Thursday, June 16, 2022

The Cook and the Chuck Wagon


One of the most important persons on a cattle drive, if not the most important, was the cook. Often times called Cookie. Sometimes, Coosie   or Soggy. He was paid more than the cowhands but probably not as much as he was worth. The man was banker, barber, dentist, and doctor to the drovers whose private possessions, that didn’t fit in their saddle bags, went into the cook's wagon box.

Among his other duties, he pointed the tongue of the wagon north every evening, so the trail boss knew what direction to head the herd the following morning.

Cookie was up before dawn to have the coffee and breakfast ready when everyone else rolled out. Then after the others finished eating, he had to clean up and head out to get to the next camp site before everyone else so he’d have the evening meal prepared when the herd halted and the crew came in.

The wagon he drove was called a chuck wagon. Charles Goodnight invented it in 1866. On the trail it was usually loaded with flour, coffee, salt pork, beans, potatoes, dried fruit and spices. Some folks credit the name of the chuck wagon for Charles, others for food, chuck being the cowboy term for chow. This wagon had a fold out counter to prepare the food on. A water barrel was stored on the outside.  Dutch ovens, which were used regularly by the cook were stored in the boot.

The cowboys had several rules of etiquette which included not tying horses to the chuck wagon so dust didn’t get in the food and after they ate scraping their plates and putting them in the ‘wrecking pan’. Leaving food on their plates was an insult to the cook.

It’s hard to write about a trail drive without including the cook. Even though a secondary character, Cookie played an important role both in Silverhill’s and the author’s heart.

 In the 1870s Brandon Wade is driving a herd of longhorns over the Chisholm Trail when a youth appears out of nowhere riding a magnificent black stallion and packing a deadly looking six-gun. In need of trail hands, Brandon hires the young man. Not until weeks later, during the middle of a terrible stampede, does Brandon learn that his young sharpshooter is a beautiful woman. A woman full of fire and passion who he burns to possess. A woman steeped in mystery who refuses to disclose her past. Alexandria O'Malley is on the run and must be able to disappear at a moment's notice. When she hires on to the cattle drive, she doesn't expect the powerful attraction between herself and her trail boss or the response of her treacherous body.

Available at Amazon. 


For more cowboy trivia:



Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sandra - sounds a great read ... and very interesting to learn about the food wagon and all the other jobs the cook was expected to perform. Fascinating - thank you - cheers Hilary

Elephant's Child said...

The cook was definitely a very busy, and very important person.
And congratulations on completing yet another book. Your productivity fills me with awe.

Julie Lence said...

The chuck wagon and the cook are always a favorite of mine. Thank you for sharing, Sandra.

Sandra Cox said...

Hils and EC, Thanks so much for stopping by. So appreciated.
The cook was pretty much the glue that held the drive together.
Have a great weekend.

Thanks, Julie. You've got to love the cook:)

Truedessa said...

This sounds like a wonderful lazy day summer read.

D. Wallace Peach said...

I loved this book. Cookie was a great character and thank goodness he was along. A fun post and congrats to Sandra!