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Joseph G. McCoy - Kansas Cattle Baron
Joseph G. McCoy (1837-1915) - Founder of the cattle trade in
originator of the Abilene Cattle Trail,
and cattle baron in his own right, McCoy was born in Sangamon County,
on December 21, 1837, the
youngest of eleven children to David and Mary (Kirkpatrick)
McCoy, natives of Virginia and Kentucky, respectively. He was educated
in public schools and at Knox College. In 1861 he to started in
the cattle business and that same year married
Sarah Epler on October 22nd.
In 1867 he conceived the idea of establishing a shipping depot for
cattle at some point in the west and knew that the railroad
companies were interested in expanding their freight operations.
He soon selected Abilene,
and opened the Abilene Trail
Some people sneered at his ideas, but he demonstrated their
practicability. McCoy also built a hotel called the Droverís Cottage,
a stockyard, office and bank in the little village along the Union
Pacific Railroad that would serve as the shipping point.
Joseph g. McCoy
|McCoy advertised extensively throughout
Texas to encourage cattle
owners to drive their cattle to market in Abilene and by 1868, about
75,000 cattle were shipped from Abilene.
By 1870 thousands of
longhorn cattle, which were ideal for cattle trails
due to their long legs and hard hoofs, were being driven to the shipping center
1871 the number had increased to 600,000 or more and as many as 5,000
were being paid off during a single day. Abilene
soon became known as a rough town in the Old West. McCoy lived in Abilene,
where he served as mayor, until 1873. When rival railroad terminal towns began
to be developed father west, this soon diverted the trade from Abilene
and McCoy moved to Kansas City,
Missouri. McCoy authored a book entitled Historic Sketches of the Cattle
Trade of the West and Southwest, which was first published in 1874.
In 1881 he was employed by the the Cherokee Indians as an
agent to collect the revenue on outlying lands belonging to that tribe and moved
Kansas. In 1890 he was appointed superintendent of the range cattle
department by the United States census bureau, a position for which he was well
fitted by his long connection with the cattle trade.
Joseph McCoy died in Kansas City,
Missouri on October 19, 1915. One story about the cattle baron alleges that McCoy
bragged before leaving
Chicago that he would bring 200,000 head in 10 years and
actually brought two million head in four years, which led to the phrase "It's
the Real McCoy."
Loading Texas Cattle in Abilene,
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1871.
of America, updated November, 2012.
Abilene - Queen of the Kansas Cowtowns
Kansas Cowtowns - Lawlessness on the
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