The founding of the American West can be studied in no better place than Dodge City and Ford County. Whether it is frontier forts, trails and cow towns, or farms and ranches, Ford County holds original examples. The best-known Wild West lawmen and gunfightersWyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Doc Hollidaygained their fame in Dodge City. Its history began with Francisco Vásquez de Coronado crossing the Arkansas River in 1541, leading to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 (Dodge City is on the 100th meridian border) and the 1821 opening of the Santa Fe Trail by William Becknell. Fort Dodge, built in 1865, still stands as a reminder of the millions of people who passed through Dodge City. The Santa Fe Railroad arrived in 1872, and the buffalo hunters and the Great Western Cattle Trail grew around Dodge City. The pioneer era did not end in the 1800s but continued through the 1930s dust bowl and beyonddemanding the same tough work, cooperation, and high ethics that made surviving possible in the “Great Western Desert.”
About the Author
George Laughead Jr. is president of the Ford County Historical Society in Dodge City. A native of Dodge City, he has worked as a trade magazine publisher and editor and spent over 20 years in management positions at media companies. Laughead has trained under Dr. Lynn H. Nelson, University of Kansas history professor emeritus. Laughead’s Web work includes management of the Kansas Heritage Group Web sites, management committee membership for Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee’s WWW Virtual Library, and maintaining the library’s US history network. Laughead has been a board member of the Mountain-Plains Museums Association and received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Kansas.
Table of Contents
1 Pioneer Families of Dodge City 9
2 Pioneer Civilization of Dodge City 43
3 Merchants and Commerce in Dodge City 61
About the Organization 127