Dodge City – Newspaper, Letters, and Book Excerpts

July 7, 1877 – Dodge City Times

“Mr. G. C. Noble, of the Atchison Champion, made the following observations during his recent visit here:

‘At Dodge City we found everything and everybody busy as they could comfortably be. This being our first visit to the metropolis of the West, we were very pleasantly surprised, after the cock and bull stories that lunatic correspondents had given the public. Not a man was seen swinging from a telegraph pole; not a pistol was fired; no disturbance of any kind was noted. Instead of being called on to disgorge the few ducats in our possession, we were hospitably treated by all. It might be unpleasant for one or two old time correspondents to be seen here, but they deserve all that would be meeted [meted] out to them. The Texas cattle men and cow-boys, instead of being armed to the teeth, with blood in their eye, conduct themselves with propriety, many of them being thorough gentlemen.

Dodge City is supported principally by the immense cattle trade that is carried on here. During the season that has just now fairly opened, not less than 200,000 head will find a market here; and there are nearly an hundred purchasers who make their headquarters here during the season. Mr. A. H. Johnson, the gentlemanly stock agent of the A.T.& S.F. Co. informs us that the drive to this point during the season will be larger than ever before. May it prove a matter of great good to the company and to Dodge City.

From our window in the Dodge House — which, by the way, is one of the best and most commodious in the West — can be seen five herds, ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 each, that are awaiting transportation. The stock yards here are the largest west of St. Louis, and just now are well filled.

Chas. Rath & Co. have a yard in which are about 50,000 green and dried buffalo hides.

F. C. Zimmermann, an old patron of the Champion, runs a general outfitting store, and flourishes financially and physically.

Many other friends of the leading journal are doing business, and are awaiting patiently the opening up of the country to agricultural purposes.

In the long run, Dodge is destined to become the metropolis of Western Kansas, and only awaits the development of its vast resources.'”

August 11, 1877 – Dodge City Times

“The blood spilling events of the past week if accurately related would make our friends abroad think we were not such a strictly moral town as we pretend to be. To begin with, slugging has been the order of the day. All along the line this pastime has been general; no less than five or six of the wayward females have had their bewitching countenances pounded into unnatural shape by the fists of their more muscular companions. We hope things will move more smoothly hereafter, as broken heads and disfigured countenances are not pleasant to look upon.”

August 11, 1877 – Reminiscences of Dodge by Frank Barnard of the Corpus Christi Gazette, reprinted in the Dodge City Times

Charles Rath sitting atop buffalo hides in Dodge City, 1878.

Charles Rath sitting atop buffalo hides in Dodge City, 1878.

“By virtue of the falling off in the cattle drive to Kansas for this year, and the large number of cattle driven under contract, Dodge City became the principal depot for the sale of surplus stock; buyers met drovers at this point, purchased and received purchases without unnecessary delay, thereby greatly facilitating business and enabling quick returns of both owners and hands. In the future, situated as it is upon one of the best railroads traversing the country from east to west, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, it will probably occupy an enviable position as a cattle market. “Dodge has many characteristics which prevent its being classed as a town of strictly moral ideas and principles, notwithstanding it is supplied with a church, courthouse, and jail. Other institutions counterbalance the good works supposed to emanate from the first mentioned. Like all frontier towns of this modern day, fast men and fast women are around by the score, seeking whom they may devour, hunting for a soft snap, taking him in for cash, and many is the Texas cowboywho can testify as to their ability to follow up successfully the calling they have embraced in quest of money.

Gambling ranges from a game of five-cent chuck-aluck to a thousand-dollar poker  pot. Nothing is secret, but with open doors upon the main streets, the ball rolls on uninterruptedly. More than occasionally some darkeyed virago or some brazen-faced blonde, with a modern sundown, will saunter in among the roughs of the gambling houses and saloons, entering with inexplicable zest into the disgusting sport, breathing the immoral atmosphere with a gusto which I defy modern writers to explain. Dance houses are ranged along the convenient distances and supplied with all the trappings and paraphernalia which go to complete institutions of that character. Here you see the greatest abandon. Men of every grade assemble to join in the dance. Nice men with white neckties, the cattle dealer with his good clothes, the sport with his well-turned fingers, smooth tongue, and artistically twisted mustache, and last but not least the cowboy, booted and spurred as he comes from the trail, his hard earnings in his pocket, all join in the wild revel; and yet with all this mixture of strange human nature a remarkable degree of order is preserved. Arms are not allowed to be worn, and any noisy whisky demonstrations are promptly checked by incarceration in the lock-up. Even the mayor of the city indulges in the giddy dance with the girls, and with his cigar in one corner of his mouth and his hat tilted to one side, he makes a charming looking officer.

Some things occur in Dodge that the world never knows of. Probably it is best so. Other things occur that leak out by degrees, notwithstanding the use of hush money. That, too, is perhaps the best. Men learn by such means.

Most places are satisfied with one abode of the dead. In the grave there is no distinction. The rich are known from the poor only by their tombstones, so the sods that are upon the grave fail to reflect the characters buried beneath them. And yet Dodge boasts of two burying spots, one for the tainted whose very souls were steeped in immorality, and who have generally died with their boots on. ‘Boot Hill‘ is the somewhat singular title applied to the burial place of the class just mentioned. The other is not designated by any particular title but it is supposed to contain the bodies of those who died with a clean sheet on their beds-the soul in this case is a secondary consideration.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *