Mile 333: Dobeytown

“Two miles to the west [of Fort Kearney] we arrived at the spot where once flourished the hamlet called Dobeytown, a squalid settlement of ‘dobe huts whose very mention was next door to an indelicacy. It was the ordinary type of hell-hole that clung to the fringes of any military reservation and, owing to the fact that Fort Kearney was far toward the western edge of its reserve, the group of mud buildings was within a mile or two of barracks.

We found Leo Nickels’ Ranch on the spot where many a foolish traveler lost his last cent–if not his life. The causal tourist may recognize it by a row of evergreens along the fence line instead of the more common cottonwoods whose silky fluff everywhere fills the air.

In staging days a large reserve stable for work stock was erected at Dobeytown, and the name Kearney City was arbitrarily selected in a vain attempt to throw a veil of respectability over the community. The name never ‘took’ with those who knew the place . . .

The permanent population was about two dozen inhabitants, mainly gamblers, saloonkeepers, and loafers who made a good living by running off emigrants’ stock at night, laying it to the Pawnee, and hiring out to find it the next day. Only the most cast-iron type of hard liquor was available at Dobeytown (as beer and wines were considered an unpardonable waste of hauling space), and the thirsty drivers and crews of the bull-drawn freight wagons were frequently drugged and robbed.

‘There was no law in Dobeytown, or at least none that could be enforced.’ The place was a grisly combination of delerium tremens, stale humanity, and dirt.”

[N.B. A map of the marker location is at https://goo.gl/maps/8o6JMBaeJ96FCMxb8]