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That was when my hard work first began, for I was expected to do the work of a man.
My first long drive up the trail was in 1872, when we trailed 2,290 head of cattle from Tom Lane's old ranch in Milam County, to Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory. The old trail drivers who were out that year can tell what heavy and constant rains we had all through the spring and summer. We had to swim all the rivers and creeks, but I think we had the best herd to cross water that was ever driven up the trail. In our herd we had some three hundred old longhorn steers, from ten to fifteen years old, which had been raised in Little River and Brushy bottoms during the Civil War, and when we gathered them they were almost as wild as deer. There was a big bunch of these old steers that worked in the lead of the herd, and when we came to a river or creek that was swollen these old steers would walk right into the muddy water and pull for the other side, the balance of the herd following.
We had one little scrap with the Indians, but no one was hurt. They killed one steer during the fight.
We crossed Smoky Hill River just a short distance above the little town of Ellsworth, Kansas. The village was on the north side of the river then, and when we arrived there the river had been swollen by the heavy rains and looked to be a mile wide and was very swift. We had to wait until it ran down within its banks before we could cross. We secured a small boat to take us across and had to make two trips to get our stuff over.
We went from Ellsworth to Fort Kearney, Nebraska, and struck the Platte River, traveling up this stream on the south side for nearly four hundred miles, grazing the herd as we went. The Platte River stretched across the country like a ribbon in the sunshine. In some places it was a mile and a quarter wide, and a fertile green valley reached back to the hills on either side, no shrubbery being visible anywhere except a few big cottonwood