Cattle Drives and the Cherokee Outlet
During the years of the long cattle drives from Texas to the railheads in Kansas the Cherokee Outlet was often used to rest the cattle and let them graze before being sold the the buyers in the "Cow Towns" of Kansas. Many of the tribes along the trails would charge a "tax" to let the cattle pass. Often anything from a penny to a dime a head. Many times the "tax" was taken in cattle or other items the Indians could use.
With the arrival of the rail road in Ft. Worth in 1876 the long drives to Kansas pretty much came to an end. It was much easier on the cattle, and cheaper, to drive them to Ft. Worth than Kansas. However the great grasslands of the Cherokee Outlet were still there. The rail roads still had rail lines to the towns along the boundary so it was a natural to build large herds in the Indian Territory and the Cherokee Outlet was the most obvious area to use.
Any connection between the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association is only through the dealings of the cattlemen with the leaders of the nation. There's nothing to say that some Cherokees, and possibly other Native Americans, were not members of the Association. However, for the most part the members of the Association were predominantly non-Indian. For more information on the Cherokee Nation.
Cherokee Strip vs Cherokee Outlet
The lands called the Cherokee Outlet was a 60 mile wide strip of land south of the southern boundary of Kansas between the 96th Meridian and the 100th Meridian. The land was given to the Cherokees as a hunting ground and an outlet to the hunting grounds in Colorado by the treaty of New Echota, May 23, 1836. Due to a survey mistake the southern boundary of Kansas was discovered to actually be 2.46 miles further south than originally thought. In a treaty of 1866 the boundary was reset and that 2.46 mile wide strip is the Cherokee Strip. The name "Cherokee Strip" is often used to refer to the entire Cherokee Outlet.
What got me interested were family stories about how our family once owned a ranch the equal of the 101 Ranch of George W. Miller. With just a little research I found that Joshua Theodore Horsley was a member of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association and through them had a lease in the Outlet that was pretty near as big as the 101 Ranch. As near as I can figure his lease was about 35 square miles of present day Kay County. The land ran south from his farm in Kansas, two miles east of Hunnewell Kansas, south to the Chikaskia River then southeast down the river to a point near present day Blackwell Oklahoma then back north to the Kansas state line. There was a small jog East about half way up the East boundary.
|The above is only a rough outline. It is not intended to ever be exhaustive. It's here only to give a little background on the "WHY" of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association.|
| Please contribute anything that might be useful and informative. If you have any family stories about the lives of the people involved please pass them along.|
The Beginning and History
After the Osages and other Plains Indians had moved to reservations on the Cherokee Outlet and the narrow "Cherokee Strip" north of the Kansas border had been ceded to the United States,there still remained 6,344,562 acres of unoccupied Cherokee land west of the 96th meridian.
Starting as early as 1880 Charles Eldred was making trips to the Cherokee Nation on his own. He was asking questions about the grazing tax and making friends in the nation. He showed respect for their laws and rights. By doing so he gained respect in their eyes as an honorable man. With the formation of the Cheerokee Strip Live Stock Association Charles Eldred was the principle negotiator for the lease between the Cherokee's and the association. Although it appears there were other "bidders" at the council, it's my opinion it was the respect the Cherokees held for Charles Eldred that swung the vote the way of the association.
The Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association was organized by a group of cattlemen during the years 1880 - 1883. In it's earliest years it was a loose association of cattlemen to organize for roundup and maintain peace on the open range. In the early years it was called Stockmen of the Cherokee Strip. In early 1883 it was formalized and registered with it's principal purpose being "Formed by Kansas ranchers to regulate roundups, to keep a record of members brands, and to resolve the issue of stray cattle, provide order and organization to cattle ranchers throughout the Cherokee Strip" and to obtain, from the Cherokee Nation, a lease that would exclude non-members from grazing cattle on the Cherokee Outlet. One report gives "March 7, 1883, at Caldwell, Kansas" as the exact date. That date seems to be the date the association was registered with the state of Kansas.
In 1883 the organization succeeded in obtaining a five-year lease at the price of $100,000 a year - less than 2 cents an acre. The low price paid for exclusive grazing rights led to the charge that the Cherokee Council had accepted a bribe from the cattlemen. However, previous payments collected by the Cherokee tribe from individual cattlemen had never totaled more than $41,233.81, the amount collected in 1882.
The lease of 1883 was followed by a second agreement five years later at a more reasonable price - $200,000 a year for the entire unoccupied area- However, the legal right of the Cherokees to lease their western lands had been seriously questioned in many quarters and was to be flatly denied by two attorneys general of the United States - A.H. Garland of President Cleveland's Cabinet and H.H. Miller of the Benjamin Harrison administration.
There is good evidence that the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association was willing to purchase the land included in their lease at $3.00 an acre. The government of the United States, however, was moving rapidly towards the policy of opening the western half of the Indian Territorry to white settlement. The Jerome Commission offered the Cherokees $1.25 an acre for their claims to the Outlet, and the Indians were in no position to bargain freely. The tribal officers reluctantly agreed to cede the unoccupied lands of the Cherokee Outlet for white settlement at the rate of $1.25 an acre. The agreement was approved by the Cherokee Council on January 4, 1892.
Members of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association, numbering more than one hundred, had obtained definite grazing lands within the area leased. The holdings had been surveyed, and each member had fenced his ground, built corrals, and put up shelters for his line-riders.
For the purposes of this site I'm starting it with the first meeting of the Ranchers in 1880.
Boomers is the name given to settlers in the midwest of the United States who attempted to enter the Unassigned Lands in what is now the state of Oklahoma in 1879, prior to President Grover Cleveland officially proclaiming them open to settlement on March 2, 1889 with the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889. Boomers preceded by a decade the Sooners, settlers who entered the Unassigned Lands just prior to the March 2, 1889 official opening.
The "Unassigned Lands," or Oklahoma, were in the center of the lands ceded to the United States by the Creek (Muskogee) and Seminole Indians following the Civil War and on which no other tribes had been settled. It was set aside by the United States as land to relocate other Indian nations and Freedmen on. By 1883 it was bounded by the Cherokee Outlet on the north, several relocated Indian reservations on the east, the Chickasaw lands on the south, and the Cheyenne-Arapaho reserve on the west. The area amounted to 1,887,796.47 acres (2,949 miles2 or 7,640 km2).
The term "Boomer" relating to Oklahoma refers to participants in the "Boomer Movement," white settlers who believed the Unassigned Lands were public property and open to anyone for settlement, not just Indian tribes. Their belief was based on a clause in the Homestead Act of 1862 which said that any settler could claim 160 acres (0.65 km2) of "public land." Some Boomers entered the Unassigned Lands and were removed more than once by the United States Army. Charles C. Carpenter was the earliest leader of the Boomer movement, succeeded by David L. Payne, who was succeeded by William L. Couch.
David L. Payne
Hailed by some as the "Father of Oklahoma", "Oklahoma Payne" was a leader in the "Boomer" movement to open "Oklahoma" for white settlement. Others considered him a shyster, con man and a different kind of "Payne" lower down and to the posterior.
"James B. Weaver, Kansas, and The Oklahoma Lands, 1884—1890"
by Thomas Burnell Colbert
PDF - Requires Adobe Reader.
"At the Pioneer Law Makers of Iowa reunion in 1909, Edward H. Gillette delivered an address on the life and achievements of his longtime friend and political ally, James Baird Weaver. He remarked that, "If the people of Iowa paint General Weaver for the hall of fame, the people of Oklahoma should chisel him in marble and plant his statue in their capitol with the legend upon it: 'General James B. Weaver, the Father of Oklahoma.'" A year later, Luther B. Hill's A History of the State of Oklahoma included the reminiscences of Sidney Clarke, a former congressman from Kansas, agitator for white settlement in Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City booster, who wrote, "If I were called upon to name one man to whom the people of Oklahoma owe the greatest debt of gratitude because of unselfish devotion to their interests in all the early stages of the controversy [over opening Oklahoma to white settlers], I should name Gen. James B. Weaver of Iowa." Today, probably few in Oklahoma, Iowa, or Kansas remember the roles that Weaver played in securing legislation for white settlement of the Unassigned Lands (also known as the Oklahoma lands) in Indian Territory and in establishing Oklahoma City. That reason alone makes his a story worth telling, though Weaver's part in opening Indian Territory to white settlement is also important because it falls into the wider context of American Western history and the closing of the southern Great Plains frontier."
The Cherokee national Council voted to renew the lease in 1888 for $200,000. Lame Duck President, Benjamin Harrison, voided the lease on February 17, 1890 and ordered the members of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association off the range by October 1, 1890. Not only members of the association but ALL cattle on the range. On September 19, 1890 Benjamin Harrison issued another proclamation granting an extension for the removal of the cattle. When the government was asked by the Cherokees if they could put their own cattle on the range they were told that the ban also applied to them.
Assorted Newspaper Clippings of the Harrison Order.
The "Cherokee Commission" was sent to Indian Territory to "negotiate" with the different Indian Nations for cessation of their lands. The Commission was given it's "Instructions and Suggestions" , which some officials considered to be unsuitable for public display. One article I read stated "Stripped of their lease income and bullied by federal negotiators, the Cherokees ceded the Outlet to the government in 1891."1
According to newspaper accounts at the time the Cherokee Nation was threatened with losing everything. All their land, even their status as a Nation, if the Outlet was not sold to the government at the price offered. It's pretty well accepted that the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association had an offer on the table to purchase the Cherokee Outlet for $3.00 an acre. One figure I saw said the offer was $3.45 and acre. Why else would the Cherokee's pass up an offer for over twice what the government was offering.
"This administration had determined to acquire the Outlet, and it did not intend to tolerate opposition from it's own citizens." 2
The lease of the Cherokee Outlet, and it's sale to the Association, was blocked on the basis that only the U. S. Government is able to "treat" with foreign governments. It is unlawful for individuals to do so. The Indians have always, and still to some extent, been a separate nation within the borders of the United States.
Thus ends the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association.
At least for our purpose here.
One can only wonder how history might have been changed had the ranchers been successful in their bid to buy the Cherokee Outlet.
A Calvin Coolidge Administration study, completed in 1928, found that the Dawes Act had been used to illegally deprive Native Americans of their land rights. So far I have been unable to confirm this.
1. Historical Atlas of Oklahoma|
Charles Robert Goins
John Wesley Morris
2. Taking Indian lands: the Cherokee (Jerome) Commission, 1889-1893
By William Thomas Hagan
RIDERS OF THE CHEROKEE STRIP
Where are the men who in eighty-three
Rode the Cherokee Strip with me?
Parson, Shorty, Red, and Slim,
Ranicky Bill and Mexico Jim;
Nearly all of that gallant band
Have gone up the trail to the Glory Land.
And I must admit what I'm often told
That I myself am growing old.
So it can't be long 'till again I see
Those old Strip riders of eighty-three.
Edward Everett Dale - author.
The Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association 1883 - 1890
Board Of Directors
- Edwin Mortimer Hewins, Sumner County
- James W. Hamilton, Sumner County
- A. J. Day, Sumner County
- Captain Samuel Tuttle, Sumner County
- Milton H. Bennett, Sumner County
- E. C. Moderwell
- Benjamin S. Miller, Sumner County
- Andrew Drumm, Kansas City
- E. W. "Wylie" Payne, Barber County
- Charles Homer Eldred
- John L. McAtee
- Oliver P. Ewell
- Eli Titus
Board Of Inspectors
Board of Arbitration
- Albert M. Colson
- William Corzine
- D. N. Streeter
- Mark P. Miller - Clerk
Board of Appeal