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ABILENE, an early cattle town in Kansas, was established by Illinois cattle buyer Joseph G. McCoy in 1867 as a depot to which drovers might bring Texas livestock for rail shipment to Kansas City. Trail drivers' attempts to reach market in 1866 had failed largely because of the hostility of settlers in Missouri and eastern Kansas. Residents there feared the spread of Texas fever, which prevailed among longhorn cattle and could infect their domesticated cattle. Located on the Kansas Pacific Railway, Abilene was a popular shipping point for several years, until the westward advance of settlers forced the drovers to new cattle towns farther west.


Dykstra, Robert R. The Cattle Towns. New York: Knopf, 1968.

Edward EverettDale/s. b.

See alsoCattle Drives ; Cow Towns ; Railroads .

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ABILENE , district in Coele-Syria, centered around the city of Abila (modern Suq on the Barada River, 16½ mi. (27 km.) N.W. of Damascus) and extending over the western slopes of Mt. Hermon. Originally part of the Iturean principality, it was held by the tetrarch Lysanias the Younger in the time of Tiberius (Luke 3:1). Gaius Caligula granted it to Agrippa i (Jos., Ant., 18:237) and after the latter's death, the tetrarchy was administered by Roman procurators (44–53 c.e.) until Claudius gave it to Agrippa ii (Jos., Ant., 20:138) who ruled it until his death. The local legend connecting Abilene with Abel (al-Nabī Ābil) is spurious.


Schuerer, Gesch, 1 (19044), 716–21; Pauly-Wissowa, 9 (1916), 2379; Bickerman, in: ej, s.v.Abila, Abilene.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]

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