Christopher C. Pepperdby Clair L. Pepperd
At left: Christopher Carson Pepperd, also known as "Cap" Pepperd and C.C. Pepperd, with his great nieces & nephews. This photograph was probably taken during his 1917 visit to Comanche County , Kansas.
We always referred to my great uncle as Uncle Kit, but practically everyone else called him "Cap" Pepperd.
He was born in Lusk, Ireland, in 1839 and in 1850 he migrated with his family to Cincinnati. His early wanderings are obscure, but he served in the Confederate Army from 1861 until 1865, and in 1862 he married Annie Ewell in Virginia. They had a son Richard who later came to Comanche County.
From Virginia the family moved to Texas where Kit served as cowboy, bronco buster and trail hand. By 1874 he had accumlated 500 head of cattle, and he drove them north into Kansas and established a ranch on Mule Creek southeast of (present day) Wilmore. Here he built what the Ford County Globe described in December 1877 as a "magnificent two story house" together with a barn, granary and outbuildings.
Kit came to control some 8,000 acres of grazing land, not by ownership but by "range rights" established by agreement with neighboring ranchers. His early operations were apparently profitable, and the Coldwater Western Star reported in August 1886 that he had sold $18,000 worth of steers in one transaction and still had 1,200 head of "well selected stock".
Kit became a well known character in Dodge City during its heyday as end of trail for cattle herds from Texas. He was contemporary with Bat Masterson, the Earps and others. Histories of the time credit him with being quite a fist fighter who seldom lost a fight.
By 1885, however, it was apparent that free range was doomed. The homesteaders had been moving in on all sides, and in June of that year the herd law went into effect. Kit bought 400 acres of land to contain his cattle and went into farming to some extent.
In 1887 Kit learned that the Santa Fe Railroad which was building southwest would cross Mule Creek on his ranch. So he and his ranch foreman, Tommy Wilmore, decided to organize a town at the crossing. He and Tommy flipped a coin to determine the name of the town, and Tommy won, and Wilmore it has been. Kit obtained a commission as postmaster for his son and built and stocked a general store for Richard to operate. On July 4, 1887, he organized a big celebration to promote the sale of town lots, apparently with limited success.
Late in 1887 a well driller hired by Kit struck a vein of coal at 75 feet, and it touched off a flurry of "coal fever" in Comanche and surrounding counties. However, artesian water, quick sand and lack of capital prevented its commercial development.
By 1889 Kit was discouraged. The free range was gone, blizzards had decimated his herds, and his investments at Wilmore had not been profitable. So he rounded up what cattle he had left and drove them to Texas. There he fell upon hard times and in his latest years he existed on a Confederate pension.
Kit visited us on the New Eden farm (in Comanche County, Kansas) in 1917(sic), and then went back to Fort Worth where he died August 28, 1921.
By Clair L. Pepperd, published on page 599 of Comanche County History, Comanche County Historical Society, Coldwater, Kansas, 1981.
We had corresponded earlier on C. C. Pepperd. Remember I told you of his taking a head in a sack to Dodge? Found the story last night as relayed by Robert Wright.
It seems that Pepperd was coming up the trail with a herd. The boss of the herd killed the negro cook for some reason. The herd came on to Dodge with Pepperd and the boss. The boss and Pepperd had a falling out and Pepperd went out and got a shotgun. He found the boss in a saloon and took a shot at him. The boss dodged behind an ice chest which Pepperd perforated with the 00 buckshot. Still mad, Pepperd went back, apparently to Comanche County, and dug up the cook, cut off his head, put it in a sack and headed back to Dodge. When he reached there, he told the story of the boss murdering the negro. However, problems of jurisdiction arose and the case never came to court.
Roger Myers, Larned, KS (Email to Jerry Ferrin, 29 Jan 2003)
Another source of the above story.
Abstract of TitleTo the following described Real Estate situated in Comanche County, Kansas:
to-wit: the North Half (N 1/2) of Lots 5-6-7 and 8, in Block 10,
in the original townsite of Wilmore, as shown by the recorded plat thereof.
The first four pages of this abstract trace the ownership of the land which became Wilmore through January 2, 1886, when C.C. Pepperd and Annie Pepperd paid off their mortgage to the land. This document is courtesy of Janet Schrock Hubbard. It is a 16 page abstract of the title to the Wilmore home of her grandparents, Harve & Nellie Grace (Ray) Schrock, the home of Dan Ferrin and his family in 2004.
"Our first teacher was Mattie Wright who afterwards married Tommie Wilmore. The town of Wilmore was named for him, he being a favorite cowboy and foreman for Cap. Pepperd, a big cattleman. Then began the free range fights. In after years those wanting free range wanted herd law (such is life) ... We were fortunate in getting our R. R. done soon. In 1887 they began to build. The camp was just north of our house, and Pepperd and Powell furnished beef for it. Mr. Powell (Will) had a butcher shop in Coldwater. We sold him cattle. Powell and Pyle were very much mentioned in these days with Pepperd and Greenleaf, cattlemen.
-- (Excerpt from) "Early Day Memories" by Alice Eyerly Ferrin, The Wilmore News, October 31, 1939.
Christopher Carson "Cap" PEPPERD
Confederate Civil War Veteran, Cowboy, Bronc Buster, Trail Driver & early (1874) Comanche County rancher. Founder of the city of Wilmore, Kansas. He lost his fortune in the 1887-1888 Coal Mining Fever in the county.
A Chronology of the Life & Times of Christopher Carson Pepperd
State of Kansas vs. C.C. Pepperd, 1876
Testimony of C.C. Pepperd: State of Kansas vs. William Thompson
The Death Certificate of C.C. Pepperd
The Gravestone & Burial of C.C. Pepperd
Pepperd Ponderings: Pepperd family history by Clair L. Pepperd, published 1989, 87 pages.
Obituary of Patrick Pepperd The Western Star, 5 Febrary 1898. Transcribed by Shirley Brier.
Thomas Jackson "Tommy" Wilmore & Some of His Descendants
"No Less A Man": Blacks in Cow Town Dodge City, 1876-1886", C. Robert Haywood, Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, 1988), pp. 161-182.
Note: according to The Obituary of Colonel Dick Phillips, the Comanche Pool was formed in 1879. Cap Pepperd had been ranching in the area for years by that time.
For Cap Pepperd, I think Room to Roam by Wylie Gustafson would be a song played on his own heart strings. Here's a verse:
Take me away to my old prairie home,
Give me a range to ride and room to roam.
Where the stars shine bright
Thats where I belong
No fences to hold me
Just room to roam.
This web page was added to this site by Jerry Ferrin, 28 July 2002. It was last updated 14 Jan 2006.
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