TexasEscapes.com HOME Welcome to Texas Escapes
A magazine written by Texas
Custom Search
New   |   Texas Towns   |   Ghost Towns   |   Counties   |   Trips   |   Features   |   Columns   |   Architecture   |   Images   |   Archives   |   Site Map


Columns




Counties
Texas Counties


Texas Towns
A - Z



Texas | Columns | Bob Bowman's East Texas

The Legend of
Bone Hill

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman

Bone Hill, a landmark standing about four miles northeast of Center, reportedly got its name from a herd of cattle who died atop the mill, leaving their bones to whiten in the East Texas sun.

But, as with all legends, thereís more to the story.

Cattle rustlers, who ran rampant during the turbulent era between 1837 and 1850, supposedly drove large herds of cattle through East Texas, across the Sabine River and on to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to sell the stock to unsuspecting buyers.

As the rustlers passed through Shelby County, it wasnít unusual for them to lose strays from the herd. Since they didnít own the cows, they didnít bother to round them up.

As the years passed, the strays found each other, multiplied in number and came together in a verdant valley, fed by tributaries of Tenaha Creek, north of a forested hill.

Local settlers often carried salt to the hill to make sure the stock would remain there and often laid claim to some of the strays. Indians also raided the herd for meat. Gun battles were frequent between the competing parties.

And during the Regulators and Moderators War, the two gangs also fought over the wild herd, each staking claims.

Using their own instincts, the cattle gathered atop the hill, where the thick pines and brush protected them from rustlers and inclement weather.

One day, Don Torbellino, a Mexican cowboy astride a fine horse, rode into Shelby County and told settlers he had lost a herd of cattle to rustlers beyond the Guadalupe River, and was tracking down the thieves.

The settlers said he was welcome to look over the strays and, if he found his brand on any of them, he was welcome to herd them back to Mexico.

When he found none of his branded cows, he proposed to the settlers that he would stand guard over the herd, protecting it from Indians and rustlers, if he were allowed to cut a number of strays from the herd each year to build up his own herd.

Torbellino made a camp at the top of the hill and, using a unique cattle call, made friends with the herd. The strays soon responded to his commands. It was said that the cowboy loved the cows and they loved him.

But during the winter of 1843 and 1845, a severe winter left the herd in poor condition. A spring drought followed and the strays started dying.

As conditions worsened, the herd instinctively went to the hill where the Mexican cowboy made his camp. But Don Torbellino wasnít there; he had simply disappeared, leaving his horse, saddle and rifle atop the hill.

The impoverished strays soon began dying one by one. They bellowed for their master, but help never came. The local settlers could do nothing.

In a matter of months, the hill was covered with bones bleached white in the hot sun, forming a fringe around the hilltop, looking like a cap of snow.

As the years passed, the hill became known as Bone Hill.

And among the old settlers, there was the story that on a winter night they could hear in the distance Don Torbellino calling his herd to rest, and the responding sounds of crying cattle.

All Things Historical July 7, 2008 Column.
Published with permission
A weekly column syndicated in 70 East Texas newspapers
(Distributed by the East Texas Historical Association.)

Related Topics:
East Texas
Texas Ghosts
Texas Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Texas Escapes Online Magazine »   Archive Issues » Home »
TEXAS TOWNS & COUNTIES TEXAS LANDMARKS & IMAGES TEXAS HISTORY & CULTURE TEXAS OUTDOORS MORE
Texas Counties
Texas Towns A-Z
Texas Ghost Towns

TEXAS REGIONS:
Central Texas North
Central Texas South
Texas Gulf Coast
Texas Panhandle
Texas Hill Country
East Texas
South Texas
West Texas

Courthouses
Jails
Churches
Schoolhouses
Bridges
Theaters
Depots
Rooms with a Past
Monuments
Statues

Gas Stations
Post Offices
Museums
Water Towers
Grain Elevators
Cotton Gins
Lodges
Stores
Banks

Vintage Photos
Historic Trees
Cemeteries
Old Neon
Ghost Signs
Signs
Murals
Gargoyles
Pitted Dates
Cornerstones
Then & Now

Columns: History/Opinion
Texas History
Small Town Sagas
Black History
WWII
Texas Centennial
Ghosts
People
Animals
Food
Music
Art

Books
Cotton
Texas Railroads

Texas Trips
Texas Drives
Texas State Parks
Texas Rivers
Texas Lakes
Texas Forts
Texas Trails
Texas Maps
USA
MEXICO
HOTELS

Site Map
About Us
Privacy Statement
Disclaimer
Contributors
Staff
Contact Us

 
Website Content Copyright Texas Escapes LLC. All Rights Reserved