The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959 Page: 340
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
start to Colorado with a herd.4 Do not worry about me and if you
want to write do so soon as I may start at any moment with an "out-
fit,"5 I saw a Mexican this morning who knows Charlie L - the
town is full of them they call them "Greasers"6 here, Well I must
close now Good Bye
From Your Own
ABILENE KNS Sun. Nov. 5 [ 1871]
DEAR MA & PA
Now as I have a good chance to write, I will improve it, and let
you know some-thing of the place the country etc etc.
I am in Johnsons camp now, out at the cattle pens and I am writ-
ing on the bread board in the smoke of the fire, a fellow cant get
out of the fire to day for the wind blows in every direction, so I
had to put on an extra shirt this morning for the winds cut a fellow
through & through The boys have sold all of their cattle and to
morrow they will commence "outfitting," and then go to Texas; hands
was cooling as local people resented the vice and crime brought in by the cattle-
"... All of the railroad companies east of the Mississippi engaged in a fierce war
of competition for the carrying of livestock freights . . Hence it was not uncom-
mon for a drover to realize a profit of fifteen to twenty-five dollars per head on his
herd."-Joseph G. McCoy, Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the IWest and
Southwest (Washington, D. C., 1932)gg, 225. The average herd in the northern drive
was composed of about 2,500 cattle; the drovers' profits could be tremendous.-
Ibid., 149-150. It will be noted in Horace's next letter that "The Johnson boys
have brought up 25 herds this season the smallest of which was 15oo."
4Many herds were sent to northern regions, including Colorado, for fattening.
"Herders on the Northern ranges of Nebraska, the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Mon-
tana, were willing to purchase Texas cattle, which they fattened in the bracing
climate of the upper Missouri Valley. There were some cattlemen who maintained
a ranch in Texas for breeding and grazing . . . and another in the Northwest for
'finishing' stock. Another Important feeding area was the corn belt, through Iowa,
Northern Missouri, Illinois and Indiana."-Edwin C. McReynolds, Oklahoma: A
History of the Sooner State (Norman, 1954), 253-
5In Mitford M. Mathews (ed.), Dictionary of Americanisms (Chicago, 1951),
1174, an outfit in this sense is defined as "A group of cowboys, together with the
horses, teams, wagons, etc., used by them in range work." Hall's use of the term
antedates the earliest entry in this dictionary by five years.
Only the abler, dependable men went along with the herds, and the abstemious
life on the trail carried a "promise of hilarious celebration at Abilene or some other
live town after the cattle were sold." The trail crew was run by a drover or trail
boss, and 3,000 cattle would usually be accompanied by "twelve to eighteen cow
herds, forty to eighty horses, a cook who drove the chuck wagon, and a wrangler
who looked after the spare horses." Each hand took along at least two to five
horses.-Gard, The Chisholm Trail, io6-io8.
6This is one of the early known uses of this derogatory term.-See Mathews (ed.),
Dictionary of Americanisms, 739.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959, periodical, 1959; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/m1/405/: accessed March 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.