Page images
PDF
EPUB

into this country every light moon and take out a great many horses. At that time the country was very thinly settled and every man that was able was fighting the Yankees in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia. When the war closed there were lots of cattle here, but no market for them until the drives to Kansas started in about 1870. Old Man Leroy Pope was about the first man to drive a herd from Atascosa. He started from his ranch on the La Partia, where Christine is now located, with 2,200 big steers, none of them under seven years old and I think some of them were twelve or fifteen years old. People in those days called them “scalawags." He got them as far as Positas in Bexar county when they stampeded and he lost the whole herd. It took him about thirty days to get those steers rounded up. I helped in the roundup and we found most of them twenty-five miles away. Among those who drove herds from this section in those days were Bennett, Musgrave, Hines & Murphy, Drake, Gilliland, Jerry Ellis, John Dewees, Charlie Hines, Mitchell & Presnall, John Camp and many others. I helped to gather several herds, but never went up the trail very far. They paid only $30 or $35 per month for hands and I figured that I could do better on the range, so I stayed here. Some of the boys who went along never came back. I never liked to get up and herd cattle at night, so never had any desire to go to Kansas.

I married in 1879, just forty-one years ago this day, December 24, 1921, when I am writing this, and there are fifteen children in our family, nine boys and six girls, all living, and my wife and I are still hale and hearty. Including grandchildren there are about forty-five members of our family, and there has been only one death. None of my boys have ever been sent to the penitentiary or elected to the legislature, and I think that is a pretty good showing. I have had a good time all of my life, have had but few scrapes and what few I did have I always came out second best. I believe I have had pretty smooth sailing generally. When broke I could always strike a friend that would help me up, and most of them were old trail drivers. May the Good Lord look after them as He has looked after me, for they are the best people on earth.

FIFTY CENTS A DAY WAS CONSIDERED GOOD PAY

Louis and Joseph Schorp, Rio Medina, Texas

Louis Schorp and Joseph Schorp were born and raised at Castroville, in Medina county, Texas. They

[graphic][merged small]

went to school there until they were sixteen years of age, then were sent to St. Mary's College in San Antonio where they received the finishing touches to their education. After they returned home from College they went to work on their father's farm and looking after his cattle. The plowing was done with oxen, which were also used for freighting and hauling of the farm products to San Antonio. The last hauling these brothers did with ox teams was in 1878 when they hauled rock and sand to build the Medina county court house and jail at

Castroville. In 1893 the county seat was moved to Hondo. When these brothers had no work on the farm and on the range they would hire out at whatever they could get for their work. Fifty cents a day was considered good pay. During the seventies they helped to round up steers for the trail drivers. Their father had about 500 head of cattle and they always had some of their own to sell. In the late eighties they purchased land on the line of Frio and La Salle counties and located a ranch, which they still own.

WHEN THE ELEMENTS WEPT AND SHED TEARS

W. F. Fielder

I was born in Neshoba county, Mississippi, November 9, 1857, and landed on Seal's Creek, near Prairie Lea in Caldwell county, Texas, in the spring of 1867, coming with my parents overland in a wagon drawn by oxen. My first experience with cattle was rounding up a bunch of milk cows with my uncle, Matthew Clark, Bill Butler and Frank Polk. In those days the cows were not heavy milkers, and it required from thirty to fifty cows to give sufficient milk for a good sized family; and they raised families then, although they seem to have gotten away from the habit now. On those roundups my hardest job was to keep up with the crowd. My uncle promised me a nice two-year-old heifer on one condition, that I keep up with the bunch and not make so much noise when I got out of sight.

My first real job was herding sheep for Lee Holms near Prairie Lea. There were about 500 head in the herd, and I stayed on the job five months, or until he sold them in the spring of 1872. I formed a partnership with Tully Roebuck and we went into the cattle business. I soon got tired of mavericking and sold my interest to Tully in the spring of 1876, and went to work for my uncle, J. K. Blount, in Kendall county. He was buying cattle for Ellison & Dewees. I helped him for awhile, then went to work for A. J. Potter, the “fighting parson," who had a contract to gather a lot of cattle for Louis Heath which had been turned loose to winter on the Cibolo. We were about a month on that job and delivered them to Jim Bandy and he drove them up the trail. I next worked with Jake Tally, who was buying cattle for Jim Ellison, and was with him until the spring of 1877, when I agreed to go up the trail with Uncle Nat Ellison. We met at his home the first of March of that year, and went to the Guadalupe Pasture below Seguin to receive our herd. The winter had been dry and cold, the cattle were poor and were dying in such numbers that the three men in charge of the pasture were considerably behind on skinning, so we went to skinning too and it wasn't long before it looked like our herd would all be hanging on the fence. There were about 300 acres fenced with rails and we had that fence pretty well covered with hides. However, about the first of April we began to round up the cattle that looked like they could pull through, getting about 2,600 out of the 4,600 that had been put in there in the winter. We moved out and stopped on the prairie near Lockhart for about ten days, and while we were there the hostler quit and Mr. Ellison asked me if I would look after the horses until he could get another hostler. I accepted the job and after a few days I told him if it was satisfactory with him I would just stay with the horses. They were so poor and sore-backed I thought the hostler had a better chance to ride than the boys with the cattle on the trail, and I had caught up with my walking while herding sheep. When we left Lockhart the outfit consisted of N. P. Ellison, boss; W. E. Ellison, E. F. Hilliard, E. M. Storey, Albert McQueen, Ace Jackson, John Patterson, G. W. Mills, myself, a negro named Luther Merriweather and a negro cook named McStewart. Our first trouble

was at Maze Prairie where we had our first stampede. The cattle got scared on the opposite side of the wagon from where we were sleeping and came directly toward us. The awful noise of their tramping feet and the rattling of their horns naturally stampeded the sleeping boys and they all broke for the wagon seeking safety. The excitement was only momentary for in a little while all hands were mounted and after the cattle. We soon had them circling and in a few hours they had quieted down on the bedground. Hilliard was complaining awfully with his head, claiming that I had ran over him in the excitement and stamped him over the eye with my boot heel. The boys got a lantern to see how badly hurt he was. They found a circle over his eye, showing that in his fright he ran against the spindle of the axle of the wagon instead of being run over by me. Hilliard claimed he was not frightened, and the verdict was that the wagon became frightened and ran over him. Everything went well for a few days, and then it began raining, and more trouble was in store for us. The elements seemingly selected the night time to do the weeping and tearshedding act, and just at the time when the tired cowboy was sleeping and dreaming of home and sweetheart, the cattle would become restless and all hands would have to get up and get around them to prevent stampedes.

When we reached the Colorado River it was up and we had to swim it. We went on to Lampasas, Buffalo Gap and Fort Worth, which place was then just a small town. The grass was fine there and we grazed them right up to the depot and down the Trinity River. When we reached Red River it looked like a young ocean, so we camped on Panther Creek, which was rightly named for the screaming of panthers at night sounded as though there must have been several hundred of them. It was on this creek that our worst stampede occurred. They started about 1 o'clock at night and the next morning at daylight we were short 2,200; we had only 400 head. In

« PreviousContinue »