When driving between Lone Wolf in Kiowa County and Granite in Greer County, on Highway 9, or west out of Sentinel on Highway 55, even the natives of the area have trouble imagining six million Texas Longhorn cattle with hundreds of trail bosses, chuckwagons, and remudas of 40 to 50 horses rambling through and grazing contentedly in the lush, green grass during the period from 1866 until 1885.
In addition to the many enormous drives, cattle herds also traveled in fewer numbers until 1892 when homesteaders located and began fencing Oklahoma Territory. Local lore and history tells about the Great Western Trail traversing this area with it's origin at Bandera, Texas, just to the NW of San Antonio, about 450 miles south of the Red River, and it's destination of Dodge City, Kansas, about 45 miles north of Indian Territory. Some historians called the trail the old Doan Trail, because it crossed the Red River at Doan's crossing. Others called it the Old Dodge City Trail, because it ended at Dodge City. Some even confused it with the Chisholm or Chisum Trail, which actually lay further east near El Reno. Oklahoma State Highway Department called it the Old Texas Trail on their map published in 1933.
Doan's Crossing was a short distance from Doan's Store, which was the last supply station for those traveling to Kansas by way of the Indian Nation. C. E. Doan kept a perfect record of the herds crossing. 1881 was the peak of the cattle herds with 301,000 head driven through. He kept the name of the Trail Bosses, the number of cattle, and who they belonged to. One of the largest was the King Ranch, shipping 30,000 head divided into 10 herds in a single season.
The Texas Longhorn was tough, cunning and mean. He was on his own from the minute he was born, and after living several years in the brush, he did not take kindly to being roped, hog-tied, road branded and thereafter held loose herded until the drive got underway.
The cowboys that came up the Great Western Trail behind these herds were a tough breed. They contributed in no time at all to the new Boot Hill Cemetery of Dodge City, some of them occupying lots themselves, and others adding Dodge City names to the grave markers, and..... sometimes.....a town Marshall. The main street of Dodge City became a Hell's Highway, charged with six shooter smoke, bad whiskey and wild women.
The cowboy who rode up the Western Trail was spoiling for trouble and in Dodge City, it didn't take long to find it. The guns he packed were those he fetched home from the Civil War. They may have been the Confederate Griswold and Gunnison, the Union Colt model 1860, or a Remington 1856. Remington made more than 140,000 of these big revolvers during the Civil War, and many of them ended up in Texas and later, Dodge City. The cowboy strapped on his gun belt when he put his pants on in the morning. Many of them carried a pair and could use each equally well. The first thing a Texas cowboy did to a calvary holster was to cut the flap off and swing the but to the rear. The soft leather didn't hold the shape very well and soon they were made of thick rawhide, which made the guns easier to draw. A working cowboy also needed a rifle, and these were either a Spencer, a Henry and later a Winchester, which was carried in a scabbard under the stirrup leathers.
Cattlemen played an important part in developing the western prairie, but it was the homesteader who really brought civilization. The railroad made this possible by eliminating the need for cattle drives and opening nationwide markets to both the cattleman and the farmer.
Some of the cowboys who drove the herds over the Great Western Trail later became citizens of Kiowa County. Perry Jones was born in 1861, 9 miles south of Greenville, TX in Hunt, Co. He moved to Indian Territory and worked on the Jim Knox Ranch. In 1888, he went back to Texas and married Beckie Riley. In 1890, they moved back to the Territory 25 miles east of Duncan un til 1901, when they moved to their Kiowa Co. claim.
Jess Lynn also moved cattle from Texas over the Trail. He worked as an "outside man," meaning he owned his horse and gear and traveled to ranches in a hundred mile radius to work. In 1902/02, he worked for Hezakiah Williams' Tumbling A Ranch. He took a claim 3 miles south of the old Barton Store, that had a grove of 300 papershell pecan trees. Another early cowboy was Dick Holly.
Other cowboys who drove the herds through and came back to live were Samuel Parson, who came to the Nations at 13, and worked for Edd Louder, until he got a claim in 1901 on North Fork of the Red River. J.B. Haley started working cattle when he was 13. By the time he was 16 he was making the drives. He became a foreman on the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation working with large herds belonging to Texas cattleman. In 1993, he filed for land in the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation and brought his new wife Effie there. When the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache lands opened his wife filed for and got land in NE Comanche Co, where the beginnings of the Lazy H Ranch began to develop.
Cattleman, Cowboy and Farmer, took this land and turned it into Kiowa County, while still remembering the people that lived here before. This information is part history, and part stories I heard growing up in Kiowa County. With the fields of cotton, wheat and alfalfa planted along the bottoms of Big Elk and Little Elk creeks, It's hard to imagine, a sea of Texas Longhorns Moving across the prairie where there were no fences, cotton and
wheat. Where the bluestem was as high as a man on a horse. And just to realize this happened only 90 + years ago. From cattle drives and raging Indians to jet planes in the skies..... You've come a long way, Baby!!!!!!
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