George Edwards and Major Hunter had become such great chums that I was actually jealous of being supplanted in the affections of the Yankee major. The two had been inseparable for months, visiting at The Grove, spending a fortnight together at the beef ranch in the Outlet, and finally putting in an appearance at Dodge. Headquarters for the summer were established at the latter point, our bookkeeper arrived, and we were ready for business. The market opened earlier than at more eastern points. The bulk of the sales were made to ranchmen, who used whole herds where the agricultural regions only bought cattle by the hundreds. It was more satisfactory than the retail trade; credit was out of the question, and there was no haggling over prices. Cattle companies were forming and stocking new ranges, and an influx of English and Scotch capital was seeking investment in ranches and live stock in the West,—a mere forerunner of what was to follow in later years.
Our herds began arriving, and as soon as an outfit could be freed it was started for the beef ranch under George Edwards, where a herd of wintered beeves was already made up to start for the upper Missouri River. Major Hunter followed a week later with the second relieved outfit, and our cattle were all moving for their destinations. The through beef herds from the upper Nueces River had orders to touch at old Fort Larned to the eastward, Edwards drifted on to the Indian agencies, and I bestirred myself to the task of selling six herds of young cattle at Dodge. Once more I was back in my old element, except that every feature of the latter market was on an enlarged scale. Two herds were sold to one man in Colorado, three others went under contract to the Republican River in Nebraska, and the last one was cut into blocks and found a market with feeders in Kansas. Long before deliveries were concluded to the War or Interior departments, headquarters were moved back to The Grove, my work being done. In the interim of waiting for the close of the year’s business, our bookkeeper looked after two shipments of a thousand head each from the beef ranch, while I visited my brother in Missouri and surprised him by buying a carload of thoroughbred bulls. Arrangements were made for shipping them to Fort Worth during the last week in November, and promising to call for them, I returned to The Grove to meet my partners and adjust all accounts for the year.
The firm’s profits for the summer of ’77 footed up over two hundred thousand dollars. The government herds from the Cherokee Outlet paid the best, those sent to market next, while the through cattle remunerated us in the order of beeves, young steers, and lastly cows. There was a satisfactory profit even in the latter, yet the same investment in other classes paid a better per cent profit, and the banking instincts of my partners could be relied