The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 63
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Retracing the Chisholm Trail
ance. For the summer and fall shipping season of 1870, they
hired as marshal Tom Smith, a husky Irishman from New York
who had gone West and worked at railroad building in Nebras-
ka. Later he had been a marshal in Wyoming. Smith turned
out to be one of the best peace officers on the frontier. With
amazing courage, he thrashed the town bullies and enforced the
ordinance against carrying guns. But Smith was murdered in
the fall when he went out to a dugout in the country to arrest
For the 1871 season, with a peak drive of 700,ooo Texas Long-
horns being pointed north, Abilene hired as marshal the cele-
brated pistoleer James B. (Wild Bill) Hickok. In his suit of
fringed buckskin and with his hair down to his shoulders, Wild
Bill made a picturesque figure; but as a law officer he fell short
of Tom Smith.
In Abilene that summer were several widely known Texans,
including Ben Thompson and Phil Coe, who ran the Bull's
Head Saloon and its profitable gambling room. Another was Wes
Hardin, who had come up with a trail herd and who already had
put many of the figurative notches in his deadly gun. Wild Bill
made his headquarters at the popular Alamo Saloon and made
frequent rounds of the others. But, despite his fame as a marks-
man, he did not always keep the ebullient cowboys in rein.
By the fall of 1871, the permanent residents of Abilene and
the farmers in the surrounding country were fed up with the
cattle trade. This section of Kansas was becoming more thickly
settled, and the farmers did not want their fences destroyed and
their crops trampled by Longhorn herds. Nor did the parents in
town want to rear their children in an atmosphere dominated
by saloons, gambling rooms, dance halls, and brothels. So, in
February, 1872, they asked the Texas drovers to market their
For the next four years the chief Kansas markets for cattle
taken up the Chisholm Trail were Ellsworth and Wichita, though
some were sold at Newton and other towns. Ellsworth was on
the Kansas Pacific-originally and again now the Union Pacific
-about sixty miles west of Abilene. It had begun to ship some
cattle in 1871, and it took over much of the Abilene business
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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/m1/76/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.