Texas History

Buffalo Jumps -Texas 



Wilmington Chronicle
Wilmington, North Carolina Oct. 23, 1850

Resources of Texas

Texas embraces so vast a scope of country possessing so great a variety of soil and climate, and so diversified by hill and dale, high woods and level plains, that every taste can be suited and every description of agricultural labor be successfully prosecuted. The capacity of Texas as a sugar and cotton growing region, has been briefly noticed in our former articles. We now beg leave to call attention to that particular section of the state lying north of the cotton district proper. This section is neither small nor unfruitful, but has as yet been little disturbed, except by marauding Indians, who gallop over the prairies in search of the buffalo, occasionally scalping a party of hunters or Santa Fe traders, who are too weak for defense, and sometimes making an excursion into the “settlements” for the purpose of stealing horses and scalps.

A few hardy pioneers, fond of adventure, and inpatient of the restraints of civilized society, have sought scenes and events congenial to their rough natures and rude tastes, by penetrating far into the frontiers, where the wolf’s howl and the panther’s scream are their favorite music, the elk’s haunch their delicacies, the buffalo skin their bed, and the savage red-skin their companion.

But little has been done toward testing the capabilities of the country for agricultural purposes above were caught has been successfully grown, but enough is known to settle its character as a fine grain-growing country. There is a portion of the cotton region where small grain has been experimented on with the most encouraging success. All of what are  denominated the Red River counties, all the country from that to the upper Trinity, extending 200 miles on that stream above and below the three forks, reaching beyond the Cross Timbers, is a scope of country of surprising fertility, and pronounced by that best judges superior to Missouri as a wheat country. Between the Red river and upper Trinity, there is a larger body of rich land, without any admixture of poor, then can probably be found elsewhere on the continent of America. This description of country extends to most of the Trinity, taking in the Navissoto, Brazos, Colorado, and sources of Guadalupe, with occasional interruptions, to our Western boundary. Some of the tributaries of the Colorado are represented as surprisingly beautiful and rich; in the Valley of the San Saba, grows luxuriantly, wheat, rye, barley, and oats, in natures form, planted by the same hand that planted the tree of life and the first garden, watched over by no eye but that which surveys the universe, and harvested only by the bison and the wild deer. The spontaneous productions of a soil is considered unmistakable proof of its adaptation to those productions — better limitations could not be given; it is the voice of nature untaught by the husbandman’s art, speaking through her own acts, making indigenous that which is peculiarly suited to particular localities. If we regard the syndication, then Texas, we must conclude, is preeminently adapted to the growth of small grain, since rye and other descriptions of grain grow in rich luxuriance over a territory as large as some of the European kingdoms, or states of the America Union. –Texas paper.


J. T. Hazelwood, San Angelo, Texas

Something like seventy years ago, in 1852 to be exact, my father, George W. Hazelwood, emigrated with his family from T.J. HazelwoodMississippi to the plains of Western Texas.

There being no railroads or other means of transportation at that time, he came by the mule team mode of conveyance. The country was sparsely settled after reaching the Texas line, and the trip was a long tedious one. The family would travel for days without meeting a human being, only coming in contact with vast herds of wild buffalo and numerous tribes of still wilder Indians. The journey occupied several months, and my father with his family eventually located in Panola county, Texas. The country being wholly an open range, and the pioneers who blazed the way into this new western civilization being extremely few and far between, the early settlers apparently did not remain very long in any one place, but moved about from location to location, seeking a better range, more ample water and greater safety from marauding Indians. Fort Worth, in Tarrant county, was the nearest trading point, and all provisions and supplies of every character and description was brought into the Western country by freighters, sometimes accompanied by United States troops, but more frequently they traveled in little bands for better protection against Indian raids.

It was in 1860 when my father moved with his family to Stephens county, near the line of Shackelford, settling on Sandy Creek, but the Indian depredations continuing, he again moved to a safer place, as he thought, over on Battle Creek. The ranges were covered with countless herds of buffalo, deer, antelope, bear and other wild game. We lived in picket houses, covered with sod and dirt, and the flooring with buffalo hides— nothing to compare with the comfortable homes which the people of this country enjoy at the present time, but, nevertheless, the conditions for that day and age were ideal, and we lived in comfort, except that we lived in continual fear of Indian raids.

I also remember that we did not regard clothes so much in those days as they are regarded now, and such a thing as ribbons and bows, and lace and silk hose, silk hats and canes for the young men, and a poodle dog with a string around his neck for the young women, would have been considered as much out of place in the early days as, perhaps, our “coon-skin” caps and “homemade” shoes, and our “deerskin britches,” our “buffalo coats” and “buffalo shirts” would appear at the present day.

Times change, customs change, fashions change, conditions change, but human nature changes but very little, and even when I compare the boys and girls of the present day, in the last analysis of their human make-up, with the girls and boys of seventy years ago, I find that they have the same warm hearts, the same happy, cheerful smile, the same creative youthful ambition, and the same desire to succeed, regardless that we are living in a day and age of automobiles, that we are free from Indian depredations and raids, that we no longer see the buffalo roam the plains, and that where the buffalo once roamed and where the Indians perpetrated their raids, beautiful homes and every modern convenience now can be found, and agricultural conditions are changed likewise with modern improvements, yet the heart and mind of the pioneers of the Western range’ still are found to permeate the posterity of these early pioneers to a very large extent.



By Joseph S. Cruze, Sr., San Antonio, Texas.

Mr Joseph S Cruze SrMrs MK CruzeMy parents, William and Isabella Cruze, came to the Republic of Texas in 1840 and located on the Brazos River in Washington County. There I was born July 27th, 1845, and when I was three months old father placed a buffalo hair pillow on the horn of his saddle, placed me thereon, mounted his horse and was ready to emigrate west with his family. He settled on Onion Creek, nine miles south of Austin, near the Colorado River, where he remained for several years, then in 1854 we moved to the central part of Hays County, where father died in 1856.

I enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1862, received my discharge in 1865, and returned home to my widowed mother. On July 24th, 1865, I was married to Miss Mary Kate Cox of Hays County.

In the years 1870 and 1871 I drove cattle to Kansas over the old Chisholm Trail. I remember the killing of Pete Owens, who was with the same herd I was with. We had reached the Cross Timbers of Texas, and passed

a ranch where booze was sold. There was a row and Pete was shot and killed. He was a good friend to me, we had been soldier comrades for nearly three years, worked cattle together, and I loved him as a brother. Billie Owens, known to many of the old trail drivers, was his brother. The Owens boys were good soldiers, upright, honest and brave men.

In those days the cowmen underwent many hardships, survived many hair-breadth escapes and dangers while blazing our way through the wilderness. My comrades yet living have not forgotten what we had to endure. Everything was then tough, wild and woolly, and it was dangerous to be safe.

In September, 1866, I settled on Loneman Creek, in Hays County, near the Blanco River, and established the Cruze Ranch, which I sold to my son, S. J. Cruze, in 1917, and moved to San Antonio with my wife and two daughters, Margaret and Addie, and my grandson, Forest Harlan. I have a nice little home in Los “Angeles Heights, and would be glad to hear from any of my old friends at any time.

My address is Route 10, Box 101a, Los Angeles Heights, San “Antonio.



The Abbeville Banner
November 10 1847

Texas, -Derivation of the name.-

The Camanches claim to be the lineal descendents of the empire of Montezuma, and the only legitimate owners of the whole Mexican country. The Chiefs say that when Cortes landed in Mexico, he found the country torn to pieces by internal factions and was enabled, by employing the disaffected chiefs, to raise a force to seize upon their capital. Those chiefs believed if they could destroy the power of Montezuma, they could easily dispatch the Spaniard, and have the control of the country in their own hands. But too late they ascertained that they had introduced a harder master, and that unconditional servitude was all they had to expect. They were required to change their ancient religion, and thousands of them were sent off to work in the mines from which they rarely ever made their escape. A great proportion of them bowed their necks to the conqueror, and became serfs and slaves to the Spaniards; but a few, the noblest and best, preferred exile to servitude, and set out on a pilgrimage to the north, in hopes to find a land where they could enjoy their ancient institutions in peace.
They traveled for many weeks, and at last came to the great river north- the Rio Grande – where they encamped, and sent out twenty chosen men to examine the adjacent country. They crossed the great river, and ascended one of the highest peaks of the mountain, which overlooked the adjacent plain. The prairie was covered with buffalo, deer and antelopes, and they thought they had reached the happy hunting-ground, and the word “Tehas! Tehas! Tehas!” burst from every tongue. It was decided unanimously that it should go by the name apparently furnished them by the Great Spirit.
Tehas is the Camanchee name for the residence of the happy spirit in the other world, where they shall enjoy an eternal felicity, and have a plenty of deer and buffalo always at hand. By taking the sound as they pronounce it, and giving it the Spanish orthography, it gives us the word “Texas, “ which is the “happy hunting ground” or the “Elysium,“ of the Camanches. This is the true history of the name as derived from Isowacuny himself.


Who Was Isowacuny?            

Isawacony (Little Wolf) was a chief of the Penateka band of Comanches before the Comanches became centralized a nation. Before the Comanche Nation was centralized, Comanches lived in disparate bands. Though they were related and shared a culture and history, Comanche bands were autonomous and seldom worked together.
Isawacony was one of several chiefs of the Penateka band, which lived primarily throughout what is known today as Southern Texas and Northern Mexico. He was unique among his fellow chiefs in that while other chiefs considered peace and violence equally as options in dealing with the incursion of Americans into their territory, Isawacony seemed dedicated primarily to peace. This dedication to peacemaking and never compromising on what he thought was best for the Penateka Comanches are two traits that appear to define Isawacony’s life.
He was one of the principal negotiators in several treaties between the Republic of Texas and, later, the United States, and the Penateka band of Comanches. In 1836, Isawacony was party to an attempt to draft a treaty between the Penateka band and the Texans that would allot a swath of land and create a boundary between the two groups. While Sam Houston, who was an adopted Cherokee, was sympathetic to the Comanches’ cause, the majority of Texan settlers were unwilling to relinquish any land to tribal bands. David Gouveneur Burnet, the first president of the Republic of Texas, wrote to M.B. Menard in 1836: “It is a matter of great importance to secure the entire neutrality at least of the Indian tribes … But I must enjoin it upon you to avoid with great caution entering into any Specific treaty relating to boundaries, that may compromit the interests of actual settlers.”
The following year, the Texas Congress appointed a commission to work with peace-seeking Comanches and improve relations between the Republic and the Comanches. However, members stipulated that “no fee simple right of soil be acknowledged.”

The rest of his story


I found this to be a great article (below), even though a little long, it was well worth my time. It starts in the time of 1838 and continues through the late 1870’s

The Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati, Ohio

Nov 23, 1878

Wiping out the Shaggy Monsters that Roam on the Plains – The Butchery in Northern Texas – An Englishman’s Experience – Killing the Bison For His Hide – The Life of a Professional Buffalo Hunter – Three Seasons on the Plains – How the Hides are Cured – Pickling the Tongues – Fearful Fate of a Horse Thief.

[New York Sun.]

Forty years ago the trappers of the Western plains sold the pelts of beavers, otters and _____ and killed the bison only for food. Myriads of these shaggy monsters roamed the prairies. Washington Irving, in his “Tour on the Prairies,” sought a herd boundless and undulating as an ocean, all surging northward. They were two days and nights in crossing the Smokey Hill River. There was then a limited market for buffalo hides, and the herds were hunted by the Indians only. They dried the meat for winter use, and use the skins for tepees and blankets. Uncounted millions of the animals wintered in the parks of the Rocky Mountains and on the fertile plains of northern Texas. The cows calved in April and by the 1st of May the shaggy _____ were headed for the Missouri. They advanced northward with the season, browsing upon the sprouting, juicy grasses. They crossed the Missouri River and ran away up into British America. With the approach of winter they swept back into the sunny parts of the Rocky Mountains and spread themselves over the plains of Texas.

The discovery of gold in California (1848) opened a pathway to the Pacific, and this pathway opened a permanent market for buffalo hides. The settlement and rapid development of Kansas and Nebraska forced the herds back toward the mountains. Then gold was found near Pikes Peak (1859), and a _______ of emigration poured into Colorado. Beaver, otter and furred animals began to disappear, and the brawny Kansas buffalo hunters took the place of the half bred Canadian trapper. Millions were killed for their hides alone. The vast herds began to scatter. 10 years later the laying of the Pacific Railroad’s force them from the line of the Platte and Arkansas into northern Texas on the south, and Wyoming and Dakota on the north. The professional hunters followed and for years reap a rich harvest. But the rush of gold seekers to the Black Hills in the settlements along the line of the Northwestern Pacific Road are driving the northern columns into British America, and the development of northern Texas is exterminating the southern columns. Experienced hunters predict that within eight years not a buffalo will be left in Texas.


Mr. James Graham, and English man who spent four years hunting them on the plains of Texas, graphically details his experience. He came to America when a boy, determined to work his way out to the plains and become, if possible, the chief of a tribe of Indians. His experience with the savages near Fort Still changed this intention, and he went down into Texas and began to teach school. “In October, 1873,” he says, “I hunted myself in Jacksboro, Jack County, northern Texas. It is near Fort Richardson. I was out of employment, and living from hand to mouth. One day a party of Cowboys road in from the other side of the Brazos , and said buffalo were coming in from the north so sick that they were eating up the range. The country was black with them, and the boys were compelled to drive in the cattle. This news was confirmed by a herder named Browning, who drove through town with 800 cattle, cursing and swearing, and roaring at his luck generally. There were no professional buffalo hunters in the country, although the buffalo were so thick that Browning allowed he could kill from fifty to seventy-five a day. He made a contract with one McKibben, a merchant, to deliver 1000 hides within three months at $2 a piece, the value to be taken out in trade. Browning swore that he would kill them all within fifty miles of Jacksboro. He turned his cattle hands out on horseback, and sent out his wagons. There was not an expert among them. They sailed into the herd head first, using no judgment, and in less than three days had scared the buffalo so that they left the range. The net result was twenty or thirty hides. Browning returned to Jacksboro and threw up his contract in disgust. He drove his cattle out on the abandoned range and resumed the life of a herder.

One Shaw owned two ox teams that had been employed in grading the railroad from Dallas to Fort Worth. Work had given out and the teams were idle. Two men, Hawes and Frantz,  also owned yolks of oxen that were eating off their heads. They clubbed in with Shaw, and arranged for a buffalo hunt. I had had considerable experience on the plains, and was employed by Shaw as a killer. Hawes in Frantz killed for themselves. Two men, named Putter and Davis also joined us. A band of Comanches were raiding the frontier, and we combined for natural protection. Three months provisions, a keg of whiskey and several hundred rounds of ammunition were thrown into the wagons. Armed with needle guns, we left Jacksboro on a bright sunny morning, and traveled due West. The country was well wooded until we reached Fort Belknap, a deserted military post. We kept a sharp lookout for the Comanches; for, just before we left Jacksboro, a man was killed and scalped across the creek from town, not 300 yards from Fort Richardson.

“After leaving the timber, we camped in an open country, fifteen miles from Fort Belknap and two miles from the Rio Brazos. That evening an old buffalo bull straggled into camp. The trouble was not in killing, but in eating him. He was so old that is hide was worthless. His flesh was as tough as shoe leather. The old fellow had been driven from the herd by the younger bulls, and was forging on his own hook. Wolves were on his track, and would soon have run him down.


“About the middle of the second day we encamped on the Millers Creek, a branch of the Rio Brazos. The grazing was good. There were no ranches within thirty miles. We saw small bunches of buffalo among the low hills. It was a good sign. Herds of deer, flocks of turkeys, and schools of fish promised and ample variety of food. Potter, Davis and myself rode out six miles toward the Brozos, and found immense herds of buffalo. We stopped at Eagle Spring, the other side of the River. This spring gushes from the riverbank, making a small gully. It is nearly level with the River. At this time the river was very low. Half the sand bars were above water. The spring got its name from a great nest built in the top of a cottonwood tree by a colony of Eagles. These birds began to tear up the carcasses of deer and buffalo before we could skin them. I finally loaded a carcass with strychnine and poisoned the whole colony.

“The water of the Brazos at this point,” said Graham, “was brackish and unpalatable. It was made so by the junction of the Salt Fork of the river, a few miles above. No matter how dry the season, the spring never failed. The banks of the river near it were trodden down, and we could see that herds of buffalo were drinking there every night. We rode out on the divide between the Wichita and the Brazos and found a thick net of buffalo paths leading toward the spring. We made a permanent camp, pitching our tent on the river sands to the left of the gully, so close that we could hear the buffalo come in at night, but not so close as to disturb them. Then we cleaned out the spring. The water bubbled up with redoubled force, and dotted the sand of the River with fresh pools. Before we found the spring we had killed from fifteen to twenty buffalo. Word was sent back to Hawes, and his Skinners were quickly at work. We tried to induce him to come over to our camp, but he allowed that rolling stones gathered no moss, and he thought the buffalo were thick enough on Millers Creek to pay him.

“We spent the first day in making pegs for stretching hides, putting up the tent, and gathering buffalo chips and driftwood for fire. The banks of the river were fringed with bushes, but aside from the lone cottonwood, there was no standing timber. We dug a fireplace in the bank, and prepared for business. Are oxen were bellied and hobbled, and turned loose on the nutritious grasses of the river bottoms. We ate broiled venison for supper. After pipes and coffee we turned in. An hour afterward I heard a dashing and a splashing in the spring. A band of buffalo was pouring over the bank. I could hear their low murmur of satisfaction as they sucked up the freshwater. The bank was crumbling beneath their feet and falling to the sand. As we were camped to the leeward, the herd did not wind us. It was a cloudy night. I got up in my shirt tail, took my gun, and ran along the edge of the bank toward the spring. Dark masses of the animals were clustered on the white sands below me, drinking from the little pools of fresh water. They saw me, and scattered. Most of them scrambled up the path leading to the top of the bank, and others darted over the sands. As it was too dark to shoot with any degree of certainty. I returned to camp.

“The next morning, bright and early, we were at work. We found a herd feeding on the prairie within two miles of camp. I crawled on my hands and knees to leave word and began to pick them off. I shot several under the fore-shoulder, giving the ball a slight range forward. This is really the only infallibly vital spot. Greenhorns may riddle an old bull with bullets, and he will stand and shake his head as though bumblebees were buzzing around his ears, and never drop; but one bullet planted by a professional is worth more than a score sent from the gun of an amateur. Well, before noon we had killed twenty-seven . In the afternoon we skinned these and hauled the green hides to camp.


“Eagle Spring was our headquarters nearly two months. The country was ridged with sand hills covered with coarse grass affording a fair cover while crawling on the herds. Large bunches of the animals were ambushed. We hid ourselves under the banks of the river, and shot them down as they came for water. This was done so often that they became suspicious. They approached the bank, headed by an old bull, with the herd strung out behind him in Indian file. On reaching the edge of the bank, the bull looked carefully up and down the river to see if the coast was clear. If satisfied, he turned back to the file leaders, indicating that it was all right, and dashed over the bank. The file followed without hesitation. If, however, the bull’s suspicions were aroused, he gazed at the suspicious objects as though shouting his eyesight. Then he turned his head toward the herd, as though disliking the outlook. Satisfied, after another reconnaissance, that there were good grounds for alarm, he viciously whisked his tail. The herd understood the signal. There was an instant stampede. They scattered fan-like, stopping at a distance of two to three hundred yards. There they turned about, apparently to see if there was any cause for running at all, but invariably continued their retreat until miles away from the supposed danger.

“One day, “ continued Graham,” I was lying under the bank of the river when a herd of buffalo approached. Contrary to all precedent, they were led by frisky young calves, who broke over the bank without stopping to reconnoiter. Had I retained my original position; the whole bunch would have trampled over me. I lay in the long grass and saw what was coming. As I got to my feet this stream divided and swept to the right and left. Through the dust I saw an old cows head within 3 feet, and let her have it under the fore shoulder. The impetus with which she was moving was so great that she pitched dead upon the sands at the brink of the river, three rods away. A calf was the next victim. It screwed it’s tail as the bullet struck it and followed the cow to grass. I next blazed away at the ”spike” a three-year-old bull. The first shot was ineffectual. He ran up the River about 100 yards. I kept at his heels and brought him down with the second bullet. By this time the bunch was much scattered. Many animals crossed the river, and others ran down the stream and regained the bluffs below. It was after dark when the slain buffalo were skinned and the green pelts were staked to the ground.


“At Eagle Springs, “ Graham said, “we took 475 hides. The killings, skinning, stretching and packing took up all our time. After the hides were sunned they were sometimes wet by rains. This gave us much trouble as to preserve them we were forced to overhaul and re-dry them. After December 20th Shaw, Welsh, Frantz and Potter loaded the wagons with dried hides and started for old Fort Belknap. The Fort was abandoned, but they meant to pile the skins in a ruined guardhouse, where was thought they would be safe and undercover. Davis and myself were left in camp with a horse and two mules.

“On the evening of the 23rd I killed a deer, taking the hide and hindquarters. The next day I saw the tracks of a wildcat around the carcass. I could see that he had enjoyed his meal. Than seen that he might return on the following evening I took cover and lay for him. Toward dusk I saw the cat snaking along the bank of the river, but, unfortunately, he discovered me at the same time and did not come within gunshot. On my return to camp I was spotted by four Indians, who were hidden by the low sand hills. At all events that night the horse and mules were unhobbled and stolen. The sands were covered with moccasin tracks. We trace them up and found where the Indians had lain behind the sand hills and watched my wildcat venture. Our tent open toward the river, and a wagon covered the entrance. This was fortunate, for had the situation been different the savages might have shot us while we lay in our blankets. We followed their trail to the Wichita, many miles away, but never recovered the stock.


“A funny incident occurred a few days before the mules were stolen. I had been out among the sand hills, and had planted seven bullets in an old bull. He was a tough old fellow, but was finally brought to his knees. I thought he would surely die, and wasted no more ammunition. On returning to camp I told Davis where he lay, and he and Welsh said that they would take his hide early in the morning. That night the wolves scented the old fellow’s blood, and made an assault on him. He fought like a tiger, and would have gone under had not two other bulls come to the rescue. All night long they kept the wolves at bay. In the morning Welsh and Davis went out to look for the wounded bull. I was going up the River, but pointed near where he lay, and told them they would find him in a little hollow near the sand hills. Welsh took his needle gun and went on foot, and Davis followed, mounted on a mule, taking a swingle, or whiffletree, to drag the green hide back to camp. On nearing the hollow Welsh saw the three buffalo lying down, and said to Davis: “why, he’s wounded three instead of one, and left us to finish them.” Davis stood up in his saddle, looked at them. “I don’t think he’s hurt any of them.” he said. “Johnny, just try ‘em.’ Welsh crept toward the trio. Two of the Bulls got to their feet, and stretched themselves. They gazed at him in astonishment, and began to paw the ground and shake their heads. Welsh dropped on one knee and blazed away. He probably miss them, for infuriated by the assaults of the wolves, they raised their tails, lowered their heads, and with bloodshot eyes charged upon him. He saw them coming in after a sharp raise went into a buffalo wallow like a prairie dog. The bull then went for Davis. He had scented danger, and headed the mule towards camp. The beast however, was fat and lazy, and did not seem to take in this situation. Davis pounded him with the whiffletree until the blows resounded over the prairie, but could get no head of steam. “Shoot at ‘em, Johnny !’ he shouted. “Shoot at ‘em, but Johnny lay in the wallow, shaking with merciment, and could not shoot. Seen that there was a slim chance for reaching camp, Davis headed his mule for a mesquite tree, fancy and he could find a shelter among its thorns. The slow lope of the mule brought the maddened bulls nearer. Davis finally jumped from the saddle and ran for the tree. He went up the trunk like a squirrel, and had barely perched himself on a top limb before the bulls dashed underneath in pursuit of the mule. Like Davis, the mule took good care of himself, and reached camp and safety.”


A few days afterward the party returned from Fort Belknap. They were chagrined at the loss of the mules. Only two horses were left. Shaw in Davis went back to Millers Creek and camped with Hawes. Potter, Welsh, Frantz and Graham went across to the big Wichita poisoning wolves, and met with moderate success. The country was seamed with canons and dotted with cedars. Winter was at hand and the weather was becoming cold. The most interesting incident was a poisoning match between Frantz and Graham. One day each killed the buffalo. A dispute arose concerning their merits as poisoners. Frantz held that if the strychnine was placed in a certain part of the carcass it would be more effectual. Graham disagreed with him. Each agreed to Dr. a carcass in his own way, and a pile of Wolf skins was staked on the result. Graham spread a small bottle of the poison upon those parts of the carcass first eaten by wolves, and Frantz carried out his peculiar theory. Both traps were well faded. In the morning the bodies of nine gray wolves laid near Gramps trap, and thirteen were found by Frantz, and he took the pile of pelts.

On their return to the Brazos they found an immense herd of, buffalo on the divide between that river and the Wichita.  To use the words of one of the party, “it seemed as though all the buffalo on the plains had emigrated to Texas.” The paths were innumerable. Every green thing had been devoured, and that there was no grazing for their oxen. They were forced to return to Millers Creek, where they joined Shaw and Davis. Hawes had taken over 300 hides, and gone into camp 5 miles further up the creek. The country was black with bison. The men hunted three weeks longer and then flour ran short and the weather became bad. They returned to Jacksboro, after nearly 4 months absence. Over 1200 buffalo, thirty-eight deer, fifty-two wolves and twenty-seven coyotes had been killed and skinned, and one wild horse captured.


Graham says that he sold 100 buffalo hides at Sherman for $140. This was his first hunt. On the following where he went up into the Cedar Mountains, about sixty miles southwest of Fort Griffin, and “killed for meat.”  The meat was cured and afterwards sold in Dallas. Only the hams are taken. The rest of the carcasses is left to the wolves and ravens. The hams, when cut up and thoroughly cured, will not average more than eighty pounds apiece. In two months Graham killed and salted down hundred 113 buffalo. He hunted the beast up to the winter of 1877. Long before that the brawny Missouri and Kansas professionals had swept down into the country with their “prairie shooters.” Graham says the slaughter was terrific. Long, of Fort Griffin, killed 3000 in one winter, and big Jim White, of Kansas, 800 in a month. Jim is said to have killed thirty-one buffalo in thirty-two consecutive shots. All these beast were killed for their hides. The flesh, horns and hoofs were wasted. Thousands of tons of meat as good as beef rotted on the prairies while hundreds of persons were starving in Eastern cities. “Enough was wasted,” said Graham, “to have made the siege of Paris as long as the siege of Troy.”


Some of the buffalo hunters own many teams and pay their hunters by the month, or allow them a percentage of the profits. The killer commands the highest price, the Skinners and the camp followers ranging next in pay. The killer rides ahead on the pony, with rifle across the pommel of his saddle. His belt is filled with cartridges, which he allows no one to load but himself. The Skinners follow in a wagon. When the herd is sighted, the killer rides as near as possible, taking advantage of the wind in any inequalities of ground. After tying his pony to a mesquite bush, he drops upon his knees and begins to crawl upon the herd. Once within rifle shot, he lies facedown word, and places two rest-sticks , something like and X on the ground. Over the sticks he sights his game. After the first shot the herd generally run at least a hundred yards. Then they turned about and watch the struggles of the dying buffalo. If the killer keeps cover, the herd may come back and paw around the dead body, as cattle do when they smell blood. The killer always tries to shoot the animals likely to lead the herd away. This is what is termed “holding the herd.” It requires great experience. When the leaders fall, the herd, seeing their bodies on the ground, frequently lie down among them, and stay there until stampeded.

The killers work completed, he signals for the wagons to come up, and the Skinners draw their knives. Two ropes attached to the axles, trail behind the wagon. Each terminates in a loop. The loops are placed over a fore and hind leg, the team is started, and the dead animal turned on its back. It is held in this position by scotching the wagon. The Skinners roll up their sleeves and go to work. The hide is peeled from the belly by a man on each side. Each Skinner carries two knives, one for skinning and the other for ripping. The knives are frequently sharpened. A grindstone is usually carried in the wagon. After the hide is removed it is thrown into the wagon, and the Skinners move on from carcass to carcass, until the “whole stand,” as it is called, is skinned.


When taken to camp the pelts are laid in rows in a place known as “the hide yard.” They are spread out flesh side up, and holes are cut near the edges within acts or Tomahawk. If not pressed for time a knife may be used. One of the party that goes around with an arm full of pegs, and distributes them on the hides. He averages about 16 pegs to the hide. The skins are next stretched in the pegs driven into the ground. The hides remained there until they become as hard as flint. They are then taken up and sunned. After a day or two they are cramped or folded, flesh side in, like the leaves of a book. Next they are piled readily for market. Hides are taken in summer are sprinkled with poison to keep the bugs out of them. Thousands of hides are spoiled by the rains. Frequently the wolves get at them and tear them to pieces. Some hunters kill the animals all the year round and even slaughtering the cows with calf. Others condemned this practice, and will not associate with those who follow it. There are many professional terms. A ‘cripple” is a buffalo that has been wounded and is after word discovered and killed .A ‘spike” is a young bull. The best hides are tanned and reserved for robes. Others are made into leather. The coarser ones are turned into harness, being too porous for shoes.


Those who hunt the bison for his meat are a class by themselves. A hole like a grave is dug in the ground and a hide placed there in with the fur toward the earth. The rim of the hide is staked to the edge of the grave, and makes a leather vat. The hams, are cut into three chunks and thrown into the vat. They are sprinkled with salt and seasoned with saltpeter. The vat is then covered within a stiff hide and the meat thus protected from the sun. Tongues are pickled in a similar way. After the meat is thoroughly soaked it is taken out of the vat and cut into smooth pieces. These pieces are strung on bear grass and hung in a rude smokehouse covered with hides. The meat can not be smoked too much. It cures according to the weather. Sometimes it is in the smokehouse two months before it is marketable. It finds a ready sale in the frontier towns, and is frequently sold as far South as New Orleans. It is very palatable.

“Half the fun in killing buffalo,” said Graham, “is in observing their curious actions. I have stuck up a hat and seen a whole herd gather around it, and stare at it for hours. If one animal gets bogged, a half-dozen others are pretty sure to fall into the trap. Anything will stampede them. The stupidity is most remarkable . As stupid as a buffalo” is a common expression among herders. The little calves are more suspicious than their parents. Bulls have shorter tales than cows. There’d tales are bad fly brushes, for they could not hit a fly in a week.”

When the fleshy side of the green hide is exposed to the sun, the skin becomes as hard as iron. Four years ago a party of Texas cow-boys caught a horse thief on the border of the Indian territory. As there was no tree handy on which to hang him, they sewed him up in a green buffalo hide and left it on the plains, under the burning sun. A year after word the hide was found. The skeleton rattled within it as to dried peas in a pod. It was cut open within acts, and the remains of the unfortunate for speed were identified by the clothes.


By William J. Bennett of Pearsall, Texas

My father moved to Texas in 1848 from Randolph County, Missouri, and settled on the Trinity River about five miles from Fort Worth, which was at that time an Indian Reservation with Lieutenant Worth in command of the post. There was only one store there then. The Indians often came to my father’s house and were friendly to the few white settlers there. Game was plentiful, deer, turkey, buffalo and prairie chickens, as well as the fiercer animals. We lived near Fort Worth four or five years, until father sold out to a man named Parker, and we moved above Fort Worth some twenty miles to Newark. After remaining there a few years we then moved down to Frio County in the fall of 1858 and located on the Leona River, where we found a fine country, with wild game and fish galore. We brought with us about four hundred head of cattle, which were allowed to roam at will over the excellent range, there being no fences to keep them confined to the immediate vicinity of our ranch. But they did not get far away from us for some time, or until other ranchers began to locate around us, when the cattle began to mix with other cattle and then began to stray off, some drifting as far as the Rio Grande or the coast. Soon the settlers began to organize cow hunts and work the cattle. I have been on cow hunts when there were as many as one hundred men working together from different counties. Stockmen of today do not know anything about the hard work and the strenuous times we encountered in those days. Sometimes we would be out for weeks at a time, starting every morning at daylight, and probably not getting in before dark, tired and hungry, and having to do without dinner all day. Our fare consisted of cornbread, black coffee and plenty of good beef.


Wilmington Chronicle
Wilmington, North Carolina Oct. 23, 1850

Resources of Texas

Texas embraces so vast a scope of country possessing so great a variety of soil and climate, and so diversified by hill and dale, high woods and level plains, that every taste can be suited and every description of agricultural labor be successfully prosecuted. The capacity of Texas as a sugar and cotton growing region, has been briefly noticed in our former articles. We now beg leave to call attention to that particular section of the state lying north of the cotton district proper. This section is neither small nor unfruitful, but has as yet been little disturbed, except by marauding Indians, who gallop over the prairies in search of the buffalo, occasionally scalping a party of hunters or Santa Fe traders, who are too weak for defense, and sometimes making an excursion into the “settlements” for the purpose of stealing horses and scalps.

A few hardy pioneers, fond of adventure, and inpatient of the restraints of civilized society, have sought scenes and events congenial to their rough natures and rude tastes, by penetrating far into the frontiers, where the wolf’s howl and the panther’s scream are their favorite music, the elk’s haunch their delicacies, the buffalo skin their bed, and the savage red-skin their companion.

But little has been done toward testing the capabilities of the country for agricultural purposes above were caught has been successfully grown, but enough is known to settle its character as a fine grain-growing country. There is a portion of the cotton region where small grain has been experimented on with the most encouraging success. All of what are  denominated the Red River counties, all the country from that to the upper Trinity, extending 200 miles on that stream above and below the three forks, reaching beyond the Cross Timbers, is a scope of country of surprising fertility, and pronounced by that best judges superior to Missouri as a wheat country. Between the Red river and upper Trinity, there is a larger body of rich land, without any admixture of poor, then can probably be found elsewhere on the continent of America. This description of country extends to most of the Trinity, taking in the Navissoto, Brazos, Colorado, and sources of Guadalupe, with occasional interruptions, to our Western boundary. Some of the tributaries of the Colorado are represented as surprisingly beautiful and rich; in the Valley of the San Saba, grows luxuriantly, wheat, rye, barley, and oats, in natures form, planted by the same hand that planted the tree of life and the first garden, watched over by no eye but that which surveys the universe, and harvested only by the bison and the wild deer. The spontaneous productions of a soil is considered unmistakable proof of its adaptation to those productions — better limitations could not be given; it is the voice of nature untaught by the husbandman’s art, speaking through her own acts, making indigenous that which is peculiarly suited to particular localities. If we regard the syndication, then Texas, we must conclude, is preeminently adapted to the growth of small grain, since rye and other descriptions of grain grow in rich luxuriance over a territory as large as some of the European kingdoms, or states of the America Union. –Texas paper.


The Evening Post
New York, New York Sep. 27, 1850


We, and St. Louis, are glad to have the Texas question settled, even at that extravagant cost of ten millions. It is, in fact, a gratuity, not so much to quit title as to quiet agitation. Though nominally to go to Texas and to buy off her claims of sovereignty, it is really, in its ultimate purpose, to buy the treasonable platform upon which southern, buffalo hunting, Cuba-pirating fanatics, were endeavoring to rally their forces, and exchange their multifarious uniforms for a coat of white color. A clash of arms between Texas and the United States would have been music in the ears of this company; and opinion here will not rebel, though dissatisfied to a very considerable extent with the boundaries of New Mexico. We are wary of this congressional debate; and not a few of us would be glad to see New Mexico, at once into the Union of the States, with a free Constitution, and so have done with this eternal struggle between the propagandist of slavery and the natural and inevitable bent of our national spirit. Let alone is our doctrine: neither extension, nor restriction; except the last, at the will of the states having the power.


1860s-80s: Railroad divides bison into northern and southern herds.


1866 July 6th, Brooklyn, New York
A St Paul paper publishes some facts which indicate that the cattle disease is raging among the buffalo on the Northwestern prairies, numbers of these animals having been found dead, with no marks to account for the cause of death. Many cattle also have been attacked, and died at Pembina, with what is supposed to be disease identical with that now spreading through Europe.



By J. N. Byler of Dallas, Texas

In 1867 Butler, Baylor & Rose drove a herd to Abilene, Kansas, as did also Pucket & Rogers.

In 1868 the drives were pretty heavy, but further west, crossing Red River at Gainesville. In 1869 and 1870 they were heavier still, most of the herds crossing at Red River Station, passing east of old Fort Sill and west of the Indian and negro settlements, over which route water and grass were plentiful. This was known as the old Chisholm Trail. When we reached Kansas we usually found plenty of buffalo. When these animals were disturbed they would begin to travel northward. That is where the expression “wild and woolly” originated. When the boys reached “Abilene or some other Kansas town, they were usually long-haired and needing a barber’s attention, as there were no barbers on the trail. Upon being asked how they got there, they would sing out : “Come the Chisholm trail with the buffalo wild and woolly.”


Lawrence Daily Journal
Lawrence, Kansas Sep 25, 1869


Our railroad friends in Texas, we are glad to see, are quite as anxious for railway connection with Kansas, and thence with the Northern and Eastern system of roads, as our people and their anxiety to speedily push the Galveston road southward to the gulf. The Galveston News says:

“In a few months, the Texas Central Railroad and the railroads coming from Kansas will be three hundred and seventy-five miles apart. There are now about four hundred miles between them. But a few months ago the distance between them was upward of five hundred miles. And now we have promise that the work of construction is to go forward with more rapidity. Doubtless there will be delays, but if that reduction of the distance to the extent of sixty miles a year at each and should be accomplished, a little over three years would effect the meeting. That it will go forward with greater average rapidity than this, we have very little doubt. As the distance grows less the work will be quickened.”

In a “minor note” we recently stated that the Galveston road ought and we believed would be completed in three years. The above statement of facts from our Galveston exchange corroborates our confidence and belief. We can assure the News that this and of the road will be constructed at a more rapid rate than sixty miles per year. In from six weeks to two months an additional section of twenty-eight miles, to Garnett county seat of Anderson ‘those gardens of the desert, those unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful, for which the speech of English has no name,” and girl of spirit that she was, she chose the latter. The result shows itself in the elasticity of her every movement, in the bright flash of her dark eyes, and in the bronze of her cheeks.”  (This story continues in 1869 history , it is referring to Salli Tallmadge, who went on a buffalo hunt with Gen Custer and party, at age 17 and killed two. )


By Richard (Dick) Withers of Boyes, Montana – 1869

I was raised on my father’s ranch eight miles north of Lockhart, Caldwell County, Texas, and made my first trip up the trail in 1869.

Before we reached the Arkansas River I killed a buffalo cow and roped her calf. Intending to take the calf with me, I necked it to a yearling, but it was so wild and stubborn it fought until it died.

I am living at Boyes, Montana, now about one hundred miles from where I delivered those cattle on the Belle Fourche River below the old ranch. I went from Lodge Pole down the canyon to the Belle Fourche River, and within a week had the cattle branded and delivered. That was in September, and as some of the boys wanted to wash up before starting back to Ogallala, several of our outfit went buffalo hunting and we killed all the buffalo we wanted. Those were the last buffalo I have seen.



1870 An estimated two million bison were killed this year on the southern plains. Germany had developed a process to tan bison hides into fine leather.

1870’s It became obvious that owning bison was profitable. More and more people were capturing free ranging bison to establish private herds.


By B. A. Borroum of Del Rio, Texas

My first experience on theB.A. Borroum trail was in the year 1870. About the first of “April of that year I started from Monroe Choate’s Ranch in Karnes County with a herd of cattle belonging to Choate & Bennett. E. B. Rutledge was the boss and part owner. Among the hands were Jesse McCarty, Drew Lamb, George Blackburn, John Strait, and one or two others whose names I have forgotten. Going north all the time, we crossed the Guadalupe at Gonzales, the Colorado at Austin, the Brazos at Old Fort Graham, the Trinity at Fort Worth, Red River at Red
River Station, the Washita at Dr. Stearn’s, the Red Fork near Turkey Creek Stage Stand in Kaw Reservation, the Salt Fork at Cow Creek Station, the Arkansas at Wichita, the Smoky at Abilene, Kansas, which was our destination, and where we arrived about July first.
Like many others, when I had work for the time being I did not think I would ever make another trip up the trail, but also like many others, when the next drive came I was ” ‘rarin” to go. In the spring of 1871 I again went up with a herd belonging to Choate & Bennett, with Jack Scroggin as boss and part owner. The hands on this trip were W. M. Choate, John Paschal, Monroe Stewart, Joe Copeland, John Ferrier, myself and John Sumner, the cook. We started from Rock Creek, Atascosa County, about the first of “April and traveled the same trail after coming into it at Gonzales through to Abilene. We went into the Chisholm Trail about three miles below Red River Station, and just as soon as we crossed Red River all our stock seemed to go wild, especially our horses, although we did not come into contact with any buffalo until we reached a point between the Red Fork and the Salt Fork of the “Arkansas River. Several herds lost heavily at that time by cattle and horses getting into the buffalo drifts, which were at that season drifting northward. These animals were in countless numbers; in fact, the whole face of the earth seemed to be literally covered with them, all going in the same direction. The drovers were compelled to send men on ahead to keep them from stampeding their herds. On a plain about halfway between the Red Fork and the Salt Fork we had to stop our herds until the buffalo passed. Buffalo, horses, elk, deer, antelope, wolves, and some cattle were all mixed together, and it took several hours for them to pass, with our assistance, so that we could proceed on our journey. I think there were more buffalo in that herd than I ever saw of any living thing, unless it was an army of grasshoppers in Kansas in July, 1874. Just after we crossed the Red Fork I went on ahead of the herd to the Trinity Creek Stage Stand, a distance of about six miles, and at this place I found the present president of the Old Trail Drivers’ “Association, George W. Saunders, surrounded by a big bunch of Kaw Indians. George was mounted on a little gray bob-tailed pony, his saddle had no horn, and one stirrup leather was made of rawhide and the other was a grass hopple. He was trying his best to trade those Indians out of a buffalo gun, as he was in the buffalo range. And he made the deal. I never saw him again until after we reached Kansas, when the drovers made up an outfit to bring their horses back to Texas. George and I were in this outfit and we came back the trail we had gone up, except we crossed Red River at Gainesville instead of at Red River Station.



By W. F. Cude of San Antonio, Texas

In the year 1861 war broke out between the States and it lasted four years, and during all this time there was no market, so the country was beginning to be overrun with cattle so much that thousands died. Some people went out with a wagon and an ax and killed and skinned them for their hides, which sold for one dollar apiece, though there was not much killing of animals for the hides except where the animal was down on the lift or in a bog hole. This was in 1869 and 1870.

Up until 1872 there was not over 150 miles of railroad in the state; that was from Galveston to Houston, and a short line from Houston to Brazoria, twenty-five miles in length, and one road from Harrisburg to Alleyton, three miles east of Columbus.

There were but few settlements on the way after we passed Dallas, and when we reached the settlements in Kansas we were all joyful again. We passed through many prairie dog towns and over rattlesnake dens, and lost only one horse from rattlesnake bite. Many kinds of wild animals were to be seen along the way, such as antelope, elk and buffalo, and we killed one buffalo calf and brought it into camp, though I did not like the meat as well as that of our cattle.

The country was one vast stretch of rich land, no timber except on creeks or rivers, and when we came in sight of timber we knew there would be water. In some instances we had to haul our wood to cook with, but generally we would have to gather buffalo chips (dry dung) for that purpose.



By C. H. Rust of San Angelo, Texas

As one of the old cowpunchers that enjoyed the life on the Chisholm cow trail that led from Texas to Kansas between 1867 and 1885, the object, as you will readily see, is to keep alive the memories of those early pioneer days. My own interest in these matters is no more than that of any other old-time cowboy who enjoyed the life of those days, but I would like to see in my own day and time some record left to perpetuate the memories of the life of the old cowboy on the trails and the men that followed them.

What happened on these old trails betweeen 1867 and 1885 is history, but at this present time there is no milepost or stone to mark their location.

I wish to call your attention to the information I can give of those days, the conditions that led up to them, the effect they had on the men who experienced them and on the development of the great Southwest.

I was born in the old red hills of Georgia in 1850. My father and mother emigrated to Texas in 1854. In 1863 my father pushed far out, almost to the danger line, to where the Caddo Peaks and Santa Anna Mountains stand as silent sentinels overlooking the valley of the Colorado River and the great Concho country to the west, far out where countless thousands of buffalo roamed at will, where deer, antelope and wild turkey seemed to have taken possession of the whole country. This wonderful panorama loomed up to me, as a boy, as the idle and happy hunting ground that I had long dreamed of, with the silvery watered streams, like narrow ribbons, winding their way toward the Gulf of Mexico.

I am so tempted that I cannot refrain from quoting from Chapter 1, The Quirt and the Spur, by Edgar Rye, it fits so well in the time and condition : “Far out beyond the confines of civilization ; far out where daring men took possession of the hunting ground of the Indians and killed herds of buffalo to make a small profit in pelts, leaving the carcass to putrefy and the bones to bleach on the prairies. Far out where cattlemen disputed over the possession of mavericks and the branding iron was the only evidence of ownership. Far out where a cool head backed the deadly six-shooter and the man behind the gun, with a steady aim and a quick trigger, won out in the game where life was staked upon the issue. Far out where the distant landscape melted into the blue horizon and a beautiful mirage was painted on the skyline.




J. Garner, Loveland, ColoradoT.J. Garner

In 1870 I made my first trip up the trail for Peck & Evans. We left Gonzales about the first of March and got along fine until we reached Fort Worth. There we had four inches of snow and very cold weather. Went to Gainesville, crossed Red River and went out by Fort Arbuckle, on to Wichita and Abilene, Kansas. We saw a great many buffalo and lots of Indians, but had no trouble with them. We delivered our herd and went home.

In the fall of 1870 I joined the Texas Rangers at Gonzales, and was mustered in at San Antonio. Went to Montague county and fought Indians that winter and also the following spring and summer. Had some close calls but came out without a scratch.



The Holt County Sentinel
Oregon, Missouri May 27, 1870

By the Author of “Adventures in Texas.”

Whoever would now hunt the bison, or buffalo, as he is always named upon the plains, must seek him far west of the Mississippi. Formally, the buffalo is said to have wandered over nearly all North America, though it is probable that the Atlantic States were too heavily timbered to be a favorite range with these prairie-loving animals. During the short northern summer they have occasionally been seen as far north as the Great Slave Lake; but as soon as the first chill of the terrible northern winter approaches they take the hint, and migrate for more genial latitudes, sometimes going as far south as Cohahuilla; but their favorite winter range has always been the ever-sunny prairies of North-western Texas.

Before the introduction of the horse, the Indians were obliged to stalk the buffalo, and shoot it with their arrows, or else “stampede” the herd, and drive it over the bluff bank of some precipice, where they tumbled down pell-mell to the bottom of the canon, when the red men came up, and, vulcher-like, gorged themselves upon the flesh as long as it remained good. Since the introduction of the horse, however, the prairie tribes are all mounted, and the “drive” has given place to the “run;” nor could a fairer field be found for this sport than are those seas of grass upon which the buffalo is found.

Sometimes the prairie-hunter finds himself upon a flat prairie, where he can command a view for ten or fifteen miles in any direction from the center of the circle he occupies; at another time, when upon a “rolling” prairie, he cannot see further than a mile or two, and it is necessary to spend some time upon it ore he can conceive its extent.

When first seen, the buffalo presents a very strange appearance, the smooth hind-quarters reminding you of the familiar farm yard cattle, whilst the great shoulder-hump, the shaggy fore-quarters, and the savage beards and manes upon the bulls give them a ferocious as well as comical look.

Their motions are not less singular than their appearance. With their tail stuck up right on end, and shaking their shaggy manes, they rush off with the roll in their gallop which is apt to deceive the spectator as to the real pace they are going at, whilst the earth shakes as they thunder over it.

In running buffalo the white man uses generally a smooth-bore, as the bullets, which may be carried in the mouth, can be dropped down upon the powder without its being necessary to use a ramrod, the moisture on the bullet causing the powder to adhere to it, which is quite sufficient to hold the bullet in its place for the moment or two it is required, as during the run the gun is carried muzzle and air, and is only thrown down against the animal the moment it is discharged. Of late years, Colts heavy six-shooters have been much used, as the cylinder, when emptied of its charges, can be instantly replaced by a loaded one.

Among the Indians the bow is almost universally used; for, although some possess fire-arms, they are not so expert in their use as they are with their ancient weapons. The Indian bow is a short weapon, rarely been more than 30 inches in length; so that they can readily use it on horseback. The bow is generally made of cedar or bois d’ arc, and these are stiffened and strengthened by having sinews glued to the back the entire length; the strings are twisted sinews, generally deer’s; and the arrows are as various as the owners, some been made of dog-wood, others of cane, etc., whilst all are tipped with flint or iron. Thus armed, and Indian warrior will drive his arrow close through the largest bison bull where a bullet from a rifle would have flattened ere it had gone half the distance.

The rifle, the deadly weapon of the backwoodsman when pursuing deer, bear, or turkeys in the woods, is comparatively worthless in a buffalo run; it consumes too much time in loading; the tightly-patched bulls requires too much force to send it home; and, during that time so occupied, one Indian would discharge half a dozen arrows, and a hunter armed with a Colt would fire as many shots. Unwieldy as the buffalo appears, he is, nevertheless, very quick in his motions, and very shy and wary; if the sees or scents a human being, he takes to sudden and rapid flight.

In the Indian warrior and his steed, when stripped for a buffalo run, would form a subject for a list. A single feather floats from the chivalrous scalp-lock, his quiver of arrows is slung across his back, and his powerful, clastic bow is in hand; all else is naked to the waist-belt; below, his legs are encased in their fringed leggings, the fringes being the scalp-lock of his slain foes. His fiery wild horse, with gleaming eyes peeping through a mane that hangs in heavy masses over his broad forehead and floats and long waves from ears to shoulder, paws the ground impatiently, and arches his neck as he scents the game he is about to pursue. Then let the warrior spring to the back of his steed and dash off – wild horses and wild rider-and you see a representation of the living centaur, a mass of moving health and life that no painter could hope to transfer to his canvas.

Imagine, then, instead of one warrior, a hundred, all stripped ready for the run, all well mounted on their trained buffalo horses, all dashing and eager rivalry upon the brown masses of the buffalo, who, wild with tear at the yells of their pursuers, are flying over the prairie, whilst, with inflated nostrils, distended eyes, and swelling muscles, the tawny warriors thunder in the rear, each stride of their mustangs bringing them upon better terms with their victims, as each selects his game, and, placing his arrow on the string, bends the stout bow till its extremities almost meet. Then, losing the arrow, he sends it through hide and muscle, flesh and fat, till the huge animal, stumbling on a few paces, curls up his tail in the air, and falling on his knees, dies. A long quavering shout tells of success and the “brave” urges on his fleet little horse after another. If proper skill has been exhibited, each arrow has brought a huge carcass down, while some peculiarity in the make or staining of the shaft, points out whose hand twanged the bow. After the run is over, the arrows are handed to their owners by the squaws, who follow to do the work of butchery; and, if more than one arrow has been used, or if any has been carried off by wounded animals, the unskillful hunter is taunted and laugh at by the squaws, and he is glad to hide himself until, upon some happier occasion, he shall have retrieved his character as a hunter.

The squaws, I am said, follow the hunter; theirs is to the task to skin, to select the choice pieces for immediate consumption, and to dry and preserve that which is not at once devoured. At the feast which follows the savage gluts himself with the choicest parts of the game, and his time is spent in wasteful indulgence and tell all his provisions are expended, when the scene is repeated; for animal life is abundant on the prairies, and a brisk gallop supplies his necessities.

It was in Northern Texas, where the whole year round is one continued spring, so delightful is the climate, but I had my first run at buffalo. Without our guide, an old frontiersman, we numbered six in our party, and we rode gayly forward over the prairie in search of our mighty game. We had not far to go and had not left our camp where we had passed the night two miles behind us, when we discovered a herd of buffalo feeding in the distance.

The blood, which with anticipation had coursed quickly through our veins, now at the sight seemed to boil, and our first impulse was to charge headlong at the herd. Our guide, who had killed buffalo ever since he could recollect, prevented this fall he by pointing out to us that to charge at the distance we were, and with the wind, would only blow our horses for nothing; and we soon felt the force of what he said. Circling round the herd, then, so as to avoid giving them are wind, we approach them on one side until we were about half a mile distant, when the word was given to charge, and off we went at the top speed of our horses, and we got within four hundred yards ere we were detected.

For one instant they seemed undecided as to our character; the next, after giving a loud snort, they dashed off at their best pace; and our horses, which were all buffalo-runners, if some of their writers were not, increase their speed, and seemed to fully as anxious as their masters to overhaul the flying game. With their absurd little tails, absurd when compared with the animals size, cock straight up in the air, and running close together, the buffalo held their course, whilst we, thundering after, endeavored to single out a beast, range along side, and then empty our gun into its side, behind or through the shoulder.

Repeated cracks of our fire-arms were heard in various directions, and, except in the line of our guide, who had bro’t down two animals, nothing was to be seen effected by our burning powder. Having got a bullet about half driven home, which at full gallop I was unable to force farther, whilst pulling up would only have thrown me out of the run altogether, I contented myself by watching the prowess of the guide, who at each discharge of his rifle sent down a buffalo in a cloud of dust upon the plain.

At last even he had had enough, and pulled up his now almost blown horse, when we did the same, and then I managed to finish loading my rifle. The guide gave me a satisfied chuckle as he looked back at the dark masses which marked his line in the run, and which had so lately been full of life, and health and power, whilst I felt very small at my want of success.

Gazing after the retreating herd, I noticed a large bull stop. It had been either wounded by my comrades, or perhaps I had given it the fatal ball. At any rate, I determined to give it the coup de grace, and, writing up, took a steady aim at the centre of its forehead. The ball flattened upon the matted mass of hair on the stout skull bone. Only a novice would have done us aimed at the head. In an instant the fierce beast was down upon me full charge, and, had not my good little horse nimbly swerved aside, the rush would have cost us both dearly. Loading again, and taught by experience, I tried a more vulnerable part, and this time with success. Upon receiving this shot the bull fell heavily forward, a quiver or two shook the huge frame, then all was still, in the wild Lord of the prairie was dead.

It was not a satisfactory hunt as far as I was individually concerned; but I took comfort from the thought that all things must have a beginning, even buffalo hunting.

I may add, for the sake of those readers who justly disapproved of the wanton destruction even of wild animals, but in my case the experience was not the pleasure of the sportsman, but it was for part of the early training for the life of a professional hunter, which I followed for some years in Texas.



By Mrs. A. Burks, Cotulla, Texas – 1871Mrs. Amanda Burks

My husband, Mr. W. F. Burks, and I lived on a ranch at Banquette, Nueces County, during the days that Texas cattle could be marketed only by driving them over the old Kansas Trail.

When cold weather came the market was still low and Mr. Burks decided to winter his cattle, with others he had bought, on Smoky River.

Mr. Burks wanted me to stay in town at Ellsmore, but after being there a few days, and witnessing another fire in which a hotel and several residences were burned, I preferred camp.

A man who lived some distance from camp was paid to feed the horses through the winter, but soon after we heard that he was starving them. A boy was sent to get them and as he was returning, the first severe snowstorm of the season overtook him at nightfall and he had to take refuge for himself and horses in a wayside stable. Next morning he was awakened by a commotion among the horses, and found the owner of the stable trying to punch out the horses’ eyes with a pitchfork. Such was the hatred felt for strangers in this region.

Nine horses were lost in this snowstorm. Many of the young cattle lost their horns from the cold. Blocks of ice had to be chopped out of the streams in order that the cattle could drink.

The first taste of early winter in Kansas decided Mr. Burks to sell his cattle and leave for Sunny Texas as soon as possible, and he met with no discouragement of his plans from me, for never had I endured such cold.

So in December, we left Kansas, dressed as if we were Esquimaux, and carrying a bucket of frozen buffalo tongues as a souvenir for my friends in Texas. Our homeward journey was made by rail to New Orleans via St. Louis, and by water from New Orleans to Corpus Christi via Galveston and Indianola.

I arrived home in much better health than when I left it nine months before.




By M. L. Bolding, of Bartlett, Texas

I was born in Mississippi and there I spent my childhood and early manhood, coming to Texas in 1867 and settling in Williamson county.

My first experience on the trail was in the year 1871, which was followed by another trip in 1872, and concerning the latter I shall relate I was a member of the crew of W. T. Avery of Hutto, Texas, and after rounding up two thousand steers and with all the necessary paraphernalia consisting of chuck wagon, extra saddle horses and other things, we left Brushy Creek for Kansas on April 15, 1872. We crossed Little River west of Temple, Texas, which at that time was a prairie; the Brazos at Waco, which was then a small town; the Trinity at Forth Worth, which consisted of a blacksmith shop, and Red River west of Sherman, which was at that time a large country town. Upon entering the Indian Nation, now the state of Oklahoma, we encountered Indians, buffaloes and wild horses. We followed a trail known as the main western trail and, due to heavy rains and the cattle stampeding, together with trouble with the Indians, we experienced many hardships.



By F. M. Polk of Luling, Texas

My first experience on the cow trail was in 1872. I went with Joe Tennison and Warnell Polk, my father. We traveled the trail known as “the Old Chisholm Trail.” We left for Lockhart, Texas, on the first of April and went by way of Fort Worth. Fort Worth was a new town then and, of course, we had to stop over and see the sights. After leaving Fort Worth we made good time until we reached Red River, which we crossed at Red River Station. The river was swollen by the heavy spring rains and we were forced to swim our cattle through very deep and swift water. We lost a few, but felt lucky in getting off light.

We were a care-free bunch, had lots of fun and also lots of hard work. It was the spring of the year and the woods were very beautiful. We would pitch our tents at night, get our work all done, and after supper would light our pipes and sit or lounge around the campfire and listen to the other men spin their hair-raising yarns, of their earlier trips. We would then make our beds, using our saddles for pillows, stretch our tired limbs and soon be sound asleep and know nothing else until morning, unless something happened to disturb the cattle, when we would bound up and be ready for action.

I recall one stampede, especially on this trip. We had camped on the south side of the North Canadian River one stormy night and after retiring we heard a big noise and we were up and out to the cattle in a very few minutes. We soon realized that we had our hands full, for the cattle had scattered everywhere and it required two days to get them back together again. As we went through the country, it kept us busy looking out for Indians and buffalo. One man was always sent ahead to keep the buffaloes out of the herd and scout for Indians, for they were very savage at this time and we never knew when they would attack us. We landed in Wichita, Kansas, some time near the middle of July without serious mishaps or the loss of very many cattle.

Now in Taylor Texas April 18th, just received 300 steers.

: “Cattle driving is just about the easiest job I know of,” but, alas, peace never lasted long on the cattle trail. I don’t remember just where we struck the Western Chisholm Trail, but as we neared Little River we had a terrible storm and rain. The cattle became frightened and pulled off a big show. It took us three days to get them all together again, and when we reached the river we had to swim the cattle. They were restless and unruly and it took us two days to get them all across. We had a fellow by the name of Rufe Fuller taking care of the horses, and in crossing the river he drowned the horse he was riding and one of the bunch he was driving. We made pontoons and fastened them to our wagons to float them across. We made good time after that until we reached Pease River, but here we had a big stampede and had to lay over two days to gather up our cattle. The country was lined with antelope and prairie dogs and we found great sport killing them.

We crossed the Red River into the Indian Territory at Doan’s Store, and here we struck the Indians by the thousands. We kept our eyes open and managed to keep peace by giving them a beef every day. They would come to us fifty and one hundred at a time. Some would ride with us all day and they always asked for a cow, which they called “Wahaw,” Wahaw,” and, of course, we acted like we were glad to give it to them, but we were not very badly frightened. We all had our guns and knew how to use them if we got in a tight. As we went through this part of the country we had great sport roping buffalo and elk. You could look across the prairie and .see hundreds of them in droves.


Atchison, Kansas Feb 3, 1872


 A proposition has been made to the government, by the Kansas Pacific railroad, looking to the utilization of the buffaloes, which now roam in vast herds upon our western plains. This plan is simply to reserve large tracts of ground for the purpose of breeding and it rearing the animals, which are to be “corralled” in Texas. The uses of the buffalo to civilization are twofold. In the first place, if not too old, the buffalo serves more very good eating — in fact, in the way of a stake he cannot be surpassed, unless, indeed, an epicure should prefer the “haunch.” Then again, his shaggy covering, reduced to a “robe,” becomes very valuable. On the whole, the buffalo or bison, unlike most undomesticated animals, is useful to man in various ways, and the idea of thus utilizing it strikes us as being a good one. Certainly, lovers of good eating would be glad to be able to order of their butcher buffalo meat for breakfast or dinner as they now do in the matter of more familiar but less juicy animals.


1873 On the southern plains, slaughter reached its peak. One railroad shipped nearly three million pounds of bones. Hides sold for $1.25 each, tongues brought 25 cents a piece – most of the bison was left to rot. A railway engineer said it was possible to walk A100 miles along the Santa Fe railroad right-of-way by stepping from one bison carcass to another.
Columbus Delano, Secretary of the Interior, under President Grant, wrote in his 1873 report, AI would not seriously regret the total disappearance of the buffalo from our western prairies, in the effect upon the Indians. I would regard it rather as a means of hastening their sense of dependence upon the products of the soil and their own labors.



By C. W. Ackermann of San Antonio

1873 March 4th

Upon reaching the Canadian River we found that so high we could not cross for two days.C W Ackerman of San Antonio

Our next stop was on Bluff Creek, on the line of Kansas. There one of our men, Joe Menges, roped a buffalo calf which we carried with us to Wichita and sold it to “Buffalo Joe,” who was running a beer garden for the amusement of the trail men.

We camped on the river called Ninnesquaw for three months in order to fatten our cattle for the market. Then my father came to Kansas by train and sold them.

On the seventh of September we began our return trip, bringing with us forty-five head of saddle ponies. It took us twenty-seven days to make the return trip to San Antonio. Only five of us made the return trip, Hartmann, Eisenhauer, Markwardt, Smith, and myself.

On my journey I saw many buffalo, but killed only one great big one. I also killed seven antelopes.

One morning while I was eating breakfast one of the boys came running up and said, “Chris, come on quick, buffalo ran in the herd and they have stampeded.” I jumped on my horse and went with him. The first thing I saw was one of the boys, Philip Prinz, galloping after some buffaloes trying to rope one. When he spied me he came and asked me for my horse. I would not give it to him and told him to let the buffalo alone if he didn’t want to get killed. He got a little sore at me, but we rode on back to camp together.

I think we were the. youngest bunch of trailmen on the “Trail” that year. The oldest man, “Ad. Markwardt, our cook, was only twenty-five years old, and the rest were between eighteen and twenty-two years. Those that rode the “Trail” with me were Alf. Hartmann, Steve Wooler, Joe Menges, Phil Prinz, Louis Eisenhauer, Ad Markwardt, Henry Smith, a negro, and my brother, Fred.

In August of that year, I started out with two saddle horses and one pack horse. I went in a northwestern direction, then turned toward the Concho country. I went as far as the New Mexico boundary line, then started back home.

The country I traveled through was very wild. There were just a few small settlements scattered here and there and the people even seemed uncivilized.

I saw antelope and buffalo by the thousands. It was that year the government was trying to kill out the buffalo. I passed many mule teams loaded with buffalo hides. Even though the country was wild I found some excellent locations for a ranch, especially in the Concho country.



Buffalo Hunt in Taylor County, 1874

Buffalo Hunt, 1874

This series of photos depicts a buffalo hunt in Taylor County in 1874. Buffalo in Texas were first described by Cabeza de Vaca. Texas was home to four main herds, and at the height of their population, their trails could be several miles wide. What became known as the “great slaughter” took place in the 1870s, and by 1878 the buffalo in Texas was all but exterminated.
Taylor County Buffalo Hunt, 1874. From William J. Oliphant’s stereographic series “Life on the Frontier.” Photography by George Robertson. Modern prints made circa 1926. Prints and Photographs Collection.



1874: Comanche defeat opens bison range for hide hunting.
This year marked the seeming end of the great southern herd. Auctions in Fort Worth, Texas were moving 200,000 hides every day or two. One railroad shipped nearly 7 million pounds of buffalo bones.
Congress advanced their efforts to save the bison. Both the House and Senate passed a bill that protected female bison and did away with wanton destruction. However, President Grant refused to sign the bill.
Around this time, William and Charles Alloway of Manitoba, Canada, with the aid of a milk cow, captured three bison calves to start their own herd.

1874-80: Bison decimated in Texas and Oklahoma.

1870s-80s: Cattle increase greatly on Great Plains. Drought in northern Plains.

1871-75: Southern Herd: c. 4 million bison killed to ship 1.4 million hides from Dodge City, Kansas.

1875 Few bison remained in Texas when the state legislature moved to protect the bison. However, General Phil Sheridan appeared before the assembly and suggested that every hunter be given a medal with a dead buffalo on one side and a discouraged Indian on the other. He added that once the animals were exterminated, the Indians would be controlled and civilization could advance.


At Fort Concho, soldiers had to build stone buffalo walls around the fort to keep the bison off the parade grounds and away from the buildings. In the 1870’s many officers at Fort Concho and their families recorded in their journals and letters participating in the buffalo hunts in the area. Several hunters were given contracts to provide bison meat to the fort or for other functions. During the height of the buffalo hunting era, railway shipping yards were full of hides. Stacks were often 15″ high and barely had enough room between the stacks for a man to walk. Bison lured man to this area to hunt the majestic beast. It is hard to fathom how many bison were in the Concho Valley and how many were killed and no one knows the exact numbers. By 1885 the last bison disappeared from the Concho Valley. In a story in the San Angelo Standard Times, W.J.D. Carr reported a few stray bison near Spring Creek . Twenty years earlier estimates of over 5 million bison roamed the plains and by 1880 only a few pockets of a few small herds were reported in Texas. The symbol of the plains had been hunted nearly to extinction.

sources: Alice Grierson letter dated Feb 261876
“W.J.D.Carr of Spring Creek Reports Buffalo on Stilson Ranch,” San Angelo Standard Times, Aug 8 1885
“Buffalo Herd sighted on Texas Canadian River, Last on Continent,” San Angelo Standard Times May 26 1888


What was known as the “great slaughter” took place in the early 1870s, and by 1878 the so-called southern herd was practically exterminated. There have been several attempts to protect the buffalo. In 1875 the Texas legislature considered a measure to protect the animals from wholesale slaughter, but Gen. Philip H. Sheridan protested the bill, contending that peace with the Indians could be maintained only if their food supply was eliminated; the bill failed to pass. Preservation of a few animals was due to the efforts of such men as Charles Goodnight and Charles J. (Buffalo) Jones, who preserved small herds on their ranches


1876 The estimated three to four million bison of the southern plains were now dead. The Northern Pacific Railroad, anxious to advance, ignored tribal treaties and sent in a survey party. Native Americans killed some of the men, and General George Custer was sent to investigate, making history with the Battle at Little Big Horn.


Takes place in 1873-4
Roanoke Beacon

Plymouth, North Carolina, Nov 20, 1891

Opinion of Comanches and Adventures With Them – Skinning an Indian


Lawrence Christopher Chriss, an old-time buffalo hunter of west Texas, now living in El Paso, says a correspondent of the New York Sun, is as full of good stories as a fig is full of seeds.

Chriss had been known, in years gone by, to slay with his trusty rifle not less than 1,734 buffalo in one month, and while he regrets the extermination of the American bison, he is proud of this fact. He asserts that the buffalo hunters did more to make the settlement of this part of the country possibly than any other men. “So  long as the buffalo were here,” says he, “the Comanches could not be driven out of the country.”

“Buffalo hunting in the old days was pretty exciting sport,” said Lawrence Christopher Chriss to-day, “but it couldn’t hold a candle to Comanche hunting. The Comanches were the most cruel, bloodthirsty demons that ever escaped from hell and settled on the green earth. I remember on one occasion in the winter of ’73-4, that 10 Comanches ran across to a camp of buffalo hunters and found there a young boy who had been left while the hunters were out tending to business. The Indians destroyed everything in the camp and killed the boy. There was a quantity of jerked buffalo meat hanging on the mesquite trees around the camp. The Indians cut the boy up and hung his flesh in strips with the buffalo meat to dry. This was Wild Horse Springs, about 20 miles north of where Midland now is. I was one of the party of hunters, and when we got back to camp and saw what had been done to the boy we started out in a hurry to run down the Indians. We caught them 40 miles from there and killed seven of them. One of those we killed had the boys scalp and one of his ears strung on a string around his neck. The father of the boy, who was one of the party, was so enraged that he emptied his six shooter into the body of the dead Indian. That did not satisfy either him or the rest of us, and someone proposed that we should skin the Indian and keep his hide to remember him by. We were expert skinners, and it didn’t take long to remove that red devils hide with the buffalo knife. I did most of the skinning myself, and I found that on the inner portion of his thighs, where they had pressed against the horse, the skin was at least an inch thick. He was so fat that it reminded me of skinning a hog. We stretch the skin out and let it dry in the sun, and afterwards took it to Dallas. A man who was running a hotel and barroom there was so tickled at the idea of having skinned a Comanche that he offered me free board and lodging and all the drinks I wanted if I would give him the skin. I did so and he put it up behind  his bar, and for a month or more after that he had a tremendous rush of business.”



E. Scheske, Gonzales, Texas

I believe the cattle business to be the greatest enterprise the world has ever seen, even greater than the manufacture of automobiles is today, considering the time and the conditions. In the early days the cattle business was not only the greatest thing to Texans and to the people of the South, but people from everywhere flocked to Kansas to see the vast herds that came from Texas, and the herds that were on the plains there, as well as the buffalo that were so numerous in the early seventies, and which men killed by thousands for their hides from which to make leather and robes.




By L. B. Anderson, Seguin, TexasL.B. Anderson

I was born in Amite County, Mississippi, March 24, 1849. Came overland with my parents to Texas in the spring of 1853.

(1870 ish)

My experiences on the trail were many and varied, some perilous and some humorous. I remember one exciting time in particular when I was taking a herd for Millett & Irvin from the Panhandle ranch to Old Fort Fetterman in the Rocky Mountains. The Sioux Indians made a raid on us, got off with most of our horses and all of our provisions. We had nothing to eat except buffalo and antelope meat until we reached North Platte City, a distance of two hundred miles.



Sam H. Nunneley, San Antonio, Texas

Sam H. Nunneley


I was born in Hickman county, Middle Tennessee, April 3, 1851, and in 1869 I started to Texas. I arrived at Memphis on a train, then the terminus of all roads going west. There I took the steamer, Bismarck, down the Mississippi to the mouth of Red River, and up Red River, to Soda and Caddo Lakes to Jefferson, Texas. I had lots of sport shooting alligators on the trip. From Jefferson, I traveled in a freight wagon drawn by eight yoke of oxen to Bowie county. The next year I saddled my horse and pulled out for West Texas, landing at McKinney, Collin county, where I met Townsend Megeath, and we traveled together, slept together and that winter we stayed with Sam Hilderbran, which was an assumed name I learned in after years. Mr. Megeath turned out to be Frank James. Both were good, unassuming gentlemen in every way. It was from this county I made my first trip over the trail with Sneed, Clonch and Gatling. I made one trip with horses to Mississippi and after selling them I went down into Florida, where I remained all winter, then went to New Orleans and Shreveport, and on to San Antonio, and then out to Uvalde, where I went to work helping drive over the trail for Hughes, Nunn, Hood and Birchfield. We had fourteen thousand cattle cut into four herds, and we drove them to Wichita, Kansas. This was in 1875. After all were sold I came back to Texas on the train to Seguin, and there took the stage to San Antonio, and stayed all night at the well-known Menger Hotel. Next morning. I purchased a saddle for $40 and a horse for $16 and rode to Uvalde, There I fell in with a bunch of fellows, eleven in all, and we started horseback to Silver City, New Mexico, a distance of 900 miles. We went there to live but nobody lived there outside of government forts except wild Indians, so we started back to Texas, coming to Fort Stanton, down the Pecos River to Horsehead Crossing, then across the plains ninety-five miles without water to the head waters of the Concho River. There I killed my last buffalo. I spent two weeks with a buffalo hunter there who had killed that season upwards of 5,000 buffaloes for their hides and tongues. He sold the hides to Fort Worth people at six bits to a dollar each.

From Johnson county I drove 125 horses to Arkansas for a Mr. Sparks. I bought beef cattle in the Indian Territory from the Indians for four years, and drove them to the Hot Springs market, then bought cattle in Arkansas to drive to Kansas, but sold them to the chief of the Choctaw Nation, after which I went back to Arkansas and engaged in the mercantile business for awhile. I was in the “run” in Oklahoma, and helped to make a state out of the Territory of Oklahoma. I now live in San Antonio.


The Galveston Daily News
Galveston, Texas Mar 11 1876

The Gazette weilds a free lance, and goes for the Hon. John H. Reagan in this wise:

The Hon. John H. Reagan had sat still for two mortal hours. It became irksome to him, for he regards Congress as an institution created for his special benefit, and a piece in which to air his oratorical powers, which are of the loudest calibre. He has been popping up like a legislative jack in the box more or less all the session, but had it been known that he was lying in ambush for a speech, the moment he rose he would have stampeded the house. But he was burning Ford distinction. Like the boy who stood upon the burning dock when all but he had fled. He was longing to extinguish himself. Casablanca was nothing to him and heroism. The grand opportunity arrived, a bill was introduced for the protection of the buffalo. Reagan’s grand for portions rise, his noble boson swells with thoughts of the mighty bison. He catches the eye of the speaker, or rather lassoes him into recognition with his hoarsert bass. His “Mr. Speaker” startles the astonished Kerr like a low murmur of a herd of real buffalo on there’d native prairies, and Reagan, better known under the newspaper sobriquet of the “Texas steer steak,” then comes a torrent of mighty eloquence. He lashes the air with his hands and buffaloes swing their mighty tales when infuriated by the unfeeling hunter. He pleads for the poor buffalo. He weeps for him; and this strong, this massive brained, determined looking man from the Lone Star State all alone, too, of all the representatives of that state, stands up, praise that cruel man may no longer extirpate the buffalo.


The Galveston Daily News May 6 1876  

The Galveston Daily News May 6 1876


The Austin Weekly Statesman
Nov 2 1876

Domestic Markets

Hides Steady; dry selected 17c; lightly salted 14 1/2c ; stack salted 12 1/2c ; wet salted 8 1/2c ; butchers green 7c.

November 8, 1876
Fort Worth Daily Democrat

“Freighters are wanted to transport buffalo hides to Fort worth.”

The Galveston Daily News Nov 9 1876

Jack County

A large train of wagons loaded with buffalo hides passed through town the other day.

The Galveston Daily News Nov 18 1876

Erath County

Burroughs returned home from the West, where they have been hunting buffalo. They killed 400 and wounded several more. We notice wagons on our streets every week from the counties west of us, loaded with pecans, hides and cotton, etc.,


1877 A few remaining free roaming bison were discovered in Texas and were killed.
A law was passed in Canada that forbade the use of pounds (corrals), wanton destruction, killing of buffalo under 2 years of age, and the killing of cows during a closed season.
Lt. Col. Samuel Bedson of Stoney Mountain, Manitoba (Canada) purchased bison from the Alloway herd, the McKay herd and from some Native Americans.


The Milan Exchange, February 21 1877
Science and Industry.

Fort Worth received 120,000 buffalo hides last year.

The Weekly Democratic Statesman Austin Tx Apr 05 1877

The Weekly Democratic Statesman Austin Tx Apr 05 1877

The Pulaski Citizen Tenn Apr 19, 1877, The Pulaski Citizen Tenn Apr 19 1877 white buffalo killed in Ft Concho

By B. D. Sherrill, Rocksprings, Texas

In 1877 I went up the trail with Dave Combs, who was then driving for Ellison & Sherrill. We left the coast country with 3,000 big steers and stags and delivered to Millett & Ervin in the Indian Territory. This was my first trip as a cow-puncher, and when we reached Red River a lot of Indians came and stayed with us all day. To me, a beardless boy, those Indians in the war paint was a wonderful sight. After delivering the cattle I went on to Wolf Creek, near Camp Supply, remained there two months and picked up sore-footed cattle and carried them to Ellison & Sherrill’s Ranch on North Fork of Red River near old Fort Elliott. That was the finest country I ever saw, and it was full of Indians, buffalo, antelope, deer, turkey and prairie chickens by the thousands. I remained in that region several years and finally drifted back to Staples on the San Marcos River.

Marshall County Republican
Nov 08 1877 Plymouth Indiana

White Buffalo

The Atlanta Constitution Jan 25 1878 Texas Buffalo Hunt

The Atlanta Constitution Jan 25 1878 Texas Buffalo Hunt



By A. Huffmeyer of San Antonio, Texas -March 1878

(Waiting to cross the Red River after a bad storm, which lightning and Rustlers took about 100 cattle)

On the other side of ‘the river we found the bottoms full of ripe wild plums and enjoyed quite a treat.
When we took the trail again we could see the Wichita Mountains in the distance, about seventy-five miles away. We knew the trail passed along the foot of those mountains, but on account of water the trail made a big curve to the right, which made it a longer drive, so in order to save time, Mr. Johnson decided to try to go straight through on a bee-line to the foot of the Wichitas, and thus save several days. It proved to be a bad venture, for we traveled without water for two days, not a drop for the cattle to drink or with which to quench our thirst. We had to keep traveling, and by noon the third day our herd was strung out for fully two miles, with the big steers in the lead going like race horses, and the old dogies bringing up the rear. I happened to be on the point and about noon I saw the leaders throw up their heads and start to run. Mr. Johnson said, “They smell water,” and, sure enough, after crossing a ridge we found a little stream of clear sweet water. We camped right there that day and all of the next to allow our stock to rest. The country was open and was covered with the finest grass I ever saw. We reached the Wichita Mountains and got back on the old trail. While traveling along we permitted our herd to scatter and graze, and as we were proceeding slowly we discovered a brown bunch of something on a ridge about a mile away. It turned out to be a herd of buffalo, which were the first I had ever seen. We decided to go forth and kill some of the animals and, accordingly, several of us mounted fresh horses and put out to go around them and head them toward our herd so the other boys could get a chance to kill some of them. But when within two hundred yards of the buffalo they saw us coming and struck a bee-line for the north pole. We yelled and fired at them without result, they kept on traveling. I gave out of ammunition and was determined not to go back empty-handed, so I took down my lariat and selected a young bull about two years old, and soon had him lassoed, but found out that I was not fooling with a two-year-old cow brute. I think I let that bull run over my rope a dozen times and threw him each time, but he would be up in an instant, and I just could not hold him. I called Shelby to my assistance, and the two of us finally managed to get him down and cut his throat. Shelby went back to. the herd while I remained and skinned the buffalo and had him ready to load into the wagon when it came along.


Fort Wayne Daily Gazette May 3 1878 Buffalo to Sitting Bull

Fort Wayne Daily Gazette May 3 1878 Buffalo to Sitting Bull


The Atlanta Constitution May 8 1878 Sitting Bulls Niece

The Atlanta Constitution May 8 1878 Sitting Bulls Niece


Brenham Weekly Banner June 7 1878

The Fort Worth Standard says the trade in buffalo hides is falling off. The price of hides is so much reduced that it does not pay to haul them from the range and hunters are now killing buffalo for their meat, leaving hides on the plains to rot.


Texas has a role in this story. The Comanche, the Apache, and the Kiowa roamed vast parts of this state. Fort Griffin in Albany, an early military outpost built to protect settlers from the Indians, became a clearing house in the late 1870s for buffalo hides and meat. Hide hunters brought wagon loads of hides through Weatherford to ship east to markets. From the 1860s to the early 1880s hide hunters virtually exterminated the buffalo population in the United States and Canada. Charles and Molly Goodnight notably saved the remnants of a buffalo herd which became the source for new managed herds on private lands and protected refuges in the 20th century.

Read more:


The Emporia Ledger
Emporia, Kansas
June 13 1878
Gradual Extermination of the Prairie Wolf – Traps Baited with Strychnine –
It’s Habits – Running Down an old Buffalo Bull

(From the N.Y. Sun )
Forty years ago, when Raxton camped on the plains, in Washington Irving made his tour on the prairies, wolves were as plentiful as rabbits and considered more worthless. The trapper took nothing but beavers, killing only enough buffalo to keep him in meat. As the beaver disappeared, bison were shot for their hides, and the peltries of the wolves became valuable. They brought as much in market as a buffalo hide, and as they were smaller and lighter were packed from place to place with greater ease. The building of the Pacific Railroad drove the buffalo from the line of the Platte and Arkansas into Texas. Their range extended along the well watered streams in the northern and northwestern parts of the great State. The wolves followed the buffalo, and committed depredations upon the folds and herds of the cattle kings. But within the last ten years the trappers have cleaned them out, and the occupation of the professional wolf hunters is gone.
Mr. James Graham, and old Texan hunter and trapper, is now stopping at the Sturtevant House in this city. He gives some interesting particulars of life on the buffalo range. The professional wolf hunters, he says, gave up the business three years ago. Their great hunting grounds were watered by the Red River, the big Wichita, Brazos, Colorado, Concho, and Pecos. The highest grade of hides, technically termed “Southern fur,” brought $1.75 apiece. Skins taken north of the Arkansas were more valuable, because the fur was finer and thicker. The wolf pelts were classed as follows:
No.1 Fine Fur
No.2 Coarser Fur
No.3 Hair and Fur
No.4 More Hair than Fur
The price varied from $1.25 up, according to the quality. The animals were killed between 1 November in the middle of February. After that their coats became thinner and they began to shed their hair, so that the skins were worthless. Further North the season last much longer. The coyotes were hunted with the big gray wolf, but their hides, being much smaller, brought only $.75.
One Bell of Fort Griffin is credited with killing more wolves than anyone man on the plains of the Arkansas. In one season he poisoned over 500. From three to four good hunters used to club together in hunt this season through. They started out with a wagon well loaded with flour, bacon, sugar, salt, and coffee. An extra pony or two came handy to ride around, keep the baits in order, and bring in the hides. The trappers carried plenty of ammunition, and when using breech loading rifles, filled their own shells. As the Comanche were troublesome, the rifles were loaded in the horses strictly guarded. At night they were hobbled in the brush near the camp, so that they could not go astray. If the “sign” was good, camp wish easily made in a secluded spot near a running stream, tributary to one of the large rivers. As the wolves followed the buffalo, and the buffalo cropped the juicy grass along the streams, the “sign” was always good in a wild and well watered section of country. By the “sign” -the tracks and half eaten dead buffalo – the trappers estimated the number of wolves, and prepared their baits. Buffalo, antelope, or deer, were killed in an open place, and strychnine placed in those portions of the carcass first torn by the wolves. But the trappers, as a rule, did not plant the poisoned before sunset, for the wolves of the air, the innumerable ravens that shadow the plains and feed upon dead animals, displaced the baits if the traps were set before they went to roost. The ground near the carcass was sometimes sprinkled with dead ravens. Small flocks staggered around the dead bulls under the influence of the poison, and gyrated through the air like tumbler pigeons.
The colder the weather, the more wolves. A nipping, frosty air seem to sharpen their appetites, and give them a keen scent. While Graham was on the Brazos, five winters ago, eight bison were killed on the side of the hill, and their bodies skinned and poisoned. During the night the wind veered to the north, and the weather became intensely cold. A storm of sleet made the campfire hiss, and the howls of the wolves ring above the ravine in which the hunters slept. With the first break of daylight they visited their baits, fearful that the ravens might tear the fur of the dead wolves and damage the hides. Within three hours they found the bodies of 56 large gray wolves frozen so hard that they dragged them into the ravine and thought them out. All agreed that if the night had been mild the animals would have kept undercover.
A wolf begins to feel the effect of the poison within ten minutes. He stops eating. His ears and eyebrows twitched, and his limbs are cramped. Frequently he whirls around like a dancing dervish, sweeping the ground with his tail and throwing up the dirt with his fore paws. His comrades cocked their heads to one side and watch his spasms with curious eyes, but resumed their feast when the victim stiffens or starts for the scrub. Few of the poisoned animals died at the side of the poisoned buffalo. Old hunters assert that the strychnine produces a burning thirst, and the wolf makes for the nearest water. This keeps the band of trappers busy all morning. While two of them skin the wolves nearest the baits, the other mounts a Mustang and scours the chaparral and banks of the river in a further search for bodies. The ravens assist him, filling the air with wild cries, and fluttering over the gasping animals in the brush. Many of the wolves are not dead when discovered. They are scattered about in all stages of paralysis, and are put out of their misery by the hunter. Occasionally a dying wolf is found stretched on the sands of the river lapping the water, but he does not rush into the stream, and his body is never found floating upon its surface. Even in death he seems to have a horror for wedding his feet.
The only adepths at skinning are the professional hunters. The body is turned upon its back and work begins at the forequarters. The trapper grips a leg between his knees, opens up the hide to the brisket, and rips down to the tail. The tail is the most valuable part of the wolf. If injured, it spoils the beauty of the robe. It is therefore taken off with the greatest care. The skinner than plants his foot firmly upon the neck, and by main strength peals the hide up to the head. Here more care is required. The ears and nose are torn away with the skin, so that spread upon the prairie it presents a perfect picture. The hide is then folded flesh side in, thrown across the back of a pony and borne to camp. The fur is then turned to the grass and the skin stretched by pegs driven into the ground. It dries according to the weather. No salt is used. If the atmosphere is dry it is taken up within three days, and turned over and sunned until ready for market.
While the trapper is thus picking up the skins of the big gray wolf he does not neglect the coyote. This is much smaller than his gray brother. The latter is nearly as large as a Newfoundland dog; the former about twice the size of cat. The coyote fancies a campfire, and sits on hillocks with insight of its blaze barking for hours. The gray wolf bays the moon like a dog. Grand says he has seen them sitting on the highest rocks gazing at it’s bright orb with their heads thrown back uttering unearthly howls. This wolf scorns the coyote. When the large wolves drag down an old buffalo bull the coyotes huddled in the vicinity, licking their chops and barking, as though begging a share of the prey. Should they venture too near the big fellows utter ominous growls and the coyotes slink away, tails between their legs and heads turned over their shoulders. The coyote quickly determines the status of the hunter. If he finds him killing wolves he keeps a respectful distance; but if he is only hunting bear, antelope or buffalo, the little fellow becomes quite social. While a bear hunter was butchering game coyotes patiently watched his operations, and the gray wolf loped hungrily on an outer circle. The trapper through a piece of meat to the small fellows, who ran off and were waylaid by the big wolf. They dropped the meat and returned, but seem to learn nothing by experience, for they fed the robber as long as the hunter chucked them the meat.
Many coyotes pick up their supplies in the prairie-dog colonies. If one is lurking in the streets and sees a dog away from his hole, he steals upon him with the utmost secrecy, striving to cut off his retreat. As an old dog, however, is rarely caught napping. Some of the fraternity are sure to espy the wolf, and a warning bark since the dog into his hole with the tantalizing shake of the tail. The coyote despondently peers into the hole, rakes away the dirt with a paw, and sniffs at the lost meal. He gets his eye on another dog, and crawls toward the hole like a cat upon a mouse. The warning bark is again heard, and a second meal disappears. Infuriated by his disappointment, the wolf frequently turns upon the little sentry, and for a few seconds makes the sand fly from the entrance of his readiness. Worn out by his futile efforts, he flattens himself upon the sand behind the hole, and, motionless as a statue, watches it for hours. If the dog pops out his head he is gone. The wolf springs upon him, and jaws come together like a snap of the trap, and the helpless little canine is turned into a succulent supper. One Metley, a well-known buffalo hunter, was riding across a dog town some years ago when he saw what he supposed to be a dead coyote stretched out at one of the holes. He dismounted and lifted it by the tail, intending to take the body to camp and skin it. The coyote made a snap at his leg, wriggled from his grasp, and sped over the prairie more surprised than the trapper. He was in a sound sleep when caught. But the coyotes greatest harvest is in the spring of the year, when they fat themselves at the expense of inexperienced young dogs caught wandering from home. Whole families enjoying the cool evening breeze on the mounds above their burrows are taken unawares, and the tender young snapped up before their parents can force them under the ground.
The Indians say that the wolf has no home. He follows the buffalo, and is ever skirmishing on the edge of the herd. Indefatigable in the chase, he pursues his prey for days without sleep. He catches his naps in the sunlight, and does the bulk of his work at night. Like the Indian, whom he resembles in many characteristics, he never declines an invitation to dinner. A great glutton, he stuffs himself till his paunch is distended like a bladder, and in this condition is often run down and lassoed by the cow-boys on ordinary ponies. Some of the Southern tribes of Indians never slay a wolf. They have a superstition that when they die there spirits roamed the prairies in the guise of wolves.” Who says a wolf may slay his brother.” Is an Indian proverb.
Cruel and voracious, the gray wolf is an arrant coward. While on the Brazos in 1873, and camped above what is called “The Round Timbers,” Graham killed five buffalo for bait. He charge three with strychnine, and in the morning and found five dead wolves. Three great Eagles were perched upon the head and shoulders of an un-poisoned carcass, and two large gray wolves were tearing the hams. The eagles regarded the wolves with an evil eye. At intervals the most powerful bird strode over the carcass with outstretched wings and open beak. In an instant the wolves cringed to the ground, and slunk away with their heads over their shoulders like whipped curs. With the hair of their necks on end they furtively watched the lordly bird until he returned to his comrades. Then, with averted eyes, they sneaked back to the feast, and crunched and gnawed until there rapacity again excited the ire of the feathered nobleman at the head of the table.
A striking peculiarity of the Wolf is his habit of running with his head over his shoulders. Suddenly frightened, he rushes off like the wind, with his face turned back to the foe and his tail between his legs. “He ran like a scared wolf,” is a Texan’s estimate of the speed of a coward. No dog but thoroughbred grayhound can overtake him. It seems almost impossible for a wolf to look any thing in the face. He will hardly meet the stare of a grasshopper. Graham declares that when wolves have been paralyzed by strychnine he has held them by the ears, turned their faces around, and tried to force them to look into his eyes. Not for a second was he successful. They would look over his shoulders or turn their eyes in any direction, and even entirely close them before they would meet his gaze. A story is told of a Texas farmer who caught a coyote cub, and stared into its eyes until the cub died.
The report of a gun, and old times, never failed to put every wolf within hearing on the alert. He immediately began to look for dead buffalo, and generally managed to secure his share of the booty. In the spring, when the calves grand with the herds, and the droves were resting at noon, the big gray wolves organized for an attack. Woe betided the calf on the outskirts of the drove. The ferocious beast would cut it out in a rush, after stampeding the herd. If the calf was nearly full-grown they would ham-string it with their teeth, but if young and tender would terror out the throat before the dam could come to its defense. Frequently a lone wolf routed out an old bull, driven from the herd by younger and more active bulls. He caught him by the nose, and hung on until shaken off. The attack was kept up until the bull started on a run. The wolf kept in the rear until the old patriarch showed signs of fatigue, when he resumed the attack in front. The buffalo was not allowed to lag. If he fell into a walk he was again seized by the nose. When nearly exhausted the howls of the wolf drew other wolves from their lairs, and between them the old veteran was ham-strung and rendered helpless, and finally torn in pieces by the pack.
Gray is the common color of the wolves in Texas. Occasionally white ones are killed. Graham says that he killed eight in one winter with skins as white as the driven snow. The black Wolf is very scarce, and mostly found in the timber. His fur brings the highest price; but, during six years of trapping, Graham declares that he never saw one, and heard of not more than two or three shot on the Clear Fork of the Trinity by a party of Rangers.



The Courier Journal Louisville KY Aug 8 1878 Bison Mixed With CattleThe Courier Journal Louisville KY Aug 8 1878 Bison Mixed With Cattle.jpg


“Buffalo Hunters’ Camp”
“Through Texas”
Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 59  No. 353, October 1879
Original vintage wood engraving, 1879

Harpers New Monthly 1877 Vol. 59 Hunters Camp


San Angelo Tx 1880


San Angelo State Park Herd Manager: Bill Guffey




San Angelo 1880






Park Superintendent: Kurt Kemp
Thank you!




The Trail Driver of Texas


By G. W. Scott of Uvalde, Texas

In 1881 I went with a herd to White Lake, New Mexico, for James Dalrymple, starting from the Leona Ranch. Most of the boys in this outfit were from the Frio Canyon, and I recall the names of Sam Everts, George Leakey, Tobe Edwards, James Crutchfield, Os Brown, Allison Davis and Tip Davis. We drove 2,178 two-year-old steers this trip, crossing the Nueces River at Eagle Pass crossing. We headed north toward Devil’s River, which we crossed above Paint Cave. At this time the range was dry and water scarce, and many of our cattle gave out and had to be left on the trail. We reached the Pecos River, at the mouth of Live Oak, where we rested for a few days. We were in the Seven D range at this time, and Taylor Stevenson was foreman of the Seven D Ranch, and he brought his outfit and helped us work up the Pecos from the mouth of Live Oak to Horse Head Crossing, where we left the thinnest of our cattle and proceeded on our journey. Our next point was Mid-land, where we found plenty of fine grass and water. After leaving Midland we again found a dry range with no grass. When we reached the Colorado River that stream was very low. Here I saw my first buffalo, but it was a tame animal and was branded along S on each side. Ed Hagerman of Kimble County was ahead of us with a herd of the Half Circle L C cattle. After a great deal of hard luck and trouble we reached Yellow Horse Draw about ten miles from Lubbock, where we encountered a heavy hailstorm. We had lost a great many of our cattle on the trip, and the sudden change chilled a number of others to death as well as five saddle horses. We left camp at this point with only 1,072 head. We reached White Lake, New Mexico, on June 21, and delivered to Mr. Handy. Here we found Ham Bee and his outfit and accompanied them back to Midland, where we took the train for Uvalde.



I am adding Corwin F Doan to this list, even though his story is not mainly about buffalo. I am adding him for Texas history and the Natives, along with the fact, he is my cousin and I own this site. 🙂 I am also kin to Charles Goodnight by marriage.


  1. Corwin F. Doan of Doan’s

I am now 74 years old and looking back over my life I find the main part of it has been spent near the Old Chisholm Trail, or on the Dodge City, Kansas trail.Corwin F Doan 1848-1929

My first introduction to the Old Chisholm Trail was in 1874 when in company with Robert E. Doan, a cousin, and both of us from Wilmington, Ohio, we set out for Ft. Sill, Indian Territory, from Wichita, Kansas.Original Settlement at Doan's Crossing We made this little jaunt by stage coach of 250 miles over the famous trail in good time.

In 1875, very sick, I returned to my home in Ohio from Fort Sill, but the lure of the West urged me to try my luck again and October 10, 1878, found me back in the wilds and ever since I have lived at Doan’s, the trail crossing on Red River known far and wide by the old trail drivers as the jumping off place into the great unknown the last of civilization until they hit the Kansas line.

While sojourning in the Indian Territory in 1874 and 1875 with Tim Pete, Dave Lours and J. Doan, I engaged in trading with the Indians and buying hides at a little store on Cache Creek, two miles from Fort Sill. Our life at this place was a constant thrill on account of Indians. During the month of July, 1874, the Indians killed thirteen hay cutters and wood choppers. Well do I remember, one day after a hay cutter had been killed, a tenderfoot from the East with an eye to local color decided to explore the little meadow where the man had been killed expecting to collect a few arrows so that he might be able to tell the loved ones at home of his daring. But the Indians discovered the sightseer and with yells and his collection of arrows whistling about his ears, chased him back to the stockade. Terror lent wings to his feet and he managed to reach safety but departed the next day for the East, having lost all taste for the danger of the West.
Doan Crossing on the Red River

January 8, 1875, found me caught in a blizzard and I narrowly escaped freezing to death at the time. Indians around Fort Sill demanding buckskin, as their supply had run low, I was sent by the firm on horseback to the Shawnee tribe to buy a supply. This was my second trip. Soon after my departure the blizzard set in and I was warned by the mail carrier, the only man I met on the trip, to turn back or I would be frozen. But the thoughts of the buckskin at $4.00 per pound caused me to press on. I managed to reach Conover ranch badly frozen, I was taken from my horse and given first-aid treatment. I was so cold that ice had frozen in my mouth. The mail carrier, who had advised me to turn back, never reached the fort, and his frozen body was found some days after the storm. Doan's Store 1870's

For two weeks I remained in this home before I found strength to continue the journey. I was held up another week by the cold near Paul’s Valley, but I got the buckskin, sending it back by express-mail carrier and returned on horseback.

Indians during this time were held in concentration camps near the fort, both Comanches and Kiowas, and beeves were issued twice a week. A man by name of Conover and myself did the killing and about seventy five or eighty head were killed at one time. The hides were bought from the Indians and shipped to St. Louis.

After the bi-weekly killings, the Indians would feast and sing all night long and eat up their rations and nearly starve until the next issue day came.

It was at this time that I met Quanah, chief of the Comanches, who was not head chief at that time, and Satanta, chief of the Kiowas. I was warned during that time by Satanta that the Indians liked me and they wanted me to leave the country because they intended to kill every white man in the nation. I rather think that the friendly warning was given me because I often gave crackers and candy to the hungry squaws and papooses and of course, Satanta’s family received their share.

Satanta escaped soon after that and near where El Reno now stands, at the head of his warriors, captured a wagon train and burned men to their wagon wheels. He was captured again and taken to the penitentiary where he committed suicide by opening a vein in his arm.

After moving to Doan’s of course I saw a great deal of Quanah, who at that time had become head chief. He told me that he had often been invited to return to his white relations near Weatherford but he had refused. “Corwin,” he said, “as far as you see here I am chief and the people look up to me, down at Weatherford I would be a poor half breed Indian.” Perhaps he was right.

Big Bow, another Kiowa chief, often followed by his warriors, rode up to the little store on Cache Creek one day and arrogantly asked, would we hand over the goods or should they take them? We told them we would hand over the goods as he designated them. Later when Big Bow and I became good friends, he said, “Us Indians are big fools, not smart like white men. ‘Cause you handed over the goods that day, but Washington (Uncle Sam) took it out of our pay.” It was quite true for as soon as the wards of the government had departed, the bill was turned into their guardian, Uncle Sam.

We had but one bad scare from the Indians at Doan’s, and that date April, 1879, is indelibly fixed on my memory.

The Indians came close enough to the house to be recognized by the women and they ran our horses off. I was up in the woods hunting at that time and reached home at dusk to find three terror stricken women, a baby and a dog for me to defend. All the other men had gone to Denison for supplies and our nearest neighbor was fifty miles away; so thinking discretion the better part of valor, we retreated to a little grove about half a mile from our picket house and spent the night, expecting every moment to have a “hair-raising” experience. CF Doan homestead before in burned in 1922The Indians proved to be a band of Kiowas returning from near where Quanah now stands where they killed and scalped a man by name of Earle. Three days later the soldiers came through on the trail of the Indians expecting to find our, home in ashes and the family exterminated. The Indians had returned to the reservation. The Kiowas told me afterward quite coolly that they would have attacked us that night but believed us to be heavily garrisoned with buffalo hunters —a lucky thing for us. This was the last raid through the country. The Indians

after that became very friendly with us and told me to go ahead and build a big store, that we would not be molested. They had decided this in council.

The spring and summer of 1879, I saw the first herds come up the trail, though the movement had started two years before. My uncle, J. Doan, who had been with me the two years in Fort Sill, had established this post at Doan’s, April, 1878, and we had arrived, that is, myself, wife and baby and the Judge’s daughters, that fall. So we had come too late to see the herds of 1878. One hundred thousand cattle passed over the trail by the little store in 1879. In 1881, the trail reached the peak of production and three hundred and one thousand were driven by to the Kansas shipping point.

In 1882 on account of the drouth, the cattle found slim picking on their northern trek and if it had not been for the “butter weed” many would have starved to death as grass was all dead that year. Names of John Lytle, Noah Ellis, Ab and John Blocker, Harrold and Ikard, Worsham, the Belchers, Ligon and Clark, Wiley Blair, the Eddlemans and others come into my memory as I write this, owners and bosses of the mighty herds of decades ago. One man, Dubose, with whom we would go a piece, like school kids, up the trail, complained plain- tively that he never in all those summers had a mess of roasting ears, of which he was very fond, as the corn would be about knee high when he left Corpus Christi and as he came slowly up the trail he would watch the fields in their various stages but by the time he left Doan’s and civilization it was still too early for even a cob.

Captain John Lytle spent as high as a month at a time in Doan’s preparing for his onward march. Accompanied by his secretary he would fit out his men and everything would be shipshape when he crossed the Red River. He was a great man and his visits were enjoyed.

Wichita Falls failing to provide suitable branding pens for the accommodation of the trail drivers, pens were provided at Doan’s. Furnaces and corrals were built and here Charley Word and others fitted with cartridges, Winchesters by the case, sow bosom and flour, and even to Stetson hats, etc. This store did a thriving business and thought nothing of selling bacon and flour in car-load lots, though getting our supplies from Denison, Sherman, Gainesville, and later, Wichita Falls.

The postoffice was established here in 1879 and I was the first postmaster. It was at this office all mail for the trail herds was directed as, like canned goods and other commodities, this was the last chance. One night while a crowd sat around the little adobe store someone struck up a lively air on a French harp and the door opened and in sailed a hat followed closely by a big black fellow who commenced to dance. He was one of Ab Blocker’s  men who had been sent up for the mail, giving first notice of the herd’s arrival. Many a sweetheart down the trail received her letter bearing the postmark of Doan’s and many a cowboy asked self-consciously if there was any mail for him while his face turned a beet red when a dainty missive was handed him.

The old trail played a part in the establishment of the Doan’s picnic. For in 1884 when grass had risen and the cowmen had gone up the trail or out to the spring roundups; the women of course were playing the role of “the girl I left behind me,” so a picnic of five women and one lone man was inaugurated. I have never missed a picnic from that day. Now the crowd is swelled to thousands, the dinner is a sumptuous affair and every two or three years the state and county candidates for offices plead with the people to give them the other fellow’s job or one or more chance as the case may be.

The first house at Doan’s was made of pickets with a dirt roof and floor of the same material. The first winter we had no door but a buffalo robe did service against the northers. The store which had consisted mainly of ammunition and a few groceries occupied one end and the family lived in the other. A huge fireplace around which Indians, buffalo hunters and the family sat, proved very comforting. The warmest seat was reserved for the one who held the baby and this proved to be a very much coveted job. Furniture made with an ax and a saw adorned the humble dwelling.

Later the store and dwelling were divorced. An adobe store which gave way to a frame building was built. Two log cabins for the families were erected. In 1881 our present home was built, the year the county was organized. This dwelling I still occupy. Governors, English Lords, bankers, lawyers, tramps and people from every walk in life have found sanctuary within its walls. And if these walls could speak many a tale of border warfare would echo from its gray shadows.

Here, my old adobe house and I sit beside the old trail and dream away the days thinking of the stirring ,scenes enacted when it seemed an endless procession of horses and cattle passed, followed by men of grim visage but of cheerful mien, who sang the “Dying Cowboy” and “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie” and other cheerful tunes as they bedded the cattle or when in a lighter mood danced with the belles of Doan’s or took it straight over the bar of the old Cow Boy saloon.


Tick Fever (Reinterpreting The 1882 Bison Collapse)
Texas tick fever is caused by a protozoan and spread by a tick native to southern Texas. The protozoa destroy blood cells. When the animal’s blood can no longer carry oxygen, it smothers. The few emaciated survivors are easy prey for a harsh winter or predators. Some survivors achieve limited immunity. They can carry ticks to infect healthy herds. If a herd loses contact with the disease for a time, it loses its immunity and is again subject to the high death rate. Tick fever’s causes were discovered in 1906, long after the bison were gone (Blood and Henderson, 1968). In 1882, the fact that passing Texas cattle meant “native cattle died in vast numbers” was still being attributed to crawling devils, an ancient Spanish curse, poison leaking from their feet, and/or noxiously bad breath (Nordyke, 1955, p. 49)


The Jefferson Gazette
Lawrence Kansas Nov 9 1899

Trails of Our Pioneers (extract)

Had the Indians and the hide hunters any conception of the awful slaughter being made after the Pacific and the Santa Fe railroads crossed the plains, possible the buffalo would not have been so ruthlessly killed. It was not an exaggeration to say that one the buffalo trails once could virtually walk for miles and by stepping on the buffalo carcasses, avoid touching the ground. The Indians believed that the buffalo issued out of a cave in the south and that the great spirit furnished more buffalo as fast as they were killed. Some went so far as to have claimed to have seen this cave and that it was to be found in the great “Staked Plains” of Texas.


The Topeka State Journal May 14, 1903

Destroyed Buffalo Hides

Fort Worth, Tex. May 14- The testimony is a strange case is being taken at Lawton Oklahoma. It is a suit for $20,000 damages for 7,000 buffalo hides destroyed by the chief of the Comanche Indians, Quanah Parker’s band, in the early part of 1877. The testimony is being taken before the federal court of claims.

W.S. Glenn, who brought the claim, is an old buffalo hunter, residing now at Palestine, Tex. The fight took place near Yellow House canyon, 270 miles from Fort Griffin, Tex. It was a hard fight. The buffalo hunters were on the mountains and were shot down. Capt. Lee of a negro troop was ordered placed near there to assist the hunters, but the train arrived too late to be of any service.



The Ottawa Herald
Ottawa, Kansas Feb. 2 1923

Cross Between Cattle and ‘Buffalo Called Vernier.

Fort Worth, Feb. 2. The first cousin of the buffalo has appeared the Texas range. He’ll be on known to the livestock world as Vernier and he’s a second cross of the cattle and the buffalo something once considered impossible.

The first Vernier seen at the Fort Worth Stockyards and the packing houses came from the ranch of J. B. Slaughter in Garza County. The buffalo bulls came from the famous Goodnight buffalo herd in the Panhandle, and the cattle from the Slaughter ranches. The first cross were the cattle which are more or less common in certain cattle raising districts. The second cross have been termed ‘ “Vernier”. This is a new name in the history of breeding.

JOHN B. SLAUGHTER – The Trail Drivers of Texas

John B. Slaughter was born in Sabine county, Texas, December 15th, 1848, and John B Slaughterhad a life of singular success and thrilling experiences. His father, G. W. Slaughter, was of German-American ancestry and married Miss Sallie Mason, a young lady of Irish descent.

One special achievement of Mr. Slaughter’s is the crossing of the buffalo with Brahma cows, which is readily done and is known as the “cattalo.” Then he has succeeded in producing a second cross, which has been thought impossible, resulting in a large, heavy, thrifty animal known as the “Vernier.”



The Austin American
Austin, Texas Feb 21, 1923

The 38th Legislature

Sam Lazarus, Cowboy -Sam Lararus, Hunter – Sam Lazarus, Builder – Sam Lazarus, in Austin


“Plans of the St Louis-San Francisco railroad system to buy the Quanah, Acme and Pacific, a line running from Quanah to Roaring Springs, Texas, were declared today in railroad circles to be near consummation.” This story bearing a Springfield, Mo., date was carried by The American of Feb. 20. There is another story that should go with it. Sam Lazarus was the builder and is the owner of the QA&P. Sam Lazarus was born in Russia. He crossed the ocean when a mere youth. He came to Texas. He became a cowboy. He rode the range when the range was free and there was free grass everywhere in the vast expanse of territory lying between the Rocky Mountains and the frontier town of Fort Worth.

This was in 1876. This was before the disappearance of the wild horse and the buffalo and the antelope and the wild turkey and the prairie chicken. Sam Lazarus became a real cowboy. He had as pals the late Capt S. B. Burkburnett and T. W. Waggoner and other pioneers of the western range Dan Waggoner was one of the kings of the range in those days, while Col. Charles Goodnight, the first citizen and the first gentleman of the Panhandle country, was in his glory. There was a practical side to Sam Lazarus, the cowboy. He loved the range; he loved the nomadic life of the cowman and the cowboy, but he did not believe that the Lord placed a man in this vale of tears for health purposes or amusement seeking alone.

He Was Wise
He did believe that man should make the most of his opportunities. And Sam Lazarus made the most of his. In time he became a land owner and had his own herds fattening on the free range. He had vision. He knew the day was coming that the man with a hoe would invade the west and that the man with a plow would rip open the virgin prairies for planting and crop producing purposes. Also, that the time would come when grass would not be free, the range would disappear and the pastures would be inclosed by the purchasers of the soil.

Sam Lazarus prospered. Quanah became his headquarters. He established a cement plant there. He invested in other enterprises, and lastly he built the railway from Quanah to Roaring Springs, hoping some day to get nearer the setting sun by way of an extension to New Mexico and perhaps westward and onward. Before the passing of many years the boy from Russia became a dominating influence in what is known as west Texas.

He became a man of affairs as well as a developer of latent resources. He became the associate of large capitalists in the larger cities of the west as well as in the city of New York. He became the intimate friend of the higher-ups in the political life of the country and won for himself a place in the higher councils of the democratic party. He was not an office taker. He did not care for the responsibilities of office. He did care to build on and on and to make his influence felt and to see Texas take its proper place in the sisterhood.

In Old Missouri
Finally St Louis called him. He became a citizen of the future great, but he never parted with his holdings in Texas and yearly he spent a great part of his time under Lone Star skies. He knew the west in its primitive days, when it was almost a wilderness. He has witnessed its growth until today it has more than a third or the population of Texas. When he was a cowboy there was no Fort Worth and Denver railway. There were no towns of note between the city of Fort Worth and Denver. There was no cotton or corn grown west of Fort Worth. There was no Henrietta to speak or Wichita Falls, or Amarillo, and the thriving cities of the north and south plains countries had not been conceived in the mind of man.

He saw the last tribe of buffalo hunters at the McKamy camp in Motley county. He rode from Fort Dickinson, in Clay county, with Tom McDonald to the McKamy camp, and it is some distance from the heart of Clay county to Tee Pee City, in what is known today as Motley county. He purchased buffalo skins from the hunters and had them wagoned from the camp to Fort Worth, and be made money on in the transaction. He knew all the riders of the old cattle trails and all the kings in the cowman and cowboy world of the long ago,

Always for Texas
He has always been of and for Texas, although he votes in the city of St. Louis and running in that republican stronghold as a democrat he was elected chairman of the city council by an overwhelming majority in the not remote past. Accompanied by a party of friends and associates he visited the state capitol yesterday. He has his own private car. It is known as the “Four Sixes.” Perhaps he branded his cattle in the old days the “Four Sixes,” or it was the name of a favorite ranch that he had known in his earlier years in Texas.

Wise, very wise, and very companionable is Sam Larazus. It is never Mr. Lazarus or Mr. Samuel Lazarus. His fellow cowboys away back in the ’70s called him Sam, kings of the range called him Sam, king financiers called him Sam, king politicians called him Sam, and he is just as democratic today as when he landed in Texas and became a cowboy nearly 60 years ago.

This is the story that goes with the story carried by The American of Feb 20, telling of the probable sale of the QA&P, running from Quanah to Roaring Springs to the Frisco lines. That Texas road was built by a former cowboy, who was here when the buffalo and the wild horse were in evidence, by a cowboy who saw one herd of buffalo that numbered 2000 and who was in almost at the death of the magnificent bison family that once inhabited the Texas plains. (he died April of 1926 as a millionaire, cowboy, railroad builder, Democrat politician, gentleman and gambler.)


The Cameron Herald 
Cameron, Texas Mar 8, 1923

The staked plains of West Texas was a favorite ground for millions of buffalo. They ranged from the Red to the Rio Grande Rivers in countless numbers and were monarchs of a wide domain until exterminated by white buffalo hunters. Fort Worth, Texas, in the early days, was the largest trading point in the Southwest for buffalo hides. In the late seventies buffalo hides sold as low as $1.00 per hide, and the best buffalo steaks seldom sold for more than 5 cents per pound.


The Vernon Record
Vernon, Texas Jan 1 1924


Lon Byars can be considered typical of Wilbarger county. He came to this immediate section of the state just three years before the county was organized and might be said to have grown up with the county. He has thrived with Wilbarger County and now in the prime of life is one of the county’s most prosperous retired planters.

The story of Lon Byars’s life reads like a romance. He was born in Montague county and when just a lad he came to what was Eagle Flats, now Vernon, with his father. They had two prairie schooners to which they drove 12 yoke of oxen and started freighting between Gainesville and Mobeetie and then between Gainesville and Doans as well as to the headquarters or the famous R2 ranch. Mr. Byars said in those days it often took as long as four months to make a round trip between Mobeetie and Gainesville. Mr. Byars, then just a lad, drove one of the ox teams and his father drove the other. With them went Tom and Ben Duffield driving oxen for R.D. Rector, the boss of the R2 ranch and postmaster at Worsham Springs before there was a post office in Vernon.

After freighting for three years,  Mr. Byars had all the trials of the pioneer that he was. In those days nothing came easy. As a boy he learned to crack the long whip over the 12 yoke of oxen, to suffer all the privations that came with the outdoor life the year round on the open prairies and, in fact, though just a boy he had to be a real man. There was little trouble from Indians, Mr. Byars said, at that time for though Indians were numerous they were almost always friendly. But there were other hardships to be suffered and he had his share. The wagons would bring supplies from Gainesville and would go back loaded with buffalo bones and hides. (circa1883-1886)

But year after year Lon Byars worked and saved. He never became discouraged no matter what happened and stuck by his section when others left. He said is all his life here he has not seen but one crop failure and that was in 1886, long before they started growing cotton. That year the limited crop did nothing and the people suffered hardships. Several times since that time there have been bad years and many people left, but Mr. Byars stuck it out. In 1895 the most severe sandstorm in the history of this country prevailed for three days. It was on April 3, 4 and 5 and Mr. Byars said his chickens were blown by the wind and would hide under some small bush only to be covered up with sand and smothered. Sand banked up against his pig pen until it was covered and cattle suffocated. The sun was not visible for the three days and after the sandstorm quit Mrs. Byars urged him to leave. But he stuck it out and even that year he made some late grain.

Mr. Byars said he was sold corn as cheap as 18 cents per bushel.  He gathered it himself and made a fair wage out of his crop but that was all. Many years he has faced hardships that would have driven less hardy men to leave the country, but not Lon Byars. He was a pioneer of the old school and was not a quitter. He knew that this particular strip of country would produce more crops year in and year out than any other section of the state and he knew that some day its value would be realized. He knew that the sub-irrigated lands of Pease River valley could be depended upon at all times.

And so it has been that year after year the county has become more densely populated and Vernon has grown well us have other communities in the county. Now Wilbarger county is recognized as the garden spot of the great Panhandle country and is one of the leading counties in the nation from the standpoint of home owners.

And with the prosperity of Wilbarger county, Mr Byars has prospered. When he moved into Vernon three years ago he had 4,000 acres of land and $18,000 in the bank. That was all made from a start of 8$5 in cash and a Mexican pony which were all his worldly possessions when he started farming in 1886.


One of the last lots of bison robes sold in Texas for $10 per robe.

Late 1800s: Establishment of private captive herds. Herds owned by James McKay, Charles Alloway, Charles Goodnight, Walking Coyote, Frederick Dupree, and Charles J. Jones are the source of most surviving bison. (check out Who Saved The Bison )



1921 West Texas A & M The buffalo was selected as a mascot and on May 25 1921 after a spirited campus contest.

On November 16 1921,  a pair of buffalo yearlings were purchased and placed in a corral on the campus. The mascots were named Charles and Mary Ann in honor of their former owners. Col. and Mrs Charles Goodnight.


The Courier Gazette
McKinney Texas Dec 13 1924

Buffalo Steaks And Roast At Ward’s Market

Once again buffalo is becoming a rare item on occasional menus and a few people are enjoying the privilege of eating buffalo steaks and buffalo roasts. Among those favored are the people of McKinney, who during the holiday season will have, the privilege of feasting upon buffalo meat. Ward’s market is entitled to this credit. They have secured from the largest private buffalo herd in the world located in South Dakota, a quantity of buffalo meat for holiday trade.

The meat is said to be both delicious and healthful.


McKinney Weekly Democrat Gazette
McKinney Texas Oct 7 1926


McKinney Zoo Will Soon Have Two “ Monarchs of the Range” in Its List of Attraction; Zoo Is Having a Rapid Growth.

Buffalo were the monarchs of the American wild game until comparatively recent years. They are now found only in protected birds in national, state, the municipal or private parks and game preserves. They thrive in captivity and multiply about as rapidly as do cattle.

Collin County now has only one buffalo – in Finch Park zoo which was secured from Yellowstone National Park through the efforts of John E Wilson who raised nearly $400 to get it here and have prepared a suitable enclosure for the animal. Through the efforts of Dr. Chas. W Estes, our local zoo is too soon to get another buffalo. It has been promised Dr. Estes free for the Finch Park zoo. Probably within the next few days visitors at Finch sparks new may see to instead of only one buffalo as a present.

The buffalo and the American Indian are associated together in history, legend and song. Young people, and old too, never tire of reading about the buffalo the monarch of broad prairies and the early woodlands.

The American Bison
The American bison is interesting as the only species of the ox family indigenous to America except the musk-ox of the subarctic regions. It is commonly called buffalo by the Anglo-Americans, although it is very different from the buffalo of the old world.

It was formerly in vast numbers in the great prairies between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains of which region Texas is a part. The American bison ranged as far north as the vicinity of the great Marton Lake ____ while latitude 63 or 64. The extensive level, marshy tracts (here afforded suitable food although buffalo was never found anywhere else at so high a latitude.

The American bison or buffalo had its southern limit along the Rio Grande and New Mexico. They were comparatively rare west of the Rocky Mountains and were also rarely found east of the Appalachians. Even in the first settlements in New England and along the Atlantic coast. Europeans did not come in contact with the buffalo. In the Western and Southwestern prairies enormous herds congregated. The plains were sometimes spotted and darkened with them as far as the eye could reach. Countless thousands were to be seen coming to refresh themselves at pools and along the streams and paths in some parts of the unsettled prairies and forest were almost as conspicuous as the roads in the most populous part of the United States.

Indians Favored Meat
Primitive Indians subsisted almost entirely on the flash of the bison. They employed the spear and the bow and arrow as weapons in their buffalo hunts. They later used fire arms when they could procure them. The Indians pursued the buffalo on horse back but the Hunter, whether on horse back or on foot, often had much difficulty in getting within shot because of the keenness of scent and the speed of the wild buffalo. A buffalo chase was more or less dangerous as the animal often became ferocious and was apt to turn upon an adversary and even a fleet horse could not always escape his charge. At times the coming Indian killed numbers of buffalo with the use after the Hunter had succeeded in turning the herd which scattered over the plane in confusion so that they would run wildly without heating whither. Another expedient of the wily Indian was to set fire to the grass of the prairie around them when the buffalo would retire in great consternation to the center and were then easily slaughtered. A sort of pound or inclosure was sometimes made with a long avenue leading into it and an embankment of snow such that when the animals descended it they could not return and by this means great numbers were often captured and killed. Other times Indians contrived stampede the buffalo and make them run towards a precipice over which many of the foremost would be driven by the crowds that thronged up behind.

The American bison is very similar to the European cousin called the buffalo. In general the American species is of a rather small size but this was not always the case. The American bison or buffalo sometimes attained to the weight of a times or to thousand pounds. It slims and tail are sort detailed consist of you are vertebrae. The Hornets are shorter and are blunt. The four parts are still more shaggy and retain more of their shakiness and summer.

Wolf and Bear Foe Buffalo.
The Wolf was quite unable to contend with the bison but many wolves often hanged around the herd to devour That might stray or aged animals which had become too weak to keep up with the rest. Whole pacts of hungry wolves would attack and deal death to Calves and the less vigorous older animals. Often, many of the wolves would be killed before the buffalo was compelled to yield to numbers of hunger pertinacity. The only American animal that was singularly capable of overcoming the American bison was the grizzly bear.

The flash of the American Buffalo is very good differs from the ox or ordinary beef cattle and having a sort of wild venison labor. The home of the buffalo in particular was esteemed a delicacy. The flash of the buffalo provided food for the first hunters and northern voyageurs partook of the flash and the fat of the bison while its high or per made their clothing. Their tallow formed an important article of trade in pioneer days. One bowl sometimes would yield 150 pounds of tallow. The Indians use these buffalo skins for blankets and when can, the scans made coverings for their lodges and bed. Blankets and bedding were not infrequently sold for three or four pounds of sterling in Canada for use as traveling codes or wrappers in the extremely cold regions. The Indians sometimes made canoes of buffalo skin spread upon the wicker work frames. The long hair or lease of the buffalo was sometimes woven cloth. Some of it was formerly shipped to England and woven very cloth. Stockings and gloves were embedded from it. A buffalo bull or mail sometimes would yield from six to eight pounds of this law valuable hair.

Protected Buffalo Herds.
Efforts in the last thirty or forty years to domesticate the American bison had met with success. The animals are protected on a number of large government reserves where they live on the native grass and forest and multiply.

The big government forest, game and fish preserve at Wichita, Oklahoma has one of these government protected herds. It contains about three hundred animals. It is from this heard that Dr. Estes succeeded in getting a-year-old bull donated free to the municipality of McKinney. The animal will soon be brought here and placed with its meet already in captivity in Finch Park Zoo.

* 1929 an article says “a buffalo”  What happened to the 2nd?

*The park actually opened in 1916 and added the zoo later. The zoo opened in the 1920’s and closed in 1934-35 because of the Depression. The zoo was a major tourist attraction for the city.


1929 TEXAS Bison Owners
Abilene—Abilene Chamber of Commerce…..4
Amarilo-C. J. Pumroy……………………………..24
Cisco-Cisco Zoo………………………………………..1
El Paso—City Park Zoo……………………………..7
Fort Worth–Park Department…………………….3
Goodnight—J. I. Staley…………………………..208
Houston-City Park Zoo………………………………4
Iowa Park—Will Burnett……………………………26
McKinney—Otise Nelson…………………………….1
San Angelo—P. W. Howe………………………….4
Waco—J. B. Earl……………………………………….3
Total 285


Kerrville Tx 1932

Schreiner University Historical Collection- http://texashistory.unt.edu/Kerrville Tx 1932 Schreiner University Historical Collection

Old Charlie Bull in West Texas 1934 

Old Charlie Bull in West Texas 1934
“Old Charlie” “Buffalo (American Bison) Bull in West Texas” “Photo 9368 B Copyright, 1934 by McCormick Co. 4AH-1930” “Distributed by McCormick Co, Photographers, Amarillo, Texas” “Genuine Curteich – Chicago “C.T. Art-Colortone” Postcard (Reg. U.S. Pat. Off.) Original vintage color lithograph postcard, 1934 TheGalerii.com


“A lonesome survivor of the thundering buffalo herds! His forefathers were saved
from extinction by the wife of Texas Panhandler’s pioneer rancher,
Colonel Charles Goodnight, for whom he is named.”








1939 Erath Co, Texas by Steve Casey partnered with Erath County Genealogical Society- Texas History http://texashistory.unt.edu/

1939 2 Buffalo Grazing Erath co by Steve Casey Erath Co

1939 5 Buffalo Grazing Erath co by Steve Casey Erath Co

1939 4 Buffalo Grazing Erath co by Steve Casey Erath Co







Photograph of buffalo behind a fence at Double Heart Ranch in Sweetwater, Texas. April 1944

Collection from  Abilene Library Consortium, The 12th Armored Division Photograph Collection, and World War Two Collection

Photo of buffalo behind a fence at Double Heart Ranch in Sweetwater Texas 1944

Photograph of a buffalo herd at Double Heart Ranch, Sweetwater Texas 1944

Photograph 2 of a buffalo herd at Double Heart Ranch, Sweetwater Texas 1944


The fence’s height is that of the soldier’s.

Photograph of a soldier in uniform in front of fenced in buffalo.


In 1949 buffalo were found in several city zoos in Texas and on a few ranches in Armstrong and Nolan counties. In the late twentieth century, various ranches throughout Texas continued to maintain buffalo herds; the animal had rebounded from near-extinction from the Midwest to the Southwest and West.


1949 Lambshead Ranch – Matthews Family. by Wallace, Sally Brittingham

1949 Lambshead Ranch_Matthews by Wallace, Sally Brittingham



1960 Taylor CountyHardin-Simmons University Library


1960 Photographer Unknown

Photograph of a buffalo on Blackburn Ranch.

Hardin-Simmons University Library

Abilene Library Consortium




Photograph of John Lane sitting on a horse next to five buffalo in a corral. Written on the back of the photo, “Uncle John Lane. 76 years young, a straight-shootin’ old pioneer of far West Texas.” –

Cattle Raisers Museum

John Lane sitting on a horse next to five buffalo in a corral.

Photograph of John Lane and Cap Yates standing near a dead buffalo in a corral. Written on the back of the photo,”Cap Yates and Uncle John Lane after Uncle John had punished the Bad Buffalo.”

Cattle Raisers Museum

John Lane and Cap Yates standing near a dead buffalo in a corral.


The Austin American
Austin Texas Feb 5, 1960

Outdoor Notes: An unusual hunt will be staged in the Davis Mountains of West Texas this weekend … A half a dozen hunters will be after buffalo (Bisons) of the variety that Buffalo Bill killed countless years ago . . . Seven aging bulls will be killed from an old herd preserved on the Reynolds Reynolds Ranch . . . About 125 animals remain in this herd, but this may be the last hunt in several years since most of the aging bulls are gone.


Express and News
San Antonio Texas Jan 21, 1962

Riding a bison in a parade with Lydon B Johnson and Kennedy
Texas Scores Big Hit in Big Parade

Bison, Belles and a Big Bass Drum

WASHINGTON  — Texas, sharing the limelight with Massachusetts in Friday’s Presidential Inaugural Parade, provided color and entertainment that brought many cheers from. the shivering crowds massed along historic Pennsylvania Ave.

Lyndon Baines Johnson, a native of the Lone Star State who went from school teacher to congress to vice president, rode down the snow-bordered thoroughfare behind the new President of the United States, John F. Kennedy.

In the parade of units representing the 50 states, Massachusetts came first with a Boston high school band, a marching unit and its state float.

Texas followed with a colorful display that repeatedly drew cheers, laughs and applause all along the route from the Capitol to the White House.

Gov. Price Daniel and his pretty wife, Jean, headed the Texas unit.-They were followed by the orange-and-white cowboy, costumed University of Texas Longhorn Band with its enormous bass drum.

Riding between the ‘Fisher County Sheriff’s posse on 23 beautiful horses and the East Texas State College band was a rugged Texas frontiersman riding a buffalo. He drew screams and laughter as he urged the animal time and again, toward photographers or policemen.

Both Kennedy and Johnson, in the Presidential reviewing stand, appeared delighted by the performance. They both spoke to the rider when he brought the bison to a halt in front of them.

The Texas float, with pretty Lone Star lassies, reflected the progress of science in the 52 years since Johnson was born. It depicted, first, the frontier of West Texas a half-century by spaceships and stars. Johnson has been named by Kennedy as his chief coordinator on space matters.

Later in the parade, marching in the section allotted to New Mexico, were the Nederland High School. Band from the Beaumont area, and the Wainwright Rifle Squad of Tarleton Junior College at Stephenville,Texas.



Lyndon B Johnson on his ranch in Texas 1966. Lyndon B Johnson Texas Ranch 1966


National Historical Park in central Texas about 50 miles west of Austin in the Texas Hill Country. The park protects the birthplace, home, ranch and final resting place of Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States. During Johnson’s administration, the LBJ Ranch was known as the “Texas White House” because the President spent approximately twenty percent of his time in office there.

The Visitor Center is the focal point of Lyndon B. Johnson State Park. It contains memorabilia from President Johnson’s presidency and interactive displays about the land and people that shaped a president. Attached to the Visitor Center is the Behrens Cabin, a two-room dogtrot cabin built by German immigrant H. C. Behrens during the 1870s. The furnishings are typical of such homes in that period. Visitors can further explore the history of these immigrants by viewing the 1860s Danz family log cabin located just west of the Visitor Center. An auditorium in the visitor center complex will accommodate 234 persons for state performances or films.  A nature trail, including a Hill Country botanical exhibit, winds past wildlife enclosures stocked with bison, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, other native wildlife, and longhorn cattle. https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lyndon-b-johnson 


Chicago Tribune Press Service Oct 16 1966
LBJ Adds to ‘Spreads’ in Texas

5 Ranches Total 6,300 Acres

LBJ ranches Oct 16 1966

Holdings Now 6,300 Acres

The Lewis ranch is one of four ranches President Johnson owns in the central Texas hill country in addition to and in the neighborhood of the LBJ which he and Mrs. Johnson call home. The five ranches total about 6,300 acres.

The four properties the President acquired after he bought the LBJ ranch, the Johnson ancestral home with a modernized, century-old central house, from an aunt in 1951 when he was in the Senate are the Lewis, Scharnhorst, Haywood, and Reagan ranches, all known locally by the names of their previous owners.

The Scharnhorst ranch was renamed Granite Knob by the President, but the old name still sticks.

Promised to Daughters

The President talks of the 831-acre Lewis ranch as Luci’s and of the 1,800-acre Scharnhorst as the ranch of his older daughter, Lynda. He has promised the two ranches as eventual gifts to the daughters.

The rustic dwelling house on the Lewis ranch has been refurnished into a cozy guest cottage, and it was there that Luci, her new husband, Nugent’s brother returned from combat in Vie. Nam, and his wife spent the night on the recent weekend. The house on the Scharnhorst has not yet been remodeled.

The LBJ ranch of 447 acres, unlike the four other ranches with their empty reaches of pasture, scrub live oak, cedar shrub, cactus, and limestone outcroppings framed by bills, is more a well-kept gentleman s estate than a typical Texas “spread.”

Raises Herefords There

The President raises cattle on the LBJ, but the sleek, white-face Herefords are blooded, prize winning breeding stock.

The Scharnhorst offers the most eye-catching natural scenery of all the Johnson ranches. It has limestone bluffs and rugged masses of granite out cropping hence, Johnson’s renaming it Granite Knob which could provide a setting for a wild west movie.

The Haywood ranch covers 4,560 acres in its entirety, but the President’s ownership is a half-interest of 2,280 acres. The Haywood is on Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, about 20 miles north of the LBJ ranch. The lake, formerly Granite Shoals lake and renamed in the President’s honor last year, is one of the high- land lakes chain in central Texas formed by a series of dams on the Colorado river.

Place for Relaxation

Johnson has a newly-built cottage fronting on the lake and a squadron of cabin cruisers and motor boats. The Haywood ranch is among the President’s favorite places to relax and enjoy outdoor recreation during his Texas visits.

The Reagan ranch of about 1,000 acres is the most recently acquired of the Johnson properties and, so far, the least known. Close to the LBJ ranch, the Reagan is being developed by the President into a wildlife sanctuary and game preserve. He already has stocked the Reagan s fields and forests with herds of the small native Texas deer, a pair of American bison, elk, and species of English and | Japanese deer.



Photograph of Boog Burnett sitting on a horse and shooting at a buffalo (date unknown)

Written on the back of the photo, “Boog Burnett practicing on a tame one.”

Cattle Raisers Museum

Photograph of Boog Burnett sitting on a horse and shooting at a buffalo


In 2002 there was 5,094 bison in Texas- USDA

In 2012 there was 4,378 bison in Texas- USDA



August of 2011 in the Amarillo Globe-News

Back in the fall of 2013, I was contacted by Ryan about his find. It was pretty cool to stay in touch  and keep up with his results, I must say, I was probably almost as excited as he was. Here we are 2 years later. Way to go Ryan!!!

Ryan's dig 1Ryans dig Texas2

Bison skeleton in Burnet County up to 700 years old

From myStatesman

By Claire Osborn – American-Statesman Staff

More than two years ago, Ryan Murray uncovered some ancient-looking bones on the banks of Rocky Creek at his parents’ ranch in northeastern Burnet County. Experts at a paleontology open house at the University of Texas told him they were bison bones.

Murray, his father, his brother and David Calame, an archaeological enthusiast from South Texas, ended up excavating the bison’s vertebrae, ribs, two front legs and skull with many of the teeth and one horn still intact in 2014.

AUSTIN HUMPHREYS (http://www.mystatesman.com/staff/austin-humphreys/)

Ryan Murray found a bone while fishing on his father’s property in Burnet County in September 2013. Curiosity led to an … Read More (http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/local/bison-skeleton-in-burnet-county-up-to-700-years-ol/npG9K/#modal-8356379)

But Murray still didn’t know how old the bones were. He got his answer late this summer.

The bones were from a bison that lived in Texas sometime between 1308 and 1424 A.D., said Raymond Mauldin, the assistant director of the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio. That places the animal into an archaeological time frame called the Toyah Interval, when bison were probably pretty common in Texas, he said.

What isn’t common is the substantial amount of the animal’s skeleton that Murray found, because hunters and gatherers during that time period usually cut their kill up and crushed the bone for marrow, Maudlin said.

AUSTIN HUMPHREYS  (http://www.mystatesman.com/staff/austin-humphreys/)

David Calame, an archaeological enthusiast, inspects a rib bone of a bison found near Rocky Creek in Burnet County in 2014.

“We generally just see a few bones, so this one — from my perspective — is in uncommonly good condition and seems to represent a good portion of the animal,” he said.

Mauldin said that Calame had given him several pieces of the bison’s bones to test for age. Scientists extracted collagen from one of the bones and sent it to a lab in Seattle for radiocarbon dating, he said.

Animals absorb carbon into their bones after eating plants that contain it. A certain form of carbon is unstable and deteriorates over time, so scientists can measure what’s left in the collagen to estimate the age, Maudlin said.

Murray, an office administrator for Austin Gastroenterology, said finding out the bison was several hundred years old was thrilling. “It made me feel like it was worthwhile to spend all that time digging it out and being able to study it now,” he said.

He is still stabilizing the skull of the bison he found — a 7-year-old female — with a special type of glue and sculpting clay used by paleontologists. The rest of the skeleton is wrapped up and packaged in storage, he said.

He said he will loan the skeleton for display, but he ultimately wants it back.

“I intend to keep and have it in my family forever,” Murray said.


May 2014: Burnet County bison skeleton might reveal ancient history

Read more 


Update: June 2017

Research indicates that, 700 years ago, a mature female bison, weighing 1,300-1,800 pounds, went down a creek bed in what is now northern Burnet County. The animal either died of natural causes or was bogged down in the mud and perished.

She was part of a bison herd that migrated down a corridor stretching through the Great Plains and into the Edwards Plateau between the years 1308 and 1424.

Full story 


April 26, 2020

I received an email from a fellow enthusiast and reader of AAB. He said he found a bison bone and was curious as to how old it could be. Of course, I sent him over to talk with Jeff Martin. Jeff has been my key “go-to guy” for bison history and bones. He has written and developed my “Ancient Bison” page. I have added some news articles, but he’s the man.

Just who are Bison related to? By Jeff M. Martin

I asked Rick if I could share his great find, he responded with how he came to find his ancient bison bone.

Our day started with plans of surf fishing between Sea Rim State Park and the town of Sabine Pass, Tx. Upon arriving at the beach we decided to comb the beach for seashells instead of fishing. I walked down the beach about 300 yards where I found the bone. I looked around to see if I could find anything else but found nothing. The bone seemed bigger than a standard cow bone.
When I arrived home and began to Google pictures; I found that what I had looked more like a bison bone than a cow bone. One search brought me to “allaboutbison.com” where I sent an inquiry to see if I could learn more. A day or so later I was contacted by Jeff Martin, a bison specialist at Texas A&M  who confirmed my bone to be that of an antique bison from somewhere around 10,000 years ago.
By. Rick McClelland

Ancient Bison Femur Ancient Bison Femur


Justification of identification: The image of the femoral head, the hip joint, shows a clear depression that is semi-circular in shape which suggests Bison as the genus; horses have a triangle groove instead and horses have an extra flange that this specimen lacks. That depression is where the tendon that holds the leg bone to the pelvis inserts. The image of the tape measure around the mid-shaft of the femur shows a rough circumference of 6.5 inches (~165.5 mm). Using trigonometry, I estimate that the diameter of that same location is around 52 mm (~2 inch) which places it within the size category of Bison antiquus, but there are some Bison bison that get that large, too. Also, judging from the color stains on the bone, it is likely several thousand years old. Bison antiquus went extinct around 9,000 years ago and Bison bison arose sometime around 13,000 years ago, so there is considerable time and spatial overlap for these species.

I think this is a great find and should make for a good conversation starter with folks. Enjoy your find!
Thank you for sharing!
Jeff M. Martin, B.S., M.S. | Ph.D. Candidate
Barboza Lab of Wildlife Conservation & Policy | Boone & Crockett Research Fellow
Department of Rangeland, Wildlife, & Fisheries Management | Department of Ecology & Conservation Biology 
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843