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Sandwich Dora Hand

END OF TRAIL EATS: Cowboy-approved Recipes from the Cowtown Café to the Saloon

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My newest book, END OF THE TRAIL EATS, begins where my last cookbook, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’ ended, as the cowboys moved up the trail to the railheads north. The citizens of Cowtown had a love/hate relationship with this rambunctious group. After four to six months in the saddle eating beans and sourdough, the crews were ready for fine dining and entertainment. Separating cowhands from their newly earned wages was crucial for the survival of these frontier towns.

While researching Cowtown, I came across many unique recipes. They ate very well in Cowtown. One of the them is a fish sandwich named for “the most beautiful girl in Dodge City, Kansas.”

Dora Hand aka Fannie Keenan, Pinterest.

Believed to be from New York City, Dora Hand performed under the stage name of Fannie Keenan. Legend credits her with studying music in Europe travelling the east as an opera singer, but moved west to a dryer climate because of tuberculosis. Along with her friend, Fannie Garretson, Dora secured employment at the Lady Gay Dance Hall and Saloon, owned by Ben Springer and Jim Masterson (younger brother of Sheriff Bat).

An archived magazine article from Dodge City’s Boot Hill Museum describes her thus: “[She] was of medium height and build, with a face of classic beauty. There was a grace and charm in her walk. She dressed plainly, usually in black, and this color seemed to accentuate the ivory whiteness of her soft skin.”

“Cowboy Capital” ~ Dodge City, Kansas
The carrying of firearms strictly prohibited,’ reads the sign atop a water well along with an advertise for “Prickly Ash Bitters”

In addition to a mesmerizing voice and striking beauty, singer Dora Hand was also known as an exceptional cook. Besides performing in the dance halls, she began singing every Sunday in Church which brought her acceptance and admiration from the “respectable” townspeople as well. The sandwich that bears her name is a notable Dodge City favorite. Dora reportedly trained the cook at the restaurant owned by Mayor James Kelley, a good friend.

Tragically Dora was gunned down while house sitting for the Dodge City Mayor. Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp immediately formed a posse to hunt down Texan James Kennedy, who harbored a long-time grudge against the Mayor. The beloved songstress of Dodge City earned an elaborate funeral with over 400 mounted cowboys in attendance. She was only 34 years old.

Sandwich Dora Hand

6-8 ounces fresh fish per person, cleaned

2 slices of bread or 1 hamburger bun

4 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons vinegar

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

Dill pickles

Onion, thinly sliced

Fill a pot with water. Add vinegar, pepper and salt. Boil fish until done, about three to nine minutes. Remove fish, drain on a paper towel and debone. Set aside. Butter both slices of bread. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in heated cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add fish. Chunk and mash up fish as it cooks. Keep stirring and cooking until lightly browned. Spread a thick layer of fish on one piece of bread. Top with thinly sliced dill pickles and then add the onion. Top that with mustard. Cover with the top bun and serve warm. Add other veges to your liking, such as avocado, spinach, lettuce or tomato.

Welcome to Cowtown

Discover the iconic taste of the American West and the tales of a thriving Cowtown. Rivalry was fierce between the communities and entertaining the drovers was crucial. The lengths that city councils went to entice cattle outfits back each year will surprise you. From world class musical entertainment, comedians, and plays to elaborate public celebrations. The first ever Mexican bull fight was held on American soil in Cowtown.

As the saying goes, “No sheriff west of Newton—no God west of Dodge.”

Dodge City Peace Commission
back row l to r, W. H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, W. F. Petillion
front row l to r, Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLean, Neal Brown

For more recipes and stories about Cowtown, END OF THE TRAIL EATS: Cowboy-Approved Recipes from the Cowtown Cafe to the Saloon is out now!

Globe Pequot / TwoDot / Pages: 172 • Trim: 7 x 10 ISBN 978-1-4930-7699-4 • Paperback • April 2024 • $24.95 • (£18.99) ISBN 978-1-4930-7700-7 • eBook • April 2024 • $23.50 • (£17.99)

Cowgirl, Newton, Kansas

Natalie Cline Bright has written 20 books for adults and kids. She is a blogger at “Prairie Purview” found on the home page of her website, a hobby photographer, and speaker. Her cookbook, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN” about chuck wagons, won a first place gold Will Rogers Medallion. Her newest book is END OF TRAIL EATS about the food and history of Cowtowns.  If you enjoy pictures from the Texas Panhandle, check out her Instagram account @natsgrams or Facebook page Natalie Cline Bright.