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Bandera, a gathering point for The Great Western Cattle Trail

By Raymond V. Carter, Jr. BCHC Research Historian ©2017

While preparing for the Great Western Cattle Trail National Association (GWCTNA) national convention that is being held at the Flying L and in Bandera in August of this year, I have been researching the old Bill of Sale Books in the County Clerk's Office. Book A-2/A-3 has provided some very interesting data that I believe you will enjoy. The South Texas Great Western Cattle Association, LLC (STGWCA) is the Bandera Chapter of the GWCTNA, which includes membership from central and south Texas. One of the purposes of the Bandera Chapter is to educate the public and our youth of our cattle industry's heritage. In doing so, we will share our knowledge of those from "our community" that helped build this massive industry out of ruin as a result of the War Between the States. Though the efforts of the STGWCA of Bandera, the names of the men and women who helped bring Texas out of the terrible "Black Years" of reconstruction and build it into an economic empire will never be forgotten.
The list of forefathers and mothers from Bandera and surrounding Counties is a long one. The names that I will list here are from the years 1875, 1876 and 1877. You will easily recognize many of the family names, i.e.: Elam, Jones, Rodriguez, Stokes, Benton, Phillips, Miller, Pue, Stanard, Kalka, Pyka, Weaver, Clark, Hicks, Wilson, Parks, Manning, Hey, McClintock, Grogan, Leakey, Curtis, Moody, Hollingsworth, Ross, Hay, Strickland, Lytle, Word, Sheppard, Haus, Gibbons, Hamilton, Schmidtke & Hay, Anderwald, Jureczki and Reed. I must apologize, because I picked these names randomly, and I know that I did not, nor could I list, all the names in the county records. There are many, many more!
One herd of 293 cattle was gathered and put together by I.N. Elam, S.H. Jones, J.P. Rodriguez and Z.P. Stokes and sold on April 21, 1875. This herd consisted of, two–year old heifers, three and four year olds, cows and bulls and were gathered, sold and delivered unto E.G. Childs of Grayson County, Texas. There are many different brands listed in this bill of sale, such as: 5555, A, PR, CI, Circle S, AC, UV, E, 71, bar N8, NO, LH, PUE, VD, JE, rocking +, BIL, CO, box N, 7U, AS, circle R, JA, RR, T, LO, IO, TS, JT and many more. Samuel H. Jones was the Bandera County Inspector of Hides and Animals that inspected and certified the herd. Grayson County is north of Dallas, Texas and is on the Oklahoma border.
Another heard was sold on May 22, 1875, to Foote, Taylor and Company of Collin County, Texas, which is just north of Dallas. This herd of 119 was put together by Wm. D. Benton, Walek Anderwald, J.M. Phillips, J.B. Miller, H.A. Stanard, Joseph Kalka, F.A. Weaver, A.J. Elam, J.J. Jones, Schmidtke & Hay, Rufus Clark, Issac N. Elam, and J.P. Rodriguez and consisted of three and four year olds, bulls, cows and a few two year olds. Some of the brands in the herd were: HOT, FW, AJ, JA, circle H, WR, PR, LH, NO, III (on a stag), L7, and some road brands. The herd was also inspected and certified by Samuel H. Jones, Inspector of Hides and Animals for Bandera County.
On April 27, 1876 F.L. Hicks sold a herd of 123 cattle to Kallas and Frazier. Some of the cattle brands on the cattle were: HIX with a small c above the, I, O, WIL, WB, AP, LODI, NE, O, IV, IOX, XX, GB, KIK, MOT and IKE. In and inspection statement made by F.L. Hicks, Inspector of Hides and Animals concerning the cattle sold by L. (F.) L. Hicks to Callas (Kallas?) and Frazer (Frazier?), Hicks stated, "that they intend driving said cattle beyond the State."
Perry E. Wilson of Frio County, Texas brought a herd of 423 cattle through Bandera County, where they were inspected and certified on May 6th, 1876. Wilson "by virtue of the authorities and powers of attorneys from the owners of the cattle herein after described, have gathered the said cattle for the purpose of driving the same." The document states, "I, F.L. Hicks, Inspector of hides and animals for Bandera County, do hereby certify that-I have inspected the hereof cattle in possession of P.E. Wilson and find the numbers, brands, marks, and descriptions of said cattle to be the same as in the foregoing list, which is hereby adopted and made a part of this certificate." "I further certify that said Wilson has produced to me due legal authority – for the driving or disposing of said animals and that said Wilson has in all respects compiled with the requirements of the Stock Law, and the has some others in said herd to be carried with it, that should be inspected." Signed and certified the 6th of May 1876. It sounds like in Hicks' statement that Wilson picked up a few strays along the way. Some cattle must have joined the herd as they were traveling up to Bandera? Some of the brands were: OUR, CI, circle S, E, BD, MUD, SM, CI, ZH, IV, L, LE, JTL, XCD, XX and ONE.
On November 10th, 1875, Samuel H. Jones and Martha J. Jones (which was witnessed by
Hugh H. Duffy), of Bandera County, sold to Perry E. Wilson, of Frio County, Texas, for $7,000.00 "all of our right, title and interest in and to the stocks of cattle running in the range in Bandera and adjoining counties in (with) the following marks and brands = CI, circle S, HS, upside down U, HOT, and HO. The only reservation in the sale concerned one yoke of oxen. These and other cattle were purchased and gathered by Wilson for "the purpose of driving them to market."
Folks today have to realize that most lands in that time period were not fenced and cattle roamed free on the open range. That is another reason they could drive the herds of cattle north to places such as Dodge City, Kansas, etc.. A good example of this is the following sale.
On the 3rd day of August 1877, D.M. Hollingsworth, of Kimble County, Texas, sold to N.B.
Means, and Frank and Gilbert Johnson of Bandera County for $800.00 all of his stock of cattle running in all the territory south of a line commencing at the Pecos River, thence to the head of the Nueces River, thence to the head of the Medina River, thence to Camp Verde, thence to the mouth of Verde Creek, thence down the Guadalupe River to San Antonio Bay. Hollingsworth then listed his cattle brands and marks. The list consists of approximately 438 brands and many, many more side, shoulder and hip marks.
When it is said that millions of cattle were driven north, this short story gives testimony that Bandera did play a role as a gathering point for many herds that went up "The Great Western Cattle Trail."