Since 1967, Gary and Margaret Kraisinger have had one mission in their research: to tell readers exactly where the Western Cattle Trail was located and its role in the history of the American West. Through maps and in-depth research they have documented the location of the largest cattle trail system to come out of Texas to deliver longhorns to the north from 1874 to 1897.
Their first book, published in 2004, The Western, the Greatest Texas Cattle Trail, 1874-1886, presented the location and history of the trunk line, focusing with their maps on Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Kansas, and southwestern Nebraska. In their second volume, The Western Cattle Trail, 1874-1897, its Rise, Collapse, and Revival, published in 2015, the entire trunk line is presented from Texas to Canada, showing its route before and after the Kansas quarantine of 1885, plus a discussion of the system’s feeder routes, detours, and splinter routes. For this second book, the couple received, in 2016, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame’s Wrangler Award for best nonfiction book, and the Six Shooter Award from the Wild West History Association for Best Book for 2016.
In the last several months, Gary and Margaret have shifted their research and writing focus to the Chisholm Trail. With the 150th Anniversary of the Chisholm trail in mind in 2017, the couple have prepared another book entitled: The Shawnee-Arbuckle Trail, 1867-1870, The Predecessor of the Chisholm Trail to Abilene, Kansas. This book shows the importance of the early Shawnee Trail and its connection to the later Chisholm Trail. Audiences will be surprised to learn that trail drivers used another route in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) to push their longhorns to Abilene, Kansas, in 1867 through 1870, before the current-day recognized Chisholm Trail in Indian Territory was used.
The Kraisingers are constantly researching, mapping, and writing on some aspect of the cattle trailing industry. They plan to concentrate next on the cattle trails north of Abilene and Ellsworth into Nebraska. The couple is always glad to share their knowledge. Give Margaret a call if your group is interested in a program on any of the four south-to-north cattle trail systems.
2004: Published The Western, The Greatest Texas Cattle Trail, 1874-1886
In 1967 Gary and Margaret started to ask questions about an unknown cattle trail near their home in Lane County, Kansas. Over the next decades, they continued to research and add to their files of research. In 2004 they self-published their book that mapped and discussed the various routes of the Western Trail across western Kansas and southwestern Nebraska. The 360-page book covers the middle corridor of the Western Cattle Trail system, from Fort Supply in Indian Territory to Ogallala, Nebraska. Gary mapped the trail via section, range, and townships.
2010: Published a 4-part Series of Cattle Trail Maps
Gary and Margaret expanded their research while preparing for a second book. In 2010 they published four large poster-size maps, one for each of the south-to-north Texas cattle trails. The couple wanted to show the public that each cattle trail system had a trunk line as well as branches that were established because of changing circumstances through the years. The cattle trail system maps are: “The Shawnee Trail, 1846-1875“, “The Goodnight Trail, 1867-1885“, “The Eastern/Chisholm Trail, 1867-1889“, and “The Western Trail, 1874-1897“.
2015: Published The Western Cattle Trail, 1874-1897, its Rise, Collapse, and Revival
This second book is a comprehensive presentation of the four south-to-north cattle trail systems with the greatest emphasis on the Western Trail, which was the largest and last system. The 560-page book is divided into three sections: “The Four Texas Trail Systems”, “The Western Cattle Trail and its Feeder and Splinter Routes“, and “The Re-emergence of the Cattle Trailing Industry after the Collapse”. In this book the Western Trail is extensively mapped through nine states, from south Texas to Canada.
Summer 2015: The Chronicles of Oklahoma Published an Article by the Kraisingers
This journal, published by the Oklahoma Historical Society, printed the Kraisingers’ article, “The Early Chisholm Trail to Abilene, Kansas, 1867-71“.
October, 2015: Both were Inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame, Dodge City, Kansas
Gary and Margaret were inducted as historians into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame by the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kansas. Margaret is the first woman to be inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
April, 2016: Kraisingers Received the Wrangler Award for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (aka the National Cowboy Hall of Fame) awarded Gary and Margaret with the Wrangler Award in Oklahoma City for their best nonfiction book of the year.
July, 2016: Kraisingers Received the Six Shooter Award for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year
The Wild West History Association awarded Gary and Margaret with this award in Oklahoma City. This honor was special to Gary and Margaret because the group consists of Old West authors and book publishers.
July, 2016: Featured in the American Cowboy Magazine