Reed Anthony, Cowman HTML version

XVI. An Active Summer
The summer of 1878 closed with but a single cloud on the horizon. Like
ourselves, a great many cattlemen had established beef ranches in the Cherokee
Outlet, then a vacant country, paying a trifling rental to that tribe of civilized
Indians. But a difference of opinion arose, some contending that the Cherokees
held no title to the land; that the strip of country sixty miles wide by two hundred
long set aside by treaty as a hunting ground, when no longer used for that
purpose by the tribe, had reverted to the government. Some refused to pay the
rent money, the council of the Cherokee Nation appealed to the general
government, and troops were ordered in to preserve the peace. We felt no
uneasiness over our holdings of cattle on the Strip, as we were paying a nominal
rent, amounting to two bits a head a year, and were otherwise fortified in
possession of our range. If necessary we could have secured a permit from the
War Department, on the grounds of being government contractors and requiring
a northern range on which to hold our cattle. But rather than do this, Major
Hunter hit upon a happy solution of the difficulty by suggesting that we employ an
Indian citizen as foreman, and hold the cattle in his name. The major had an old
acquaintance, a half-breed Cherokee named LaFlors, who was promptly installed
as owner of the range, but holding beeves for Hunter, Anthony & Co.,
government beef contractors.
I was unexpectedly called to Texas before the general settlement that fall. Early
in the summer, at Dodge, I met a gentleman who was representing a distillery in
Illinois. He was in the market for a thousand range bulls to slop-feed, and as no
such cattle ever came over the trail, I offered to sell them to him delivered at Fort
Worth. I showed him the sights around Dodge and we became quite friendly, but
I was unable to sell him his requirements unless I could show the stock. It was
easily to be seen that he was not a range cattleman, and I humored him until he
took my address, saying that if he were unable to fill his wants in other Western
markets he would write me later. The acquaintance resulted in several letters
passing between us that autumn, and finally an appointment was made to meet
in Kansas City and go down to Texas together. I had written home to have the
buckboard meet us at Fort Worth on October 1, and a few days later we were
riding the range on the Brazos and Clear Fork. In the past there never had been
any market for this class of drones, old age and death being the only relief, and
from the great number of brands that I had purchased during my ranching and
trail operations, my range was simply cluttered with these old cumberers. Their
hides would not have paid freighting and transportation to a market, and they had
become an actual drawback to a ranch, when the opportunity occurred and I sold
twelve hundred head to the Illinois distillery. The buyer informed me that they
fattened well; that there was a special demand for this quality in the export trade
of dressed beef, and that owing to their cheapness and consequent profit they
were in demand for distillery feeding.