Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Abilene: The queen of Kansas cowtowns

I've just recently finished reading Homespun Bride by author Jillian Hart. Even though it is a story set in Montana territory - instead of Kansas - it is still 1883, the same era in which the town of Abilene has also existed; an era of horses and buggies, corsets and canopies and - naturally - heroic, handsome cowboys.

In an era where horsepower is associated with fast cars, corsets with Victoria's secret, canopies is an extinct fashion statement and more damsels are insisting on being their own savior it can be a little difficult to imagine the scenes of such a book. Having visited the town of Abilene in north-central Kansas has helped me a lot. If you're into reading books from that era it might just help you too ;) Either way, it's a interesting little place to visit!

Take a trip down memory lane with me... 1875...

Can't you just hear the hooves of horses and wooden wheels of buggies rolling in the dirt?
Hmm, a bank; now all we need is a couple of robbers!
Not sure if this is an old photograph or a really good painting. Can be hard to say for sure nowadays ;) But it would appear to be a little beyond 1875.
Much has changed since 1875 and clearly some grass has grown under the feet of the remnants of this old town.
This is Hickok's Cabin - this cabin is like stepping into a piece of history. I've taken a few pictures of the inside for you to see below and to elaborate on why I liked it so. It doesn't look like much from the outside.
Aah, as I read up about who this lad Hickok was, the rest of the cabin suddenly makes sense.  Wild Bill Hickok (May 1837 - Aug 1876) was the second marshal of Abilene, renowned for his deadly marksmanship and gunfighting skills. Apparently those skills were mainly good for convincing the renegade cowboys that he meant serious business about enforcing the law, but other than that he did little to "clean up" the town. He much rather did, however, enjoy spending his time in the Saloon at the gaming tables and ladies of the night than tending to his sheriff duties. Sounds like he was called wild for more reasons than one. 
The box on the left: Overland express. Box on the right: explosives; R-a-t-h-e-r different to modern day e-mail, scan, Fedex, fax, etc., isn't it? Imagine sending mail today by pony express...

A holding cell for some renegade cowboys.
$5,000 reward - I'll tell you one thing: back in 1871 that was a HUGE amount of money! (It still is today.)
Dead or alive...
Reformed Church on Turkey Creek, 1859 
I'm convinced those fans don't date back to 18-waybackwhen; wouldn't you agree? ;)
Looks like Albert Sizer: horse thief hung on a tree. 
Cattle driver died in stampede - shame!
The sign on the door reads: T C Henry Carriage House 1873 - constructed by T C Henry, the first mayor of Abilene.

Grove Hilz School 1867 - 1872

Afterthought: If you had a time machine where would you go, and what kind of life would you live: a cowboy, a crook, a shopkeeper, a damsel in distress...? Leave a comment and share :)

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