The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 57
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Retracing the Chisholm Trail
were needed. The Texas cowmen realized this need but were not
in a good position to meet it. A group of Kansans proposed a
new trail and a new market, but their plan fell through. It
remained for a young Illinois stock dealer, still in his twenties,
to take the initiative.
This was Joseph G. McCoy, who, with his older brothers, was
engaged in the livestock business in Springfield, in the heart of
the feeder country. Young McCoy had talked with several Illinois
cattlemen just back from Texas, and with one of his friends who
had helped string an army telegraph line across the state. He
was aware of the vast reservoir of cattle in the Lone Star State
and of the need for a new market that would be free from the
trouble that had disrupted trailing over the old Shawnee route.
McCoy first considered establishing a market at Fort Smith
and shipping the cattle down the Arkansas River, but he gave up
that plan as impractical. Then he visited some of the Kansas
towns on the new Union Pacific Railroad-towns west of most of
the farm settlements and near or beyond the quarantine line
drawn for trailing. In the summer of i867 he decided on the
village of Abilene and, after making arrangements with the rail-
road, began building stockyards, a hotel, and other facilities
there. He sent notices to the Texas cowmen of his new market
and advised them how to reach it over a new route.
Since most of the trailing was done in the spring and early
summer, when the grass is most lush, the principal season was
over by the time McCoy was ready. But he received several fall
herds and others owned by drovers who had come up earlier
and who had been marking time in the Indian Territory or
southern Kansas. He began shipping in September and pre-
pared for a big business in 1868.
The trail to Abilene was new only above the crossing of the
Brazos River near Waco. Below, it followed the beaten paths
of the Shawnee Trail. Some of the herds came from ranges along,
or even beyond, the Rio Grande. Drovers bought or stole cattle
from Mexico and swam them across the border stream. They
trailed them northward through the brush country, either fol-
lowing the old Beef Trail past Beeville, Gonzales, and Lockhart
to Austin or bending westward to San Antonio.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957, periodical, 1957; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/m1/70/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.