Get Along, Little Dogies: The Chisholm Trail Diary of Hallie Lou Wells: South Texas, 1878

Get Along, Little Dogies: The Chisholm Trail Diary of Hallie Lou Wells: South Texas, 1878

Get Along, Little Dogies: The Chisholm Trail Diary of Hallie Lou Wells: South Texas, 1878

Get Along, Little Dogies: The Chisholm Trail Diary of Hallie Lou Wells: South Texas, 1878


NoonGabby, Dovey, Gussie, and I were frosting lemon cookies when we felt the rumble. It was like an earthquake. We rushed outside. Without my bonnet to shield the sun's glare, I couldn't see at first. I had to squint. To the southwest, I saw a thick cloud of dust rolling our way. The low rumble we had heard in the kitchen had, by then, become deafening thunder. Thousands of hooves pounded the earth. It was the herd running toward us. It looked like a great brown river.... The roundup was done. The men were home with the cattle.It's spring of 1878 on the Rockin' W in South Texas, and Hallie Lou Wells is as cross as any fourteen-year-old redhead has a right to be. Her teacher says she has to memorize page 112 of Webster's School Dictionary; her most exciting decision is whether to wear her peach organdy or blue silk to the dance; and only boys can go on trail drives.But in country where anything can happen, something does. When Hallie's mother discovers she's having another baby, Hallie's father decides not to join the trail drive to Dodge City, and Hallie convinces him to let her represent the family's interests at the point of sale. So begins an adventure well worth chronicling.The first of the Lone Star Journals by Lisa Waller Rogers, Hallie's Chisholm Trail diary is filled with adventures that will engage any middle reader, girl or boy, and is so rich in its depiction of ranch and trail life in the late 1870s that it should make any reading list, Texas or national.Following Hallie's diary is a historic summary of life along the Chisholm Trail in 1878, complete with photographs and map, useful to young readers and teachers alike.


At the close of the Civil War, Texas was in ruins. Even though there had been little fighting on its soil, Texas was broken by the war. Confederate money was worthless. As weary Texas soldiers plodded homeward, they passed abandoned plantations and farms. Tall weeds grew in what used to be cornfields. Buildings were crumbling, fences falling down, and gates broken off their hinges.

In the brush country of South Texas, ranchers found their corrals empty. While they had been at war, their livestock had been neglected. Their cattle had wandered off in search of juicier grasses, eventually running with the wild herds on the open range. Left untended, these hardy cattle multiplied rapidly.

By war’s end, Texas possessed between three and six million Longhorns—most of them wild and unbranded. Cowmen were free to rope, brand, and sell all the Longhorns they wanted. But who would buy them? Nobody within reach wanted to buy any cattle. With so much beef available, Texans were certainly not interested in buying any cattle, even if they did have the money to do so. Locally, a Longhorn was worth only two dollars.

In the cities of the North, on the other hand, a Longhorn sold for forty dollars. Northerners were starved for beef. During the war years, they had almost wiped out what little livestock they had. Generally, they raised their cattle on farms. Their herds were small and kept in fenced pastures. As a result, the growing northern population quickly consumed its wartime supply of beef.

So, in 1865, the Texans had the cattle and the Northerners had the money. The problem was how to link the two groups. In 1866, a few ambitious Texas cowboys mounted large trail drives to the North. They drove more than 260,000 cattle to assorted markets. Some went east to Louisiana where they shipped their herds by boat to meat-packing plants in St. Louis, Missouri. Another trail outfit led by Oliver Loving and his partner, Charles Goodnight, drove a herd westward through dangerous Indian country to New Mexico. They had hoped to sell to Rocky Mountain miners. Most trail drivers, though, followed the safer Shawnee Trail. It led them out of Texas through Indian Territory and on to Missouri. There they loaded their cattle onto train cars bound for Chicago beef-processing . . .

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