Monday, November 5, 2012

Kerr cowboys and cattle head up the trail

Pioneer History, an insert to the Kerrville Times, August 1933
A kind neighbor brought by a very interesting Kerrville newspaper insert this week. It's the "Pioneer History" insert from August 1933, which was a supplement of the "Kerrville Times."  Written mostly by J. J. Starkey, the "Pioneer History" series became the basis for Bob Bennett's book "Kerr County: 1856-1956," which was published at the time of Kerr County's centennial in 1956.
I've found references to these inserts in my research of old Kerrville newspapers, but I'd never actually seen a copy; the online resources I use in my research do not include them.
This particular issue was called the "Up the Trail Number," and tells the story of cattle drives and the cowboys who traveled with them "up the trail."
Local activities in this market began around 1870, and, like other economic stories in Kerr County at the time, revolve mostly around Charles Schreiner and the men who worked for him.
"About 1870 the cattle driving days to Kansas began, [and] the business began to grow. Even the cattle buying of Captain Schreiner...revolved around his store, and that enterprise pulled him through some of the reverses of cattle driving. Droughts, money panics and other troubles hit the cattle driving at times, breaking many men, but Capt. Schreiner was always able to weather these storms. He and his partners Lytle, Light, and McDaniels bought cattle not only from Kerr county ranchmen, but in other counties also. They would begin buying cattle in early spring and as soon as grass had gotten high enough the big herds were started on the way to Kansas markets in charge of herd bosses with eight to ten or twelve cowboys and a cook along.
"The main gathering pen for Kerr county was for years on Town Creek, two miles above town.... The farmers and ranchmen would bring in their yearlings or other cattle to the pens, on the days designated, which were driven first into a pen where the trading was done. After cutting back those which were not wanted the rest were driven through a chute and road-branded.
"They were then thrown into a larger pen. This pen was first made of trees and brush and nearly every year the cattle would stampede and get out of the pen. Finally Capt. Schreiner had built a strong picket fence well wired and braced from the outside and that held them in. It was built in a circular form and enclosed several acres. At one time a stampeded herd inside the pen got to piling up on each other and about thirty head were killed or so badly maimed that they had to be killed. Some of the herd got over the fence on this pile of cattle. Captain Schreiner was often at the pens himself seeing that everything was being carried on alright. He rode a sorrel pony for years and could make a hand at driving when it became necessary."
There are many other articles in the little four-page newspaper insert, including a few paragraphs on the Schreiner herd bosses:
According to Gus F. Schreiner, one of Charles Schreiner's sons who managed the family's cattle operations, these are the men who "bossed herds for Captain Schreiner and his partners up the trail.
"Jones Glenn, Seebe Jones, Elick Crawford, Jim Crawford, Bill Wharton, Till Driscoll, Zack Light, Bill Walker, Johnny Walker, C. Bridges, Bill Cavanesss, Doc Burnett, Buck Hamilton, McNealy, Ed Nicholson, Williams of Kendall County, Parks of Brady, and a few others.
"There were probably a few other bosses and many cowboys. Among the cowboys was [one] named Simon Ayala who had a peg leg but was one the best cowboys on the trail. Jesus Ayala also was a good cowman."
I'm thankful for this copy of "Pioneer History," and it makes a great addition to my collection of Kerrville and Kerr County items.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who couldn't drive cattle to market in a truck, much less on horseback.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times on November 3, 2012.

For information about Joe's new book, click HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Veterans Day is this Sunday. The Texas Military forces Museum at Camp Mabry Austin will be open and there is no Admission.
    This weekend re-enactors will be uniformed as members of the WWII 36th division which was the “Texas Division” – the Texas National Guard mobilized for federal service.
    They will be performing their Close Assault 1944 show. Showtimes 11 am and 2 pm both days. Rain or shine.

    Web site:


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