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bringing buyers with them. I made my first trip up the trail in 1871 for Choate & Bennett. John Bennett, Sr., was a member of the firm. They sent fourteen herds up the trail that year. Dunk Choate, now deceased, counted and delivered this herd to Jim Byler, our boss, on the Cibolo near Stockdale, Wilson County, pointed our herd north and left, saying, "You boys know the rest, I must leave you and receive other herds."
The first few years there was no market for cow ponies at the cattle, markets. In 1871 we brought back over the trail 150 cow ponies and several chuck wagons from Abilene, Kan., belonging to Choate & Bennett and W. C. Butler ; but later, after ranches were established throughout the Northwest those ranchmen learned that our Spanish ponies were better for the range work than their native horses, and after that cow ponies were ready sale and the cowboys came home by rail or boat. Later there was a demand for Texas brood mares. This proved a bonanza for Texas ranchmen, as our ranges were overstocked with them and they were almost worthless. I drove 1,000 in two herds to Dodge City in 1884. It was claimed that 100,000 went up the trail that year and more than 1,000,000 went up the trail from the time the horse market opened until the trail closed.
1871 was not a successful year, but it did not prevent a grand rush for the 1872 drive. Some of the drivers had made government contracts to supply Indian agencies, some had contracts with Western ranchmen for stock cattle and young steers; others driving on the open market. 1872 proved a successful year which caused a great rush for the 1873 drive. Those that sold early, had contracts or got tips from the money centers, did fairly well, but a panic clogged the wheels of commerce. Some sold at heavy losses, some wintered herds, "thinking a steer in good condition could live where a buffalo could;