Trading Establishments on the Santa Fe Trail
Part I

     The year was 1852 an unfortunate time for James S. Calhoun, governor of the Territory of New Mexico, who died on the Santa Fe Trail en route to Kansas City. Subsequently, President Milard F. Fillmore appointed William Carr Lane, a former mayor of St. Louis who had served as an army surgeon to the position.

     Lane departed the gateway city by steamboat in late July with his servant (slave) Frank. Arriving at Independence on August 6, he secured passage with a Waldo, Hall and Company mail party to Santa Fe. Bouncing down the road to Council Grove he was pleased to find the comfort of a bed in the home of mail agent Charles Withington after sleeping on the open prairie the two previous nights. Proceeding from Council Grove, the mail party reached Fort Atkinson where an escort party commanded by Brevet Major James H. Carleton awaited Lane's arrival. Beyond Fort Atkinson, the escort accompanied the mail party to Fort Union where Lane, fatigued from the journey, became ill. Following a 12-day layover, the good doctor finally reached Santa Fe on September 7 and was inaugurated six days later.

     Lane addressed the territorial legislature on December 7. With the memory of the exhausting trip fresh in his mind, he proposed that the federal government allocate funds to establish caravansaries or station houses upon what he called the Road to Missouri. Such installations he said, should be located 40 to 50 miles apart and kept by two or more citizens. The governor maintained that such caravansaries shall furnish all travelers with shelter (for man or beast) and good water and fuel, gratis. He added all other necessities, if practical, for pay.[1]

     Caravansary is derived from an old persian word with reference to "a kind of inn in the East where caravans could rest at night, being a large bare building surrounded by a court."[2] Such is reminiscent of William W. H. Davis's description of Barclay's Fort: "It is a large adobe establishment, and like the immense caravansaries of the East, serves as an abode for men and animals."[3]

Barclay's Fort
     Barkley's fort, situated on the Mora River in northeast New Mexico, was located on the south side of the Mora not far from its confluence with the Sapello River. The fort's construction was initiated in May 1848. Principals in the business were Alexander Barclay and Joseph Doyle. The fort was aptly described by Janet Lecompte.

     "A building so huge that the fort at Pueblo could have fit in one corner of it. The structure covered an acre of ground, with walls sixteen feet high, thirty-three inches thick. At opposite corners were two great port holed locations, each containing a six pound howitzer and other armament. Inside the walls were forty rooms and offices, a well, bake-oven, and stables. Outside were two hundred acres of cultivated land irrigated by two main ditches, and an acre and-a-half vegetable garden, entirely fenced."[4]

     At the advent of mail service between Independence and Santa Fe in 1850, Barclay's Fort was the only stop west of Council Grove.[5]

Watrous's Store
     East of the fort near the junction of the Mora and Sapello rivers, Samuel Watrous built an adobe structure in 1849 which served as both residence and store. While Watrous's cattle ranching overshadowed the store, it was nevertheless an important place of retail which catered both to civilian travelers and soldiers from nearby Fort Union.[6]

Kozlowski's Ranch
     Barclay's Fort and Watrous's store were succeeded by three other businesses in the 1850's, from the Pecos Ruins westward. The first of the three was Kozlowski's Ranch constructed from materials salvaged from the old mission and Indian pueblo by Martin Kozlowski, a Polish immigrant who had served in the Mexican War. The ranch became a popular stop thanks to the fine fare served by Kozlowski's wife, particularly the trout fresh from the nearby Pecos River.[7]

Pigeon's Ranch
     The second establishment was operated by Alexander Valle two miles east of Glorieta Pass. There a mail station was located and a 23-room hotel welcomed weary guests from their long and grueling journey from Missouri. For some obscure reason, Valle's establishment came to be called Pigeon's Ranch.[8]

Johnson's Ranch
     The third was Johnson's Ranch located west of Glorieta Pass. Operated by Anthony Johnson, formerly a teamster at Fort Union, it was the last mail station east of Santa Fe.[9]

     These three enterprises were the essence of Lane's proposal, though not federally funded. Rather, they were privately-owned places of retail business known throughout the West as ranches. Ranch, often spelled ranche, was derived from the Spanish rancho (small ranch) with reference to any place of isolated habitation. Catering to the needs of frontier travelers, they were known variously as trading ranches, road ranches, stations, and in one case, a stand. In some instances they were known simply as stores. Often, ranches were identified by the major product or service from which the bulk of their income was derived. Near Fort Union, two African-Americans operated a milk ranch.[10] James Mead reported, "Between Salina and Fort Larned were two hunting ranches."[11] Such ranches subsisted through the sale of hides, furs, and meat, products of their Nimrod activities. Hog ranch was a veiled reference to prostitution. These ranches were often located near a military reservation, as were whiskey ranches in the Fort Dodge area.[12] Sporting ranches catered to sport hunters. The following item was published in The Kansas Press, Council Grove, June 1, 1861.

     "We again invite the attention of our gentlemen and lady friends to the delightful programme, arranged in March last, for a buffalo hunt, this present June. Buffalo are now plentifully, and indolently gamboling upon every hill around and about Little Arkansas, and the Cow Creek region of the country. . . . The prairies are not destitute of those comforts so desireable to persons used to civilization, Mr. William Wheeler, Dr. A. I. Beach, (and others), have Ranches all the way out. -- these points are as well fortified by art, as by the brave owners and employees that protect them. To those who may never again have the opportunity to engage in the chase of witness the sublime spectacles that present the wild wonders of an untamed nature, to the adventurous seeker of recreation on the plains; we say come and go."

     While the ranches mentioned did not depend entirely on income received from sportsmen, it would appear they were trying to attract such clientele.

     The establishment at the Cimarron Crossing of the Arkansas River, operated by A. J. Anthony and Robert Wright, was characterized as a hay ranch.[13] While compiling a photographic record of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division's western thrust, Alexander Gardiner captured an image of a workmen's ranch at Alma, Kansas. Such ranches provided housing for railroad construction workers and other laborers.[14]

     Regardless, most of the trading establishments in the West were not identified by a single source of income but were simply called ranches. As James Mead wrote, "In those days, every trading or hunting establishment was called a ranch."[15] That said, many of the ranches offered a number of amenities in addition to the sale of a wide range of merchandise and an ample supply of spirits: toll bridges, well water (in one case spring water), prostitutes, corrals, and livestock for sale. Proprietors often purchased sick or lame animals for pennies on the dollar. Turned loose to recuperate under nature's providence, they were later sold at a tidy profit. Other means of income included the addition of mail stations, post offices, and blacksmith shops. Some proprietors engaged in Indian trade, licensed of otherwise. Several sold hay and grain; one sold coal. At some ranches, meals were served and lodging was available. Make no mistake--the men who operated these little pockets of private enterprise were entrepreneurs in every sense of the word.

     At this point, a clarification is in order. Both contemporary and modern writers have mistakenly characterized trading ranches as trading posts, and by extension, forts. Robert Peck reported, "Be it understood that these frontier ranches, as they were called, were mere trading posts." He continued, "As a necessary precaution against Indian attacks, these ranches were always enclosed by walls or palisades, the ranch buildings being strung around the inside of the enclosure, leaving an open court or corral in the center of sufficient capacity to contain all the animals belonging to the establishment. For traffic with Indians a long, narrow opening, about waist-high, to be closed when need be by a drop-door on the inside, was made in that side of the storeroom that formed a part of the enclosing wall, and through this slit all trade with the redskins was conducted, thus avoiding the risk of admitting them to the enclosure. A watch tower was frequently built on a prominent corner of the wall, and in dangerous times a lookout was maintained day and night."[16]

     What Peck described were not trading ranches but trading posts on the upper Missouri River and elsewhere, such as Bent's Fort, which conducted Indian trade and were enclosed within a stockade. Ranches on the Santa Fe Trail and other overland routes catered to non-Indian patrons and were generally not fortified. The ranch at Walnut Creek was an exception to this generalization, as was the ranch at the Cimarron Crossing and Wright's Ranch at Fort Aubrey. Writers such as Peck have contributed greatly to this misunderstanding as have diarists who, making their first forays into the West, were not cognizant of the frontier language. Modern writers, in some cases, have done little to clarify the misunderstanding.

     On the eastern end of the Santa Fe Trail, trading establishments began to populate the trade route with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. Prior to that date, the geographic area now known as Kansas was a part of Indian Territory where white settlement was prohibited by the Indian Intercourse and Trade Act of 1834.[17] But, with the opening of Kansas Territory, little towns sprang up along the Trail from the Missouri border westward, catering to the needs of Santa Fe-bound travelers: Gardner, Black Jack, Palmyra, Brooklyn. Farther west was Council Grove, illegally organized within the bounderies of the Kanza Reserve, and Council City, established in 1855.[18] From present Douglas County west, the towns were replaced (not counting Council Grove and Council City) with trading establishments known, with one exception, as stations or stores. Beginning on Six Mile Creek in present Morris County and westward, the trading establishments were called ranches.

     The trading establishments on the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas are here discussed in a singular fashion. One proviso is necessary. Little information will be provided with reference to trading establishments east of Walnut Creek after 1866. In that year the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, eliminated overland traffic on the Santa Fe Trail in that area.[19] Consequently, many of the trading establishments east of Walnut Creek ceased to operate, although some remained in business to serve early settlers.

Hubbard's Stage Stand
     The first of the trading establishments in present Kansas was located seven miles east of the Osage-Douglas county line, 17 miles southwest of Lawrence. The proprietor of the business, David Hubbard, described his establishment as a "small store, post office, and stage stand." Hubbard operated the stand from 1861 through 1863.[20] Stand is a curious designation for Hubbard's business. The term was used to designate inns which catered to men traversing the Natchez Trace in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. One dictionary definition for the word is "any location for a business." Established late in the tenure of the Santa Fe Trail, the stand suffered the consequence of the guerrilla warfare during the Civil War. Following the raid on the Diamond Spring Station in May 1863, Dick Yeager and his fellow brigands rode eastward on the Santa Fe Trail. They stopped at Hubbard's place, shot the proprietor (not mortally), stole a horse, and continued eastward. At Black Jack, they intercepted a stagecoach. Robbing the passengers of their valuables, they pressed on to Gardner where they robbed the express office, stole clothing from some hotel guests, and took horses belonging to the hotel's proprietor. Fleeing Gardner, they soon crossed the Missouri line to a region more receptive to their ilk.

     In the following September, Hubbard abandoned his business to accept a position in the commissary department of the Thirteen Corps, United States Army.

110 Mile Creek
     West of Hubbard's Stand was 110 Mile Creek. There, returning from Oregon in 1854, Fry P. McGee stopped at the stream then located in the Shawnee Reserve which became a part of Weller County, changed to Osage County in 1859. The stream, originally called Jones Creek, was named for its distance from Fort Osage as measured by the expedition dispatched to survey the Santa Fe Trail in 1825-1827. At the stream's crossing, McGee found three families, mixed-blood Shawnees, engaged in farming. On August 2, McGee and his brother Mobillion purchased the crossing site.[21] The property was within the Shawnee Reserve, but white men often resorted to a well-used scheme to acquire the land. They married Indian women. There was another ruse used at times to the same end. White men persuaded Indians to sell a parcel of land.[22] The Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed into law on May 30, 1854, but Kansas Territory was not officially opened to settlement until a later date.

     Soon after the land was acquired, Fry McGee's wife and daughters joined him at the crossing where they occupied the log buildings constructed by the original owners. In these quarters, Mcgee provided bed and board for Santa Fe Trail travelers. Additional income came from the toll bridge built over 110 Mile Creek.[23] A post office named Richardson for one of the original owners was established at what became known as 110 Mile Station in January 1855.[24] A mail station was also located at the crossing according to a table of distances published in 1858.[25] The table also listed a number of other items of interest to frontier travelers: water, wood, and grass, also coal. The source of the coal is not known; but at a later date, Osage county became a huge coal-producing area. The table also listed entertainment. Ten other places between Westport and Cottonwood Creek were likewise identified. One writer opined that entertainment referred to drinking whiskey and card playing.[26] Such an interpretation ignores that the table identified a large number of stops west of Cottonwood Creek, none of which were listed as having entertainment available. In those places, whiskey was abundant and card playing was common. The interpretation also ignores the obvious lesson of demography. West of Cottonwood Creek in 1858, the region, far removed from the population centers in eastern Kansas Territory, was bereft of women of any kind, even that kind. Entertainment was most likely a reference to prostitution.

     The station became a headquarters for proslavery sentiment with Fry McGee as its outspoken advocate. Early in 1855, James McClure was appointed census taker for the Territory's 7th and 8th voting districts. McClure had been forewarned by Governor Andrew Reeder of McGee's radical attitudes, and upon his arrival at the station the governor's counsel was confirmed. McGee engaged McClure in an argument which led to the census taker spending the night in a log building with no furniture or heat.[27] Tables were turned on McGee in the fall of 1857. Free-state men began raiding proslavery settlements in eastern Kansas Territory. The 110 Mile Station did not escape the looting. McGee was robbed of all his personal property.[28]

     About the same time McGee's daughter, with the unlikely name of America Puss, married William Harris. McGee and his new son-in-law organized a town company at the station, named Washington, but the town never developed. However, Harris remained in the partnership until McGee's death in 1861.[29] Subsequently, he built a store which he operated through 1866 when the Union Pacific closed the Santa Fe Trail traffic east of Walnut Creek.

142 Mile Creek
     Twenty-eight miles west of 110 Mile Creek, the Santa Fe Trail crossed 142 Mile Creek, so named for its distance from Fort Osage. There, in what became Breckenridge County (later Lyon County), Charles Withington arrived in June 1854, shortly after the ink had dried on the Kansas-Nebraska Act.[30] Like McGee, Withington was in violation of the Indian Intercourse and Trade Act, but between the date that the Kansas-Nebraska Act became law and the official opening of the Territory to settlement, federal authorities turned a blind eye to encroachment of men like Withington.

     Withington had been appointed blacksmith at the Mississippi Sac and Fox Racoon River Agency in Iowa Territory in 1838 and continued in that position until the agency moved to a new location near Des Moines, and on to present Franklin County, Kansas, in Indian Territory three years later.[31] He maintained his position as blacksmith until 1850 when he was appointed gunsmith for the agency.[32] Resigning the position, he moved to Council Grove where he became the mail agent for Waldo, Hall and Company. As noted, in 1852 William Carr Lane was a guest in his home. Two years later he opened the store at 142 Mile Creek.

     Not known as a ranch or a station, Withington's enterprise was characterized by locals and citizens of nearby counties as Charles Withington's, Withington's store, or simply a store.[33] A post office named Allen was added to the store in February 1855, with Withington as postmaster.[34] Capitalizing on his old trade, he opened a blacksmith shop and contracted with Hockaday and Hall to operate a mail station. Another significant source of revenue was derived from the toll bridge spanning 142 Mile Creek.[35] The original log building was expanded from time to time with "six or seven one-story rooms stretched eastward with a porch along the south side."[36] Such a structure, no doubt, housed another amenity, entertainment as listed in the previously mentioned 1858 table of distances.

     Like McGee, Withington was beset by opportunists who raided settlements along the Santa Fe Trail. the brigands, sometimes proslavery advocates and sometimes free-state men, indiscriminately attacked settlers of both persuasions. On September 15, 1856, a gang representing themselves as free-staters looted the store, stealing everything in his possession.[37]

     Withington was appointed to two local offices in 1855, Justice of Peace and Constable. In the same year he was elected by the Territorial Legislature to serve on his county's first Board of Commissioners. Also in 1855 he was elected to the Territorial Council as a free-state man but was never seated because of the proslavery forces which came into power at that time.[38]

     Withington continued to operate the store through 1866 when the railroad ended Santa Fe wagon freighting through his area. At that point he turned his attention to the 160-acre farm he had previously pre-empted.[39]

Rock Creek
     To the west of 142 Mile Creek 13 miles was Rock Creek, named for the stony formations which lined its course. There, in the spring of 1854 in what became Breckenridge County (later Lyon County), Arthur Ingram Baker settled.[40] A fellow blacksmith with Charles Withington at the Sac and Fox Agency in Iowa, he came to Indian Territory with the agency in 1846. He resigned his blacksmith appointment in 1849 to become a licensed trader with the tribe; and in 1854 when the license was not renewed, he moved to Rock Creek.[41]

     Baker came to Rock Creek before the May 30 signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. His settlement was within the boundaries of the Kanza Reserve; but he must of been aware of his encroachment for the property was not filed on or deeded until after his death when that parcel had become public land.[42] Upon his arrival at Rock Creek, Baker opened a store which catered to Santa Fe Trail travelers and eventually to the Kanzas. Like Withington's business, Baker's enterprise was known simply as a store.

     At Rock Creek the former blacksmith became the quintessential public servant. In both 1854 and 1855 he was appointed Election Clerk,[43] and in 1855 he was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives, a short-lived proposition. Following a recount of the votes, the seat was given to Mobillon McGee, partner with his brother Fry at 110 Mile Station.[44] Interestingly, McGee was a resident of Jackson County, Missouri. the year proved to be a busy time for Baker. In addition to the other offices, he was appointed Justice of Peace for Breckenridge County and postmaster at Miller, its location lost to history. The year of 1857 was equally active. Elected Probate Judge for his county, he also established Agnes City at the crossing site in partnership with E. M. Sewell and Emanual Moises. Agnes City experienced early growth, but Baker's second attempt at town building was not so successful. On the heels of Agnes City's birth, he and five others organized the town company of Sonora. The town never developed. Baker's later attempts at town building were likewise unproductive. In 1858 he was one of several to incorporate Wampego in what became Chase County. In the same year, he was also involved in the Toledo Town Company, another unsuccessful speculation in what later was Chase County.[45]

     Baker's original structure, described as a cabin, was replaced in 1857-1858 by a substantial two-story stone house, 44 by 18 feet. A scaled-down version of the Kaw Indian Mission at Council Grove where Baker's mother was matron and his brother-in-law, T. S. Huffaker was the teacher, the facsimile duplicated the mission's design even to the lintels and portals. The store was located 100 feet from the residence, and several outbuildings completed the complex. Baker's business was not restricted to the store. From his arrival at Rock Creek, he engaged in farming, particularly as a stockman. Another source of income was the blacksmith shop, and he also served as postmaster at the Agnes City post office beginning in 1859.

     As early as 1857 Baker advertised himself as an attorney, a profession for which he had no training. Nevertheless, he successfully pursued that calling, adding Real Estate Agent to his business card in 1858. In 1861 Baker purchased the Council Grove Press. His career in journalism was short lived. The last publication of the paper was printed in the following summer. Concurrant with his venture in the newspaper business, Baker purchased the Gilkey House in Council Grove and renamed it the Union Hotel. The addition of a saloon did little to make the investment a success. Like the newspaper, it, too, was closed in the summer of 1861.

     During this period, Baker had written in the Press in vigorous support of the Union. His support was more than editorial. In May 1861 he was largely responsible for the organization of the Frontier Riflemen, a company of volunteers formed at Council Grove. He was chosen to be captain. Regardless of the display of Union sympathies, he was charged in 1862 with supporting the secessionist cause and imprisoned at Fort Scott. Baker later explained the paradox stating that the death of his wife, in March 1861, contributed to his irrational behavior. Others opined that his 1861 business failures may have added to his depression. Baker returned to Agnes City, maintaining his innocence.

     Back home, he began to court the young daughter of a neighbor on Bluff Creek, William Anderson, a man of known Confederate leanings. Anderson, by all accounts, assumed that his frequent visits were tantamount to engagement with his daughter. Much to the father's surprise, however, Baker suddenly announced his engagement to a seventeen-year-old schoolteacher, Annis Segur.

     Shortly thereafter, two horses were stolen from Annis's father. Believing that Leo Griffin, a cousin of the Andersons, was the thief, Baker and his neighbors set out in search of the horses. A Mexican said to be associated with the Andersons was apprehended, brought back to Council Grove, and bound over to the District Court. A warrant was issued for Griffin's arrest. On May 12, Anderson sought out Baker at his home intent on killing him. But, Baker succeeded in killing Anderson as he climbed the stairs to the second floor of the fine home. Two days subsequent to Anderson's death, Baker and Miss Segur were married. Joining the bride at Rock Creek was her brother who clerked in the store.

     On July 3 Bill Anderson, the oldest son of William, led a gang of family members and like-minded men to Agnes City. Waiting until dark, the gang sent a man to the store pretending to be buying goods for a nearby wagon train. When the man requested whiskey, both Baker and Segur descended the stairs into the cellar where the spirits were kept. At once, the gang rushed into the store, firing into the cellar, hitting both men. Closing the cellar door, they torched the store, set fire to the residence and the other buildings, and fled east to Missouri. Young Segur was able to escape through the basement window of the store and lived long enough on the following day to report that Baker, fearing death by fire, put a pistol to his head and took his own life.

Diamond Spring
     From Rock Creek to Council Grove was eight miles, and sixteen miles more was Diamond Spring, located in what was to become Wise County, later changed to Morris County. A popular stop on the Santa Fe Trail, the site was named by George C. Sibley in 1827. He wrote, "It might be appropriately called Diamond of the Plains,"[46] There Waldo, Hall and Company established a mail station. Though the exact date at which the station came into existence is unknown, Morris Taylor stated that it was in operation by 1853.[47] Waldo, Hall and Company had received an Indian trading license in 1850 when it opened a trading house at Council Grove in competition with its mail station. The license allowed the company to comply with the Indian Intercourse and Trade Act which permitted settlement in Indian Territory for army posts, authorized Christian missions, and licensed Indian traders. In both 1852 and 1853, the company was licensed to trade with the Kanzas. Perhaps, the 1852/1853 licenses were intended for the mail station at Diamond Spring.[48]

     The station complex was impressive. Two large buildings were constructed, one to serve as a hotel, restaurant, and saloon; the other a combination warehouse and store. Additionally, a blacksmith shop, a number of corrals, and a full complement of outbuildings were situated nearby.[49] No doubt, the hotel was the scene of entertainment listed in the 1858 table of distances. The only other item listed was corn.

     During the Border War period of 1855-1856, the station was closed for a time. Young Marion Sloan and her mother, Eliza Mahoney, arrived at the station in 1856 with a caravan en route to Fort Leavenworth. Afraid to proceed further without an escort, the caravan stayed two weeks at the station awaiting the arrival of another caravan which could accompany them to Fort Leavenworth. Finally, Mrs. Mahoney and Marion left on foot and proceeded to Council Grove.[50]

     Following the turbulent time of 1855-1856, the station was reopened and a post office was established in July 1859, with George Newberry as postmaster.[51] Four years later the station suffered a fatal blow when Dick Yeager, a Quantrill associate, and his band of brigands arrived at Diamond Spring. The proprietor, Augustus Howell, was killed and his wife was seriously wounded.[52] Following the raid, the station was closed and the post office was moved to Six Mile Creek.[53]

Six Mile Creek
     Six Mile Creek, named for its distance from Diamond Spring, was located in Morris County, originally Wise County. There in February 1863 the post office was transferred from Diamond Spring.[54] Samuel Shaft, appointed postmaster, was presumably the proprietor of the ranch located at the Santa Fe Trail crossing of the creek.[55]

     In the fall of 1865, two young brothers, Frank and William Hartwell, came from New Hampshire to Kansas seeking their fortune. At Topeka they were advised that a ranch would be a good investment; and subsequently, they purchased the Six Mile Creek enterprise. At that time, the ranch consisted of a "low stone structure with three rooms, and a log building used as a grocery. all under a dirt roof." There was, in addition, "a stable capacity of ten horses, and a good stone corral."[56] Adequate facilities, it appears, but not adequate patronage. Business was dismal through the winter months and not much better in the spring.

     Word was that the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, was laying tracks to Junction City, and that the eastern terminus of the Santa Fe Trail would soon be relocated there, thus eliminating overland traffic in the Six Mile Creek area.[57] The Hartwells, who had paid $2,000 for the ranch, sold it for a mere $500, and departed to the Cimarron Crossing of the Santa Fe Trail where they learned that the Santa Fe Stage Company was planning for a new station.[58]

     The new owner was Charley Owens. Not much of his tenure at the ranch is known; but in 1868, Cheyennes, returning west from their confrontation with the Kanzas near Council Grove, burned the buildings. Fortunately, Owens and his wife were away at the time.[59]

Lost Springs
     A short seven miles west of Six Mile Creek was Lost Spring, named for its lack of water at certain periods of the year. Emptying into Lyon Creek, it was a well-known location on the Santa Fe Trail. There, in present Marion County, George Smith established a ranch in 1859. In the same year, he contracted with Hockaday and Hall to operate a mail station. The three-room board and batten structure built by Smith measured 30 by 40 feet with an L extension containing a kitchen and dining area. The building was outfitted with four outside doors, five twelve-paned windows, and a dirt floor. Interior walls were covered with newspapers. In the absence of chimneys, stove pipes extended through the sod roof. Southwest of the house was a stockade, enclosing an acre of ground, constructed of eight-foot poles with rifle loops placed at appropriate intervals.[60]

     Late in 1859 a drifter named Jack Costello, who had traveled through the West following a stint in the Mexican War, stopped at Lody Creek for a night of drinking and gambling. By dawn of the following morning, Costello's poker prowess had won the station. Smith saddled a horse and rode away leaving his property in the lucky hands of Costello. Costello made a number of improvements to the station, building a corral and digging a well. Adding an ample supply of provisions, he began to cater to the lawless element of the area, and the station soon became known as a hangout for the ne'er-do-wells. Eleven men were said to have met their deaths at Costello's station.

     In the same year the Thomas Wise family, returning from an unsuccessful trip to the Rocky Mountain gold fields, stopped at the ranch. Wise, being impressed with the farming prospects of the area, was persuaded by Costello to join him in the operation of the ranch. The partnership was strengthened in 1862 when Costello married Wise's sister, Abigail.[61] In 1861 a post office named Lost Spring was established at the station. Oddly enough, neither Costello nor Wise was chosen as postmaster. Rather, Joshua Smith received the appointment.[62]

     In 1866, like other establishments east of Walnut Creek, the Lost Spring enterprise was forced to close by westward extension of the Union Pacific Railway. However, Costello and Wise remained at the ranch, farming the 160 acres homesteaded by Costello. In 1868 Costello sold the quarter section to Wise. Moving to Marion Centre, he opened a general store and saloon.[63]
     Used With Permission of the Author
     David Clapsaddle

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