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August 2005

First "settlers" were, in fact, ranchers who had been cowboys and who came to the area north of the present town sites of Gate and Knowles.

Their center for trade and business was Englewood, Kansas, and Dodge City. Some of those folk were named Taintor, Anschutz, and Schmoker.

Fred Tracy, in his manuscript entitled "Recollections of No Manís Land" reviewed his own family coming to the area of the original town of Gate in 1885, located about 15 miles southwest of Englewood, KS. A small town was already established there, although, of course, there were not laws and no titles to land established.

The present town of Gate was moved to its location from that early site when the railroad came in 1911. In the original town there were 2 banks, a general store owned by Carter Tracy, 2 livery barns, a lumber yard, 2 barber shops, a drug store, an IOOF Lodge, 2 blacksmith shops, a feed mill, an undertakerís business, a furniture store, a real estate office, a garage, a harness shop, a doctorís office, a millinery, a newspaper, a print shop, a pool hall, a U.S. Land Office, a bakery and short order cafe, a post office, and a telephone office. All of these businesses were moved to the new town site.

Knowles was originally Sands City, incorporated in 1906 by Francis and Allie Knowles, children of Alice Knowles Lundy. Dr. A.J. Sands was the only doctor in the vicinity so the town was named for him. Later the post office was named Knowles, causing great confusion in the U.S. Postal Department until the town was moved to the present site of Knowles at the coming of the railroad in 1912.

The present town site is in the quarter section just north of the original Sands City. At one time the town contained a hotel, telephone office, harness shop, blacksmith shop, 2 lumber yards, the Farmerís State Bank, and a dry business, a well in the center of town, a Masonic Lodge, a grocery store owned by Mel Landers, a general store, and an elevator.

Mocane was originally about a mile northwest of the Kamas ranch headquarters. J.F. Eubank obtained a post office and established a small store in their frame house in 1909. A school house was built nearby, called Pleasant Valley No. 61.

When a railroad came to the area in 1911, the town was moved to Ralph Haworthís land adjacent to the new railroad. There was a hotel, a store, pool hall, barber shop, a general store, a blacksmith shop owned by Roy Landers, a feed yard, livery stable, a depot, a section house for the railroad, a stockyards, and church was held in the school house.

During the 1928-29 school year, Oklahoma governor Holloway visited the school whose teacher was Fern Nichols. Upon the demise of the railroad, Mocane ceased to exist.

Beaver County History Book History

The idea for the first Beaver County History book came from the Beaver County Historical Society in 1968.  Officers at that time were Berenice Jackson, President; Pauline Cross,
Vice-President; Carolyn Conner, Treasurer.  Other members involved were Rheva Bridgewater; Judge Otto Barby;  and Barbara Patzkowsky.  Mrs. Jackson approached Pauline Hodges with an offer to edit the book. The offer was for a 150 page paperback.  Hodges thought that would be no problem, so she agreed and chose Gladys Eagan as her assistant editor.  Later she added Thelma Long and Karen Underwood
as the layout editors.
            Hodges began collecting material by driving to various homes of old-timers and taping interviews, by collecting written stories and pictures, and by researching records.  She
 soon found that the 150 page paperback would not begin to cover all she had found or the hundreds of pictures people donated.  Jim Lyle of the First National Bank donated a safety deposit drawer for safe-keeping of the pictures.  The Historical Society Board agreed to a much larger, hardbound, more expensive book.
            The big problem then was that to that time no one in the area had published a county history so no publisher would agreed to take on the job.  Out of desperation, Hodges called
 Taylor Publishing Company with whom she had worked to edit and publish the yearbooks for Forgan High School for 10 years.  The company agreed to fly someone out to Beaver
to talk to the group.  Fortunately, they sent Barclay Curtis with whom Hodges had worked on the yearbooks.  After interviewing the staff, he agreed to ďtake a chanceĒ on the
project.
            It took a year to complete the work.  In all, it took 48 people  to collate, lay out, proofread, crop pictures and assemble the book.  There were no computers in 1968 to
facilitate the work as there would be for a later Volume 3! The final book proved to be 632 pages with hundreds of pictures, leatherbound and hardback.
      When the project was finally sent to the publisher, the group celebrated!  At that time Ralph Rector who headed the Chamber of Commerce proposed using the new book
to promote the Cimarron Territory Celebration and first Cow Chip Throwing Contest.  After all the publicity in the media, including the Johnny Carson Show on which Rector
appeared, the book became quite well known, too.
            At the completion of the project, Hodges moved to Colorado to pursue another career.  At that time her mother-in-law, Leota Hodges, and the former staff for Volume I took
the left over pictures and collected other material to produce a Volume II of Beaver County History which included stories about the ranches, schools, towns, and other larger entities. 
            In 1993 after Pauline Hodges returned to Beaver County, she edited a Volume III, updating and adding to many of the original stories, this time using a computer and
some of the original editorial staff!
            Volume I is no longer in print or available.  However, Volumes II and III are for sale at the Jones & Plummer Trail Museum in Beaver.

 

January 6, 2005

The Passing of an Era

By V. Pauline Hodges

 

This week marks the passing of yet another pioneer of Beaver County. In the last two years, a number of those who helped form this county into the prosperous ranching, farming, and oil producing area that it is have left us. As I sat at services for Fannie Judy today, I remembered all that she and her counterparts in this area have given us in examples of courage, fortitude, humor in the hard times, and survivorship.

Fannie became my friend and mentor through our work with the Beaver County Historical Society over the past 37 years. She valued our unique history and taught me many lessons through the stories of her life on the Cimarron. She provided the example for me to become a contributing member of the Historical Society, she urged me to record those stories in the first Beaver County History Book, and later supported the producing of the third volume of that series. She taught me to be generous and giving in maintaining artifacts from those hard times. She also taught me about teaching through her stories of her times in a one-room school and through her valuing those early day students.

The death of Dwight Leonard at this same time two years ago brought the passing of a pioneer lawyer, law-maker, and farmer. He, too, was involved in the preservation of our history, especially that of the Presbyterian Church, a Beaver landmark, where his father had been a pastor. From him I learned of much early day history, but even more valuable, I learned his lessons of saving the land, of valuing good farming practices, of seeing the beauty of this isolated area. His love of this area reinforced my own. His wife Mary Evelyn became my other mother, my friend, my "encouragement" to paint and write. She pushed me to learn French, then to teach her and her friends, so I could be a better teacher of it at my high school. She was always my cheerleader, no matter where I lived.

Services for Keith Drum, a lawyer in Beaver for 62 years, honored the life of another pioneer. Keithís family on both sides came to Beaver County at the turn of the past century, a fact of which he was very proud. Keith worked at the Beegle Drug Store to finance his early years at the University of Oklahoma. After putting himself through law school, he served as Beaver County Attorney, then went to World War II where he was on a landing boat battalion in the South Pacific. When he returned from that war, he began law practice with Charles Miles. He later established a practice he continued until he became too ill. From Keith I again heard stories of his pioneer families. He, too, valued the contributions of people like J.O. and Billy Quinn, of Fred Tracy, and of the Weir family. I gained a respect for that perseverance and fortitude he had to survive the bad times in the Depression, in World War II, and in the deaths of two wives and a son. He was the epitome of one who can overcome addition and go on to become a respected leader in AA in helping others make new lives for themselves.

And today I remembered my good, dear friend Lesty Barby who died two years ago at the age of 100. Lesty was my friend and mentor for over 40 years. She encouraged me to paint, to write, to teach, and to search for new ideas and philosophies. She, too, valued our history and told me many stories of ranching, of being an entrepreneur as a painter, of surviving the death of her mother and moving to a strange place to live. She, too, came to love Beaver County as I do and helped me with my writing and searching for accurate information.

I thought today, too, of Irene Hutchens Harrington who lived to be 98 and only died a year ago at 98. She was always a teacher, encouraging me to learn more, to go further in my education, to be a better teacher myself, to achieve and to succeed. She was born on sandy farm north of the Floris community and lost her father when she was a child. Her and her motherís struggles to survive always inspired me when my own times seemed hard. And through it all, she was gracious and loving, never bitter.

And finally, Opal Gregory came to mind. Opal died last year, too, at the age of 96. She was always cheerful and full of fun. I enjoyed her stories about her pioneer family and of her own hardships as a young woman. She managed somehow to interject some humor into the recounting of days of no plumbing, running water, or electricity, all things we think we couldnít possibly live without today.

All these friends were fifteen to twenty-five years older than I, but I am so grateful that they took the time to befriend me, to talk to me, to tell the stories that are so important in preserving history. They contributed not only to me but to all of us in Beaver County through the years. Their passing is a great loss to us all. Their passing truly marks the end of that pioneer era in Beaver County. I believe we have an obligation to carry on their work to preserve those fine qualities of the pioneers who gave us the lives we have here today. That is the true honoring of those who worked so hard to tame an unsettled land.

EDITORíS NOTE: The series "No Manís Land and Cimarron Territory" was written first as a presentation by Dr. Pauline Hodges for the Denver Westerners, a subgroup of a national organization of Western history authors. It was published in April, 2002 by that same group. Material was gathered by Dr. Hodges from the references that will be published when the series is complete. Many of these accounts were recorded by her from oral histories, as well as by several other authors of local history and may vary from author to author. This is the final article in the series.

By PAULINE HODGES

December 2003
 

NEUTRAL CITY

Not only was the present day Panhandle of Oklahoma called the "Neutral Strip," meaning that it belonged to no state or nation for over 70 years, and, therefore, was not sympathetic to the North or the South in the War Between the States, it also had a town named Neutral City. Little authentic information is known about this ghost town, but it was a sod town built about 1879. Before its remains were plowed up, remains of the sod buildings could be found two miles west of the present city of Gate on the south side of U.S. 64. The land is in NW S7-T6-R28.

Since it was not incorporated and no legal business was ever recorded there, it is difficult to pinpoint its actual beginning. However, Harry Chrisman in Lost Trails of the Cimarron quotes early day cowboys and ranchers who refer to Neutral City. Jim Herronís manuscript that Chrisman published as Fifty Years on the Owl Hoot Trail also refers to Neutral City so 1879 is most likely the beginnings of this colorful town full of folk who were not always law-abiding.

Stories, both oral and those written by Chrisman, indicate that this was a rough town frequented by outlaws. Since the entire area between Kansas and Texas belonged to no state or nation, there were no laws governing their behavior. L.L. Beardsley, an early pioneer in nearby Gate, tells of finding the wooden marker for 2 graves of outlaws who were buried just west of Neutral City after a shoot-out in a saloon there. A wagon tongue was also found about two miles and a half mile north of the present town of Gate, and thought to have been used for hanging outlaws at Neutral City, rather than taking them into the Hangmanís Trees near the original town of Gate two and a half miles to the south.

Fred Tracy in his book Recollections of No Manís Land devotes an entire chapter to the activities of the outlaws and the Vigilante Committee that operated between Englewood, Kansas, and the original town of Gate City, including much about colorful Neutral City. Today, there are no visible remains of Neutral City. However, it lives on in legend and stories from that early time when it truly was in No Manís Land.

ROTHWELL

The old townsite of Rothwell is ten miles west of Beaver in Section 19-T4-R22 on land later owned by Walter and Vesta Hyatt. The section line ran directly through the middle of the town. The town lots were sold by a fellow named Scranage who had no rights to them and who sold lots illegally in both Rothwell and in Beaver about 1883-84, shortly after the Neutral Strip has been surveyed into townsites in the winter and spring of 1881-82. He later was indicted in Indiana for similar activities.

However, the town grew and had several buildings. There was a hotel, a general store, two or three saloons, a church, a livery stable, and a post office established in 1887. Mail was left at the post office and then put on a stage that ran from Tascosa, Texas, to Dodge City, Kansas. James S. Hart was the postmaster until L. H. Savage took over in August 1887. The first postmarks listed Rothwell, Oklahoma as Indian Territory. Of course, it never was in Indian Territory, nor even in Oklahoma Territory until 1890.

Rothwellís short claim to fame came over the two factions who wanted to represent the newly organized government of Cimarron Territory. A Dr. O.G. Chase represented one faction, and the other was represented by Dr. J.A. Overstreet, son of the first minister at the Presbyterian Church in Beaver. They both wanted to represent the Territory in Washington, and the big contention took place at the Rothwell Convention in 1889. Although Dr. Overstreet was elected, Dr. Chase managed to manipulate the group into sending him, according to records by Fred C. Tracy. A John Dale from Rothwell was also elected by the convention. Chase was considered the "legal" representative, however. Neither Daleís nor Chaseís trips to Washington did not gain recognition of the area.

There are still several indentations of dugouts and old ruts showing that there was once a lot of traffic through the town itself. In 1890 the hotel was moved from the site. Although it became a ghost town shortly thereafter, school was continued to be held. Jennie Potter taught there in 1890-91, and Maud Ashcraft taught in 1896-97. Other records have been lost. The post office was discontinued in 1898, with the mail going to Paladora near the Texas line. Like all but seven of the original 62 post offices in Beaver County, Rothwell Post Office became extinct, along with the town.

Gray, Oklahoma

GRAY - was located 25 miles southwest of Beaver in the center of a prosperous farming and stock-raising community. The post office was established in 1906, and businesses began to move in. The first store, a general merchandise, was owned by A.W. Kuykendll. As the town grew, another general store was opened by George Ragsdale. John Just, J.H. Neufeld, and Ray Ravenscroft owned the Gray Mercantile; others who were owners or part owners were Henry Cornelson and W.C. Bryan. The Plainview Hardware, owned by John Just, J.H. Neufeld, and Sam Hergert, was moved in from the Plainview area. B.B. Kent came into the firm in 1912. All merchandise was hauled from Liberal by wagon.

Another addition to Gray was the First State Bank, operated by H.S. Wilbur. Ray Nelson was also an employee of the bank. It later moved to Perryton and became known as the Perryton National Bank.

On the Main Street were a number of other businesses. On the north side of these included the Ragsdale Grocery and Mercantile; a garage operated by L.S. (Curley) Hobbs; Ike Lileís Barber Shop; a telephone office; a livery stable with horses and buggies for hire; a cafe; "Daddy" Hillís Print Shop; Dr. Jack Jims Dentist Office; and a one-room schoolhouse. On the south side were the post office; the Christian Church; Gygerís Blacksmith Shop; the Plainview Hardware; Gray Mercantile; Edgar Poerís Drug Store; Dr. Rhodesí office; the First State Bank; a cafe; and Wardís Photo Shop. A cigar shop owned by a Mr. Floto was in the drug store.

People from miles around came by horse and buggy to trade at Gray. There were very few fences and no maintained roads so there were trails from every direction leading to Gray. Merchants held big "trade days."
 

At one time the Barnum and Bailey Circus came to Gray. The Liberal Boosters also came, driving Model-T cars. Buster Brown, the originator of the Buster Brown haircut, and his dog Tige, came to advertise Buster Brown shoes.

The telephone system was a welcome addition to the town. It had a hand operated switchboard. Every call had to be handled by operators. Some of these early ones were Gertrude (Tallman) Evans and Mrs. L.S. Hobbs. Some enterprising farmers such as George Powers and a Mr. Hull stretched wire from the top of the field fence between their farms to extend phone service before the Gray system reached them. B.B. Kent and Frank Bell joined on to their system.

The original post office was called the Ragsdale Post Office and was located one mile north of what, in 1906, became the town of Gray. George Ragsdale was the postmaster. Mrs. Pete Tomlin carried the mail by horseback from the Fulton Community to Ragsdale for several years. In 1906 the Ragsdale Post Office was moved to Gray, as well as the post offices of Edridge, Fulton, Mallory, and Willborn. The first postmaster at Gray was Mrs. T.W. Gray. The last one was Mrs. Osa Kerns. Originally there were four mail routes out of Gray, each thirty miles long and serviced at first by buggy and team, and later by automobile. Homesteaders at the turn of the century filed their claims with Mr. T.W. Gray, and he had to take the claims by horseback to Woodward, a distance of 90 miles, the nearest Oklahoma post office, to mail them to the capital. His appeal for a post office was granted in 1903.

The coming of the railroad in 1919 to the south of Gray, ultimately resulting in the establishment of the new town of Perryton, signaled the death knell of the town of Gray, although it took several years for all the businesses and people to disappear. Within two years after the birth of Perryton, sixty-nine businesses moved from Gray to Perryton, and a similar process took place at the town of Ochiltree just south of Perryton. Included in the migration were several grocery stores, a bank, a hotel, a hardware store, two livery stables, Grayís only doctor, two meat markets, a veterinarian, a newspaper office, and a dentist. Whole buildings were moved by horse teams to Perryton.

In 1920 all the schools in the Gray area were consolidated at Union one mile south and one and three-quarter mile west of Gray. In 1930 the last grocery store moved from Gray, and all that remained of this once 500 population town were the tiny post office, a telephone office, the Gray Community Church, and a few houses. The telephone office was removed with the office at Balko taking over the service. Seventy-three years later, only a house remains. Even the Church is in the process of being moved to Perryton. Gray as a pioneer town is no more.

Information is from History of Beaver County, Vol. II and from Recollections of No Manís Land by Fred C. Tracy, as well as from research by Dr. Pauline Hodges.
 

BEER CITY

Beer City was the most notorious of the early day towns in Beaver County. In 1888 the Rock Island Railroad had built across the area known as the Seventh County of Oklahoma Territory, or Beaver County and encompassed the entire area of what is now the Panhandle. The towns of Tyrone, Hooker, Optima, Guymon, Goodwell, and Texhoma were established. Each of these towns had saloons, but the most notorious saloons in the county were in Beer City, located just inside Oklahoma Territory two miles south of Liberal, Kansas. These saloons supplied prohibition-dry Liberal with its liquid refreshments, as well as supplying the settlers of the area. The town consisted of a collections of saloons, the toughest in the area, and a plentiful supply of cardsharps. Broomcorn was the major crop in the area, but the merchants could never be sure of payment for their goods until the farmer had sold his broomcorn in Liberal and gotten past Beer City on the way home.

The townsite was never laid out but just evolved. It grew out of the prairie grass as an oasis on the desert to meet the needs of those less reputable characters who populated No Manís Land. The main street started out running east and west, facing the Kansas trade, but then commenced building north and south. The melange of dance halls, saloons, and redlights soon faced north, east, south, and west - every direction to catch new trade. Harry Chrisman, historian of this area, and Oliver Nelson, an old-timer who was a cowboy of the area, both tell of the big stacks of beer barrels that gave Beer City its name. Huge swarms of flies of an August afternoon would settle around the barrels, lapping up the sour liquid that seeped through. The rows of wooden hitching rails in front of the buildings were paralleled by long rows of manure, created by the cow ponies who awaited their mastersí return from within the saloons and bawdy houses of the town.

Lewis (Brushy) Bush was one of the lesser-known, but equally colorful, characters of the Southwest cattle country. Although he was not as notorious as Bat Masterson or Wyatt Earp, he operated in the same manner to deal with the unlawful folk with whom he had to deal. He ruled with a sawed off shotgun and six-shooters. No one elected Brushy. He simply appointed himself. His "protection" came high, but Beer Citizens accepted it for a while. When he "collected salary" he would patrol the streets, stopping into each place of business and sticking out a greasy palm. He made his fatal mistake when he tried to "overcharge" taxes on Pussy Cat Nell, and beat her up when she refused to pay. She paid all right with a loaded double barrel shotgun and shot him dead. He was buried among the rubble in the unpaved streets where he had operated his "law-enforcement" agency. His grave is lost today among the wide fields of wheat and milo maize that annually cover the area. Chrisman pointed out in his writings that Beer City, the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Plains, no longer reigns as Queen City of the Southwest Cattleland. Nor is she, nor her erstwhile Marshal, Brushy Bush, missed by anyone. However, Chrisman did not live long enough to see that almost on the site of old Beer City today sits a liquor/beer drive through store, a dance hall, and a bingo parlor, all outside the limits of Kansas law or Liberal police jurisdiction, just as Beer City did.

In later years, Burris Wright, son of Charles Wright, a well-known pioneer attorney and former Beaver County, Oklahoma, county attorney, moved the St. Nicholas Hotel from the town of Voorhees to within a mile east of the old Beer City. Voorhees, KS, like Beer City, is nothing but a wind-swept prairie today, but it once stood southeast of the present day Hugoton, KS.

 

Pumpkin Rollers

Although a number of settlers came to the area in the 1880ís and 90ís to farm the land, not many stayed since there was such a lack of rainfall, with a scarcity of neighbors, fences, schools, and churches. The coming of the Rock Island Railroad as far west as Liberal, Kansas, in 1888 helped encourage settlers to move with it.

It also led to the establishment of Beer City, a den of iniquity just south of the new town of Liberal and across the line into No Manís Land. Unlike other towns in the Neutral Strip, it was not planned or platted but just grew. However, when the area was added to Oklahoma Territory, Beer City was short-lived since it could not meet the standards of the new government. Its main inhabitants were gamblers, dance hall girls, bootleggers, and people running from the law.

By 1902 and 1903 settlers came in a tide so that within three years practically every acre of tillable land was claimed by this new group. Farmers from Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Illinois came to claim this land. Mennonites from Germany and Russia, came, too, for religious freedom. Farming methods and seed quality had improved so that these farmers did not starve out as their predecessors had done. Their major crop was broomcorn at first, followed later in the 1920ís by Turkey Red wheat brought by immigrants from Europe. Other railroads came through the Panhandle between 1910 and 1926 to carry crops to market, and new towns sprang up or old ones were moved to the railheads. Among those new towns were Forgan, Turpin, Greenough, Baker, Knowles, Mocane, and Floris. Floris was moved, literally, from a site 3 miles north of the railhead.

Turpin was a combination of Lorena and a new railroad town. Knowles was moved from Sand City and Zelma. And Gate was moved from its original site east of the present town. Both Forgan and Turpin were named for the financier railroad tycoons who were responsible for the railroads coming to the area. These pumpkin rollers prospered in dry land farming until the years of their using the moldboard plow to break out the dry soil made it ready for the drought and prevailing winds of the 1930ís. During the Dust Bowl era of the 1930ís many areas residents left for California, Idaho, and Washington.

Today farming and ranching are still the major industries, but the discovery of oil and natural gas made it economically possible for people to survive by providing jobs in the petroleum industry or by royalty checks to see them through the drought and hard times.

This story reflects the ingenuity of the hardy people who came to the area for a new beginning, along with those who came for less worthy purposes. This quality of endurance, ingenuity, and inventiveness helped them survive drought, the Dust Bowl, and hard times, as well as helping them build a good life in the desert prairie.

August 14, 2003

EDITORíS NOTE: The series "No Manís Land and Cimarron Territory" was written first as a presentation by Dr. Pauline Hodges for the Denver Westerners, a subgroup of a national organization of Western history authors. It was published in April, 2002 by that same group. Material was gathered by Dr. Hodges from the references that will be published when the series is complete. Many of these accounts were recorded by her from oral histories, as well as by several other authors of local history and may vary from author to author. She has divided the material into several articles that have appeared in the Herald-Democrat.

By PAULINE HODGES

Colorful Characters of No Manís Land and Cimarron Territory

Space does not allow for all the interesting and colorful inhabitants of the region. However, some must be mentioned for they brought color and action to this sparsely inhabited area. First, Jim Herron was the elected Sheriff of Cimarron Territory. He had left home at the age of 14 to ride the Jones & Plummer Trail. He then worked on the YL Ranch near Camp Supply, for the Healy Brothers, and eventually settled near Benton east of Beaver City. There he married Alice Groves, the daughter of a hotel owner. He and Alice bought the Beaver City Hotel. His wife died in 1892. In 1894 he was sentenced to be hanged in Meade, Kansas, probably as a result of his quarrel with the Cattle Growers Association.

In 1893, after his term as Sheriff had expired, he and Jack Rhodes had been financed by a livestock commission to buy 900 big steers. Herron made a deal with a contractor in South Dakota to buy the steers to feed people on an Indian reservation. Herron and Rhodes openly rounded up the cattle and shipped them from Meade, Kansas. Whether they intentionally included some 100 cattle that were not theirs is not known, but they were charged, tried, and sentenced to be hanged in Meade. They were remanded to the Sheriff of that town who turned them over to a deputy.

The deputy managed to let them escape after he had wounded Rhodes who died as a result. Herron escaped to Arizona where for 50 years he ranched and ran a butcher shop on both sides of the border with Mexico. He returned to Beaver later and tried unsuccessfully to get the charges dropped. Healy was sheriff of Beaver County by that time, but he made no attempt to arrest Jim. Herron did return again some years later and wrote his memoirs, with help of a local attorney. However, they were not published until 1969 when Denver author Harry E. Christman found, by accident, the manuscript and turned it into the book

Fifty Years on the Owl Hoot Trail.   After the flood of 1965 in Colorado,  electrical repairmen from all over the country were sent to Denver to fix large appliances damaged by the flood.  Mrs. Chrisman invited the wife of one of the repairman into their Lakewood house for coffee while he worked on their appliances in their basement.    In visiting with her, the young woman revealed that her grandfather had come from very near the place Mr. and Mrs. Chrisman had been newspaper reporters, Liberal, Kansas, and that she had typed a manuscript for him about his life in No Manís Land!  Harry had searched for a copy of that manuscript for nearly ten years!

            One of the important settlers of Beaver County, Oklahoma Territory, was
Fred C. Tracy.  As a young man he traveled with his father from Rochester, Illinois,
to Englewood, Kansas.  There he and his father set up a general store.  From there they moved to the original town of Gate City and set up a store there. His father in 1891 then  moved to the new town of Beaver City to set up a general store, hardware, and post office.  He was joined later that year by Fred Tracy.  The Tracy family played an important part in the development of Beaver City.  Fred was active in politics both locally and on the state level, serving as a member of the State Constitutional Convention.  He served on six committees at the convention, one of which was the all important Boundaries Committee that determined county boundaries.  Since it was possible to do so as the new state certified various professionals to practice,  Tracy applied to be certified as both a lawyer and as a pharmacist since his store sold patent medicine and he was serving in a legal capacity at the convention.  Never mind that he had not studied law or pharmacy!  He went on to become the County Attorney for Beaver County, as well as serving in various other offices.

            One of the most colorful, if not the most honest characters, who helped begin Beaver City was George Scranage.  This fellow sold lots in town sites for land he did not own.  He and his fellow promoters traded two lots where Lane had his store/post office in return for his squattersí rights.  They then platted the town site of 640 acres for Beaver City,  completing the survey on April 8, 1886.  They returned to Wichita where they advertised widely for the sale of these ideal lots.  The town was planned to spread out along the river bottom, and the group platted two streets 100 feet wide for which they planned the business section.  Then they went to Washington to obtain title for their town, only to find that the Government General Land Office had no jurisdiction in No Manís Land to grant such titles.  Congress had never placed this area under any jurisdiction since it did not belong to the United States, and, therefore, no crime, even murder, could be prosecuted by the courts.  However, this did not deter Scranage who continued to sell lots.  He had been denounced in Congress for swindling many residents of Indiana from whence he came for collecting large fees for re-locating them on lots in No Manís Land which he did not own and for which they could not obtain a title.  Scranage claimed squatterís rights as his homestead to 160 acres adjoining Beaver,  80 acres being a part of the platted town site.  He also had two or more town sites  located west of Beaver City where he pretended to convey titles to lots.  In fact, the land which I now legally own was a part of one of his schemes, and until I had a title search and surveys made, it had been illegally sold all these 112 years to various upstanding and important city citizens.  Furthermore, I was most surprised  to find when I returned to Beaver after a 25 year absence that a housing development section of the town was now called the ďScranage AdditionĒ!  The attempt at organization of Cimarron Territory was, in fact, an effort  to control such unscrupulous folk as Scranage.  Although the area did not fit with the rest of Oklahoma Territory, the tacking of it onto the larger area by Congress brought some advantages.   The first was that law and order was established, and then title to the town site could be obtained.  However, first,  the elected officials must prove there were 200 citizens living here.  In order to do that, a census was taken on July 1, 1892, when the Normal Institute for school teachers in the entire area was being held in town.  The census, therefore, showed 210 folk, when, in reality, there were only 184 residents.  Even though this census was illegal, the inspector general ruled that the school teachers had not informed the census takers that they were not legal residents of the town and therefore the census would stand.  Never mind that the census takers were likely local folk who knew most people who lived in Beaver City at the time!   Lots were then legally sold at the sums of $3.50 to $5.00 for business lots and 50 cents to $1.25 for residence lots.  Beaver City, therefore, became a legal town and the county seat of the Seventh County, Oklahoma Territory.

 

August 7, 2003

EDITORíS NOTE: The series "No Manís Land and Cimarron Territory" was written first as a presentation by Dr. Pauline Hodges for the Denver Westerners, a subgroup of a national organization of Western history authors. It was published in April, 2002 by that same group. Material was gathered by Dr. Hodges from the references that will be published when the series is complete. Many of these accounts were recorded by her from oral histories, as well as by several other authors of local history and may vary from author to author. She has divided the material into several articles that have appeared in the Herald-Democrat.

By PAULINE HODGES

During the early days of cattle trails and establishment of ranching, no formal laws or government existed in No Manís Land. This gave rise to cattle rustling, staking of land without any legal authority, and the coming of those from Kansas and Texas who were running from the law. Since the early ranches had been established around the towns of Beaver City, Gate City, Hardesty, and Kenton, several other towns or villages had sprung up but no formal organization of government had been made. The first post office in No Manís Land was a Star Route established from Dodge City, Kansas, to Tascosa, Texas.

The post office for the area was located at Crawfordís Ranch on Sharpís Creek with Bartholomew Crawford as postmaster. Since it was not legally a part of the United States, the post office was listed as being in Texas so was called Tarbox, Texas, even though its physical presence was in No Manís Land. In 1881 another Star Route ran from Camp Supply, Indian Territory, to Springer, New Mexico. It covered all of No Manís Land with a very few stops on the way. In fact, the behavior of the carrier for loafing at various ranches for days on end led to quite a scandal and probably contributed to the defeat of James G. Blaine for President in 1884 since he was charged with profiting from this route.

On April 8, 1883, the first post office for Beaver City was established on the north side of the river. However, in 1884 Jim Lane became postmaster and moved the post office to his store on the south side. A post office was established at Gate City on April 15, 1886, and both the postmarks for Gate City and Beaver City carried N.S.I.T for Neutral Strip of Indian Territory. However, this was a misnomer since the Strip had never been part of Indian Territory. From establishment of that first post office until 1908 there were 59 post offices established in what later became Beaver County; 47 were established in the area that is now Texas County; and 37 were established in Cimarron County, making a total of 143 in No Manís Land. Today only 6 remain in Beaver County; 9 remain in Texas County; and only 4 in Cimarron County.

The area was organized illegally in 1886 in an attempt to bring some law and order to No Manís Land and to curb the action of a Vigilante Committee who had taken into their own hands the trial and punishment of men whom they saw as not doing as they thought they should. After the Committee had held a number of hangings, a group of fifty men decided to try to curtail their actions and they, consequently, met twice during the year to form a claims board and set up elections in the respective areas. In March 1887 these elected officials met to form a legislative council. In November 1887 nine councilors and fourteen delegates to the Territorial Council were elected. Dr. Owen G. Chase was elected asTerritorial Delegate to go to Washington during the Congressional session to petition for recognition and eventually for statehood. Another group dissatisfied with the elections had met at the new town of Rothwell in July 1887 and selected John Dale as their delegate. Neither man was able to achieve recognition of the territory. This attempt at government continued until May 2, 1890, when Congress tacked Cimarron Territory onto Oklahoma Territory. In the meantime, the Presbyterians in Beaver built their small frame church that still stands and was the first church in what became Oklahoma Territory, creating some semblance of civilization out of all the chaos of the time.

July 31, 2003
 

More history on Beaver County ranches, cattlemen

EDITORíS NOTE: The series "No Manís Land and Cimarron Territory" was written first as a presentation by Dr. Pauline Hodges for the Denver Westerners, a subgroup of a national organization of Western history authors. It was published in April, 2002 by that same group. Material was gathered by Dr. Hodges from the references that will be published when the series is complete. Many of these accounts were recorded by her from oral histories, as well as by several other authors of local history and may vary from author to author. She has divided the material into several articles that will appear in the Herald-Democrat.

By PAULINE HODGES

More Ranches & Cattlemen

Otto Barby came to Kansas as a young man where he worked for the Pierce-Brown Cattle Company northwest of Ashland, Kansas. In 1883 as a young cowboy he assisted in a two-month roundup of cattle that extended from the Cantonment Indian Agency northwest through No Manís Land to the mouth of Sharpís Creek south of the present town of Liberal, Kansas.

This roundup passed through the town of Beaver. He later worked for the Taintor Ranch and visited the John Beebe ranch 13 miles east of Beaver. There he met his future wife May Beebe, and in 1886 he bought 160 acres which was a relinquishment. The Barbys lived in a dugout, later moving a two room house from the little town of Alpine that was across the Beaver River south of the dugout. These two rooms are still a portion of the headquarters of what became one of the largest ranches of the area. In the Dust Bowl years Mr. Barby was able to buy land from farmers, thus acquiring hundreds of acres of land for ranching operations with his children who later joined in the family business and remained there as partners in the operation.

In 1879 William H. Healy established one of the very first ranches in No Manís Land near the town of Alpine and on land later owned by the Barbys. This ranch became known as the KK Ranch. His son Frank Dale Healy remained on the ranch and he and his wife Frank Belle have written their memoirs about that time of hardship in the middle of a new country for them and a new experience.

In July of 1879 the Hardesty Brothers moved their herd of cattle from the Arkansas River and located on the Beaver River. This ranch later had a town named Hardesty on their land. It is also near the location of the Hitch-Westmoreland ranches on  Coldwater Creek. J. K. Hitch had come to No Manís Land in 1884. The Indians had been controlled, the railroads were pushing west, and the long cattle drives were ending. By the early 1890ís J. K. Hitch was established and well-known in the area. He could no longer rely on an unsettled public domain for grazing purposes. From the mid-1890ís to 1910 he purchased select tracts along the Coldwater, as well as land along Hackberry Creek in Texas, and a sizable holding in Seward County, Kansas.

Since No Manís Land had become a part of Oklahoma Territory in 1890, a land office was opened in 1891 in Beaver City, and J. K. Hitch received a patent in 1893 after proving up his claim. He paid a fee of fourteen dollars. His brother Charles Hitch had joined him and staked a claim nearby and started his own ranch. In the later 1890ís J. K. Hitch ran 5,000 head of cows, and Charles ran 2,000 head on the same range. By 1890 these two men were shipping as many as 10,000 steers and heifers per year to market in Kansas City by way of Old Tyrone, a town that had sprung up not far from Shadeís Well, a watering hole for the cattle trails just south of the Kansas line. In 1888 the Rock Island Railroad had built southwestward across Seward County, Kansas, and through Liberal. Tyrone sprang up near the Kansas line and became the new major shipping point for the Neutral Strip or No Manís Land. Loading pens were built on the side of the Neutral Strip because of the cattle quarantine law enacted in Kansas prohibiting any Texas cattle from being shipped out of Kansas. Tick fever had been carried by Texas longhorns, and the Hitches land crossed over into Texas.

Henry Charles Hitch was the son of J. K.Hitch and was born in 1884. He was a great admirer of both his father and his grandfather Henry Westmoreland. He worked as a cowboy and later managed the ranch in Seward County. He finished high school at Liberal, Kansas, while working on the ranch. He later attended business college in Winfield, Kansas. However, he considered his home on the Coldwater Creek. When he married Christine Walker, a school teacher, the region was still young and there was much opportunity for an enterprising young man. This was the end of an era and a new one was just beginning. It was the end of the open range, the coming of the railroad, and there were automobiles on the streets of the new town of Guymon. Henry C. Hitchís son "Ladd" later carried on the family business, expanding into feed yards, hog farms, and many other Hitch Enterprises that carry the family name. He became a long time member and supporter of the No Manís Land Historical Society in order to preserve the unique history of the area. He held the position of President of that Society when he died recently.

Boss Neff was one of the best known ranchers in No Manís Land and a neighbor of the Hitches. He had worked as a cowboy, trail driver, and freight driver on the Jones & Plummer Trail. In March 1888 he purchased his first herd of cattle consisting of 83 head for approximately $900. He put the brand NF on them. In 1890 he purchased a two-room sod house, a sod barn big enough for six horses, and 40 tons of hay for $100. In 1893 he married the daughter of an early day family, Ida Eubank, in Old Hardesty. Part of his ranch is within sight of the old Texas-Montana Trail. He was a man of many interests: cattle, farming, banking, businessman, clerking sales, and writing. He was one of the founders of the No Manís Land Historical Society and recorded much of the early history of the area.

The YL Ranch in eastern Beaver County remains today as one of the landmark ranches of the area. The original ranch ran as far east as Camp Supply, and when Bob Maple bought part of the ranch, he retained the brand name. Bob Maple had come to Beaver County with his grandfather and worked as a cowboy on the T6 Ranch before he married Pearl Judy, daughter of an early day rancher. After his untimely death, his widow carried on with the management of the ranch. Upon the her death, her grandson Mark Mayo inherited the ranch and made it one of the most successful in the area. Mark was a fine Western artist and did the painting for the end sheets for the book Memoirs of Fred Tracy, the original of which hangs in the Jones & Plummer Trail Museum in Beaver City.

July 24, 2003

EDITORíS NOTE: The series "No Manís Land and Cimarron Territory" was written first as a presentation by Dr. Pauline Hodges for the Denver Westerners, a subgroup of a national organization of Western history authors. It was published in April, 2002 by that same group. Material was gathered by Dr. Hodges from the references that will be published when the series is complete. Many of these accounts were recorded by her from oral histories, as well as by several other authors of local history and may vary from author to author. She has divided the material into several articles that will appear in the Herald-Democrat.

By PAULINE HODGES

Cattlemen and Ranchers

Several of the cowboys who helped drive cattle north later returned to the area as ranchers since they had liked the looks of the abundant buffalo graze and lack of settlers in No Manís Land. Cattlemen, thinking where the buffalo had thrived, cattle would do well began taking over the range lands and stocking them with cattle.

These early ranchers were the first of the pioneers. They, to some degree, drove out the outlaws and set up their own code of laws and during the 1880ís established their own form of government. Great ranches covered the area by 1880, and since no one owned the land the one getting there first claimed it.

There was an unwritten law as to which range was theirs. Each rancher had his own definite cattle brand, and some ranchers were better known by their brands than by their actual names. Cowboys were identified by the brand for which they worked. However, brands could not actually be recorded as legal property until Oklahoma statehood in 1907.

One of the oldest brands in the area was that of the Anchor-D, originating about 1878 when an old whaler, E. C. Dudley of Boston chose to represent his former trade and the D for his name. The Anchor-D ran upwards of 30,000 head of cattle during its best years. It extended for 1500 acres from Kansas to Texas across No Manís Land, with the Beaver River its principal source of water. Men made fortunes and lost fortunes long before they could own an acre of the land they claimed for their ranches.

The 101 Ranch was established in 1877, the same year the OX came into existence. Another ranch known as the Box H and still another known as the ZH were founded northwest of present day Boise City about the same time. The CCC Ranch had its headquarters just near the Texas line and spread over area that is in both Texas and Cimarron Counties today. The Prairie Cattle company was the biggest ranch company in the nation in the 1870ís and 1880ís, with offices in Trinidad, Colorado. It covered all of Cimarron County and was owned by an English Corporation, as many early ranches in the West were. Seventeen brands were listed in its ownership. As early as 1877 the 101 Ranch had a telephone to Trinidad, Colorado, consisting of a single wire. It also served the OX Ranch. Cattle raising was big business, and consequently, kept pace with the development of the rest of the nation in many respects.

The ranches of the area were, of course, established along the two rivers, with the majority of them being in the areas of the settlements of Kenton, Hardesty, Gate City, and Beaver City. In addition to those mentioned previously, the best known were the Taintor Ranch established in 1879 by Sam Bullard, and purchased from him in 1881 by Fred Taintor.The ranch with 1,500 head of cattle was on Hackberry Creek in the eastern end of the area. A crude dugout was soon replaced by a two room house made of rock laid up in gypsum and sand. Later other rooms were added, and the remains of that sturdy house are found today.

Mr. Taintor was the first to bring in registered Hereford cattle in 1884. He, like others in the area, had begun shipping his cattle out of Englewood, Kansas, much closer after the railroad built there. Squatters began to settle on land around the Taintor Ranch, and after the blizzard of 1886-87 Mr. Taintor made an agreement with these folk for him to furnish wire to fence off their fields in return for his cattle running the range. This agreement seemed satisfactory. In later years he established the Home State Bank in Englewood and the ranch was sold.

July 10, 2003

EDITORíS NOTE: The series "No Manís Land and Cimarron Territory" was written first as a presentation by Dr. Pauline Hodges for the Denver Westerners, a subgroup of a national organization of Western history authors. It was published in April, 2002 by that same group. Material was gathered by Dr. Hodges from the references that will be published when the series is complete. Many of these accounts were recorded by her from oral histories, as well as by several other authors of local history and may vary from author to author. She has divided the material into several articles that will appear in the Herald-Democrat.

By PAULINE HODGES

Jones & Plummer

Another well-known trail was the Tascosa Trail that served from 1870-1887 for trail-herds from Texas to Dodge City. Tascosa in Oldham County, Texas, served as a re-stocking place for cattle drives from South Texas, as well as for the surrounding area. The trail followed the old Fort Bascom Trail closely, and at Sharpís Creek in Beaver County took a turn northeast to Dodge City.

In 1872 C. E. Jones, better known as Ed, hired to a Wisconsin Company to hunt buffalo and ship the hides for a princely sum of $50 a month. He shortly thereafter severed his ties with the Wisconsin firm and went into business with Joe Plummer, settling on the north bank of Wolf Creek in Ochiltree County, Texas, just immediately south of No Manís Land, and just east of where the present highway 83 crosses Wolf Creek.

They built a stockade and a three room house with a cellar. Here they bought buffalo hides and sold supplies to the hunters and ranchers. However, they decided it was a long way to ship hides to market at Dodge City, Kansas, via either the Tascosa Trail to the west or the Military Road through Camp Supply to the east. In 1874 Mr. Jones decided to try a new route by traveling north, veering slightly northeast. His plan proved to be a good one as he found plenty of water and good camping places along the route.

The freighters would tie three or four wagons together and hitch twelve to twenty horses, tandem, depending on the load, to haul freight from town to town. The trail passed on the west side of Gillalou Lake at the present townsite of Booker, Texas, which is 3 miles south of the Texas line. (Of course, this town did not exist until the coming of the railroad in 1918.)

When Jones reached the Beaver River, he turned east for about a mile, probably thinking the crossing would be easier than going directly north across the highest sand hills. Again he was right. His next watering place was at Crooked Creek just across the line in Kansas. He then followed the east bank of Crooked Creek until coming to Mulberry Creek, then the Arkansas River, and finally to Dodge City. From 1872 to 1874 the Santa Fe Railroad carried a half million buffalo hides out of Dodge City. It has been estimated that from 1871 to 1878 approximately six million hides were shipped from the Dodge City gathering point alone.

The buffalo were gone by 1879, but the Jones & Plummer Trail carried crucial supplies to General Nelson Miles and General Philip Sheridan during their famous 1874 Indian campaign. Materials for building Fort Elliott at Mobeetie, Texas, came over the Trail. Fort Elliott became the south terminus for the Trail, with Dodge City the northern. Ranchers south of the Jones & Plummer station heard of the shorter route and began using it for themselves, bringing their herds from Mobeetie to Dodge City. Herd after herd, from fifteen hundred to three thousand cattle in each, crossed No Manís Land on their way to market. The ranchers could buy thin yearlings for one dollar a head, two dollars for two year olds, and three dollars for three year olds. By the time these cattle had grazed for three months on the thick buffalo grass in No Manís Land, they had gained a lot of weight and they made money for the ranchers.

The half way stopping place on this trail was on the Beaver River in No Manís land. Early in March 1880 Jim Lane came to the Beaver River. He had crossed it on the Trail but this time he brought his family. He established a station for the accommodation of the freighters and cowboys, and, of course, for his own profit.

The house he built, which served as general store, saloon, hotel, and restaurant, still stands. It was built of prairie sod and the original part is 14 x 36 feet. The rafters were poles cut from the few trees along the Beaver River. Brush served in place of ordinary sheeting and layers of sod took the place of shingles. The walls within were plastered with a mixture of sand and gypsum dug from the hills south of the river. It was heated by a wood stove. The house still stands and is a designated historic landmark.

Beside the house, Lane built a corral about 75 feet square with sod walls four feet high and with a roofed shed on one side. This shed furnished shelter for the horses, mules, and cattle during a blizzard. This was the beginning of the town of Beaver City that became the capital of Cimarron Territory, the county seat of the Seventh County, and that serves as the seat of Beaver County today. Incidentally, I now live on land adjacent to where the trail approached the Beaver River and where it followed the present day Main Street of Beaver. (However, the name Main Street is not the MAIN street of the town today, but instead has cattle pens for the weekly sale, the sale barn, elevators, storage sheds, and a service station, as well as a few houses and an apartment complex. For as the town grew, residents realized that on the few occasions when the Beaver River flooded, it would cover the original Main Street.

In 1879 the Tuttle Trail was started by John F. Tuttle and John Chapman as an alternate route to the Jones & Plummer since it better served those in the far eastern sections of the Texas Panhandle and in eastern No Manís Land. Like the other trails, it began in the Texas Panhandle and crossed into No Manís Land two miles across the border from Indian Territory near Soddy Town (whose name was later changed to Ivanhoe in 1887).

Since there was no law or order in No Manís Land nor any government, the behavior of the cowboys was often unruly, and calves straggling along the trail were often picked up by ranchers or cowboys and claimed as their own. The trail drivers were careful to keep watch for a butte called Flat Top as this was their landmark at the eastern edge of No Manís Land.

Another little known trail from Texas in the 1880ís was the Liberal, Hardesty, and Hansford wagon trail. When the Rock Island Railroad surveyed land for the new railroad, the little town of Hardesty was included. Ranchers thought the town would grow as a result, but the railroad by-passed them to the north and the original town was moved to a different site so as to be on a major highway.

Until 1885 cattle were driven to Dodge City over these routes. However, because of tick fever, Kansas passed laws prohibiting Texas cattle from entering Kansas. Therefore, the National Trail, or sometimes called the Texas-Montana Trail, crossed No Manís Land and was designated by the government to turn west at Camp Supply and cross No Manís Land until it passed the Kansas border, then turn north into Colorado, crossing the Arkansas River at Trail City.

 

 

July 3, 2003

EDITORíS NOTE: The series "No Manís Land and Cimarron Territory" was written first as a presentation by Dr. Pauline Hodges for the Denver Westerners, a subgroup of a national organization of Western history authors. It was published in April, 2002 by that same group. Material was gathered by Dr. Hodges from the references that will be published when the series is complete. Many of these accounts were recorded by her from oral histories, as well as by several other authors of local history and may vary from author to author. She has divided the material into several articles that will appear in the Herald-Democrat.

By PAULINE HODGES

Outlaws, Cattle Trails & Ranches

It was not until these sheep raids and the Dry Route of the Santa Fe Trail passed the area that the United States paid any attention to the areas, and then only because of Outlaw attacks on the sheep ranchers and Indian attacks on the freighters and travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. This alternate shorter route of the Trail ran diagonally across what later became Cimarron County from the northeast to the southwest. There was a stretch of seventy miles in which there was no water. At least three days were needed to cross it from the cutoff to the Cimarron River. The trail can be followed as the ruts are still evident in various places. They are especially evident today on the Corrumpa at McNeeís Crossing northeast of Rabbit Ear Mountain but inside the Oklahoma line.

In 1865 Kit Carson was ordered to establish a fort on Cold Springs or Cedar Buttes to protect travelers on the Santa Fe Trail from raids by the Comanches, Kiowas, and Cheyennes. It was short-lived, however, as Carson abandoned it in September 1865. In June of that year, he had written to head-quarters in Santa Fe from what he called Fort Nichols, New Mexico, even though the fort was located five miles east of the New Mexico line in No Manís Land. He was ordered to Santa Fe in the fall to meet with a Congressional delegation who was to investigate Indian matters. The fort was abandoned that fall. The site has been designated as a Historic Landmark and from it one can view the Sierra Grande Mountains fifty miles away; the Rabbit Ear Mountains at the foot of which sits Clayton, New Mexico; and to the north the beautiful valley of the Cimarron River twelve miles away. Fort Nichols was on the prong of South Carrizo Creek, a tributary of the Cimarron River.

English and

American Settlements

The earliest permanent settlements by English or American settlers were in what is today Cimarron County. In 1863-68 William Coe, the leader of the outlaws, occupied Stone Mountain, a settlement of half a dozen cabins, and Robbers Roost, both within ideal trailing-distance to the Santa Fe Trail, some 35 miles east of Willowbar Crossing of the Cimarron River and 15 miles south of Fort Nichols.

These sites are at the confluence of the Carrizo Creek with the Cimarron River and where the 103rd meridian meets the 37th parallel. As long as Coe and his gang remained in No Manís Land, no one could arrest them. Coe had escaped twice from prison in Ft. Lyons, Colorado. However, he was captured by soldiers, with the aid of a woman rancher, just across the line into Colorado, and was hanged by vigilantes near Pueblo.

In the meantime trails had begun crossing No Manís Land. The Fort Bascom Trail began in New Mexico Territory and crossed into present day western Beaver County and crossed Fulton Creek, Palo Duro Creek, and on to Sharpís Creek Crossing of the Beaver River. It continued on to meet up with the Santa Fe Trail, then continued on to Abilene, Kansas, where the cattle were sold.

Although little is known about the Arizona Trail, there is evidence that it served as a military route over which supplies and equipment came to a more or less important military post near the old Company M Ranch headquarters south of the present day town of Boise City, then on to Fort Nichols, meeting up with the Santa Fe Trail, and thence eventually on to Arizona. In the 1860ís the Rath Trail was established to freight whiskey, kegs of gun powder, and provisions to buffalo hunters. In 1870 it was considered an unique trail and at the height of its business. However, with the killing off of all the buffalo, its purpose ended and only a few ruts mark its use.

 

June 26, 2003

Spanish influence prevalent here in Beaver County

EDITORíS NOTE: The series "No Manís Land and Cimarron Territory" was written first as a presentation by Dr. Pauline Hodges for the Denver Westerners, a subgroup of a national organization of Western history authors. It was published in April, 2002 by that same group. Material was gathered by Dr. Hodges from the references that will be published when the series is complete. Many of these accounts were recorded by her from oral histories, as well as by several other authors of local history and may vary from author to author. She has divided the material into several articles that will appear in the Herald-Democrat.

By PAULINE HODGES

Spanish Influence

The Historic Stage from A. D. 1541 to the present began in what later became No Manís Land with Coronadoís expedition to find the Seven Cities of Cibola.

On the journey north Coronado passed a place he called Tigeux near what is now Bernalillo, New Mexico. His party then traveled east to the Pecos River and to a point east of the 100th meridian. From there they went north to near present day Wichita, Kansas. However, on the return trip the expedition turned southwest and traveled through most of what is today the Panhandle.

At a site a few miles south of Beaver City, the prevailing winds during the Dust Bowl uncovered the skeleton of a man in Spanish armour of the 1500ís, as well as the skeleton of a horse in full regalia of the time with Spanish bit the University of Oklahoma Museum and are thought to be of Coronadoís group. Other evidence of his journey has been found in the other two counties. We know that he spent the winter of 1541-42 at Tiguex before returning to Mexico.

Although the Panhandle area was under the jurisdiction of two monarchies (Spain and France) and three republics (Mexico, Texas, and the United States), the attempt to settle the area did not occur until after 1850. By the 1500ís the Panhandle Aspect villagers had long abandoned the plains. Corornado met with tribes whom he thought to be Apache and who were called Querechos and Teyas. In fact, only the Querechos were Apache. The Teyas were most likely one of the Caddoan-speaking Wichita tribes, long time residents of the area and of western Oklahoma. Their artifacts have been found throughout both the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles.

In addition, in the last five years a site south of the town of Beaver reveals what looks to be an Anasazi site, certainly a Puebloan one, of that same era. The end of the Anazasi period conincided with the coming of Coronado to the area, although they probably did not encounter each other. Of course, the Comanches were on the plains of Texas hundreds of years before the Spaniards, as early as the 900ís A. D.

The first recorded Comanche was Bigoteí, who made the mistake of approaching Coronado and, as a result, was held in chains for a year before being released. Two other Comanche chiefs who left behind place names were Nocona and Santana. If you wear cowboy boots or visit Southwest Kansas, you will recognize these names. The name of the county and town (Beaver) in which I live has a Comanche name, Corrumpa, meaning Beaver Creek or River. Approximately 100,000 Comanches occupied an area of 1,500 miles, but there is no evidence of permanent locations in No Manís land, probably because of lack of water and the fact that they were a nomadic tribe.

Relative newcomers to the area were the Apaches, Cheyennes, and Kiowas who also used the area as hunting grounds. Again, neither of these tribes had permanent sites and left behind a wealth of projectile points but little else. In fact, between the end of the Panhandle Aspect at about the1400ís until the coming of cattle trails, few folk inhabited the area. The lack of water was probably the major factor, as well as lack of trees for shelter. In the late 1500ís the western end of the area belonged to two different Spanish Land Grants and descendants of those two families still live in the area. Other Spanish settlers from New Mexico settled in the area to raise sheep.

In 1863 Juan and Vicenta Baca trailed over a thousand sheep across the trackless prairie and wild foothill region from Las Vegas and San Miguel County, New Mexico Territory, to the Cimarron Valley. Camps were established by the Bacas near the present site of Kenton, Oklahoma, as well as just across the line in New Mexico Territory. The Bernal family also came to raise sheep. Their nearest trading post was Trinidad, Colorado, 150 miles away. However, the outlaw gang led by a man named Coe raided their sheep until the gang was broken up by U. S. soldiers led by Col. William H. Penrose.

These two families continued to ranch until 1870 when the incoming cattle ranchers paid Don Jose Baca $25,000 to remove his sheep to the mountain country of north central New Mexico Territory. However, the Lujan brothers, Juan, Francisco, Lorenzo, and Alejandro bought sheep from the Bacas and continued to ranch on Corrumpa Creek. They were responsible for building one of the first chapels in the area and on their land. The Bernals did leave, realizing that the cattlemen were rapidly extending their range toward the Cimarron Valley. However, these early settlers left behind their legacy in place names of Carrizo, near Kenton, and Carrizozo and Corrumpa Creeks, as well as Baca County, Colorado.

Outlaws, Cattle Trails & Ranches

It was not until these sheep raids and the Dry Route of the Santa Fe Trail passed the area that the United States paid any attention to the areas, and then only because of Outlaw attacks on the sheep ranchers and Indian attacks on the freighters and travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. This alternate shorter route of the Trail ran diagonally across what later became Cimarron County from the northeast to the southwest. There was a stretch of seventy miles in which there was no water. At least three days were needed to cross it from the cutoff to the Cimarron River. The trail can be followed as the ruts are still evident in various places. They are especially evident today on the Corrumpa at McNeeís Crossing northeast of Rabbit Ear Mountain but inside the Oklahoma line.

In 1865 Kit Carson was ordered to establish a fort on Cold Springs or Cedar Buttes to protect travelers on the Santa Fe Trail from raids by the Comanches, Kiowas, and Cheyennes. It was short-lived, however, as Carson abandoned it in September 1865. In June of that year, he had written to head-quarters in Santa Fe from what he called Fort Nichols, New Mexico, even though the fort was located five miles east of the New Mexico line in No Manís Land. He was ordered to Santa Fe in the fall to meet with a Congressional delegation who was to investigate Indian matters. The fort was abandoned that fall. The site has been designated as a Historic Landmark and from it one can view the Sierra Grande Mountains fifty miles away; the Rabbit Ear Mountains at the foot of which sits Clayton, New Mexico; and to the north the beautiful valley of the Cimarron River twelve miles away. Fort Nichols was on the prong of South Carrizo Creek, a tributary of the Cimarron River.

June 19, 2003

No Manís Land rich in history

EDITORíS NOTE: The series "No Manís Land and Cimarron Territory" was written first as a presentation by Dr. Pauline Hodges for the Denver Westerners, a subgroup of a national organization of Western history authors. It was published in April, 2002 by that same group. Material was gathered by Dr. Hodges from the references that will be published when the series is complete. Many of these accounts were recorded by her from oral histories, as well as by several other authors of local history and may vary from author to author. She has divided the material into several articles that will appear in the Herald-Democrat.

By PAULINE HODGES

The Oklahoma Panhandle, once called No Manís Land, is attached to Oklahoma but is little akin to it culturally, geographically, or historically. The rest of the state has one of three views about us: (a) It is part of the frozen north with such comments as, "Oh, yes, where it snows all the time." (b) We are desperately poor. (c) We are totally illiterate.

Of course, all of these views are far from the truth. We also hear such comments from downstaters who deign to drive to the Panhandle for business reasons such as, "Oh, it is SO far out here." Yes, actually, the same distance as when we drive to the capital city. However, this area is unique for its barren beauty, and its warm, outgoing, and kind people, and for its unusual history. And we are survivors.

First, let me clarify the area by the names to which I shall refer: No Manís Land because from 1845 until 1890 the area belonged to no recognized state or nation; the Neutral Strip because it did not enter into the Civil War since it did not belong to either the North or South; Cimarron Territory which described the attempt to become a territory and state unto itself; Beaver County or the Seventh County which describes the area when it was part of Oklahoma Territory; the Public Strip because in 1885 Secretary of the Interior L. C. O. Lamar ruled the Strip was public domain, and today the Oklahoma Panhandle since it sticks out there all by itself and is now 3 counties, Cimarron, Texas, and Beaver. In the words of one of the early white pioneers Maude O. Thomas, "It has been owned and disowned, an orphan among the nations, no manís land, finally obtaining a permanent home as an appendage to the Territory of Oklahoma."

Since the area is really a desert with no native trees except for a few along the two rivers that run through the area, with scarce rainfall and strong prevailing winds, it was not kindly to settlers. There were few trees from which to build a log house or to provide shelter. There was not the rainfall or the humidity to provide crops without proper cultivation.

Distances were great and markets were far away. It was a land that Congress forgot and that was truly "No Manís Land" with Beaver City as the capital. The word Cimarron comes from the Spanish word "cimarrones" meaning wild cattle and also refers to the river which begins in northern New Mexico, to the area, and to the illegal territory formed from No Manís Land.

Folk in the area known as No Manís Land tend to refer to its being inhabited first when the cattle trails from Texas began in the 1870ís, or when the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail first crossed the area. However, this is far from reality. That strip of land that lies between the 36í30 and 37 degrees latitude and between the 100th and 103rd meridians is only 34 Ĺ miles wide and 167 miles long, but it is packed with unique geology, archeology, and history. And its history did not begin, as is commonly thought, when Anglos and cattle came into the scene, but, rather, some millions of years ago during the Jurassic geologic period when dinosaurs roamed the area.

Dinosaur tracks are evident in the rocks in western Cimarron County, the farthest point west in the area. They are most obvious in sites found near Kenton, a village just eight miles east of Folsom, New Mexico. Other later fossils from the Permian, Pennsylvanian, Mississippian, and Cambrian layers have been excavated by archeologists from the University of Oklahoma and from West Texas State University in Canyon.

The area is rich in oil and gas, and most finds are from the Morrow epoch in the Pennyslvanian Period, as well as the Permian Period. The Permian basin ranges in depth from 1,000 to 6,500 feet and is evidence of the sediment laid down in shallow seas. The area before the formation of the Rocky Mountains was a sea that covered land as far as the Pacific. At two later periods, after the upheaval of the Rockies, seas covered the area to the south as far as the present Gulf of Mexico.

In addition to the evidence of oil and gas, marine fossils abound in the drilling cores from oil and gas wells, as well as being found in the layers of sandstone and shales. On a ranch in northern Beaver County Dwight Leonard and I dug down about 18 inches to find a layer of ancient sea shells at least a foot deep. They were so ancient that they crumbled at the touch. The sand dunes which cover an area nearly 150 miles long and 2 to 5 miles in width run from western Texas County to about 120 miles east of Beaver County. These dunes were part of that early sea era and the prevailing south winds have formed the sand into large dunes resembling those near Alamosa, Colorado, or the Oregon Coast.

Early Inhabitants

The oldest evidence of humans in the area dates to the period 10,000 to 6,000 B.C. The main Paleo-Indian artifacts that are found in abundance are at the Nall Site in Cimarron County, a sand dune blowout, the only site that has produced a full range of projectile points types such as Clovis, Folsom, Meserve, Milnesand, Midland, Scottsbluff, and Plainview.

Presumably the latter 5 represent the hunting and foraging activities of small migratory bands, while the Clovis and Folsom points are so abundant that one has to assume that the area was widely and often used for these purposes. These were made of alibate and Ogallala quartzite for the most part.

More recent and permanent habitation is evident by the vertically set stone slabs as wall foundations in house structures that were used from A. D. 1000 to 1500. Since stone slab wall foundations are clearly visible in the shortgrass steppe region, these Panhandle Aspect sites are easy to locate. These slab houses were first excavated in 1919-1920 and run throughout the three counties of the area, as well as into the Northern Texas Panhandle. One such site is south of the YL Ranch in eastern Beaver County. Some of these structures have also been found in Colorado Apishapa area, although the architecture lacks the central post focus and some other features of the slab people of the Panhandle Aspect.

Other evidence of early culture can be found in the petroglyphs near Kenton, Oklahoma. Pit houses were uncovered at the Carrizozo Creek Site near the Black Mesa region. Six caves located near the town of Kenton are also known as Basketmaker caves since artifacts from this culture as well as a mummified child were found there. This mummy, as well as projectile points from this site, are on display at the No Manís Land Historical Museum in Goodwell, Oklahoma.

Prehistoric irrigation ditches are quite prominent in eastern Beaver County. Distinctive traces of these prehistoric settlers abound along the Beaver River and are considered a part of the culture labeled the Panhandle Aspect. Some sites worth visiting are the Kenton or Basketmaker Caves, the Kenton Bison Kill Site, and The Two Sistersí Site in Texas County near the Stumper, Nash, and McGrath sites.

In addition, north of the Beaver County town of Gate, huge deposits of volcanic ash can be found. A large silica plant operated there for a number of years, making use of that deposit. Other volcanic lava deposits are quite prominent in Cimarron County where it joins Colorado and New Mexico. These are from a relatively recent active volcano (about 10,000 years ago) called Capulin. However, there is much evidence of many older volcanoes in the area.

So what does this have to do with Western History? Everything. The geological formation of the land determined the history to a large extent. Because the land was arid in recent times, because it was rich in volcanic soil, because it had been a sea, all affected how the land was viewed, acquired or abandoned, settled, or ruined and resulting in the Dust Bowl in the 1930ís.

 

 

Home burns February 7, 2003
Historical Facts Listed

Mildred VanDeburgh submitted this story about a house that burned recently in Beaver.

Hereís a little history background about the house that burned February 7, 2003 between 3rd and 4th Street on Avenue C of Beaver City. This was the house first owned by John and Ruby Spangler who moved from their farm nine and one half miles southwest of Beaver and put on an empty lot when they retired in 1957.

The Lumber for part of the house came from a big two story boarding house and Saloon then located on the lots where the First Security Bank is today. The Panhandle then was Uncivilized Territory and called "No Manís Land." The building and lots sold for unpaid taxes by owner and John bought it for $375. Another small building was on the lots and was rented to Annie Judd, who sold cream and also had a small photo studio where many of the kids in the 40s or 50s had their pictures taken.

John removed nails and took it apart and hauled the lumber to the country and built a two room house, car shed, barn and grainery from the lumber. John said in the attic part of the house there is bullet holes and gun shot lead in some of the lumber from gun fights when the territory was uncivilized. Since Beaver was big compared to other towns near by, it was a major point for most of the riffraff of the area such as Billy Olive, who shot up the town and Saloon. Chris Madsen was town Marshall at that time.

The house was built in the country and the family moved into it in 1922. Two more rooms were added to it in the country and when moved to town a basement was put in under part of the house and another room added. After John and Ruby passed away, their children sold the home.

 

By Dr. Paulene Hodges

EDITORíS NOTE: This is the first of a 11-part series written by Dr. V. Pauline Hodges. The series, "No Manís Land and Cimarron Territory" was written first as a presentation by Dr. Hodges for the Denver Westeners, a subgroup of a national organization of western history authors. We appreciate Dr. Hodges sharing these articles with us. They will be published periodically over the next few months.

By Dr. PAULINE HODGES

The Oklahoma Panhandle, once called No Manís Land, is attached to Oklahoma but is little akin to it culturally, geographically, or historically.

The rest of the state has one of three views about us: (a) It is part of the frozen north with such comments as, "Oh, yes, where it snows all the time." (b) We are desperately poor. (c) We are totally illiterate. Of course, all of these views are far from the truth. We also hear such comments from downstaters who deign to drive to the Panhandle for business reasons such as, "Oh, it is SO far out here." Yes, actually, the same distance as when we drive to the capital city. However, this area is unique for its barren beauty, and its warm, outgoing, and kind people, and for its unusual history.

And we are survivors.

First, let me clarify the area by the names to which I shall refer: No Manís Land because from 1845 until 1890 the area belonged to no recognized state or nation; the Neutral Strip because it did not enter into the Civil War since it did not belong to either the North or South; Cimarron Territory which described the attempt to become a territory and state unto itself; Beaver County or the Seventh County which describes the area when it was part of Oklahoma Territory; the Public Strip because in 1885 Secretary of the Interior L. C. O. Lamar ruled the Strip was public domain, and today the Oklahoma Panhandle since it sticks out there all by itself and is now 3 counties, Cimarron, Texas, and Beaver. In the words of one of the early white pioneers Maude O. Thomas, "It has been owned and disowned, an orphan among the nations, no manís land, finally obtaining a permanent home as an appendage to the Territory of Oklahoma."

Since the area is really a desert with no native trees except for a few along the two rivers that run through the area, with scarce rainfall and strong prevailing winds, it was not kindly to settlers. There were few trees from which to build a log house or to provide shelter. There was not the rainfall or the humidity to provide crops without proper cultivation. Distances were great and markets were far away. It was a land that Congress forgot and that was truly "No Manís Land" with Beaver City as the capital.

The word Cimarron comes from the Spanish word "cimarrones" meaning wild cattle and also refers to the river which begins in northern New Mexico, to the area, and to the illegal territory formed from No Manís Land.

Folk in the area known as No Manís Land tend to refer to its being inhabited first when the cattle trails from Texas began in the 1870ís, or when the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail first crossed the area. However, this is far from reality. That strip of land that lies between the 36í30 and 37 degrees latitude and between the 100th and 103rd meridians is only 34 Ĺ miles wide and 167 miles long, but it is packed with unique geology, archeology, and history.

And its history did not begin, as is commonly thought, when Anglos and cattle came into the scene, but, rather, some millions of years ago during the Jurassic geologic period when dinosaurs roamed the area. Dinosaur tracks are evident in the rocks in western Cimarron County, the farthest point west in the area.

They are most obvious in sites found near Kenton, a village just eight miles east of Folsom, New Mexico. Other later fossils from the Permian, Pennsylvanian, Mississippian, and Cambrian layers have been excavated by archeologists from the University of Oklahoma and from West Texas State University in Canyon.

The area is rich in oil and gas, and most finds are from the Morrow epoch in the Pennyslvanian Period, as well as the Permian Period. The Permian basin ranges in depth from 1,000 to 6,500 feet and is evidence of the sediment laid down in shallow seas. The area before the formation of the Rocky Mountains was a sea that covered land as far as the Pacific.

At two later periods, after the upheaval of the Rockies, seas covered the area to the south as far as the present Gulf of Mexico. In addition to the evidence of oil and gas, marine fossils abound in the drilling cores from oil and gas wells, as well as being found in the layers of sandstone and shales.

On a ranch in northern Beaver County Dwight Leonard and I dug down about 18 inches to find a layer of ancient sea shells at least a foot deep. They were so ancient that they crumbled at the touch. The sand dunes which cover an area nearly 150 miles long and 2 to 5 miles in width run from western Texas County to about 120 miles east of Beaver County. These dunes were part of that early sea era and the prevailing south winds have formed the sand into large dunes resembling those near Alamosa, Colorado, or the Oregon Coast.

 

 

Beaver