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WILLIAM G. BUTLER When the trains began to haul their first long strings of clacking freight cars loaded with cattle, many ranchmen were happy that for their sons the getting of cattle to market in the future would be so simplified. Weeks on the trail, driving their slow moving herds, through days of sun and days of rain, with always nights on the great outside, were now over. But life has a way of compensating, and from these men who had been called on to use the best that was in them of courage and of resourcefulness through those years, there grew a line of sturdy, hardy men who could not have just happened to be as they were. They had been
W. G. BUTLER developed.
Among these Knights of the Cattle Trail—the old trail drivers—was William G. Butler, of Karnes county, known all the way up and down the trail as Bill Butler.
When Texas was young and raw and the bad man seemed ever ready to get the better of the good man, because there were more of them, Bill Butler came with his father and mother, Burnell and Sallie Butler, in 1852 to Texas from Scott county, Mississippi, he being eighteen years old at that time. The trip was made, as were all others in the days before the railroads had come, overland in wagons; there were three ox-drawn wagons, the family and seven negro slaves. At the end of three months they reached the San Antonio River on December 24, 1852. Home was there made, they then began the raising of cattle and the taking up of wild and—then thought to be—almost worthless land.
In 1858 Mr. Butler was married to Miss Adline Burris and they made their home always in the same old county of Karnes, near Kenedy. Their family consisted of Newton G., who died March 12, 1895; Mrs. Helen Nicholes, Mrs. Lou M. Adams, Emmett, who died December 26, 1884; S. C., T. G., Cora, and William G., Jr., who died November 20, 1913. Mrs. Butler, who as a wife and mother was never found lacking in the courage and comfort these early days demanded, died April 7, 1908, and Mr. Butler four years later, June 14, 1912.
When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted and fought through its long years of struggles. Coming home at the close of war he found his cattle had scattered and were suffering from thieving bands who were accustomed to go through the country and drive along all the cattle they could find. One such band he located to the Northwest of San Antonio; gathering a number of men to go with him, they set out to overtake these thieves, the leader of whom was known to him to be as bold as he was evil (bad). Mr. Butler came on them with their big herd of cattle forty-five miles above San Antonio, they being in plain sight in a valley below, and when the thieves saw the pursuing party, they gathered in a group and stopped; the Butler party kept advancing and when not far away the leader boldly spurred his horse forward to meet Mr. Butler who had done the same and they hus came face to face, both being ready for what we of late days would call “an eventuality." The man recognized Mr. Butler and because he was known everywhere as having the courage of a lion and nerve of steel and the most unswerving honesty and justice, the meeting proved to go after this manner: “What do you want, Mr. Butler?” And the answer, “To cut my cattle from that herd,” and “It is all right with me, sir," which was done. When some miles from San Antonio on the trip back, they met Buck Pettus and Tom O'Conner going to hunt for the thieves, Mr. Butler had just visited. Mr. Butler
was asked to go back with them and, although he was homeward bound with his own cattle and the going back was hazardous, these men were his friends and he turned and went with them, sending his own herd on with his men. This is but an illustration of what it meant to be Bill Butler's friend, and if we were called on to name the dominating trait of this man, we should say “loyalty to a friend." If you were poor or if you were rich; if you were right or if you were wrong, and you were in trouble, he was with you and for you, and there were many men who were better men for having had this trust placed in them. In the early days when life was more often demanded and taken than now, he was ready always to help his friend, even risking his own life; in later years his resources and counsel were as freely given out to a needy friend, and there are many, who becoming stranded through the ceaseless buffetings of an unkind fate or maybe from a sudden stroke of ill fortune, found a new chance given them through Bill Butler's generosity, “for auld times' sake.”
His first string of cattle were driven to Abilene, Kansas, from Karnes county in March, 1868, with the following hands: Robert and Wash Butler, his brothers; L. C. Tobin, Buck and Jess Little, John Sullivan, Jim Berry Nelson, Boxie White, John Brady, M. Benavides, Juan Concholer, Juan Mendez, and Levi and William Perryman, the latter two negroes. Only Tobin, Jess Little and the Perrymans survive today. From one to three herds were driven by him every year afterward up to 1886, in some of these he was his own boss and some were in charge of Pleas and Fayette Butler, A. J. (Bud) Jourdon and Alfonso Coy. Some of the herds were driven to Ogallala, Nebraska and Dodge City, Kansas.
For many years he and Major Seth Mabry of Austin, were partners and sent up many herds of cattle. During these years I should estimate that he sent 100,000 cattle up the trails. In Karnes county he owned nearly 75,000
acres of land, had leased 25,000 acres, fenced and stocked with 10,000 head of cattle.
After sixty-five years, there are left of the family who moved to Texas from Mississippi, Pleas Butler of Karnes county, Albert of Bee county, and Mrs. Ruth Burris of Karnes county.
Major Seth Mabry, who was a major in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, was one of the pioneer drivers of cattle from Texas to Northern markets beginning immediately after the Civil War and success crowned his efforts in this direction. He bought a large ranch in Mason and Kimble
counties and built one of the SETH MABRY
most beautiful homes in Aus
tin, Texas, in the seventies. From Austin he moved to Kansas City at which place he died, leaving a wife and one daughter.
J. B. MURRAH CAUGHT THE MEASLES
Dan Murrah, Del Rio, Texas In the spring of 1885 I went over the trail from the Williams Ranch in Brown county to Dodge City, Kansas. We had plenty of rain on this trip, and the creeks and rivers were all full and we had to swim. My brother, J. B. Murrah, was boss, and in our bunch were J. R. Murr, John Goode, Lavigor Goode, myself, and a negro
boy named Buck Johnson. When we reached Fort Griffin, J. B. Murrah broke out with the measles, and had to return home. J. R. Murr took charge. Grass was fine and our horses fattened every day. As we neared Bear Creek, we came to where hunters had been in camp and had just killed a bear. One foot was lying in the main trail, and when the horses smelled the blood they seemed to telephone to the rear that they were coming, and they went. Goode and I were pointing, and I was riding a race mare bought from Judge Vardeman at Gatesville, and we succeeded in getting to the top of a hill where we threw them into a mill and the other
DAN MURRAH boys brought up the drags. We reached Dodge City in good shape, and met several Texas men there, among them Jim Dobie, Bonner, Hawkins, Lemons and others.
MEDINA COUNTY PIONEER
Xavier Wanz, Castroville, Texas
I came to Medina county with my parents from Alsace, France, in the year 1845, with other Castro Colonists, and first settled in Castroville. About a year afterwards we moved about fifteen miles northwest of Castroville to what was then known as “Vanderburg," and settled down, as I may say, in the midst of a tribe of tame Indians who had their camps about two miles from our location. When I was quite a young boy I remember seeing these Indians coming to our little burg