Texas Bison History

Pages: 1 2 3

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.

Doans Crossing Marker
Top of the marker is C.F. Doan and J Doan. Of course some of the ranches also owned bison. The most famous of all JA Ranch- Goodnight – Photo by Portal to Texas

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 men, 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.

Buffalo owned by Reynolds Cattle Co 1920’so on the Rock Pile Ranch 

Buffalo owned by Reynolds Cattle Co 1920'so on the Rock Pile Ranch 


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 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.


Austin American-Statesman
Austin, Texas 20 Feb 1925
$50,000 Zoo Here Biard Plans

Austin will have a municipal zoo that will be valued within a year’s time at $50,000 if plans announced Friday morning by Arthur E. Biard are materialized.

Biard was recently appointed by the directors of the Young Men’s Business league as chairman of a committee to formulate plans for the establishment of such a project in Austin during the coming year. Active steps to secure a zoo will be started next Monday morning. Biard said Friday.

He plans to secure a tract of land totaling about six acres near Barton Springs, municipal pleasure resort, from the state. The aid of the legislature and Governor Miriam A. Ferguson will likely be enlisted in the move.

 Efforts to secure a municipal zoo at this time Is the aftermath of a similar movement started two years ago. At that time the local committee succeeded in having the legislature pass a bill granting to the city of Austin the six-acre tract which is again being asked for, but the bill was vetoed by Gov. Neff.

Donations totaling $11,000 in value had already been offered to the proposed zoo, Biard said, when the project had to be abandoned. Animals which were offered the zoo at that time Included 14 monkeys, two or three buffalo, a number of foxes, wolves, hyenas and ether animals.

Although he had nothing definite to announce Friday, Biard outlined the plan that be hopes to carry through within the next several weeks. A tract of ground is to be secured, animals are to be donated and all improvements made towards the establishment of a first-class municipal zoo that will compare favorably with any in the Southwest. When these details have been completed, the project will b turned over to the city, which will be asked to hire a Keeper.


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


Lubbock Morning Avalanche (Lubbock, Texas) · 3 May 1932

Lubbock Morning Avalanche (Lubbock, Texas) · 3 May 1932

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.”








Abilene Reporter-News
Abilene, Texas 23 Aug 1936
To Exhibit Buffalo At Eastland Fair

L. R. Pearson of Ranger will exhibit two buffalo at the second annual livestock show to be held in conjunction with the Eastland County Centennial fair. Sept. 16-19, Rev. Charles W. Estes, chairman of the livestock show has announced.


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