The Chisholm Trail (Cornerstones of Freedom)

What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer the Following Questions:
1. The Chisholm Trail runs between which two locations?
a) Nashville and Natchez
b) Missouri and New Mexico
c) Missouri and Oregon
d) San Antonio and Abilene

d) San Antonio and Abilene. The Chisholm Trail was a north/south route used for cattle drives from San Antonio, Texas, to Abilene, Kansas. Other routes were the Goodnight-Loving Trail, the Kansas Trail, and the Shawnee Trail. These routes were established by the American Indians on buffalo hunts, by traders in their wagons, and by settlers moving into Texas. Did you know Texas is called the Lone Star State?

Texas cattle were a special breed. They were called longhorns. Did you know they got their name because of their wide, sharp horns? They were descendants of the Spanish cattle Christopher Columbus had brought with him on his second voyage to the Americas in 1493. The first cattle to reach Texas were probably brought by Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado on his search for the Seven Cities of Gold in 1541. When the Spanish explorers left, the animals roamed free. By 1715, the original herds had increased significantly.

Longhorns were very adaptable to their new surroundings. They were long-legged and able to walk great distances. They could go without water for extended periods. They had a powerful sense of smell which helped them find water many miles away. They found vegetation in even the barest landscapes. These qualities would help the longhorn during difficult cattle drives to the north.

By 1730, Spanish missions in Texas had their own herds of cattle. In 1770, the mission in Goliad had 40,000 head of cattle. This was the beginning of the great cattle industry in Texas.

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2. What was the reason for the first cattle drives in Texas in the 1830's?
a) Cowboys were looking for new markets to sell their cattle
b) The cattle pulled the wagon trains
c) As settlers built new towns, the cattle moved north to find abundant food
d) Texas was flooded in the 1830's, and the cattle moved to higher ground

a) Cowboys were looking for new markets to sell their cattle.

By the late 1830's, cowboys were looking for new markets to sell their cattle. Cattle drives were used to reach these new markets. In 1838, James White drove a herd from Galveston Bay to the Mississippi River. Within a few years, other cattle drives occurred regularly. In 1846, Edwin Piper drove 1,000 cattle from Texas to Ohio. This was one of the first big cattle drives. In the 1850's, the Kansas Trail and Shawnee Trail brought cattle to the North. In 1854, fifty thousand longhorns were moved from Texas to the North.

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3. True or False: In 1860, there were more than 3,000,000 cattle in Texas.
True. In 1830, there were about 100,000 wild cattle in Texas. By 1850, they were 330,000. In 1860, the number of cattle in Texas had increased to 3,000,000.

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4. What year did the American Civil War end?
1865. The American Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, when Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate Army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. 600,000 Americans had died during the four years of fighting. In 1865, the Union was saved and slavery was ended.

The Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865. During this time, President Abraham Lincoln forbade all trade with the Confederate states. Texas was a Confederate state. The cattle drives from Texas to the North stopped.

Some cowboys drove cattle east to Shreveport, Louisiana. These cattle were used to feed Confederate troops. When the Union captured Shreveport, the cattle were rerouted to Mobile, Alabama. The cattle had to swim one mile across the Mississippi River to reach Mobile.

When the American Civil War ended in 1865, Texas and the South were devastated. Southern money was worthless, and jobs were scarce. Texas, however, had an abundance of cattle. As cities in the North grew and settlers moved west, the demand for more beef increased and cattle drives resumed. This helped supply the demand for beef, and it helped reunite the country.

Ranchers decided cattle drives were the best way to get the cattle from Texas to the North. Steamboats and railroads were not used. Although steamboats carried goods over rivers, they were not able to carry enough cattle. Railroads were still being constructed in Texas, and would take years to complete. Cattle drives connected the open range with the railroad in the north. From 1865 to 1885, ranchers drove the cattle to Kansas towns where the railroad terminals were already completed. From Kansas, the cattle were shipped to Chicago and other northern cities.

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5. Name ONE of the cattle trails established after the Civil War.
The Chisholm Trail, the Goodnight-Loving Trail, the Kansas Trail, and the Shawnee Trail. The Chisholm Trail ran from San Antonio, Texas, to Abilene, Kansas. The Goodnight-Loving Trail ran from Texas to Cheyenne, Wyoming. The Kansas Trail ran from Texas to Ogallala, Nebraska. The Shawnee Trail ran from near Goliad, Texas, to Sedalia, Missouri. Did you know these cattle trails helped supply beef to the nation and reunite the nation after the Civil War?

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6. How many heads were in a cattle drive?
They could range from a few hundred heads to more than twelve thousand heads. Usually, there were two thousand to three thousand heads.

A drive was started by "making the gather." Stray cattle were rounded up and a herd of two thousand to three thousand heads was gathered. Ranchers combined their cattle to drive north and chose a cowboy to lead the herd. This cowboy was called the trail boss. He was trusted with directing the drive, delivering the longhorns, and bringing back the money.

Cattle drives followed routes established by the American Indians on buffalo hunts, by traders in their wagons, and by settlers moving into Texas. The Chisholm Trail was the most famous of the routes. The other routes were the Goodnight-Loving Trail, the Kansas Trail, and the Shawnee Trail.

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7. Who was Jesse Chisholm?
He was a trader who had driven his wagon up and down a trail from Wichita, Kansas, to the Washita River in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Chisholm was born in 1805. His wagon was a general store on wheels for pioneers, cattle ranchers, American Indians, and soldiers who lived in and traveled through the area.

Joseph G. McCoy was a cattle broker in Illinois. A cattle broker is a person who negotiates the sale of livestock. McCoy recognized the potential of Chisholm's trail. He also realized the cattle drives would be shorter and safer if they ended in Abilene, Kansas, because Abilene was on the railroad. This railroad could connect the longhorn from the Texas ranches to the northern cities. In June, 1867, McCoy bought his first parcel of land in Abilene. He then built a barn, a bank, a hotel, offices, stables, and pens to hold 1,000 cattle. McCoy advertised his new market.

This new cattle drive trail was called the Chisholm Trail. It ran from San Antonio, Texas, to Abilene, Kansas.

The Chisholm Trail had several advantages. It was farther west which avoided farmers who tried to stop the passage of cattle on their lands. Streams on the trail were smaller and easier to cross. There were fewer skirmishes with American Indians. McCoy's brochures described the advantages. "It is more direct. It has more prairies, less timber, more small streams and fewer large ones, altogether better grass and fewer flies -- no civilized Indian tax or wild Indian disturbances -- than any other route yet driven over. It is also much shorter because [it is] more direct from the Red River to Kansas."

In 1867, most of the 40,000 thousand cattle driven into Kansas, were brought up the Chisholm Trail to Abilene. In 1868, 75,000 cattle trailed into Abilene. In the next few years, more and more cattle were driven up the Chisholm Trail.

Did you know Wild Bill Hickok was the marshal in Abilene in 1871? A marshal is an officer of the U.S. judicial district who performs duties similar to those of a sheriff. After the cowboys delivered the herd, they were paid, went to the barber, and headed for the saloon. Sometimes, it turned rowdy and violent. The law abiding townspeople of Abilene did not like the Chisholm Trail ending in their town.

The Chisholm Trail was becoming overcrowded. Cattle drives began swinging west to other Kansas towns. The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad continued southwest through Kansas. The railroad brought growth to Kansas towns, including Salina, Ellsworth, and Dodge City.

At the same time, the railroads were pushing into Texas. By 1874, railroads connected Texas to St. Louis and Kansas City.

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8. What year did the Chisholm Trail close?
1885. In the mid-1880's, cattle ranchers asked Congress to establish a national cattle trail stretching from Texas to Canada. The proposal was not passed. By 1884, the Chisholm Trail was virtually closed.

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What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the following words:
Domesticate: To tame

Livestock: Horses, cattle, sheep, and other animals kept or raised on a farm or ranch

Ordinance: Law or regulation

Prairie: Mostly level, treeless area of land with fertile soil and covered with coarse grasses

Stampede: Sudden scattering of cattle or horses in fright

Stockyard: An enclosure with pens and sheds connected with a slaughterhouse or market for the temporary keeping of cattle, sheep, pigs, or horses

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Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the Following Questions for Your FREE Bookmark):
a. Describe a typical cowboy.
Cowboys were rugged, strong, and worked long hours. Some cowboys were bowlegged from riding horseback for so long. They usually had long hair and did not shave. They wore wide-brimmed hats to protect their eyes from the sun and bandannas to keep dust away from their noses and mouths. A bandanna is a large, colored handkerchief with spots or figures, usually white on a red or blue background. For riding, they wore boots with two-inch heels with nickel-plated spurs and chaps made of calfskin or goatskin. Spurs are pointed devices attached to the heel of a rider's boot, and chaps are leather leggings worn over jeans to protect a horseback rider's legs.

In 1843, Englishman William Bollaert visited San Antonio and describe the cowboy. He wrote, "a rude, uncultivated race of beings, who pass the greater part of their lives in the saddle, herding cattle and horses...unused to comfort, and regardless alike of ease and danger, they have a hardy, brigand, sunburnt appearance."

Every cowboy had a saddle and a pistol. The saddle was an important piece of equipment because cowboys spent so many hours riding. The revolving pistol was invented by Samuel Colt and first used in 1839. It became standard equipment of cowboys.

The job of a cowboy was very difficult. Their jobs began in the spring with the gathering of the herd. Each cattle was given a special brand called the road brand. A brand is an identification mark burned onto the animal with a hot iron.

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b. Define ONE of the following people on a cattle drive:
Trail Boss: The leader of the cattle drive. He was an experienced and dependable cowboy. He was responsible for thousands of dollars worth of cattle and for hiring cowboys to drive the herd north.

Cowboys: People who drove cattle. They rode all day, slept on the ground, weathered storms, and sometimes had to defend their lives in skirmishes with American Indians or farmers. For this long and hard work, they were paid between twenty-five dollars and forty dollars a month. The two most experienced cowboys were assigned to ride point, at the head of the herd. Next came the swing riders, and the flank riders. The drag riders rode at the rear of the herd and had to ride through a lot of dust.

Cook: He drove the chuck wagon and fed the cowboys. He was sometimes paid more than the cowboys. He was usually the first one up in the morning and the last one to bed at night. Did you know the chuck wagon held the supplies and the provisions for cooking?

Wrangler: He took care of the horse herd. Each cowboy took several horses on the drive. The wrangler's job was to make sure these horses received proper care.

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c. Describe a typical day on the cattle drive.
The day started at dawn. The cook prepared breakfast consisting of salt pork or bacon, hard sourdough biscuits, and some dried fruit. After breakfast, the cook and wrangler packed up the provisions, and the cowboys got ready to move out the herd.

The group broke at midday for dinner. The cowboys ate, and the longhorns grazed. When the cattle began to lie down, the trail boss knew they were finished eating, and it was time to get back on the trail.

The trail boss rode ahead and found a spot near water to camp for the night. As the herd approached the spot, the cowboys would "ride them down," or gather them into smaller, more manageable groups. After the cattle drank, the cowboys rode in smaller circles until the animals were laid down for the night. The cowboys ate beef for supper and took turns guarding the herd.

The trail boss had the herd travel 25 to 30 miles per day for the first few days. This was called road breaking. The first few days were the most important because the longer the cattle moved, the easier they were to handle. When the herd was well away from home, the pace was slowed to 10 miles per day.

Stampedes were a hazard for cowboys. A stampede occurred when the longhorn were frightened and tried to run away. Longhorns were known to stampede at the slightest disturbance, including a flash of lightning, the clatter of the cook's pots and pans, or a sneeze from a cowboy. A short stampede lasted about a mile. A long stampede could take a week to retrieve all of the cattle.

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d. Describe ONE of the factors leading to the end of the cattle drives on the Chisholm Trail.
The law-abiding towns people in Abilene were tired of the rowdiness and violence. After the cowboys delivered the herd, they were paid, went to the barber, and headed for the saloon. Sometimes, it turned violent. The townspeople of Abilene did not like the Chisholm Trail ending in their town.

The Chisholm Trail was becoming overcrowded. Cattle drives began swinging west to other Kansas towns. The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad continued southwest through Kansas. The railroad brought growth to Kansas towns, including Salina, Ellsworth, and Dodge City.

Railroads were pushing into Texas. By 1874, railroads connected Texas to St. Louis and Kansas City. These railroads competed for the cattle herds.

Barbed wire was introduced to Texas in the 1870's. Farmers and ranchers used the barbed wire to enclose their pastures and block the passage of cattle.

The establishment of more cattle ranchers on the northern plains resulted in an overabundance of cattle. Cattle was now available in the northern regions, and consumers no longer needed beef from Texas.

The population in Kansas increased, and the people (like the Abilene residents) resisted the cattle drives coming to their cities. Cowboys were forced to drive their cattle further and further west.

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e. Describe ONE of the ways cattle drives on the Chisholm Trail impacted the United States.
In 1874, Joseph G. McCoy wrote the cattle trade helped create "an era of better feeling between northern and Texas men by bringing them in contact with each other in commercial transactions."

Cattle drives helped spur the settlement of the northern plains, and helped increase the growth of cities like Kansas City, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois.

Cattle drives made beef readily available to the nation's people.

Cattle drives gave incentive to the railroads that eventually crisscrossed the United States.

Cattle drives helped rebuild Texas after the Civil War.

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f. What are the words to "Home on the Range?"
Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where never is heard a discouraging word
And the sky is not clouded all day.

Chorus:
A home, a home, where the deer and the antelope play,
Where never is heard a discouraging word
And the sky is not clouded all day.

Did you know a range is an area of open land used for a particular purpose?

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g. Use five of the words in Section 2 in a sentence.
Some horses are domesticated and some are wild.

I visited a ranch last summer, and it had a lot of livestock in its pens.

Our city has an ordinance requiring all children to wear a helmet when they ride a bike.

The prairie is a beautiful area in the Midwest.

I liked the stampede scene during City Slickers.

The stockyard is located next to the slaughterhouse.

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h. Have a parent or friend give you a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.

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More Valuable Information about The Chisholm Trail:
Chisholm Trail (Red River Authority of Texas)
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center Statue and Museum
Along the Chisholm Trail
Chisholm Trail Map
Diagram of Cattle Drive (Chisholm Trail Heritage Center)
Cody Cowhounds Kid's Pages (Chisholm Trail Heritage Center)

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