HERD ON THE TRAIL -- SWIMMING A RIVER -- STORM AND STAMPEDE -- ARRIVAL IN KANSAS -- APPRECIATIVE FRIENDS OF ABILENE -- EX-GOVERNOR CRAWFORD AND OTHERS -- A CHICAGO SWINDLER -- A POPULAR SCOUNDREL -- NUMBER OF CATTLE DRIVEN 1867 -- WHAT WAS DONE WITH THEM -- BLACKMAILING RAILROAD OFFICIALS -- J. D. REED -- MAJ. SETH MABRY.
We left the herd fairly started upon the trail for the northern market. Of these trails there are several, one leading to Baxter Springs and Chetopa, another called the "old Shawnee trail" leaving Red river and running eastward, crossing the Arkansas not far above Fort Gibson, thence bending westward up the Arkansas river; but the principal trail now traveled is more direct and is known as "Chisholm trail," so named from a semi-civilized Indian who is said to have traveled it first. It is more direct, has more prairie, less timber, more small streams and less large ones, and altogether better grass and fewer flies -- no civilized Indian tax or wild Indian disturbances -- than any other route yet driven over, and is also much shorter in distance because direct from Red river to Kansas. Twenty-five to thirty-five days is the usual time required to bring a drove from Red River to the Southern line of Kansas, a distance of between 250 and 300 miles, and an excellent country to drive over. So many cattle have been driven over the trail in the last few years that a broad highway is tread out looking much like a national highway; so plain, a fool could not fail to keep in it.
One remarkable feature is observable as being worthy of note, and that is how completely the herd becomes broken to follow the trail. Certain cattle will take the lead, and others will select certain places in the line, and certain ones bring up the rear, and the same cattle can be seen at their post, marching along like a column of soldiers, every day during the entire journey, unless they become lame, when they will fall back to the rear. A herd of one thousand cattle will stretch out from one to two miles whilst traveling on the trail, and is a very beautiful sight, inspiring the drover with enthusiasm akin to that enkindled in the breast of the military by the sight of marching columns of men. Certain cow-boys are appointed to ride beside the leaders and so control the herd, whilst others ride beside and behind. keeping everything in its place and moving on, the camp wagon and "cavvie-yard" bringing up the rear. When an ordinary creek or small river is reached the leaders are usually easily induced to go in, and although it may be swimming, yet they scarce hesitate, but plunge through to the northern shore and continue the journey, the balance of the herd following as fast as they arrive. Often, however, at large rivers, when swollen by floods, difficulty is experienced in getting over, especially is this the case when the herd gets massed together. Then they become unwieldy and are hard to induce to take the water. Sometimes days are spent, and much damage to the condition of the herd done, in getting across a single stream. But if the herd is well broken and properly managed, this difficulty is not often experienced.
As soon as the leaders can be induced to take to the water, and strike out for the opposite shore, the balance will follow with but little trouble. Often the drover can induce the leaders to follow him into and across the river, by riding ahead of them into the water and, if need be, swimming his horse in the lead to the opposite shore, whilst the entire herd follow much in the same order that it travels on the trail. It sometimes occurs that the herd will become unmanageable and frightened after entering the water and refuse to strike out to either shore, but gather around their leaders and swim in a circle round and round very similar to milling on the ground when frightened. The aspect is that of a mass of heads and horns, the bodies being out of sight in the water, and it is not uncommon to loose numbers by drowning. When the herd gets to milling in the water -- to break this mill and induce the leaders to launch out for the shore the drover swims his cow pony into the center of the mill and, if possible, frightens the mass of struggling whirling cattle, into separation. Not unfrequently the drover is unhorsed and compelled to swim for his life; often taking a swimming steer by the tail, and thus be safely and speedily towed to the shore.
Swimming herds of cattle across swollen rivers is not listed as one of the pleasurable events in the drover's trip to the northern market. It is the scarcity of large rivers that constitutes one of the most powerful arguments in favor of the Chisholm trail. Nevertheless it is not entirely free from this objection, especially during rainy seasons. When the herd is over the stream the next job is to get the camp wagon over. This is done by drawing it near the water's edge and, after detaching the oxen and swimming them over, a number of picket ropes are tied together, sufficient to reach across the river, and attached to the wagon which is then pushed into the water and drawn to the opposite shore, whereupon the team is attached and the wagon drawn on to solid ground.
Few occupations are more cheerful, lively and pleasant than that of the cow-boy on a fine day or night; but when the storm comes, then is his manhood and often his skill and bravery put to test. When the night is inky dark and the lurid lightning flashes its zig-zag course athwart the heavens, and the coarse thunder jars the earth, the winds moan fresh and lively over the prairie, the electric balls dance from tip to tip of the cattle's horns then the position of the cow-boy on duty is trying far more than romantic.
When the storm breaks over his head, the least occurrence unusual, such as the breaking of a dry weed or stick, or a sudden and near flash of lightning, will start the herd, as if by magic, all at an instant, upon a wild rush. and woe to the horse, or man, or camp that may be in their path The only possible show for safety is to mount and ride with them until you can get outside the stampeding column. It is customary to train cattle to listen to the noise of the herder. who sings in a voice more sonorous than musical a lullaby consisting of a few short monosyllables. A stranger to the business of stock driving will scarce credit the statement that the wildest herd will not run so long as they can hear distinctly the voice of the herder above the din of the storm. But if by any mishap the herd gets off on a real stampede. it is by bold, dashing, reckless riding in the darkest of nights, and by adroit, skillful management that it is checked and brought under control. The moment the herd is off, the cow-boy turns his horse at full speed down the retreating column, and seeks to get up beside the leaders, which he does not attempt to stop suddenly, for such an effort would be futile, but turns them to the left or right hand, and gradually curves them into a circle, the circumference of which is narrowed down as fast as possible, until the whole herd is rushing wildly round and round on as small a piece of ground as possible for them to occupy. Then the cow-boy begins his lullaby note in a loud voice, which has a great effect in quieting the herd. When all is still, and the herd well over its scare, they are returned to their bed-ground, or held where stopped until daylight.
Often a herd becomes scattered and run in different directions, in which case the labor is great to collect them, some will run a distance of twenty or thirty miles before stopping and turning out to rest, after which they will travel on at a rapid rate. Many times great loss in numbers and condition is sustained by a single stampede, and a herd, when once the habit of running is formed, will do but little good in thrift if they do not become poor and bony and get the appearance of gray hounds. And the habit, once contracted, is next to impossible to break up and get the cattle to be quiet and thrifty, save by putting them in small herds, or fence pastures, and this will not always remedy the evil or break up the habit.
During rainy, stormy seasons. herds of cattle are apt to form the habit of stampeding every cloudy or stormy night. And although they may have long been off of the trail, held on good grazing ground, yet they are very liable to form the habit of running. It is generally the case that less than a score, often less than a half dozen of old, wild, long legged beeves, do the mischief, by getting a chronic fright, from which they never do recover; nor are they ever afterwards satisfied unless they are on the run. They would rather run than eat, any time, no matter how empty of food they may be. Stampeding becomes a mania with them, and, day or night, they seem to be looking for or studying up a pretext to set off on a forty mile jaunt. How well one stampeder gets to know every other stampeder in the herd, is astonishing, and they may be seen close together at all times, as if counseling how to raise Cain, and get off on a "burst of speed." The moment anything happens that may startle the herd, no matter how little, every chronic stampeder in the herd sets off at full speed, hooking and goring every steer before or upon either side of him. It does seem as if they had become possessed of several such devils as stampeded the swine into the sea in ancient Judeah. It is actual economy to shoot down, if you cannot otherwise dispose of, a squad of these vicious stampeders; and often the prudent herder will order a single car, cut out, and ship off every stampeder he may have in his herd; not that he expects to get anything of much account for them, for they are generally very poor and lean, but simply to abate them and their pernicious example and influence on the balance of the herd. The way the cowboy takes sublime pleasure in prodding a lot of stampeders into a car and sending them off, he cares not where, is beyond expression and beggars description. You should hear him pronounce his parting blessing on the brutes as the engine moves off with the car in which they are confined. The expression would not create an exalted opinion of the cow-boy's piety. For he could tell you of the unnumbered sleepless hours they have cost him, and how many times they have caused him to leave his couch of sweet slumber, mount his horse and ride through darkness and storm to overtake and bring back the herd from following the racy stampeders, and now they are gone, words fail to tell his joyous delight. Drovers consider that the cattle do themselves great injury by running round in a circle, which is termed in cow-boy parlance, "milling," and it can only be stayed by standing at a distance and hallooing or singing to them. The writer has many times sat upon the fence of a shipping yard and sang to an enclosed herd whilst a train would be rushing by. And it is surprising how quiet the herd will be so long as they can hear the human voice; but if they fail to hear it above the. din of the train, a rush is made, and the yards bursted asunder, unless very strong. Singing hymns to Texan steers is the peculiar forte of a genuine cow-boy, but the spirit of true piety does not abound in the sentiment.
We have read of singing psalms to dead horses, but singing to a lot of Texan steers is an act of piety that few beside a Western drover are capable of. But 'tis said that "Music hath charms that soothe the savage breast," or words to that effect, and why not "soothe" a stampeding Texan steer? We pause, repeating why not?
After a drive of twenty-five to one hundred days, the herd arrives in Western Kansas, whither in advance, its owner has come, and decided what point at which he will make his headquarters. Straightway a good herding place is sought out and the herd, upon its arrival, placed thereon, to remain until a buyer is found, who is diligently sought after: but if not found as soon as the cattle are fat, they are shipped to market. But the drover has a decided preference for selling on firm principle, for there he feels at home and self possessed: but when he goes on the cars he is out of his element and doing something he don't understand much about, and don't wish to learn, especially at the price it has cost many cattle shippers.
Before going further into the history of the development of the Western cattle trade, simple justice demands that we mention some of the very few who did have an appreciative conception of the Abilene enterprise. First on the list is ex-Governor Crawford, then Governor of Kansas, who seemed to comprehend in the fullest sense the magnitude and importance of the undertaking, and freely gave a letter commending the point selected and the parties engaged thereat. This action of the Governor brought down upon his head the bitter maledictions of certain pot-house politicians, whose pet schemes, shaped by the famous "Texas Cattle Law" of Kansas -- passed by the legislature during the previous winter was ruined by the success of Abilene, and all the bright visions of wholesale plunder dissipated as is the mist by the sunshine. Others thought the Governor had made a grave error in encouraging Texan drovers to bring their stock to Kansas. But to such he said: "In regard the opening of that cattle trail into and across Western Kansas, of as much value to the State as is the Missouri river." But sound and sensible a this statement now appears, it was then regarded as heretical to the best interest of Kansas. Few now will maintain that his words were not prophetic and true. Governor Crawford is one of the few pure and patriotic statesmen of which Kansas can boast, and deserves the highest confidence of her citizens. Among the editorial fraternity, M. W. Reynolds, then of the Lawrence "Journal," now of the Parsons "Sun," was a staunch, true friend of Abilene. Unpaid and unsolicited, he was ever ready to write up in kind, truthful words the steady progress and development of the Abilene cattle trade. And justice forbids that we should fail to remember Mr. Prescott, of the Leavenworth "Commercial," who often spoke effective words in behalf of Abilene. Other editors casually noticed it, but generally in an unappreciative manner, often showing how incredulous they were of the ultimate success of the enterprise. A correspondent of the New York "Tribune," Mr. Samuel Wilkison, took notes in August, 1867, of the enterprise, and what was proposed to be accomplished, and wrote it up in a highly sensational style in a column and a half article under the title of "The story of a Cattle Speculator." Nothing was more evident to the readers of that effusion than the patent fact that its author had more stupid incredulity than brains. He regarded the whole affair as a visionary farce of which nothing tangible could be realized.
We have in a former paper said that Texan drovers, as a class, were clanish and easily gulled by promises of high prices for their stock. As an illustration of these statements, we cite a certain secret meeting of the drovers held at one of the camps in '67, whereat they all, after talking the matter over, pledged themselves to hold their cattle for three cents per pound, gross, and to sell none for less. One of the principal arguments used was that their cattle must be worth that price, or those Illinoisans would not be expending so much money and labor in preparing facilities for shipping them. To this resolution they adhered persistently, refusing $2.75 per 100 lbs, for fully 10,000 head, and afterwards failing to get their three cents on the prairie for their cattle, shipped them to Chicago on their own account and sold them there at $2,25 to $2.50 per 100 lbs, and out of that paid a freight of $150 per car, realizing from ten to fifteen dollars per head less than they had haughtily refused upon the prairie. Some of them refused to accept these prices, and packed their cattle upon their own account. Their disappointment and chagrin at their failure to force a buyer to pay three cents per pound for their cattle, was great and bitter, but their refusal to accept the offer of 2-3/4 cents per pound was great good fortune to the would-be buyers, for at that price $100,000 would have been lost on ten thousand head of cattle. An attempt was made the following year to form a combination to put up prices; but a burnt child dreads the fire and the attempted combination failed, and every drover looked out sharply for himself.
Now one instance touching their susceptibility to being gulled by fine promises. In the fall of 1867, when Texan cattle were selling at from $24 to $28 per head in Chicago, a well dressed, smooth-tongued individual put in an appearance at Abilene and claimed to be the representative of a certain(bogus) packing company of Chicago, and was desirous of purchasing several thousand head of cattle. He would pay Chicago prices at Abilene, or rather than be particular, five or ten dollars per head more than the same cattle would sell for in Chicago. It was astonishing to see how eagerly certain drovers fell into his trap and bargained their cattle off to him at $35 per head at Abilene, fully $15 more than they would pay out. But mark you, the buyer so "child-like and bland," could only pay the little sum of twenty-five dollars down on 400 to 800 head, but would pay the balance when he got to Leavenworth with the cattle, he being afraid to bring his wealth up in that wild country. In the meantime they would load the cattle on the cars, bill them in the name of the buy er, and of course everything would be all right. Strange as it may appear, several of the hitherto most suspicious drovers of 1867, fell in with this swindler's scheme, and were actually about to let him ship their herds off, on a mere verbal promise, when the parties in charge of the Yards, seeing that the drovers were about to be defrauded out of their stock, posted them to have the cattle billed in their own name, and then if the pay was not forthcoming they would have possession of their own stock without troublesome litigation, as every man of sense anticipated the would have. When the swindler after various excuses for his failures to pay at Leavenworth, Quincy and Chicago, all the while trying to get the cattle into his own hands, found that he must come down with the cash, he very plainly told the Texan to go to hades with his cattle. Instead of obeying this warm parting injunction of his new found, high-priced buyer, he turned his cattle over to a regular commission man and received about $26 per heat at Chicago less freight charges, or almost $18 per head at Abilene instead of the $35 per head.
But we did not think the drovers who were saved from the loss of their entire herds by a disinterested friend, were grateful to him for his kindness. They were too mad at their own stupidity to be conscious of feelings of gratitude. And now whilst speaking on the subject of swindlers and ingratitude, we will mention another instance occurring two years later. A certain man (if it be proper to call a rascal a man) who flourished in Central Illinois ten years before the particular incident we are about to relate occurred, put in an appearance at Abilene during the fall of 1869, and after spending money lavishly at the saloons proceeded to purchase several droves of cattle at more liberal figures than others were able to pay or the markets east would justify. The time was quite brief before he became the most popular man that ever came to Abilene. Among his purchases was a large drove of nine hundred beeves, for which he agreed to pay thirty dollars per head but actually only paid two thousand dollars on the purchase and was about to ship the stock off in his own name when the party in charge of the yards gave the seller a confidential hint to be careful and to be safe, which he acted upon but not until he had told the would-be purchaser who had put him on his guard; at the same time repeating what had told him by the yardman in confidence at his own solicitation, adding that he (the seller) did not believe the statement of the yardman. Of course the would-be shipper got mad and drunk and swore he was persecuted maliciously without Just cause, and wanted to shoot the fellow who dared say he was a proper subject to be watched in business transactions. Several Texans espoused his cause and one gave him over twelve thousand dollars worth of cattle, on short credit; another gave him five thousand dollars in cash as a loan of honor, another two thousand dollars in cash to repay at his leisure. Now mark the sequel, not one single dollar of this snug sum of seventeen thousand dollars did one of the Texans ever see again and we suppose they regard it now as permanent investment. Their pet buyer is at this writing languishing in a county jail not one thousand miles from Kansas City awaiting his trial on the charge of stealing, of this charge we have no doubt of his guilt, and only hope justice may get its dues, after being cheated so long. Many more similar cases to the above could be given but we will not tax patience farther, only adding that not in one single instance of the many that occurred did the Texan ever show a spark of gratitude for being saved from a swindling scheme, but were more generally sour and suspicious of the motive at prompted their real friend to forewarn them.
Of the 35,000 cattle that arrived in 1867 at Abilene about 3000 head were bought and shipped to Chicago by the parties owning the stock-yards; of the balance much the larger portion was sent to Chicago and either sold on the market or packed for the account of the drovers. The latter proved more unfortunate for the drover. The cattle were thin in flesh and made only the lower grades of beef, for which there was but little demand, at ruinously low figures. Those who sold on the market did better than those who packed, yet they lost money heavily. Another portion of the drive of 1867 went into winter quarters. A few were taken north to the Platte country for the Indians, but quite a large number were packed at Junction City, where an enterprising firm of citizens, headed by a now well-known cattle man, but then late of Indianapolis, Ind., had erected a temporary packing house, in which several thousand cattle were slaughtered, the product thereof being shipped direct to New York. But this experiment resulted unsatisfactorily to both packers and drovers. The cattle were not as good or fat as both parties had anticipated, and it proved a disastrous loss to all concerned. A few cattle were packed at the same place the following season, but the establishment was soon abandoned, and finally torn down. Had the drovers of 1867 gone into winter quarters and kept their stock until the following season a fine profit instead of a loss would have been realized. But It was upon the tongue of nearly every one that the cattle would not stand the rigors of a northern winter, and inasmuch as there was no precedent by which to be governed it was thought best to sell and pack them as before described. The summer season of 1867 was one of extreme sultry weather and great rain fall, flooding the country, and producing an immense growth of grass, which was soft and washy, utterly failing to produce any tallow in the animal consuming it, and when the hot weather set in the grass became hard and uneatable and when the first frosts touched it not a single bit of nutriment was left in it; but little better than dry shavings for food. In addition to poor grass, the rain storms by day, the bellowing thunder and vivid lightning of the often recurring storms at night, got all the cattle on the prairie in the way of stampeding. When this habit becomes chronic it is impossible to fatten the herd, often impossible to keep them together. All these causes, and others not enumerated, combined to make the final wind-up of the cattle market of 1867 at Abilene unsatisfactory, and to none more so than the parties who expended so much money in creating the necessary facilities for conducting a cattle market. Their losses were very severe; far more so than if they had had a criterion by which to be governed. Shipping cattle at the rate of one thousand each shipment, costing nearly a score of thousands of dollars, and then having them sold for a considerable sum less than the freight bill, is a lively way to do business, but a poor way to get rich quick.
Although the business of shipping did not begin until the fall, the first train being shipped on the 5th of September nearly one thousand cars were loaded, yet the enterprise was considered a failure, and every one, save the parties directly interested, freely expressed themselves that no cattle would be driven there the next year, and many people seemed to rejoice over the misfortune that they supposed had befallen the enterprise, offering hypocritical words of condolence to the projector of the enterprise. Others there were who became suddenly endowed with profound wisdom, and sagely ejaculated "I told you so." Notwithstanding the practical demonstration of the feasibility of cattle shipping over their road, yet the managers of the K. P. Railway in St. Louis were still incredulous and freely jested at the whole project, regarding it as the "big joke" of the season; but there was one young and worthy man in the office of "Purchaser of Supplies," who was firm in the belief that there was yet something to be expected of the undertaking at Abilene. He was jeered at by every other officer, both great and small -- and the most of them were small in more senses than one -- and ridiculed him as one championing a self-evident failure.
A few incidents of a personal nature and we leave the year 1867, in tracing the early developments of the cattle trade. On the occasion of the shipment of the first train load of cattle, about which we have before given some items, a certain "managing director of the K. P." approached the parties in interest at Abilene, and proposed to enter privately into a partnership, and as an inducement to the acceptance of his proposition, said that he would work secretly in the executive committee in St. Louis for the special advantage of the firm. After consulting over the matter, the parties concluded that a man who would be willing to "sell a railroad company," would be equally as willing to sell another company. So they rejected his proposition, which excited the "managing director's" ire and indignation to a high pitch. But not long after this occurred, a certain subordinate railroad official appeared at Abilene, and expressed a deep desire to make some money out of the cattle trade; or, in other words, asked the party who was building the yards if he would not give him a certain amount on each car loaded. After a few moments reflection -- in which the many courtesies and the kind aid that had been extended to him by this official, were mentally reviewed -- the official was told that at the end of the season he might expect a present of an amount of cash equal to one-half the sum for which he had asked. This proved to be an unfortunate step, and was the only one of the kind ever made by that cattle trader, for no sooner had the next season opened than this same official reappeared at Abilene, demanding one half the gross amount, which the parties were to receive from the railroad company for their services and expenditures during the year 1868. And when this modest request was declined, the official left, muttering threats of vengeance, and did actually go to a point twenty-five miles west of Abilene and give a lower rate of freight from that point than was given from Abilene.
After several unavailing remonstrances with the official about his conduct -- which he knew to be in violation of the provisions of a written contract existing between the railroad company and the parties at Abilene -- the general officers of the company at St. Louis were visited, and the matter placed before the executive committee. It eventuated in the official receiving a polite invitation to tender his resignation, which, of course, under the peculiar circumstances, he did.
But we will close this chapter with brief sketches of two widely known and universally liked drovers and traders, one of whom is J. D. Reed, a resident of Texas for twenty-three years, but an Alabamian by birth. Upon entering Texas he went straightaway on a stock ranch of his own selection on the frontier of his adopted state. Notwithstanding he devotes much of his time and attention to driving and trading in cattle, he keeps up his stocks in Texas. Of cattle he has about ten thousand head, and of horses a stock sufficiently large to keep good the supply of saddle ponies with which to care for the cattle stocks. Although his ranch consists of fully one thousand acres of land, his stock ranges over an immense area of country, mostly belonging to the state of Texas. Mr. Reed contented himself for many years upon his ranch where his family now, as then, reside; but in 1861 he decided to try the project of driving to Louisiana, which proved moderately satisfactory, and would perhaps have been repeated in future years, but for the outbreak of the civil war. In this Reed, in common with almost every other Southern man, took part; but was not long in the service before he received a severe wound which disabled him for military duty, and he soon found himself back upon his ranch fully satisfied with military life and its fruits. Having imbibed the spirit of trading and roaming away from home, Reed was soon off with a herd of beeves for Mexico, which trade he continued in until the close of the war, when he abandoned it and turned his herds toward New Orleans, to which market be continued to ship and drive for five consecutive years. But in 1871 he changed his plans of operation and turned his herds toward Western Kansas. Each year since has witnessed on an average, fully thirty-five hundred head of beeves en route for Western Kansas, driven by Mr. Reed's cow-boys. Whatever frontier cattle town can secure his patronage and influence regard him a host in its behalf. He drives none but good beeves, and is, upon arrival, ready to sell out all, or in part, or if prices do not suit him to sell, he will turn about and buy. He is not particular which he does, so he is doing something, for he is a man of fine energy and great perserverance. A man who is familiar with all phases of life, and is always in to see, know, and learn everything that may be going on, among the highest to the lowest, where he may be stopping. He is one of that type of men that make friends in all spheres of life, and few there are who have a larger list of warm admirers than J. D. Reed, of Goliad, Texas. During the year 1872 he handled fully eight thousand head of beeves and put fourteen hundred head into winter quarters the same fall. During the year 1873 he drove about three thousand head, and selling out soon after arriving in Western Kansas, was in good shape to join his friend A. H. Pierce in buying seven thousand head at panic prices to put into winter quarters. Certainly money in large amounts was made upon the cattle bought during the months of October and November, 1873. In 1871, Mr. Reed wintered about sixteen hundred head of cattle in Western Kansas. It matters little in what country he comes in contact with the cattle trade, so thorough is his practical knowledge of the business, and so unerring his judgment, that he seldom fails to meet with success in all his live stock operations.
Austin, the capital city of Texas, is the home of Major Seth Mabry, a popular drover, whose cheerful presence in any company or place is always welcome -- one of the most appreciative, affable drovers; among the most chivalric, courteous cattle men the Lone Star State sends to the North annually with his thousands of beeves. Everybody in anywise connected with the live stock trade, knows the Major, and feels the right to call him their friend; for he knows every one, and has a pleasant word for each; is ever ready to do some one a favor or perform a kind office: is well read. and has traveled extensively; is a close observer of human faces and conduct; is very fond of social companions, and quite conversational; always entertaining; loves a good story, and has an inexhaustible fund thereof, from which one just pat to the occasion is always ready at his tongue's end, to be told in his own inimitable manner. This extensive drover went with his father from Tennessee to Texas in 1837, and under the paternal tuition learned practically the business of ranching, was in fact brought up on a stock ranch, and thoroughly drilled in all the mysteries of successful stock growing. Very wisely did he decide when he determined to be a ranchman on his own account. When he had arrived at the age of manhood and started in the business world for himself, for fifteen years he studiously, and we need not add successfully, followed his early and well chosen occupation. Fully twenty thousand cattle bore his brand, and annually from three to five thousand calves felt his hot branding iron cauterizing their tender hides, and stamping indelibly the badge of ownership to be seen and read by all men.
In 1867 and 1868 the Major tried the rocks of the New Orleans market, but upon the following year he put in his first appearance in Western Kansas with large herds, and annually has he made his pilgrimage to Western Kansas with about five thousand head of cattle. The Major would always rather sell than buy, but would rather buy than do nothing; would rather sell on the prairie, but does not hesitate to ship East or drive to some more northerly territory; or go to the frigid upper Missouri country, and furnish the Government contractor with a few thousand bovines to nourish the inner man of poor "Lo" and family.
In 1872 the Major became tired of furnishing the Indians of Western Texas with cow ponies without pay, and therefore sold out his ranch in Llano county, Texas; but about the same time he and his business associate established a permanent cattle ranch in Idaho, upon which they placed four thousand cattle, mostly cows and heifers, and the year following branded about two thousand calves. But this enterprise received but a small part of their attention, so little of it that in 1873 they found time to drive from Texas about fifteen thousand head of cattle, and were fortunate enough to get the supplying of the Indian contractors to the extent of their herds. The Major has been at least moderately successful in all his business undertakings, and ranks with the more influential class of Texan stock men.