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Reed Anthony, Cowman by Andy Adams

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a half previous, sand-dunes were frequently used, and when these old
concessions became of value and were surveyed, some of the corners had
shifted a mile or more by the action of the wind and seasons on the
sand-hills. Accordingly, on overtaking our outfit we headed for the
juncture of the Brazos and Clear Fork, reaching our destination the
second day. The first thing was to establish a corner or commencement
point. Some heavy timber grew around the confluence, so, selecting an
old patriarch pin oak between the two streams, we notched the tree
and ran a line to low water at the juncture of the two rivers. Other
witness trees were established and notched, lines were run at angles
to the banks of either stream, and a hole was dug two feet deep
between the roots of the pin oak, a stake set therein, and the
excavation filled with charcoal and covered. A legal corner or
commencement point was thus established; but as the land that I
coveted lay some distance up the Clear Fork, it was necessary first to
run due south six miles and establish a corner, and thence run west
the same distance and locate another one.

The thirty sections of land scrip would entitle me to a block of
ground five by six miles in extent, and I concluded to locate the bulk
of it on the south side of the Clear Fork. A permanent camp was now
established, the actual work of locating the land requiring about ten
days, when the surveyor and Edwards set out on their return. They were
to touch at the county seat, record the established corners and
file my locations, leaving the other boys and me behind. It was my
intention to build a corral and possibly a cabin on the land, having
no idea that we would remain more than a few weeks longer. Timber was
plentiful, and, selecting a site well out on the prairie, we began the
corral. It was no easy task; palisades were cut twelve feet long and
out of durable woods, and the gate-posts were fourteen inches in
diameter at the small end, requiring both yoke of oxen to draw them
to the chosen site. The latter were cut two feet longer than the
palisades, the extra length being inserted in the ground, giving them
a stability to carry the bars with which the gateway was closed. Ten
days were spent in cutting and drawing timber, some of the larger
palisades being split in two so as to enable five men to load them on
the wagon. The digging of the narrow trench, five feet deep, in which
the palisades were set upright, was a sore trial; but the ground was
sandy, and by dint of perseverance it was accomplished. Instead of
a few weeks, over a month was spent on the corral, but when it was
finished it would hold a thousand stampeding cattle through the
stormiest night that ever blew.

After finishing the corral we hunted a week. The country was alive
with game of all kinds, even an occasional buffalo, while wild and
unbranded cattle were seen daily. None of the men seemed anxious to
leave the valley, but the commissary had to be replenished, so two of
us made the trip to Belknap with a pack horse, returning the next day
with meal, sugar, and coffee. A cabin was begun and completed in ten
days, a crude but stable affair, with clapboard roof, clay floor,
and ample fireplace. It was now late in September, and as the usual
branding season was at hand, cow-hunting outfits might be expected to
pass down the valley. The advantage of corrals would naturally make my
place headquarters for cowmen, and we accordingly settled down until
the branding season was over. But the abundance of mavericks and wild
cattle was so tempting that we had three hundred under herd when the
first cow-hunting outfits arrived. At one lake on what is now known
as South Prairie, in a single moonlight night, we roped and tied down
forty head, the next morning finding thirty of them unbranded and
therefore unowned. All tame cattle would naturally water in the
daytime, and anything coming in at night fell a victim to our ropes. A
wooden toggle was fastened with rawhide to its neck, so it would trail
between its forelegs, to prevent running, when the wild maverick was
freed and allowed to enter the herd. After a week or ten days, if an
animal showed any disposition to quiet down, it was again thrown,
branded, and the toggle removed. We corralled the little herd every
night, adding to it daily, scouting far and wide for unowned or wild
cattle. But when other outfits came up or down the valley of the Clear
Fork we joined forces with them, tendering our corrals for branding
purposes, our rake-off being the mavericks and eligible strays. Many
a fine quarter of beef was left at our cabin by passing ranchmen, and
when the gathering ended we had a few over five hundred cattle for our
time and trouble.

Fine weather favored us and we held the mavericks under herd until
late in December. The wild ones gradually became gentle, and with
constant handling these wild animals were located until they would
come in of their own accord for the privilege of sleeping in a corral.
But when winter approached the herd was turned free, that the cattle
might protect themselves from storms, and we gathered our few effects
together and started for the settlements. It was with reluctance that
I left that primitive valley. Somehow or other, primal conditions
possessed a charm for me which, coupled with an innate love of the
land and the animals that inhabit it, seemed to influence and outline
my future course of life. The pride of possession was mine; with my
own hands and abilities had I earned the land, while the overflow from
a thousand hills stocked my new ranch. I was now the owner of lands
and cattle; my father in his palmiest days never dreamed of such
possessions as were mine, while youth and opportunity encouraged me to
greater exertions.

We reached the Edwards ranch a few days before Christmas. The boys
were settled with and returned to their homes, and I was once more
adrift. Forty odd calves had been branded as the increase of my
mavericking of the year before, and, still basking in the smile of
fortune, I found a letter awaiting me from Major Seth Mabry of Austin,
anxious to engage my services as a trail foreman for the coming
summer. I had met Major Seth the spring before at Abilene, and was
instrumental in finding him a buyer for his herd, and otherwise we
became fast friends. There were no outstanding obligations to my
former employers, so when a protest was finally raised against my
going, I had the satisfaction of vouching for George Edwards, to the
manner born, and a better range cowman than I was. The same group of
ranchmen expected to drive another herd the coming spring, and I made
it a point to see each one personally, urging that nothing but choice
cattle should be sent up the trail. My long acquaintance with the
junior Edwards enabled me to speak emphatically and to the point,
and I lectured him thoroughly as to the requirements of the Abilene

I notified Major Mabry that I would be on hand within a month. The
holiday season soon passed, and leaving my horses at the Edwards
ranch, I saddled the most worthless one and started south. The trip
was uneventful, except that I traded horses twice, reaching my
destination within a week, having seen no country en route that could
compare with the valley of the Clear Fork. The capital city was a
straggling village on the banks of the Colorado River, inert through
political usurpation, yet the home of many fine people. Quite a number
of cowmen resided there, owning ranches in outlying and adjoining
counties, among them being my acquaintance of the year before and
present employer. It was too early by nearly a month to begin active
operations, and I contented myself about town, making the acquaintance
of other cowmen and their foremen who expected to drive that year.
New Orleans had previously been the only outlet for beef cattle
in southern Texas, and even in the spring of '69 very few had any
confidence of a market in the north. Major Mabry, however, was going
to drive two herds to Abilene, one of beeves and the other of younger
steers, dry cows, and thrifty two-year-old heifers, and I was to
have charge of the heavy cattle. Both herds would be put up in Llano
County, it being the intention to start with the grass. Mules were to
be worked to the wagons, oxen being considered too slow, while both
outfits were to be mounted seven horses to the man.

During my stay at Austin I frequently made inquiry for land scrip.
Nearly all the merchants had more or less, the current prices being
about five cents an acre. There was a clear distinction, however,
in case one was a buyer or seller, the former being shown every
attention. I allowed the impression to circulate that I would buy,
which brought me numerous offers, and before leaving the town I
secured twenty sections for five hundred dollars. I needed just that
amount to cover a four-mile bend of the Clear Fork on the west end of
my new ranch,--a possession which gave me ten miles of that virgin
valley. My employer congratulated me on my investment, and assured
me that if the people ever overthrew the Reconstruction usurpers
the public domain would no longer be bartered away for chips and
whetstones. I was too busy to take much interest in the political
situation, and, so long as I was prosperous and employed, gave little
heed to politics.

Major Mabry owned a ranch and extensive cattle interests northwest in
Llano County. As we expected to start the herds as early as possible,
the latter part of February found us at the ranch actively engaged in
arranging for the summer's work. There were horses to buy, wagons to
outfit, and hands to secure, and a busy fortnight was spent in getting
ready for the drive. The spring before I had started out in debt; now,
on permission being given me, I bought ten horses for my own use and
invested the balance of my money in four yoke of oxen. Had I remained
in Palo Pinto County the chances were that I might have enlarged my
holdings in the coming drive, as in order to have me remain several
offered to sell me cattle on credit. But so long as I was enlarging my
experience I was content, while the wages offered me were double what
I received the summer before.

We went into camp and began rounding up near the middle of March. All
classes of cattle were first gathered into one herd, after which the
beeves were cut separate and taken charge of by my outfit. We gathered
a few over fifteen hundred of the latter, all prairie-raised cattle,
four years old or over, and in the single ranch brand of my employer.
Major Seth had also contracted for one thousand other beeves, and it
became our duty to receive them. These outside contingents would have
to be road-branded before starting, as they were in a dozen or more
brands, the work being done in a chute built for that purpose. My
employer and I fully agreed on the quality of cattle to be received,
and when possible we both passed on each tender of beeves before
accepting them. The two herds were being held separate, and a friendly
rivalry existed between the outfits as to which herd would be ready
to start first. It only required a few days extra to receive and
road-brand the outside cattle, when all were ready to start. As Major
Seth knew the most practical route, in deference to his years and
experience I insisted that he should take the lead until after Red
River was crossed. I had been urging the Chisholm trail in preference
to more eastern ones, and with the compromise that I should take the
lead after passing Fort Worth, the two herds started on the last day
of March.

There was no particular trail to follow. The country was all open,
and the grass was coming rapidly, while the horses and cattle were
shedding their winter coats with the change of the season. Fine
weather favored us, no rains at night and few storms, and within two
weeks we passed Fort Worth, after which I took the lead. I remember
that at the latter point I wrote a letter to the elder Edwards,
inclosing my land scrip, and asking him to send a man out to my new
ranch occasionally to see that the improvements were not destroyed.
Several herds had already passed the fort, their destination being the
same as ours, and from thence onward we had the advantage of following
a trail. As we neared Red River, nearly all the herds bore off to the
eastward, but we held our course, crossing into the Chickasaw Nation
at the regular Chisholm ford. A few beggarly Indians, renegades from
the Kiowas and Comanches on the west, annoyed us for the first week,
but were easily appeased with a lame or stray beef. The two herds held
rather close together as a matter of mutual protection, as in some
of the encampments were fully fifty lodges with possibly as many
able-bodied warriors. But after crossing the Washita River no further
trouble was encountered from the natives, and we swept northward at
the steady pace of an advancing army. Other herds were seen in our
rear and front, and as we neared the Kansas line several long columns
of cattle were sighted coming in over the safer eastern routes.

The last lap of the drive was reached. A fortnight later we went into
camp within twelve miles of Abilene, having been on the trail two
months and eleven days. The same week we moved north of the railroad,
finding ample range within seven miles of town. Herds were coming in
rapidly, and it was important to secure good grazing grounds for our
cattle. Buyers were arriving from every territory in the Northwest,
including California, while the usual contingent of Eastern dealers,
shippers, and market-scalpers was on hand. It could hardly be said
that prices had yet opened, though several contracted herds had
already been delivered, while every purchaser was bearing the market
and prophesying a drive of a quarter million cattle. The drovers,
on the other hand, were combating every report in circulation, even
offering to wager that the arrivals of stock for the entire summer
would not exceed one hundred thousand head. Cowmen reported en route
with ten thousand beeves came in with one fifth the number, and
sellers held the whip hand, the market actually opening at better
figures than the summer before. Once prices were established, I was in
the thick of the fight, selling my oxen the first week to a freighter,
constantly on the skirmish for a buyer, and never failing to recognize
one with whom I had done business the summer before. In case Major
Mabry had nothing to suit, the herd in charge of George Edwards was
always shown, and I easily effected two sales, aggregating fifteen
hundred head, from the latter cattle, with customers of the year

But my zeal for bartering in cattle came to a sudden end near the
close of June. A conservative estimate of the arrivals then in sight
or known to be en route for Abilene was placed at one hundred and
fifty thousand cattle. Yet instead of any weakening in prices, they
seemed to strengthen with the influx of buyers from the corn regions,
as the prospects of the season assured a bountiful new crop. Where
States had quarantined against Texas cattle the law was easily
circumvented by a statement that the cattle were immune from having
wintered in the north, which satisfied the statutes--as there was no
doubt but they had wintered somewhere. Steer cattle of acceptable age
and smoothness of build were in demand by feeders; all classes in fact
felt a stimulus. My beeves were sold for delivery north of Cheyenne,
Wyoming, the buyers, who were ranchmen as well as army contractors,
taking the herd complete, including the remuda and wagon. Under the
terms, the cattle were to start immediately and be grazed through. I
was given until the middle of September to reach my destination, and
at once moved out on a northwest course. On reaching the Republican
River, we followed it to the Colorado line, and then tacked north
for Cheyenne. Reporting our progress to the buyers, we were met and
directed to pass to the eastward of that village, where we halted
a week, and seven hundred of the fattest beeves were cut out for
delivery at Fort Russell. By various excuses we were detained until
frost fell before we reached the ranch, and a second and a third
contingent of beeves were cut out for other deliveries, making it
nearly the middle of October before I was finally relieved.

With the exception of myself, a new outfit of men had been secured at
Abilene. Some of them were retained at the ranch of the contractors,
the remainder being discharged, all of us returning to Cheyenne
together, whence we scattered to the four winds. I spent a week in
Denver, meeting Charlie Goodnight, who had again fought his way up the
Pecos route and delivered his cattle to the contractors at Fort Logan.
Continuing homeward, I took the train for Abilene, hesitating whether
to stop there or visit my brother in Missouri before returning to
Texas. I had twelve hundred dollars with me, as the proceeds of my
wages, horses, and oxen, and, feeling rather affluent, I decided to
stop over a day at the new trail town. I knew the market was virtually
over, and what evil influence ever suggested my stopping at Abilene
is unexplainable. But I did stop, and found things just as I
expected,--everybody sold out and gone home. A few trail foremen were
still hanging around the town under the pretense of attending to
unsettled business, and these welcomed me with a fraternal greeting.
Two of them who had served in the Confederate army came to me and
frankly admitted that they were broke, and begged me to help them
out of town by redeeming their horses and saddles. Feed bills had
accumulated and hotel accounts were unpaid; the appeals of the rascals
would have moved a stone to pity.

The upshot of the whole matter was that I bought a span of mules and
wagon and invited seven of the boys to accompany me overland to Texas.
My friends insisted that we could sell the outfit in the lower country
for more than cost, but before I got out of town my philanthropic
venture had absorbed over half my savings. As long as I had money the
purse seemed a public one, and all the boys borrowed just as freely as
if they expected to repay it. I am sure they felt grateful, and had I
been one of the needy no doubt any of my friends would have shared his
purse with me.

It was a delightful trip across the Indian Territory, and we reached
Sherman, Texas, just before the holidays. Every one had become tired
of the wagon, and I was fortunate enough to sell it without loss.
Those who had saddle horses excused themselves and hurried home for
the Christmas festivities, leaving a quartette of us behind. But
before the remainder of us proceeded to our destinations two of the
boys discovered a splendid opening for a monte game, in which we could
easily recoup all our expenses for the trip. I was the only dissenter
to the programme, not even knowing the game; but under the pressure
which was brought to bear I finally yielded, and became banker for my
friends. The results are easily told. The second night there was heavy
play, and before ten o'clock the monte bank closed for want of funds,
it having been tapped for its last dollar. The next morning I took
stage for Dallas, where I arrived with less than twenty dollars, and
spent the most miserable Christmas day of my life. I had written
George Edwards from Denver that I expected to go to Missouri, and
asked him to take my horses and go out to the little ranch and brand
my calves. There was no occasion now to contradict my advice of that
letter, neither would I go near the Edwards ranch, yet I hungered for
that land scrip and roundly cursed myself for being a fool. It would
be two months and a half before spring work opened, and what to do in
the mean time was the one absorbing question. My needs were too urgent
to allow me to remain idle long, and, drifting south, working when
work was to be had, at last I reached the home of my soldier crony
in Washington County, walking and riding in country wagons the
last hundred miles of the distance. No experience in my life ever
humiliated me as that one did, yet I have laughed about it since.
I may have previously heard of riches taking wings, but in this
instance, now mellowed by time, no injustice will be done by simply
recording it as the parting of a fool and his money.



The winds of adversity were tempered by the welcome extended me by my
old comrade and his wife. There was no concealment as to my financial
condition, but when I explained the causes my former crony laughed at
me until the tears stood in his eyes. Nor did I protest, because I so
richly deserved it. Fortunately the circumstances of my friends had
bettered since my previous visit, and I was accordingly relieved from
any feeling of intrusion. In two short years the wheel had gone round,
and I was walking heavily on my uppers and continually felt like a
pauper or poor relation. To make matters more embarrassing, I could
appeal to no one, and, fortified by pride from birth, I ground my
teeth over resolutions that will last me till death. Any one of half
a dozen friends, had they known my true condition, would have gladly
come to my aid, but circumstances prevented me from making any appeal.
To my brother in Missouri I had previously written of my affluence; as
for friends in Palo Pinto County,--well, for the very best of reasons
my condition would remain a sealed book in that quarter; and to appeal
to Major Mabry might arouse his suspicions. I had handled a great deal
of money for him, accounting for every cent, but had he known of my
inability to take care of my own frugal earnings it might have aroused
his distrust. I was sure of a position with him again as trail
foreman, and not for the world would I have had him know that I could
be such a fool as to squander my savings thoughtlessly.

What little correspondence I conducted that winter was by roundabout
methods. I occasionally wrote my brother that I was wallowing
in wealth, always inclosing a letter to Gertrude Edwards with
instructions to remail, conveying the idea to her family that I was
spending the winter with relatives in Missouri. As yet there was no
tacit understanding between Miss Gertrude and me, but I conveyed that
impression to my brother, and as I knew he had run away with his wife,
I had confidence he would do my bidding. In writing my employer I
reported myself as busy dealing in land scrip, and begged him not to
insist on my appearance until it was absolutely necessary. He replied
that I might have until the 15th of March in which to report at
Austin, as my herd had been contracted for north in Williamson County.
Major Mabry expected to drive three herds that spring, the one already
mentioned and two from Llano County, where he had recently acquired
another ranch with an extensive stock of cattle. It therefore behooved
me to keep my reputation unsullied, a rather difficult thing to do
when our escapade at Sherman was known to three other trail foremen.
They might look upon it as a good joke, while to me it was a serious

Had there been anything to do in Washington County, it was my
intention to go to work. The dredging company had departed for newer
fields, there was no other work in sight, and I was compelled to fold
my hands and bide my time. My crony and I blotted out the days by
hunting deer and turkeys, using hounds for the former and shooting the
animals at game crossings. By using a turkey-call we could entice the
gobblers within rifle-shot, and in several instances we were able to
locate their roosts. The wild turkey of Texas was a wary bird, and
although I have seen flocks of hundreds, it takes a crafty hunter to
bag one. I have always loved a gun and been fond of hunting, yet the
time hung heavy on my hands, and I counted the days like a prisoner
until I could go to work. But my sentence finally expired, and
preparations were made for my start to Austin. My friends offered
their best wishes,--about all they had,--and my old comrade went so
far as to take me one day on horseback to where he had an acquaintance
living. There we stayed over night, which was more than half way to my
destination, and the next morning we parted, he to his home with the
horses, while I traveled on foot or trusted to country wagons. I
arrived in Austin on the appointed day, with less than five dollars in
my pocket, and registered at the best hotel in the capital. I needed
a saddle, having sold mine in Wyoming the fall before, and at once
reported to my employer. Fortunately my arrival was being awaited to
start a remuda and wagon to Williamson County, and when I assured
Major Mabry that all I lacked was a saddle, he gave me an order on a
local dealer, and we started that same evening.

At last I was saved. With the opening of work my troubles lifted like
a night fog before the rising sun. Even the first view of the
remuda revived my spirits, as I had been allotted one hundred fine
cow-horses. They had been brought up during the winter, had run in a
good pasture for some time, and with the opening of spring were
in fine condition. Many trail men were short-sighted in regard to
mounting their outfits, and although we had our differences, I want to
say that Major Mabry and his later associates never expected a man
to render an honest day's work unless he was properly supplied with
horses. My allowance for the spring of 1870 was again seven horses to
the man, with two extra for the foreman, which at that early day
in trailing cattle was considered the maximum where Kansas was the
destination. Many drovers allowed only five horses to the man, but
their men were frequently seen walking with the herd, their mounts
mingling with the cattle, unable to carry their riders longer.

The receiving of the herd in Williamson County was an easy matter.
Four prominent ranchmen were to supply the beeves to the number of
three thousand. Nearly every hoof was in the straight ranch brand of
the sellers, only some two hundred being mixed brands and requiring
the usual road-branding. In spite of every effort to hold the herd
down to the contracted number, we received one hundred and fifty
extra; but then they were cattle that no justifiable excuse could be
offered in refusing. The last beeves were received on the 22d of the
month, and after cutting separate all cattle of outside brands, they
were sent to the chute to receive the road-mark. Major Mabry was
present, and a controversy arose between the sellers and himself over
our refusal to road-brand, or at least vent the ranch brands, on the
great bulk of the herd. Too many brands on an animal was an objection
to the shippers and feeders of the North, and we were anxious to cater
to their wishes as far as possible. The sellers protested against the
cattle leaving their range without some mark to indicate their change
of ownership. The country was all open; in case of a stampede and loss
of cattle within a few hundred miles they were certain to drift back
to their home range, with nothing to distinguish them from their
brothers of the same age. Flesh marks are not a good title by which
to identify one's property, where those possessions consist of range
cattle, and the law recognized the holding brand as the hall-mark of
ownership. But a compromise was finally agreed upon, whereby we were
to run the beeves through the chute and cut the brush from their
tails. In a four or five year old animal this tally-mark would hold
for a year, and in no wise work any hardship to the animal in warding
off insect life. In case of any loss on the trail my employer agreed
to pay one dollar a head for regathering any stragglers that returned
within a year. The proposition was a fair one, the ranchmen yielded,
and we ran the whole herd through the chute, cutting the brush within
a few inches of the end of the tail-bone. By tightly wrapping the
brush once around the blade of a sharp knife, it was quick work
to thus vent a chuteful of cattle, both the road-branding and
tally-marking being done in two days.

The herd started on the morning of the 25th. I had a good outfit of
men, only four of whom were with me the year before. The spring could
not be considered an early one, and therefore we traveled slow for
the first few weeks, meeting with two bad runs, three days apart,
but without the loss of a hoof. These panics among the cattle were
unexplainable, as they were always gorged with grass and water at
bedding time, the weather was favorable, no unseemly noises were
heard by the men on guard, and both runs occurred within two hours of
daybreak. There was a half-breed Mexican in the outfit, a very quiet
man, and when the causes of the stampedes were being discussed around
the camp-fire, I noticed that he shrugged his shoulders in derision
of the reasons advanced. The half-breed was my horse wrangler, old in
years and experience, and the idea struck me to sound him as to his
version of the existing trouble among the cattle. He was inclined to
be distant, but I approached him cautiously, complimented him on his
handling of the remuda, rode with him several hours, and adroitly drew
out his opinion of what caused our two stampedes. As he had never
worked with the herd, his first question was, did we receive any blind
cattle or had any gone blind since we started? He then informed me
that the old Spanish rancheros would never leave a sightless animal in
a corral with sound ones during the night for fear of a stampede. He
cautioned me to look the herd over carefully, and if there was a blind
animal found to cut it out or the trouble would he repeated in spite
of all precaution. I rode back and met the herd, accosting every swing
man on one side with the inquiry if any blind animal had been seen,
without results until the drag end of the cattle was reached. Two men
were at the rear, and when approached with the question, both admitted
noticing, for the past week, a beef which acted as if he might be
crazy. I had them point out the steer, and before I had watched him
ten minutes was satisfied that he was stone blind. He was a fine, big
fellow, in splendid flesh, but it was impossible to keep him in the
column; he was always straggling out and constantly shying from
imaginary objects. I had the steer roped for three or four nights and
tied to a tree, and as the stampeding ceased we cut him out every
evening when bedding down the herd, and allowed him to sleep alone.
The poor fellow followed us, never venturing to leave either day or
night, but finally fell into a deep ravine and broke his neck. His
affliction had befallen him on the trail, affecting his nervous system
to such an extent that he would jump from imaginary objects and thus
stampede his brethren. I remember it occurred to me, then, how little
I knew about cattle, and that my wrangler and I ought to exchange
places. Since that day I have always been an attentive listener to the
humblest of my fellowmen when interpreting the secrets of animal life.

Another incident occurred on this trip which showed the observation
and insight of my half-breed wrangler. We were passing through some
cross-timbers one morning in northern Texas, the remuda and wagon far
in the lead. We were holding the herd as compactly as possible to
prevent any straying of cattle, when our saddle horses were noticed
abandoned in thick timber. It was impossible to leave the herd at the
time, but on reaching the nearest opening, about two miles ahead, I
turned and galloped back for fear of losing horses. I counted the
remuda and found them all there, but the wrangler was missing.
Thoughts of desertion flashed through my mind, the situation was
unexplainable, and after calling, shooting, and circling around for
over an hour, I took the remuda in hand and started after the herd,
mentally preparing a lecture in case my wrangler returned. While
nooning that day some six or seven miles distant, the half-breed
jauntily rode into camp, leading a fine horse, saddled and bridled,
with a man's coat tied to the cantle-strings. He explained to us that
he had noticed the trail of a horse crossing our course at right
angles. The freshness of the sign attracted his attention, and
trailing it a short distance in the dewy morning he had noticed that
something attached to the animal was trailing. A closer examination
was made, and he decided that it was a bridle rein and not a rope that
was attached to the wandering horse. From the freshness of the trail,
he felt positive that he would overtake the animal shortly, but after
finding him some difficulty was encountered before the horse would
allow himself to be caught. He apologized for his neglect of duty,
considering the incident as nothing unusual, and I had not the heart
even to scold him. There were letters in the pocket of the coat,
from which the owner was identified, and on arriving at Abilene
the pleasure was mine of returning the horse and accoutrements and
receiving a twenty-dollar gold piece for my wrangler. A stampede of
trail cattle had occurred some forty miles to the northwest but a few
nights before our finding the horse, during which the herd ran into
some timber, and a low-hanging limb unhorsed the foreman, the animal
escaping until captured by my man.

On approaching Fort Worth, still traveling slowly on account of the
lateness of the spring, I decided to pay a flying visit to Palo Pinto
County. It was fully eighty miles from the Fort across to the Edwards
ranch, and appointing one of my old men as segundo, I saddled my best
horse and set out an hour before sunset. I had made the same ride four
years previously on coming to the country, a cool night favored my
mount, and at daybreak I struck the Brazos River within two miles of
the ranch. An eventful day followed; I reeled off innocent white-faced
lies by the yard, in explaining the delightful winter I had spent with
my brother in Missouri. Fortunately the elder Edwards was not driving
any cattle that year, and George was absent buying oxen for a Fort
Griffin freighter. Good reports of my new ranch awaited me, my
cattle were increasing, and the smile of prosperity again shed its
benediction over me. No one had located any lands near my little
ranch, and the coveted addition on the west was still vacant and
unoccupied. The silent monitor within my breast was my only accuser,
but as I rode away from the Edwards ranch in the shade of evening,
even it was silenced, for I held the promise of a splendid girl to
become my wife. A second sleepless night passed like a pleasant dream,
and early the next morning, firmly anchored in resolutions that no
vagabond friends could ever shake, I overtook my herd.

After crossing Red River, the sweep across the Indian country was but
a repetition of other years, with its varying monotony. Once we were
waterbound for three days, severe drifts from storms at night were
experienced, delaying our progress, and we did not reach Abilene until
June 15. We were aware, however, of an increased drive of cattle
to the north; evidences were to be seen on every hand; owners were
hanging around the different fords and junctions of trails, inquiring
if herds in such and such brands had been seen or spoken. While we
were crossing the Nations, men were daily met hunting for lost horses
or inquiring for stampeded cattle, while the regular trails were being
cut into established thoroughfares from increasing use. Neither of the
other Mabry herds had reached their destination on our arrival, though
Major Seth put in an appearance within a week and reported the other
two about one hundred miles to the rear. Cattle were arriving by the
thousands, buyers from the north, east, and west were congregating,
and the prospect of good prices was flattering. I was fortunate in
securing my old camp-ground north of the town; a dry season had set
in nearly a month before, maturing the grass, and our cattle took on
flesh rapidly. Buyers looked them over daily, our prices being firm.
Wintered cattle were up in the pictures, a rate war was on between all
railroad lines east of the Mississippi River, cutting to the bone to
secure the Western live-stock traffic. Three-year-old steers bought
the fall before at twenty dollars and wintered on the Kansas prairies
were netting their owners as high as sixty dollars on the Chicago
market. The man with good cattle for sale could afford to be firm.

At this juncture a regrettable incident occurred, which, however,
proved a boon to me. Some busybody went to the trouble of telling
Major Mabry about my return to Abilene the fall before and my
subsequent escapade in Texas, embellishing the details and even
intimating that I had squandered funds not my own. I was thirty years
old and as touchy as gunpowder, and felt the injustice of the charge
like a knife-blade in my heart. There was nothing to do but ask for
my release, place the facts in the hands of my employer, and court a
thorough investigation. I had always entertained the highest regard
for Major Mabry, and before the season ended I was fully vindicated
and we were once more fast friends.

In the mean time I was not idle. By the first of July it was known
that three hundred thousand cattle would be the minimum of the
summer's drive to Abilene. My extensive acquaintance among buyers made
my services of value to new drovers. A commission of twenty-five
cents a head was offered me for effecting sales. The first week after
severing my connection with Major Seth my earnings from a single
trade amounted to seven hundred and fifty dollars. Thenceforth I was
launched on a business of my own. Fortune smiled on me, acquaintances
nicknamed me "The Angel," and instead of my foolishness reflecting on
me, it made me a host of friends. Cowmen insisted on my selling their
cattle, shippers consulted me, and I was constantly in demand with
buyers, who wished my opinion on young steers before closing trades.
I was chosen referee in a dozen disputes in classifying cattle, my
decisions always giving satisfaction. Frequently, on an order, I
turned buyer. Northern men seemed timid in relying on their own
judgment of Texas cattle. Often, after a trade was made, the buyer
paid me the regular commission for cutting and receiving, not willing
to risk his judgment on range cattle. During the second week in August
I sold five thousand head and bought fifteen hundred. Every man who
had purchased cattle the year before had made money and was back in
the market for more. Prices were easily advanced as the season wore
on, whole herds were taken by three or four farmers from the corn
regions, and the year closed with a flourish. In the space of four
months I was instrumental in selling, buying, cutting, or receiving
a few over thirty thousand head, on all of which I received a

I established a camp of my own during the latter part of August. In
order to avoid night-herding his cattle the summer before, some one
had built a corral about ten miles northeast of Abilene. It was a
temporary affair, the abrupt, bluff banks of a creek making a perfect
horseshoe, requiring only four hundred feet of fence across the neck
to inclose a corral of fully eight acres. The inclosure was not in
use, so I hired three men and took possession of it for the time
being. I had noticed in previous years that when a drover had sold all
his herd but a remnant, he usually sacrificed his culls in order to
reduce the expense of an outfit and return home. I had an idea that
there was money in buying up these remnants and doing a small jobbing
business. Frequently I had as many as seven hundred cull cattle on
hand. Besides, I was constantly buying and selling whole remudas of
saddle horses. So when a drover had sold all but a few hundred cattle
he would come to me, and I would afford him the relief he wanted.
Cripples and sore-footed animals were usually thrown in for good
measure, or accepted at the price of their hides. Some buyers demanded
quality and some cared only for numbers. I remember effecting a sale
of one hundred culls to a settler, southeast on the Smoky River, at
seven dollars a head. The terms were that I was to cut out the cattle,
and as many were cripples and cost me little or nothing, they afforded
a nice profit besides cleaning up my herd. When selling my own, I
always priced a choice of my cattle at a reasonable figure, or offered
to cull out the same number at half the price. By this method my herd
was kept trimmed from both ends and the happy medium preserved.

I love to think of those good old days. Without either foresight or
effort I made all kinds of money during the summer of 1870. Our best
patrons that fall were small ranchmen from Kansas and Nebraska, every
one of whom had coined money on their purchases of the summer before.
One hundred per cent for wintering a steer and carrying him less than
a year had brought every cattleman and his cousin back to Abilene to
duplicate their former ventures. The little ranchman who bought five
hundred steers in the fall of 1869 was in the market the present
summer for a thousand head. Demand always seemed to meet supply a
little over half-way. The market closed firm, with every hoof taken
and at prices that were entirely satisfactory to drovers. It would
seem an impossibility were I to admit my profits for that year, yet at
the close of the season I started overland to Texas with fifty choice
saddle horses and a snug bank account. Surely those were the golden
days of the old West.

My last act before leaving Abilene that fall was to meet my enemy and
force a personal settlement. Major Mabry washed his hands by firmly
refusing to name my accuser, but from other sources I traced my
defamer to a liveryman of the town. The fall before, on four horses
and saddles, I paid a lien, in the form of a feed bill, of one hundred
and twenty dollars for my stranded friends. The following day the same
man presented me another bill for nearly an equal amount, claiming
it had been assigned to him in a settlement with other parties. I
investigated the matter, found it to be a disputed gambling account,
and refused payment. An attempt was made, only for a moment, to hold
the horses, resulting in my incurring the stableman's displeasure. The
outcome was that on our return the next spring our patronage went
to another _bran_, and the story, born in malice and falsehood, was
started between employer and employee. I had made arrangements to
return to Texas with the last one of Major Mabry's outfits, and the
wagon and remuda had already started, when I located my traducer in a
well-known saloon. I invited him to a seat at a table, determined to
bring matters to an issue. He reluctantly complied, when I branded him
with every vile epithet that my tongue could command, concluding by
arraigning him as a coward. I was hungering for him to show some
resistance, expecting to kill him, and when he refused to notice my
insults, I called the barkeeper and asked for two glasses of whiskey
and a pair of six-shooters. Not a word passed between us until the
bartender brought the drinks and guns on a tray. "Now take your
choice," said I. He replied, "I believe a little whiskey will do me



The homeward trip was a picnic. Counting mine, we had one hundred and
fifty saddle horses. All surplus men in the employ of Major Mabry had
been previously sent home until there remained at the close of the
season only the drover, seven men, and myself. We averaged forty miles
a day returning, sweeping down the plains like a north wind until Red
River Station was reached. There our ways parted, and cutting separate
my horses, we bade each other farewell, the main outfit heading for
Fort Worth, while I bore to the westward for Palo Pinto. Major Seth
was anxious to secure my services for another year, but I made
no definite promises. We parted the best of friends. There were
scattering ranches on my route, but driving fifty loose horses made
traveling slow, and it was nearly a week before I reached the Edwards

The branding season was nearly over. After a few days' rest, an outfit
of men was secured, and we started for my little ranch on the Clear
Fork. Word was sent to the county seat, appointing a date with the
surveyor, and on arriving at the new ranch I found that the corrals
had been in active use by branding parties. We were soon in the thick
of the fray, easily holding our own, branding every maverick on the
range as well as catching wild cattle. My weakness for a good horse
was the secret of much of my success in ranching during the early
days, for with a remuda of seventy picked horses it was impossible for
any unowned animal to escape us. Our drag-net scoured the hills and
valleys, and before the arrival of the surveyor we had run the "44"
on over five hundred calves, mavericks, and wild cattle. Different
outfits came down the Brazos and passed up the Clear Fork, always
using my corrals when working in the latter valley. We usually joined
in with these cow-hunting parties, extending to them every possible
courtesy, and in return many a thrifty yearling was added to my brand.
Except some wild-cattle hunting which we had in view, every hoof was
branded up by the time the surveyor arrived at the ranch.

The locating of twenty sections of land was an easy matter. We had
established corners from which to work, and commencing on the west end
of my original location, we ran off an area of country, four miles
west by five south. New outside corners were established with
buried charcoal and stakes, while the inner ones were indicated by
half-buried rock, nothing divisional being done except to locate the
land in sections. It was a beautiful tract, embracing a large bend of
the Clear Fork, heavily timbered in several places, the soil being of
a rich, sandy loam and covered with grass. I was proud of my landed
interest, though small compared to modern ranches; and after the
surveying ended, we spent a few weeks hunting out several rendezvous
of wild cattle before returning to the Edwards ranch.

I married during the holidays. The new ranch was abandoned during the
winter months, as the cattle readily cared for themselves, requiring
no attention. I now had a good working capital, and having established
myself by marriage into a respectable family of the country, I found
several avenues open before me. Among the different openings for
attractive investment was a brand of cattle belonging to an estate
south in Comanche County. If the cattle were as good as represented
they were certainly a bargain, as the brand was offered straight
through at four dollars and a half a head. It was represented that
nothing had been sold from the brand in a number of years, the estate
was insolvent, and the trustee was anxious to sell the entire stock
outright. I was impressed with the opportunity, and early in the
winter George Edwards and I rode down to look the situation over. By
riding around the range a few days we were able to get a good idea of
the stock, and on inquiry among neighbors and men familiar with the
brand, I was satisfied that the cattle were a bargain. A lawyer at the
county seat was the trustee, and on opening negotiations with him it
was readily to be seen that all he knew about the stock was that shown
by the books and accounts. According to the branding for the past few
years, it would indicate a brand of five or six thousand cattle. The
only trouble in trading was to arrange the terms, my offer being half
cash and the balance in six months, the cattle to be gathered early
the coming spring. A bewildering list of references was given and we
returned home. Within a fortnight a letter came from the trustee,
accepting my offer and asking me to set a date for the gathering. I
felt positive that the brand ought to run forty per cent steer
cattle, and unless there was some deception, there would be in the
neighborhood of two thousand head fit for the trail. I at once bought
thirty more saddle horses, outfitted a wagon with oxen to draw it,
besides hiring fifteen cow-hands. Early in March we started for
Comanche County, having in the mean time made arrangements with the
elder Edwards to supply one thousand head of trail cattle, intended
for the Kansas market.

An early spring favored the work. By the 10th of the month we were
actively engaged in gathering the stock. It was understood that we
were to have the assistance of the ranch outfit in holding the cattle,
but as they numbered only half a dozen and were miserably mounted,
they were of little use except as herders. All the neighboring ranches
gave us round-ups, and by the time we reached the home range of the
brand I was beginning to get uneasy on account of the numbers under
herd. My capital was limited, and if we gathered six thousand head it
would absorb my money. I needed a little for expenses on the trail,
and too many cattle would be embarrassing. There was no intention on
my part to act dishonestly in the premises, even if we did drop out
any number of yearlings during the last few days of the gathering. It
was absolutely necessary to hold the numbers down to five thousand
head, or as near that number as possible, and by keeping the ranch
outfit on herd and my men out on round-ups, it was managed quietly,
though we let no steer cattle two years old or over escape. When the
gathering was finished, to the surprise of every one the herd counted
out fifty-six hundred and odd cattle. But the numbers were still
within the limits of my capital, and at the final settlement I asked
the privilege of cutting out and leaving on the range one hundred head
of weak, thin stock and cows heavy in calf. I offered to tally-mark
and send after them during the fall branding, when the trustee begged
me to make him an offer on any remnant of cattle, making me full owner
of the brand. I hesitated to involve myself deeper in debt, but when
he finally offered me the "Lazy L" brand outright for the sum of one
thousand dollars, and on a credit, I never stuttered in accepting his

I culled back one hundred before starting, there being no occasion now
to tally-mark, as I was in full possession of the brand. This amount
of cattle in one herd was unwieldy to handle. The first day's drive we
scarcely made ten miles, it being nearly impossible to water such an
unmanageable body of animals, even from a running stream. The second
noon we cut separate all the steers two years old and upward, finding
a few under twenty-three hundred in the latter class. This left three
thousand and odd hundred in the mixed herd, running from yearlings to
old range bulls. A few extra men were secured, and some progress was
made for the next few days, the steers keeping well in the lead, the
two herds using the same wagon, and camping within half a mile of each
other at night. It was fully ninety miles to the Edwards ranch; and
when about two thirds the distance was covered, a messenger met us
and reported the home cattle under herd and ready to start. It still
lacked two days of the appointed time for our return, but rather than
disappoint any one, I took seven men and sixty horses with the lead
herd and started in to the ranch, leaving the mixed cattle to follow
with the wagon. We took a day's rations on a pack horse, touched at a
ranch, and on the second evening reached home. My contingent to the
trail herd would have classified approximately seven hundred twos, six
hundred threes, and one thousand four years old or over.

The next morning the herd started up the trail under George Edwards
as foreman. It numbered a few over thirty-three hundred head and had
fourteen men, all told, and ninety-odd horses, with four good mules to
a new wagon. I promised to overtake them within a week, and the same
evening rejoined the mixed herd some ten miles back down the country.
Calves were dropping at an alarming rate, fully twenty of them were in
the wagon, their advent delaying the progress of the herd. By dint of
great exertion we managed to reach the ranch the next evening, where
we lay over a day and rigged up a second wagon, purposely for calves.
It was the intention to send the stock cattle to my new ranch on the
Clear Fork, and releasing all but four men, the idle help about the
home ranch were substituted. In moving cattle from one range to
another, it should always be done with the coming of grass, as it
gives them a full summer to locate and become attached to their new
range. When possible, the coming calf crop should be born where the
mothers are to be located, as it strengthens the ties between an
animal and its range by making sacred the birthplace of its young.
From instinctive warnings of maternity, cows will frequently return to
the same retreat annually to give birth to their calves.

It was about fifty miles between the home and the new ranch. As it was
important to get the cattle located as soon as possible, they were
accordingly started with but the loss of a single day. Two wagons
accompanied them, every calf was saved, and by nursing the herd early
and late we managed to average ten miles between sunrise and sunset.
The elder Edwards, anxious to see the new ranch, accompanied us, his
patience with a cow being something remarkable. When we lacked but a
day's drive of the Clear Fork it was considered advisable for me
to return. Once the cattle reached the new range, four men would
loose-herd them for a month, after which they would continue to ride
the range and turn back all stragglers. The veteran cowman assumed
control, and I returned to the home ranch, where a horse had been left
on which to overtake the trail herd. My wife caught several glimpses
of me that spring; with stocking a new ranch and starting a herd on
the trail I was as busy as the proverbial cranberry-merchant. Where
a year before I was moneyless, now my obligations were accepted for
nearly fourteen thousand dollars.

I overtook the herd within one day's drive of Red River. Everything
was moving nicely, the cattle were well trail-broken, not a run had
occurred, and all was serene and lovely. We crossed into the Nations
at the regular ford, nothing of importance occurring until we reached
the Washita River. The Indians had been bothering us more or less, but
we brushed them aside or appeased their begging with a stray beef.
At the crossing of the Washita quite an encampment had congregated,
demanding six cattle and threatening to dispute our entrance to the
ford. Several of the boys with us pretended to understand the sign
language, and this resulted in an animosity being engendered between
two of the outfit over interpreting a sign made by a chief. After we
had given the Indians two strays, quite a band of bucks gathered on
foot at the crossing, refusing to let us pass until their demand had
been fulfilled. We had a few carbines, every lad had a six-shooter or
two, and, summoning every mounted man, we rode up to the ford. The
braves outnumbered us about three to one, and it was easy to be seen
that they had bows and arrows concealed under their blankets. I was
determined to give up no more cattle, and in the powwow that followed
the chief of the band became very defiant. I accused him and his band
of being armed, and when he denied it one of the boys jumped a horse
against the chief, knocking him down. In the melee, the leader's
blanket was thrown from him, exposing a strung bow and quiver of
arrows, and at the same instant every man brought his carbine or
six-shooter to bear on the astonished braves. Not a shot was fired,
nor was there any further resistance offered on the part of the
Indians; but as they turned to leave the humiliated chief pointed to
the sun and made a circle around his head as if to indicate a threat
of scalping.

It was in interpreting this latter sign that the dispute arose between
two of the outfit. One of the boys contended that I was to be scalped
before the sun set, while the other interpreted the threat that we
would all he scalped before the sun rose again. Neither version
troubled me, but the two fellows quarreled over the matter while
returning to the herd, until the lie was passed and their six-shooters
began talking. Fortunately they were both mounted on horses that were
gun-shy, and with the rearing and plunging the shots went wild. Every
man in the outfit interfered, the two fellows were disarmed, and we
started on with the cattle. No interference was offered by the Indians
at the ford, the guards were doubled that night, and the incident was
forgotten within a week. I simply mention this to give some idea of
the men of that day, willing to back their opinions, even on trivial
matters, with their lives. "I'm the quickest man on the trigger that
ever came over the trail," said a cowpuncher to me one night in a
saloon in Abilene. "You're a blankety blank liar," said a quiet little
man, a perfect stranger to both of us, not even casting a glance our
way. I wrested a six-shooter from the hand of my acquaintance
and hustled him out of the house, getting roundly cursed for my
interference, though no doubt I saved human life.

On reaching Stone's Store, on the Kansas line, I left the herd to
follow, and arrived at Abilene in two days and a half. Only some
twenty-five herds were ahead of ours, though I must have passed a
dozen or more in my brief ride, staying over night with them and
scarcely ever missing a meal on the road. My motive in reaching
Abilene in advance of our cattle was to get in touch with the market,
secure my trading-corrals again, and perfect my arrangements to do a
commission business. But on arriving, instead of having the field to
myself, I found the old corrals occupied by a trio of jobbers, while
two new ones had been built within ten miles of town, and half a dozen
firms were offering their services as salesmen. There was a lack of
actual buyers, at least among my acquaintances, and the railroads had
adjusted their rates, while a largely increased drive was predicted.
The spring had been a wet one, the grass was washy and devoid of
nutriment, and there was nothing in the outlook of an encouraging
nature. Yet the majority of the drovers were very optimistic of the
future, freely predicting better prices than ever before, while many
declared their intention of wintering in case their hopes were not
realized. By the time our herd arrived, I had grown timid of the
market in general and was willing to sell out and go home. I make
no pretension to having any extra foresight, probably it was my
outstanding obligations in Texas that fostered my anxiety, but I was
prepared to sell to the first man who talked business.

Our cattle arrived in good condition. The weather continued wet and
stormy, the rank grass harbored myriads of flies and mosquitoes, and
the through cattle failed to take on flesh as in former years. Rival
towns were competing for the trail business, wintered cattle were
lower, and a perfect chaos existed as to future prices, drovers
bolstering and pretended buyers depressing them. Within a week after
their arrival I sold fifteen hundred of our heaviest beeves to an army
contractor from Fort Russell in Dakota. He had brought his own outfit
down to receive the cattle, and as his contract called for a million
and a half pounds on foot, I assisted him in buying sixteen hundred
more. The contractor was a shrewd Yankee, and although I admitted
having served in the Confederate army, he offered to form a
partnership with me for supplying beef to the army posts along the
upper Missouri River. He gave me an insight into the profits in that
particular trade, and even urged the partnership, but while the
opportunity was a golden one, I was distrustful of a Northern man
and declined the alliance. Within a year I regretted not forming the
partnership, as the government was a stable patron, and my adopted
State had any quantity of beef cattle.

My brother paid me a visit during the latter part of June. We had not
seen each other in five years, during which time he had developed into
a prosperous stockman, feeding cattle every winter on his Missouri
farm. He was anxious to interest me in corn-feeding steers, but I had
my hands full at home, and within a week he went on west and bought
two hundred Colorado natives, shipping them home to feed the coming
winter. Meanwhile a perfect glut of cattle was arriving at Abilene,
fully six hundred thousand having registered at Stone's Store on
passing into Kansas, yet prices remained firm, considering the
condition of the stock. Many drovers halted only a day or two, and
turned westward looking for ranges on which to winter their herds.
Barely half the arrivals were even offered, which afforded fair prices
to those who wished to sell. Before the middle of July the last of
ours was closed out at satisfactory prices, and the next day the
outfit started home, leaving me behind. I was anxious to secure an
extra remuda of horses, and, finding no opposition in that particular
field, had traded extensively in saddle stock ever since my arrival
at Abilene. Gentle horses were in good demand among shippers and
ranchmen, and during my brief stay I must have handled a thousand
head, buying whole remudas and retailing in quantities to suit, not
failing to keep the choice ones for my own use. Within two weeks after
George Edwards started home, I closed up my business, fell in with a
returning outfit, and started back with one hundred and ten picked
saddle horses. After crossing Red River, I hired a boy to assist me
in driving the remuda, and I reached home only ten days behind the

I was now the proud possessor of over two hundred saddle horses which
had actually cost me nothing. To use a borrowed term, they were the
"velvet" of my trading operations. I hardly feel able to convey an
idea of the important role that the horses play in the operations of
a cowman. Whether on the trail or on the ranch, there is a complete
helplessness when the men are not properly mounted and able to cope
with any emergency that may arise. On the contrary, and especially
in trail work, when men are well mounted, there is no excuse for not
riding in the lead of any stampede, drifting with the herd on the
stormiest night, or trailing lost cattle until overtaken. Owing to
the nature of the occupation, a man may be frequently wet, cold, and
hungry, and entitled to little sympathy; but once he feels that he is
no longer mounted, his grievance becomes a real one. The cow-horse
subsisted on the range, and if ever used to exhaustion was worthless
for weeks afterward. Hence the value of a good mount in numbers, and
the importance of frequent changes when the duties were arduous. The
importance of good horses was first impressed on me during my trips to
Fort Sumner, and I then resolved that if fortune ever favored me to
reach the prominence of a cowman, the saddle stock would have my first

On my return it was too early for the fall branding. I made a trip out
to the new ranch, taking along ample winter supplies, two extra lads,
and the old remuda of sixty horses. The men had located the new cattle
fairly well, the calf crop was abundant, and after spending a week I
returned home. I had previously settled my indebtedness in Comanche
County by remittances from Abilene, and early in the fall I made up an
outfit to go down and gather the remnant of "Lazy L" cattle. Taking
along the entire new remuda, we dropped down in advance of the
branding season, visited among the neighboring ranches, and offered a
dollar a head for solitary animals that had drifted any great distance
from the range of the brand. A camp was established at some corrals on
the original range, extra men were employed with the opening of the
branding season, and after twenty days' constant riding we started
home with a few over nine hundred head, not counting two hundred and
odd calves. Little wonder the trustee threatened to sue me; but then
it was his own proposition.

On arriving at the Edwards ranch, we halted a few days in order to
gather the fruits of my first mavericking. The fall work was nearly
finished, and having previously made arrangements to put my brand
under herd, we received two hundred and fifty more, with seventy-five
thrifty calves, before proceeding on to the new ranch on the Clear
Fork. On arriving there we branded the calves, put the two brands
under herd, corralling them at night and familiarizing them with their
new home, and turning them loose at the end of two weeks. Moving
cattle in the fall was contrary to the best results, but it was an
idle time, and they were all young stuff and easily located. During
the interim of loose-herding this second contingent of stock cattle,
the branding had been finished on the ranch, and I was able to take an
account of my year's work. The "Lazy L" was continued, and from that
brand alone there was an increase of over seventeen hundred calves.
With all the expenses of the trail deducted, the steer cattle alone
had paid for the entire brand, besides adding over five thousand
dollars to my cash capital. Who will gainsay my statement that Texas
was a good country in the year 1871?



Success had made me daring. And yet I must have been wandering
aimlessly, for had my ambition been well directed, there is no telling
to what extent I might have amassed a fortune. Opportunity was
knocking at my gate, a giant young commonwealth was struggling in the
throes of political revolution, while I wandered through it all like
a blind man led by a child. Precedent was of little value, as present
environment controlled my actions. The best people in Texas were
doubtful of ever ridding themselves of the baneful incubus of
Reconstruction. Men on whose judgment I relied laughed at me for
acquiring more land than a mere homestead. Stock cattle were in such
disrepute that they had no cash value. Many a section of deeded land
changed owners for a milk cow, while surveyors would no longer locate
new lands for the customary third, but insisted on a half interest.
Ranchmen were so indifferent that many never went off their home range
in branding the calf crop, not considering a ten or twenty per
cent loss of any importance. Yet through it all--from my Virginia
rearing--there lurked a wavering belief that some day, in some manner,
these lands and cattle would have a value. But my faith was neither
the bold nor the assertive kind, and I drifted along, clinging to any
passing straw of opinion.

The Indians were still giving trouble along the Texas frontier. A line
of government posts, extending from Red River on the north to the Rio
Grande on the south, made a pretense of holding the Comanches and
their allies in check, while this arm of the service was ably seconded
by the Texas Rangers. Yet in spite of all precaution, the redskins
raided the settlements at their pleasure, stealing horses and adding
rapine and murder to their category of crimes. Hence for a number of
years after my marriage we lived at the Edwards ranch as a matter of
precaution against Indian raids. I was absent from home so much that
this arrangement suited me, and as the new ranch was distant but a
day's ride, any inconvenience was more than recompensed in security.
It was my intention to follow the trail and trading, at the same time
running a ranch where anything unfit for market might be sent to
mature or increase. As long as I could add to my working capital, I
was content, while the remnants of my speculations found a refuge on
the Clear Fork.

During the winter of 1871-72 very little of importance transpired.
Several social letters passed between Major Mabry and myself, in one
of which he casually mentioned the fact that land scrip had declined
until it was offered on the streets of the capital as low as twenty
dollars a section. He knew I had been dabbling in land certificates,
and in a friendly spirit wanted to post me on their decline, and had
incidentally mentioned the fact for my information. Some inkling
of horse sense told me that I ought to secure more land, and after
thinking the matter over, I wrote to a merchant in Austin, and had him
buy me one hundred sections. He was very anxious to purchase a second
hundred at the same figure, but it would make too serious an inroad
into my trading capital, and I declined his friendly assistance. My
wife was the only person whom I took into confidence in buying the
scrip, and I even had her secrete it in the bottom of a trunk, with
strict admonitions never to mention it unless it became of value. It
was not taxable, the public domain was bountiful, and I was young
enough man those days to bide my time.

The winter proved a severe one in Kansas. Nearly every drover who
wintered his cattle in the north met with almost complete loss. The
previous summer had been too wet for cattle to do well, and they
had gone into winter thin in flesh. Instead of curing like hay, the
buffalo grass had rotted from excessive rains, losing its nutritive
qualities, and this resulted in serious loss among all range cattle.
The result was financial ruin to many drovers, and even augured a
lighter drive north the coming spring. Early in the winter I bought
two brands of cattle in Erath County, paying half cash and getting six
months' time on the remainder. Both brands occupied the same range,
and when we gathered them in the early spring, they counted out a
few over six thousand animals. These two contingents were extra good
cattle, costing me five dollars a head, counting yearlings up, and
from them I selected two thousand steer cattle for the trail. The
mixed stuff was again sent to my Clear Fork ranch, and the steers went
into a neighborhood herd intended for the Kansas market. But when the
latter was all ready to start, such discouraging reports came down
from the north that my friends weakened, and I bought their cattle

My reputation as a good trader was my capital. I had the necessary
horses, and, straining my credit, the herd started thirty-one hundred
strong. The usual incidents of flood and storm, of begging Indians
and caravans like ourselves, formed the chronicle of the trip. Before
arriving at the Kansas line we were met by solicitors of rival towns,
each urging the advantages of their respective markets for our cattle.
The summer before a small business had sprung up at Newton, Kansas, it
being then the terminal of the Santa Fe Railway. And although Newton
lasted as a trail town but a single summer, its reputation for
bloodshed and riotous disorder stands notoriously alone among its
rivals. In the mean time the Santa Fe had been extended to Wichita on
the Arkansas River, and its representatives were now bidding for our
patronage. Abilene was abandoned, yet a rival to Wichita had sprung up
at Ellsworth, some sixty-five miles west of the former market, on the
Kansas Pacific Railway. The railroads were competing for the cattle
traffic, each one advertising its superior advantages to drovers,
shippers, and feeders. I was impartial, but as Wichita was fully one
hundred miles the nearest, my cattle were turned for that point.

Wichita was a frontier village of about two thousand inhabitants. We
found a convenient camp northwest of town, and went into permanent
quarters to await the opening of the market. Within a few weeks
a light drive was assured, and prices opened firm. Fully a
quarter-million less cattle would reach the markets within the State
that year, and buyers became active in securing their needed supply.
Early in July I sold the last of my herd and started my outfit home,
remaining behind to await the arrival of my brother. The trip was
successful; the purchased cattle had afforded me a nice profit, while
the steers from the two brands had more than paid for the mixed stuff
left at home on the ranch. Meanwhile I renewed old acquaintances among
drovers and dealers, Major Mabry among the former. In a confidential
mood I confessed to him that I had bought, on the recent decline, one
hundred certificates of land scrip, when he surprised me by saying
that there had been a later decline to sixteen dollars a section. I
was unnerved for an instant, but Major Mabry agreed with me that to a
man who wanted the land the price was certainly cheap enough,--two
and a half cents an acre. I pondered over the matter, and as my nerve
returned I sent my merchant friend at Austin a draft and authorized
him to buy me two hundred sections more of land scrip. I was actually
nettled to think that my judgment was so short-sighted as to buy
anything that would depreciate in value.

My brother arrived and reported splendid success in feeding Colorado
cattle. He was anxious to have me join forces with him and corn-feed
an increased number of beeves the coming winter on his Missouri farm.
My judgment hardly approved of the venture, but when he urged a
promised visit of our parents to his home, I consented and agreed
to furnish the cattle. He also encouraged me to bring as many as my
capital would admit of, assuring me that I would find a ready sale for
any surplus among his neighbors. My brother returned to Missouri, and
I took the train for Ellsworth, where I bought a carload of picked
cow-horses, shipping them to Kit Carson, Colorado. From there I
drifted into the Fountain valley at the base of the mountains, where
I made a trade for seven hundred native steers, three and four years
old. They were fine cattle, nearly all reds and roans. While I was
gathering them a number of amusing incidents occurred. The round-ups
carried us down on to the main Arkansas River, and in passing Pueblo
we discovered a number of range cattle impounded in the town. I cannot
give it as a fact, but the supposition among the cowmen was that the
object of the officials was to raise some revenue by distressing the
cattle. The result was that an outfit of men rode into the village
during the night, tore down the pound, and turned the cattle back on
the prairie. The prime movers in the raid were suspected, and the next
evening when a number of us rode into town an attempt was made to
arrest us, resulting in a fight, in which an officer was killed and
two cowboys wounded. The citizens rallied to the support of the
officers, and about thirty range men, including myself, were arrested
and thrown into jail. We sent for a lawyer, and the following morning
the majority of us were acquitted. Some three or four of the boys were
held for trial, bonds being furnished by the best men in the town, and
that night a party of cowboys reentered the village, carried away the
two wounded men and spirited them out of the country.

Pueblo at that time was a unique town. Live-stock interests were its
main support, and I distinctly remember Gann's outfitting store. At
night one could find anywhere from ten to thirty cowboys sleeping on
the counters, the proprietor turning the keys over to them at closing
time, not knowing one in ten, and sleeping at his own residence. The
same custom prevailed at Gallup the saddler's, never an article being
missed from either establishment, and both men amassing fortunes out
of the cattle trade in subsequent years. The range man's patronage had
its peculiarities; the firm of Wright, Beverly & Co. of Dodge City,
Kansas, accumulated seven thousand odd vests during the trail days.
When a cow-puncher bought a new suit he had no use for an unnecessary
garment like a vest and left it behind. It was restored to the stock,
where it can yet be found.

Early in August the herd was completed. I accepted seven hundred and
twenty steers, investing every cent of spare money, reserving only
sufficient to pay my expenses en route. It was my intention to drive
the cattle through to Missouri, the distance being a trifle less than
six hundred miles or a matter of six weeks' travel. Four men were
secured, a horse was packed with provisions and blankets, and we
started down the Arkansas River. For the first few days I did very
little but build air castles. I pictured myself driving herds from
Texas in the spring, reinvesting the proceeds in better grades of
cattle and feeding them corn in the older States, selling in time to
again buy and come up the trail. I even planned to send for my wife
and baby, and looked forward to a happy reunion with my parents during
the coming winter, with not a cloud in my roseate sky. But there were
breakers ahead.

An old military trail ran southeast from Fort Larned to other posts in
the Indian Territory. Over this government road had come a number of
herds of Texas cattle, all of them under contract, which, in reaching
their destination, had avoided the markets of Wichita and Ellsworth.
I crossed their trail with my Colorado natives,--the through cattle
having passed a month or more before,--never dreaming of any danger.
Ten days afterward I noticed a number of my steers were ailing; their
ears drooped, they refused to eat, and fell to the rear as we grazed
forward. The next morning there were forty head unable to leave the
bed-ground, and by noon a number of them had died. I had heard of
Texas fever, but always treated it as more or less a myth, and now
it held my little herd of natives in its toils. By this time we had
reached some settlement on the Cottonwood, and the pioneer settlers in
Kansas arose in arms and quarantined me. No one knew what the trouble
was, yet the cattle began dying like sheep; I was perfectly helpless,
not knowing which way to turn or what to do. Quarantine was
unnecessary, as within a few days half the cattle were sick, and it
was all we could do to move away from the stench of the dead ones.

A veterinary was sent for, who pronounced it Texas fever. I had
previously cut open a number of dead animals, and found the contents
of their stomachs and manifolds so dry that they would flash and burn
like powder. The fever had dried up their very internals. In the hope
of administering a purgative, I bought whole fields of green corn,
and turned the sick and dying cattle into them. I bought oils by the
barrel, my men and myself worked night and day, inwardly drenching
affected animals, yet we were unable to stay the ravages of death.
Once the cause of the trouble was located,--crossing ground over
which Texas cattle had passed,--the neighbors became friendly, and
sympathized with me. I gave them permission to take the fallen hides,
and in return received many kindnesses where a few days before I had
been confronted by shotguns. This was my first experience with Texas
fever, and the lessons that I learned then and afterward make me
skeptical of all theories regarding the transmission of the germ.

The story of the loss of my Colorado herd is a ghastly one. This fever
is sometimes called splenic, and in the present case, where animals
lingered a week or ten days, while yet alive, their skins frequently
cracked along the spine until one could have laid two fingers in the
opening. The whole herd was stricken, less than half a dozen animals
escaping attack, scores dying within three days, the majority
lingering a week or more. In spite of our every effort to save them,
as many as one hundred died in a single day. I stayed with them for
six weeks, or until the fever had run through the herd, spent my last
available dollar in an effort to save the dumb beasts, and, having my
hopes frustrated, sold the remnant of twenty-six head for five dollars
apiece. I question if they were worth the money, as three fourths of
them were fever-burnt and would barely survive a winter, the only
animals of value being some half dozen which had escaped the general
plague. I gave each of my men two horses apiece, and divided my money
with them, and they started back to Colorado, while I turned homeward
a wiser but poorer man. Whereas I had left Wichita three months
before with over sixteen thousand dollars clear cash, I returned with
eighteen saddle horses and not as many dollars in money.

My air-castles had fallen. Troubles never come singly, and for the
last two weeks, while working with the dying cattle, I had suffered
with chills and fever. The summer had been an unusually wet one,
vegetation had grown up rankly in the valley of the Arkansas, and
after the first few frosts the very atmosphere reeked with malaria.
I had been sleeping on the ground along the river for over a month,
drinking impure water from the creeks, and I fell an easy victim to
the prevailing miasma. Nearly all the Texas drovers had gone home,
but, luckily for me, Jim Daugherty had an outfit yet at Wichita and
invited me to his wagon. It might be a week or ten days before he
would start homeward, as he was holding a herd of cows, sold to an
Indian contractor, who was to receive the same within two weeks. In
the interim of waiting, still suffering from fever and ague, I visited
around among the few other cow-camps scattered up and down the river.
At one of these I met a stranger, a quiet little man, who also had
been under the weather from malaria, but was then recovering. He took
an interest in my case and gave me some medicine to break the chills,
and we visited back and forth. I soon learned that he had come down
with some of his neighbors from Council Grove; that they expected
to buy cattle, and that he was banker for the party. He was much
interested in everything pertaining to Texas; and when I had given him
an idea of the cheapness of lands and live stock in my adopted State,
he expressed himself as anxious to engage in trailing cattle north. A
great many Texas cattle had been matured in his home county, and he
thoroughly understood the advantages of developing southern steers in
a northern climate. Many of his neighbors had made small fortunes
in buying young stock at Abilene, holding them a year or two, and
shipping them to market as fat cattle.

The party bought six hundred two-year-old steers, and my new-found
friend, the banker, invited me to assist in the receiving. My
knowledge of range cattle was a decided advantage to the buyers, who
no doubt were good farmers, yet were sadly handicapped when given pick
and choice from a Texas herd and confined to ages. I cut, counted, and
received the steers, my work giving such satisfaction that the party
offered to pay me for my services. It was but a neighborly act,
unworthy of recompense, yet I won the lasting regard of the banker
in protecting the interests of his customers. The upshot of the
acquaintance was that we met in town that evening and had a few drinks
together. Neither one ever made any inquiry of the other's past
or antecedents, both seeming to be satisfied with a soldier's
acquaintance. At the final parting, I gave him my name and address and
invited him to visit me, promising that we would buy a herd of cattle
together and drive them up the trail the following spring. He accepted
the invitation with a hearty grasp of the hand, and the simple promise
"I'll come." Those words were the beginning of a partnership which
lasted eighteen years, and a friendship that death alone will

The Indian contractor returned on time, and the next day I started
home with Daugherty's outfit. And on the way, as if I were pursued by
some unrelenting Nemesis, two of my horses, with others, were stolen
by the Indians one night when we were encamped near Red River. We
trailed them westward nearly fifty miles, but, on being satisfied they
were traveling night and day, turned back and continued our journey. I
reached home with sixteen horses, which for years afterwards, among
my hands and neighbors, were pointed out as Anthony's thousand-dollar
cow-ponies. There is no denying the fact that I keenly felt the
loss of my money, as it crippled me in my business, while my ranch
expenses, amounting to over one thousand dollars, were unpaid. I was
rich in unsalable cattle, owned a thirty-two-thousand-acre ranch,
saddle horses galore, and was in debt. My wife's trunk was half full
of land scrip, and to have admitted the fact would only have invited
ridicule. But my tuition was paid, and all I asked was a chance, for I
knew the ropes in handling range cattle. Yet this was the second time
that I had lost my money and I began to doubt myself. "You stick to
cows," said Charlie Goodnight to me that winter, "and they'll bring
you out on top some day. I thought I saw something in you when you
first went to work for Loving and me. Reed, if you'll just imbibe a
little caution with your energy, you'll make a fortune out of cattle



I have never forgotten those encouraging words of my first employer.
Friends tided my finances over, and letters passed between my banker
friend and myself, resulting in an appointment to meet him at Fort
Worth early in February. There was no direct railroad at the time, the
route being by St. Louis and Texarkana, with a long trip by stage to
the meeting point. No definite agreement existed between us; he was
simply paying me a visit, with the view of looking into the cattle
trade then existing between our respective States. There was no
obligation whatever, yet I had hopes of interesting him sufficiently
to join issues with me in driving a herd of cattle. I wish I could
describe the actual feelings of a man who has had money and lost
it. Never in my life did such opportunities present themselves for
investment as were tendered to me that winter. No less than half a
dozen brands of cattle were offered to me at the former terms of half
cash and the balance to suit my own convenience. But I lacked the
means to even provision a wagon for a month's work, and I was
compelled to turn my back on all bargains, many of which were
duplicates of my former successes. I was humbled to the very dust; I
bowed my neck to the heel of circumstances, and looked forward to the
coming of my casual acquaintance.

I have read a few essays on the relation of money to a community. None
of our family were ever given to theorizing, yet I know how it feels
to be moneyless, my experience with Texas fever affording me a
post-graduate course. Born with a restless energy, I have lived in the
pit of despair for the want of money, and again, with the use of it,
have bent a legislature to my will and wish. All of which is foreign
to my tale, and I hasten on. During the first week in February I drove
in to Fort Worth to await the arrival of my friend, Calvin Hunter,
banker and stockman of Council Grove, Kansas. Several letters were
awaiting me in the town, notifying me of his progress, and in due time
he arrived and was welcomed. The next morning we started, driving a
good span of mules to a buckboard, expecting to cover the distance to
the Brazos in two days. There were several ranches at which we could
touch, en route, but we loitered along, making wide detours in order
to drive through cattle, not a feature of the country escaping the
attention of my quiet little companion. The soil, the native grasses,
the natural waters, the general topography of the country, rich in
its primal beauty, furnished a panorama to the eye both pleasing and
exhilarating. But the main interest centred in the cattle, thousands
of which were always in sight, lingering along the watercourses or
grazing at random.

We reached the Edwards ranch early the second evening. In the two
days' travel, possibly twenty thousand cattle came under our immediate
observation. All the country was an open range, brands intermingling,
all ages and conditions, running from a sullen bull to seven-year-old
beeves, or from a yearling heifer to the grandmother of younger
generations. My anxiety to show the country and its cattle met a
hearty second in Mr. Hunter, and abandoning the buckboard, we took
horses and rode up the Brazos River as far as old Fort Belknap. All
cattle were wintering strong. Turning south, we struck the Clear Fork
above my range and spent a night at the ranch, where my men had built
a second cabin, connecting the two by a hallway. After riding through
my stock for two days, we turned back for the Brazos. My ranch hands
had branded thirty-one hundred calves the fall before, and while
riding over the range I was delighted to see so many young steers in
my different brands. But our jaunt had only whetted the appetite of
my guest to see more of the country, and without any waste of time we
started south with the buckboard, going as far as Comanche County.
Every day's travel brought us in contact with cattle for sale; the
prices were an incentive, but we turned east and came back up the
valley of the Brazos. I offered to continue our sightseeing, but
my guest pleaded for a few days' time until he could hear from his
banking associates. I needed a partner and needed one badly, and
was determined to interest Mr. Hunter if it took a whole month. And
thereby hangs a tale.

The native Texan is not distinguished for energy or ambition. His
success in cattle is largely due to the fact that nearly all the work
can be done on horseback. Yet in that particular field he stands at
the head of his class; for whether in Montana or his own sunny Texas,
when it comes to handling cattle, from reading brands to cutting a
trainload of beeves, he is without a peer. During the palmy days of
the Cherokee Strip, a Texan invited Captain Stone, a Kansas City man,
to visit his ranch in Tom Green County and put up a herd of steers to
be driven to Stone's beef ranch in the Cherokee Outlet. The invitation
was accepted, and on the arrival of the Kansas City man at the Texan's
ranch, host and guest indulged in a friendly visit of several days'
duration. It was the northern cowman's first visit to the Lone Star
State, and he naturally felt impatient to see the cattle which he
expected to buy. But the host made no movement to show the stock
until patience ceased to be a virtue, when Captain Stone moved an
adjournment of the social session and politely asked to be shown a
sample of the country's cattle. The two cowmen were fast friends, and
no offense was intended or taken; but the host assured his guest
there was no hurry, offering to get up horses and show the stock
the following day. Captain Stone yielded, and the next morning they
started, but within a few miles met a neighbor, when all three
dismounted in the shade of a tree. Commonplace chat of the country
occupied the attention of the two Texans until hunger or some
other warning caused one of them to look at his watch, when it was
discovered to be three o'clock in the afternoon. It was then too late
in the day to make an extensive ride, and the ranchman invited his
neighbor and guest to return to the ranch for the night. Another day
was wasted in entertaining the neighbor, the northern cowman, in the
meantime, impatient and walking on nettles until a second start was
made to see the cattle. It was a foggy morning, and they started on
a different route from that previously taken, the visiting ranchman
going along. Unnoticed, a pack of hounds followed the trio of
horsemen, and before the fog lifted a cougar trail was struck and the
dogs opened in a brilliant chorus. The two Texans put spurs to their
horses in following the pack, the cattle buyer of necessity joining
in, the chase leading into some hills, from which they returned after
darkness, having never seen a cow during the day. One trivial incident
after another interfered with seeing the cattle for ten days, when the
guest took his host aside and kindly told him that he must be shown
the cattle or he would go home.

"You're not in a hurry, are you, captain?" innocently asked the Texan.
"All right, then; no trouble to show the cattle. Yes, they run right
around home here within twenty-five miles of the ranch. Show you a
sample of the stock within an hour's ride. You can just bet that old
Tom Green County has got the steers! Sugar, if I'd a-known that you
was in a hurry, I could have shown you the cattle the next morning
after you come. Captain, you ought to know me well enough by this time
to speak your little piece without any prelude. You Yankees are so
restless and impatient that I seriously doubt if you get all the
comfort and enjoyment out of life that's coming to you. Make haste,
some of you boys, and bring in a remuda; Captain Stone and I are going
to ride over on the Middle Fork this morning. Make haste, now; we're
in a hurry."

In due time I suppose I drifted into the languorous ways of the Texan;
but on the occasion of Mr. Hunter's first visit I was in the need of a
moneyed partner, and accordingly danced attendance. Once communication
was opened with his Northern associates, we made several short rides
into adjoining counties, never being gone over two or three days.
When we had looked at cattle to his satisfaction, he surprised me
by offering to put fifty thousand dollars into young steers for the
Kansas trade. I never fainted in my life, but his proposition stunned
me for an instant, or until I could get my bearings. The upshot of
the proposal was that we entered into an agreement whereby I was to
purchase and handle the cattle, and he was to make himself useful
in selling and placing the stock in his State. A silent partner was
furnishing an equal portion of the means, and I was to have a third
of the net profits. Within a week after this agreement was perfected,
things were moving. I had the horses and wagons, men were plentiful,
and two outfits were engaged. Early in March a contract was let in
Parker County for thirty-one hundred two-year-old steers, and another
in Young for fourteen hundred threes, the latter to be delivered at my
ranch. George Edwards was to have the younger cattle, and he and Mr.
Hunter received the same, after which the latter hurried west, fully
ninety miles, to settle for those bought for delivery on the Clear
Fork. In the mean time my ranch outfit had gathered all our steer
cattle two years old and over, having nearly twenty-five hundred head
under herd on my arrival to receive the three-year-olds. This amount
would make an unwieldy herd, and I culled back all short-aged twos and
thin steers until my individual contingent numbered even two thousand.
The contracted steers came in on time, fully up to the specifications,
and my herd was ready to start on the appointed day.

Every dollar of the fifty thousand was invested in cattle, save enough
to provision the wagons en route. My ranch outfit, with the exception
of two men and ten horses, was pressed into trail work as a matter of
economy, for I was determined to make some money for my partners. Both
herds were to meet and cross at Red River Station. The season was
favorable, and everything augured for a prosperous summer. At the
very last moment a cloud arose between Mr. Hunter and me, but happily
passed without a storm. The night before the second herd started, he
and I sat up until a late hour, arranging our affairs, as it was not
his intention to accompany the herds overland. After all business
matters were settled, lounging around a camp-fire, we grew
reminiscent, when the fact developed that my quiet little partner had
served in the Union army, and with the rank of major. I always enjoy a
joke, even on myself, but I flashed hot and cold on this confession.
What! Reed Anthony forming a partnership with a Yankee major? It
seemed as though I had. Fortunately I controlled myself, and under the
excuse of starting the herd at daybreak, I excused myself and sought
my blankets. But not to sleep. On the one hand, in the stillness
of the night and across the years, came the accusing voices of old
comrades. My very wounds seemed to reopen and curse me. Did my
sufferings after Pittsburg Landing mean nothing? A vision of my dear
old mother in Virginia, welcoming me, the only one of her three sons
who returned from the war, arraigned me sorely. And yet, on the other
hand, this man was my guest. On my invitation he had eaten my salt.
For mutual benefit we had entered into a partnership, and I expected
to profit from the investment of his money. More important, he had not
deceived me nor concealed anything; neither did he know that I had
served in the Confederate army. The man was honest. I was anxious to
do right. Soldiers are generous to a foe. While he lay asleep in my
camp, I reviewed the situation carefully, and judged him blameless.
The next morning, and ever afterward, I addressed him by his military
title. Nearly a year passed before Major Hunter knew that he and his
Texas partner had served in the civil war under different flags.

My partner returned to the Edwards ranch and was sent in to Fort
Worth, where he took stage and train for home. The straight
two-year-old herd needed road-branding, as they were accepted in a
score or more brands, which delayed them in starting. Major Hunter
expected to sell to farmers, to whom brands were offensive, and was
therefore opposed to more branding than was absolutely necessary. In
order to overcome this objection, I tally-marked all outside cattle
which went into my herd by sawing from each steer about two inches
from the right horn. As fast as the cattle were received this work was
easily done in a chute, while in case of any loss by stampede the
mark would last for years. The grass was well forward when both herds
started, but on arriving at Red River no less than half a dozen herds
were waterbound, one of which was George Edwards's. A delay of three
days occurred, during which two other herds arrived, when the river
fell, permitting us to cross. I took the lead thereafter, the second
herd half a day to the rear, with the almost weekly incident of being
waterbound by intervening rivers. But as we moved northward the floods
seemed lighter, and on our arrival at Wichita the weather settled into
well-ordered summer.

I secured my camp of the year before. Major Hunter came down by train,
and within a week after our arrival my outfit was settled with and
sent home. It was customary to allow a man half wages returning, my
partner approving and paying the men, also taking charge of all the
expense accounts. Everything was kept as straight as a bank, and with
one outfit holding both herds separate, expenses were reduced to a
minimum. Major Hunter was back and forth, between his home town and
Wichita, and on nearly every occasion brought along buyers, effecting
sales at extra good prices. Cattle paper was considered gilt-edge
security among financial men, and we sold to worthy parties a great
many cattle on credit, the home bank with which my partners were
associated taking the notes at their face. Matters rocked along, we
sold when we had an opportunity, and early in August the remnant of
each herd was thrown together and half the remaining outfit sent home.
A drive of fully half a million cattle had reached Kansas that
year, the greater portion of which had centred at Wichita. We were
persistent in selling, and, having strong local connections, had
sold out all our cattle long before the financial panic of '73 even
started. There was a profitable business, however, in buying herds and
selling again in small quantities to farmers and stockmen. My partners
were anxious to have me remain to the end of the season, doing the
buying, maintaining the camp, and holding any stock on hand. In
rummaging through the old musty account-books, I find that we handled
nearly seven thousand head besides our own drive, fifteen hundred
being the most we ever had on hand at any one time.

My active partner proved a shrewd man in business, and in spite of
the past our friendship broadened and strengthened. Weeks before the
financial crash reached us he knew of its coming, and our house was
set in order. When the panic struck the West we did not own a hoof of
cattle, while the horses on hand were mine and not for sale; and the
firm of Hunter, Anthony & Co. rode the gale like a seaworthy ship. The
panic reached Wichita with over half the drive of that year unsold.
The local banks began calling in money advanced to drovers, buyers
deserted the market, and prices went down with a crash. Shipments of
the best through cattle failed to realize more than sufficient to pay
commission charges and freight. Ruin stared in the face every Texan
drover whose cattle were unsold. Only a few herds were under contract
for fall delivery to Indian and army contractors. We had run from the
approaching storm in the nick of time, even settling with and sending
my outfit home before the financial cyclone reached the prairies
of Kansas. My last trade before the panic struck was an individual
account, my innate weakness for an abundance of saddle horses
asserting itself in buying ninety head and sending them home with my

I now began to see the advantages of shrewd and far-seeing business
associates. When the crash came, scarce a dozen drovers had sold out,
while of those holding cattle at Wichita nearly every one had locally
borrowed money or owed at home for their herds. When the banks,
panic-stricken themselves, began calling in short-time loans, their
frenzy paralyzed the market, many cattle being sacrificed at forced
sale and with scarce a buyer. In the depreciation of values from the
prices which prevailed in the early summer, the losses to the Texas
drovers, caused by the panic, would amount to several million dollars.
I came out of the general wreck and ruin untouched, though personally
claiming no credit, as that must be given my partners. The year
before, when every other drover went home prosperous and happy, I
returned "broke," while now the situation was reversed.

I spent a week at Council Grove, visiting with my business associates.
After a settlement of the year's business, I was anxious to return
home, having agreed to drive cattle the next year on the same terms
and conditions. My partners gave me a cash settlement, and outside
of my individual cattle, I cleared over ten thousand dollars on my
summer's work. Major Hunter, however, had an idea of reentering the
market,--with the first symptom of improvement in the financial
horizon in the East,--and I was detained. The proposition of buying
a herd of cattle and wintering them on the range had been fully
discussed between us, and prices were certainly an incentive to make
the venture. In an ordinary open winter, stock subsisted on the range
all over western Kansas, especially when a dry fall had matured and
cured the buffalo-grass like hay. The range was all one could wish,
and Major Hunter and I accordingly dropped down to Wichita to look the
situation over. We arrived in the midst of the panic and found matters
in a deplorable condition. Drovers besought and even begged us to make
an offer on their herds, while the prevailing prices of a month before
had declined over half. Major Hunter and I agreed that at present
figures, even if half the cattle were lost by a severe winter, there
would still be money in the venture. Through financial connections
East my partners knew of the first signs of improvement in the
money-centres of the country. As I recall the circumstances, the panic
began in the East about the middle of September, and it was the latter
part of October before confidence was restored, or there was any
noticeable change for the better in the monetary situation. But when
this came, it found us busy buying saddle horses and cattle. The great
bulk of the unsold stock consisted of cows, heifers, and young steers
unfit for beef. My partners contended that a three-year-old steer
ought to winter anywhere a buffalo could, provided he had the flesh
and strength to withstand the rigors of the climate. I had no
opinions, except what other cowmen had told me, but was willing to
take the chances where there was a reasonable hope of success.

The first move was to buy an outfit of good horses. This was done by
selecting from half a dozen remudas, a trail wagon was picked up, and
a complement of men secured. Once it was known that we were in the
market for cattle, competition was brisk, the sellers bidding against
each other and fixing the prices at which we accepted the stock. None
but three-year-old steers were taken, and in a single day we closed
trades on five thousand head. I received the cattle, confining my
selections to five road and ten single-ranch brands, as it was not our
intention to rebrand so late in the season. There was nothing to do
but cut, count, and accept, and on the evening of the third day the
herd was all ready to start for its winter range. The wagon had been
well provisioned, and we started southwest, expecting to go into
winter quarters on the first good range encountered. I had taken a
third interest in the herd, paying one sixth of its purchase price,
the balance being carried for me by my partners. Major Hunter
accompanied us, the herd being altogether too large and unwieldy
to handle well, but we grazed it forward with a front a mile wide.
Delightful fall weather favored the cattle, and on the tenth day we
reached the Medicine River, where, by the unwritten law of squatter's
rights, we preempted ten miles of its virgin valley. The country was
fairly carpeted with well-cured buffalo-grass; on the north and west
was a range of sand-dunes, while on the south the country was broken
by deep coulees, affording splendid shelter in case of blizzards or
wintry storms.

A dugout was built on either end of the range. Major Hunter took the
wagon and team and went to the nearest settlement, returning with
a load of corn, having contracted for the delivery of five hundred
bushels more. Meanwhile I was busy locating the cattle, scattering
them sparsely over the surrounding country, cutting them into bunches
of not more than ten to twenty head. Corrals and cosy shelters were
built for a few horses, comfortable quarters for the men, and we
settled down for the winter with everything snug and secure. By the
first of December the force was reduced to four men at each camp, all
of whom were experienced in holding cattle in the winter. Lines giving
ample room to our cattle were established, which were to be ridden
both evening and morning in any and all weather. Two Texans, both
experts as trailers, were detailed to trail down any cattle which left
the boundaries of the range. The weather continued fine, and with the
camps well provisioned, the major and I returned to the railroad and
took train for Council Grove. I was impatient to go home, and took the
most direct route then available. Railroads were just beginning to
enter the West, and one had recently been completed across the eastern
portion of the Indian Territory, its destination being south of Red
River. With nothing but the clothes on my back and a saddle, I
started home, and within twenty-four hours arrived at Denison, Texas.
Connecting stages carried me to Fort Worth, where I bought a saddle
horse, and the next evening I was playing with the babies at the home
ranch. It had been an active summer with me, but success had amply
rewarded my labors, while every cloud had disappeared and the future
was rich in promise.



An open winter favored the cattle on the Medicine River. My partners
in Kansas wrote me encouragingly, and plans were outlined for
increasing our business for the coming summer. There was no activity
in live stock during the winter in Texas, and there would be no
trouble in putting up herds at prevailing prices of the spring before.
I spent an inactive winter, riding back and forth to my ranch, hunting
with hounds, and killing an occasional deer. While visiting at Council
Grove the fall before, Major Hunter explained to our silent partner
the cheapness of Texas lands. Neither one of my associates cared to
scatter their interests beyond the boundaries of their own State, yet
both urged me to acquire every acre of cheap land that my means would
permit. They both recited the history and growth in value of the lands
surrounding The Grove, telling me how cheaply they could have bought
the same ten years before,--at the government price of a dollar and a
quarter an acre,--and that already there had been an advance of four
to five hundred per cent. They urged me to buy scrip and locate land,
assuring me that it was only a question of time until the people
of Texas would arise in their might and throw off the yoke of

At home general opinion was just the reverse. No one cared for more
land than a homestead or for immediate use. No locations had been made
adjoining my ranch on the Clear Fork, and it began to look as if I had
more land than I needed. Yet I had confidence enough in the advice of
my partners to reopen negotiations with my merchant friend at Austin
for the purchase of more land scrip. The panic of the fall before had
scarcely affected the frontier of Texas, and was felt in only a few
towns of any prominence in the State. There had been no money in
circulation since the war, and a financial stringency elsewhere made
little difference among the local people. True, the Kansas cattle
market had sent a little money home, but a bad winter with drovers
holding cattle in the North, followed by a panic, had bankrupted
nearly every cowman, many of them with heavy liabilities in Texas.
There were very few banks in the State, and what little money there
was among the people was generally hoarded to await the dawn of a
brighter day.

My wife tells a story about her father, which shows similar conditions
prevailing during the civil war. The only outlet for cotton in Texas
during the rebellion was by way of Mexico. Matamoros, near the mouth
of the Rio Grande, waxed opulent in its trade of contrabrand cotton,
the Texas product crossing the river anywhere for hundreds of miles
above and being freighted down on the Mexican side to tide-water. The
town did an immense business during the blockade of coast seaports,
twenty-dollar gold pieces being more plentiful then than nickels are
to-day, the cotton finding a ready market at war prices and safe
shipment under foreign flags. My wife's father was engaged in the
trade of buying cotton at interior points, freighting it by ox trains
over the Mexican frontier, and thence down the river to Matamoros.
Once the staple reached neutral soil, it was palmed off as a local
product, and the Federal government dared not touch it, even though
they knew it to be contrabrand of war. The business was transacted in
gold, and it was Mr. Edwards's custom to bury the coin on his return
from each trading trip. My wife, then a mere girl and the oldest
of the children at home, was taken into her father's confidence
in secreting the money. The country was full of bandits, either
government would have confiscated the gold had they known its
whereabouts, and the only way to insure its safety was to bury it.
After several years trading in cotton, Mr. Edwards accumulated
considerable money, and on one occasion buried the treasure at night
between two trees in an adjoining wood. Unexpectedly one day he had
occasion to use some money in buying a cargo of cotton, the children
were at a distant neighbor's, and he went into the woods alone to
unearth the gold. But hogs, running in the timber, had rooted up the
ground in search of edible roots, and Edwards was unable to locate the
spot where his treasure lay buried. Fearful that possibly the money
had been uprooted and stolen, he sent for the girl, who hastily
returned. As my wife tells the story, great beads of perspiration were
dripping from her father's brow as the two entered the woods. And
although the ground was rooted up, the girl pointed out the spot,
midway between two trees, and the treasure was recovered without a
coin missing. Mr. Edwards lost confidence in himself, and thereafter,
until peace was restored, my wife and a younger sister always buried
the family treasure by night, keeping the secret to themselves, and
producing the money on demand.

The merchant at Austin reported land scrip plentiful at fifteen
to sixteen dollars a section. I gave him an order for two hundred
certificates, and he filled the bill so promptly that I ordered
another hundred, bringing my unlocated holdings up to six hundred
sections. My land scrip was a standing joke between my wife and me,
and I often promised her that when we built a house and moved to
the Clear Fork, if the scrip was still worthless she might have the
certificates to paper a room with. They were nicely lithographed, the
paper was of the very best quality, and they went into my wife's trunk
to await their destiny. Had it been known outside that I held such an
amount of scrip, I would have been subjected to ridicule, and no doubt
would have given it to some surveyor to locate on shares. Still I had
a vague idea that land at two and a half cents an acre would never
hurt me. Several times in the past I had needed the money tied up in
scrip, and then I would regret having bought it. After the loss of
my entire working capital by Texas fever, I was glad I had foresight
enough to buy a quantity that summer. And thus I swung like a pendulum
between personal necessities and public opinion; but when those
long-headed Yankee partners of mine urged me to buy land, I felt once
more that I was on the right track and recovered my grasp. I might
have located fifty miles of the valley of the Clear Fork that winter,
but it would have entailed some little expense, the land would then
have been taxable, and I had the use of it without outlay or trouble.

An event of great importance to the people of Texas occurred during
the winter of 1873-74. The election the fall before ended in dispute,
both great parties claiming the victory. On the meeting of the
legislature to canvass the vote, all the negro militia of the
State were concentrated in and around the capitol building. The
Reconstruction regime refused to vacate, and were fighting to
retain control; the best element of the people were asserting in no
unmistakable terms their rights and bloodshed seemed inevitable. The
federal government was appealed to, but refused to interfere. The
legislature was with the people, and when the latter refused to be
intimidated by a display of force, those in possession yielded the
reins, and Governor Coke was inaugurated January 15, 1874; and thus
the prediction of my partners, uttered but a few mouths before, became

Major Hunter came down again about the last of February. Still
unshaken in his confidence in the future of Texas, he complimented me
on securing more land scrip. He had just returned from our camps on
the Medicine River, and reported the cattle coming through in splendid
condition. Gray wolves had harassed the herd during the early winter;
but long-range rifles and poison were furnished, and our men waged a
relentless war on these pirates along the Medicine. Cattle in Texas
had wintered strong, which would permit of active operations beginning
earlier than usual, and after riding the range for a week we were
ready for business. It was well known in all the surrounding country
that we would again be in the market for trail cattle, and offerings
were plentiful. These tenders ran anywhere from stock cattle to heavy
beeves; but the market which we were building up with farmers at
Council Grove required young two and three year old steers. It again
fell to my province to do the buying, and with the number of brands
for sale in the country I expected, with the consent of my partners,
to make a new departure. I was beginning to understand the advantages
of growing cattle. My holdings of mixed stock on the Clear Fork had
virtually cost me nothing, and while they may have been unsalable, yet
there was a steady growth and they were a promising source of income.
From the results of my mavericking and my trading operations I had
been enabled to send two thousand young steers up the trail the spring
before, and the proceeds from their sale had lifted me from the slough
of despond and set me on a financial rock. Therefore my regard for the
eternal cow was enhancing.

Home prices were again ten dollars for two-year-old steers and
twelve for threes. Instead of buying outright at these figures, my
proposition was to buy individually brands of stock cattle, and turn
over all steers of acceptable ages at prevailing prices to the firm of
Hunter, Anthony & Co. in making up trail herds. We had already agreed
to drive ten thousand head that spring, and my active partner readily
saw the advantages that would accrue where one had the range and
outfit to take care of the remnants of mixed stock. My partners were
both straining their credit at home, and since it was immaterial to
them, I was given permission to go ahead. This method of buying
might slightly delay the starting of herds, and rather than do so I
contracted for three thousand straight threes in Erath County. This
herd would start ten days in advance of any other, which would give
us cattle on the market at Wichita with the opening of the season. My
next purchase was two brands whose range was around the juncture of
the main Brazos and Clear Fork, adjoining my ranch. These cattle
were to be delivered at our corrals, as, having received the
three-year-olds from both brands the spring before, I had a good idea
how the stock ought to classify. A third brand was secured up the
Clear Fork, adjacent to my range, supposed to number about three
thousand, from which nothing had been sold in four years. This latter
contingent cost me five dollars a head, but my boys knew the brand
well enough to know that they would run forty per cent steer cattle.
In all three cases I bought all right and title to the brand, giving
them until the last day of March to gather, and anything not tendered
for count on receiving, the tail went with the hide.

From these three brands I expected to make up the second herd easily.
With no market for cattle, it was safe to count on a brand running one
third steers or better, from which I ought to get twenty-five per cent
of age for trail purposes. Long before any receiving began I bought
four more brands outright in adjoining counties, setting the day for
receiving on the 5th of April, everything to be delivered on my ranch
on the Clear Fork. There were fully twenty-five thousand cattle in
these seven brands, and as I had bought them all half cash and the
balance on six months' time, it behooved me to be on the alert and
protect my interests. A trusty man was accordingly sent from my ranch
to assist in the gathering of each of the four outside brands, to be
present at all round-ups, to see that no steer cattle were held back,
and that the dropping calves were cared for and saved. This precaution
was not taken around my ranch, for any animal which failed to be
counted my own men would look out for by virtue of ownership of the
brand. My saddle horses were all in fine condition, and were cut into
remudas of ninety head each, two new wagons were fitted up, and all
was ready to move.

The Erath County herd was to be delivered to us on the 20th of March.
George Edwards was to have charge, and he and Major Hunter started in
ample time to receive the cattle, the latter proving an apt scholar,
while the former was a thorough cowman. In the mean time I had made up
a second outfit, putting a man who had made a number of trips with me
as foreman in charge, and we moved out to the Clear Fork. The first
herd started on the 22d, Major Hunter accompanying it past the Edwards
ranch and then joining us on my range. We had kept in close touch with
the work then in progress along the Brazos and Clear Fork, and it was
probable that we might be able to receive in advance of the appointed
day. Fortunately this happened in two cases, both brands overrunning
all expectations in general numbers and the quantity of steer cattle.
These contingents were met, counted, and received ten miles from the
ranch, nothing but the steers two years old and upward being brought
in to the corrals. The third brand, from west on the Clear Fork, came
in on the dot, and this also surprised me in its numbers of heavy
steer cattle. From the three contingents I received over thirteen
thousand head, nearly four thousand of which were steers of trail age.
On the first day of April we started the second herd of thirty-five
hundred twos and threes, the latter being slightly in the majority,
but we classified them equally. Major Hunter was pleased with the
quality of the cattle, and I was more than satisfied with results, as
I had nearly five hundred heavy steers left which would easily qualify
as beeves. Estimating the latter at what they ought to net me at
Wichita, the remnants of stock cattle cost me about a dollar and a
half a head, while I had received more cash than the amount of the
half payment.

The beef steers were held under herd to await the arrival of the other
contingents. If they fell short in twos and threes, I had hopes of
finding an outlet for my beeves with the last herd. The young stuff
and stock cattle were allowed to drift back on their own ranges, and
we rested on our oars. We had warning of the approach of outside
brands, several arriving in advance of appointment, and they were
received at once. As before, every brand overran expectations, with no
shortage in steers. My men had been wide awake, any number of mature
beeves coming in with the mixed stock. As fast as they arrived we
cut all steers of desirable age into our herd of beeves, sending the
remnant up the river about ten miles to be put under loose herd for
the first month. Fifteen-thousand cattle were tendered in the four
brands, from which we cut out forty-six hundred steers of trail age.
The numbers were actually embarrassing, not in stock cattle, but in
steers, as our trail herd numbered now over five thousand. The outside
outfits were all detained a few days for a settlement, lending their
assistance, as we tally-marked all the stock cattle before sending
them up the river to be put under herd. This work was done in a chute
with branding irons, running a short bar over the holding-brand, the
object being to distinguish animals received then from what might be
gathered afterward. There were nearly one hundred men present, and
with the amount of help available the third herd was ready to start on
the morning of the 6th. It numbered thirty-five hundred, again nearly
equal in twos and threes, my ranch foreman having charge. With the
third herd started, the question arose what to do with the remnant of
a few over sixteen hundred beeves. To turn them loose meant that with
the first norther that blew they would go back to their own range.
Major Hunter suggested that I drive an individual herd. I tried to
sell him an interest in the cattle, but as their ages were unsuited to
his market, he pleaded bankruptcy, yet encouraged me to fill up the
herd and drive them on my own account.

Something had to be done. I bought sixty horses from the different
outfits then waiting for a settlement, adding thirty of my own to the
remuda, made up an outfit from the men present, rigged a wagon, and
called for a general round-up of my range. Two days afterward we had
fifteen hundred younger steers of my own raising in the herd, and on
the 10th of the month the fourth one moved out. A day was lost in
making a general settlement, after which Major Hunter and I rode
through the mixed cattle under herd, finding them contentedly
occupying nearly ten miles of the valley of the Clear Fork. Calves
were dropping at the rate of one hundred a day, two camps of five men
each held them on an ample range, riding lines well back from the
valley. The next morning we turned homeward, passing my ranch and
corrals, which but a few days before were scenes of activity, but now
deserted even by the dogs. From the Edwards ranch we were driven in to
Fort Worth, and by the middle of the month reached Wichita.

No herds were due to arrive for a month. My active partner continued
on to his home at The Grove, and I started for our camps on the
Medicine River. The grass was coming with a rush, the cattle were
beginning to shed their winter coats, and our men assured me that the
known loss amounted to less than twenty head. The boys had spent an
active winter, only a few storms ever bunching the cattle, with less
than half a dozen contingents crossing the established lines. Even
these were followed by our trailers and brought back to their own
range; and together with wolfing the time had passed pleasantly. An
incident occurred at the upper camp that winter which clearly shows
the difference between the cow-hand of that day and the modern
bronco-buster. In baiting for wolves, many miles above our range, a
supposed trail of cattle was cut by one of the boys, who immediately
reported the matter to our Texas trailer at camp. They were not our
cattle to a certainty, yet it was but a neighborly act to catch them,
so the two men took up the trail. From appearances there were not over
fifteen head in the bunch, and before following them many miles, the
trailer became suspicious that they were buffalo and not cattle. He

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