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Dodge City: The Early Years, 1872–1886 [Hardcover]

Wm. B. Shillingberg

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Book Description

Oct. 29 2009 Western Lands and Waters (Book 23)
The most famous cattle town of the trail-driving era, Dodge City, Kansas, holds a special allure for western historians and enthusiasts alike. Wm. B. Shillingberg now goes beyond the violence for which the town became notorious, more fully documenting its early history by uncovering the economic, political, and social forces that shaped Dodge.

The author cuts through legend and myth to depict a Dodge City that few people really know. He takes readers back to the southwestern Kansas frontier and traces a town’s evolution from a military site for protecting Santa Fe commerce, to a wild and lawless buffalo hunters’ rendezvous, to a regional freighting center and the primary shipping point for Texas cattle on the central plains. Amid all this activity a community sprang up in 1872 and was still stumbling toward maturity fourteen years later when the great herds no longer came. Shillingberg describes this transformation of place and purpose, along with its attendant political machinations and business fervor, revealing singular personalities, social turmoil, and a local economy in flux. Along the way, the book offers new perspectives on the Battle of Adobe Walls, the constant maneuvering of railroad moguls and cattle barons, and the exploits of such legendary figures as Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp.

Drawing on a wide range of primary sources, from city records to personal papers, Dodge City: The Early Years, 1872–1886 surpasses previous accounts of the town by depicting complex individuals and events in greater depth and detail. It shows us a community concerned with more than brothels, saloons, and gunplay. It will stand as the authoritative history of this quintessential western town.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 436 pages
  • Publisher: The Arthur H. Clark Company (Oct. 29 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870623788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870623783
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 16 x 3.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 839 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,467,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Wm. B. Shillingberg is the author of Tombstone, A.T.: A History of Early Mining, Milling, and Mayhem. Retired as the president of a probate research company, he resides in Tucson, Arizona.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stories of this center of buffalo hunting and cowboys Dec 25 2009
By J. Groen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For the western interested reader, this is a good book to pick up and read. It tells the history of Dodge City with the buffalo hunting, Indian troubles, cowboys and gunfights that occurred in this rough and wild town during its heyday.

The stories are there regarding the buffalo hunters, their sad destruction of this animal for their hides, and their run in with the Indians. The depiction of that fight at Adobe Walls (which is actually south of Dodge City) is one of the best that I've read. There was no telling of the "buffalo wallow" fight though (the only time that a civilian won the Medal of Honor).

The stories are also there regarding the day of the cowboys with the shipment of steers from Dodge, and the gunfights that occurred in the town. I was actually surprised at how many gunfights there were in Dodge City. Of course, there were the well known ones: Bat Masterson's gunfight in the Plaza and the gunfight in the Long Branch between Cock-Eyed Frank Loving and Levi Richardson (interesting names, huh?). But the lesser known gunfights including those between Mysterious Dave Mather a couple of individuals in separate instances and the gunfight between Marshall Tilghman and a party of drovers at the Arkansas bridge, and many others are also shared. During the late 1870s and early 1880s, Dodge City was a wild and woolly town with a number of gunfights and murders and dozens of saloons.

There are also stories of the politics and attempts to reform the town which ultimately occurred when the cattle trade essentially stopped in 1886. Also, Bat Masterson is mentioned in this book many times in each chapter. Obviously, besides being the sheriff of the county that Dodge City was located in, he was a key individual in the history of the town.

There are many other individuals who are mentioned as key to the creation and development of the town. So many, in fact, that I couldn't keep up with them.

Again, this book is for the western interested reader and not for the casual reader who may find this somewhat boring.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of 2 best books on Dodge City Oct. 3 2010
By Rough Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The other book is a 1972 volume called Dodge City (up through a century in story and pictures) by Fredric R. Young, which has many great large photos of early Dodge. This book by William B. Shillingberg is however a better book as far as verbal content. (the photos don't quite equal the '72 book) The Shillingberg book is easy to read, written in a simple to read and logical manner. It is full of details, I have never seen anywhere else, and I have studied Dodge City a great deal. The timeframe of 1872-86 catches Dodge at its pinnacle of Cowtown fame. The author also provides a large scale (2 page) map of Dodge (appears to be an old Sanborn fire map) on the inside front and rear covers. Additionally he provides a great index and bibliography. I am taking off one star because of the small photographs of less quality, but the book is definitely worth buying due to the text/content. You will never find a better source of detail history of those days in Dodge this side of original newspapers.
Long Branch saloon buffs take heart! this one is for you.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars necessary purchase Jan. 27 2011
By wyatt earp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Schillinberg's "Dodge City" book has become a must buy for the researchers and historians
of the Wild West experience. No other publication to date offers the detailed descriptions that can be gleaned from his book about the West's most legendary cow-town.

Scott Dyke
western researcher
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real West Nov. 27 2009
By Wayoutwest - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent book about the early days of what would become a legendary western town. Well researched and surprisingly entertaining look at Dodge's beginnings and the various stages of its development.
If anyone is interested in seeing what the western cowtowns were really like...start here.

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