Monday, September 7, 2015

Joseph McCoy and the wildest and wickedest town west of the Mississippi

The story of the Chisholm Trail and its move north to Abilene is due to Joseph McCoy, known as the father of cattle trade.  Without his vision, money and promotional skills, Abilene would have just been a tiny stop on the Kansas Pacific Railroad.

            Joseph McCoy, an Illinois man, came from a family of bankers and cattle traders.  He knew cities in the east were starving for beef and came up with the idea to turn some stop along the Kansas railroad into a major shipping point.  McCoy was told a longhorn in Texas worth $3 would bring $30, or more, in New York.  A contract with the railroad promised him $5 a car load for all the cattle he could send.

            When McCoy came upon Abilene, he bought the whole town site and the cattle drive business was on its way!

            He built a massive stockyard and The Drover’s Hotel, which he was contracted to do.  He spent $5,000 in six months sending out flyers all over Texas.  Word spread like wildfire and by the end of the first season in 1867 more than 35,000 head of cattle had found their way to Abilene.  It was far more the Joseph expected.  His dream was coming true.

            Unfortunately he encountered one rough spot after another.  Due to politics, bribes needing to be paid for crossing land and streams, irate settlers and town folks who didn’t care for their quiet community becoming a boom town, and even herdsmen striking for more money, within three years of starting the historic venture that made Abilene, Kansas famous, Joseph McCoy was penniless.

            He left Abilene and gained employment with the Department of Agriculture as a cattle buyer for various companies.  He opened the first “cold Storage” plant in Denison, Texas.

            There is a monument in McCoy’s honor located at the factory site that was unveiled as part of a tri-state observance of the 100 anniversary of the Chisholm Trail.

* * * *

            I do love a happy ending!  So much happened in the three years Joseph McCoy was involved in the town of Abilene – the beginning of The Chisholm Trail, actual stories of some of the local folks of Abilene, Marshal Hickok, Tom Smith – the real hero, The Devil’s Addition and much more.  I’ll be back on October 5.  Ya’ll come back now, ya hear!

Jesse’s Nightmare – Book Two of the Jesse Series - a short story that talks about the continuing story of love between Jesse and Ginny Mason. 

Ginny and Jesse are expecting their first baby. It's almost April and even the snow that continues to fall doesn't dampen their moods - until something starts ripping apart the livestock.

But when Jesse comes home during a blizzard and finds his wife and daughter missing, he chokes on a fear that he hasn't felt in a long time!

Ginny and Sarah were not quite half way to Etta’s when the snow started to fall. She had kept an eye on the sky but was sure they would be there before it got too bad. She thanked God the wind wasn’t blowing so the blankets she had brought would keep them warm, if the snow didn’t get any worse. But it did get worse, much worse.
She had been to Etta’s many times, but never in a snow storm. The road was completely covered with snow and the scenery looked different. There were trees here and there along the way but every time she thought Etta’s house was right behind some trees, it wasn’t.
“Mama, I’m cold.” Sarah’s lips quivered and her teeth chattered.
“I know, sweetie. I am too. Etta’s place is just ahead.”  What has she done? Should she turn around? Could she even find her way home? Dear God, please help. 
They went on a ways farther, but Etta’s house was nowhere to be found. She decided to turn Belle around and follow the tracks back from where she came, but saw they were already covered. Could Belle find her way home? Ginny figured that might be their only chance. She turned the wagon and hoped Belle could save their lives.
Ginny didn’t know how long they had been going. The blankets were soaked. Sarah was on her lap and they used their body heat to keep warm. Ginny kept Sarah talking, trying to make her sing. “Don’t go to sleep, Sarah. Do you hear me?” Panic bubbled up in her throat. The little girl was shivering violently. “Sarah!” She shook her and Sarah started crying.
In the distance, through the falling snow, Ginny thought she saw something by some trees but she wasn’t sure. She clicked the reins and headed that way. As she neared it looked like a building of some sort.
“L-l-l-ook, S-s-sarah. It’s a-a-a house.” Her mouth wouldn’t work. 

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Thanks so much for taking a few minutes to stop by.  I write stories for all ages.  My stories for children include pictures books and middle grade contemporary, time travel and fantasy stories.  My books for adults include family dramas, and contemporary, paranormal, and historical western romances! 

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  1. What a great story. History always seems to pick one person to hang all the honors on, when in fact it was comprised of so many. Thank you for reminding us of Joseph McCoy. Doris McCraw/Angela Raines- author

  2. Thanks, Penny, for your post about Joseph McCoy. Abilene is one of my favorite places, historically. I enjoyed your short story excerpt. Those living on the frontier faced life-and-death situations often, and had to live by their wits. You've caught my attention. =)

  3. What any interesting post. I know practically nothing about Abilene and how the Chisholm Trail started. Men back then might not have had all the paperwork and red tape of starting a business like we do today, but it sure took a lot of guts and gumption to see an opportunity and make it come true. Seems there are always folks not liking change or progress, and not all progress is good...but it takes something special to be a visionary and see the vision through...Thanks Penny!