A compliation of information from a variety of sites:

The era of the cowboy in American legend lasted but a brief period of time during the nineteenth century. Earlier, Spanish colonist had discovered that much of the land in what is now southwestern USA was not suitable for agriculture due to inadequate rainfall, but they learned that the vast grasslands were ideal for cattle herding. Spanish settlers in California and Mexico established the first “ranchos” in the Southwest during the early 19th century and employed “vaqueros” to handle their cattle herds. In the middle of that century, large numbers of European-Americans and freed African-American slaves from the eastern part of the US immigrated to the Midwest and southwest in search of free or inexpensive land. At that time, the great “cattle ranches” of the West were established and the American cowboys proliferated. By the early twentieth century, modern technology had made most of the cowboy’s work obsolete.

The marginal lands of the southwest do not receive enough rainfall to support forests or farming. Instead, they support thousands of square miles of grass and low vegetation with some smaller varieties of trees. It is ideal for cattle herding, but many acres of land are necessary to support each cow. In the early eighteenth century, most of the grassland in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and other southwestern states was declared “open range” which meant cattle were permitted to “range” or roam over vast areas. Cowboys were the herders that tended to these widely dispersed cattle.The cowboy’s life and work

Cattle often wander many miles over the open range in search of food, so the cattle owners used “branding” or burning marks into the hide of each cow to identify their property. Each ranch had its own distinctive brand. Some brands were simply the owner’s initials like the “JT” brand. Other ranchers placed a line (usually called a bar) under their initials like the BQ, which became known as the famous “Bar B Q” brand. A letter tilted to one side was known as “lazy”, so a tilted J became the “Lazy J” brand. A curved line under the letter was called “rocking”, so a T over a curved line became the rocking T brand. The ranchers jealously guarded their proprietary brands and men were sometimes shot or hanged for stealing cattle and altering the brands.

Most of the year, the cattle wandered over the open rangeland and required little care. Each spring, after the cows gave birth, it was necessary to find all the new calves (called dogies) while they were still with their mothers, and to brand each of them to establish their proper ownership. During this “spring roundup”, many cowboys searched the open range on horseback for mother cows with new calves and herded them all into temporary branding pens. The cowboys then roped each calf, quickly applied the ranch brand and released it back to its mother.

Cowboys needed to have basic woodworking skills in order to mend fences, buckboards and wagon wheels. They had to be able to work in extreme weather, hot and cold. They needed a basic knowledge of animal husbandry to care for their animals. The ability to treat minor, and sometimes not so minor, injuries was also an invaluable skill due to the paucity of doctors. A good memory was needed in order to travel and locate animals, navigating by landmarks, verbal instructions and hastily sketched maps. The work requires a high level of physical fitness.
Contrary to popular belief, marksmanship skills were neither important nor widely held. Firearms are heavy, especially when traveling with most of your worldly possessions on a horse. Revolvers were most commonly used against varmints which, often as not, were as likely to run from the sound as be hit.

Most Texas cowboys ate four identical meals every day. Anyone who rode the trail carried with him a nesting kit (a tin all-in-one eating utensil that folded over on itself for easy carrying), and would make his way to the cook wagon, there to have his entire meal piled on one plate.

The first requirement for such meals was frijoles refritos, a Mexican dish in which pink or black kidney beans were first soaked in water and then boiled, mashed together with oil and onion to form a lumpy puree and finally seasoned generously with salt and fried in bacon fat. Piled on top of the beans would be anywhere from three to six fried eggs. The meat most commonly served with such meals was mutton and, if the cowboy was lucky enough to have a large plate the meat would be placed alongside the beans and eggs. For convenience, however, most cowboys had rather small nesting kits,and the meat was simply piled on top of the eggs. Every meal was served with huge quantities of strong, sweet coffee. Cowboys who lived on ranches ate precisely the same meals, the only difference being that they had plates large enough so that their beans, eggs and meat did not have to be piled one on top of the other.
California tradition

The vaquero, the Spanish or Mexican cowboy who worked with young, untrained horses, arrived in the 1700s and flourished in California and bordering territories during the Spanish Colonial period. Settlers from the United States did not enter California until after the Mexican-American War, and most early settlers were miners rather than livestock ranchers, leaving livestock-raising largely to the Spanish and Mexican people who chose to remain in California. The California vaquero or buckaroo, unlike the Texas cowboy, was considered a highly-skilled worker, who usually stayed on the same ranch where he was born or had grown up and raised his own family there. In addition, the geography and climate of much of California was dramatically different from that of Texas, allowing more intensive grazing with less open range, plus cattle in California were marketed primarily at a regional level, without the need (nor, until much later, even the logistical possibility) to be driven hundreds of miles to railroad lines. Thus, a horse- and livestock-handling culture remained in California and the Pacific Northwest that retained a stronger direct Spanish influence than that of Texas.

Cowboys of this tradition were dubbed buckaroos by English-speaking settlers. The term officially appeared in American English in 1889 and is believed to have originated as an anglicized version of vaquero, though there is a folk etymology that the term derived from “bucking”, a behavior seen in some young or fresh horses. The words “buckaroo” and Vaquero are still used on occasion in the Great Basin, parts of California and, less often, in the Pacific Northwest.

Social world

Over time, the cowboys of the American West developed a personal culture of their own, a blend of frontier and Victorian values that even retained vestiges of chivalry. Such hazardous work in isolated conditions also bred a tradition of self-dependence and individualism, with great value put on personal honesty, exemplified in songs and poetry.

However, some men were also drawn to the frontier because they were attracted to men. Other times, in a region where men significantly outnumbered women, even social events normally attended by both sexes were at times all male, and men could be found partnering up with one another for dances. Homosexual acts between young, unmarried men occurred, but cowboys culture itself was and remains deeply homophobic. Though anti-sodomy laws were common in the Old West, they often were only selectively enforced.

Civil War cowboy shortage

At the middle of the eighteenth century, the country was sharply divided. The southern states had an agrarian economy that was heavily dependent of the labor of African slaves. Southerners zealously guarded their traditional way of life. The northern states had a highly industrialized economy that did not depend on slave labor. Northerners actively promoted the abolition of slavery. The western territories were divided on the question of slavery. In 1861, this dissention erupted in a conflict that became known in the USA as the Civil War. Men from all over the northern and southern states as well as the western territories flocked to join the Union or Confederate armies.

For nearly four war-ravaged years, the western ranches were deprived of young workers to handle their cowboy tasks such as branding the cattle or driving the cattle to market. By the end of the conflict, great herds of unbranded cattle with no designated owners were populating the open ranges of the western territories. It has been estimated that at least four or five million unbranded cattle roamed the open ranges in Texas.
In 1865, there was a great demand for beef on the eastern coast of the US where supplies of cattle were severely depleted from the recently ended Civil War. Meanwhile, there was a plentiful supply of cheap cattle in Texas and other southwestern territories. Texas cattle ranchers and entrepreneurs began hiring many cowboys to round up and brand the unclaimed cattle and to move them to the eastern markets. Unfortunately, most of the Texas rangelands were isolated from any easy transportation to the east.

Cattle roamed the open range

By the mid-nineteenth century, the United States of America had acquired most of the western territories through treaties and acquisitions. Colonists from the eastern or southern parts of the US and immigrants from Europe flooded into the western frontier in search of inexpensive land. Some of them captured the wild Texas long-horned cattle and founded ranches. Vast areas of grassland in the Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming territories were declared open range where cattle were permitted to freely graze.

branding cattle

Since the cattle could wander over many miles of open range and mingle with the cattle of other ranchers, a system of identification was adopted. Every spring, each rancher conducted a “roundup” or gathering of his cattle, and all the new young calves were branded with the owner’s unique mark or “brand”. A calf would bear this identifying brand for its entire life. At the roundup, cowboys would gather the cattle, rope the new calves, quickly pin them to the ground and apply the brand.
Ranchers jealously guarded their herds of cattle from thieves commonly known as “cattle rustlers”. Justice was swift and harsh for anyone caught stealing cattle or altering a brand. A rustler was often tried and executed immediately upon being caught. Cowboys guarded the cattle on the open range and sometimes pursued cattle rustlers.


Large numbers of cattle lived in a semi-feral, or semi-wild state on the open range and were left to graze, mostly untended, for much of the year. In many cases, different ranchers formed “associations” and grazed their cattle together on the same range. In order to determine the ownership of individual animals, they were marked with a distinctive brand, applied with a hot iron, usually while the cattle were still young calves. The primary cattle breed seen on the open range was the Longhorn, descended from the original Spanish Longhorns imported in the 16th century, though by the late 19th century, other breeds of cattle were also brought west, including the meatier Hereford, and often were crossbred with Longhorns.

In order to find young calves for branding, and to sort out mature animals intended for sale, ranchers would hold a roundup, usually in the spring. A roundup required a number of specialized skills on the part of both cowboys and horses. Individuals who separated cattle from the herd required the highest level of skill and rode specially trained “cutting” horses, trained to follow the movements of cattle, capable of stopping and turning faster than other horses. Once cattle were sorted, most cowboys were required to rope young calves and restrain them to be branded and (in the case of most bull calves) castrated. Occasionally it was also necessary to restrain older cattle for branding or other treatment.

A large number of horses were needed for a roundup. Each cowboy would require three to four fresh horses in the course of a day’s work. Horses themselves were also rounded up. It was common practice in the west for young foals to be born of tame mares, but allowed to grow up “wild” in a semi-feral state on the open range. There were also “wild” herds, often known as mustangs. Both types were rounded up, and the mature animals tamed, a process called horse breaking, or “bronco-busting,” (var. “bronc busting”) usually performed by cowboys who specialized in training horses. In some cases, extremely brutal methods were used to tame horses, and such animals tended to never be completely reliable. However, other cowboys became aware of the need to treat animals in a more humane fashion and modified their horse training methods, often re-learning techniques used by the vaqueros, particularly those of the Californio tradition. Horses trained in a gentler fashion were more reliable and useful for a wider variety of tasks.

Informal competition arose between cowboys seeking to test their cattle and horse-handling skills against one another, and thus, from the necessary tasks of the working cowboy, the sport of rodeo developed.

Cattle drives

Prior to the mid-19th century, most ranchers primarily raised cattle for their own needs and to sell surplus meat and hides locally. There was also a limited market for hides, horns, hooves, and tallow in assorted manufacturing processes. Nationally, prior to 1865, there was little demand for beef. At the end of the American Civil War, however, Philip Danforth Armour opened a meat packing plant in Chicago, which became known as Armour and Company, and with the expansion of the meat packing industry, the demand for beef increased significantly. By 1866, cattle could be sold to northern markets for as much as $40 per head, making it potentially profitable for cattle, particularly from Texas, to be herded long distances to market.

The first large-scale effort to drive cattle from Texas to the nearest railhead for shipment to Chicago occurred in 1866, when many Texas ranchers banded together to drive their cattle to the closest point that railroad tracks reached, which at that time was in Sedalia, Missouri. However, farmers in eastern Kansas, afraid that Longhorns would transmit cattle fever to local animals as well as trample crops, formed groups that threatened to beat or shoot cattlemen found on their lands. Therefore, the 1866 drive failed to reach the railroad, and the cattle herds were sold for low prices. However, in 1867, a cattle shipping facility was built west of farm country around the railhead at Abilene, Kansas, and became a center of cattle shipping, loading over 36,000 head of cattle that year. The route from Texas to Abilene became known as the Chisholm Trail, after Jesse Chisholm, who marked out the route. It ran through present-day Oklahoma, which then was Indian Territory. However, in spite of Hollywood portrayals of the west, there were relatively few conflicts with Native Americans, who usually allowed cattle herds to pass through for a toll of ten cents a head. Later, other trails forked off to different railheads, including those at Dodge City and Wichita, Kansas. By 1877, the largest of the cattle-shipping boom towns, Dodge City, Kansas, shipped out 500,000 head of cattle.
Cattle drives had to strike a balance between speed and the weight of the cattle. While cattle could be driven as far as 25 miles in a single day, they would lose so much weight that they would be hard to sell when they reached the end of the trail. Usually they were taken shorter distances each day, allowed periods to rest and graze both at midday and at night.] On average, a herd could maintain a healthy weight moving about 15 miles per day. Such a pace meant that it would take as long as two months to travel from a home ranch to a railhead. The Chisholm trail, for example, was 1,000 miles long.

On average, a single herd of cattle on a drive numbered about 3,000 head. To herd the cattle, a crew of at least 10 cowboys was needed, with three horses per cowboy. Cowboys worked in shifts to watch the cattle 24 hours a day, herding them in the proper direction in the daytime and watching them at night to prevent stampedes and deter theft. The crew also included a cook, who drove a chuck wagon, usually pulled by oxen, and a horse wrangler to take charge of the remuda, or herd of spare horses. The wrangler on a cattle drive was often a very young cowboy or one of lower social status, but the cook was a particularly well-respected member of the crew, as not only was he in charge of the food, he also was in charge of medical supplies and had a working knowledge of practical medicine.

By the 1880s, the expansion of the cattle industry resulted the need for additional open range. Thus many ranchers expanded into the northwest, where there were still large tracts of unsettled grassland. Texas cattle were herded north, into the Rocky Mountain west and the Dakotas.The cowboy adapted much of his gear to the colder conditions, and westward movement of the industry also led to intermingling of numerous regional traditions from California to Texas, often with the cowboy taking the most useful elements of each.

Stampedes, snake bites and broken bones are obvious dangers.   Hard ground for a bed, rain, cold, saddle sores, night riding, long hours, poor pay, bad water and a less then gourmet diet can be considered hardships.

Texas Longhorn

The Chisolm Trail and Goodnight – Loving Trail

In 1867, a cattle trail was established from the Red River in northern Texas, across the Indian Territory, now known as Oklahoma, to Abilene Kansas and the new railroad line to the east. This route became known as the Chisolm Trail. Later, another route from West Texas to Denver Colorado became known as the Goodnight-Loving Trail. This meant that Texas cattle must be driven or walked 1000 miles or more to market. Since cattle can move no more than ten miles per day without losing weight, an average cattle drive from Texas to Abilene, Wichita or Dodge City in Kansas lasted nearly four months.

Cattle dealers in Texas would hire a trail boss, a cook, several horse wranglers and twenty to forty drovers or cowboys to drive a herd of several thousand cattle north to market. They typically hired the sons of local farmers, Spanish speaking Tejanos, Native American Indians and freed African American slaves. The average cowboy was only 14 to18 years old.
On the trail, cowboys worked from sunrise to sunset and often through the night. They slept under the stars, ate their meals around a campfire and lived in the saddle. They were away from home for six months at a time. It was hard, dirty work and often dangerous, with the cowboy in the saddle for ten to twelve hours.

On a typical day, a cowboy would awaken at sunrise and eat a hearty breakfast of freshly baked biscuits and bacon washed down with plenty of strong black coffee. He would wrap a couple of biscuits in his kerchief for an in-the-saddle lunch and fill his canteen with water. A cowboy would remain in the saddle for ten or twelve hours moving the herd ever northward. He would go through three or four horses a day pausing only to exchange his tired mount for a remount from the wranglers. By evening, they would reach the next campsite and “The Old woman”, as the cook was often called, would serve a hearty meal of stewed meat, beans, canned fruits and freshly baked biscuits accompanied by gallons of strong black coffee. After the meal, the cowboys would wrap themselves in their blankets and “bed down” around the campfire with nothing but their saddles as pillows.

The cowboys would take turns riding “watch” on the herd throughout the night. Usually, four cowboys would slowly circle the herd to keep it contained and to guard against predators or rustlers. It was widely known that the sound of human voices and especially music tended to calm the cattle, so the cowboys on watch would usually sing as they rode. Throughout the night, the low moans of cattle and the high melodious ballads of the cowboys would punctuate the solitude of the lonesome prairie.

The first Chuck Wagon

By the 1870’s, cattle drives were delivering millions of cattle to market. There was great competition among the trail bosses in recruiting the best cowboys. Colonel Charles Goodnight, co-founder of the Goodnight-Loving cattle trail, noticed that cowboys preferred working on the trail drives with the best cooks. He purchased a war-surplus munitions wagon that was sturdily built and able to withstand rough overland travel, and had a “trail kitchen” constructed on the back. This new mobile kitchen proved so popular that nearly every trail boss and rancher in the west began to copy it. People called it the “Chuck Wagon” in honor of its inventor. It soon became the standard trail kitchen for cattle drives and roundups.

chuck wagon

When the cattle drive reached its destination in Abilene, Dodge City, Wichita or one of the other “cattle towns”, the trail boss would sell the herd and pay the cowboys for their several months of hard work. The cowboys, with their pockets full of money, found many diversions to entertain them in the wild cattle towns. Whiskey, gambling and wild women were readily available to part them from some of their wages. Naturally, disturbances, fights and gun battles were common occurrences. After a few days of celebration, the cowboys faced a 1000-mile ride back to their homes in Texas.

End of the open range

Overgrazing and harsh winters were factors that brought an end to the age of the Open Range.

Barbed wire, an innovation of the 1880s, allowed cattle to be confined to designated areas to prevent overgrazing of the range. In Texas and Surrounding areas, increased population required ranchers to fence off their individual lands. In the north, overgrazing stressed the open range, leading to insufficient winter forage for the cattle and starvation, particularly during the harsh winter of 1886–1887, when hundreds of thousands of cattle died across the Northwest, leading to collapse of the cattle industry. By the 1890s, barbed wire fencing was also standard in the northern plains, railroads had expanded to cover most of the nation, and meat packing plants were built closer to major ranching areas, making long cattle drives from Texas to the railheads in Kansas unnecessary. Hence, the age of the open range was gone and large cattle drives were over. Smaller cattle drives continued at least into the 1940s, as ranchers, prior to the development of the modern cattle truck, still needed to herd cattle to local railheads for transport to stockyards and packing plants. Meanwhile, ranches multiplied all over the developing West, keeping cowboy employment high, if still low-paid, but also somewhat more settled.

End of an era

By the end of the nineteenth century, the railroads penetrated most of the more inaccessible parts of the southwest. It became unnecessary to drive cattle long distances to market. The era of the great cattle drives had come to a conclusion. Today, trucks as well as railroads transport cattle, so cattle drives are truly a relic of the past.

A Cowboy in Dodge City, 1882

Thomas Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK

For over 20 years after the Civil War, cowboys coaxed herds of cattle along arduous trails from the Texas grasslands north to the railheads in Kansas. At the end of the trail lay the infamous cow towns, the “Sodoms of the plains”, places such as Abilene, Hays City, Wichita, Ellsworth and Dodge City. After following a slow moving herd of cattle along a dusty trail for as many as three months, these towns offered the cowboy a place to take a bath, gamble, find a woman, eat some good food and let off some steam. The towns accommodated their visitors with a liberal attitude towards their boisterous behavior. There were limits, however, and the towns hired enforcers to maintain a semblance of law and order. Law officers such as Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, Luke Short and Bat Masterson became legends.

The prosperity of these towns continued only as long as the railroad provided a railhead. As the railroad moved farther west the towns fizzled while another took its place. Some, like Newton, Kansas, lasted only one season. Dodge City lasted much longer, but when the railroads pushed their tracks into Texas and closer to the grazing land, Dodge’s days as a cattle town ended.

Entering Dodge City
Andy Adams’ family moved from Georgia to Texas soon after the Civil War. He always wanted to take part in one of the great cattle drives north. In 1882, the dream of the twenty-three year old became reality when he was hired as a drover on a drive from the Rio Grande River to Northwestern Montana. The journey began on April 1 and lasted five months. Andy kept a journal of his adventure that was published in book form in 1903. We join Andy as the herd arrives at Dodge City, Kansas three months after the beginning of the drive:

Longbranch saloon

“On reaching Dodge, we rode up to the Wright House [a general store, hotel and restaurant], where Flood [the trail boss] met us and directed our cavalcade across the railroad to a livery stable, the proprietor of which was a friend of Lovell’s [the owner of the cattle].
We unsaddled and turned our horses into a large coral and while we were in the office of the livery, surrendering our artillery, Flood came in and handed each of us twenty-five dollars in gold, warning us that when that was gone no more would be advanced. On receipt of the money we scattered like partridges before a gunner. Within an hour or two, we began to return to the stable by ones and twos, and were stowing into our saddle pockets our purchases which ran from needles and thread to .45 cartridges, every mother’s son reflecting the art of the barber, while John Officer has his blond mustache blackened, waxed, and curled like a French dancing master. ‘If some of you boys will hold him,’ said Moss Strayborn, commenting on Officer’s appearance, ‘I’d like to take a good smell of him, just to see if he took oil up there where the end of his neck’s haired over.’ As Officer already had several drinks comfortably stowed away under his belt, and stood up strong six feet two, none of us volunteered.

Dodge City.

After packing away our plunder, we sauntered around town, drinking moderately, and visiting the various saloons and gambling houses. I clung to my Bunkie, The Rebel, during the rounds, for I had learned to like him, and had confidence he would lead me into no indiscretions. At the Long Branch, we found Quince Forest and Wyatt Roundtree playing the faro bank, the former keeping cases. They never recognized us, but were answering a great many questions, asked by the dealer and lookout, regarding the possible volume of the cattle drive that year. Down at another gambling house, The Rebel met Ben Thompson, a faro dealer not on duty and an old cavalry comrade, and the two cronied around for over an hour like long lost brothers, pledging anew their friendship over social glasses, in which I was always included. There was no telling how long this reunion would have lasted, but happily for my sake Lovell – who had been asleep all the morning – started out to round us up for dinner with him at the Wright House, which was at that day a famous hostelry, patronized almost exclusively by the Texas cowmen and cattle buyers.”

Gun Fire at the Lone Star Dance Hall

The Texans made the rounds of the gambling houses, stopped at the Long Branch saloon, and then back to the Wright House for dinner. They filled their afternoon with much of the same. When night fell, they congregated at the Lone Star dance hall where months on the trail and a day of drinking led to confrontation:

“Quince Forrest was spending his winnings as well as drinking freely, and at the end of a quadrille gave vent to his hilarity in an old fashioned Comanche yell. The bouncer of the dance hall of course had his eye on our crowd, and at the end of a change, took Quince to task. He was a surly brute, and instead of couching his request in appropriate language, threatened to throw him out of the house. Forrest stood like one absent-minded and took the abuse, for physically he was no match for the bouncer, who was armed, moreover, and wore an officer’s star. I was dancing in the same set with a red-headed, freckled-faced girl, who clutched my arm and wished to know if my friend was armed. I assured her that he was not, or we would have noticed of it before the bouncer’s invective was ended. At the conclusion of the dance, Quince and The Rebel passed out, ([left the dance hall] giving the rest of us the word to remain as though nothing was wrong. In the course of half an hour, Priest returned and asked us to take our leave one at a time without attracting any attention, and meet at the stable.

The Dodge City Peace Commission ca. 1890

I remained until the last and noticed The Rebel and the bouncer taking a drink together at the bar, – the former in a most amiable mood. We passed out together shortly afterward, and found the other boys mounted and awaiting our return, it being now about midnight. It took but a moment to secure our guns, and once in the saddle, we rode through the town in the direction of the herd. On the outskirts of the town, we halted. ‘I’m going back to that dance hall,’ said Forrest, ‘and have one round at least with that whore-herder. No man who walks this old earth can insult me, as he did, not if he has a hundred stars on him. If any of you don’t want to go along, ride right on to camp, but I’d like to have you all go. And when I take his measure, it will be the signal to the rest of you to put out the lights. All that’s going come on.’

There were no dissenters to the program. I saw at a glance that my Bunkie was heart and soul in the play, and took my cue and kept my mouth shut. We circled round the town to a vacant lot within a block of the rear of the dance hall. Honeyman was left to hold the horses; then, taking off our belts and hanging them on the pommels of our saddles, we secreted our six-shooters inside the waistbands of our trousers. The hall was still crowded with the revelers when we entered, a few at a time, Forrest and Priest being the last to arrive. Forrest had changed hats with The Rebel, who always wore a black one, and as the bouncer circulated around, Quince stopped squarely in front of him. There was no waste of words, but a gun-barrel flashed in the lamplight, and the bouncer, struck with the six-shooter, fell like a beef. Before the bewildered spectators could raise a hand, five six-shooters were turned into the ceiling. The lights went out at the first fire, and amidst the rush of men and the screaming of women, we reached the outside, and within a minute were in our saddles. All would have gone well had we returned by the same route and avoided the town; but after crossing the railroad track, anger and pride having not been properly satisfied, we must ride through the town.

On entering the main street, leading north and opposite the bridge on the river, somebody of our party in the rear turned his gun loose into the air. The Rebel and I were riding in the lead, and at the clattering of hoofs and shooting behind us, our horses started on the run, the shooting by this time having become general. At the second street crossing, I noticed a rope of fire belching from a Winchester in the doorway of a store building. There was no doubt in my mind but we were the object of the manipulator of that carbine, and as we reached the next cross street, a man kneeling in the shadow of a building opened fire on s with a six-shooter. Priest reined in his horse, and not having wasted cartridges in the open-air shooting, returned the compliment until he emptied his gun. By this time every officer in the town was throwing lead after us, some of which cried a little too close for comfort. When there was no longer any shooting on our flanks, we turned into a cross street and soon left the lead behind us. At the outskirts of the town we slowed up our horses and took it leisurely for a mile or so, when Quince Forrest halted us and said, ‘I’m going to drop out here and see if any one follows us. I want to be alone, so that if any officers try to follow us up, I can have it out with them.

As there was no time to lose in parleying, and as he had a good horse, we rode away and left him. On reaching camp, we secured a few hours’ sleep, but the next morning, to our surprise, Forrest failed to appear. We explained the situation to Flood, who said if he did not show up by noon, he would go back and look for him. We all felt positive that he would not dare to go back to town; and if he was lost, as soon as the sun arose he would be able to get his bearings. While we were nooning about seven miles north of the Saw Log, someone noticed a buggy coming up the trail. As it came nearer we saw that there were two other occupants of the rig besides the driver. When it drew up old Quince, still wearing The Rebel’s hat, stepped out of the rig, dragged out his saddle from under the seat, and invited his companions to dinner. They both declined, when Forrest, taking out his purse, handed a twenty-dollar gold piece to the driver with an oath. He then asked the other man what he owed him, but the later very haughtily declined any recompense, and the conveyance drove away.
‘I suppose you fellows don’t know what all this means,’ said Quince, as he filled a plate and sat down in the shade of the wagon. ‘Well, that horse of mine got a bullet plugged into him last night as we were leaving town, and before I could get him to Duck Creek, he died on me. I carried my saddle and blankets until daylight, when I hid in a draw and waited for something to turn up. I thought some of you would come back and look for me sometime, for I knew you wouldn’t understand it, when all of a sudden here comes this livery rig along with that drummer – going out to Jetmore, I believe he said. I explained what I wanted, but he decided that his business was more important than mine, and refused me. I referred the matter to Judge Colt, and the judge decided that it was more important that I overtake this herd. I’d have made him take pay, too only he acted so mean about it.'”

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