Gilbert M Anderson, Broncho Billy, was the first western star. With George K Spoor, he had founded Essanay (S and A). In 1918, Essanay began rereleasing his one-reel westerns. The reissues were doing well; Essanay was releasing a third block of ten one-reel films.
Moving Picture World, 20-July-1918
At the same time, Anderson was planning to make a series of features.
Film Daily, 21-July-1918
"In a new series of Western five reel superproductions."