Joseph McCoy


Joseph McCoy was born December 21, 1837, in Sangamon County, Illinois. In 1861 McCoy began to work in the mule and cattle industry and as he expanded his business to shipping large herds of cattle to slaughter, he quickly recognized flaws in the current system. The vast amount of Texas longhorn cattle caused their value to be very low, only $3 to $4 a head in Kansas, while in northern cities like Chicago they were worth $30 to $40 a head. McCoy began to develop a transportation system that would send cattle north to more profitable markets. In 1868, he founded a village, which would become Abilene, Kansas, along the Kansas Pacific Railway (later the Union Pacific) route, to drive the cattle through when Kansas landowners objected to the longhorns being driven over their land because of ticks they were carrying that carried “Texas Fever”, a disease the longhorns were immune to but the Kansas shorthorn cattle were not. In 1870, McCoy was elected mayor of Abilene. He went on to become a promotion agent for refrigerated rail cars, a livestock commission dealer, a U.S. Census agent, and a revenue agent for the Cherokee Nation. He wrote a book entitled “Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest” and ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. Congress.