h3 align="center">History of Fair Valley Community

Vol. 1, No. 20 - 2 February 1998
by - Elbert Piper's Article printed in Alva-Review Courier 1957

Some people have commented that Mr. Piper's history article is the most blatant piece of "noble white man trying to civilize savage indian." What do you think?

Cattle Ranching Started

With the Indian being pushed from his buffalo hunting range, cattle ranching started in the area. The cattle came into the Cherokee Strip in the early 70s and was well stocked by 1880. In 1883 there were no fences. Six million acres were under lease for $100,000 to the Cherokee Strip Livestock association. This was less than two cents per acre. Large ranchers cut this six million acres into ranches of 50,000, 100,000, 150,000 acres each. This was really a paradise for the cattlemen where they could run a cow on grass the year-round for less than 50 cents. The big cost of operating were the heavy losses during the bad weather. Cow hands wages were $25 per month. They butchered their own meat or killed it from the buffaloes, antelopes, deer, turkeys, plover prairie chickens, or quail, Beaver and otter were along the streams.

Ranch Boundaries Defined

Cowboy watching cattle herdIn 1885 there were still no fences. The ranch boundary was defined by cowboys working in pairs riding a distance of about 30 miles where two more would take up and ride for another 30 miles or so; and so on until the cowhands had circled the entire ranch.

The next day they rode back to their starting point, driving all cattle with their brands back from the outer lines of the pasture. Some cattle would filter through which were returned at their big roundups. Texas and the southwest were full of cattle which grew up from cattle left at all river crossings by the Spanish expeditions a few hundred years before.

Take just on cow producing a calf every year together with her increase and see what you have. Horses were propagated by the Spanish of the Southwest the same as cattle by leaving some at each river crossing. There were a few wild horses in 1893 --- hence such creek names as red horse, white horse.

The Indians got their first horses from these wild horses. It was a great step in their advancement to change from the dog as a beast of burden to the horse. Food was much easier to obtain in the hunt.

This two cents per acre or $100,000 was supposed at first, according to the original plan to be invested in cattle and put on the range for the Cherokees. Cherokees were good horsemen. The cowboy was afraid of loosing his job to them as cow hands. The cowmen were jealous and greedy. After much bickering the hundred thousand of dollars was paid in money.

What a celebration for the Indians and what a time for the white renegades trying to round up this money for themselves. If the cattle had been purchased and placed upon the range for the Cherokees as originally planned, there would probably never have been a Fair Valley as we knew it in homestead days.

The cowman of the southwestern plains went without a market for their cattle during the Civil War. All river markets being closed and settled so thickly that herds could not pass through. After the wars a scout by the name of Jesse Chisholm, half Cherokee and half white, marked out his famous trail from Wichita, Kansas to Anadarko. Other feeder trails went over all Texas and Oklahoma at a later time.

Fair Valley was surrounded by these feeder trails. One went from near Enid to Kiowa, another from near El Reno to Ft. Supply where it joined with a north and south trail leading to Dodge City. Still another from Canton went to near Pond Creek. Another one later was laid out from Wichita, to Ft. Supply. This Wichita trail probably went through the heart of the Fair Valley community. Some think this one crossed the Cimarron river near where the Virgil Russell place is now. It is almost in direct line and we are positive this crossing was used a great deal.

Thus we see that there was ample outlet to a feeder trail before homesteads were filed for out at the little Fair Valley community. These feeder lines for the larger trails to market at Wichita, Abeline, Caldwell and Dodge City were to the cattle industry what railroads were at a later time. Hundreds of thousands followed these trails often for several hundred miles to be marketed at the nearest railroads.

Coyotes & Wolves Follow Buffaloes

The Indians were not the only ones to gain a livelihood from the buffalo. Many coyotes and large wolves followed them from north to south. These large wolves, it was said, could work a herd of buffalo or cattle better than the cowboys' cutting out their victims with some working the head and throat while others would cut the ham string from the rear. Then the animal was helpless.

When the buffalo were killed from the plains, then they did the second best and killed cattle for food. This forced the cowman to make war on them. A bounty of $25.00 was paid for their scalp. If a cowboy killed one wolf it would pay him as much as a month's salary. By the time the Fair Valley settler's came, the wolves were nearly gone.

Thus another scene from our prairie had closed its curtains never again to be staged again. Soon the curtain went down on the scene picturing the large ranches with 100,000 acres or more. This scene closed in 1893 when the run was made.

Wire Fences Change Picture

During the cowman's stay, wire fences were invented which almost completely changed the entire picture for the old time cow hand. His wild ways were domesticated and most of them took a homestead and a homesteaders daughter, traded his saddle for a plow and his saddle horse for a work horse and lived happy ever after.

Many ranch hands only went to town two or three times per year and after getting a few drinks as if they had discovered America and it was all theirs. At 12 o'clock noon, 16 September 1893, the run was made. Choice land was settled first and within 10 years practically every 160 acres was a homestead. Sod houses and dugouts dotted for miles about the Fair Valley Spring.

These houses were to our pioneers what the log cabin was to pioneers in Lincoln's boyhood days. These settlers were not Spanish Gold Seekers, or French traders nor English aristocrats but true blue-blooded Americans; all on the same level trying as desperately as the Pilgrim Fathers to find a permanent home and raise their family, filled with truth honor, and honesty.