View Full Version : A.C. Foss, 19, & Clarence Cartwright, 26, 1876
09-24-2010, 09:04 PM
The following is from a newspaper account about two missing hunters, one named Cartright and the other named Foss:
FORD COUNTY GLOBE
DODGE CITY, KANSAS, TUESDAY, JULY 28, 1878
Information wanted of A.C. Foss and Clarence Cartwright who left Granada, Colorado, Nov. 1876, for the Buffalo range on the Canadian river to engage in buffalo hunting at or near Adobe Walls, Texas. Description: A. C. Foss is of medium height, slender build, light complexion, light hair, black eyes, with scar on forhead over his nose; Clarence L. Cartwright, commonly called "Dick", is five feet and eight inches tall, black hair and eyes, wore a mustache and goatee, age 26.
They left Grenada in a two horse wagon, which wagon was made and marked "Fish Bro's, Racine, Wis" wagon considerably worn had two new fellows in left hind wheel rather badly put in. The relatives of the above named parties have for the past year and a half made diligent search and inquiry which has availed them nothing. They now through the columns of this journal appeal to all who may have known the said parties especially buffalo hunters with whom they were more closely associated to assist them in their further search. It is hoped that the party who may read this notice and who may know the whereabouts of the within named parties, will at once give information at the Globe Office, Dodge City, Kansas.
Below we give additional facts concerning the above named parties which we glean from a letter from Mrs. Cartwright to us dated June 30th, 1878. In speaking of her son Clarence she says: "I think your description of him is very good. Foss was 19 years old and about the same height as Clarence. Their tent was made out of a tarpaulin, ten feet square and very heavy; they had a camping stove. Clarence had a double barrelled shotgun and a Sharp's rifle, caliber 44. Foss had a sixteen shooter and a revolver; they had a good supply of ammunition, provisions, blankets, etc., and about $150 in money with them; they had in all eight horses; one span of light grays, good size; one dark gray; one dark gray or brown mare; two sorrels, one with a strip in his face; one bright bay with some peculiar saddle marks and branded I O on left hip; I believe one dark bay Texas horse branded on the left hip joint with a V and some kind of line underneath; I don't remember whether it was a curve or a bar. I don't know whether any of the other horses were branded or not.
The boys expected to strike the Paladora at or near Newell's ranch, and intended to be back in six weeks. The first letter I got was on 22nd of December, 1876, sent in by hunters and mailed at Dodge City, which stated that they got on the wrong trail and struck the Paladora forty miles below Newell's ranch; they were doing well but could not come in as soon as expected.
The next and last letter I received was dated, in camp, June 21st, 1877, sent in by hunters and mailed at Dodge City on the 28th and I got it in Grenada on the 29th, 1877, and it contained the same thing, he thinking that I might not have got his first letter, and that they would come in at Dodge with two loads of hides (and big ones at that) as soon as the weather would permit. They thought they had better come to Dodge as it was fifty miles nearer than to Grenada. Mrs. Rider received two letters from her son, A. C. Foss, dated the same as mine from Clarence.
It is to be hoped that through the above statement of facts as given by Mrs. Cartwright, that some trace can yet be obtained of the missing men. With an outfit like theirs it does seem strange that there isn't someone who may have met them and that would now volunteer what information he may possess. We again appeal to the hunters to aid us in this matter; to preserve this piece of information and do what they can in ferreting out this mystery.
The answer to at least part of the mystery can be found in a book titled:
Clay Allison of the Washida
This Newell Ranch had a very unsavory reputation given it by the man who established it and developed it as a buffalo hunting headquarters and who was a murderous outlaw and used buffalo hunting as a blind. His name was Newell. Charley Seringo has written me recently and gives me a very graphic account of one of this man's dastardly deeds.
He says: "In '77 I put up with Newell, who had just killed a young hunter by the name of Cartright, to get his money and ponies, so I was told. He later drove the horses to Colorado and sold them. Newell told me that he killed Cartright because he insulted his pretty little Spanish wife. I saw Cartright's fresh grave in a clump of hackberry trees between Newells and Cators." (We never saw this grave.)
Not until two years ago (1919) when Jim East wrote me the facts, did I know that Cartright's old mother lived for ten years in Tascosa and died of a broken heart, trying to find out where her son was buried. She had been told in Dodge City that he was killed in the Pan Handle. I could have told her all about the matter had I known of it." Unquote.
No mention of A. C. Foss in the above account, however.
07-15-2012, 07:47 PM
It has been 135 years now since Cartwright and Foss were last heard from.
07-16-2012, 03:06 AM
Seems as at least part of the mystery was solved in 1919. Although Cartwrights mama didn't find out. Same heartache & agony through the ages for family members with a missing loved one.
This was very interesting. Thanks for posting this.
08-18-2012, 10:21 AM
Possible Geneology link?
In 1859, Rev. A. C. Foss was the Minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church located at Thirtieth St., 207 W. 30th in New York City.
I wonder if he might have been the father or grandfather of the A. C. Foss mentioned in this thread.
The History Box| Churches and Ministers Part III 1859
09-04-2012, 09:56 PM
...Below we give additional facts concerning the above named parties which we glean from a letter from Mrs. Cartwright to us dated June 30th, 1878. In speaking of her son Clarence she says: "I think your description of him is very good. Foss was 19 years old and about the same height as Clarence. Their tent was made out of a tarpaulin, ten feet square and very heavy; they had a camping stove. Clarence had a double barrelled shotgun and a Sharp's rifle, caliber 44. Foss had a sixteen shooter and a revolver; they had a good supply of ammunition, provisions, blankets, etc., and about $150 in money with them; they had in all eight horses; one span of light grays, good size; one dark gray; one dark gray or brown mare; two sorrels, one with a strip in his face; one bright bay with some peculiar saddle marks and branded I O on left hip; I believe one dark bay Texas horse branded on the left hip joint with a V and some kind of line underneath; I don't remember whether it was a curve or a bar. I don't know whether any of the other horses were branded or not. ...
The excerpt above from Mrs. Cartwright's letter contains some very interesting and detailed information concerning the missing buffalo hunters, their horses and equipment. It is more info than seen on most missing persons website case files today.
Mrs. Cartwright gives a good description of both men, and also of their horses. Although she does not state where the men obtained their horses, it is most likely that they had them prior to departing Colorado, since Mrs. C describes them as if she had actually seen them, rather than simply repeating something written to her in a letter.
I find it hard to believe that these two guys were traveling together without other companions or hired hands. A buffalo hunter needed at least one good skinner for all the hides he intended to take. The fact that they had eight horses leads me to believe that they had one or two others working with them. Normally a wagon had two horses to pull it, but perhaps they used a four horse team. That would still leave four other horses for riding and packing. Eight horses is a lot for two men to handle and still do their hunting. And somebody had to drive the wagon.
The description of the brands on two of the horses might tell something. Ranches and cattle companies all had unique brands to mark horses and cattle and those brands are all detailed in various Brand Books of the era. While there were duplications in brands, it might be of interest as to where the horses came from or ended up. The brand "IO" on the bay horse could mean "Indian Owned", as that brand was used by Indians in Oklahoma Territory for a time. The brand "V with a line under it" might have been called a "Bar V" or "Rocking V" brand and might also be traced to a particular ranch or outfit.
One might consider the hazard of riding a horse marked with some outfit's brand. Horse theft was dealt with by instant hanging, so these hunters probably carried some sort of bill of sale on them for the branded horses.
The rifle descriptions, while sketchy, are enough to narrow down the specific rifles used by the hunters, based on historical information. These men had State-of-the-art rifles for the time, and they would have been new and expensive in 1876.
Cartwright probably had a Sharps Model 1874 Sporting Rifle in .44-90 caliber with a barrel length of 26 to 30 inches. This high power rifle was very accurate and was the number one choice of Buffalo Hunters and Creedmore match riflemen. The "Sharps Buffalo Gun" played a major part in the near annihilation of the West's Buffalo herds. It was single shot, and rather heavy at somewhere between 8 and 15 pounds in weight (depending on barrel size and special features). Tom Sellack carried an identical rifle in the movie, "Quigley Down Under".
Foss likely had a Winchester Model 1873 lever action rifle with a barrel either 24 or 27 inches long, chambered in its origional signature .44-40 caliber. This caliber became very popular in the Old West, and was used in both rifles and pistols. While this rifle could be used on buffalo at close range, it is more likely that it was used for other purposes, such as deer hunting and defense against Indians, wolves, and bushwackers. It was the ultimate in "firepower" at the time.
While both rifles were of .44 caliber (bullet diameter), the Sharps cartridge of .44-90 had more black powder pushing a longer/heavear bullet. It was twice as powerful, had a longer range, and was much more accurate than Foss's Winchester. But Foss could fire his rifle 16 times in a row by working the lever action and squeezing the trigger.
Of course, there is no way of knowing what make of double barrel shotgun, or revolver they had, it is interesting to know that they were so equipped for shooting situations closer than long range buffalo hunting.
Although Cartwright and Foss took reasonable precautions and were well armed, it is likely that both were ultimately murdered and their horses, guns, buffalo hides, and equipment stolen.
09-06-2012, 12:47 PM
Regarding Clarence Cartwright's double barrel shotgun -
Prior to 1875, most double barrel shotguns in the United States were imported from Europe, but there were some American made models as well. These shotguns were made usually in 10 guage or 12 guage, and the shells were powered by black powder. Back then, the hammers would have been on the outside of the action.
American companies who produced shotguns at the time included:
Parker Brothers & Company of West Meridan, CT
Remington Arms model of 1874, designed and patented by Andrew Whitmore
The Fox shotgun, made by American Arms Company of Boston, MA.
The Baker shotgun, made by W.H. Baker and Sons of Syracuse, NY
Of those, the Whitney was probably the cheapest one available in the West. It is said that "Doc" Holiday's choice of weapon was a Whitney shotgun.
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