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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Olathe in Johnson County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Workin’ For a Living

 
 
Workin' For a Living Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., August 12, 2010
1. Workin' For a Living Marker
Inscription.

Buck and Tip, the Mahaffie oxen, are four years old. They are accurately called "oxen" now that they have reached maturity. Until they reach four years of age, young oxen-in-training are properly referred to as working steers. Weighing in about 1800 pounds each in the Spring of 2010, they will eventually reach a ton or more (over 2000 pounds) each in the next two years.

Any breed of cattle can be trained as oxen: ox is a "job description." Buck and Tip are Milking Shorthorns - the most common breed of cattle trained as oxen in the mid-19th century Midwest. Oxen are neutered male calves (steers) trained to verbal and physical commands so they can perform work like draft horses. Wearing a wooden yoke that connects them to each other, a chain or wagon tongue is hooked to a large round ring in the middle of that yoke. In this way, they may pull a plow, cart, wagon, or simple wooden sled known as a stone boat or log scoot.

Before the Civil War, oxen performed the heaviest labor on American farms. After the Civil War, draft horses began taking their place as the new, mechanized farm equipment required more speed to operate properly. Oxen can pull a dead weight of one-half their own body weight. In other words, two oxen weighing a ton each, may pull one ton of dead weight between them.


"Loxican" of ox
Workin' For a Living Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., August 12, 2010
2. Workin' For a Living Marker
commands:

Whoa -- stop
Get Up -- both animals begin walking
Step Up -- the individual animal should move forward
Step Over -- step from side to side as directed by the driver
Over Gee -- turn right
Come Haw -- turn left
Back Up -- tap on the knees and the animals will back up


James Mahaffie kept eight oxen on this farm in 1865. He also judged oxen at the county fair. Along with the site's location on the Westport Route of the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California Trails, it is very appropriate that oxen are back on the Mahaffie farm.
 
Erected 2010 by City of Olathe.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the California Trail marker series.
 
Location. 38° 53.522′ N, 94° 48.103′ W. Marker is in Olathe, Kansas, in Johnson County. Touch for map. Marker is about 150 feet west of the Mahaffie home at the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1200 Kansas City Road, Olathe KS 66061, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Not So Little A Farm On the Prairie... (here, next to this marker); A Survivor (a few steps from this marker); Pit Stop (within shouting distance
Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm Sign image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
3. Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm Sign
of this marker); Stagecoach Drivers (within shouting distance of this marker); State Your Business... (within shouting distance of this marker); Fast Food (within shouting distance of this marker); Up In Smoke (within shouting distance of this marker); Home Sweet Home (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Olathe.
 
Also see . . .
1. Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm. (Submitted on August 17, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Santa Fe National Historic Trail. (Submitted on August 17, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Oregon-California Trails Association. (Submitted on August 17, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. Santa Fe Trail Association. (Submitted on August 17, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
5. Prairie Ox Drovers. (Submitted on August 17, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. AgricultureAnimalsRoads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 17, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 747 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 17, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   3. submitted on August 15, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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