Seventeen and half miles west of Lost Spring was Cottonwood Creek in present Marion County. Sometimes called Cottonwood Grove for its fine stand of timber, it was the last place on the Santa Fe Trail where wood could be obtained for miles. There George Smith, the same George Smith of Lost Spring fame, established a ranch sometime in the mid-1850s. The precise date that Smith came to Cottonwood Creek is unknown, but the ranch was in operation when Major John Sedgwick's troops arrived at the crossing in 1857. At that time Smith was conducting business from a single log house. According to the 1858 table of distances, a mail station was located at the ranch where Smith sold hay, corn, and provisions. The ubiquitous entertainment was also listed.
In that year, Abraham Atlantic Moore and his brother Ira stopped at the ranch on a return trip from Santa Fe. Thinking the ranch to be a good investment, they purchased the business, built a second log house, and continued to operate the business. A post office named Moore's Ranch was opened in November 1860. Ira More was appointed postmaster.
In 1861 Abraham, sometimes called Lank, moved to Marion Centre and opened a store. In the following year, he married Nancy Waterman. At the organization of Marion county, he was elected county treasurer. Ira, to moved to Marion Centre where at a later date he built a grist mill west of the town in partnership with Charles Fuller. In the Moores' absence, William Shreve was employed to manage the ranch, and upon his death in 1865 his daughter Charity assumed his place. In the same year, Abraham was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives.
Like the other trading establishments east of Walnut Creek, the ranch ceased to serve overland traffic after 1866 when the railroad superseded the Santa Fe Trail in the Marion County area.
Distant from Cottonwood Creek six miles was a campsite identified by Brevet Major Henry Kendrick as Water Holes. Sometimes called Cottonwood Hole, it became the location of a ranch established by Frank Laloge in 1861. Soon after, he was joined by Peter Martin whom he had met aboard ship while traveling from France in 1857. Laloge married in 1863 and brought his bride to the ranch. Earlier, he had filed on 160 acres in the Cottonwood Hole area. However, he did not stay to prove up the claim but rather sold the ranch to George Russell. The new owner did not stay in business long as the Union Pacific's westward march eliminated overland traffic east of Walnut Creek in 1866, and Russell found himself bereft of patrons.
The last record of Russell was in 1866 when he paid a dram license levied by Marion County to provide funds for the operation of the county's only school in Marion Centre. At that time Marion County extended westward to Colorado Territory and south to Indian Territory. In that vast area, a number of ranches along the Santa Fe Trail were subject to the dram license. As far west as Walnut Creek, Charles Rath paid for a six-month license in 1866.
The ranch was commonly called French Frank's, but the only reminder of Laloge's presence is the stream which bisects Marion County named French Creek.
Running Turkey Creek
Beyond French Frank's twelve and a half miles was Running Turkey Creek in present McPherson County. There, in 1855, Charles Fuller established a trading ranch. A native of New York, well acquainted with Santa Fe Trail traffic, Fuller had previously been a driver for Waldo, Hall and Company.
On May 17, 1859, William Salisbury, bound for the Rocky Mountain gold fields, visited the Running Turkey Creek Ranch and recorded in his journal: "Have traveled 21 miles today and are somewhat fatigued we are camped on the Running Turkey There is no timber here and poore water There is wone house here maid of small logs and turf and a grocery in a waggon (illegible word) The nearest timber is within 8 miles." It is not known how long Fuller operated this ranch, but he may have been there until 1864. In May 1860 a post office was established at "Big Turkey Creek," with Harvey Bickford as postmaster. This post office operated until 1866.
The ranch became a favorite stop on the Santa Fe Trail because of the fine table set by two sisters employed at the ranch, Clare and Norma Nomi. Norma married a Mr. Schmidt, a butcher at Fort Dodge. Clare married Henry Schonfeldt. The identity of Schonfeldt is murky. In 1866 a Henry Shonfield paid a dram shop license fee in Marion County.
The ranch was the scene of an Indian raid on July 21, 1864. Two wagon loads of trade goods en route to the Curtis and Cole Ranch at the big bend of the Arkansas River stopped at the ranch. There the mules and horses were unhitched and turned out to graze. A short time later a group of Kiowas drove off eight mules and two horses belonging to Curtis and Cole and eleven head of stock owned by M. Cotrill and Company, mail contractors, and Eli Waterman.
According to A. A. Moore, who had married the daughter of Eli Waterman, Moore had rented his ranch at Cottonwood Creek to Charles Fuller in 1864 (perhaps earlier), had purchased a farm on the edge of the town of Marion Centre from Waterman, and "the Watermans had moved out to 'Running Turkey' ranch and were running a mail station." Thus the Waterman losses in the Indian raid.
A more serious loss to Indian raids was the death of Ed Miller on July 20, 1864. There are many stories about the death of Miller, but there is some agreement on the following.
Nancy Waterman Moore had become ill at Moore's home at Marion Centre and a youthful Ed Miller was dispatched to the Waterman Ranch to tell the family of Nancy's illness and request that Mrs. Waterman come to Moore's place to nurse her daughter. En route Miller was attacked and killed by Cheyennes. The next day, a search party found the body near the Santa Fe Trail and buried him on the spot. In time a pioneer cemetery was developed around the grave which today is marked with a handsome black granite tombstone.
The Running Turkey Creek Ranch, like others east of Walnut Creek, fell prey to the railroad in 1866 and ceased to function for overland travelers. Fuller, who founded the ranch, later resided in Marion Centre where he was a business leader until his death in 1879.
Little Arkansas River
To the west of Running Turkey Creek Ranch a long day's travel by wagon, 22 miles, was the Little Arkansas River in present Rice County. The crossing of the Little Arkansas had been the location of William Mathewson when he traded with the Indians of the area in 1857-1858.
In 1858 the same location was chosen by William Wheeler and a man known only as Gains to establish a ranch and construct a toll bridge. Charles Post paused at the crossing in May 1859. He confided to his diary, "The bridge built last season by Gains and Wheeler, the owners of the ranch, twenty-five cent toll and ten gallons of water or twenty-five cents for ten gallons and cross at the ferry."
By 1860 Wheeler was sole proprietor of the ranch. In the November 6 election of that year at the Cow Creek Ranch, Wheeler received a unanimous vote of 12 for the office of Probate Judge, Peketon County, the newly-organized jurisdiction which reached westward to the present Colorado line. By this time Wheeler was a well-known man on the Kansas frontier. The March 16, 1861, Council Grove Press described Wheeler and his colleague Ashael Beach, proprietor of the Cow Creek Ranch, as "pioneers in the true sense of the word; living far out on the western frontier." Capitalizing upon his new found fame, Wheeler advertised in the March 23 Press:
Little Arkansas Ranch
The Traveling Public are respectfully informed, that the undersigned is located on the Little Arkansas, where the great Santa Fe road crosses the same. I keep always on hand, Provisions, groceries and Liquors, also are prepared to accommodate travelers. I have also several large corrals for penning stock, Also, have built a strong and substantial bridge across the Little Arkansas, for the accommodation of the traveling public."
With the death of the Press's editor and owner, I. A. Baker, at the hands of Bloody Bill Anderson, the paper ceased circulation. Not until 1863 when the Press reopened was word printed concerning the Little Arkansas Ranch. The July 6 Press stated: "We learn that W. P. Wheeler and all his hands at Little Arkansas where he has a ranche and store have been very sick. Supposed to be poison thrown into the well."
In the summer of the following year, ranches west of the Little Arkansas were raided by Indians. Though Wheeler's ranch escaped attack, nothing is known of his whereabouts following that date. Assumption is that he abandoned the Little Arkansas at the height of the Indian scare. While Wheeler escaped Indian raids, his successor A. J. Greenway was not so fortunate. Kiowas raided the ranch July 22, 1864, stealing seven horses.
Greenway was joined at the crossing in April 1865 by Captain Theodore Conkey and a company of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry. Their camp was designated as Station Little Arkansas. In the following month, Captain Carter Berkley and Co. K, 2nd U. S. Volunteer Infantry (Galvanized Yankees), replaced the Wisconsin troops. In the following June reinforcements from the 13th Missouri Cavalry arrived at the post, and Captain Joel H. Shelby assumed command. On the last day of June Indians killed three of Shelby's men and a corporal from the 2nd Colorado Cavalry in two separate attacks near the crossing. The men were buried near the ranch at what became known as the Cottonwood Cemetery.
The ranch suffered the same fate as other ranches east of Walnut Creek thanks to the displacement of overland traffic on the Santa Fe Trail by the Union Pacific Railway.
As an addendum, Greenway stayed at the ranch through 1867 when the crossing became the location of Camp Grierson, garrisoned by Co. C, 10th U. S. Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) and occupied between June and November of that year. In 1870 the site was purchased by a private party at which time the corrals originally built by William Wheeler were enlarged to become what later was called the Stone Corral.
Cow Creek, another day's travel, was 18 miles west of the Little Arkansas. The ranch at Cow Creek was operated by three proprietors during its eight-year tenure: Ashael and Abijah Beach, 1858-1861; John Stanton, 1862-1864; William Mathewson, 1864-1866. Dr. Ashael Beach and his son, Abijah, recently graduated from an Ohio medical school, arrived at Cow Creek in present Rice County in the fall of 1858. It would appear that by December4 the business was in full operation as the Kansas News of Emporia reported that a bridge was in the initial stage of construction and corn was for sale at $3.00 a bushel. Soon after, on December 23, Kaw warriors raided the ranch. Young Dr. Beach was beaten, stabbed, and robbed of his clothing, money, and provisions. The Kaws also drove off livestock belonging to the elder Beach and John Burr.
The following year, 1859, was an active year for the Beaches. A post office named Beach Valley was established at the ranch with Abijah appointed postmaster. Hall and Porter situated a mail station at the crossing. By the summer of the same year, the ranch was fully established as documented by the June 11 Leavenworth Herald.
"At the crossing of Cow Creek, on the Santa Fe road. . .Dr. A. J. Beach and Mr. A. Beach, formerly of this city, have located and established a ranche. A post-office is located there, and a mail passes weekly from California, Santa Fe, and Fort Union, to Independence, Mo. About six hundred letters a week are mailed at the office. The stages usually have six mules attached, and four extra ones to use in case of accident.
"This valley is very large, extending from the Arkansas river east and west for many miles, but northward it becomes narrow until it terminates at the Smoky Hill Fork. . .
"The Messrs. Beach have built three houses, and have a good corral for taking care of stock, and are now raising corn, potatoes, beans, and other vegetables. They also do a considerable business in the grocery and provision line. Corn sells there readily at $3 00 per ton. There is an immense travel on this road. . . .
"These gentlemen are engaged in the buffalo trade. They are killing and putting up large quantities of buffalo meat, and will during the coming season, which will commence about the 1st of September, have ready for market about one hundred tons. They have hunters out who do nothing but kill buffalo, and each hunter will kill as many as ten men can haul in and take care of. The meat is sugar-cured and well smoked. Besides this, they save all the tongues and hides and marrow. This last article is much superior to ox marrow. . . .
"Large quantities of buffalo roam over this valley, and from Beach's ranch may be seen at any time as many as 20,000. At times the plains seem black with the buffalo.
"On Cow creek there is not a great deal of timber, but sufficient for fuel and all practical purposes. The principal timber is box-elder, with a good deal of ash, hackberry and elm.
"Fencing is made in this way: Posts are set in the ground, about twelve feet apart, and strings about an inch wide are cut out of raw buffalo hide. These are stretched and fastened from post to post, and answer all the purposes of rails. Indeed they are a good and durable fence.
"Cow Creek is a very bad stream to ford. So great is the travel on this road that wagons are often detained from one to two days waiting on others who are in advance of them. . . ."
During the following winter, the toll bridge was completed, but not before the elder Dr. Beach died. He was found six miles west of Diamond Spring lying in the snow. He died at Council Grove on February 16, 1860. Neither did he live to see the town of Beach Valley materialize. The town company, incorporated on February 23, 1860, was named the temporary seat of government for Peketon County, but no further attempt was made to develop it.
In May 1860, a dispute erupted with regard to a bridge built by William Edwards and O. G. Stanley on Cow Creek, which Abijah claimed to be within the limits of the charter issued by the territorial legislature. He threatened to sue the interlopers, but no litigation ensued as he paid $50 to Edwards and Stanley on the promise that they would remove the bridge and not rebuild it. The problem surfaced again in March 1861 when Edwards rebuilt the bridge; but Beach took the matter into his own hands and with a crew of employees removed the bridge.
In the meantime matters of a civic nature took center stage at the ranch. On November 6, 1860, an election of one legislator and county officers was conducted for the 23rd district which included the counties of Madison, Chase, Peketon, and Morris. The following candidates were elected by the unanimous vote of the 12 men present: Legislature: S. N. Wood; County Commissioners: H. Bickford, A. I. Beach, and George Gordon; County Assessor: L. Hubble; Probate Judge: W. P. Wheeler, County Clerk: Robert O'dell; Sheriff: William Mason; Treasurer: William Edwards; Justice of the Peace: Chauncey Jones; and Constable: Charles Rath. Interestingly, most of the men elected were associated with trading ranches on the Santa Fe Trail.
Late in 1861 or early 1862 Abijah left the ranch, married, and settled at Council Grove to practice medicine. He never returned to Cow Creek.
John Stanton apparently succeeded Beach in the operation of the ranch. On July 17, 1862, he was appointed postmaster. Presumably he was in charge of the ranch until the spring of 1864 when William Mathewson became the proprietor. Mathewson had an earlier association with the ranch, being one of the men employed in the early days of the ranch as a buffalo hunter.
In May 1864 the so-called Indian War erupted. From Walnut Creek eastward, Cheyennes and their allies raided ranches at the Great Bend of the Arkansas River, Cow Creek, and Running Turkey Creek. On July 20-22, Kiowas attacked Mathewson's establishment. Mathewson and his men withstood the siege, and on the third day, they stationed a field piece on the front porch of a ranch building and fired into a large group of warriors congregated on the bridge. The Kiowas forsook their attack on the ranch and turned their attention to a government train encamped nearby. Unknown to the wagoners was that about 20 of the wagons were loaded with Sharps rifles and ammunition. Mathewson, knowing of the weapons, rode through Kiowas' line of attack and armed the wagoners with the Sharps. Putting the rifles to good use, in minutes they routed the Kiowas.
In the following month Mathewson married Elizabeth Inman at St. Joseph, Missouri. No sooner had he situated his bride at the ranch than he left to serve as a guide for Major General James Blunt's fall expedition against the Plains Indians. It is assumed that he was back at the ranch during the winter of 1864-1865.
Sometime in 1865 Jesse Leavenworth, agent for the Kiowas, Comanches, and Plains Apaches, transferred his headquarters from Fort Larned to the ranch. There he hoped to council with peace-minded tribes in anticipation of the proposed treaty to be conducted in October 1865 on the Little Arkansas River. At the same time, Mathewson was afield in an attempt to bring the tribes to the treaty site.
During her husband's many absences from the ranch, Elizabeth busied herself with the ranch's milk cows. Hours were spent in the making of cheese and butter which received a glad welcome from the ranch's patrons. At some date in 1865, Elizabeth's mother Charollete Inman and her teenage daughter Alice came to live at the ranch. Alice's time at the ranch was brief. She died on February 6, 1866. Suffering from "lung fever," she was mistakenly given a dose of some toxic substance instead of the intended quinine.
By 1866 Mathewson was at Fort Zarah, it would appear, most of the time. There he acted as an agent for E. H. Dufee, licensed to trade with the Kiowas, Comanches, and Plains Apaches. As such, much of his time was with those tribes in Indian Territory.
The Beach Valley post office was discontinued on June 22, 1866, and the toll bridge began to collapse. Perhaps both were a preamble to the ranch's demise. In July 1866 the Union Pacific Railway eliminated overland traffic at Walnut Creek and eastward on the Trail, and the ranch at Cow Creek came to a close.
Great Bend of the Arkansas River
Seventeen miles west of Cow Creek was the point where trade caravans struck the Arkansas River. This location was variously known as the great bend, big bend, and north bend. The latter was so called because of its opposition to the south bend in present Ford County where the river makes an abrupt turn to the northeast.
The great bend, in present Barton County, became the location of a trading ranch established by Charles Rath sometime prior to 1858. By 1859 Daniel Jones was managing the ranch along with W. H. West.
Louise Barry reported that William Mathewson established a ranch at the great bend in 1862. Whether the ranch was one other than that belonging to Rath or that he assumed ownership of Rath's business remains moot. Mathewson made two substantial improvements at the great bend location, digging a well and building a corral, before selling the ranch to Dick Curtis and Frank Cole.
The new owners quickly obtained a license to trade with the Kiowas, Comanches, and Plains Apaches. Because of their diverse activities and Curtis being away much of the time at Fort Larned where he was employed as an interpreter, the partners hired two men to help at the ranch, Frederick Jones and H. O. Corbin. Curtis and Cole were only in operation for a single year before trouble came to the ranch. Cheyenne warriors, on May 17, 1864, raided the Walnut Creek Ranch before driving off livestock at the great bend. There the warriors warned Cole they intended to kill all white men on the Santa Fe Trail.
Immediately, Cole packed up as much merchandise as possible on a small wagon and made a hasty retreat to Cow Creek. Later the Cheyennes returned to the ranch, plundered the store, and did damage to the house and corral. In a claim registered against the Cheyennes, Cole and Curtis listed the following goods which were stolen or destroyed.
|20 bushels of corn at $1.75 per bushel||$35.00||2 boxes soap at $5 per box||10.00|
|1 box candles weighing 40 pounds each, at 24cents per pound||9.60||12 pounds tobacco at 65 cents per pounds||7.80|
|2 bushels dried apples at $1.50 per pound||3.00||200 bunches of (?), at 15 cents per bunch||30.00|
|260 pounds sugar, at 19 cents per pound||49.40||165 pounds of coffee, at 46 cents per pound||75.90|
|12 half-gallon bottle pickles||8.00||12 one-quarter gallon bottle pickles||7.00|
|12 bottles pepper-sauce||2.50||12 bottles catsup||3.50|
|1 hay-knife||3.50||2 hay-forks, $1 each||2.00|
|2 scythes and snaths, $2.50 each||5.00||400 skunk-skins, at 12 1/2 cents each||50.00|
|10 wolf skins, at 75 cents||7.50||10 wildcat-skins, at $1.50||15.00|
|2 otter-skins, at $3 each||6.00||5 chopping-axes and handles, at $3 each||15.00|
|2 heating stove(s)||8.00||1 skillet||2.00|
|3 water-buckets, at 25 cents each||.75||4 sets cups and saucers, at $1.25 per set||5.00|
|1 set of plates||1.00||2 large dishes, at 75 cents each||1.50|
|4 soup-dishes, at 25 cents each||1.00||3 brooms, at 40 cents each||1.20|
|2 sacks flour at $5 per sack||10.00||2 bushels oats at $1.50 per bushel||3.00|
|25 pounds lead at 17 cents per pound||4.25||12 1/2 pounds powder, at 60 cents per pound||7.50|
|1,000 percussion caps||3.00||12 pounds brass wire, at $1.25 per pound||15.00|
|1 map of the United States||7.50||1 pound patent thread||2.00|
|4 bunches necklace beads, at $2.50 each||10.00||6 snaffle-bit bridles at $24 per dozen||12.00|
|1 doz. snaffle-bit bridles, at $18 per dozen||18.00||1 1/2 doz. Surcingles at $15 per dozen||22.40|
|1 glass lantern||2.50||1 counter-scales||2.85|
|1 barrel salt||8.50||1 bedstead||40.00|
|1 bedstead||15.00||1 wardrobe||10.00|
|1 desk||7.00||6 chairs||6.00|
|1 washstand||2.50||1 small bureau||5.00|
|1 small table||2.50||1 large table||7.00|
|2 spades at $1.25 each||2.50||1 shovel||1.25|
|200 pounds bacon at 10 cents per pound||20.00||1/2 barrel pickles||9.00|
|1 sausage grinder||6.00||1 large looking-glass||1.50|
|1 small looking-glass||1.00|
This inventory demonstrates the type of merchandise purveyed at trading ranches and the prices charged.
The Cheyennes were not alone in the 1864 raids. On July 21 or 22, Kiowas set fire to the remains of the ranch before running off the livestock at the Running Turkey Creek Ranch, some of which belonged to Curtis and Cole as discussed previously. So ended the brief tenure of the ranch at the great bend.
West of the great bend was Walnut Creek, so called for the unusual species of timber along its banks. Long a favorite campsite on the Santa Fe Trail, the crossing there became the temporary home of the Fort Atkinson garrison when the little post was deactivated in 1853. Accompanying the troops to Walnut Creek was the Fort Atkinson post office. The troops and the post office remained at the crossing for a brief period, the troops being transferred to Fort Riley and the post office discontinued, both within a matter of weeks.
Two years later, a settlement of a more permanent nature came to Walnut Creek, in present Barton County. En route to the Rocky Mountains on a trading expedition, William Allison and Francis Boothe found themselves some place west of Walnut Creek, their provisions depleted and their mules in poor condition. Retracing their steps, they returned to Walnut Creek, unloaded their trade goods, and set up business. The men put themselves to work constructing a ranch of unusual proportions. The store and living quarters topped with a lookout were enclosed in a stockade, not common on the Kansas frontier. William Parsons wrote, "This ranch is a large building made of logs of equal length, set endwise in the ground." He was describing the stockade. A description of the store and living quarters from the 1969 excavation by the Kansas State Historical Society and the Kansas Anthropological Association concluded that the building was a large sandstone structure, eighty by twenty feet, with footings two to three feet thick.
Though the ranch was far removed from any printing press, newspapers of the day regularly reported on its activities. The Santa Fe Gazette, February, 1857, published, "Walnut Creek Station, Allison and Booth, Respectfully informs their friends, and public generally, that they have established a trading house, and general depot, at Walnut Creek, on the Santa Fe road, where they keep constantly on hand Groceries, and provisions, suitable for the travelers. Also Forage. With Corrals, and inclosures for the security of animals. . . . Prices reasonable."
A post office named Walnut Creek was established at the ranch in 1856 with Allison appointed postmaster. Less than a year later it was discontinued. Beginning with the transfer from Fort Atkinson in 1853, the post office at Walnut Creek was to experience several openings and closings with the name changed from Fort Atkinson, to Walnut Creek, to Kiowa, to Fort Zarah.
Allison and Booth's partnership came to an abrupt end in September 1857 when a Mexican named Cineros split open Booth's head with an axe. His death was followed in 1858 by a mail station being built by Hall and Porter, a log structure on the west side of Walnut Creek.
In the following spring, Allison died at Independence. While loading his wagons at the Wayne City landing, he succumbed to heart failure.
Allison's successor at the ranch was George Peacock, a native of Independence and a Santa Fe trader during the 1840s. Peacock continued to operate the ranch, but it appears that he devoted much of his time, as had Allison and Booth, to killing wolves by baiting buffalo meat with strychnine. Peacock was also buying furs. Private Robert Morris Peck, stationed at Camp on Pawnee Fork (later Fort Larned) during the winter of 1859-1860, using the same method to kill wolves and coyotes, reported that he sold his winter's catch to Peacock, "getting 75 cents each for coyotes and $1.25 for the big gray wolves." The April 7, 1860, Kansas City Journal of Commerce reported, "Mr. Peacock of Peacock's ranch has brought over 5,000 wolf pelts this spring, besides a large amount of furs." Life was fleeting for Walnut Creek Ranch proprietors. Peacock met his death on September 9, 1860. Several conflicting accounts of the twentieth century described his demise. Perhaps, contemporary accounts might be more accurate. The Westport Border Star of September 22, 1860, printed the following.
"Mr. Geo. H. Peacock, formerly of Independence . . . was killed on last Sunday week by a Kiowa chief named Satank. Satank and two or three others of the tribe reconnoitered around Peacock's Ranch until an opportunity offered when they fired on him, one ball entering his left temple, killing him instantly. They then fired upon a man named Myers, a German, also from Independence and wounded him so that he died in a short time. There was another man in the house lying sick, but he was not molested. The Indians then loaded themselves with considerable plunder and left."
The Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, September 1860, provided the following.
"Sometime last spring Satank applied to Mr. Peacock for a letter of recommendation to any whites that he might meet, as to his character and honorable conduct. Mr. Peacock, knowing the treachery and cunning of the old red skin, instead of commending him to whomsoever he met, gave him a piece of writing warning all who might be called upon to read, to beware of the bearer as he was treacherous and dangerous; presuming that as the old fellow could not read it, he would never know what it contained. . . . Some Mexicans to whom it was shown translated it for him, and told him what it read. He swore vengeance against Peacock; but the latter being on good terms generally with the Kiowas and paying little attention to the bravado of old Satank thought nothing of it. Even a few days before (his death), he had intervened to protect him (Satank) against a sergeant and corps who sought to arrest him while on Peacock's premises and take him to the Fort."
Charles Rath assumed operation of the ranch in the wake of Peacock's death. Only 24 at that time, he was elected constable at the time Peketon County officers were seated in November 1860. A seasoned frontiersman formerly employed by William Bent, Rath was married to Making Out Road, reputedly the most beautiful woman of the Southern Cheyennes, formerly married to Kit Carson. Due to the marriage, Rath had good relationships with the Southern Plains tribes and enjoyed a lively trade with the various tribes both at the ranch and at their villages to which he dispatched his brother Chris on extended trading trips. However, he did not bother to apply for a trading license until 1863.
About the same time Rath came to Walnut Creek, he was joined by William Griffenstein who established another ranch at the upper crossing of Walnut Creek. There is no evidence, even though the men were business rivals, that there was any animosity between the two. Griffenstein was also married to a Cheyenne woman, called by the whites Cheyenne Jennie. From all accounts she was a woman of fine features. Perhaps their wives contributed to the lack of discord between Rath and Griffenstein.
Another addition came to Walnut Creek in 1862, a station operated by the Kansas Stage Company which delivered mail on a weekly basis between Junction City and Fort Larned.
Yet another improvement was added in the following year. In January 1863 Rath and some associates organized the Walnut Creek Bridge Company to construct a toll bridge across the Walnut. While the normal flow of the creek was narrow and shallow, the bridge spanned 250 feet. Such was necessary to accommodate the flood waters which often changed the languid stream into a torrent of water.
Trouble came to the crossing in 1864. In a retaliatory raid following the May 16, 1864, killing of Chief Lean Bear (also known as Starving Bear) and warrior named Star by Colorado volunteers northwest of Fort Larned, Cheyenne warriors came to Rath's ranch on the following day. They drove off livestock and later killed Suel Walker at the Cow Creek Station on the road from Junction City used by the Kansas Stage Company. Rath fled to the safety of Fort Larned, and Griffenstein left, never to return.
Subsequent to the May 17 raid, an army post was established at the crossing. Originally known as Camp Dunlap, it was renamed Fort Zarah by Major General Samuel R. Curtis in the following July to honor his son Major Zarah Curtis. The younger Curtis was killed at Baxter Springs, Kansas, in the previous year by Quantrill's forces.
Two years after Fort Zarah's founding, the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, reached Junction City, Kansas, and Barlow and Sanderson superseded the Kansas Stage Company, dispatching stage coaches on a tri-weekly schedule to Fort Zarah and on to Santa Fe. Using the same route as the Kansas Stage Company (the Fort Riley-Fort Larned Road), Barlow and Sanderson established a station at Walnut Creek. In the fall of 1867, the railroad reached Hays City. From there, stage coaches and freight wagons rumbled down the 70-mile length of the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Road and on to Santa Fe. Thus overland traffic on the Santa Fe Trail ceased to run through the Walnut Creek area.
Earlier in 1867 Major Henry Douglas, Fort Dodges's commanding officer, accused Rath of selling arms and ammunition to the Kiowas, and Major General John W. Davidson reported that Rath sold whiskey to the Indians and should be removed from the Fort Zarah reservation. Rath was innocent of the charges. The real culprit was David Butterfield, who operated a trading post at Fort Larned. He was licensed to sell guns and ammunition to any tribe living at peace with the United States. His agents, according to Donald Berthong, "were selling arms by the case to Indians along the Arkansas River." Regardless, Rath left the ranch, ending its 12-year tenure at Walnut Creek.
To the west of Walnut Creek 22 miles was Ash Creek situated midway between Pawnee Rock and Pawnee Fork in present Pawnee County. There in 1860 Orville (William) Thompson established a trading ranch. How long the ranch remained in operation is not known, but apparently the tenure was brief. On July 9 three Kiowas attacked the ranch. Two men were killed, Christopher Krauss, characterized as a "poor German," and John Cunningham, recently discharged from Fort Larned. The attackers ran off livestock belonging to Thompson and attempted to torch the building. That night, Thompson escaped in the darkness, never to return.
Six miles beyond Ash Creek, still in present Pawnee County, was the Pawnee River, commonly called Pawnee Fork for its tributary-relationship to the Arkansas River. Just west of the crossing Samuel Parker established a ranch in 1864. In the subsequent year he opened a second ranch upstream on the Pawnee at the Dry Route Crossing of the Santa Fe Trail. The ranch changed hands several times before being purchased by a man known only as Wagginer. In 1867 Indians raided the ranch, running off the livestock, and burning the buildings. Thinking discretion to be the better part of valor, Wagginer sold the ranch to Albert Henry Boyd and left for safer quarters.
Boyd, discharged from an Illinois volunteer regiment, came to Kansas in 1864 where he found employment at Fort Leavenworth before becoming engaged in a number of freighting expeditions to Colorado and Santa Fe. During the trip to Santa Fe be became acquainted with Fort Dodge, where in 1866 he was employed by the wood contractor. In 1867 he moved to Fort Larned and secured the wood contract. In the following year he purchased the ranch.
Boyd set up living quarters in a dugout while he began construction of a sod house 50 feet wide by 100 feet long. All the outbuildings, except the frame chicken house, were made of sod. Even the corral was constructed of sod, four feet high. From the ranch, Boyd conducted several business ventures. Selling provisions to buffalo hunters, he, in turn, became a dealer in hides and furs. In addition, he established a freighting business hauling goods from both Ellsworth and Hays City to Forts Larned and Dodge. He also secured hay and wood contracts at Fort Larned and engaged in cattle trading. Another investment was the toll bridge built across the Pawnee. Unfortunately, flood water destroyed the bridge in 1869.
The ranch, located just outside the Fort Larned Military Reservation, catered to both civilians and soldiers. Liquor was dispensed in abundance, and there is ample evidence to suggest that Boyd also dealt in the oldest commodity known to men.
While the ranch did not suffer the same fate as did the other trading establishments east of Walnut Creek which were closed by the westward expansion of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, a similar death knell was sounded for Boyd's business in 1872 with the arrival of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad and the establishment of the City of Larned. Early in 1873 he moved to Dodge City where, in partnership with George B. Cox, he opened the celebrated Dodge House.
As to Samuel Parker, his original ranch was still in operation on February 28, 1867, when a small party of Cheyennes arrived on scene and ordered him to cook supper for them. When they discovered he had no sugar to give them, they threatened to kill him. Like Wagginer, Parker soon left for safer quarters.
Beyond Pawnee Fork, three stage stations were established: one at the Big Coon Creek crossing, 25 miles southwest of Fort Larned; one at the future site of Fort Dodge called Atkin's ranch; and the third at the old Fort Atkinson. Farther west, Robert Wright supervised the construction of seven stage stations on the Bent's Fort Road (Mountain Route). The locations of most of the stations remain unknown, but one was situated at Pretty Encampment, a popular campsite east of Sand Creek. None of the stations could be characterized as trading establishments.
The next settlement which could be characterized as a trading establishment was the Cimarron Ranch located 26 miles west of Fort Dodge in present Gray County. It was so named for its proximity to the ford of the Arkansas River where the Cimarron Route was initiated. There the Hartwells brothers came to establish the ranch following their abbreviated tenure at Six Mile Creek. Accompanying the Hartwells were six other men: a man known only as Ripley, another called Dutch Henry, and the remaining four unnamed. William Hartwell described the ranch's improvements as follows.
"It behooved us to build as rapidly as possible. The material used was turf and we had to go twenty miles for timber upon which to lay the roofing, consisting first of poles, then a layer of buffalo hides and gunny sacks and upon this an eight inch course of dirt or sod. When Cimeron (ranch) was completed she consisted of a kaavl (corral) one hundred steps square, the main building-forty by sixteen feet-joining on the South West corner with a two story round tower-pierced with loop holes from which we could fire out trusty carbines in any direction. In the North East corner of our kaavl was a stage driver's lobby and a similar tower arose out of it, while the remainder of this enclosure furnished stabling capacity for forty heads of mules. The walls were two feet thick, so that every part of the building was not only secure against fire and weather, but also proof against bullets. With a supply of water which we kept in barrels, we could have withstood a siege."
While Indians drove off livestock in 1866, which were later recovered, the year passed without difficulty. Things changed, however, in 1867 when some young Arapahoes made an attempt to loot the store. Quick thinking on the part of brother William saved the day. Contriving a smoke bomb of sulphur, he drove the intruders, coughing and gasping, from the building.
Following this incident, the threat of Indian attack increased and stagecoaches ran double with an escort of Fort Dodge soldiers. In addition, 11 troopers were stationed at the ranch. The reinforcements were well received on June 16 when Indians attacked the ranch and a nearby wagon train. The warriors were driven off at the ranch, but the wagoners were not so fortunate. Two men were killed, the wagons were plundered, and eight mules and twenty oxen were run off.
The Hartwells' fortune was bolstered by way of a contract with the stage company for a hundred tons of hay for $2,000. On July 18, only two days after the previous attack, the Hartwells and their associates set out to mow grass in the nearby river bottom. Engaged in their work, the men were caught off guard when Indians attacked. William Hartwell made his escape in the river, rescued one of the men who had been shot, and carried him about one-half mile to a Mexican wagon train approaching from the west. He then began an immediate search for his brother. He did not find Frank, but he did discover the body of one of the hay crew. Another man was found by the Mexicans and taken to Fort Dodge hospital for treatment. Sick at heart, William sold the ranch and returned to his native New Hampshire. Frank's body was found in the river the subsequent fall.
The new owners, A. J. Anthony and Robert Wright, were both formerly employed by the Barlow Sanderson Stage Company. Wright had previously operated ranches at Spring Bottom, west of Bent's Fort, and at Fort Aubrey. Difficulties for the new owners came from an unexpected source on September 11, 1867. Three drunken soldiers besieged the ranch, demanding liquor and threatening the proprietors, some stage drivers, and soldiers escorting a westbound train. Two of the ranch employees were mortally wounded and one of the inebriated soldiers was killed.
In the following month, Indians attacked ranch employees as they were making hay. Small parties of men from the ranch attempted to go to the rescue of the hay crew who had taken refuge in the willows along the Arkansas. The warriors charged the willows several times without success, and later turned their attention to an army paymaster's party approaching from the west. Several companies of soldiers intervened, and the warriors fled. Fortunately, no one was killed in either engagement.
Fort Aubrey Ranch
Prior to buying the Cimarron Ranch with partner A. J. Anthony, Robert Wright and James Anderson established what Wright called "a fine ranch" in the spring of 1864 at the site of Camp Wyncoop in present Hamilton County some 80 miles west of the Cimarron Crossing. Wright, uncharacteristically of a frontiersman, brought his wife and two small children to the ranch. The family had been with him earlier at the Spring Bottom Ranch where Indian attacks had compelled Wright to abandon the ranch. At the Camp Wyncoop location, Wright built "one of the strongest little forts in the country."
In September 1865 an army post named Fort Aubrey was established at the ranch site and remained in operation through April of the following year. Throughout the army's presence at the ranch, Wright continued to operate his business which also functioned as a stage station.
Wright left the ranch in the fall of 1866, and his whereabouts between this time and August 1867, when he and A. J. Anthony purchased the Cimarron Ranch, is not known.
Fort Wise / Fort Lyon
The previously mentioned 1858 table of distances listed Trading Post, 490 miles from Westport, three log houses, once occupied by Bent. The reference was to the trading post established by William Bent in 1852 which became the site of Fort Wise in 1860. The trading post was not in operation at the 1858 publication of the table of distances. By that time, Bent's New Fort, constructed a mile east of the trading post where merchandise could be purchased, had been leased to the government as a storage place for Indian annuities. However, provisions and supplies were available to civilians at the Fort Wise (changed in name to Fort Lyon in 1862) sutler's store and later at the post trader's store at Fort Lyon's new location, established in 1867, 20 miles to the west.
The last trading establishment listed in the 1858 table of distances was Bent's Fort, 30 miles west of Bent's New Fort. Established in 1832, it served as the centerpiece of the Bent, St. Vrain Company.
Abandoned in 1849, a portion of its ruins remained in 1858 when the 1858 table of distances listed, "Everything necessary for men and animals."
Between 1861 and 1866, the Missouri Stage Company and later Barlow and Sanderson established four stations southwest of Bent's Fort on the Bent's Fort Road: Iron Springs, Hole in the Prairie, Hole in the Rock, and Gray's Ranch on the Purgatoire, none of which functioned as a trading establishment with the exception of Gray's Ranch. There, a post office was added in 1863, and Dan Taylor opened a general store in 1865.
Beyond the Purgatoire, at Raton Pass, was Dick Wootton's fabled establishment which served was a stage station. Uncle Dick, a legend in his own time, hosted many a dance and sold quantities of liquor, but his place could hardly qualify as a trading establishment.
At the south side of Raton Pass was Willow Spring, a forage station established by the army and operated by S. A. Sayre. Its fine spring made the station a welcome water stop, but in no way was it a trading establishment.
A few miles south of Willow Spring was the Clifton House built in 1866-1867 as a gathering place for cattlemen. Later it became the home of the Red River stage station. It, too, could not be characterized as a trading establishment.
The next stop on the Bent's Fort Road was Cimarron, New Mexico, which found its roots in the 1857 settlement of Lucien Maxwell and blossomed into a fair-sized community with a number of businesses which catered to Santa Fe-bound travelers.
Beyond Cimarron was Rayado, a precursor to Cimarron, established by Maxwell in 1848. The little settlement became the home of Post at Rayado in 1850. The post was deactivated in 1851 with the advent of Fort Union, 30 miles away. While Maxwell sold supplies to travelers on the Bent's Fort Road during the early days of Rayado, there is no record that he ever operated what could be described as a retail establishment. However, the Barlow Sanderson Company did locate a home station there where meals were served to stagecoach passengers at the station/store operated by Jesus Abreu.
South of Rayado, the Bent's Fort Road crossed the Ocate River and proceeded on to the junction of the Mora and Sapello Rivers, also the junction of Bent's Fort Road and the Cimarron Route of the Santa Fe Trail, the starting point of this study.
En route travelers would have arrived at Fort Union. There, civilians could access the sutler's store (post trader's store after 1867) to purchase a wide variety of goods.
Almost as an addendum, the ranches which populated the roads emanating from the several railheads of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division (changed to Kansas Pacific in 1869) deserve mention. Running from Junction City, Kansas, in 1866, what became known as the Fort Riley-Fort Larned Road struck the established route of the Santa Fe Trail in 1866 at Walnut Creek. Prior to the railroad's arrival, the road had been used by the army and the Kansas Stage Company. But with the advent of the railroad at Junction City, the Barlow Sanderson Company initiated thrice weekly mail deliveries down the road to Walnut Creek and on to Santa Fe. Both the Kansas Stage Company and Barlow Sanderson established stage stations along the 120-mile route, but there is no evidence to suggest that any station functioned as a trading establishment, with the exception of the ranch at the Smoky Hill crossing.
Smoky Hill Ranch
In 1860 Daniel Page and Joseph Lehman established a hunting ranch at the Smoky Hill Crossing in present Ellsworth County. There the Kansas Stage Company located a stage station in 1862. Retailing merchandise to both local patrons and overland travelers, the partners prospered until May 1864 when the Indian War erupted with the killing of Suel Walker at the Cow Creek station a few miles southwest of the Smoky Hill. At the time, Page and Lehman deserted the ranch, never to return. In the same summer Fort Ellsworth was established at the ranch site.
Farther north, 11 miles south of Salina, Kansas, Ernst Hohneck established a trading ranch in 1864. The ranch is best remembered by the lofty praise of Henry Stanley, the journalist who accompanied the Hancock Expedition of 1867. Stopping at the ranch on March 31, officers of Hancock's command were invited to dine at Hohneck's table. Following is Stanley's appraisal of the meal:
"We stopped at Hohneck's ranche, our quondam friend, for dinner, who had already prepared, in the delightful anticipation of our visit, an elegant and plentiful repast, consisting of bona fide buffalo, deer meat, smoked ham and quinces. We enjoyed it amazingly, and therefore suggest to the belated travelers that they always stop at Hohneck's ranche when they come this way. Hohneck proved himself a gentleman and a scholar, and it was with something akin to sadness that we departed from the adobe mansion that he had himself built on the wild wastes of the desert."
With railroad extending its tracks to Hays City in October 1867, Santa Fe traffic on the Fort Riley-Fort Larned Road was transferred to the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Road which ran between Hays City and Fort Dodge. Unlike its predecessor, the new road did not have a single stage station during the period it served as the far eastern leg of the Santa Fe Trail. However, one trading ranch was located on its 75-mile route.
At the Sawlog Creek crossing of the Fort Hays - Fort Dodge Road in present Ford County, Kansas, 12 miles from Fort Dodge a man known only as Boyd operated a ranch for a brief period. A single reference to the ranch was written by Richard Blinn in his April 10, 1868, diary entry. Not the most literate person on the frontier, he spelled the name of the stream "Sligelog." Blinn is best known as the husband of Clara Blinn and the father of Willie Blinn captured by Cheyennes on October 9, 1868, on the Bent's Fort Road east of Fort Lyon. Both were killed in the melee of Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer's attack on Black Kettle's Washita River village on November 27, 1868.
Bent's Fort Again
Hays City's grip on the eastern terminus of the Santa Fe Trail did not last long. By Junr 1868 the railroad had extended its tracks to Phil Sheridan, an end-of-the-tracks town in present Logan County, Kansas, 12 miles northeast of Fort Wallace. From this railhead freight was shipped on a newly-developed 120-mile road to Fort Lyon on the Bent's Fort Road. However, the Southern Overland Mail and Express Company moved its headquarters to Pond Creek Station, formerly a stop on the ButterfieldOverland Despatch near Fort Wallace. Between Pond Creek and Fort Lyon, the mail company established six stations, none of which functioned as a trading establishment.
The Union Pacific, changed to Kansas Pacific Railway in 1869, reached Kit Carson, Colorado Territory, in 1870. Two roads were developed running from Kit Carson. a stage route ran due south where it connected with the older road out of Pond Creek at the Big Sandy Station, thence on to Fort Lyon. A stage road ran south from the railhead to a point a few miles north of the Big Sandy Station and veered southwest to a ranch on a stream labeled Big Creek by Ado Hunnius. The nature of that ranch is unknown. From that point, the road continued to Bent's Fort where the stage station was still in operation with a post office being added in 1863. There in 1870 W. R. Thomas, reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, wrote that he was never served a more excellent meal. At that time the station where "everything necessary for men and animals" was available in 1858, was operated by Messrs. Price and Lander, local cattlemen.
As the Union Pacific/Kansas Pacific Railway was building in an east-west orientation across Kansas and into Colorado Territory, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway was laying tracks in a southwest direction across Kansas, reaching Granada, Colorado Territory, in 1873. The construction of the railroad westward from Granada was stymied for two years as the railroad officials found themselves without funds. The panic of 1873 had essentially stopped all railroad construction in the West.
While the railroad languished, Granada flourished thanks to the presence of two large commission firms, Chick, Browne, and Company, and Otero, Sellar and Company. These two companies, moved to Granada from Kit Carson, shipped great quantities of freight from the railhead to Fort Union on what has become known as the Military Freight Road. The road had its roots in the expedition led by Lieutenant John Pope in 1851 to discover a new route from the present Oklahoma panhandle to the Arkansas River. The road was used sparingly until 1873 when the two previously-mentioned commission firms transported 723 tons of freight to Fort Union. However, the tenure of the road was brief as the railroad pushed its tracks westward to Las Animas from where freight was dispatched on the Bent's Fort Road over Raton Pass.
As to trading establishments on the Military Freight Road, Richard Louden identified two such enterprises. One was established early in 1857 by F. W. Matthews, a few miles from present Branson, Colorado, and another at Toll Gate operated by Bill Metcalf.
After a tenure of 60 years, the Santa Fe Trail met its demise in 1880 when the railroad reached Santa Fe. With its closing, the trading ranches along its multiple routes faded fast into history's evening shade. Reflecting on such enterprises throughout the West, Everett Dick wrote, "The first permanent settlers on the prairie were those adventurous ones who feared neither the dangers of Indian attacks nor the privations of life in a region remote from civilization. They formed a frail, thin line of settlement along the overland trails. These little frontier islands of settlements stretched out across the lonesome bleak ocean of savagery connecting two continents, so to speak, of settlement. This development was a new thing in the history of the frontier. It is true that settlement often followed rivers but never before had settlement pushed out across a barren area and formed a chain hundreds of miles long."
The intrepid traders were among the first to brave the nineteenth-century West. Before the army made a permanent presence; before the farmer came with his ubiquitous plow; before the church arrived with Bible and bell; before the railroad bisected the continent, this frail, thin line was constructed with Yankee ingenuity and frontier fortitude. In many ways, those of us who inhabit the plains are recipients of the society they created.
Used With Permission of the Author
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