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Col. O. W. Wheeler

A lot of folks don t think they like history, and then suddenly something, maybe a family story or something unusual comes along and grabs their attention. Next thing ya know a whole new (old) world opens up!  
That is what is so amazing about the Kansas Cowboy! Every issue some new (old) bit of information jumps off the pages as if buried treasure had just been discovered. You may think that is some kind of an exaggeration but if you haven t read the Kansas Cowboy especially more than one issue, then the gems remain hidden sort of like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In this case the end of the rainbow is the Kansas Cowboy.  
The July/August issue is full of great stuff but the story of Col. O. W. Wheeler takes 1st prize. Every story that has ever been written about him only begins to scratch the surface. Wheeler is one of the classic stories of making it big in the Old West.  
Others only make a passing mention of his unique heritage. Colonial roots extend to 1642. Wheeler grew up on stories of bouts with Indians and fighting the British in the Revolution. At 15 a sickly Oliver Wheeler left home to make his own fortune in California. I m skipping over the details. You won t find this story anywhere but The Cowboy. He took the quicker but perilous and daunting route through Panama. In California he found mining too strenuous but discovered his health returning as he worked outdoors. Cattle were more to his liking and demand for beef brought profits.  
So, to make a long story short, when drought reduced the California cattle herd he went to Texas with the intentions of driving a herd to California. He hired tough Cowboys that not only knew cattle but knew how to shoot their way out of trouble. Historians barely touch on the elements of his drive, not realizing the influence of corresponding events. The drive was plagued with cholera. But no one tells of the effects cholera had on the military and Indian populations at the time. Wheelers men were in contact with both.  
Then historians tell a far-fetched tale that he was going to wander north across Kansas with only a sketchy plan as to how he would reach California. They evidently were not aware of the great highways across the plains. Wheeler knew full well how he wanted to proceed once he got to Kansas. But the cholera had spooked his men. In a confrontation at the turning point in the middle of Kansas he gave in, drove to Abilene and became the first man to successfully negotiate a trail herd of Texas Longhorns to Abilene, Kansas.  
Part of the route he followed was Indian trader, Jesse Chisholm s freighting route to a trading post in central Oklahoma. As Cowboys made their way up the trail the entire route became known as Chisholm s Trail instead of Wheeler s Trail. Some might say, that is the rest of the story, but the exciting rest of the story is in the pages of the Kansas Cowboy. Fer $18.67, I d say reading those pages are like discovering leaves of gold. And yer in luck! You can find the end of the rainbow by clicking on the Join The Cowboy Society link on the right. 
So Long, 
The Cowboy 


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