks which could spread a disease called Texas Fever (or Spanish Fever) fatal to some types of cattle. The disease could make a Longhorn sick, but they were hardier stock than the northern cattle and Longhorns seldom died from the disease. McCoy himself said of the disease:

    In 1868 a great number of cattle arrived in Kansas and the mid-west from Texas; appx. 40,000. With them came a tick born disease called 
    “Spanish Fever”. The local shorthorn breeds were seriously affected and in some towns the loss of the cattle was almost 100%. The result 
    was a great prejudice against Texas cattle in Eastern Kansas and Missouri (although this may be because the longhorns were already 
    immune to the disease.)

Transporting cattle

McCoy expected that the railroads companies were interested in expanding their freight operations and he saw this as a good business opportunity. McCoy built a hotel, stockyard, office and bank in a little village along the Kansas Pacific Railway (currently the Union Pacific). This village became known as Abilene, Kansas - one of the first cow towns. McCoy's plan was for cattle to be driven to Abilene from Texas and taken from there by rail to bigger cities in The Midwest and the East.

Abilene sat near the end of the Chisholm Trail (named after Jesse Chisholm) established during the American Civil War for supplying the Confederate army. This trail ran to the west of the settled portion of Kansas, making it possible to use the trail without creating hostility from the Kansas homesteaders.

McCoy advertised extensively throughout Texas to encourage cattle owners to drive their cattle to market in Abilene. By 1870 thousands of Texas longhorn cattle were being driven over the Chisholm Trail to the shipping center at Abilene. By 1871 as many as 5,000 cowboys were being paid off during a single day, and Abilene became known as a rough town in the Old West. Due to their long legs and hard hoofs, Longhorns were ideal trail cattle, even gaining weight on their way to market. One story says that McCoy bragged before leaving Chicago that he would bring 200,000 head in 10 years and actually brought two million head in 4 years, leading to the phrase "It's the Real McCoy"

McCoy was also the author of Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest, which was published in 1974, more than 50 years after his death. Joseph McCoy died in Kansas City, Missouri on October 19, 1915.

Abilene, Kansas - Wikipedia
Abilene is a city in and the county seat of Dickinson County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 6,844 The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum is located in Abilene.

History - 19th century
For millennia, the land now known as Kansas was inhabited by Native Americans. In 1803, most of modern Kansas was secured by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1854, the Kansas Territory was organized, then in 1861 Kansas became the 34th U.S. state.

In 1857, Dickinson County was founded. Abilene began as a stage coach stop in the same year, established by Timothy Hersey and named Mud Creek. It wasn't until 1860 that it was named Abilene, from a passage in the Bible (Luke 3:1), meaning "city of the plains".

In 1867, the Kansas Pacific Railway (Union Pacific) pushed westward through Abilene. In the same year, Joseph G. McCoy purchased 250 acres of land north and east of Abilene, on which he built a hotel, the Drover’s Cottage, stockyards equipped for 2,000 heads of cattle, and a stable for their horses. The Kansas Pacific put in a switch at Abilene that enabled the cattle cars to be loaded and sent on to their destinations. The first twenty carloads left September 5, 1867, en route to Chicago, Illinois, where McCoy was familiar with the market. The town grew quickly and became the very first "cow town" of the west.

McCoy encouraged Texas cattlemen to drive their herds to his stockyards. From 1867 to 1871, the Chisholm Trail ended in Abilene, bringing in many travelers and making Abilene one of the wildest towns in the west The stockyards shipped 35,000 head in 1867 and became the largest stockyards west of Kansas City, Kansas. In 1871, more than 5,000 cowboys herded from 600,000 to 700,000 cows to Abilene and other Kansas railheads. Another source reports 440,200 head of cattle were shipped out of Abilene from 1867 to 1871. As railroads were built further south, the end of the Chisholm Trail was slowly moved south towards Caldwell, while as Kansas homesteaders moved the trail west towards and past Ellsworth.

Town marshal Tom "Bear River" Smith was initially successful policing Abilene, often using only his bare hands. He survived two assassination attempts during his tenure. However, he was murdered and decapitated on November 2, 1870. Smith wounded one of his two attackers during the shootout preceding his death, and both suspects received life in prison for the offense. He was replaced by Wild Bill Hickok in April 1871. Hickok's time in the job was short. While the marshal was standing off a crowd during a street brawl, gambler Phil Coe took two shots at Hickok, who returned fire, killing Coe. But Hickok then accidentally shot his friend and deputy, Mike Williams, who was coming to his aid. Hickok lost his job two months later in December.

In 1880 Conrad Lebold built the Lebold Mansion. Lebold was one of the early town developers and bankers from 1869 through 1889. The Hersey dugout can still be seen in the cellar. The house is now a private residence. A marker outside credits the name of the town being given by opening a Bible and using the first place name pointed to.

In 1887, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway built a branch line from Neva (3 miles west of Strong City) through Abilene to Superior, Nebraska. In 1996, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway merged with Burlington Northern Railroad and renamed to the current BNSF Railway. Most locals still refer to this railroad as the "Santa Fe".

In 1890, Dr. A.B. Seelye founded the A.B. Seelye Medical Company. Seelye developed over 100 products for the company including "Wasa-Tusa", an Indian name meaning to heal.

Baxter Springs - Wikipedia 
Baxter Springs is a city in Cherokee County, Kansas located along the Spring River. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 4,238. It is the most populous city of Cherokee County.

From an early trading post, the city grew dramatically with the expansion of cattle ranching in the West and was the first "cow town" in Kansas following the Civil War. its population grew dramatically into the early 1870s in association with the cattle drives. After railroads were constructed into Texas, cattle drives no longer were made to Baxter Springs and other points along the trail, and the towns declined.

The city later had some economic success in the early twentieth century associated with lead mining in the area. The city protected its land, and owners and operators chose Baxter Springs for their residences and business offices. In 1926 the city's downtown main street was designated as part of the transcontinental U.S. Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. By the 1940s, the high-quality lead had mostly been mined, and the industry declined. Some towns nearby disappeared altogether. Environmental restoration to correct damage left by mining has been underway for some time.


For thousands of years, indigenous peoples had lived along the waterways throughout the west. The Osage migrated west from the Ohio River area of Kentucky, driven out by the Iroquois. They settled in Kansas by the mid-17th century, adopting plains traditions, where they competed with other tribes. By 1750 they dominated much of the region of Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

One of the largest Osage bands was led by Chief Black Dog (Manka - Chonka); his men completed the Black Dog Trail by 1803. It started from their winter territory east of Baxter Springs and extended southwest to their summer hunting grounds at the Great Salt Plains in present-day Alfalfa County, Oklahoma. The Osage stopped at the springs for healing on their way to summer hunting grounds. They made the trail by clearing it of brush and large rocks, and constructing earthen ramps to the fords. Wide enough for eight horsemen to ride abreast, the trail was the first improved road in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Nineteenth-century settlers eventually named the city and nearby springs after its first European-American settler, A. Baxter, who claimed land about 1850 and built a frontier tavern or inn. During the American Civil War, the United States government built several rudimentary military posts at present-day Baxter Springs, fortifying what had been a trading post: Fort Baxter, Camp Ben Butler and Camp Hunter.

In October 1863, the Confederate Quantrill's raiders attacked Fort Baxter, whose defense that day included a majority of infantry of United States Colored Troops. The USCT held the fort, and Quantrill's men attacked a detachment of Union troops out on the prairie, in the Battle of Baxter Springs. The Confederates outnumbered the Union forces outside the fort and killed nearly all of them, a total of 103 men. After temporarily reinforcing the fort, the United States abandoned the Baxter Springs area later that year. It moved its troops to the better fortified Fort Scott, Kansas. Before leaving, US forces tore down and destroyed Fort Baxter to make it unusable for hostiles.

By 1867, entrepreneurs in town had constructed a cable ferry across the Spring River, which was operated into the 1880s. At that time, it was replaced by the first bridge built across the river.

Around 1868 there was a great demand for beef in the North. Texas cattlemen and stock raisers drove large herds of cattle from the southern plains, and used Baxter Springs as a way point to the northern markets linking to railroads to the East. This led to the dramatic growth of Baxter Springs by the early 1870s as the first cow town in Kansas. By 1875, its population was estimated at 5,000.

The town organized the Stockyards and Drovers Association to buy and sell cattle. They constructed corrals for up to 20,000 head of cattle, supplied with ample grazing lands and fresh water. Texas cattle trade stimulated the growth of related businesses, and Baxter Springs grew rapidly. At the same time that some settlers were building schools and churches, the town was the rowdy gathering place of cowboys, with associated saloons, livery stables, brothels and hotels to support their seasonal business.

After railroads were constructed into Texas later in the century, cattlemen no longer needed Baxter Springs as a way station to the northern markets. The first railroad to enter Texas from the north, completed in 1872, was the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad. As ranchers started shipping their beef directly from Texas, business in Baxter Springs and other cow towns fell off sharply.
The discovery of lead in large veins in the tri-state area revived the area towns in the early twentieth century from the economic doldrums after the decline of the cattle drives. Lead had been found in small quantities and of poor quality in the early days of Baxter Springs along Spring Creek. It was suspected that higher grade ore could be found, but only at deeper depths. The Baxter Springs City Council by Ordinance 42 enacted provisions which greatly limited any mining within city limits. Their actions protected the land in the city; nearby towns have suffered from mining-related environmental degradation.

Baxter Springs greatly benefited from the economic effects of regional mining activity. It was the residential choice of many of the mine owners and operators, who built ambitious houses to reflect their success. In addition, many mining executives built their business offices in Baxter Springs in the early 1900s. By the 1940s, however, much of the high-quality ore had been mined, and the industry declined in the region. Some towns became defunct, and "Hockerville, Lincolnville, Douthit, Zincville and others disappeared." The mining practices of the time caused considerable environmental degradation. Federal and state restoration efforts have helped to improve the land since the late twentieth century.

A notable mine southwest of town was owned by the Estes family, a pioneering black family in the area who arrived after the Civil War, as did most incoming residents of the nineteenth century. The Estes mine was not the largest; however, it employed about 25 black workers in an industry marked by racial discrimination at the time.

In 1926, the downtown main street became part of the historic Route 66 transcontinental highway connecting Chicago and Los Angeles. The designated highway was informally known as America's "Main Street" and had a prominent place in popular culture. The town has reserved the land of Riverside Park along the Spring River for community access to its green banks.

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