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Ranches and Ranching in the Comanche County, Kansas, Area

by Wilbur Olson

Freedom, Oklahoma

March 11, 1991

To the Scherichs, (Larry & Phyllis)

We enjoyed our visit with you Folks Sat. very much. I can see you are interested in early day history as I am. I am sending you copies of five pages out of the middle of one tablet of my writings.

This is an account of a visit to the Arrington Ranch in probably either 1934 or 1935. I'm not sure about the exact year.

I am writing what I guess started out to be changes in the cattle business in my lifetime and its sort of turned into a story of my life.

I hope you enjoy these few pages and when I get more completed I'll be glad to let you read it all.

So far I have about two tablets completed and I am only about to the year of 1936.

We would like for you to visit us sometime. Just drive west from Camp Houston on Hwy 64, about 5 mi. Cross both E Moccasin and W Moccasin Creeks, then take the next county road north 3 mi and we live at the end of this road. The last mile of this road sort of winds around. There is a sign on the auto gate Box L Ranch.

We enjoy having company.


Wilbur & Edna Olson

1934 Map of the area discussed in this history

The Article in The Alva Review Courier about the breaking up of the Z-Bar (Z-Bar Ranch) in Barber County, Kansas is very interesting but it is inaccurate on some things, as my account will probably be also. I am going to write some of the things I know about this ranch's past history as I recall it.

I was born here (on nearly the exact spot where we now live) on August 30, 1912. My Father, Lewis Olson homesteaded this quarter section in 1901. His sister Emma homesteaded an adjoining quarter. Emma later married Bill Wheat who ranched east of Sand Creek in Barber County. Another of Dad's sisters, Mary, married Al Wheat, Bill's brother and they lived for a long time on the east side of Sand Creek just a mile north of Uncle Bills. Dad's youngest sister Maggie married Charley Revert and over the years they lived on several places on Sand Creek. I remember a lot of trips we made up to see our relatives on Sand Creek.

The first ones from 1912 to 1918 were in a buggy and I only have a dim remembrance of those. I can remember a few things about one, when Aunt Emma died and Dad, Mother, and I went up there in the buggy. About all I can remember of that trip is we stopped on a high ridge in a big pasture southwest of Aetna (probably the Mays Ranch) at noon. Dad unhitched the team and fed them and built a small campfire and boiled coffee and we ate our lunch. I wasn't very old at that, but I think I could go back today and pick out almost the exact spot where we made our noon camp. I can remember us getting to Uncle Bill's ranch late that evening. Uncle Bill's daughter, Helen, my Cousin, still operates this ranch and lives in Medicine Lodge. Aunt Emma died in the year 1917 when Helen was 8 years old and I was 5.

We probably made other trips up there in the buggy, but this is about the only one I remember much about. One thing that sticks in my mind is how the buggy tires would sing on those sandy gravelly roads (trails).

In 1918 Dad bought a new Model T touring car and we would go up there in it.

When I was 13 or 14 I made my first trip up there horseback.

But no matter what our mode of transportation we nearly always went up the ridge road through the Burrton pasture, Dyers, Mays and across the Salt Fork to Aetna, a country store and Post Office. Then on a trail across what later became the Z-Ranch to Sand Creek and our relatives.

Its about 40 or 45 mile trip from our place on West Moccasin Creek N.W. of Old Freedom to our relatives on Sand Creek so by buggy or horseback it took most of the day. And almost that long by Model T. (I speak of our place being N.W. of Old Freedom for the town wasn't moved to its present site until about 1918. The Buffalo Northwestern, a branch line of the Santa Fe Railroad, was laying track and got from Waynoka to New Freedom in the winter of 1918-1919. Old Freedom was 5 mile north and 1/2 mile east of its present site. And Old Freedom was moved to the new site.) I am telling all this to show I am familiar with this area and have a chance to know something about its history.

It was a section of the country that always fascinated me. I guess it was because it was big ranch country. Then as well as today there is nothing I love more than riding or driving through a good ranch country.

At that time when we reached Aetna we would take a trail through big pastures east to our relatives on Sand Creek. We would cross first the Hodge Ranch, then the Temple Ranch, formerly the Jim Holmes Ranch then the Motz Ranch on the west side of Sand Creek owned by John Arrington whose main ranch was west of the Barber County line in Comanche County.

These trips were always exciting to me whether by buggy, horseback or car. Not only the anticipation of seeing our relatives but it was the kind of a country I loved.

I did not become familiar with the country west of Aetna in Comanche County until the mid 20's and the 30's.

After we crossed Sand Creek, Uncle Bill's Ranch was on the east side several miles up and down the creek and his headquarters about 3 miles north. Uncle Al's place was about a mile north of that and at one time, Uncle Charley's lived on a place about 2 miles on north and later on the old Accord place at the south end of Uncle Bill's ranch. Then they moved across the creek west to the George Motz headquarters and rented part of the land from John Arrington. They lived here until I think 19__ when they moved several miles east to the Lasswell Community.

All through the 20's and 30's I was across this country first by Model T, horseback, then other cars. After my first horseback trip up there in 1925 or 1926 on a little blue bronc mare. The mare was about as old as I was but she was a tough little animal. I made many trips up there horseback after that on a lot of different horses, most of them colts out of Gun Shannon, a thoroughbred stud that sired a lot of good colts in this country. I broke a lot of these colts for people around here for the use of them for six months. That was the way I kept in saddle horses.

The best of these was Sandy, a hard twisted sorrel filly I broke for Bob Burnham that I later bought. Everytime I could get away for a few days I would ride up in that country and visit Uncle Charley's and Uncle Bill's. Sometime in the intervening years Uncle Al's had left Sand Creek and moved to a place near Sharon, Kansas, where their daughter-in-law, Helen, still has their ranch, but for several years has leased it out and lives in Medicine Lodge.

Our Sand creek relatives made many trips down here over the years. When I was a very small boy I remember Uncle Bill would ride down here and buy cattle. The best I can remember he put them together here at our place, then got someone to help him drive them up to his ranch.

The Folks up there would come by buggy or sping wagon or in later years by car. Dad's mother lived with us for several years before she died in 1917, and they came to see her as well as us. It was slow traveling those days even in a car. The roads were just trails following the ridges through big pastures with wire gates to open between them (that was before car gates). After I was older my job was to open these gates and let Dad through with the car. One time with the Model T we went around by Alva and Hardtner, then west by the Brownback Ranch, then N.W. through the McBriare Ranch. Then off the mesa and down by George Roots and down to the Accord Place on Sand Creek where Uncle Charley's lived at that time on the east side of the creek. Sometime either before or after this Uncle Bill added this place to the south end of his ranch. On this particular trip we took a lunch and stopped a little N.W. of Brownback headquarters, built a fire, boilded coffee, and ate our lunch. Then on to Hackberry Creek there was a bad bridge. On the west end the bridged had sunk down and you had to jump up about a foot. Dad wasn't very familiar with the car yet and he couldn't make it climb up the bank. A Mr. Hogar lived nearby and he came down and drove it up the bank for Dad and we were on our way. Traveling those roads in those days was quite an adventure.

I remember on time there was a Fourth of July Celebration at Old Freedom. I was probably 4 or 5 years old at the time. Uncle Charley, Aunt Maggie and I think Donald and Esther came down to it in the buggy or spring wagon. Dad, Mother and I went over early in the morning in our buggy, but it seems to me Uncle Charley's didn't get there until late in the afternoon which is understandable as far as they had to come. It was quite a celebration. There was a bunch of Indians camped on the prairie at the S.W. edge of town. There was a photographer had a big bearskin tacked up on the side of a store building and would take a picture of you for a small sum. Dad and I got our picture taken and it was with the Family pictures for years, but something happened to it and I can't find it. In the afternoon the Indians in all their feathered, beaded finery paraded down Main Street. Main Street of Old Freedom as about 200 years long and was on the east and west section line between Sec. 2 & ll, Township 27 Range 18 or about 2 3/4 S. and 4 1/2 E. of our homestead. Several business buildings were scattered along both sides of that country road and this made up the town of Old Freedom.

I'll always remember one old Chief astride a spotted pony with his feathered war bonnet and a tail of eagle feathers nearly dragging the ground. Then there was a sort of Wild West Show in front of the Grandstand at the ball diamond. They had a canvas wall put up to form a small arena. I don't know who put on the show but it may have been the Wacotts for they had a Wild West show about that time.

About all I can remember is they would throw oranges in the air and the Indians would catch them on their lances. Then cowboys rode a few broncs. Then the Indians went off in a pasture to butcher a beef someone had donated. George Annis a man several years my senior told me a few years ago the beef was a lump-jawed cow.

Dad went and watched them butcher and told us about them eating raw liver and other parts of the cow without benefit of cooking.

I can remember just a few things of that day but I remember coming home way after dark and Uncle Charley's coming with us in their buggy or spring wagon. I remember the men putting a big cake of ice in the cellar and covering it with quilts so we could have ice cream the next day. I don't ever remember Uncle Charley's coming to our place that we didn't have home-made ice cream. I have a picture etched indelibly on my mind of Uncle Charley, over the years, standing in the middle of the kitchen floor at this place and then the west place with a serving bowls of ice cream eating with a tablespoon and entertaining all of us children. We all worshipped him. He was a wonderful man. (One thing I forgot about Uncle Charley was that a short time after he finished the ice cream he was sure to say, "Ida, where is your soda can?")

The last time I remember anyone making the drive with a team was one time after we moved on the west place. (Dad bought a half section from P. K. Bingerman in 1918 and in 1920 we moved over there just 1 miles west of here). Aunt Maggie, Cousin Helen, Donald, Esther, and maybe Gerald and Thelma drove down in a spring wagon. Uncle Charley didn't get to come that time. They came for a Children's Day Celebration at our schoolhouse where we had Sunday school.

They got lost a few miles east of here and got in late, a very tired bunch of people. I continued my horseback trips up there until about 1937 when I bought my first car, a 1934 Ford. During the late 20's and 30's I worked for ranchers here and in Barber County.

I started out to tell my story of the Davis, Nolan, Merrill Ranch in Barber and Comanche Counties, Kansas, and I have written nine pages and hardly mentioned it. This has turned out to be more of a Family History of Dad's side of the family.

Now I'll tell what I know of the past history of these ranches.

To the best of my recollection sometime in the early 30's there was an account in the Kansas City Star of Davis, Nolan, and Merrill's purchase of three large ranches in Barber and Comanche Counties in Kansas in the Aetna area. According to the Star Davis, Nolan, and Merrill was a big grain company in Kansas City. They also had large holdings in Missouri. According to the Kansas City Star these ranches were the Arrington Ranch 30,000 acres, the Hodges Ranch 10,000 acres, and the Temple Ranch 20,000 acres, a total of 60,000 acres more or less. It was said the average purchase price was $4 or $5 an acre.

The Review Courier account makes no mention of the Arrington Ranch which amounted to about half of the transaction.

I think this is what decided me to write this account for John Arrington was a fine old cowman who deserved to be mentioned. I will tell more about Mr. Arrington later.

Here is some history of the Arrington Ranch from the Comanche County History Book under the heading, Merrill Ranch, Page 69 (in part)

"The Merrill Ranch is located in the S.E. corner of Comanche County. It is drained by the Salt Fork River, a branch of the Arkansas River, Red Fork, Indian Creek, Mule Creek, Newcomb Creek and Owl Creek. The headquarters of the Merrill Ranch is located at the site of the one-time town of Evansville, which also served as the Comanche Pool headquarters (that huge cattle pool that took in most of Comanche County and a lot of Barber County, Kansas, and all of N.W. Woods County, Oklahoma to Big Timber, west of Waynoka. It was organized in 1877).

After the Comanche Pool was dissolved in 1886 settlers began to move in. Virgil Platt gained control of much of the ranch area in about 1912. In 1918 the Platt Land & Cattle Company sold the land to John Arrington. In 1934 George Davis bought it from The Phoenix Joint Stock Land Bank, after failure to pay taxes.

Later that year Harold A. Merrill, then president of the Kansas City Board of Trade, secured the property and gave it its present name. Lester Alley was hired as foreman. J. P. Lynn served as overseer and manager making many trips from Kansas City."

I disagree with the last part of the preceding account. I know for sure all three ranches of the original purchase were operated as one ranch with the headquarters just east of Aetna on the Hodge ranch. The Hodge and Temple ranches were known as the east ranch and the Arrington Ranch in Comanche County was known as the west ranch. The Arrington land on Sand Creek then became part of the east ranch.

I know this to be a fact for my cousin, Donald Revert, worked for them until 1936 when he got a better job in the Barber County gas field. He got me his old job on the ranch and I went up there that spring, but had only worked a week when Dad had an accident with a 2-year old filly he had bought and was hurt, and I had to come home. Orville held my job for two weeks, but Dad was hurt pretty bad, and I never got to go back. At that time yet the paychecks came from the Davis, Nolan and Merrill Grain Company in Kansas City. I believe it must have been sometime in the 50's when the ranches were divided, and the land in Barber County became the Davis Ranch and the land in Comanche County became the Merrill Ranch.

Donald told me the ranches were not all purchased at the same time. He thinks their first purchase was the Temple Ranch (formerly the Jim Holmes Ranch) in either the late 20's or early 30's. The comanche County History states, "George Davis bought the Arrington Ranch in 1934. Arrington had lost his holdings about that time to the mortgage company. (More about this later.) I don't know just when they bought the Hodge Ranch where headquarters were located.

The Review Courier account says Davis began acquiring the ranch in 1936. I know this to be wrong for they owned all three ranches before 1934. The Courier accounts states Orville Alley was foreman for 23 years, Bud Liggenstoffer for 32 years, and Dewey Reed 4 years up to the present 1987. 23 + 32 + 4 = 59. 1987 - 59 = 1928.

Anyhow by 1934 Davis, Nolan and Merrill had acquired quite a scope of country in Barber and Comanche Counties along the Salt Fork River. Most of it on the north side of the river, but some of it on the south side. This area was about twenty miles east and west and varied in width north and south.

1936 Phillips Petroleum map of Kansas, detail showing Comanche County.
Collection of Phyllis Scherich.

From the west, first John Arrington's main ranch in Comanche County with headquarters at Old Evansville, former headquarters of the Comanche Pool. The Arrington main ranch ran east to the Comanche-Barber county line to the north and south road by Aetna. I think the Platt family still owns this. It was not included in the Davis, Nolan and Merrill purchase. Starting at the Aetna road they purchased the Hodge ranch east of that the Temple ranch and east of that John Arrington's land in Barber County known as the George Motz ranch. These ranches were purchased at different times, not necessarily in that order. They may have added some smaller tracts later, I don't know.

My Uncle Charles Revert and his family lived on the George Motz ranch for years and rented part of it from Arrington. This ranch was bounded on the east by Sand Creek and consisted of the Motz, Fritz, and Larkin land.

The Fritz flats on top of the mesa west of Uncle Bill's had some as good farm land as ever laid outdoors. (in the history of Walter Churchill Fulton in the Woods County history book it mentions Fulton, an old-time cowboy who came up the trail from Texas several times with trailherds) working for the 21 Ranch on the Cimarron, also Ishmul and Rudolph or Rudolf. Then from 1897 to 1899 he worked for George Motz on his ranch 1 mile west and 1 mile south of Teagarden at which time Motz closed the ranch out. I am almost certain this was the same George Motz who had the ranch on Sand Creek, Barber County, Kansas. According to old settlers on Sand Creek, the Motz operation was sort of a greasy-sack operation. (Greasy Sack was a term used to describe an outfit that was too poor to have a chuck wagon and carried for grub a little flour, salt bacon, etc. in a sack.)

The Temple Ranch was originally the Holmes Ranch. Jim Holmes put this ranch together in the 1880's and 1890's. Holmes sold the ranch in 1917 and later it became known as the Temple Ranch. My Father, Lewis Olson told me of cutting feed with a corn sled for Jim Holmes. Dad just about grew up on a corn sled. From the time he was 13 years old he supported his mother and three sisters by working for ranchers in Barber County. Ranchers in southern Kansas had cattle in the Cherokee Strip also, but raised a lot of feed on their Kansas ranches. I've heard Dad tell of cutting feed for Gregory & Eldred, Ewell & Justice, Ishmael & Rudolf, Holmes and others. The Temple Ranch headquarters was on the Salt Fork. It ran southto the Oklahoma line and north to several miles northeast of Aetna.

The Hodge Ranch was between the Temple Ranch and the Aetna road. The headquarters was on (Mule) Creek just above the trail from Aetna to Sand Creek.

During the late 20's and 30's I rode this trail many times. When Davis, Nolan & Merrill purchased this ranch Orville Alley moved from the Temple Ranch to the headquarters at the Hodge Ranch. A Cliff Anderson lived on it and operated it for a time, but it was still known as the George Hodge Ranch. It was during the time Anderson operated this ranch that I first saw calves being creep-fed. I was riding through there during one of those terrible dry years in the early 30's. In one of the pastures were cows with some of the biggest, fattest calves I had ever seen. The grass was very dry and short, but even the cows were in better condition than most cows suckling big calves, and I couldn't imagine why until I rode up to a windmill and there was a big creep feeder with some of those big calves filling up on whole oats. That made a believer out of me and I have used creep feeding in my own operation several times of a dry year or on fall calves. We all learned some pretty good lessons in the dry 30's.

When I made those long rides from here up to Sand Creek I would cut across country through big pastures I never lacked for invitations to eat and feed my horse from the few ranchers along the way. Especially Bud or Isriel May and their ranches on the Oklahoma-Kansas line. If they saw you coming through you were sure to be asked to eat and feed your horse. I turned most of these invitations down for I still was a long way from my destination. One time I ate dinner at a ranch just south of the Salt Fork on the Aetna road. I've been told it was one of the Brownback ranch camps in the early days. When I offered to pay for my meal and horsefeed, the lady wouldn't take anything saying she had boys out riding the grub-line and she hoped others would do as much for them. Other times when I got to Aetna I would get me a bottle of pop and a candy bar or peanuts to stave off my hunger and thirst.

Aetna was a country store and postoffice where Uncle Charley's got their mail. Donald made the ride from the Motz place to Aetna about once a week to get the mail. Aetna was about a hundred yards off the main road, to the east. It consisted of a windmill and big tank, a big barn, where they had some pretty wild dances of Saturday nights, the store and postoffice building and that's about all. An old woman, Mary Dunn, ran the store and postoffice. In later years there was another store a little way up the road north from Dunns. If I remember right it was run by some folks names Newlin. It was a tall false fronted store with a high porch and hitchracks in front. It set right out in the sagebrush and looked like a scene from a Western movie.

From Aetna it was about eight miles on across the Hodge and Temple Ranches to the Motz place where Uncle Charley's lived and four or five miles farther to Uncle Bill's. Times were hard in the thirties during the dust bowl days, and jobs were few and far between. The Aetna country was in a little better shape than this country down here and out in the panhandle and western Kansas, but they were dry there too.

When I rode up in the Aetna country I was usually looking for a job and did work some in several places on ranches between there and Medicine Lodge and Hardtner. Also I got some work around here. I remember one time Uncle Charley took me with him and we drove over to the Arrington headquarters one bitter cold winter day. On the way we stopped at the Cliff Anderson Ranch and Roy Platt Ranch to see if they needed more help, but they didn't.

When we got to Arrington's ranch at Old Evansville, Mr. Arrington , an old man, his health broken, was sitting in the ranch house living room by a big potbellied woodstove. Uncle Charley wanted to see him about his rent on the Arrington land on Sand Creek. After they had concluded their business I asked Mr. Arrington about a job and he told me, "Kid, I'd like to give you a job for I need another hand, but I've lost the ranch and I'm just looking after it for the mortgage company and they won't let me hire anymore."

The thing that struck me most about John Arrington was his kindliness.

Before we left Uncle Charley asked him what to do with some corn in the shock that Arrington was to get a share of and Arrington told him to let me shuck it out of the shock and he would pay me for the work and get his share of the corn. I know he just did this to give me a little work. Mr. Arrington was an old Arizona cowboy before he come to this country and he showed us his old money belt he carried his money in when he cowboyed in Arizona. He said all the ranches there paid in gold.

I only saw John Arrington once after that when he came by with the men from the mortgage company and paid me for shocking the corn.

Later Uncle Charley told me Mr. Arrington told him he would of sure liked to of give me a job for he said I reminded him of Lester Alley when he first came to work for him. Lester Alley had been Arrington's foreman for a good many years. This made me feel pretty good for I knew he held Lester Alley in high regard.

Several years ago I saw a newspaper clipping in the Stockade Museum at Medicine Lodge that told of the Cattlemen's Picnic at Kingman, Kansas, in the early day. A picture of the steer ropers lined up on their horses and gave their names. Two names I recognized were John Arrington and Jim Selman. Jim Selman later became one of the largest ranchers in this area of Oklahoma. My Cousin Helen told me when she was a girl John Arrington would rope and drag calves to the fire for them when they worked cattle. She said he was a top roper.

When my Mother was a girl they lived for a time near Kingman. She told of going to the Cattlemen's Picnic and of one of their neighbors getting killed in the steer roping. I think she said his name was Duesse. In those days they roped big steers not the little ones like they do now, and it wasn't always the steer that got jerked down.

In the Comanche County History it speaks of John Arrington as a kindly man. It tells of he and his crew driving 1200 head of cattle from the ranch to Wilmore to ship. After two days drive they camped at the edge of town and the chuckwagon cook started preparing supper for the cowboys. Mr. Arrington got on his horse and rode up Main Street and invited everyone he saw out to eat at the chuckwagon. I guess nearly everyone in Wilmore ate supper that night at the Arrington chuckwagon. Maybe things like that helped to break him, but those Grand old cowmen know what hospitality was all about.

Uncle Charley once told me what really put John Arrington under was he contracted to take all a big outfits calves for five years at a certain price. The first two years the calves made some money, but the next three were bad years and the market broke as it usually does in dry years, and that caused him to lose his ranch.

I heard later that not long afterwards John Arrington fell off his horse dead in one of the pastures on the ranch he had lost to the mortgage company. It was a sad ending for a fine old cowman.

The Z Bar is no more. Despite buying the ranches for almost nothing, then getting some good gas wells, a trust bank (Boatman's National Bank) in Kansas City owns most of the stock and have sold all the cattle and equipment (It was sold at auction at the ranch in 19__. From the acres of pickups and trailers and the throngs of people who came, and the amount of food they bought from concessionaires, it was probably the largest auction this country had ever seen!) and the Davis Ranch as such no longer exists. The ranch has now been leased to an individual (John Cromer, then in 1990 Brass Cattle Company). It will be interesting to see how he makes out.

The old Arrington Ranch in Comanche County still operates as the Merrill Ranch, but I don't know what became of the Nolan interest of Davis, Nolan, and Merrill.

As I said before all during the late twenties and early thirties I made many long rides across country to our relatives on Sand Creek in Barber County, Kansas. As I've said I was always looking for work, but it pretty hard to find a job in those hard times. I got some work in those days for some ranchers both around her and in Barber County, but mostly as an extra hand in busy times.

I remember one bitter cold day going with Uncle Charley over to John Arrington's ranch in Comanche County.

Arrington's main ranch was in S.E. Comanche County just over the line from Barber County. His headquarters were at old Evansville that was the headquarters of the great Comanche Pool that took in a lot of Barber and Comanche Counties in Kansas and what is now Woods County in Oklahoma. Arrington also owned some land on the west side of Sand Creek known as the George Motz Ranch. Uncle Charley's lived at the old Motz headquarters and leased part of the land. On this cold Sunday he wanted to see Mister Arrington about his lease, and I went along hoping to find some work. It was a cloudy, cold day in late winter as we bounced across the rough pasture trails of S.W. Barber County ranches. First we crossed the Temple Ranch, formerly the Jim Holmes Ranch. Then just east of Aetna the old Hodge Ranch operated at that time by Cliff Anderson. We stopped there to see if he needed an extra hand, but he didn't. We went on by Aetna and then to the Roy Platt Ranch. They didn't need another hand either.

West of Platts we crossed the Comanche County line and were in Arrington's main ranch. Several miles more we crossed a wide valley and turned off the main trail. Soon we dropped off the should of a hill and down to the headquarters on a little Creek. (Indian Creek) There were barns, corrals, bund houses, and a rambling ranch house with wood smoke rising from the chimney. We found John Arrington, that old cowman in his living room by a huge pot bellied stove. He was an old man, his health broken, but still with the marks of a man who had spent years in the saddle. He bid us welcome and I sat and listened while he and Uncle Charley talked. I was fascinated by the old ranch house. The old house was a low building with wings off in every direction, wide porches, and many windows. The living room was a long, wide room with windows on the north and south sides. Lots of sturdy chairs, tables, and couches. Navaho rugs, blankets, and the kind of things a cowboy and cowman would accumulate in a lifetime were strewed about. It really took my eye.

When Uncle Charley and Mr. Arrington had completed their business I asked about a job. Mr. Arrington said, "Kid, I'd like to give you a job but I've lost the ranch and am just running it for the mortgage company."

"I really need another hand too, but they won't let me hire anymore."

What struck me most about Mr. Arrington was his kindliness. We visited a while and he told us he had punched cows in Arizona in his younger days. He said there they were paid in gold and showed us his old money belt he carried his money in then. Before we left Uncle Charley asked him what to do with his share of some corn they had bound and shocked.

Arrington said, "Let this boy shuck it out of the shock and I'll send someone over to get our share." I can still buy horse feed so I'll pay for shocking it. I know now he just did that to give me a little work out of the kindness of his heart. I only saw John arrington once after that and that was when he came by Uncle Charley's with the men from the mortgage company and paid me for shocking the corn. Later on I heard Mr. Arrington had fallen off his horse dead in one of his pastures on the ranch he had lost to the mortgage company.

Uncle Charley told me what broke Arrington was, he contracted all the calves of some big outfit for five years at a certain price. The first two years the calves made a little, but the dry years came along and the market broke and he lost it all. The same thing broke many a cowman about that time. It was a sad ending for a fine old man. John Arrington was highly respected by all who knew him.

My Uncle Bill Wheat had a ranch about three miles up Sand Creek from Uncle Charley's that bordered Arrington (Motz Ranch) on the east and his daughter Helen told me when Uncle Bill would work calves Mr. Arrington would rope and drag calves to the fire. She said he was an expert roper.

Several years ago in the Stockade Museum at Medicine Lodge I saw an old newspaper that gave an account of a steer roping at The Cattleman's Picnic at Kingman, Kansas many years ago. There was a picture of all the ropers lined up and their names. Two names I knew were John Arrington and J. O. Selman. Both of these men were big ranchers during the time I was growing up. John Arrington in Comanche and Barber Counties, Kansas, and J. O. Selman in Woodward and Harper Counties, Oklahoma.

During the thirties soon after the time I've just told about a big grain company in Kansas City, Davis, Nolan and Merrill, purchased the Arrington Ranch, the Temple Ranch, and the Hodge Ranch. This took place over a period of a few years. Due to the drought they bought it very cheap, four or five dollars per acre.

About the mid-thirties I got a job with them. Uncle Charley's oldest boy, Donald, had drove a tractor and did some farming for them a couple of years. He got a change for a better paying job in the Barber County Gas Field. Uncle Charley and Gerald came down and got me and took me up to see Orville Alley. Orville Alley was the main boss and lived with his family at headquarters on the Hodge Ranch east of Aetna. (His brother, Lester Alley, was a longtime foreman for Arrington on the west ranch and lived at the old Arrington headquarters.) I got the job. This was on a Monday and I went to work the next morning driving a Model L Case on lugs, pulling ridgebusters. I didn't particularly want a farming job, but I took my old saddle along in hopes it might turn into a riding job.

Thanks to Phyllis Scherich for contributing this history to this web site!

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