Texas – New York Cattle Drive

Texas - New York Cattle DriveOn July 1, 1854 the first cattle driven from Texas arrived in New York City. New York City? That’s right New York City. Here’s the story of the Texas – New York Cattle Drive.     
As early as the 1840’s there were stories of cattle being driven from Texas to Missouri. However, cattle drives from Texas didn’t start in earnest until around 1866. But there was one cattle drive that took place over ten years earlier, taking cattle all the way to New York. And it wasn’t done by a Texas cowboy, but an English immigrant who grew up in Illinois, by the name of Thomas Ponting.

Now, Ponting wasn’t a novice around cattle. As a youth in England he drove cattle to London. And later in Illinois he drove cattle up to Wisconsin. Hearing about cheap cattle in Texas, he and partner Washington Malone went down there and bought 800 longhorn cattle.
               
They hired men to drive the supply wagon. An ox with a bell around his neck was tied to the back of the wagon. He was the lead steer, and the cattle followed him wherever he went.
 
While traveling through Missouri they restocked their provisions from local farmers. Four months after their start they got to Illinois. It was winter. So they took time to fatten the cattle on corn. In the spring Ponting sold all but 150 of the longhorns. Those 150 he wanted to take to New York. When they got to Muncie, Indiana, Pointing got the idea of transporting them the rest of the way by rail car.
 
On July 1, 1854 the cattle arrived in New York. They were taken to the Hundred Street Market and auctioned off.
 
Although Ponting’s cattle drive was a great feat in itself, his greatest achievement was to show that cattle could be brought 2,000 miles from Texas and sold at a profit. And with this a new page in Old West history was opened.

Chief Eskiminzin

Chief EskiminzinIn the early 1870’s Chochise and his band were raiding and killing white settlers in southern Arizona, and resentment was running high against all Indians. Chief Eskiminzin was the leader of a small group of Apache. Low on food and poorly clothed he brought his people to Camp Grant near Tucson, Arizona. Eventually more than 400 Indians had assembled in the area, and the citizens were becoming fearful. Following an incident where a couple of settlers were killed, a mob of almost 150 men were assembled to punish the wrong doers.
               
Although Eskiminzin’s people had nothing to do with the killing, the mob attacked and killed about 100 of them, with most of them women and children. Eskiminzin lost two wives and five children.
 
Still Chief Eskiminzin wanted peace. But two month’s later a military attachment accidentally opened fire on his people. Eskiminzin had had enough. However, before he left the area he wanted to visit his old friend, Charles McKinney. So, on the evening of June 5, 1871 McKinney and Eskiminzin had dinner. Following the meal Eskiminzin suddenly stood up, drew his pistol and shot his friend McKinney dead.
 
Later Eskiminzin explained his action. He said: “I did it to teach my people that there must be no friendship between them and the white man. Anyone can kill an enemy, but it takes a strong man to kill a friend.”
Even though it was known that Chief Eskiminzin killed his friend, strange as it may seem, he never spent a day in jail for the killing, and neither did the mob that murdered his tribe.

Chuckwagon: Sourdough Cornbread

Sourdough Cornbread

Here is a recipe to use some of the Sourdough starter you made from a previous post. This recipe for sourdough cornbread comes from the Hashknife Outfit of Winslow, Arizona.

1 cup starter.
Enough cornmeal to make a beatable batter
1 ½ cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs beaten
¼ cup warm melted butter, or fat
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon soda

Mix starter, cornmeal, milk, eggs and stir thoroughly in large bowl. Stir in melted butter, salt and soda. Pour into a 10 inch greased frying pan or Dutch oven, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

The “New” Lost Dutchman’s Mine

Lost Dutchman’s Mine In the past we have told the stories of two of Arizona’s lost treasures. One was the Lost Dutchman’s Mine located in the Superstition Mountains a short distance from a busy Phoenix freeway. Another was a treasure comprised of gold coins lost when a dam broke on the Hassayampa River just north of Phoenix.
This week we’re going to learn about another Arizona lost treasure.
It all started on May 10, 1881. A Wells Fargo Stage was taking passengers and mail from Canyon Diablo to Flagstaff. On the way the stagecoach was robbed by five bandits.
Two mailbags were taken containing $125,000 in gold, silver and coins. When the stage made it to Flagstaff the authorities were notified and a Cavalry detachment was dispatched to run down the outlaws. And that’s just what they did. A shootout ensued and all the outlaws were killed. But, the loot wasn’t found.
Now, fast forward some 32 years to 1913. The regulars were enjoying their libations at Black’s Saloon in Flagstaff when an excited Jimmy McGuire came into the saloon and ordered a drink. Quickly downing it, he ordered another. And Jimmy didn’t stop until he had four empty glasses in front of him.
He then pulled some gold coins from his pocket to pay for the drinks. They were immediately recognized as coming from the 1881 stage robbery. A crowd gathered around asking about the treasure. As Jimmy started explaining where he found them, he began gasping and holding his chest. In no time Jimmy was on the floor dead of a heart attack. And the location of the treasure died with him.

Sodbusters

SodbustersIn order to get, what were to become the plains states, settled, President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act on May 20, 1862. And, it worked as thousands of people, who were soon called Sodbusters, took up the government’s offer for free land.
           
They expected to settle on treed land with running water similar to the places they left behind. But, what they found was a treeless plains.
               
With shelter the first priority, and no trees or stones to build one, they resorted to burrowing a cave in the side of a hill. It was called a dugout home. Although these dugouts were protection from wind and cold, they were dark, crowded and damp.
 
Being ever resourceful, they discovered they could build a home using one foot by two foot pieces of sod cut from the ground with a shovel or special plow. These pieces of sod were called “Nebraska marble.” As one pioneer put it, a house could be built “without mortar, square, plumb or greenbacks.”
 
A 12 ft by 14 ft home could be built in 10 days. The sod houses were ideal for the plains. They were cool in the summer, warm in the winter and in case of a prairie fire, wouldn’t burn.
 
However, there was the down side. The roof shed dirt into food and bedding, in addition to an occasional snake. When it rained, it would drip muddy water, forcing wives to hold an umbrella in one hand while cooking with the other.
 
But, these “sodbusters” rarely complained. It truly took a special person to settle the West.
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