Cimarron Chronicles, Saga of the Open Range
It's not often you hear the words, "new history," but that's exactly the term you could use to describe the recently published book, "Cimarron Chronicles."
It all began when Imogene Schmoker Meyers went to the nursing home and her daughter-in-law, LaDonna, began to go through the dusty archives of her attic. Larry and LaDonna Meyers have lived right across the road from Imogene all through their years together. Larry operates both his ranch and his mother's property, some of it in Beaver County, Oklahoma, some of it in Meade County, Kansas. Imogene's father, Will Schmoker, homesteaded the land in 1890's, and it remains in the family today.
LaDonna found wonderful old pictures and clippings in the dusty boxes from Imogene's attic. When she discovered a loose pile of yellowing paper with faded typed text she began to read and found herself completely immersed in a story written by Carrie Schmoker Anshutz and her husband, M.W. (Doc) Anshutz, some sixty-seven years ago. She knew immediately that the entire family would want to see this, but it was extremely difficult to read the faded type, letters and even complete words were missing, simply vanished from the pages. Recognizing the importance of this manuscript from long ago, LaDonna decided to key the story into her computer as she read so that she could easily share it with others. She enlisted the help of Mary Finney, a granddaughter of Doc and Carrie Anshutz. Mary helped fill in the gaps and clarify some of the terms used in the text.
It took LaDonna two years to get this project completed. She added some of the wonderful old photos and put her pages together in a book form and passed it around to family and friends. Everyone was so taken with the book Larry and LaDonna began to think maybe they should have some printed so that more people could enjoy it.
In the spring of 2003, LaDonna carried her book into Back Room Printing in Meade and showed it to Nancy Ohnick, looking for a way to make copies. Nancy read the manuscript and was convinced that this was a work that should be published. She recognized the importance of the history the book contained, not only for Meade County, but the entire region of Southwest Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle. The material was so well written and so entertaining she knew it would have mass appeal. After being turned down by a publisher, she decided to publish the book herself, and "Cimarron Chronicles - Saga of the Open Range" became a hardcover, dust-jacketed reality. The book has been a phenomenal success and is now in its second printing. The story of the book has received nationwide attention in publications such as "USA Today," "Capers Weekly," and many major area newspapers including the "Kansas City Star" and "Topeka Capitol Journal."
Carrie Schmoker came to Meade County at the age of ten. Her family moved here from Iowa in 1887, to take advantage of practically free land being offered at the time in the open, untamed prairies of Southwest Kansas. Carrie wrote of the adventure of the train trip to Dodge City, and their stay there while they waited for their belongings to arrive via freight train. She described the hardships, the adventures, and the joys of life on the prairie as she grew up in this new land and how she grew to love it and call it home.
The Schmoker family first settled a little northeast of the present day site of Meade. There were two brothers both with large families. It was very dry, life was hard and farming impossible in those early years and eventually they turned to raising sheep. Carrie's family then established a ranch in the southern part of Meade County, about a half-mile from where the old Stone School still stands today. She takes you there with her words, through sweet summer days, blizzards and floods. She introduces you to her neighbors and acquaintances, the cowboys and the characters of that day, in that place. Most readers say they will never look at the Kansas landscape in quite the same way after reading this book.
Carrie's story is part one of the book, in part two she writes Doc's story as told by him.
Doc Anshutz came to Southwest Kansas at the age of 15. He was sent by his family to accompany a relative and her children to their new home in the area, and he never returned to Ohio. The year was 1887, Dodge City was then experiencing the wild and dusty days of what it's legend is made of, and Doc fell in love with the country. He told of his experiences buffalo hunting, and trying his hand at being a freighter, but he ended up being a cowboy and working for one outfit or another on the vast open range that surrounded the Cimarron River Valley. These were the days when all the great cattle ranches were formed. Doc takes you there and lets you experience the day-to-day life on the range, the endless miles in the saddle, the hardships Mother Nature bestowed, and the hilarious antics of his comrades. He teaches you first hand the meaning of cowboy terms such as "wrangler," "doggie" and "maverick," as he takes you all over the region encompassing Southwest Kansas, Northwest Oklahoma and Texas and Southeast Colorado.
Carrie and Doc Anshutz wrote this manuscript in 1935. They were elderly at the time and lamented the fact that the story of their days in the valley had never been told, so they set out to do just that. When you get to know them through the pages of this book you will come to realize that these two probably always accomplished what they set out to do. The book is a wonderful testimony to their pioneer spirit and for us, their readers, a chance to live, if ever so briefly, in those romantic bygone days when this country was young.
Doc Anshutz CD
We also carry a wonderful audio CD with Rod Ohnick performing a living history re-enactment of Doc Anshutz. Rod presents himself as Doc and tells first hand stories of a common cowboy who lived a most remarkable life on the wide open prairies of Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle.