the first herds of cattle to the southwestern region of what would
later become the United States of America. The Spaniards realized
that these vast grasslands would be well suited for grazing. By the
mid nineteenth century, these lands had been acquired by the United
States. The Anglo ranchers continued to run herds of cattle on the
grasslands. Annually they would round up the herds and brand the calves
according to the brand of their mother. Thus each rancher was able
to keep up with the herd size and the cattle belonged to him even
though the cow herds ran free.
Photo courtesy John Stankewitz 04-25-2006
worked well until the Civil War. Many of the young men who had hired
out to work these cows were called to fight. At the end of the war
these free ranging herds had grown in number. The unbranded wild herds
cattle numbered in the millions.
end of the war brought about a demand for beef and the wild longhorns
in Texas were just what was needed to fill the demand. These longhorns
were cheap, unbranded, wild and a long way from the railhead. The
ranchers here decided to take advantage of this money making opportunity.
They hired young men just back from the war and started rounding up
these loose cattle. Branding fires were built and the wild longhorns
were labeled with the brand of the rancher. The cattle were then turned
over to the trail bosses who applied another brand, known as a trail
brand, before they hit the long drive up to the northern railheads.
|B. F. Payne,
who made his home in the Frio Canyon of Texas, was interviewed in
1897 by famed author and former Texas Ranger A.
J. Sowell, (Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas).
The following account is from that interview.
Photo courtesy Linda Kirkpatrick
year was 1866, when B. F. (Frank) Payne, a strapping young lad of
twelve years old, mounted his pony to go on a cow hunt with his dad
and some of the other neighboring ranchers. This particular hunt would
take place in the counties west of Travis
County in the central part of Texas. Texas was sparsely populated
at this time. Ranches, towns and homesteads were few and far between
and the threat of conflict between the Indians and the Anglos was
always on everyone’s mind. But these daring settlers took chances,
chances that were sometimes costly.
Young Frank was excited about his first cow hunt. Little did he know
how exciting things were going to get before the day was over. Frank’s
dad and the other men were all armed with rifles and revolvers, it
was always better to be prepared.
Around noon, as the cow hunters were about to head home, they came
upon a band of Indians. The cow hunters had not been discovered by
the Indians so they decided to attempt a surprise attack. As the men
discussed their attack, Frank’s dad expressed concern about young
Frank. Frank was unarmed and just a little young to be taking part
in the raid. So Frank was instructed to stay put and not to leave
the spot until the fight was over and they came back to get him. Young
Frank's curiosity was already beginning to grow.
The men slipped over the edge of the draw and surprised the Indians.
The Indians quickly mounted their horses and attempted to escape.
The chase was then on with the cow hunters closing in on the fleeing
Indians. As they rode out of sight, Frank became a little concerned
and frankly he really wanted to see what he was missing. So he put
the spurs to his horse, edging closer for a better view. He soon realized
what a huge mistake he had made.
Frank was just about to get close enough to see what was happening
when a loose horse came charging in Frank’s direction. This panicked
horse spooked Frank’s pony and the excitement began. That little cow
pony got the bits in his teeth and ran hell bent right towards the
Indians. Try as he might, he was not able to stop his run away pony.
Frank’s dad watched in horror as his son rode right to the Indians.
The Indians on the other hand shot arrows and threw lances at what
they thought was a charging cow hunter. Then the worst of worst happened,
something cut the reins or maybe they just broke and what little control
Frank had was now gone and the pony just ran that much faster. Frank,
(thinking quickly) took his rope and looped it around his pony’s nose
and eventually was able to get the horse under control. Luckily he
and the horse made it through the camp and beyond the Indians.
Frank’s Dad and the other men charged through the Indians in hopes
of protecting Frank. Some of the Indians were killed and only one
cow hunter was wounded. When Frank finally met up with his dad it
was discovered that not only were his reins cut but there were two
arrows in his saddle. It was a lucky day for this curious young lad.
1870, Frank joined the Texas Rangers under Captain Rufus Perry. This
was a time when the Indian Raids in Texas
were many and brutal. This particular company of Rangers was stationed
at the Little Red River near Camp San Saba. The Rangers received word
that a band of Indians had raided near Dripping
Springs and made off with about one hundred head of horses. The
horses had been taken from various ranchers in that area. The Rangers,
whose main responsibility at this date was to protect the settlers
from the Indians, wasted no time in mounting up and locating the trail
the Indians left behind. The trail was near a place called Shovel
Mountain. As they neared the mountain they discovered a white man
being chased by the band of Indians. The man soon found himself in
the protective custody of the Rangers and the Indians suddenly had
a change of heart.
The pursuit was on and soon the Rangers managed to separate the stolen
horses from the Indians. As was the usual story, the Indians out numbered
the rangers 125 to 28. Three rangers stayed with the recaptured horses
while the rest made a stand. The Indians made three charges at the
rangers before their chief was killed. The chief’s horse (with the
chief still aboard) ran wildly in among the Rangers. The Indians finally
realized that the battle was lost, as was the herd of horses and the
body of their dead chief.
The names of some of the men in the command were: Captain Perry, B.
F. Payne, Frank Enoch, the three Bird brothers, Griffin, Page and
Cox. The rest are unknown. The one Ranger killed was one of the Bird
Brothers. His body was taken to Birdtown for burial. The belongings
of the dead chief were taken to the state capitol in Austin
for display. The horses were returned to their rightful owners. Of
the 27 men under Captain Perry, not a one was over 25 years of age.
|Children of B.F.
Photo courtesy Linda Kirkpatrick
Payne died in 1900 and is buried in Floral Cemetery in Leakey,
Texas. He and his wife, Claudia, had five children. As of today,
four generations of his descendents still live in the town of Leakey,