Trail Drivers of Texas
I was reading the Trail Drivers of Texas just the other day and came up a story by A. N. Eustace from Prairie Lea, Texas. I have a good friend who is from just down the road at Pleasanton. I am amazed how many Texas families have ancestors who were Trail Drivers. I know of quite a few and I was wondering if A.N. was kin to my good friend Joe Eustace from Pleasanton. I haven’t found out yet but I will. A.N. made eight trips up the Trail. I can’t wait to hear Joe’s side of the story.
My wife’s great grandfather went up the trail and his story is in the Trail Drivers of Texas.
Ate Stolen Meat, Anyway
by Jim Wilson, Alpine, Texas
I was born in Lee County in 1861, so I am not as old as some of the boys who had lots of experience up the trail in the 70’s. I went u[ the trail to Kansas in 1880, leaving Bee County with a herd for Millett and Lane, and turned them over in the Indian Territory. Dave Clair and I went with Woodward and Orge, with Jim Newton as boss. Bill Hancock, a brother-in-law to Newton, was with the outfit, and as he was about my age, we fell in together somewhat. One night Dave Chair, Bill Hancock, myself and a boy from Kansas were on herd when a severe thunderstorm came up, and we drifted off the the cattle. The Kansas boy was pretty badly scared during the storm and kept saying that his people were all killed in a storm and he just knew we were going to be killed, too. Bill got excited, too, and asked me, “Did you ever pray?” I told him no, not in a long time. He said, “ Some of us have got to pray, for the lightning is going to kill all of us.” The storm increased in fury, the lightning striking near us frequently, and we got separated. When our crowd got together again we found Bill off his horse praying aloud. We found some stray cattle in our herd, cows and calves, and Bill remarked that “one of those fat calves would be good eating, if it was ours.” I told him stampeded cattle in the Territory belonged to the trail and we would just take one. He said, “ No, Jim Newton will fire us if we do that, and I wouldn’t eat stolen meat anyway.” I did not care if we were fired, for I was nearly starved for fresh meat, as we had not had any since we left hime, so I cut out one of those calves, ran it over to the wagon, and the cook and I killed it. Before it quit kicking I had the sweetbread on the fire. Before it was skinned the sweetbread was hot. I went back to where Bill was with some of it in my hand and told him to go and help himself, but he said, “I will go and get some coffee, but I won’t eat any of that beef,” but he came back about daylight with a chunk as big as his foot and was eating it. When I went to camp I found that he had buried the head, hide and all.These stray cattle turned out to be Captain Lytle’s, which had been lost the year before, and we turned them over to his outfit. After delivering our herd I went back to Mobeetie and then made two trips to Dodge city that fall with the Turkey Track outfit.
Times have changed since then. All of the boys of this generation are driving automobiles out to herds, and after riding around a little, back to town they go. The only way you can get them out to work is to go in an automobile after them, and If the job is with in twenty miles of town you have to take them back to see the picture show. I guess we will soon have to take flying machines to get them out.
I moved to Brewster County in 1884, and have engaged in the ranch and mercantile business here for many years. I operated a large store in Alpine for a long time, and all I knew about the business was the price of horse shoes and Battle Axe tobacco. My clerks frequently accused me of selling goods to high or too cheap, and said about the best place for me was out among the cattle.