J. D. REED
By Linda Kirkpatrick
The Story of a Cowboy
cowboy is the most exciting person to ever enter the pages of history. His story
is told throughout Texas, the west and, in fact,
the entire world is knowledgeable about him. Children from across the seas recognize
him. So, no, the cowboy ain’t dead yet and as long as people can read, watch movies
and tell stories he will be alive and well. |
This is the story of a particular
cowboy that really left his mark on those history pages. James Duff Reed was born
in 1830 in the newly formed state of Alabama. At some point in his young life,
the family left Alabama for Yalobusha County Mississippi. Most of the folks in
Mississippi, small time farmers and the wealthy plantation owners, settled in
to farm after the Indian Removal Act. Though the small time farmer outnumbered
the plantation owners, the plantation owners actually ruled the state. It was
the time of steamboats, slavery and Mark Twain but life wasn’t romantic nor was
it easy for this small time farmer. I think that the family of James D. Reed must
have been in the small time farmer category because around 1845 they hung the
sign like so many before them that simply said, “Gone to Texas.” For some reason
that faraway land of Texas appealed to these people. Maybe the land that they
could purchase for next to nothing enticed them or maybe the free ranging cattle
there for those who could gather them brought them, but more than likely the itch
to move west played a great part in spurring them on.
Reed Family and a few others made that trek to Texas
in wagons pulled by oxen. Young Jim Reed, now fifteen, began to take the responsibility
of a man. Now at this point, imagine traveling from Mississippi to Texas
in a wagon pulled by oxen. They traveled only a few miles per day on a good day!
The Thomas B. Saunders family made the same trip along with the Reed’s. George
W. Saunders, one of the youngest Saunders children, would later be instrumental
in gathering the stories of the trail drivers for, the book, “Trail Drivers of
Reed family settled in Goliad County. It was here that Jim laid the ground work
for his future land holdings and cattle. On July 25, 1851 at the age of 21, he
married Cynthia McPeters of Arkansas. In 1867 he married Georgia Best. Reed was
the father to five children. Two of his sons rode with him on the trail and later
helped with the management of his ranches.
Jim Reed’s knowledge of cattle
and their management grew. Did he know that one day he would end up as a respected
cattle baron? Jim, like many of the other early day ranchers, utilized the vast
lands that belonged to the state of Texas. In 1861, he took herds into Louisiana.
He not only worked for himself but he helped many of the other folks with setting
up their land and buying and selling cattle, but then--along came the Civil War
and his dreams were put on hold. Life changed for everyone. Plans for a future
were cast aside as fathers, sons and brothers enlisted to fight for the cause.
Jim Reed donned the butternut color of the Confederate soldier and enlisted in
Captain Scott’s Company, Curtis Regiment. In the fall of 1862 First Lieutenant
Reed’s company located at Arkansas Post on the Arkansas River. The company wintered
securely in log cabins but dined on pitiful food of mainly sorghum and cornbread.
The regiment’s main job of slowing traffic on the river highly agitated the Union
forces. The mild winter and life seemed pretty good for them until January 11,
From a story in Harper’s Weekly we learn more about the life of
James Reed while stationed at Arkansas Post. Land regiments under Union General
John Alexander McClernand and a flotilla under Union Admiral David Dixon Porter
proceeded to surround the fort on land and on river. Ironically, the Union suffered
greatly but yet won the battle. After an entire day of constant Union bombardments,
the seven thousand Confederates found themselves surrounded. With no other alternative,
the men of the Confederate regiment simply surrendered. The Union lost six hundred
men while the Confederates recorded only sixty-five killed and eighty-three wounded.
Found among the wounded, our young cowboy from Texas, Jim Reed. Little did he
know at the time that the minnie ball embedded in his arm probably saved his life.
Confederate prisoners found themselves aboard boats and trains on their way to
various Prisoner of War camps located in Missouri and Illinois. POW camps on both
sides were deplorable. The temperature for the Confederate prisoners went from
mild to frigid. In a Union camp hospital, doctors made the decision to remove
Hard to say, but the Confederate or Union soldier was probably
more apt to survive an amputation over a shot to any other part of the body area.
Doctors would lay the soldiers with these injuries aside to simply die and sadly
just concentrated on the amputations. Those deadly minnie ball created an enormous
wound. The soft lead would spread when it came in contact with bone. We can only
assume that Jim Reed’s wound was the result of the minnie ball. Reed, more than
likely, went several days maybe even weeks before receiving attention from a doctor.
The soldiers in line for amputations, for the most part, did receive either or
chloroform before their amputations, this is contrary to the many beliefs that
they received no anesthesia at all.
Most of the camp hospitals had no
form of disinfectant. Cold washes and salt solutions became the best substitute.
The doctors generally moved from one patient to another rarely stopping to disinfect
their tools. Time was of essence and stories tell that a good surgeon could amputate
a limb in less than ten minutes.
If the soldier survived the amputation,
many did not, the possibility of dying from camp conditions became the next danger.
The camps were unclean and unhealthy, with the food and water worse. Lucky for
Jim Reed he was among the soldiers exchanged. He headed home to Texas to recover
from the amputation of his right arm and to begin his life as “One Armed Jim Reed.”
after the war became the home of great opportunities for the cowboy willing to
work. The wild longhorn herds roaming the Texas frontier proved to be the answer
to many a cowboy’s prayer. One Arm Reed, one of these cowboys, seized the opportunity.
He headed his herds towards the railheads in Abilene
via the Chisholm Trail. He already knew the ins and outs of this job so he was
ahead of the game.
And with a business partner like Abel
H. (Shanghai) Pierce, Reed’s wealth grew. In 1877 he sold his ranch in Goliad
and relocated to Ft. Worth. He
named the ranch that he purchased in Stonewall County the Double Mountain Horseshoe
T Cross. He later shortened the name to the Horseshoe Ranch. By 1880 Reed, with
the help of his son Paul, ran cattle on three ranches.
Arm Reed was well known and well received in the cowboy tribe. Andy Adams, a cowboy
of the trail herding days spoke of Reed in his book, “Log of a Cowboy,” and his
short story, “Justice in the Saddle.” In the book “Log of the Cowboy,” Andy tells
of a perchance meeting in Ogallala with his brother who was riding up the trail
with a herd belonging to One Arm Reed. The reunion was short lived as Reed’s herd
was bedded down ten miles upriver and Zack Adams had night guard. They bid their
farewells around a Monte table. Zack returned to the herd in time for night guard
and Andy stayed for the game.||
Again in “Justice
in the Saddle”, Andy meets up with his brother but this meeting became more involved.
They found themselves right in the middle of a war between cattle brokers from
back east and Trail Boss Colonel Don Lovell. The event took place in Ogallala,
the exact year is not known. Colonel Lovell had five herds bedded down in various
spots along the river with a foreman at each camp. The camps of The Rebel and
Dave Sponsilier were the herds that instigated this conflict. The Western Supply
Company, made up of John c Fields, Oliver Radcliff and Honest John Grescom , filed
charges against Col. Lovell for possession of the two herds. The WSC were cattle
brokers who would purchase herds and then resale the herds upon their arrival
to various agencies. The herds in question were headed for an Indian reservation.
From the time that the herds left Texas until they made it to Ogallala the price
per head increased. The herd was assigned to WSC but if the company could get
control now then they could reassign the herds to themselves as individuals and
just might make a little more money in a resale.
They hoped to scam the
reservation for the price difference. To make a long story short, the judge called
One Arm Jim Reed to the stand.
According to Andy Adams, when Reed was ask
if he knew the plaintiffs, he replied, “Yes, I know that fat gentleman and I’m
powerful glad to meet up with him again.” He was talking about old Honest John
himself. Reed continued, “That man is so crooked that he can’t sleep in a bed
and it’s one of the wonders of this country that he hasn’t stretched hemp before
this. I made his acquaintance last fall. I delivered three thousand cows to him
at the Washita Indian Agency. In the final settlement, he drew on three different
banks and one draft of twenty-eight thousand came back as drawee unknown. I had
other herds on the trail and it was a month before I found that the check was
bogus. By then Honest John was in Europe. So I put judgment on him and lay for
him. I’ve a grapevine twist on him now for no sooner did he buy a herd here last
week than Mr. Sutton, my lawyer, transferred the judgment and these cattle will
be attached this afternoon.”
The testimony of this one armed cowman impressed
the judge and he refused to interfere with the two herds in question and ruled
that the herds would remain in the possession of Lovell. But this is not the end
of the story. The plaintiffs declared war. Reed and Lovell rode out gathering
cowboys from the various camps knowing full well that a fight was eminent and
that they had to protect the herds from these scammers.
and Reed led a large group of mounted, well armed cowboys across the North Platte
River. They crossed and proceeded to met up against Archie Tolleston and the Federal
Marshals, the Feds being in cahoots with the Western Supply Company. The Federal
Marshal informed Lovell that he was there with papers giving him the authority
to take possession of the two herds totaling seven thousand head. And of course
Lovell’s reply was not in agreement with the marshal. Then Tolleston rode up with
a remark that spurred the cowboys into action. Jim Reed began shouting orders
trying his best to protect men on both sides and get the conflict under control.
Matters quickly escalated with Reed and Lovell finally getting a halt on the cowboys
but not before Tolleston’s horse spooked in the river, unseating Tolleston who
sunk out of sight in the North Platte River.
and Reed got the cowboys back to their respective camps, including the respective
camps of the two herds that were at the root of the entire issue. Lovell gathered
his foremen around and said, “Now the understanding is that you start out in the
morning.” And life moved on.
The Handbook of Texas On Line states that
One Armed Jim Reed was the “best experienced and by far the wealthiest man about
Ft. Worth.” In 1883 with the sale
of the ranch in Stonewall County, Texas, he purchased land in Socorro County,
New Mexico and formed the J. D. Reed Cattle Company. Many of his herds loaded
out at the famed Magdalena Railheads. Reed may have logged more miles on the cattle
trails than any other cowboy of this era.
James Duff Reed, the Cattle
King of the West, died in 1891 in New Mexico.
Copyright Linda Kirkpatrick
Somewhere in the West
September 2, 2009 Column
| Cowboys, Cattle Drives & Ranching
Texas | TE
Online Magazine | Texas Towns | Features
| Columns |
Interview with Dorothy Kranz, great granddaughter of James
Duff Reed, Concan, Texas
“Trail Drivers of Texas,” Compiled and edited by
J. Marvin Hunter
“Log of the Cowboy,” Andy Adams
“The Greatest Cowboy
Stories Ever Told,” edited by Stephen Brennan
of Texas Online
www.huntermcguire.com “The Life of Dr. Hunter
www.civilwarhome.com “Civil War Medical Care, Battle Wounds
www.hcnews.com “Battle of Arkansas Post”