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Reed Anthony, Cowman by Andy Adams

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We were breeding over a thousand half and three-quarters blood bulls
annually, and constantly importing the best strains to the head of
the improved herd. Results were in evidence, and as long as the trail
lasted, my cattle were ready sellers in the upper range markets. For
the following few years I drove my own growing of steers, usually
contracting them in advance. The days of the trail were numbered; 1889
saw the last herd leave Texas, many of the Northern States having
quarantined against us, and we were afterward compelled to ship by
rail in filling contracts on the upper ranges.

When Kansas quarantined against Texas cattle, Dodge was abandoned as
a range market. The trail moved West, first to Lakin and finally to
Trail City, on the Colorado line. In attempting to pass the former
point with four Pan-Handle herds in the spring of 1888, I ran afoul of
a quarantine convention. The cattle were under contract in Wyoming,
and it was my intention not even to halt the herds, but merely to take
on supplies in passing. But a deputation met us south of the river,
notifying me that the quarantine convention was in session, and
requesting me not to attempt to cross the Arkansas. I explained that
my cattle were from above the dead line in Texas, had heretofore gone
unmolested wherever they wished, and that it was out of my way to turn
west and go up through Colorado. The committee was reasonable, looked
over the lead herd, and saw that I was driving graded cattle, and
finally invited me in to state my case before the convention. I
accompanied the men sent to warn me away, and after considerable
parley I was permitted to address the assembly. In a few brief words
I stated my destination, where I was from, and the quality of cattle
making up my herds, and invited any doubters to accompany me across
the river and look the stock over. Fortunately a number of the
cattlemen in the convention knew me, and I was excused while the
assembly went into executive session to consider my case. Prohibition
was in effect at Lakin, and I was compelled to resort to diplomacy in
order to cross the Arkansas River with my cattle. It was warm, sultry
weather in the valley, and my first idea was to secure a barrel of
bottled beer and send it over to the convention, but the town was dry.
I ransacked all the drug stores, and the nearest approach to
anything that would cheer and stimulate was Hostetter's Bitters. The
prohibition laws were being rigidly enforced, but I signed a "death
warrant" and ordered a case, which the druggist refused me until I
explained that I had four outfits of men with me and that we had
contracted malaria while sleeping on the ground. My excuse won, and
taking the case of bitters on my shoulder, I bore it away to the
nearest livery stable, where I wrote a note, with my compliments, and
sent both by a darkey around to the rear door of the convention hall.

On adjournment for dinner, my case looked hopeless. There was a
strong sentiment against admitting any cattle from Texas, all former
privileges were to be set aside, and the right to quarantine against
any section or state was claimed as a prerogative of a free people.
The convention was patiently listening to all the oratorical talent
present, and my friends held out a slender hope that once the
different speakers had relieved their minds they might feel easier
towards me, and possibly an exception would be made in my case. During
the afternoon session I received frequent reports from the convention,
and on the suggestion of a friend I began to skirmish around for a
second case of bitters. There were only three drug stores in the
town, and as I was ignorant of the law, I naturally went back to the
druggist from whom I secured the first case. To my surprise he refused
to supply my wants, and haughtily informed me that one application a
day was all the law permitted him to sell to any one person. Rebuffed,
I turned to another drug store, and was greeted by the proprietor, who
formerly ran a saloon in Dodge. He recognized me, calling me by name;
and after we had pledged our acquaintance anew behind the prescription
case, I was confidentially informed that I could have his whole house
and welcome, even if the State of Kansas did object and he had to go
to jail. We both regretted that the good old days in the State were
gone, but I sent around another case of bitters and a box of cigars,
and sat down patiently to await results. With no action taken by
the middle of the afternoon, I sent around a third installment of
refreshments, and an hour later called in person at the door of the
convention. The doorkeeper refused to admit me, but I caught his eye,
which was glassy, and received a leery wink, while a bottle of bitters
nestled cosily in the open bosom of his shirt. Hopeful that the signs
were favorable, I apologized and withdrew, but was shortly afterwards
sent for and informed that an exception had been made in my favor, and
that I might cross the river at my will and pleasure. In the interim
of waiting, in case I was successful, I had studied up a little speech
of thanks, and as I arose to express my appreciation, a chorus of
interruptions greeted me: "G' on, Reed! G' on, you d----d old
cow-thief! Git out of town or we'll hang you!"

With the trail a thing of the past, I settled down to the peaceful
pursuits of a ranchman. The fencing of ranges soon became necessary,
the Clear Fork tract being first inclosed, and a few years later
owners of pastures adjoining the Double Mountain ranch wished to
fence, and I fell in with the prevailing custom. On the latter range
I hold title to a little over one million acres, while there are two
hundred sections of school land included in my western pasture, on
which I pay a nominal rental for its use. All my cattle are now
graded, and while no effort is made to mature them, the advent of
cotton-seed oil mills and other sources of demand have always afforded
me an outlet for my increase. I have branded as many as twenty-five
thousand calves in a year, and to this source of income alone I
attribute the foundation of my present fortune. As a source of wealth
the progeny of the cow in my State has proven a perennial harvest,
with little or no effort on the part of the husbandman. Reversing
the military rule of moving against the lines of least resistance,
experience has taught me to follow those where Nature lends its
greatest aid. Mine being strictly a grazing country, by preserving the
native grasses and breeding only the best quality of cattle, I have
always achieved success. I have brought up my boys to observe these
economics of nature, and no plow shall ever mar the surface where
my cows have grazed, generation after generation, to the profit and
satisfaction of their owner. Where once I was a buyer in carload lots
of the best strains of blood in the country, now I am a seller by
hundreds and thousands of head, acclimated and native to the soil. One
man to his trade and another to his merchandise, and the mistakes
of my life justly rebuke me for dallying in paths remote from my
legitimate calling.

There is a close relationship between a cowman and his herds. My
insight into cattle character exceeds my observation of the human
family. Therefore I wish to confess my great love for the cattle of
the fields. When hungry or cold, sick or distressed, they express
themselves intelligently to my understanding, and when dangers of
night and storm and stampede threaten their peace and serenity, they
instinctively turn to the refuge of a human voice. When a herd was
bedded at night, and wolves howled in the distance, the boys on guard
easily calmed the sleeping cattle by simply raising their voices in
song. The desire of self-preservation is innate in the animal race,
but as long as the human kept watch and ward, the sleeping cattle had
no fear of the common enemy. An incident which I cannot explain, but
was witness to, occurred during the war. While holding cattle for the
Confederate army we received a consignment of beeves from Texas. One
of the men who accompanied the herd through called my attention to a
steer and vouchsafed the statement that the animal loved music,--that
he could be lured out of the herd with singing. To prove his
assertion, the man sang what he termed the steer's favorite, and to
the surprise of every soldier present, a fine, big mottled beef walked
out from among a thousand others and stood entranced over the simple
song. In my younger days my voice was considered musical; I could sing
the folk-songs of my country better than the average, and when
the herdsmen left us, I was pleased to see that my vocal efforts
fascinated the late arrival from Texas. Within a week I could call him
out with a song, when I fell so deeply in love with the broad-horn
Texan that his life was spared through my disloyalty. In the daily
issue to the army we kept him back as long as possible; but when our
supply was exhausted, and he would have gone to the shambles the
following day, I secretly cut him out at night and drove him miles to
our rear, that his life might be spared. Within a year he returned
with another consignment of beef; comrades who were in the secret
would not believe me; but when a quartette of us army herders sang
"Rock of Ages," the steer walked out and greeted us with mute
appreciation. We enjoyed his company for over a month, I could call
him with a song as far as my voice reached, and when death again
threatened him, we cut him to the rear and he was never spoken again.
Loyal as I was to the South, I would have deserted rather than have
seen that steer go to the shambles.

In bringing these reminiscences to a close, I wish to bear testimony
in behalf of the men who lent their best existence that success
should crown my efforts. Aside from my family, the two pleasantest
recollections of my life are my old army comrades and the boys who
worked with me on the range and trail. When men have roughed it
together, shared their hardships in field and by camp-fire like true
comrades, there is an indescribable bond between them that puts to
shame any pretense of fraternal brotherhood. Among the hundreds, yes,
the thousands, of men who worked for our old firm on the trail, all
feel a pride in referring to former associations. I never leave home
without meeting men, scattered everywhere, many of them prosperous,
who come to me and say, "Of course you don't remember me, but I made
a trip over the trail with your cattle,--from San Saba County in '77.
Jake de Poyster was foreman. By the way, is your old partner, the
little Yankee major, still living?" The acquaintance, thus renewed by
chance, was always a good excuse for neglecting any business, and many
a happy hour have I spent, living over again with one of my old boys
the experiences of the past.

I want to say a parting word in behalf of the men of my occupation.
Sterling honesty was their chief virtue. A drover with an established
reputation could enter any trail town a month in advance of the
arrival of his cattle, and any merchant or banker would extend him
credit on his spoken word. When the trail passed and the romance of
the West was over, these same men were in demand as directors of
banks or custodians of trust funds. They were simple as truth itself,
possessing a rugged sense of justice that seemed to guide and direct
their lives. On one occasion a few years ago, I unexpectedly dropped
down from my Double Mountain ranch to an old cow town on the railroad.
It was our regular business point, and I kept a small bank account
there for current ranch expenses. As it happened, I needed some money,
but on reaching the village found the banks closed, as it was Labor
Day. Casually meeting an old cowman who was a director in the bank
with which I did business, I pretended to take him to task over my
disappointment, and wound up my arraignment by asking, "What kind of a
jim-crow bank are you running, anyhow?"

"Well, now, Reed," said he in apology, "I really don't know why the
bank should close to-day, but there must be some reason for it. I
don't pay much attention to those things, but there's our cashier and
bookkeeper,--you know Hank and Bill,--the boys in charge of the bank.
Well, they get together every once in a while and close her up for
a day. I don't know why they do it, but those old boys have read
history, and you can just gamble your last cow that there's good
reasons for closing."

The fraternal bond between rangemen recalls the sad end of one of my
old trail bosses. The foreman in question was a faithful man, working
for the firm during its existence and afterwards in my employ. I would
have trusted my fortune to his keeping, my family thought the world
of him, and many was the time that he risked his life to protect my
interests. When my wife overlooks the shortcomings of a man, it is
safe to say there is something redeemable in him, even though the
offense is drinking. At idle times and with convivial company, this
man would drink to excess, and when he was in his cups a spirit of
harmless mischief was rampant in him, alternating with uncontrollable
flashes of anger. Though he was usually as innocent as a kitten, it
was a deadly insult to refuse drinking with him, and one day he shot a
circle of holes around a stranger's feet for declining an invitation.
A complaint was lodged against him, and the sheriff, not knowing the
man, thoughtlessly sent a Mexican deputy to make the arrest. Even
then, had ordinary courtesy been extended, the unfortunate occurrence
might have been avoided. But an undue officiousness on the part of the
officer angered the old trail boss, who flashed into a rage, defying
the deputy, and an exchange of shots ensued. The Mexican was killed at
the first fire, and my man mounted his horse unmolested, and returned
to the ranch. I was absent at the time, but my wife advised him to go
in and surrender to the proper authorities, and he obeyed her like a

We all looked upon him as one of the family, and I employed the best
of counsel. The circumstances were against him, however, and in
spite of an able defense he received a sentence of ten years. No one
questioned the justice of the verdict, the law must be upheld, and the
poor fellow was taken to the penitentiary to serve out the sentence.
My wife and I concealed the facts from the younger children, who were
constantly inquiring after his return, especially my younger girls,
with whom he was a great favorite. The incident was worse than a
funeral; it would not die out, as never a day passed but inquiry was
made after the missing man; the children dreamed about him, and awoke
from their sleep to ask if he had come and if he had brought them
anything. The matter finally affected my wife's nerves, the older boys
knew the truth, and the younger children were becoming suspicious of
the veracity of their parents. The truth was gradually leaking out,
and after he had served a year in prison, I began a movement with the
view of securing his pardon. My influence in state politics was
always more or less courted, and appealing to my friends, I drew up
a petition, which was signed by every prominent politician in that
section, asking that executive clemency be extended in behalf of my
old foreman. The governor was a good friend of mine, anxious to
render me a service, and through his influence we managed to have the
sentence so reduced that after serving two years the prisoner was
freed and returned to the ranch. He was the same lovable character,
tolerated by my wife and fondled by the children, and he refused to
leave home for over a year. Ever cautious to remove temptation from
him, both my wife and I hoped that the lesson would last him through
life, but in an unguarded hour he took to drink, and shot to death his
dearest friend.

For the second offense he received a life sentence. My regret over
securing his pardon, and the subsequent loss of human life, affected
me as no other event has ever done in my career. This man would have
died for me or one of mine, and what I thought to be a generous act to
a man in prison proved a curse that haunted me for many years. But all
is well now between us. I make it a point to visit him at least once a
year; we have talked the matter over and have come to the conclusion
that the law is just and that he must remain in confinement the
remainder of his days. That is now the compact, and, strange to say,
both of us derive a sense of security and peace from our covenant such
as we had never enjoyed during the year of his liberty. The wardens
inform me that he is a model prisoner, perfectly content in his
restraint; and I have promised him that on his death, whether it
occurs before or after mine, his remains will be brought back to the
home ranch and be given a quiet grave in some secluded spot.

For any success that I may have achieved, due acknowledgment must be
given my helpmate. I was blessed with a wife such as falls to the lot
of few men. Once children were born to our union and a hearthstone
established, the family became the magnet of my life. It mattered not
where my occupation carried me, or how long my absence from home, the
lodestar of a wife and family was a sustaining help. Our first cabin,
long since reduced to ashes, lives in my memory as a palace. I was
absent at the time of its burning, but my wife's father always enjoyed
telling the story on his daughter. The elder Edwards was branding
calves some five miles distant from the home ranch, but on sighting
the signal smoke of the burning house, he and his outfit turned the
cattle loose, mounted their horses, and rode to the rescue at a
break-neck pace. When they reached the scene our home was enveloped in
flames, and there was no prospect of saving any of its contents. The
house stood some distance from the other ranch buildings, and as there
was no danger of the fire spreading, there was nothing that could be
done and the flames held undisputed sway. The cause of the fire was
unknown, my wife being at her father's house at the time; but on
discovering the flames, she picked up the baby and ran to the burning
cabin, entered it and rescued the little tin trunk that held her
girlhood trinkets and a thousand certificates of questionable land
scrip. When the men dashed up, my wife was sitting on the tin trunk,
surrounded by the children, all crying piteously, fully unconscious
of the fact that she had saved the foundation of my present landed
holdings. The cabin had cost two weeks' labor to build, its
contents were worthless, but I had no record of the numbers of the
certificates, and to my wife's presence of mind or intuition in
an emergency all credit is given for saving the land scrip. Many
daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. The
compiling of these memoirs has been a pleasant task. In this
summing-up of my active life, much has been omitted; and then again,
there seems to have been a hopeless repetition with the recurring
years, for seedtime and harvest come to us all as the seasons roll
round. Four of my boys have wandered far afield, forging out for
themselves, not content to remain under the restraint of older
brothers who have assumed the active management of my ranches. One bad
general is still better than two good ones, and there must be a head
to a ranch if it is to be made a success. I still keep an eye over
things, but the rough, hard work now falls on younger shoulders, and I
find myself delegated to amuse and be amused by the third generation
of the Anthonys. In spite of my years, I still enjoy a good saddle
horse, scarcely a day passing but I ride from ten to twenty miles.
There is a range maxim that "the eyes of the boss make a fat horse,"
and at deliveries of cattle, rounds-ups, and branding, my mere
presence makes things move with alacrity. I can still give the boys
pointers in handling large bodies of cattle, and the ranch outfits
seem to know that we old-time cowmen have little use for the modern
picturesque cowboy, unless he is an all-round man and can deliver the
goods in any emergency.

With but a few years of my allotted span yet to run, I find myself
in the full enjoyment of all my faculties, ready for a romp with my
grandchildren or to crack a joke with a friend. My younger girls are
proving splendid comrades, always ready for a horseback ride or a trip
to the city. It has always been a characteristic of the Anthony family
that they could ride a horse before they could walk, and I find the
third generation following in the footsteps of their elders. My
grandsons were all expert with a rope before they could read, and it
is one of the evidences of a merciful providence that their lives have
been spared, as it is nearly impossible to keep them out of mischief
and danger. To forbid one to ride a certain dangerous horse only
serves to heighten his anxiety to master the outlaw, and to banish
him from the branding pens means a prompt return with or without
an excuse. On one occasion, on the Double Mountain ranch, with the
corrals full of heavy cattle, I started down to the pens, but met two
of my grandsons coming up the hill, and noticed at a glance that there
had been trouble. I stopped the boys and inquired the cause of their
tears, when the youngest, a barefooted, chubby little fellow, said to
me between his sobs, "Grandpa, you'd--you'd--you'd better keep away
from those corrals. Pa's as mad as a hornet, and--and--and he quirted
us--yes, he did. If you fool around down there, he'll--he'll--he'll
just about wear you out."

Should this transcript of my life ever reach the dignity of
publication, the casual reader, in giving me any credit for success,
should bear in mind the opportunities of my time. My lot was cast with
the palmy days of the golden West, with its indefinable charm, now
past and gone and never to return. In voicing this regret, I desire
to add that my mistakes are now looked back to as the chastening
rod, leading me to an appreciation of higher ideals, and the final
testimony that life is well worth the living.

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