There is perhaps no more iconic an image of America than the cowboy.
Whether wearing white hats or black, driving cattle or facing down the bad guys under the tolling of the noontime bell, the cowboy has come to represent the very spirit of a nation whose history was forged by blood, toil and a fascination with the untamed spaces of the Western frontier.
Though much of that distant way of life is now blurred by modern notions, themselves fed by decades of popular culture, there is no denying that the essence of that basic American image was born out of the reality of the 19th Century drover steering their cattle from the open range of Texas to stockyards and railroads and eastern dinner tables.
Over the last year, members of the Trailís End Committee have worked in earnest to develop and build support for a plan to place a monument to this American icon on the Missouri State Fairgrounds at the southwest corner of U.S. Highway 65 and 16th Street that would include full-size replicas of an 1870s steam locomotive, cattle car, droverís caboose, water tower and windmill, along with a multi-piece bronze sculpture by artist J. Michael Wilson that depicts a cowboy herding longhorn cattle along the Sedalia branch of the Shawnee Trail.
Also, over the last year, questions have been raised as to the historical veracity of claims made to substantiate the place Sedalia played in cattle drives and how long, if at all, those drovers set their course by way of the Queen City. As is often the case, separating myth from reality can sometimes prove more difficult than one might expect.
In an effort to present both sides of the issue, todayís opinion page includes columns from Dr. Doug Kiburz, a member of Trailís End, and Doug Kneibert, a former Democrat editor.
History is by its nature an incomplete record, told through the prism of the original writer and distilled yet again through the time and place of those who study it. While these columns by no means bring an end to the historical debate, we encourage curious readers to carefully review the evidence offered by both sides as a means of drawing their own conclusions.