Chambers unite for banquet meeting

Officers of the two chambers gather at the head table prior to Monday?s annual meeting. Patty Decker / Free Press

More than 200 members and guests attended the fourth annual joint Marion-Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce banquet Monday in the ballroom of the Marion Community Center.

In addition to recognizing Chamber board members from both com?muni?ties, this year?s speaker was Jim Hoy, professor of English and director of the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University.

?Singing the Cattle North? was Hoy?s program focusing on the history of the origin of the American cowboy and the role Kansas played in it.

?You in Marion County are fortunate in that the old Chisholm Trail crosses the west part of your county,? he said.

The Chisholm Trail was not the first cattle trail, it didn?t last the longest, it didn?t have the most cattle, but it is the most famous because it is the only one that the cowboys made up a song about.?

As part of his program, Hoy said he planned to structure this history lesson around songs, talking about what happened to stray cattle getting into a herd and the long hard days.

?These are the songs cowboys would sing on the back of a horse,? he said. ?(Cattle drives) were boring work if the cattle were then there wasn?t much excitement.?

The main two dangers on the trail included getting bored to death and thunderstorms and lightning.

?When it didn?t rain for weeks and those thunderheads rolled up in the west and the air pressure and temperature starts to change?that?s when things got exciting,? Hoy said.

The Texas cattle industry, he explained, begins when Christopher Columbus, on his second voyage, brought cattle to the area.

Hoy also talked about the origins of the cowboy culture in western America.

?Cattle spread out through Mexico and as settlers were making a living they would have horses, cattle, goats and sheep,? he said.

?Priests and missionaries would take livestock north so the Indians they converted could learn the ways of agriculture.?

The American cowboy learned how to be a cowboy from the Mexican vaqueros, he said.

The cattle in those early years were mainly used for their hides and tallow for illumination at night, Hoy said.

Most cattle weren?t slaughtered for meat because it couldn?t be preserved for long at that time.

Yet the Texas cattle market was booming until the Civil War happened, Hoy said, but after the war, cattle drives started in earnest.

Offering some uncommon facts about cattleman, it was discovered that 10 cowboys could handle between 2,000 and 3,000 cattle.

?A great uncle that lived in Clark County and said it took one cowboy to drive one steer, two cowboys to drive two steers, three cowboys to drive three steers and four cowboys could drive 1,000 steers,? he said.

The reason was because when there is enough cattle, they will herd up and cowboys can get them pointed in one direction, and they will all go in that direction.

If there are just three or four steers, Hoy said, they will go in separate directions.

During his presentation, Hoy played and songs that cowboys would have sang on the trails.

The dinner was provided by John McKay, American Legion Post 308 in Florence. A silent auction offered more than 40 items.

The 2015 Marion Chamber board of directors includes Don Noller, presi?dent; Shawn Geis, vice-president; Gene Winkler, treasurer and Kevin Fruech?ting, secretary.

The 2015 Hillsboro Chamber board of directors are Cynthia Fleming, president; Marion Regier, vice-president; Elizabeth Wine, treasurer; Lena Hall, office manager and Angie Becker, office assistant.

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