The setting of Ellsworth, Kansas for my Brides with Grit series, was easy to work with because it was a major cattle shipping town between 1872 to 1875.
Abilene, Kansas was famous, being the first place to ship cattle by railroad to eastern towns in 1867, but that ended in 1871 when businesses and farmers got tired of the damage and disease the herds caused in the area.
Ellsworth, Kansas, 60 miles west of Abilene, became the new town to ship out of between 1872 to 1875. (The photo above is Ellsworth in 1873.)
One can find a vast amount of information on the internet about the cattle drives which went through Kansas in the 1870's. Here's some interesting tidbits, written by F. B Streeter in 1935, for an article in the Kansas Historical Quarterly.
As a means of advertising the new trail and the shipping points on the line, the Kansas Pacific issued a pamphlet and map entitled, Guide Map of the Great Texas Cattle Trail From Red River Crossing to the Old Reliable Kansas Pacific Railway. The writer has located only two editions of this pamphlet: one issued in 1872, the other in 1875. To quote from the 1875 edition:
Drovers are recommended to make Ellis, Russell, Wilson's, Ellsworth and Brookville the principal points for their cattle for the following reasons: Freedom from petty annoyances of settlers, arising from the cattle trespassing upon cultivated fields, because there is wider range, an abundance of grass and water, increased shipping facilities and extensive yard accommodations. Large and commodious hotels may be found in all these places, and at Ellsworth, especially, the old "Drovers' cottage," so popular with the trade for years, will be found renovated and enlarged. The banking house of D. W. Powers & Co., established at Ellsworth in 1873, in the interest of the cattle business, will remain at this point and continue their liberal dealings as in the past.
As stated above, Ellsworth became the principal shipping point for Texas cattle on the Kansas Pacific Railroad in 1872. The first three droves of longhorns that season arrived in Ellsworth early in June. These droves numbered 1,000 head each. Two weeks later a total of twenty-eight herds, numbering from 1,000 to 6,000 head each, had arrived and many more were on the way. The fresh arrivals contained a total of 58,850 head of longhorns. These, together with over 40,000 head which had wintered in the county, made a total of more than 100,000 head of Texas cattle in Ellsworth county.
That season 40,161 head were transported from Ellsworth, or one fourth of the total number marketed over the Kansas Pacific...Besides those shipped by rail from Ellsworth, about 50,000 head were driven to California and the territories from that place. In the months of June and July more than 100,000 head of beef and stock cattle changed hands at Ellsworth. Drovers found buyers on their arrival, enabling them to close out at a good price and return to their homes.
The prices paid for cattle that season were as follows: $19 to $22 for beeves; $15 to $18 for three-year-olds; $9 to $10 for two-year olds; $12 for cows; and $6 for yearlings.
My first thought on reading this? Wow! That's a lot of cattle to surround the town!
My second? Dust, manure and flies..and a good setting for a western romance...
Here's the description for RANIA ROPES A RANCHER.
A sweet historical romance set in 1873.
Rania Hamner and her family emigrated from Sweden fourteen years ago to work on a Texas ranch, working cattle and herding them up the Chisholm Trail. Something in her life on the trail caused her to doubt her worth, and her ability to trust a man enough to become his wife. Once the family buys a homestead in Kansas, she meets a rancher who begins to make her believe she can trust and fall in love after all.
Rancher Jacob Wilerson noticed Rania last year when she rode drag behind a herd of longhorns—right down Main Street of Ellsworth, Kansas. He’s been waiting for her family to return this spring with another Texas herd to the booming cowtown, because he hopes to rope her into staying permanently on his ranch—the way she had already roped his heart.
When Rania's past attacks with new danger, she decides to fight for all she's worth because she realizes she wants to be with Jacob forever.
When Jacob realizes Rania is in danger, he rushes to save her, whether or not she still loves him, hoping to rope Rania—his heart—once more, as she has roped his.
Brides with Grit series in order:
Rania Ropes a Rancher (Rania and Jacob)
Millie Marries a Marshal (Millie and Adam)
Hilda Hogties a Horseman (Hilda and Noah)
Cora Captures a Cowboy (Cora and Dagmar)
Sarah Snares a Soldier (Sarah and Marcus)
Cate Corrals a Cattleman (Cate and Isaac)
Darcie Desires a Drover (Darcie and Reuben)
Tina Tracks a Trail Boss (Tina and Leif) (Future release)
Also read, Lilly: Bride of Illinois, a spin-off book in the American Mail-Order Brides Series
Here's the free links to RANIA ROPES A RANCHER. Enjoy!