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For several years after Western Kansas was being opened for settlement, the counties in this region remained unorganized and had no population except the cattlemen. They were the lords of the land, but had no interest in it except as it provided grass and water for their stock. They ranged their cattle over thousands of acres without the restriction of a single fence, but they were doomed to witness a marvelous change in the country.

The supremacy of the cattlemen was of short duration. The railroad company, which had been the prime means of beginning the cattle industry, was also the chief inducement for people to come in and homestead the land. Just as soon as it was known that the Indians had abandoned this region people all over the United States began to study the maps of Western Kansas.

The spring of 1878 opened with plentiful moisture. As far as the eye could reach the short-grass plains were covered with a carpet of green, unmarked by roads and highways. Not a sign of civilization except the iron rails of the Santa Fe railroad. Not a tree or a shrub was here to break the vision, nothing in sight but the great herds of Texas cattle grazing at will in this vacant "backyard" of Kansas settlement.

But the eyes of the cowboys who guarded the herds began anxiously to watch the distant horizon, for they had heard the rumors of coming settlers. As the days passed, sure enough, tiny dust clouds appeared far to the east and grew, and soon they could discern covered wagons lumbering slowly, but steadily advancing over the maze of cattle trails. As the hours passed they could hear the shouts of the drivers above the creaking wagons urging their sweating horses or ox teams and tired domestic

cattle toward the valleys of the Pawnee or Arkansas rivers. And they could see written across the canvas tops in crude letters, "WESTERN KANSAS OR BUST".

The vanguard of grangers had arrived. They were hardy pioneers, looking for a home, a place to settle and rear their families. They were not daunted by the great vacant expanses of rolling prairie and level plains. Even though it looked like a barren waste, they knew it held possibilities. They were not dismayed by the fact that it was sparingly watered by the few creeks and the Arkansas river, which was usually dry several months of the year. Scarcer and scarcer grew the timber as they made their way west, until all that there was grew on the islands in the river, beyond the reach of annual prairie fires.

But they did not complain because the land before them lay bare to all the garish sunshine of the year, without the shadow of a tree or the seclusion of primeval forests. Their eyes roamed in every direction and they were not dismayed when they saw only the townsites of ants and prairie dogs rising in dwarf mounds above the level height of the close-curled buffalo grass. They were thinking of a time in the future, when the buffalo grass would be replaced by tame grasses and by fields of golden grain. They dreamed of cities which would spring up to replace that debris of animal and insect architecture, which alone had littered the landscape for centuries.

To the landless it seemed a great boon to have the opportunity to settle upon government land and acquire fee simple title to a quarter section of land for a mere living upon it. Even many who had farms or places of business in the east decided they could better their conditions by disposing of their property and settling upon the cheap, yet fertile land of the west. Briefly, it may be stated that the heads of families, or persons over 21 years of age, were entitled under the acts of congress to 480 acres of land, 160 as a homestead, 160 as pre-emption, and 160 as timber claim. Only 320 acres, however, could be entered at the same time. Five years' residence was required on a homestead claim before patent could be issued. The settler had six months after he filed on land before establishing a residence and commencing his improvements.

He might also be temporarily absent six months. Preemption required immediate settlement. After six months, by paying $1.25 per acre, patent could be secured. Within limits of railroad land, $2.50 per acre was paid. No settlement was required under the timber culture act. The claimant was required to break Ryc acres of land during the first year, five acres during the second year, and cultivate the first five, and the third year plant five acres to trees, tree seeds or cuttings. All this could be done by an agent, and a non-resident could acquire title to land under the provision of this act. Since there was only one timber claim in each government township, and it could be owned by a non-resident, this class of claims were soon all taken up. But the job of plowing and cultivating the timber claims supplied some of the settlers with money so they could stay on their homesteads. In many cases, in lieu of payment for their labor, they were given title to the timber claim.

Naturally, the cattlemen were resentful of the coming of the settlers and homesteaders who kept arriving singly and in groups during the years of 1878 and '79. Coming in wagons, or dropping off the trains along the railroad sidings of the Santa Fe, they were met by the cowboys, who did their best to discourage them from settling here.

"Say, let us tell you something," they would begin. "It never rains out there and you will starve to death. Dodge City is as far west as civilization will ever go, and that place is hardly a fit place for a civilized man with a family." From that time on there was a struggle between the grangers and the cattlemen as to who would occupy the land.

In 1878 there was a sprinkling of homesteaders scattered over the prairies, and the next year, 1879, many more filed on claims. Nature seemed to favor the efforts of those first settlers, even if the cattlemen didn't. Everything planted that first year yielded bountifully, and the country gave out every promise to those desiring to make permanent settlement. Towns were established and dugouts and sod houses of homesteaders dotted the plains, where they lived as snug as "wasps" in their mud houses.

James Craig came to Garden City in March, 1879, and he tells how they located the claims: "I found Buffalo Jones and Bill Stapelton on the job ready to show people over the country, and locate them on government land, and for some time after my arrival they did a thriving business. I remember driving around with Jones and Stapelton locating people. The land office

at that time was located at Larned, and Jones received a report every day of all land located the previous day. We would start out in the morning with perhaps six or eight people who wanted to locate. It was my job when we started from a known corner to count the revolutions of the wheel of the vehicle we were riding in. A handkerchief tied to a wheel and knowing the distance around the wheel was a quick way to measure between the corners, and of keeping track of the section, township and range. We could tell the prospective settler just how far we were from Garden City."

It has been said of that first year that it was a "will o' the wist which lured hundreds of homesteaders into this region, only to have their hopes blasted by drouth during the next succeeding years." The dry weather set in the fall of 1878, continued all through the year of 1879, and with little intermission during 1880-81-82. In those years, in spite of the fact that the settlers congregated to pray for rain and for relief from climatic conditions, it never rained, and the country looked like a parched desert. The very grass would crunch and fall to powder beneath the feet of the settlers. At the end of four years, few of the first enthusiastic people who had taken claims were left. Even as the "Arabs quietly folded their tents and moved away", so did the first settlers, but instead of folding up tents, they unfolded their old canvas tops and spread them back in place over the weather-beaten wagon bows. Beneath the old sign "WESTERN KANSAS OR BUST" they scrawled in bright new letters, "Busted by God", and the heads of the famishing horses that were hitched to those "ships of the Great Plains" were headed back east toward "wife's folks".

It has been said that all who remained did so because they couldn't get away. But that is not true. Those who kept on did so because they could, and because they wanted to. They had a persistence born partly of faith in the country and partly of a dogged determination to stick to their possessions to the end. They refused to be beaten by climate or any other circumstance.

Many had come into the country well dressed, but after two or three years their clothing was worn out and they had not the means to buy new. Socks became a luxury. Blue jeans covered the worn cloth trousers of the men and they were not particular as to the style of their coats. Their stiff derby hats were dented and battered but continued to do service. The women made over the good clothes they had brought with them for their growing children, and for themselves made new cotton dresses. And then as their plight became known boxes and barrels of clothing began arriving from relatives and benevolent organizations in the east. These donations were hailed with delight, although the housewives were often filled with despair and disappointment when they tried to fit out their families with "used and discarded clothing." But it was not so much a question of what to wear, as what to eat? The Rev. A. C. McKeever, a pioneer of

Finney county, recently said in an address to the old settlers at Garden City: "There were times when the flowers did not bloom, the grass did not get green, and the larder was low. If it had not been for the jackrabbits and the wild ducks and geese, a great many of the early settlers would have found it much harder.

"I remember hearing about a case in the early days of a man who had come out west to make his fortune. He had faith, he was ambitious, and he worked hard. The report went out through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois that the people were starving to death on the plains, and the good people of Ohio sent a young man out here to investigate, and provided a purse whereby the suffering might be relieved. This young fellow from Ohio came to the man who had staked his all to make his fortune. Of course he did not want to turn over the money to anyone who was not in need, so he was very careful in his investigation and cautious in his movements. He asked the settler how he was getting along, and true to the policy of the early settlers, he was told what a wonderful country it was, and how delightful to live in such rarefied air, and told about the beautiful sunsets. Then the would be-benefactor asked him where they got their provisions, and told him that word had gone out that the settlers were starving and that a carload of provisions had been sent out for those in need, but he was so glad to learn there was no need here. The settler was silent for a few minutes, then he said, "Well, you know, we got along fine last year and expected to this year, but our dog died, and you know, it takes a damned good dog to catch rabbits.'"

There was little money in the country among the settlers, except the pension checks received from the government by the civil war soldiers. The chief industry among the homesteaders was picking up buffalo and cattle bones of which there appeared to be an inexhaustible supply all over the prairies, and hundreds of loads were brought in to points along the railroad to be shipped, for which the settlers received Ryc or six dollars a ton.

Mrs. H. W. Crow recalls how her husband and Sim Buckles would go far out on the prairie to gather bones. There were no roads or trails to follow and in order to find their way back to Garden City, they would tie a log under the wagon low enough to drag on the ground to make a mark, so they could follow it home. They would also haul in "buffalo chips" and rick them up like hay stacks to keep them dry for winter fuel.

Another source of income which was obtained in a hard but thrilling way was the catching of wild horses, which were shipped east. In 1880 two men from Pennsylvania came out to Garden City to buy up wild horses to take back east and sell at retail. They had no difficulty in buying two car loads of fine horses, but a difficulty arose when they offered a $1000 bill in payment. 

It was impossible to get it changed, and they finally had to go to Larned where the United States land office was located.

In those days C. J. Jones, the Craig brothers and others would go out antelope hunting. They would Rx up sleds so they could get over the ground quickly and it was an easy way to haul in the game. They usually returned with a few, or perhaps a number, and would ship them to Topeka or Kansas City, receiving four or five dollars apiece for them.

N. F. Weeks, who with his brother, J. W. Weeks, located at Garden City May 3, 1878, has left a written record of some of those early hunting trips: "About 1879 white-tailed deer were more or less plentiful in the sand hills, and Jones and others made frequent trips into the sand hills. Jones was always accompanied by his favorite staghound. On one of these trips I accompanied him, and reaching a place where the Dan Larmor ranch was afterwards located, a fine buck was sighted and the hounds took up the chase. We were riding in a platform spring wagon, Jones driving and I holding the gun. As the chase warmed up Jones kept urging the team to greater speed. It was a mad rush across the hills, the wagon swayed and bounced and at times it almost upset. The deer headed for the Island in the river. Finally we struck some particularly rough and boggy ground and we both took headers from the wagons.

Jones managed to land on his feet and kept on running. Just how I struck the ground I have never been able to tell, for it was like being hit by a cyclone, but I saw Jones plunging into the water and heard him shouting to bring the gun. I finally reached the island where the dog was holding the deer and Jones dispatched it with a bullet.

"Parts of the wagon and pieces of the harness were scattered for miles down the river and the wagon had to be sent to Sterling for repairs. That did not bother Jones in the least, he got what he went after and did not count the cost. Jones always had a lot of hunting dogs and when he was unable to supply them with meat they formed the habit of raiding the butcher shops of Halsey and Butts, and frequently would carry off a whole quarter of beef, for which Jones would pay without question. One of his favorite hounds disappeared once and he went to Colorado in search of him, thinking he had followed some emigrant wagon off, but the dog was never found.

"Early in the fall of 1879 Jones suggested a hunt in the Cimarron river country for buffalo. At that time he had a large number of wolf and stag hounds, and others of like character, and recently having secured a highgrade pup, he wanted to try it out on big game. So accompanied by my brother, Joe Weeks, and George Edwards, son of Jesse Edwards, we left Garden City with two wagons. I rode with Jones and we traveled southwest toward the Cimarron. Antelope were plentiful in the sand hills, and we soon sighted a large herd. I shall never forget that sight. The sun was just coming up and its first rays fell on the brownish-red and white of the grazing animals. Immediately the hunting instincts were aroused, every muscle became taut, every nerve in the man seemed to quiver with excitement, and his eyes snapped and glittered as only a man's will when the instincts of the true hunter are aroused.

"On getting within fair shooting distance he could have bagged several easily, but he wanted to see his dogs perform, and suggested that he would cripple an antelope, and then the dogs and the pup would be turned loose. This was done, the leashes were unloosed, and with loud baying the dogs took after the startled and fleeing antelope. Some time elapsed and the older dogs returned to the wagons, but much to Mr. Jones' anxiety the pup failed to show up, so telling the other men to continue their journey to the Cimarron we started in search of the pup. All day we kept up the search, but the pup was never seen again.

"Our water supply gave out and late in the day we headed for the Cimarron where we expected to find water. About nine or ten o'clock that night we came up to the other members of the party. Their supply of water was also exhausted and the river was entirely dry. This was a serious situation. Our horses were already in an exhausted condition, and it was a two days' drive to the Arkansas. There was no water on the way, nothing but the sun-scorched prairie sagebrush and withered grass. Early the next day we started and our progress was necessarily slow.

"We made camp the first night, and fortunately there occurred that rare phenomena of the plains, a dew fell, and eating the dew-covered grass our horses were somewhat refreshed. We were all suffering from thirst, and we ate nothing but crackers all day, and by eating them slowly, a saliva would be started in our dry and parched mouths. Late in the day what a glorious sight unfolded itself. There ahead of us was the Arkansas river, and the water glistened in the sunlight. It was a joyous, life-inspiring scene, and man and beasts quickened their steps. Reaching the water, all rushed to partake of its blessed relief. It was warm and unpalatable, but it quenched the burning thirst. The horses drank with avidity, and when they had had enough for the time, they could not be forced from the river, and finally one of Edwards' horses died. During the torture of those days, Jones was the guiding spirit."

Those pioneer men of Western Kansas who came and who remained in spite of drouths and discouragement, really enjoyed that life as they first found it here. But it was hard on the women, the majority of whom had been reared in homes of comfort and culture in the east. They tried to be optimistic and worked out their part nobly, but they suffered loneliness and privations. Mrs. B. L. Stotts came with her husband to Garden City in 1881, and has since learned to love the country, but she almost shrinks from any mention of those first years.

She says:

"I never took any credit to myself for being a pioneer, having gone to Colorado in 1870, when the Indians were still making periodical raids on the settlers. There was some spice in that life, but being a pioneer in Western Kansas was different. The spring and summer we came here, 1881, was very dry. For nine consecutive months there was not a single drop of rain. There were no trees. Some Cottonwood cuttings had been set out along the streets of Garden City, but as yet furnished no shade, and the soap weeds, the largest thing here, furnished very Hide.

"Each day the sun arose in a blaze of glory, each succeeding day more dazzling than the one before. We kept our eyes turned heavenward looking for clouds, not being so presumptions as to expect rain, but merely seeking a dimmer for the intense sunlight. We saw in the mirage limpid lakes of sparkling water, buildings which might have been churches and theaters, and beautiful groves of stately trees, but it all kept just out of reach and the blazing sun shone on. The certainty that it would be on the job again in the morning took away the pleasure of its setting.

"We drank water from driven wells not more than eight or ten feet deep, and rank with alkali. We suffered for ice, though in case of sickness we were sometimes able to get it from the passenger trains.

"The awful monotony was killing. There was nothing to do, nothing to see and no where to go, and should we have attempted to go anywhere we would only have become lost, for there were only a few dim trails leading to the claims of a few settlers, so we women crept about from house to house. There was no use to hurry; we had all the time there was. Our conversation each day was a repetition of that of the day before and always concerned the awfulness of living in such a desert, where the wind and the sun had full sweep.

"Frequently on wash day, a line of clothes would be seen sailing through the air. On one of those occasions after a woman had rescued and washed her clothes for the second time, she was heard to repeat language similar no doubt to some she had heard her husband use. It was a time to try women's souls. I never heard the men complain, and as a sect, I was sure they did not require much to satisfy them. I am sure the children were sensible of their hardships. One day my little son came into the house, threw himself on the floor in the abandonment of grief, and howled out, 'Mamma, will we always have to live here?' and when in my desperation I told him that I thought we would, he, with a more desperate howl, cried out, *and will we have to die here, too?' "We old timers smile now when we meet, and it's a knowing smile the newer population does not understand, for we are rich in experience."

The following sketch was written by C. A. Loucks of Lakin, Kansas:

"Probably no woman in the history of the pioneers of Western Kansas has contributed more to the welfare and happiness of humanity during that period than Amy M. Loucks. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1843. She received a high school and academic education. Through association with a brother who was a physician, she became interested in the science of medicine and surgery. "In 1866 she married William P. Loucks, and in 1879 they moved to Lakin. At that time Kearny county was unorganized territory, as was most of the western part of the state. It was entirely a cow country, there being no substantial settlement. There was no school, churches or other organized society. The nearest doctor was at Dodge City, seventy-five miles away. Lakin was on the Santa Fe railroad and consisted of a depot, an eating house, the house in which the agent lived, a store operated by John O'Laughlin, who supplied cattle ranches, buffalo hunters, and the travelers on the Santa Fe trail, and the town had a saloon.

"Mrs. Loucks ability and helpfulness made her a friend to all who were in distress. She treated their injuries, nursed them to health, or said a prayer at their death. To show her resourcefulness and ability, we may relate a few instances: A man had been scalped by the Indians and left on the prairie for dead. He was found and brought to Lakin. The scalp had not been entirely removed, but was pulled down over his eyes. She replaced the scalp, stitched it with a fiddle string and a common needle, and nursed him back to health, communicated with his relatives in the east and sent him to them. Although the poor fellow lived for many years, he never regained his sanity.

"A posse summoned her to treat a badly wounded prisoner. With a small vial of carbolic acid as an antiseptic, a knitting needle as a probe, and a pair of common pincers, she removed the bullet and saved the man's life. "At another time, with a razor as a lance and her embroidery scissors, she removed three fingers from the crushed hand of a railroad brakeman.

"In those days the railroad ran immigrant trains. One day the conductor telegraphed Mrs. Loucks to meet the train on its arrival at Lakin. She found a woman who was about to become a mother, and before she could be removed to a private place, it was necessary for Mrs. Loucks to perform the act of midwifery on the freight truck on the depot platform.

"A railroad wreck occurred near Lakin in which several employees were killed, and many passengers were injured. Mrs. Loucks administered first aid to a score or more, awaiting the arrival of a special train from Dodge City carrying their railroad surgeon. In appreciation of this act, H. R. Nickerson, the Division Superintendent, and later president of the company, gave her a pass, which courtesy was extended as long as he was connected with the railroad.

"Not only did she minister to the afflicted, but she was always doing those things which promote the general welfare and happiness of the country. In 1879 she organized and taught the first school in Kearny county. This was a subscription school and there were but 17 pupils enrolled, including her two sons. She was instrumental in organizing the first church in Lakin."

The only schools in Southwest Kansas in those early years were financed by private subscriptions. As for text books, they were odds and ends from as many states as there were families represented. Garden City became an organized district the fall of 1880, and was the first to employ a teacher with a certificate. No other districts were organized until 1884.

Churches and Sunday schools were few and far between and were held in private homes or barns, until later years when school houses were built and used for that purpose. Garden City, Sherlock, Pierceville, and all points along the railroad had men who were able to preach and conduct religious services. These were attended by all classes and by a much larger per cent of the people than today, when there are many fine churches. Services in Garden City were first held in the Landis and Hollinger building, which was built in 1879, or the Red Lion Livery stable. The Rev. H. S. Booth was conducting a service on Sunday in the Red Lion Livery stable when a bunch of drunken cowboys came in and sat down by the stove. They began to feel good as they got warmed up and tried to break up the meeting. B. L. Stotts was sitting pretty close to them and he raised up and asked them politely to keep quiet. But the cowboys took it for a joke and opened up, louder than ever. Mr. Stotts then got up and walked to the front. He asked the minister to let him have the floor for a minute, and he proceeded to address the cowboys.

"Now, if you fellows want to remain in here you are welcome, but if you stay, you will have to behave like men."

He was answered by a drunken twitter. Mr. Stotts then picked up a chair and placed it by the side of Rev. Booth, and he continued.

"The first fellow who makes any disturbance will have to be carried out that door."

The drunken laugh was smothered for Mr. Stotts had calmly sat down by the side of the preacher, and across his knees lay a big six shooter. His fame as a crack shot had never been doubted by anyone. Thus he sat through the service, and the audience remained deadly quiet, if not appreciative.

The early settlers were left entirely on their own resources for amusements. The literary was perhaps the first organization and the programs consisted entirely of "home talent", but they were very interesting and heartily enjoyed. Picnics and dances were common, and holidays were all observed. The first Fourth of July celebration in this region was held at Garden City in 1879. People came in wagons and on horseback for niany miles, and they were all surprised that there were so many people really living in the country.

The following was the order of the program.

National salute at daylight, 38 guns.

Military parade led by the band at 10 o'clock. Then the program continued at the new Finnup building, which Frederick Finnup donated for the occasion. Vocal music; Prayer.

Declaration of Independence, read by C. J. Jones. Music by the band, and the speeches.

Thirteen colonies represented by thirteen little girls. Basket Dinner.

Music by the band, responses, and music. Star Spangled Banner.

Then followed contests, sack races, horse races, etc. A dance was held at night with twenty couples present.

Captain Fulton was chief marshal of the day. The personnel of the band was: Levi Wilkinson, Eb cornet; Frank Wood, ist; N. F. Weeks, 2nd; Amos Baim, tenor; R. N. Hall, baritone; L. C. Reed, tuba; J. N. Collins, tenor drum; Chas. Weeks, bass.

The Kansas "breezes" and the hot winds succeeded in driving many out of the country in a rage of disgust. Andrew Rinehart, a carpenter who had come from Indiana, declared with appropriate expletives that more than once he had put a weather board in place against the side of a house, and the wind had held it there while he nailed it in position.

The elements seemed to be favoring again the cattle industry and the cattlemen viewed with satisfaction this clearing of the range. The free range law was still in effect and there were cattle and cowboys every where, and the few remaining settlers found it difficult to homestead on the open range. George W. Finnup recalls conditions of the winter of 1880-81:

"That winter was just one snow storm after another. Antelope were thick in those days and drifted in to the edge of town; and cattle drifted down here from the Smoky Hill river, and other localities in northwestern Kansas and western Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming. Many cattle companies had representatives at Garden City to look after their cattle. After a severe storm there would be some nice weather for several days and the boys would say, 'Well, we'd better get out and look after the cattle.'

"They would first go east and west up and down the river and haul sand over the ice so that the cattle could cross without danger of injury from falling. They would then gather them up and cross them to the south side of the river. This was necessary in order to protect the interests of both cattlemen and settlers. There was no one living south of the Arkansas river, and the cattle could drift and graze wherever they pleased, but north of the river was a scattering of settlers, all up and down the valley. These had small crops and a few cattle of their own. They had little feed and very little fencing, and they showed no mercy for those strange, storm-driven cattle from northern ranges that would swoop down and destroy and devour all their feed in a night's time. Naturally they were driving them day and night, chasing them with dogs, shooting at them, and of course they always had plenty of fresh beef on hand.

"It was also necessary to keep the range cattle on the south side of the river on account of the Santa Fe railroad tracks. They would get on the tracks and bunch up in the cuts, and the trains would plow through them and kill many every few days. The Santa Fe paid out thousands of dollars for cattle killed in this way during the winter of 1880-81, and in order to protect themselves in the future, they fenced their right of way. They fenced the road bed that spring on each side from Dodge City to La Junta, Colorado, a distance of 200 miles, using heavy round cedar posts, eight feet apart, and four galvanized wires. "After the cattle were crossed to the south side of the river they would travel day and night, up and down, and you could hear them bawling by the thousands. In a few days another storm would come and every head would be gone, drifting on south with the blizzard, but a fresh bunch would come down from the north to again torment the settlers, and the whole crossing process had to be repeated. Thousands died that winter from starvation, as many had been brought up late from Texas and were pretty thin, and they were not used to such a severe climate. Many of the cattle companies went broke that winter.

"The men who were here looking after the cattle were often the managers of the cattle company and were above the average cowboy. Some remained here and married girls they met; among several others were John E. Biggs and Ed L. Wirt. While they were waiting to cross the herds to the south side of the river so they could drift with the storm and get away from the railroad and settlers, the cowboys would pass their time by playing pool or billiards during the day, and at night it would be cards, if there wasn't a dance in town. These dances occurred frequently and they would generally have Chalk Beeson and others to play, from Dodge City.

"That spring dozens of cow outfits came through Garden City and on to the Canadian river of Texas, where they gathered up what was left of their herds. Along in May they brought them back to the Arkansas river, where they camped, in a big round up. For days they were busy cutting them out, and separating them so the different outfits could take their cattle to their own range." There was never any very serious fueds between the cattle rangers and the homesteaders in Western Kansas. Perhaps the cowboys tried to discourage settlement on their ranges, but they were not desperate about it, and they were always very respectful toward the pioneer women. Mrs. L. E. Thomas, who lived on the range, remarked recently of the cowboys: "Many a time I served meals to cowboys. Did they sit back and let me do all the work? No, they rolled up their sleeves, washed, and then went to work like good fellows. They were always gentlemen as we found them."

After the long drouth period ending in 1882 climatic conditions improved so that immense crops favored the farmers all during 1883-84-85. C. M. Johnston came to this county the spring of 1882, and he recalls the climatic conditions of that year:

"Never having been in a semi-dry climate, I could not get accustomed to the dryness. There was scarcely anything here but distance, and that was only half clad in short grama and buffalo grass. However, when fall set in, it was followed by rains aplenty and there was abundant moisture all during the year of 1883. The summer months of that year I used to ride up on the flats carrying a good-sized basket, returning with it filled with mushrooms, some as large as saucers. That year along the railroad right-of-way the horse weeds, cockle burrs, etc., grew to immense proportions, requiring constant attention of section hands to clear the track for vision. Draws and fertile spots were miniature forests. We tenderfeet were at a loss to figure how, if the country was put under the plow, the crops would be. I have only seen a few seasons like it since."

The word that Western Kansas would produce a big yield of grain and vegetables traveled swiftly. Homesteaders came by thousands, and in a short time there was a shanty on every claim, and speculators began arriving from every state in the Union.

This was all fine for the country and the settlers, but it was a blow to the cattle rangers. Many of the ranchmen had by this time fenced large areas of the government land. The following article appeared in a Dodge City newspaper in the spring of 1885:

"It cannot be denied that the present season thus far has been favorable to the growth of agricultural products. Ranchmen must survey the situation squarely in the face and make preparations to meet it. The days of free range in Kansas are numbered among the things of the past. Ranchmen must hereafter own their grazing lands. All of the government land in Kansas will soon be occupied by settlers or owned in fee simple by individuals. The stock industry will in the future, as in the past, be the main reliance of our people for support. Its character, however, must change. The herds must be in less number and the cattle of a better grade and shelter must be provided during winter months and stock feed should be raised here."

On July 2, 1885, the land commissioners made decision that persons must remove all wire and posts from the government land.

An article which appeared in a Garden City newspaper in the spring of '85 gives a little idea of the intensity of feeling which existed between the settlers and cattlemen:

"Many newcomers are building and plowing on the south side of the river who are hoping that Major Falls will be persuaded not to bring his 20,000 head of cattle here to be branded this summer, but keep them on the Cimarron range. The stock will annoy the settlers and destroy their crops, so that they will soon become discouraged and leave. ... It is said that stockmen are setting the prairie on fire so we will have a dry season, and the *cussed granger' will be a thousand miles away." By the spring of 1885 the settlers were coming in so fast as to break up and destroy the range and make it impossible to manage large herds. Boom towns sprang up all over the old range, and boasted of populations they have never had since. John H. Whitson says, "The spring we moved in, 1885, the big cattle ranches were almost gone and the settlers had a song which they sang gleefully: "It was the tenth of May, God bless the day, When the X Y cowboys went away."

"There was no good feeling between the cowboys and the newcomers. And the cowboys of the big X Y ranch, getting intoxicated in Garden City, would race their horses past the sod houses or humble homes of the settlers, emit blood-curdling yells, and fire off their revolvers in order to scare the women and children and intimidate the settlers into leaving."

The last blow to the free-range cattle industry was the blizzards of 1886, which destroyed thousands of head of livestock and financially ruined many of the biggest cattle dealers. It seemed as though the elements and the law had joined forces which brought about a complete victory for the homesteader, for the herd law became operative in Finney county and others of this region June 24, 1886. The effect of this law was to prevent the running at large of all cattle, horses, sheep and other domestic animals. This law is still in effect.

The day of open range and that wildlife has passed, but not yet has the last of those old-time cowboys ridden his bronc into the "sunset". A few of the men who made that history are still living and they recount with startling clearness, tales of round-ups, Indians, and the chuck wagon comforts of range life. They picture vividly the terrible blizzards; and at last the tragic fate of their herds, which they found piled in cuts and ravines and frozen to death in deep snow, during the blizzard of 1886.