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Old Times Tell Of Early Day Romance

Old Times Tell Of Early Day Romance

Submitted by: Bob Chada
Transcribed by: Mollie Stehno

The Oklahoma Leader, March 9, 1916
The Chisholm Trail!
Oklahoma's early history harks back to it on every page. "The whole story of the cattle industry of the southwest is built around the romantic course.
Cattlemen of the new age, such as those who are pouring into the city to attend the Southwest American Livestock show talk of the Chisholm Trail. But only the veterans of the old school can tell its history.
Colonel Zack Mulhall and his comrade of forty years, Bill Tilghman, were talking on it Friday. They stated on the conversation because the vision of the storied Chisholm Trail rises like a fantastic ghost from the very stage settings with which these pioneers deal in their preparations for the Wild West carnival that is to be staged in the Overholser Theater four days next week.
In 1868, it seems, the first herd came north on the course that became the Chisholm Trail. John Chisholm drove the herd and his name was given to the route. Chisholm lived northeast of Fort Worth, Texas, near the Oklahoma line and the trail stated in southern Texas somewhere near San Antonio, Near Gainesville it crossed the Red River into Oklahoma.
From there it crossed what are now Love, Carter and Garvin counties into Grady county. From Grady county to the Kansas line it ran almost due north, traversing land that became Canadian, Kingfisher, Garfield and Grant counties.
In 1870 two years after Chisholm blazed the way, Bill Tilghman, later to become the terror of outlaws, struck the Chisholm path. At that time cattlemen were driving to Abilene, Kansas, which was the head of the cow drive. Later, as Kansas was settled, the trail drifted westward. Only two years later, in 1872 it terminated at Ellsworth, Kansas. In that year the Santa Fe railroad built a line into Great Bend County on the Kansas River and during the summer Dodge City was surveyed. Two years later the head of the cow drive was established there and for ten years Dodge City was the headquarters for all the cattle drivers from Texas. That decade brings the history down to 1884.
Those early 70's were marked by cattle drivers, Indian fights, buffalo hunting and the wild, dare devil, fear nothing life of the wide open towns at the head of the cattle drive. Tilghman is qualified to talk of these things, for he lived through every phase of that savage frontier history.
Then, too, he was deputy sheriff in Ford County Kansas, under the famous "Bat" Masterson, who has since become a real "journalist'-which is fancy lingo for "newspaper writer"-in New York City.
Wichita, Abilene, Dodge City, Newton, Great Bend and Ellsworth, as they became cattle centers, became also the "toughest towns in the world" so says ex Senator Bill.
"Say," he told Colonel Mulhall slapping him on the knee with enthusiasm, "there were thirteen men killed on one day in one dance hall in Dodge City
"Great work" retorted the colonel.

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