The Cattleman's Pages of History
We have now started the 104th year of publication of The Cattleman magazine. Each month, we take a few minutes to look back in history to find the interests of cattle raisers at the time. We have reprinted the text of these items as they appeared in the issue. Any additional comments from the editor appear in brackets.
The Cattleman cover was a photograph of a beautiful mama cow with her baby. It was identified only with “Hildebrand” at the lower right; probably the name of the photographer. Judging by the shine of their coats, the animals are well-cared for and one wishes the old photo had been in color. The original may well have been, but the covers were only printed in black plus one accent color at that time, a far cry from the full-color images enjoyed today throughout the entire magazine.
➤ The Cattleman ran an obituary that read “H.J. Justin, pioneer ‘cowboy boot maker’ of Texas, died July 14 at his home in Nocona, Texas. Starting in 1880 with a modest little shop, he soon made himself famous as a maker of cowboy boots. A modern plant was erected a few years ago, and today the trade of Justin & Sons extends not only over the range country of the Southwest, but reaches out to Mexico, Central and South America and Cuba.”
John Brandon, a writer and photographer for The Cattleman, furnished the cover image again this month. The identification reads “Charolais cattle on the J. M. Chittim Ranch in the Lower Hill Country near Leakey, Texas.”
➤ We know that Davey Crockett died at the Alamo, right? Well, maybe and maybe not. In the first of a series of articles called “Legends Almost Forgotten,” Jon McConal posited a vastly different tale. According to the article, there are letters dated 1840 in the labyrinths of the National Archives at Washington, D.C., suggesting the possibility that Crockett and two others did not die that day but instead, were captured and taken to Laredo in direct violation of Santa Ana’s orders. Crockett was sent to Mexico to work in the mines, where he gave an American visitor a letter to mail to his family, not trusting his captors to do so. Before the validity of the claim could be established, the man died and was buried in an unmarked grave.
➤ The Spanish explorer, Hernando Cortes, is credited with fashioning the brand, at least according to one story related in Cattle Kings of Texas, printed in serial form in the magazine. The late C.L. Douglas, a long-time contributor, wrote “He [Cortes] chose… a hardy breed… and they thrived… Don Hernando began casting about for some means of distinguishing between stock of his own and cattle held by neighbors. Consequently, he fashioned a metal device bearing a marking of his own — a sort of coat of arms — and thus it came to pass that a branding iron was hung for the first time on an owner’s door.”
➤ A small news item promised a big breakthrough for cattle raisers. A USDA research entomologist found a compound that successfully sterilized female flies. Tests and experiments continued in order to determine the potential for controlling stable flies and other insect pests.
The “Pages of History” is excerpted monthly from The Cattleman magazine. Join today to start your subscription.