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Empire: The Pioneer Legacy of an American Ranch Family

Empire: The Pioneer Legacy of an American Ranch Family

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A collage of characters shaped the west of the nineteenth century. Large and powerful cattlemen, backed by eastern and European investors, flooded the prairie with herds often numbering 50-80 thousand head.

They had visions of doubling or tripling their money quickly while their cattle grazed on the free grass of the open range. Others, like Martin Gothberg wisely invested in the future of the young frontier. Starting with a humble 160-acre homestead in 1885, he continued to expand and develop a modest ranch that eventually included tens of thousands of acres of deeded land.

Gothberg’s story parallels the history of open range cattle ranches, cowboys, roundups, homesteaders, rustlers, sheep men and range wars. It does not end there. As the Second Industrial Revolution escalated in the late 1800s, so did the demand for petroleum products.

What began with a demand for beef to feed the hungry cities of the eastern United States fostered the demand for wool to clothe them and graduated into a demand for oil to warm them in winter and fuel the mechanized age of the twentieth century. All were a critical part of shaping American history. Through the lens of this family saga—a part of the history of the West comes to life in the hands of this storyteller and historian.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction xi

Chapter 1 Becoming a Range Rider, 1880-1884 1

Chapter 2 A New Era Dawns, 1885-1892 18

Chapter 3 Unrest on the Range, Wild West Shenanigans, and Weddings Both East and West, 1892-1896 40

Chapter 4 Rough and Tumble Times, 1897-1899 57

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