Nothing now remained for me but to draw the threads of our business together and await the season’s settlement in the fall. I sold all the wagons and sent the remudas to our range in the Outlet, while from the first cattle sold the borrowed money was repaid. I visited Ogalalla to acquaint myself with its market, looked over our beef ranch in the Cherokee Strip during the lull, and even paid the different Indian agencies my respects to perfect my knowledge of the requirements of our business. Our firm was a strong one, enlarging its business year by year; and while we could not foresee the future, the present was a Harvest Home to Hunter, Anthony & Co.
AN ACTIVE SUMMER
The summer of 1878 closed with but a single cloud on the horizon. Like ourselves, a great many cattlemen had established beef ranches in the Cherokee Outlet, then a vacant country, paying a trifling rental to that tribe of civilized Indians. But a difference of opinion arose, some contending that the Cherokees held no title to the land; that the strip of country sixty miles wide by two hundred long set aside by treaty as a hunting ground, when no longer used for that purpose by the tribe, had reverted to the government. Some refused to pay the rent money, the council of the Cherokee Nation appealed to the general government, and troops were ordered in to preserve the peace. We felt no uneasiness over our holdings of cattle on the Strip, as we were paying a nominal rent, amounting to two bits a head a year, and were otherwise fortified in possession of our range. If necessary we could have secured a permit from the War Department, on the grounds of being government contractors and requiring a northern range on which to hold our cattle. But rather than do this, Major Hunter hit upon a happy solution of the difficulty by suggesting that we employ an Indian citizen as foreman, and hold the cattle in his name. The major had an old acquaintance, a half-breed Cherokee named LaFlors, who was promptly installed as owner of the range, but holding beeves for Hunter, Anthony & Co., government beef contractors.
I was unexpectedly called to Texas before the general settlement that fall. Early in the summer, at Dodge, I met a gentleman who was representing a distillery in Illinois. He was in the market for a thousand range bulls to slop-feed, and as no such cattle ever came over the trail, I offered to sell them to him delivered at Fort Worth. I showed him the sights around Dodge and we became quite friendly, but I was unable to sell him his requirements unless I could show the stock. It was easily to be seen that he was not a range cattleman, and I humored him until he took my address, saying that if he were unable to fill his wants in other Western markets he would write me later. The acquaintance resulted in several letters passing between us that autumn, and finally an appointment was made to meet in Kansas City