The defeat of Dull Knife’s band of Cheyenne made the area safe for greater settlement. With the growing market for beef from the military and the East, which could now be reached by rail, enterprising men saw ranching in the West as an opportunity for adventure and easy profit.
Tales of extraordinary profits from investing in cattle companies, with little or no effort on the part of the owner, fueled the cattle craze of the 1880’s. Enterprising men hired cowboys to drive cattle up the trails from Texas and graze them on the public range. The early arrivals were nearly alone in their enterprise- allowing some to build massive empires, with thousands of cattle and miles of land under their control.
While most were decent, hardworking men, some of the Europeans and Easterners brought with them European notions of class, and looked down on the small-time cowboy or settler. Such attitudes would later contribute to the animosities that arose between the large cattle outfits (known to history as the cattle barons) and the small time ranchers and settlers in the Johnson County War.
However, the story of most of the early arrivals in the area is a very American one- men and women who came west to make a living, find adventure, independence, and freedom in a new land. These earliest settlers endured hardship and struggle to carve a life out of the wilderness.