continually write of nesters, settlers, settlements and free-range cattlemen.
Exactly what were the origins of these terms?
The term "nester" was first applied to families who chose a plot of land clearing
the brush for farming. They cut the large trees to build shelters, then piled
the brush from this, plus the brush cleared from the land around the edges of
their property, to act as a fence of sorts for protection for their crops. Others,
like the cowboys, thought the new farms looked like huge bird nests, hence the
title of nesters.
The first white people in America were the explorers,
trappers, Mountain Men and soldiers all leading mostly a nomadic life. When families
began to arrive, the nomadic way of life ceased as people began to "settle down,"
thus the term "settler" was born. When settlers gathered in close proximity, it
became a "settlement."
"free-range rancher" was a product of a short period of time beginning when the
Indians were placed on reservations.
There were no fences, except natural
terrain barriers; land titles were scarce and hard to recognize. They considered
all the range free to graze their cattle.
This all came to an end when
barbed wire was
invented. This product provided landowners an economical way to delineate their
boundaries and protect their crops, thus ending the free-range concept.
word "twister" can have many meanings. Which came first is debatable. In modern
days, a twister can be a tornado twisting its way across the land. During the
trail herd days of the early west, employees at the many cattle-loading points
along the railroads were sometimes called "tail twisters," as they helped load
cattle onto the rail cars. Many a balky bovine had its tail twisted, urging it
to move along into the cattle car.
If you grew up during The Great Depression
or in Dust Bowl country, a twister described an important home-made tool used
to put food on the table. The food here is rabbits. When times got hard enough,
both jack rabbits and cottontail rabbits were caught, fried and consumed.
jack rabbit had to be shot or caught with dogs because of his speed and stamina.
Not so with a cottontail. Usually, after a brief chase, they escaped into holes
in the ground or in the nearest junk pile or weed patch.
At this point,
the hunter used his twister made of a 6-foot piece of barbed wire. One end had
the two wire ends bent outward a bit. The other end was formed into a crank for
twisting. Insert the pointed end into the hole, find the rabbit, push the ends
into the fur and begin cranking. When the points caught firmly, pull the rabbit
out of the hole and supper was provided.
Many jokes about hard times were
born. Some said, "I belong to the Ancient and Honorable Order of Rabbit Twisters."
Another stated, "If my allotment check from the government doesn't arrive soon,
I may have to dig out my rabbit twister."
A man who drove his wagon to
Quanah for supplies was asked on his
return, "How are conditions in town?" He answered, "Pretty good, I guess. I saw
four cottontails crossing the road, and no one was chasing them."
"It's All Trew"