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Old Town

​With the end of the Civil War, the hungry nation found itself wanting beef. Most of the beef stock had been used to feed soldiers on both sides, and the largest supply of cattle remained in Texas. Having reproduced during the war, they massed in the tens of thousands with no market to sell them. Joseph McCoy saw an opportunity and built a railhead in Abilene, Kansas and sent men to recruit herds to travel overland to railhead to ship their now valuable cattle. The drives followed a trail that was laid out by Black Beaver, Chisholm Trail, but credited to his friend Jesse Chisholm. Drives included cowboys who were Black, Native American, Mexican and Causasian who worked to efficiently and profitably move the herds north.

Hoping to divert the cattle travel to Abilene, Wichita intentionally took a large gamble in pursuing the cattle trade, through the acquisition of the railroad that cemented its future. At McCoy's urging, the cattle drives went to Abilene until 1871, when they stopped at Newton and finally at Wichita 1872-6.

The trade unintentionally encouraged cooperation and voices of reform for farmers and many of the town's citizens who combined political forces to persuade the state to move the cattle quarantine line from east edge of Sedgwick County to the western side there by ending drives to Wichita. From here the cattle moved to Ellsworth and Dodge City, where the trade existed until it was no longer possible to trail overland.

The cattle trade sustained Wichita for four good years, providing profits for businesses and limited city taxes. The acquisition of the railroad, while necessary to secure and sustain the role as a railhead, unwittingly led to an increasing large farm population that later pushed the cattle trade west.

The legacy of the cattle trade was to provide the economic bridge between the hunting and trading, and the developing farming and industrial economy. All leading to Wichita becoming the largest city in Kansas.

 

Trapper's Cabin

In addition to hunting fur bearing animals, others used traps instead of guns. The Trapper’s Cabin is interpreted as a structure that was used by a trapper as a residence and a base of operations. While a less lucrative occupation, it continued to profit from the prairie as did the buffalo hunters, traders and freighters.

This hand-hewn, cottonwood log cabin originally stood near the Chisholm Trail several miles south of present-day Clearwater, Kansas. It was built around 1865 on the south bank of the Ninnescah River by an unknown individual.

When the Osage Trust Lands were opened for settlement, a man named Kincaid filed a claim on the land occupied by the cabin and lived there with his family. He sold the property in 1878 to Adrian Sautter, an immigrant from Switzerland. He built a new frame house connecting the cabin which was then used as a summer kitchen. By 1934 the cabin had been completely incorporated into a larger house which accounts for its preserved state. The structure was donated to Old Cowtown Museum by Sautter's son, Louis A. Sautter, in 1969.

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Munger House

Darius S. Munger of Topeka was sent by the Wichita Town Company in 1868 to create the town of Wichita. Though others lived in the area, his was the first formal attempt to build a town. In 1869 he completed this story and a half residence on a plot of land near 9th and Waco. It served as the core of the original platted town site. The structure is considered to be the first substantial structure in Wichita.

All of the building materials come from the river bank vicinity with the exceptionof the hardware and windows, which had to be freighted from Emporia. The logs are hand-hewn cottonwood, the floors are walnut and samples of the original plaster still exist on the second floor. A log barn stood between the house and the river.

Due to Munger's role in the development of the fledgling town, his family residence served many functions, including that of Post Office, boarding house, meeting place and office of the Justice of the Peace.

In 1874 W.C. Woodman, an early entrepreneur and Wichita's first banker, purchased the Munger House. Woodman enlarged and improved the structure until it was completely integrated inside a Victorian house that he named "Lakeside Mansion". The Munger House was rediscovered when Lakeside was demolished in the 1940s.

The Eunice Sterling Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution purchased the cabin to preserve the city's heritage and donated it to Historic Wichita Cowtown, Inc. in 1949. The Munger House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.