Thomas W. Streeter’s Copy of a “Legendary Rarity”

Kansas Pacific Map: The Best and Shortest Cattle Trail from Texas

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396. [MAP: TEXAS CATTLE TRAIL]. KANSAS PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY. [Pictorial title at lower left] Kansas Pacific Railway [illustration of a longhorn head with preceding phrase of title on banner between its horns] The Best and Shortest Cattle Trail from Texas. 1872 [in a rectangle suspended from ring in the longhorn’s nose] [above neat line at lower center] Levison & Blythe. [St. Louis, Missouri, 1872-1873]. Lithograph map on banknote paper showing Texas and parts of Indian Territory, Arkansas Territory, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico, delineating cattle trails colored in red from Texas to Kansas (commencing at the Gulf of Mexico at “King’s” and Corpus Christi and terminating at Ellsworth, Russell, Fort Hays, and Ellis) and railroad line from Ellsworth to Cheyenne with red arrows at top of map; neat line to neat line: 56.5 x 40.5 cm; overall sheet size: 57.7 x 42.5 cm, folded into original yellow printed paper wrappers, 8vo (16.5 x 10.5 cm), stitched; title on upper wrapper: Guide Map of the Great Texas Cattle Trail, from Red River Crossing to the Old Reliable Kansas Pacific Railway. Published by the Kansas Pacific Railway Co. for Gratuitous Distribution, 1873. [verso of upper wrapper] Peculiar Advantages of the Kansas Pacific. Parties who drive cattle to the Kansas Pacific Railway, have an outlet to New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California, and the benefit of the large demand for cattle to supply the Government posts in those States and Territories, and in the States of Kansas and Nebraska.... [concluding] The Drover is never (as in Southern Kansas, where the grasses winter-kill), compelled to sacrifice his cattle from inability to winter.... [title page] Guide Map of the Best and Shortest Cattle Trail to the Kansas Pacific Railway: With a Concise and Accurate Description of the Route: Showing Distances, Streams, Crossings, Camping Grounds, Wood and Water, Supply Stores, Etc., Etc., from the Red River Crossing to Ellis, Ellsworth, Brookville, Salina, Solomon, and Abilene. St. Louis, Missouri: Levison & Blythe, Printers & Stationers, 219 Olive Street, 1873. [1-3] 4-15 [1, blank] pp. Wrappers slightly stained and repaired, spine reinforced with matching paper tape obscuring a small amount of text (the repairs date back to when the pamphlet was in Streeter’s possession), hinge weak, interior fine except for very light age-toning. Map with a few minor, light stains, but overall the map is very fine. Map with a few corrections and neat notes in blue ink by Texas historian-antiquarian Alexander Dienst, Jr., commenting on the crossing at Leon River. Short pencil notes by Thomas W. Streeter on title page noting the price of another copy (“P.A. Rollins paid Everitt $250 for another copy for the 1875 map”). Another pencil note by Streeter on pastedown of chemise concerning other copies (such as “EE,” Edward Eberstadt) and bibliographical-trade chat. Preserved in dark blue morocco and light blue cloth slip case with gilt-lettered spine, raised bands, and matching chemise. A legendary rarity (the last copy at auction was this copy, which sold @ $450 at the Streeter Sale in 1968).

     Second separate edition(?), map dated 1872 and pamphlet dated 1873. Adams, Herd 1256 (this copy). Howes W293n. Streeter Sale 2364 (this copy, noting provenance from Alex Dienst): “This little map and guide to the ‘Great Texas Cattle Trail’ though issued gratuitously has become one of the great prizes for collectors, and substantial sums have been paid even for the later issue of the map and guide, dated 1875 [Graff 2275 and Rader 2139]. The map shows various cattle routes from points in Texas to Camp Concho, where the L.B. Harris Trail begins, and to Red River Station, which is shown as the beginning of the Ellsworth Trail.”

     Adams (Herd 1255) and Howes (W293n) note a separate 1871 edition (see our Auction 22, Lot 318), with the word “Route” instead of “Trail” in the title, which is the same map that apparently appeared in the 1872 Weston’s Guide to the Kansas Pacific Railway. For citations to Weston, see Adams, Herd 2496; Howes W294; Merrill, Aristocrats of the Cow Country, p. 26;Reese, Six Score 113 (“the map is one of the first depictions of the Texas trails”); and Streeter Sale 2028. The map was re-published in 1873 (Reese, Six Score 113n) and again in 1874 (Adams, Herd 1257; Baughman, Kansas in Maps, pp. 80-81 (illustrated); Eberstadt, Texas 162:126; Howes W293; Merrill, p. 20). Princeton has a copy from the Philip Ashton Rollins collection, published 1875, and there is also an 1875 edition in the John Peace collection. See Fifty Texas Rarities (44) and Howes (W293).Various editions have been published in facsimile.

     The map and guides were apparently printed in large numbers as promotionals, and variations in printing and accompanying text abound. The cartobibliographical sequence has never been fully sorted out, partially because so few copies of any of the variations are extant. Wayne Gard in The Chisholm Trail (Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1954) discusses the map and guide and states they were issued annually for five years between 1871 and 1875 as a promotional for the Kansas Pacific Railway (pp. 81, 190, 199, 274). Robert R. Dykstra in The Cattle Towns (New York: Knopf, 1968) discusses how these promotionals were used to tout the Kansas Pacific Railway as a means for luring drovers from the shipping centers of rival railroads and how the routes shown could be manipulated to promote certain towns over others (pp. 170-171). Graff (2275) comments generally on the guide and maps: “About the time this guide map was issued, Texas began to assume its preëminence as a source of American food, particularly of beef. Moving cattle from grazing lands in Texas to rail transportation terminals was an annual job. The map indicates some of the popular trails from Texas to Kansas.”

     This rare little treasure is one of the most elusive and colorful maps of Texas, documenting a brief moment in history that continues to capture the imagination of people all over the world. Because of extensive treatment of cowboys and cattle drives in fiction, film, and fashion, the cowboy became an international iconic image of the American West. Cattle drives, a major activity from 1866 and as late as 1895, involved cowboys on horseback moving ten million head of cattle long distances from Texas to railheads in Kansas for shipments to stockyards in Chicago and points east. Why this grueling, dangerous, dirty endeavor should be glamorized is something of a mystery, since driving cattle from one place to another certainly is an ancient pastime not specific to Texas and a fixture of the Spanish Southwest and Mexico beginning in the 1540s. During the American Revolution, Bernardo de Gálvez helped the American colonists by driving cattle from Texas to Florida. In 1790 young David Crockett assisted a four-hundred-mile trail drive. Perhaps the differences with the Texas trail drives were the long distances over a vast, forbidding landscape beset with perils; the fact that cowboys were herding wily, feral longhorns with horn spreads of six to seven feet and over, rather than gentle cattle; and the partially mythological cowboy code of machismo, Victorian social values, six-shooters, and relentlessly Darwinian challenges on the frontiers of civilization. However, no stereotype could possibly fit the wide range of men (and a few women) who participated in those cattle drives.

     The map was apparently the brainchild of Englishman William Weston (1844-1920), an erstwhile mining engineer who just happened to be in the area at the time railheads were competing for the cattle trade. All these maps and their subsequent printed guides were distributed gratis in Texas by the railroad’s agents and others, in this case in the service of the good citizens of Ellsworth, Kansas, who were trying to depict their railhead as the most convenient of all, with easy access to markets both east and west. The timing of the 1871 map is significant, because in that year over half a million cattle were driven into Kansas, causing a market glut. By the time the last of these maps was published in 1875, the number of cattle driven to Kansas was just over 150,000. All these maps, therefore, document an ephemeral period in Texas and Western history wherein the cowboy and the cattle drive were vaulted into the national imagination.

            We conclude with a little anecdote from Charles P. Everitt’s, Adventures of a Treasure Hunter: A Rare Bookman in Search of History (Boston: Little, Brown, 1951, pp. 204-205). Everitt refers to the guide as from the 1880s, but we are certain he meant the Kansas Pacific Railroad guides to the Texas Cattle Trail discussed in this entry.

Once when I came back from a London trip, my partner Stager said smugly, “Dauber & Pine had a cattle-trade map catalogued for seven-fifty. So I bought it, and sold it for fifty dollars.”

“Adolph,” I said, “Dauber & Pine were pretty stupid, but you were a lot stupider.” The map had been issued in the 1880s by one of the Western railroads, and only three copies had ever been heard of.

In those days I lived down near Dauber & Pine’s and used to drop in almost every night. Sam Dauber buttonholed me. “I had two copies of that cattle map, Charlie,” he said, “but Adolph tried to beat me down to five dollars, so I didn’t tell him. Would you like the other copy?”

“Sure, I’l1 give you seven-fifty with no argument at all,” I said.

I turned mine over for $350. When the buyer’s estate was sold up not so very long afterward, the map brought $475. In other words, it’s imagination, not bibliography, that makes money.

Sometimes I think that the followers of A. Edward Newton, Merle Johnson, and Barton Currie should all go to a psychiatrist; then I wonder whether psychiatrists can do any good to sheep.


Sold. Hammer: $17,000.00; Price Realized: $20,825.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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