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HARDSHIPS OF A COWBOY'S LIFE IN THE EARLY
DAYS IN TEXAS
James T. Johnson, Charco, Texas I was born in Jackson county, Mississippi, April 15th, 1852, and came to Texas with my parents at the age of six months, landing at Corpus Christi in October. My father was county clerk there for one term. Mother took sick on the ship coming to Texas, and lived only six weeks after landing at Corpus Christi. My grandfather came to Texas with the Irish colony, and served a few years in the Confederate army, was wounded and came home on a short furlough, but took blood poisoning and lived but a few hours.
At the tender age of nine years, I was left an orphan, and was sent to live with the Bookman family, where I was treated as one of their own children. For two years I enjoyed myself in the home of these good people, but an uncle in Falls county sent for me to come and live
with him, but I was abused so much that I left and went to live with another uncle who was just as bad, so I drifted out into the wide world for myself at the age of thirteen.
I worked for Kade Lewis, in the town of Bremond, hauling water, and freighted to the town of Kosse. I stayed two years with this job earn
ing $400 in wages, but when JAMES T. JOHNSON I tried to collect, I had to be
satisfied by exchanging my saddle, worth about $9.00 for his, which was not worth over $15.00. Soon afterwards, I began to work for widow Thomas, gathering and herding range horses, where I learned my first work on a ranch.
I hired to Wash Grey to bring a herd of cattle to Goliad county, delivering them to his brother, Bob Grey. I remained in Goliad county and worked as a freighter again, hauling supplies from Old Indianola to Goliad and Sutherland Springs. The ox teams we had to drive were too slow for a boy of my age, and I longed to get back on a ranch chasing mavericks. For the next four years, I worked for H. A. Lane, near my present home, twelve miles west of Goliad. Here I received $20.00 per month, breaking broncos, gathering and branding cattle, etc.
At the age of twenty-one years I left Goliad with a herd of mixed cattle for H. A. Lane and J. Gus Patton, and drove these cattle over the Old Chisholm Trail to Dodge City, Kansas, with only two stampedes on the entire trip.
One year later I again went up the trail with a herd of mixed cattle of over 3,000 head for J. Gus Patton, who is now our county attorney, and one of the truest friends I have ever known. On this trip we had Patton for boss, and Sidney Chivers, Uncle Billie Menafee and Will Peck as cowboys. Returning from this trip, I gathered wild horses in Goliad, Victoria, Refugio, Bee, Live Oak and Karnes counties, gathering several thousand head for the various ranches.
In 1876 I again went up the trail with 4,500 head of aged steers for Dillard Fant, with Charley Boyce as herd boss. On this trip we had the worst weather I ever experienced, losing cattle in blizzards with the most vivid electrical displays imaginable. We had seven stampedes on this trip.
In the winter of 1871 and 1872, I helped skin dead cattle on the prairies in Goliad, Victoria and Refugio counties, as the cattle were starving to death by the thousands, and very few grown cattle lived through this terrible winter. I have seen as many as a thousand head of dead cattle in one day's ride on the prairie near Lamar. Horses, cattle, deer and sheep suffered awfully during these times. Wild game in those days was almost a nuisance. I have seen deer a few miles southeast of Goliad in droves of fifty or more at a time, and all the settlers had hogs running wild on the range, fat in the fall of the year on post oak and live oak acorns, pecans, etc.
In 1876 I returned to Limestone county, near Pottersville, where I was married to Miss Martha Thomas, who has been the most faithful helpmate and partner a man could be blessed with, and still doing her part in every way to assist me in the ups and downs of this life's uncertainties. Returning to Goliad, we settled near the Minneauhuila Creek six miles north of Goliad, where we tried farming, while I worked at odd jobs for the late John Taylor for fifteen years. In the early seventies I experienced quite a lot of difficulty trying to play neutral in the Taylor, Sutton and Tumlinson feuds, as my sole desire was to work for wages and not get mixed up with either side.
All the schooling I ever got was about two weeks a year for three years. I did not have a chance to attend school as other boys did in those days. I realize now more than ever what I have missed by not having an education, and it has been one of my greatest desires in life to give my children a good education. I live on my farm near the town of Charco, on some of the same land I roamed over as a cowboy, when land could be bought at thirty cents per acre, and which is now worth $75 per acre, and considered as good as the state has. I am now seventy years of age, can do a hard day's work yet, and as old as I am, I feel like I could go through all these hardships again if necessary. If any of my old friends happen to see this article I would be glad to hear from them.
ASSOCIATED WITH FRANK JAMES
Sam H. Nunneley, San Antonio, Texas I was born in Hickman county, Middle Tennessee, April 3, 1851, and in 1869 I started to Texas. I arrived at Memphis on a train, then the terminus of all roads going west. There I took the steamer, Bismarck, down the Mississippi to the mouth of Red River, and up Red River, to Soda and Caddo Lakes to Jefferson, Texas. I had lots of sport shooting alligators on the trip. From Jefferson I traveled in a freight wagon drawn by eight yoke of oxen to Bowie county. The next year I saddled my horse and pulled out for West Texas, landing at McKinney, Collin county, where I met Townsend Megeath, and we traveled together, slept together and that winter we stayed with Sam Hilderbran, which was an assumed name I learned in after years. Mr. Megeath turned out to be Frank James. Both were good, unassuming gentlemen in every way. It was from this county I made my first trip over the trail with Sneed, Clonch and Gatling. I made one trip with horses to Mississippi and after selling them I went down into Florida, where I remained all winter, then went to New Orleans and Shreveport, and on to San Antonio, and then out to Uvalde, where I went to work helping drive over the trail for Hughes, Nunn, Hood and Birchfield. We had fourteen thousand cattle cut into four herds, and we drove them to Wichita, Kansas. This was in 1875. After all were
SAM H. NUNNELEY sold I came back to Texas on the train to Seguin, and there took the stage to San Antonio, and stayed all night at the well-known Menger Hotel. Next morning I purchased a saddle for $40 and a horse for $16 and rode to Uvalde. There I fell in with a bunch of fellows, eleven in all, and we started horseback to Silver City, New Mexico, a distance of 900 miles. We went there to live but nobody lived there outside of government forts except wild Indians, so we started back to Texas, coming to Fort Stanton, down the Pecos River to Horsehead Crossing, then across the plains ninetyfive miles without water to the head waters of the Concho River. There I killed my last buffalo. I spent two weeks with a buffalo hunter there who had killed that season upwards of 5,000 buffaloes for their hides and tongues. He sold the hides to Fort Worth people at six bits to a dollar each.
From Johnson county I drove 125 horses to Arkansas for a Mr. Sparks. I bought beef cattle in the Indian Territory from the Indians for four years, and drove them to the Hot Springs market, then bought cattle in Arkansas to drive to Kansas, but sold them to the chief of the Choctaw Nation, after which I went back to Arkansas and engaged in the mercantile business for awhile. I was in the "run" in Oklahoma, and helped to make a state out of the Territory of Oklahoma. I now live in San Antonio.
THE TANKERSLEY FAMILY
By Mary Tankersley Lewis, San Angelo, Texas Richard Franklin Tankersley was born February 19, 1828, in Mississippi. Moved to Texas in 1853, stopping for awhile at Round Rock, Williamson county, afterward living in Cherokee county, then in San Saba, then in Brown county, and from there moved to the head of the South Concho River, in Tom Green county, which was not organized until many years later. He served in the Texas Rangers from 1863 to 1865.