April 19, 2018
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is about why Abilene became the cattle shipping center in the 1860s and not Junction City. You see, following the Civil War, Texas was overrun with longhorn cattle and people involved in the business were looking for new markets for their cattle. In 1866, some Texas cattle made their appearance in the Junction City area by way of a new Shawnee Trail from Texas. R. Patterson opened up a packinghouse here in 1867 to take advantage of the availability of the beef. Completion of the railroad to Junction City in November of 1866 had provided a shipping point to eastern markets and – for a brief time – the Shawnee Trail was used by cattlemen to bring herds from Texas to the rail-head in Junction City.
However, there were enough people in Junction City, who discouraged the cattle trade that the stockman, Joseph McCoy, who was determined to locate his loading pens in the area, went to Abilene. Stock owners in Davis County (now Geary County) had expressed serious concern over the introduction of Texas cattle, because the cattle were often infected with ticks that served as carriers of “Texas Fever”, which could decimate an entire herd. In the spring of 1867 a public meeting was held in the Clark’s Creek area in the eastern part of the county to organize the resistance to Texas cattle in Davis County. This local opposition and the extension of the railroad westward helped make McCoy’s second option a cattle shipping center and as a result the Dickinson County settlement of Abilene became one of the most famous cow towns in the old west.
And…. that is today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.