The following item, concerning the George Estes family, was sent to me by Albert Stehno, member of the “Old-Time Cherokee Strip Cow-Punchers Association.” MAW
STORIES OF THE PAST
The Stroud Messenger
March 8, 1935
[Note: It appears that the trip made by the Estes family occurred in October 1897.]
Mrs. Estes says their trip into Oklahoma was quite uneventful. They came with two covered wagons and a spring wagon on which they could put bows and cover with a wagon sheet. With this outfit they made a pretentious camp when stopping for the night.
George Estes had a saddle pony and drove the cattle—nine choice heifers of fine stock.
They saw their first Indians at Winfield, Kansas. The braves and squaws were also traveling. The men wore blankets and most every one of them had a feather in his hat-band or in his braided hair. An incident at Ponca City made an impression on the minds of the Estes family so that Ponca City will always be remembered as the place nearest the cattle quarantine.
A ranchman told them they surely would have trouble if they attempted to cross the quarantined pasture now known as the 101 Ranch. They were advised to sell their stock, and the ranchman seemed quite willing to buy. Too willing, Mrs. Estes thought, and she objected so strenuously that Mr. Estes refused to sell and they went back to the town of Ponca. There a man who understood the situation directed a detour of fifteen miles west then south until below the quarantined territory.
Thirty extra miles of traveling, but they were quite satisfied to undertake this to retain their stock. Mrs. Estes thought the hard times were over when they came to Oklahoma in October, 1897. The Indians were no longer to be feared; wolves still howled, but even that had become no cause for alarm. However, the hoot owls frightened the “kids.”
From the flint-rock hills in Kansas to the fertile land of Central Oklahoma was a great contrast. To the Estes family it was strange and new. In 1897, the Territorial land was all taken. Mr. Estes bought a school lease from Mr. Ewing. Perhaps the hardest times in the lives of these settlers were over when the family came; nevertheless, they met with some problems and some hardships. There was a scarcity of water. For a year they carried it from a neighbor’s well that was almost a mile away and went to the creek to wash their clothes.
The only building on their newly purchased land was a log house with a “lean-to” for a kitchen. The roof to this room leaked like a sieve until Mr. Estes made shingles and covered it. There was no shelter for their stock so a barn had to be built. It was made of poles and hay. For the walls two rows of poles were placed in the ground about eighteen inches apart and not very close together and hay was tramped into the eighteen inch space. The roof was made of poles and covered with hay. This odd structure was more than a shelter: it was a warm stable. The material used was home grown and thriftily utilized.