John Stuart Downing(1820-1910), my 2nd great grandfather, and father of Grandma Clarissa Sampson, was a cattle buyer. Recently I ran across notes in the Clay County Historical Society written by his granddaughter Helen Rupert Jones as told to her by her mother Mary Emma Downing Rupert. The following is a synopsis of what she told of John's life as a cattle buyer.
When John was still a boy, he learned that he was good at judging the quality of hogs and cattle and that he could make more money doing that than raising the animals himself. He eventually became the chief buyer of the Ralston Brothers meat packing business. On his buying trips he "traveled by horseback, wore long leather leggings which came up to his waist and tied his cattle whip around his waist." He carried large amounts of money and learned to outsmart those who would try to steal it. One time his wife awoke to find out their home had been chloroformed so thieves could find the money. Fortunately, John had not picked the money up yet for his trip. Another time the Ralston brothers brought a large amount to give him for buying the next day and spent the night. They warned him to protect the money during the night. John uncovered a hole in the wall above where the Ralstons were sleeping and said if it was taken it was on their watch and he was going to sleep. Interesting and exciting occupation! Workday Wednesday: John Stuart Downing, the cattle buyer.