Saturday, March 26, 2016

C.P. Dewey: Eureka Lake

                                                       By Josephine Grammer Munson

Geary County Historical Society

EDITORIAL NOTE:  Today’s article is the second in a four-part series researched and written by long-time Geary County resident Josephine Munson on the millionaire Chicago industrialist C.P. Dewey, and his family, who in the early years of the 20th century made quite a mark in this part of Kansas.  Mrs. Munson’s interest in the Dewey’s stems from her early recollections of family members who lived in Junction City.  
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            In 1899 C.P. Dewey started planning a resort at Eureka Lake, the small body of water that once occupied the area where the Manhattan Airport is located today.  He had been fascinated by the beauty of area since coming to Manhattan, and wanted a special summer resort as a suitable place to entertain his business friends and local members of the community as well.
            An article printed in the Kansas City Journal in September of 1904 had much to say about this Dewey venture.  “ A summer resort in Kansas?  The very thought of such a thing seems preposterous.  To go to central Kansas, where the heat is so great that the ground warps in the summer time, and only cool places are in the cyclone cellars—what an anomaly!
            “Further, a summer resort run not for money-making, but for pleasure; a summer resort operated at an actual loss—whoever heard of such a thing?
            “Yes, Kansas has a summer resort; one that is unequaled between the seacoast and the mountains.  It is beautiful as a dream, as delightful as a mirage, and as cheap as staying at home.  It has all the comforts that one can imagine.  It is run for the pleasure of the proprietor, and he doesn’t care a rap whether he ever has a resorter, or not, except that he hates to know that people are missing a good thing.  Apparently, the sole idea of the owner is to make the place the very best and most delightful in the United States.
            “And yet all of this out on the plains of Kansas, with no reason for its existence, save a fancy on the part of the man who made it, and his delight in his own creation!

“Why does Mr. Dewey do this?  Because he enjoys it.  With more money than he knew how to spend, he has picked out this little lake, built this elegant resort here, and here from May to November he entertains his friends.  He asks them down whenever they feel like coming; if he doesn’t happen to be there, it makes no difference, as far as hospitality is concerned.  Mrs. Holyoke has free rein, and she is an admirable substitute.  And all the time Mr. Dewey is wiring Manhattan, sending out the word by messenger from his stables there, or telephoning suggestions for the comfort of the people.  One message may be to see that the ponies are put at their disposal, or asking if they had tried the bathing and the launch.  Almost every day there are friends there, whether he is there or not.  The place is theirs.  If strangers come, they get the same treatment.  He tells the matron, ‘Here’s the place, run it.  It’s for my friends; others are welcome.  Don’t worry about the expense.  I don’t care if I lose.’
            “Everything is free for the whole town.  The boys and girls revel in it; the young people have dancing and swimming parties.  One fall Mr. Dewey gave a great farmers' picnic for three days.  He sent out 2,500 invitations.  No one could spend a cent, but they could enjoy all the comforts of home.
            The original improvements C.P. Dewey made to the site consisted of an immense three-story building, with a large dining room, fourteen sleeping rooms, a billiard room and a kitchen, surrounded on three sides with a double-decked veranda, occupied by hammocks and a variety of improved rockers and easy chairs.  Two beautiful private dining rooms were extravagantly furnished with china and cut glass; and walls and ceilings were illuminated with the richest wall paper and furnishing of all kinds in keeping with the entire decor.
            A covered driveway protected the guests in their entrance to the building.  A dancing pavilion boasting a 62 X 40-foot floor, not including the large orchestra platform, was a prominent feature.  A regulation bowling alley, a gravity hogback toboggan slide, and a number of rowboats furnished great amusement for all who visit the Beach.  The use of all things was open to the public.
            The residents of Manhattan and surrounding country were not alone in enjoying the use of this pleasant summer resort.  Topeka, Kansas City, Junction City, Fort Riley, and other places were represented during the season of 1902 at Manhattan Beach, the patronage that year, far-exceeded the table and lodging capacity of the original structure.
            Thus, at the close of the 1902 season Mr. Dewey decided to improve his property to meet the growing demands.  By the summer of 1903 these improvements were almost completed.  To the main building Mr. Dewey added an annex 100 feet long and 40 feet wide, with a 12-foot veranda 160 feet long.  The roof was supported by large round columns covering the entire front of the annex.  This annex was joined to the original building by an octagon tower. In the tower proper was an observation room about fifty feet from the ground, which gave a beautiful view of the entire surrounding country.  The tower had three rooms, one in each story, making a grand total of sixty rooms in the annex.
            The first floor of the annex contained seventeen sleeping rooms and two bathrooms.  The second floor had thirty sleeping rooms, while on the third floor eight rooms were fully lighted by handsome dormer windows.  The south wing in the annex held the most unique accommodations in Kansas.  Each room had a closet and the light and ventilation were simply perfect.  All rooms in the annex and those in the tower had sand finish, which was tinted with green, cream, and terra cotta.  The tower had a brick chimney 2 X 5 feet running from cellar to flag pole.  The ground floor room in the tower had a large old-fashioned wood fireplace.  The annex also featured a billiard room, and the dining room was enlarged to conform to the other additions.
            Along with the annex, a second story addition of large proportions was added to the original building.  The lower room then became the kitchen.  It was large and commodious, and almost solid glass on three sides.  The kitchen was fitted with a new double firebox and double oven Majestic Range.
            The dancing pavilion had been re-floored with 21-inch maple wood flooring and when rubbed down was touted as the smoothest floor to dance upon west of the Missouri River.
            At night the entire grounds and buildings were illuminated by hundreds of electric lights, the power being furnished by Mr. Dewey’s electric plant located in Manhattan.  Telephone connections with Manhattan and long distance circuits were completed via the Dewey-Wareham Telephone Company.
            In the absence of Mr. Dewey, this handsome and popular summer resort was under the management of John E. Peaslee and the matron, Mrs. Holyoke.  There was an efficient corps of domestic and imported help, whom Mr. Dewey organized to make his Manhattan Beach Hotel on Eureka Lake the most pleasant resort in the West.  People living adjacent to Manhattan, either upon the lines of the Union Pacific or Rock Island system, found it convenient and inexpensive during the summer season to spend a week or two at Manhattan Beach for everyone in the area was encouraged to take every opportunity to spend their leisure in social enjoyment at Manhattan Beach. 
            The Kansas City Journal of September 14, 1902 printed a detailed story on Dewey and his Kansas holdings, including a vivid description of the amenities to be found at Eureka Lake.
“Out on the Union Pacific railroad seven miles beyond Manhattan, one sees a signpost, on which is painted, ‘Eureka Lake’.  It stands stark beside the track; that is all, except that the cinder roadbed exists a few feet farther alongside than usual.  And when the train is flagged and stops there and one is dumped off, one is overcome by the sense of great desolation.  All around are flint hills and stone quarries, a few trees, and a field or two.  If you are expected, a prancing four-in-hand of Shetlands, harnessed in red, to a tiny tow-seated trap, soon pulls up and you are off over a dusty road.
            “This is Eureka Lake.  If it be night, a great blaze of light, away across the plains beckons.  Riding in the trap for a mile and a quarter you come to a stone water tower beautifully proportioned.  There are walls surrounding flowerbeds of hydrangeas, coliantheas, and other expensive flowers.  Above the flowerbeds stands the house with verandas and a porte cochere where a Negro in white livery takes the baggage and helps one out of the trap.
            “Inside is the cool, refreshing parlor where one is greeted and made welcome.  There are Navajo blankets on the floor, ice water to drink, snowy linens, easy chairs, iron or brass beds, and screens on the curtained windows.  A whirling electric fan cools the rooms, and electric lights illuminate every room.
            “In the great parlor there is woodwork of yellow pine and the floor is hard pine polished like a mirror.  Easy chairs are everywhere with magazines, books and newspapers available for reading.  A fine piano and pianola are available, a writing desk with necessary supplies, and bowls of beautiful flowers decorate the rooms.  A Chinese gong sounds and lunch is served in the dining rooms by dusky waiters.  The tables glisten with beautiful china, cut glass, and silver.
            “Outside there is a porch ten feet wide extending around on three sides.  There are countless chairs of cane and wicker upholstering, huge divans and swings with cool green cushions.  A walk around the Lake on built up terraces reveals the diving towers, water slides, boats, and swimming beaches.  At the stable are Shetland ponies with miniature carts and traps, as well as grown-up horses for riding, and inside bowling allies and ping pong tables give plenty of opportunity for recreation.
            “There are 500 lights on the place which flood the dance hall and bowling allies, as well as the walks and terraces, and make the place fairy-like at night.  A great sign ‘Eureka Lake’ across the tower particularly pleases Mr. Dewey.”
            Charles P. Dewey’s Manhattan Beach Resort at Eureka Lake should have stood for decades as a memorial to the remarkable man who had the vision to do wonderful things among the Flint Hills of Kansas.  But, alas, in a little more that a dozen years it was gone, the victim of a devastating fire in 1916. 
            Today, C.P. Dewey and his accomplishments are familiar to only a few in this area.  However, a century ago things were quite different as attested to by this note carried in a local newspaper in May of 1903:
            “We do not practice unwarranted commendation of any individual, but a fair recognition of the many and modern improvements made by Mr. Dewey in and around Manhattan, and the great amount of money he has and is paying for labor and materials, entitles him to the favorable and friendly consideration of every citizen of Riley County.  We trust that Mr. Dewey may live long to entertain his friends and the general public in his elegant and beautifully arranged summer home on the banks of Eureka Lake.”
            C.P. Dewey would have only a year to fulfill this wish; he died unexpectedly in June of 1904.

Photo courtesy of Kansas Memory

Saturday, March 19, 2016

C.P. Dewey: Entrepreneur

By Josephine Grammer Munson
Geary County Historical Society

EDITORIAL NOTE:  Today’s article is the first in a series of four on two of this area’s most colorful characters, the flamboyant real estate developer C.P. Dewey and his notorious son, Chauncey, both of whom, in the years surrounding the turn of the century, put this part of Kansas “on the map”-- in more ways than one.  Written and researched by former GCHS board member Josephine Munson, these articles represent a long-held ambition for the author, who had personal encounters and vivid recollections of the Dewey family from her youth.   
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            Traveling east from Junction City on Interstate Highway 70 one sees the tall grass of the Flint Hills where cattle are grazing.  As one approaches Highway 177, on the north side of the road, the area called the “Konza Prairie,” which has been leased by the Nature Conservancy to Kansas State University for research, come into view.  This Konza Prairie is part of the large ranch known as the Dewey Ranch.  The three-story ranch house built of native limestone along the McDowell Creek Road serves as the headquarters for the Konza Prairie Research Center.
            Just who were the Deweys? A research paper published in the K-Stater Magazine of March 1977, and written by Roy D. Bird, gives some answers.  Much of the information in this column comes from Bird’s article titled, “C.P. Dewey Had A Ranch.”
            Charles P. Dewey was a Chicago industrialist who made a fortune with his brother in real estate after the Chicago Fire of 1871.  In the late 1880s he came to Kansas in invest in real estate mortgages.  Times were hard in Kansas then, and he saw the opportunity to acquire land when owners could not pay taxes or pay off mortgages.
            The first Dewey Ranch was in northeastern Geary County near Manhattan and included 10,000 acres in Riley, Geary, and Wabaunsee Counties.  He also leased some land from the Government for a total of 80,000 acres.  When Dewey decided to fence the land, he often included some that he did not own, which caused considerable distrust among the people in the area.            The second Dewey Ranch was in Cheyenne and Rawlins Counties in Northwest Kansas.  Through foreclosures and buying of additional land at tax sales, he accumulated 60,000 acres in a checkerboard pattern for 53 miles, and was from three to 14 miles wide.  He named it “Oak Ranch.”
            1900 stocked C.P. Dewey’s ranch near Manhattan with 3,500 cattle, 300 horses and mules, and 2,000 hogs.  He built huge corncribs to supply feed for the Dewey Cattle Company of Kansas.  The ranch employed 60 men.  The northwestern Kansas ranch could accommodate an additional 10,000 cattle.
            C.P. Dewey was an entrepreneur at heart, and he became involved in many enterprises.  The Topeka Capital of March 21, 1902 had this to say about Mr. Dewey:  “Beyond the fact that he is a genial gentleman, and that he spends money with a lavish hand, little is known of Dewey’s personality.  He comes to Manhattan, spends a few days, or weeks, makes arrangements to spend some more money, and is away to his West Virginia iron mines, his Chicago ice and rental business, or his Rawlins County ranch.  The only thing Manhattan knows for sure about Dewey is that his check is good for any sum of money he chooses to spend, and that when he decides to build a new house, summer resort, or buy more land, enough money is always placed in local banks to cover the expense.”
            In Manhattan Dewey operated a livery stable, started the first livestock sales pavilion in the state, co-founded the First National Bank in Manhattan, operated an ice delivery service, and along with Harry P. Wareham developed a privately-owned sewerage system, and the Dewey-Wareham Telephone Company.  His feedyards fed 2,000 head of cattle ready for the market each year.  “In addition to cattle, Dewey buys every stable horse and mule that are brought to him, and his shipments run into the thousands of animals every year.”
Another Dewey enterprise which staggers one is his livery and transfer business in Manhattan, the Topeka Capital article stated.  “There is nothing in the livery line west of Chicago to equal his horses and vehicles.  He keeps more than a hundred head of horses and every conceivable sort of vehicle is available to serve the public.  He introduced the brougham, the stanhope, and the tally-ho to Kansas.”
The service afforded by the electric light plant in Manhattan didn’t satisfy Dewey, so he bought it and equipped the powerhouse with the best machinery money could buy.  He put in a new plant to go with his machinery.  As a result, Manhattan had a lighting system not excelled anywhere in Kansas, according to the Topeka Capital article.
Dewey found many houses in Manhattan that were very poor, so he bought them, had them razed, and then built fifteen or twenty new homes with blue grass lawns and brick side walks.  In them he introduced sanitary plumbing, light and heat and porcelain bathtubs.  He also built two dormitories for students at the Kansas State Agricultural College.
One of Dewey’s most interesting projects was at Eureka Lake, west of Manhattan.  The “lake” was apparently caused by changes in the Kansas River over the years, and was a narrow, hook-shaped, two-and-a- half-mile body of water north of the present K-18 Highway.  Eureka Lake varied in width from 200 to 400 feet and was about 40 feet deep in places.  Trees bordered the shores and a heavily wooded area filled with shrubs covered about 27 acres at the east end of the lake.
Dewey planned and constructed a fashionable resort at the lake in 1899, mainly as a place to entertain his wealthy friends from Chicago; however, local people were welcome to go there too.  He built a luxurious hotel at the water’s edge, with attractive rooms for guests, a large dining room, and spacious parlors for entertaining, receptions and weddings.  The grounds were beautifully landscaped; a boat dock and diving tower were built at the on the lake where row boats were kept for rental, and a launch was available for hour-long trips.  Paths were built along the lake for guests to walk and enjoy the country air.  A barn and stable had space for 20 or 25 horses available for riding and driving.  Slaughter houses and poultry houses provided beef, pork, and eggs for the hotel, and vegetables were purchased from surrounding farms.
With the grand opening in 1900, people came from near and far to see the resort and to enjoy horseback riding, swimming, and boating.  A tally-ho coach with a four-horse team and coachman provided transportation from Manhattan.  The Union Pacific Railroad created a “flag-stop” depot with a narrow country road across the fields to connect the depot and the hotel.
Business boomed at the Eureka Lake resort until the Flood of 1903 destroyed the lake and grounds, filling the lake with mud and debris. Soon after this disaster C. P. Dewey died unexpectedly.  Attempts to renovate the area failed, and the resort was sold in February of 1906 to the Odd Fellows and Rebecca State Assembly of Kansas to become a home for the aged and orphans.  A fire in 1916 destroyed the original hotel, but new buildings were constructed for the home.  In more recent years, the Job Corps has taken possession of the property, and the additional structures have been added.  These buildings can be seen east of the old Manhattan Airport.
For some time in the 1920s and 30s the Free Methodist Church conducted a camp at the Eureka Lake area with cabins for summer campers and visitors.  By this time the lake had dried up.   Today there is no sign of the beautiful Eureka Lake or Dewey’s dream resort, which he called “Manhattan Beach.”
Charles P. Dewey died on June 7, 1904, while visiting a niece in Wheeling, West Virginia.  He was 61 years of age.  His death was thought to be caused from blood poisoning, the result of a carbuncle on his face. He was buried at his native home in Cadiz, Ohio.
The Dewey Ranch in Riley County passed from Dewey ownership in 1930 after a foreclosure suit.  It was held briefly  by a partnership, then in 1933 it was purchased by the Davis Group of Kansas City.  From 1941 to 1956 the Dewey Ranch was operated by Orville Burtis, a prominent Kansas cattleman and breeder of quarterhorses.  George Davis owned the ranch from 1954 until he died, and it was sold in 1956.  Frank McDermand was the next to possess the ranch.  He later sold it to Dr. David McKnight, a Manhattan radiologist, who stocked it with Hereford cattle.  In 1977 the Nature Conservancy acquired the ranch and at present time the land is leased to Kansas State University.
In leasing the former Dewey Ranch, the university has been able to study the best way to preserve the original prairie ecosystem and the tall prairie grasses growing there.  From observation areas located on the east side of the Konza Prairie range along highway 177, one can see the beauty of the native grassland on the ranch that Dewey built.

  COMING NEXT WEEK: Enjoying the “good life” with C.P. Dewey at Eureka Lake.

At  the turn of the century, the owner of the vast Geary /Riley county ranch that is today the Konza Prairie reserve, Charles P. Dewey, constructed the Manhattan Beach Hotel on the shores of Eureka Lake, once located where the Manhattan Airport is today.  The colorful developer, photographed here on the veranda of the hotel about 1901, first planned this fabulous facility as a private resort where he could  entertain his visiting friends and business associates. However, he soon open it up to the public and for the first five years of the century this fabled spot was a favorite recreation area for both the Manhattan and Junction City communities.   

   Editorial Postscript: As C.P. Dewey came to Kansas alone about twenty years before his death, not much was known about his background. With the exception of his son Chauncey whose involvement in a gun fight at the Rawlins County ranch a year earlier garnered headlines all over the country, little was known about C.P. Dewey’s family either.  It was not until terms of his Last Will and Testament were made known that much was revealed about his personal life or other family members.  As three of these colorful people would later live in Junction City, we’ve pieced together the following information.
Dewey’s first wife and the mother of his children was Emma Scott, “a daughter of the Confederacy” from Kentucky. Though she lived abroad after her divorce from Dewey, her last years were spent in Junction City where she died in 1920. According to the memorial markers placed in Highland Cemetery, three children were born of this union. An infant son Charles Edward, born in December of 1875, died when he was seven months old.  The second son Chauncey, of whom we shall learn more in articles to come, was born in Austin, Texas, in May of 1877.   The couple’s daughter Emma Scott Dewey was born in May of 1880, also in Austin. At the time of her father’s death she was living with her mother in Paris, where she had been educated.  However, she later lived for a good share of her adult years in Junction City. Apparently, Emma Scott Dewey Lockwood-Roberts, was an eccentric but memorable member of the community here from the 1930s through the 1950s.  She died in 1980 and is the only member of the immediate Dewey family that is actually buried in Highland Cemetery.
At the time that C.P. Dewey died, he was still married to his second wife, Gertrude M. Dewey. However, a newspaper article in the files of the Kansas State Historical Society published the day after C.P. Dewey’s death reveals some interesting facts about the relationship:  “Two years ago Mrs. C.P. Dewey arrived in Manhattan.  She was quiet, reserved and unassuming.  She took up her residence in one of the dwellings Mr. Dewey had erected for Manhattan tenants.  Mrs. Dewey did not become well acquainted here. She was too reserved.  Mrs. Dewey filed a suit of separate maintenance last December. In her petition she alleged that C.P. Dewey’s property holdings were valued at two million dollars.”
On June 7, 1904, just three days prior to his death, Mr. Dewey made a new will which superseded all previous documents.  This will gave  $37,000 to his nieces, one million dollars to his widow, $5,000 to his daughter and divided the remainder of the estate equally between his son Chauncey and his private secretary Charles Killen of Chicago, who was with him at the time the new will was drawn up. 
In July of 1904, it was reported that Dewey’s son, daughter, and former wife planned to file suit contesting the will on the grounds that C.P. Dewey was in no condition to make a new will at that time.  The estate was reported to have been in the millions of dollars.         

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Geary County Cowboys

Last week, we took a look at the very brief history of Junction City’s claim of being a Cowtown. Although the Cowtown status was very short lived, the working cowboy did not die with the Cattle trail. Geary County has a great tradition Cowboys that have been inducted in the Kansas Hall of Fame. The Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame is located at the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City. In our column this week, we will learn about four individuals who were inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame, who were working ranchers, farmers and cowboys locally in Geary County.
The first person who was inducted into the Hall of Fame from Geary County was Fred Germann, who was born to G.F. and Blanch Germann on March 3, 1921 in the Blue River Valley are. Growing up on a farm, Germann knew from a young age that he wanted to carry on the family tradition of farming and ranching. In 1939, Germann enrolled at Kansas State College of Agriculture and was very active in the livestock judging program. When the Tuttle Creek dam was built on the Blue River Valley Germann was forced to relocate to the Humboldt Valley southeast of Junction City, where he acquired 3500 acres. Although primarily known as a cattleman, German was also known as a prominent hog farmer. Fred has been the only person to have served as President of both the Kansas Livestock Association and the Kansas Pork Producers Council. Germann was honored as stockman of the year in 1989. Fred Germann passed away in 2010 and was inducted that same year as a Rancher/Cattleman.
William F. Ebbutt was the next person who was inducted in 2012 as a Rancher/ Cattleman. Born on February 25th, 1892 in Geary County, Ebbutt began riding and farming at a very young age. Stories of his riding experience as a young adult would circulate around the area. It was very well known that William would ride about 30 miles round trip to Dry Creek to visit and court his future wife Margaret Black, who he married in 1913. Ebbutt was primarily a pasture man who worked between Chase, Geary, Wabaunsee and Morris counties running between 3000 and 5000 head of cattle. In 1928, Ebbutt was able to rent about 910 acres north of Skiddy in Geary County and later purchased 640 acres in 1932 and 320 more in 1938. Due to his great knowledge of cattle and horses, Ebbutt helped promote the ranching industry in the Flint Hills by being able to improve the life and quality of cattle in the area.
Born in Skiddy, Kansas on March 1, 1922, Dusty Anderson, the third inductee, was well versed in herding cattle and competing in rodeos as early as 13 years old. At the age of 15, Dusty quit high school and got a job on the world famous Clyde Miller Rodeo Company. At 17, he joined the Army and served in WWII, later receiving a Bronze Star for the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign. After the war, Dusty returned to the rodeo, but was his real passion was working with cattle. He was able to work with ranchers in the Flint Hill area providing them with head counts, health and conditions, doctoring and pasturing. Along with his work with cattle, Dusty was good at raising horses. He was able to raise and train a World Champion Colt. He enjoyed riding horses so much that he did not own a vehicle until his early 30s. Dusty received a Gold Card from the Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1951. Mr. Anderson’s impact in farming and ranching in the Flint Hills area was greatly felt and was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Working Cowboy in 2014. 
The most recent addition to the Cowboy Hall of fame was Gerald “Jerry” Peck in 2015.
Peck was born in Wakefield, Kansas on August 4, 1928. He grew up with cattle and horses and began breaking and riding horses as a young man. In 1946 around the age of 18, he started working for the late Bud McLinden in rural Marion as a ranch hand and, in his early 20's, began a lifetime journey as a foreman of the Big-4 pasture located on Highway 77 six miles south of Junction City. In the 1950's he helped drive Texas cattle from railroad cars in Cassoday, Kansas to local pastures. In 1955 Peck moved to Skiddy and rented 980 acres from the Ebbutt ranch. In addition to the 980 acre Ebbutt Ranch, he rented and managed another 1,600 acres of pasture. At Skiddy, Jerry was a friend of, and rounded up cattle with, 2014 KCHF inductee Dusty Anderson. Here, Jerry began building up a cowherd and, throughout his lifetime, had a close connection with his cattle. In 1976, Jerry was finally able to buy his own ranch and was also able to rent it out to other farmers. During this time he worked in the stockyard on sale day and was a cattle field representative for the Herington Livestock Commission Company until his death on April 1, 2002. Mr Peck was inducted in 2015 as a working cowboy
If you want to learn more about Junction City’s Cowboy history from a fellow Cowboy Hall of Famer, join us at the museum on March 19th to hear Gary and Margaret Kraisinger talk about Cattle Trials of Kansas and their book, “The Western Cattle Trail” at 1:30 pm. A special thanks to the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame for the information on the Cowboys! 

This was a business card the belonged to Dusty Anderson. As the business card can tell you, Mr. Anderson was a well versed man. This business card was donated by Ella Maloney. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

JC Cowboy History

When Kansans are asked to name or list all of the famous Cowtown’s of the state, some of the more popular answers would be: Abilene, Dodge City, Newton and for some Wichita. Those would all be good answers, but not many will say Junction City. Not many know that Junction City, once upon a time, was a very prosperous Cowtown back in 1867. Although it seemed that the cattle industry was bringing in money, many of the local citizens of Davis County, (Geary’s old county name) were not happy that the Texas longhorn could infect their local cattle with fatal diseases. We will take a look at the quick rise and subsequently fall of the Cattle industry in Junction City.
After the Civil War, the state of Texas was overrun with longhorn cattle and markets on the east coast were in dire need of beef. Because there was no one to attend to or work the cattle during the war, many of the Longhorn cattle were roaming Texas unowned. Farmers or really anyone who was interested in making a name in the cattle industry went to Texas and started a “Cattle Rush” of sorts.
After the longhorn population was under control, the next hurdle to clear was to figure out a way to get the cattle to the rest of the hungry, war-torn country. Famous cattle trails in Kansas were: the Chisolm, Great Western and the Shawnee. The Shawnee was then spilt up into two separate branches, the east and west. The western portion of the Shawnee Trail is the one that passed through Davis County.
 Now that the cattle were being brought up from Texas, there needed to be a way to ship them out to the rest of the country. Two newly completed railroads in Junction City were the answer. The completion of the railroad to Junction City in November 1866 provided a shipping point for markets across the country. Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad Company shipped east and west and was the second railroad line to have reached the area that year after the Kansas Pacific railroad. In 1866 Junction City became a destination for Texas Cattle making their their way up, via the West Shawnee Trail. During this period, it was estimated that about 300,000 heads of cattle reached Junction City.
The cattle business in Davis County did not last very long. Town officials were discouraged by the cattle trade. It seemed that local owners of cattle in Geary County had had serious concerns over the introduction of Texas cattle into the area. This fear steamed from the fact that the Texas Longhorn often carried infected ticks that carried the dreaded, “Texas Fever” a disease that could kill and devastate the local cattle population. The Texas Longhorn was immune to the disease, but because they carried the deadly tick, any mingling with the local cattle could prove catastrophic.
In the spring of 1867, a public meeting was held on Clark’s Creek to organize the resistance to Texas cattle in Geary County. In an article written in the Saturday 5th, 1867 edition of “The Weekly Union” the author of the article details the future meeting of those in the county to try and ban the cattle drives in Davis County, “We understand that the people of Davis County, south of the Smoky Hill river, will meet at the place of Samuel Orr, or on the 15th of January, to petition the Legislature, concerning the introduction into the State of these infected cattle... during the past season, the people of Humboldt, McDowell and Clarke’s creek, in this county , have lost over six thousand dollars’ worth of cattle. It is proposed, if legal steps are of no avail in stopping such cattle beyond the State line, that the farmers turn out and drive them back. The people of the neighborhood have suffered greatly…”
This meeting ultimately ended the cattle trail business in Junction City. The rest of the state soon followed as the Kansas legislature, in 1867, modified the law to permit Texas Longhorns to come into Kansas only on the west side of the sixth principal meridian and south of a line drawn through the center of the state. This quarantine line was constantly changed and pushed further west. By 1867, Dodge was the only major cattle town in Kansas and by 1883; the cattle Trails in Kansan were all but extinct. By 1885 all the cattle trails were pushed to Colorado and the Rocky mountains where they went on to disappear completely
Although it might have been a short period of time, the influence that the cattle and the Cowboy had on Geary County is still felt to this day.  This can be seen Geary County is well represented in the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame which is located at Dodge City’s Boot Hill museum. Fred Germann, William Ebbutt, Dusty Anderson, and Gerald “Jerry” Nelson-Peck have all been inducted in the Hall of Fame. We will take a closer look at these Hall of Famers next week.

This unknown man is believed to have been a cowboy in the area during the 1870s.