George C Duffield
Drover from Iowa whose dairy depicted the hardships of his 1866 cattle drive from San Antonio to Sedalia that became the basis of the 1960’s TV Series “Rawhide.”
In 1860 Texas, there were an estimated 3 million head of long
horns. Longhorns are huge, half wild animals that could weigh
up to 1600 pounds with horns that stretched four to six feet from tip to tip. The Texans quickly realized that if they were going to make money from cattle, they would have to be rounded up, branded, and transported on a large scale to the distant northern markets. An experienced crew could brand 100 calves an hour.
On a 1875 trail drive, the trail boss signed for 4,737 cattle and 137 horses. Four months later, he sold the cattle for $18 a head. His share of the profits was $5,366. The owner collected $61,886 of which more than $50,000 was profit. The work of the cowboy demanded exceptional skills. To manage three thousand
cattle and sixty horses required the work of no less than a dozen cowhands. Driving cattle was a hard way to make a hundred dollars. They had to be an expert roper and rider, know how to calm a restless herd in the middle of the night, and how to head off a stampede. A typical cattle drive took three to four months. By the time the cowboys reached the town at trail’s end, their boots were worn out. Their hats were shapeless and caked with dust. Once clean and shaven, they would buy new clothing, try their luck at gambling and enjoy the offerings of the saloons.
In 1866 alone, the Missouri Pacific and MKT Railroad Stockyards handled an estimated 168,000 head of longhorn cattle. It was an unglamorous job but cowboys left a trail of glamour. Such was the life of Gil Favor & Rowdy Yates as the “Rawhide” drovers headed for Sedalia in the popular 1960’s TV series.