The Woodward News


July 7, 2011

Reenactors share stories from 1800s

Woodward, Okla. — Sometimes the best way to bring history to life is through reenactments.

Students in the Oklahoma Northwest Summer Institute, which is being held this week at the Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum, were visited by 2 historical reenactors on Thursday.

Dressed and speaking as characters from the period, these 2 instructors taught the institute students about different historical aspects of life in the 1800s.


Jason Harris, education director of Oklahoma History Center, dressed up as a fictional cowboy known as William Moonlight.

Harris discussed the cattle drive era in Oklahoma.

“We would head north in the spring to sell cattle. Our journey started in San Antonio, Texas, and went to Dodge City, Kan.,” Harris said. “The cattle drive went through Oklahoma, but never started in Oklahoma.”

Harris said the cattle drive from San Antonio to Dodge City would take 3 and a half months.

The reason the trip took over 3 months is because the cowboys and their herds only traveled 6 to 10 miles a day, he said.

“We rode on horses the whole time, the only time we got off of the horse was to sleep,” Harris said.

To prepare for the journey the cowboys had to dress properly, he said.

“We wore a hat to block the sun, a snot rag to block the dust, a vest to carry different items such as our  chewing tobacco, cards and a harmonica. We also wore chaps to protect our legs from thorns as we travel and from snake bites as we sleep,” Harris said.

Harris said the cowboys didn’t bathe a lot of on the their trip.

“We’d rinse off if we come across some water, but we didn’t get an actual bath until we arrived in Dodge City,” he said.

Harris said upon arriving in Dodge City, the cowboys would be paid $100 for the cattle.

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