Page images
PDF
EPUB

MAJOR GEORGE W. LITTLEFIELD

The passing of Major Geo. W. Littlefield in November of 1920 took from the cattle industry of Texas one of its most spectacular figures for Major Littlefield's life was really a section of Texas history. A connecting of

the hardships and chivalry of the days of the trail to the wonderful development and progress. In each section he acted well his part. He was not lucky in the shirkers' idea of the word. From boyhood he worked with unremitting diligence and saved part of what he made.

His early life was spent

largely on the free and open GEORGE W. LITTLEFIELD range—a life that is condu

cive to fairness in a deal, loyalty to comrades. Both of these attributes Major George W. Littlefield had to a great extent.

Major Littlefield was born in Mississippi, June 23, 1842, but came with his parents to Texas when only eight years old. True to his ideals he enlisted in the Confederate Army when only eighteen as second lieutenant. On May 1, 1862, he was made first lieutenant, and within a few days rose to the rank of captain of his company which was a part of the famous Terry's Texas Rangers. He was promoted to Major on the battlefield for exceptional bravery in action. A severe shrapnel wound disabled him and he was sent home to Gonzales.

It was here he embarked in the cattle industry that proved the golden trail for him. His first money was invested in land which became the nucleus for the famous Yellow House Ranch in Lamb county. Later he bought other land and established other ranches in Texas and New Mexico. From the longhorn of the range he bred up to the very best type of Hereford. In the good old days from five to six thousand calves were branded on his ranch every year.

[graphic]

Major Littlefield moved to Austin in 1883, and from that time he conducted his enormous business interests from Austin. In 1890 he opened The American National Bank in Austin with a capital less than $100,000. It has grown and expanded until now its resources are over $10,000,000. With the expansion a bank home commensurate with the dignity of the business became necessary and the Littlefield Building on Sixth and Congress became a monument of his business success and enterprise. The splendid nine-story building of steel and brick with trimmings of gray Texas granite and terra cotta is fireproof throughout. It is equipped with two 16-passenger elevators. The wainscoting of the main corridor is of Pavonazzi marble in frames of verde antique. The corridors and floors including the bank are of tile. But the bank was his pride. In it he builded the memories of a life time. The huge bronze doors of the main entrance are of bronze representing actual scenes on Major Littlefield's ranch and the door handles are steers' heads. The Financier of New York featured these doors as a frontispiece saying they “were the most famous bronze doors in America. That other doors featured carnage and destruction but these doors represented a great industry.” On the exquisitely tinted walls the mural paintings depict scenes from Yellow House Ranch and an apple orchard from his ranch near Roswell. A huge American Eagle sent from one of the ranches stands guard with outstretched wings over the main entrance exemplifying one of Major Littlefield's strongest characteristics, Loyalty. During the late war Major Littlefield gave his money without stint to the Red Cross, and bought Liberty Bonds in sums that made the uninitiated

gasp. They were only outward expressions of this brave old soldier who chafed that he could not join the fray in person.

Major Littlefield's palatial home adjoins the University of Texas campus—nay, is now a part of it and he learned to love this institution of learning as if it was a favored child. Specially was he interested in the Department of Southern history, that future generations might look with pride on the deeds of the Southland. His bequests from time to time grew into the goodly sum of nearly three millions, the Wrenn Library, his personal gift, makes the name of Littlefield known on two continents as a philanthropist of a high order.

His gentle little wife, Mrs. Alice Littlefield, lives in his palatial home and her devotion to “George” is as loyal today as when she was a real helpmate to him in days when with other splendid Texans, the Old Time Trail Drivers, builded better than they knew.

Major Geo. W. Littlefield left as trustees for his large estate, men who have been by his side a lifetime—kinsmen tried and true: J. P. White of Roswell, New Mexico, Whitfield Harral of Dallas and H. A. Wroe, president of the American National Bank of Austin, Texas.

KIDNAPPED THE INSPECTORS

Leo Tucker, Yoakum, Texas

I was born October 16, 1851, at St. Mary's, Perry county, Missouri, and came to Texas when a very small child with my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hilary Tucker. When I was twelve years old I was seized with the desire to travel, and made my first trip from Bovine to San Antonio with a load of government bacon which was to be sent to Fort Smith, Arkansas. This trip required four weeks and the one thing that stands out most vividly

m en

in my recollection is the trouble I encountered with Mexicans, when I awoke to find they had stolen my best pair of oxen. This was in 1863.

I began my work with the cattlemen in 1869, going up the trail and serving as cook at a salary of $10 per month, which was later raised to $35. Sitting around the camp-fires and listening to the men tell of their trips caused me to decide that the life of a cowboy was the route I wanted to follow. Fortunately I was associated with a few of the grand old stock

of Lavaca county, namely, Jim Hickey, John May, Joel Bennett, J. X. May, Bill Gentry, Dick May and

LEO TUCKER A. May, to whose fine characters I am indebted for that training which carried me through many trying times.

In 1871 I left Bovine, Lavaca county, going out by the Kokernot Ranch, by Peach Creek, passing Gonzales, and Lockhart, and on by Onion Creek; then passing Donohue, the old stage stand, following the trail on by Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, Waco, Belton, to the left of Dallas, by Sherman, then Gainesville, and crossing Red River out by Carriage Point, by way of Fort Arbuckle into Indian Territory, out by Oswego, Kansas. Here we met a bunch of friendly Comanche Indians who had been out on the banks of the Arkansas River making a treaty with another tribe. Our next place was Ellsworth, Kansas. Here we met George West and a bunch of boys on the trail. As Abilene was the end of our trip I returned home.

In 1872 I made a trip with A. May. This trip nothing unusual occurred, except we met a lot of Osage Indians who had their faces painted. They were great warriors but were afraid to attack a bunch of white men if they were outnumbered.

[graphic]

In 1873 I again started up the trail with my old comrade, D. May. When we reached Red River Station two inspectors came up and looked over our herd and found two unbranded beeves. They told us we would have to pay $50 each for having cattle without a brand. There were thirteen herds belonging to a man named Butler. Mr. Butler instructed the boys to capture the two inspectors and put them in a wagon. They were taken into the Indian Territory, across Pond Creek, where they were turned loose, and they had to swim the creek to get back home. This was the last trouble we had with inspectors.

In 1874 with John May and Joel Bennett, I made one of my hardest and most eventful trips. We left Bovine in February with 3,000 head of cattle and had a splendid drive, with a few mishaps, until we reached Rush Creek. From here we proceeded to Hell Roaring Creek, about fifteen miles north, with a blizzard raging. That night was the coldest I ever experienced. Snow, sleet and ice were one and a half feet deep, and our stock suffered. Our loss was not as heavy as some of our neighbors, under Sol West, whose horses froze under their riders. West, Boyce McCrab and Al Fields lost many of their horses. We went on to Ellsworth, and from there to Norfolk, Nebraska, on the Missouri River. Millett & Mayberry were to receive the beeves here, but made us an offer of $1,000 extra if we would deliver them across the Missouri river to Yankton in Dakota. We would not take the risk of the loss of the cattle as we knew a blizzard might overtake us while the 3,000 beeves were being crossed over. However, we swam them across 75 at a time, the boys using three canoes and kept fighting them in the face with water to keep them from angling across. It was there I first saw a steamboat. It was the Mary Mag

« PreviousContinue »