Cosmo Falconer

Submitted by Dale Tracy Bookkeeper, Cowboy, Homesteader, Businessman, Post Master, Artist, Photographer, Civic Leader, Railroad Manager, Political Office holder and Satirist, Author, Poet and Storyteller, Town Sage, Faithful Friend. Scotty Falconer could have been called the Ben Franklin of Cheyenne with all of his various talents and civic activities.

Cosmo Falconer was born October 31, 1867 in Aberdeen, Scotland, one of thirteen children. His education was the equivalent of grade and high school followed by one year in King’s College in Aberdeen. He was trained as a bookkeeper in an uncle’s law office. His talent for drawing was God-given with no formal art instruction. He could draw almost as anything as fast as his hand could move. He was unusually well read, reading everything and anything that he could find and never sit down without reading material in his hand. He was a walking dictionary to his family. He owned a good large sized library for the time and place in which he lived. He loaned his books to any friends that cared to read them.

Scotty, a nickname which he acquired because of his nationality, came to the United States when he was about 18 years old. He landed in south Texas by boat and because of his training, he was immediately hired by a cattle company from San Antonio. After about a year he learned that his mother had died and he returned to Scotland for a short period of time before returning to the U.S. This was the last that he saw of his homeland or any of his family except for an older brother, Alexander, who came to Oklahoma. Alec worked as a paymaster for a railroad company; then as a ranch hand and finally was an employee of the Cheyenne State Bank until his death in 1913. He is buried in the Cheyenne Cemetery.

After returning to the US, Scotty became bookkeeper for the Laurel Leaf Cattle Ranch in Hemphill County, Texas. This ranch was about five miles above the Texas line on the South Canadian River. At this time it was owned by Bee Hopkins who had bought this portion of the ranch from the parent company in south Texas. Hopkins had been the ranch foreman for the Horseshoe Ranch which became the Laurel Leaf prior to his ownership. Because of Scotty’s association with Bee Hopkins, the Indians called Scotty, “Hopkins’ brother”. Because of his association with the Laurel Leaf Ranch, Scotty entitled his writings, “Laurel Leaf Tales”. He made at least one trail drive to Dodge City. At the opening of our land run, Scotty quit the Laurel Leaf and obtained a ranch of his own on Dead Indian Creek. At that time, he was not a U.S. Citizen so he could not obtain land in the run; however, he had a friend stake a claim for him. This land was between Roll and Dead Indian Lake where Leroy and Audrey Bowers own land today. Cosmo stocked the ranch, built a home, and married Maude Ann Mosher on April 24, 1895. Maude Ann was visiting the Pollocks, former friends from her hometown of Mound City, MO. George Shufeldt , a rancher of the Red Moon community was also from Mound City, MO. Maude Ann taught at a country school for three months before she married, but did not care to be a teacher. Following the wedding ceremony at the Pollock home, there was a big dance at the Falconer ranch. Cosmo had constructed a dance platform under cottonwood trees near the house; his cook and friends prepared the midnight wedding supper; the music was a banjo, guitar and mouth organ. The whole countryside was invited and came from miles around by wagon, buggy and horseback. They danced all night and ate breakfast before leaving for home. While the Falconers lived at Dead Indian Ranch, all travelers were welcome to two good meals and a warm bed in which to sleep. At that time Dead Indian Creek Ranch was in Day County. Scotty was a County Commissioner for two terms in Day County, probably 1896-1900. The 1900 census shows Scotty Falconer and Maude to be living in the Square School House precinct and they had one boarder, named Luther Rutherford living with them. Red Moon was their post office.

While living on Dead Indian Creek Ranch, Falconers lost all of their cattle in a blizzard of 1899-1900. They decided to move closer to Cheyenne and were able to trade that ranch for one owned by J.P. Johnson near Sourdough Creek, west of Strong City. This ranch was located where Ocie Bailey has his home today. They named this ranch, the Sourdough Creek Ranch, not living there, but moving into the town of Cheyenne. They also bought a drugs store in Cheyenne. Scotty and his family of wife and two daughters, were known to have lived one block south of the Baptist Church on what we would call today the Dewey Daugherty corner where he rented while a new house could be built on property two blocks south of the court house located where the Washita River RV Park is today. While living at the new location where he had a cellar for protection from occasional tornadoes, a humorous incident happened to the Falconer family. A man in town had a sick horse and it had been doctored by the town’s horse doctor and turned loose on the town. Whether the illness or the medicine is at fault is not known, but in the middle of the night, the deranged horse wandered into the dugout where Scotty and his family had their residence. Scotty and Maude’s two girls had the dugout as their bedroom and were sleeping there the night the horse dropped in. The girls quickly vacated the premises through the window, taking the screen with them. The horse made himself at home and commenced to bust up the contents of the cellar. Maude’s summer of canning was soon brought to naught as the horse knocked down canned peaches, plums, etc. Help finally arrived and the horse was extricated but not before he had consumed a considerable amount of the canned goods. Needless to say after the horse was removed, the girls were reluctant to return to their former sleeping quarters. The next morning the horse was found dead, whether from an overdose of medicine or from canned peaches, it is not known.

The drug store which Scotty owned was the only drug store in town at that time. However it was not long before one of Cheyenne’s more enterprising businessmen went into the drug business as well. H.D. Cox, Daddy Cox as he was known, made the run on April 19, 1892. He and his wife, Granny set up a café out of the back of their covered wagon and several meals were served on the evening of Cheyenne’s first day. Hez established a lumber yard, cotton gin and finally the drugs store. Hez had all these businesses at the same time as well as a farm. His lumber yard advertised that he had coffins for sale among other items. Scotty picked up on this and wrote an ad stating that “if you buy your drugs from me, you won’t need a coffin.” This shows a little of Scotty’s sense of humor. In January 1904, Hez Cox sold his drugs store but he wasn’t out of the drug business for long. Five months later, Scotty sold his drug stock to Hez Cox, his former competitor.The store later became the Cooksey Drug Store. Scotty was a Republican and drew several political cartoons which appeared in Cheyenne’s Republican newspaper of that day, the Western Star. His artwork always seemed to poke fun at the Democrats. At the time Scotty had the drug store, he also was postmaster of Cheyenne and had these two businesses combined under one roof on main street. (lot 3 of block 47 or where the snow cone stand is located today) After selling his drug store, Scotty maintained the post office until the democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1914. While serving as postmaster, he studied photography and also ran a photographic studio in Cheyenne. Descendants of Pioneer families of Roger Mills County might search their files of old photos for an original picture taken by Scotty. In May 1907, prior to statehood, Scotty built a new building. About the time that Scotty lost his postmaster job, a fight was on between Cheyenne and Strong City over who should have the county seat. The residents of Cheyenne had just voted water bonds for a new updated water system when Strong City became the terminus of the Clinton, Oklahoma & Western Railroad. It was at this point that the railroad ran out of money and could not extend the line further up the Washita. The town of Strong City was formed and many businesses sprang up and business from Cheyenne moved there because of the advantages of low cost freight. Strong City made a bid for the county seat. Cheyenne realized that they were in a desperate situation and needed to do something to get the railroad extended to their town. The city fathers decided to divert the money raised by selling the water bonds and build seven miles of railroad down the Washita to join with the one at Strong City. Scotty Falconer played a large part in this. In an effort to arouse the citizens of Cheyenne, he drew a series of cartoons of the events of the day of the feud between Strong City and Cheyenne. The Clinton, Oklahoma & Western Railroad, was aptly named the COW, but a very poor looking cow. The short line railroad to Cheyenne was named the CALF and was represented by such. The town of Cheyenne was an Indian Chief and Strong City was drawn as Nancy,( Mr. F.E. Herring) always dressed as a woman. The cartoons were all taken to Jergens Barber Shop and tacked in sequence with the question, “What next?” Scotty’s family today has a few of these cartoons, but the key ones were taken or given away to those most interested. After the railroad was completed, Scotty was hired as superintendent, station agent and conductor for $75 a month. He operated this for about two years. At that time the COW railroad bought out the CALF. During one January, a cold snap visited Cheyenne and the town ran short on fuel. Some of the citizens turned to burning cottonseed to keep themselves warm. After Scotty had observed this for a day or two, he quipped “it burns all right, but it will keep two men busy to feed one stove.” In 1917, Cosmo sold oil leases throughout the Texas Panhandle until the U.S. became involved in WWI . As Scotty was too old for active service, he signed up to be YMCA director for the duration of the war. Prior to his leaving for training at Camp Travis, the town of Cheyenne gave a banquet in his honor. At the banquet, Scotty stated, “I have three countries fighting with the allies. I was born in Scotland, I was an English subject before coming to America and I am a patriotic citizen of the U.S.A.”. The training camp was located near the same ranch as where he was first employed when he entered the U.S. After the training he was sent to Camp Pike near Little Rock, where he remained until the war’s end. He and Maude then returned to Cheyenne. In 1922 Scotty again became Cheyenne’s postmaster and held this position until he retired for good due to his health in 1930.

For the year following his retirement he and Maude visited North American extensively, especially the northwest and returned to Cheyenne where he longed to live out his final days. Scotty died December 28, 1931 in Elk City hospital and is buried in Cheyenne. After his death, Maude moved to Ventura, California to be near one of her daughters. While there she became a realtor and accumulated some rental property for her livelihood. She died in Ventura February 6, 1961. After Scotty retired he wrote some children’s nursery rhymes, which he called rabbit stories, for his grandchildren. He also wrote a few stories and verses about his life as a cowpuncher. He was a charter member of the Masons and held all the offices of that order. He was a Knight Templar and a Shriner. When he attended the Grand Lodge in Guthrie, he would keep the room in an uproar with his cartoons of the presiding officers who were wondering what was going on until they would get a glimpse of a piece of paper with their caricature, being passed from man to man. To Scotty, his talent was only for the fun and pleasure it gave to others. Scotty was the first President of the Old Settlers Reunion Association which began in 1912 and held that office for twenty years. Maude was a charter member of the Platonic Club. They were members of the Presbyterian Church while there was an organization in Cheyenne; though Maude worked with the Methodist later. Scotty Falconer was a quiet dignified man with an insatiable desire for education. Both of his daughters became teachers. His interests were in history and literature. His word was as good as his bond. He was always fair in any dispute. He weighed each side before giving his opinion in an argument. His sense of humor was different from the usual kind, in that he always saw or heard the little things that were missed by others and he had a chuckle in repeating. He especially enjoyed telling a joke on the Scottish people. He was a generous thoughtful and considerate man. His love of Cheyenne and Oklahoma came second only to the love he had for his family and friends. Two sources who knew the man said that he literally drank himself to death.