Santa Fe Trail - Chisholm Trail
Crosses The Schmidt Land - Story

Santa Fe Trail and Chisholm Trail Marker

February 29, 2004
     The Schmidt land is in the Southeast Quarter, Township 19 South, Range 1 East of the Sixth Principal Meridian, Marion County, Kansas. The surveys to layout the townships were done in this area in 1857 according to procedures published in 1855 and as mandated by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 establishing the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska, whose western boundary, by the way, was the Continental Divide.

     The Santa Fe Trail was marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1906 by placing a granite marker on the north line of our land. This marker is listed in a book by the DAR documenting the placement of these markers all along the Santa Fe Trail.

     In 2003, a group headed by a man from Enid, Oklahoma marking the Chisholm Trail from South Texas to Abilene, Kansas, placed a concrete marker on the south line of our property marking the "average" location of the Chisholm Trail. The Chisholm Trail was not a distinct track such as the Santa Fe Trail, but was more of a corridor that may have been 2 to 3 miles wide in our area. From these markers, it appears that the Santa Fe Trail and Chisholm Trails crossed on our land, which is totally unique.

     About 6 miles away to the northeast is the Cottonwood (Creek) Crossing on the Santa Fe Trail. This was one of the more difficult and famous crossings of the Santa Fe Trail. A bend in the river made a natural corral, so it was always a camping spot. It was the last wood of any extent, west of there was treeless grass prairie. So, this crossing was almost always noted in diaries kept by the travelers. From these diaries we know within a day or two of when the writer crossed our land.

     The first Santa Fe trader to cross our land was William Becknell in 1821, most likely in September with a pack mule train. In 1822 Becknell repeated his trip, this time with 3 wagons, the first wagons used on the Santa Fe Trail, and probably crossed our land in May 1822. Mules or horses were used exclusively until 1829 when the first oxen were used by Major Bennett Riley (Fort Riley, Kansas is named for him) to pull the government wagons. After that, traders switched to oxen.

     August 14, 1825 George Sibley's party crossed our land, on a government survey of the Santa Fe Trail. On August 9 he had treated with the Osage Indians at Council Grove and on August 16th, he treated with the Kansa Indians on Dry Turkey Creek, south of McPherson. The Kansa Indians crossed our land August 15 to catch up with Sibley because they had missed him at Council Grove.

     In 1831 Jedediah S. Smith, one of the more famous mountain men, crossed our land in a party lead by Sublette. Mr. Smith was alone and was surprised and killed by Indians later in that trip on the Cimarron River. Other famous mountain men and fur traders who crossed our land are Kit Carson, Ceran St. Vrain, Charles Bent and William Bent of Bent's Fort in Colorado, Uncle Dick Wooten of Raton Pass Toll Road fame, etc. etc.

     In 1846 (most likely sometime in July), Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny and his Army of the West (approximately 1,600 men) crossed our land on his way to occupy Santa Fe on August 18, 1846 in connection with the Mexican War.

     Regular mail service started over our land in 1849 or 1850. In 1866, over 5,000 wagons passed over our land.

     June 20, 1864, Ed Miller stopped for breakfast at French Frank's road ranch on our land, and left by himself at 8:00 a.m. headed west. He happened upon a group of Indians, who for some reason, chased him down and killed him about 4 miles west of our land. The search party set out from French Frank's on June 23, 1864 to look for him, found his body, and buried him beside the trail near where they found him. His grave is marked and can be seen today.

     The railroad reached Abilene, Kansas March 23, 1867, and on Sept 5, 1867 the first Texas cattle were shipped from there. So the first cattle drive probably crossed our land in August 1867. There were cattle drives in 1868. There was a severe blizzard in 1871-1872 that killed over 250,000 cattle wintering on the plains. In 1871, cattle were shipped from Newton, Kansas. In 1873 the cattle trade shifted to Ellsworth, Kansas.

     Our east road (designated Road No. 95, 30 feet each side of section line) was opened by survey May 17, 1882. The plat of this survey and the notes show where the Santa Fe Trail crossed this road north of our land. Our south road (No. 204, 25 feet each side of section line) was opened April 30, 1891. Our north road (No. 221, 40 feet, all in our quarter) was opened April 14, 1892. The petition to open this road was signed by Brown Corby along with several others. He signed it as owner of SW 1/4, 4, 19S, 1E. This road was needed to help promote the platted town of Waldeck (now a ghost town) just across the road to our northwest.

     On February 28, 2004 we were in Florence, Kansas, made local inquiries about the location of Mt. Calvary cemetery, went there, and found the grave of one Claude Francis Laloge, otherwise known as French Frank, who operated a road ranch in the early 1860's on the Santa Fe Trail on our land at a location known as the Cottonwood Holes. A road ranch was the 1860's equivalent of today's convenience store, bar, and grill. French Creek that flows on our land got its name from French Frank, an immigrant from France, because his road ranch was near the head of the creek.

     Mr. Laloge was the 5th person to enter the Junction City, Kansas Land Office on January 5, 1863 to file on the Southeast 1/4, Section 4, Township 19 South, Range 1 East for a homestead entry under the Homestead Act of May 20,1862 which became effective January 1, 1863. He is entry No. 26 in the Junction City homestead record book. He did not "prove up" his claim, and on November 11, 1878, this claim was canceled.

     The next claim to our land was made by Taylor Riddle on May 13, 1879, who made entry under the Timber Culture Act of March 3, 1873 (amended March 13, 1874 and June 14, 1878, and repealed in 1891). He relinquished this claim on April 21, 1883 at 9:00 am. That same day, a Mary Riddle made claim under the Timber Culture Act, and she relinquished claim on January 26, 1886 at 3:00 p.m. That same day, John M. Aldrich made claim under the Timber Culture Act, and be relinquished his claim on January 2, 1889 at 9:00 am. That same day, Brown Corby made claim (Application No. 4291) under the Timber Culture Act. He eventually "proved up" and was issued his Final Certificate No. 247 on October 18, 1897. His patent was issued May 16, 1898.

     The claims for our land under the Timber Culture Act were probably people holding the land for speculation. It was virtually impossible to meet the requirements of the Act. It was illegal to sell your claim to another, but this is probably what these people did, since the new claim was always made the same day the previous one was relinquished.

     The Wasemiller School No. 102 was established in 1887 and was located in the very southeast corner of our quarter. In 1899, it became the consolidated Wasemiller-Waldeck School No. 102-103 after the Waldeck school burned. We think it was in use until 1958, but have not confirmed that. It was sold and dismantled for the lumber. No trace of the school remains, except perhaps some footings placed for erosion control in the county road borrow ditch.

We purchased the land on May 10, 2000.
S. & G. Schmidt

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