A Big Fish Story: The Buffalo's Horn
My great-grandparents lived out on a farm southeast of Augusta, on property that my great-grandmother’s father had homesteaded.
When I was a young child, a buffalo horn in their glassed cupboard caught my eye. I asked my great-grandfather about it and he simply told me that he and some friends had heard that there was a buffalo in the county and that they had gone out and found it and shot it. He said that the horn had hung on a nail over the door of their first house on the property for several years.
After they died, I wound up out at their house when my grandparents were cleaning it out. You can be sure, I came home with that buffalo horn.
Years later, I came across a story that said the last wild buffalo in Kansas was killed in 1903. That got me to wondering when my great-grandfather and his hunting party had shot their buffalo. So I went to the Augusta Library and read through micro-fiche of their local newspaper collection starting with 1892, when my great-grandfather would have been 13. I learned a lot about Augusta. I didn’t come across anything about a buffalo, but I did find a story about an elk having been killed, so I know that a buffalo would have made the news.
During the summer of 2003, I attended a teacher workshop from a man named David Jackson. During a break, I found out that he had lived out near Augusta, just around the corner north of my great-grandfather’s place, and used to wave at him as he rode his horse to and from school back in the 1930s. I told him of my buffalo horn quest. Imagine my surprise to discover that he had actually heard about it.
He told me that his father and my great-grandfather’s brother used to talk about the buffalo that my great-grandfather had gone after. They had heard that there were two buffalo. One was eventually found and shot near Haverhill, about seven miles north of my great-grandfather’s property.
So, was my grandfather responsible for shooting the last wild buffalo in the state of Kansas? Until I find out otherwise, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.