are a large part of the great and colorful history of Texas. They are credited
with saving the state from financial ruin after the Civil War and their lives
have been chronicled by many writers down through the years.
the Handbook of Texas Online, I found so many stories about cattlemen and their
families that it was very hard to pick just one to write about, but I settled
on the one about “Print” Olive.
In 1843, the Olive family moved to Williamson
County, Texas, from Mississippi by covered wagon – they brought along their baby
boy – his name was Prentice. In later years the boy would be known simply as “Print”
and his life was fairly typical of a young man growing up in Texas during those
times. The difference is, however, that Print Olive could have been highly successful
in life if he would have stayed on the right side of the law.
Civil War started, Olive joined up and fought for the Confederacy. After the war
he came home to Williamson County and began to make a name for himself as a cattleman.
Along with his three brothers, Print managed a huge round up of wild cattle and
almost overnight it seems he started to amass a small fortune.
records indicate that Print and his brothers stayed afoul of the law and violence
seemed to haunt the entire Olive clan. Thomas Olive died in a gunfight and Bob
Olive was shot by a local rancher. It seems that the Olives didn’t mind taking
the law into their own hands when they wanted to get their way.
Olive had two indictments for murder filed against him but both times he was found
innocent. But as the range started to fill up and his troubles with the law continued,
Olive decided that it might be best if he made a move. He tried relocating to
Colorado but his reputation as a law breaker followed him and local ranchers forced
The year 1878 would find Olive in Custer County, Nebraska. Tax
records from 1879 showed the Olive family to have one of the largest ranching
operations in the county. With rustling becoming a problem in the area, Print
Olive joined with other cattlemen to form the Custer County Livestock Association.
Olive was elected president of that organization.
It seems, however, that
no matter how successful he was Print Olive just could not keep from having problems
with the authorities. The Olives got into a fight with neighboring ranchers but
records don’t indicate why they were fighting. Some folks claimed it was over
cattle stealing, others said it was because the Olives were trying to run homesteaders
off their land.
Nevertheless, Print’s brother, Bob, attacked the rancher
that they were having the argument with and he was killed in a gunfight. The people
who killed Bob Olive were found not guilty. This made Print so angry that he organized
a lynch mob and they hanged two men. It seems that hanging wasn’t good enough
for the bloodthirsty mob so they burned the bodies as well. And although it was
never proved that he did it, Print was given the ugly nickname of “Man Burner.”
again Print Olive beat a charge of manslaughter in the man-burning incident when
witnesses failed to appear in court. It has been written that Olive’s fortune
was spent on legal fees and bribes to get out of going to jail and what was left
of his money went away in the beef market slump in the 1880s.
gone, Olive returned to Colorado and was shot to death at the Haynes Saloon in
Trail City by a man named Joe Sparrow. The once successful 46-year-old cattleman
from Texas died on the floor of a Colorado saloon without a dime to his name.
Star Diary October
4 , 2013 column
| Columns | Texas
Town List | Texas