Cattle Brands HTML version

Drifting North
It was a wet, bad year on the Old Western Trail. From Red River north and all along was
herd after herd waterbound by high water in the rivers. Our outfit lay over nearly a week
on the South Canadian, but we were not alone, for there were five other herds waiting for
the river to go down. This river had tumbled over her banks for several days, and the
driftwood that was coming down would have made it dangerous swimming for cattle.
We were expected to arrive in Dodge early in June, but when we reached the North Fork
of the Canadian, we were two weeks behind time.
Old George Carter, the owner of the herd, was growing very impatient about us, for he
had had no word from us after we had crossed Red River at Doan's crossing. Other
cowmen lying around Dodge, who had herds on the trail, could hear nothing from their
men, but in their experience and confidence in their outfits guessed the cause--it was
water. Our surprise when we came opposite Camp Supply to have Carter and a stranger
ride out to meet us was not to be measured. They had got impatient waiting, and had
taken the mail buckboard to Supply, making inquiries along the route for the _Hat_ herd,
which had not passed up the trail, so they were assured. Carter was so impatient that he
could not wait, as he had a prospective buyer on his hands, and the delay in the appearing
of the herd was very annoying to him. Old George was as tickled as a little boy to meet us
The cattle were looking as fine as silk. The lay-overs had rested them. The horses were in
good trim, considering the amount of wet weather we had had. Here and there was a
nigger brand, but these saddle galls were unavoidable when using wet blankets. The
cattle were twos and threes. We had left western Texas with a few over thirty-two
hundred head and were none shy. We could have counted out more, but on some of them
the Hat brand had possibly faded out. We went into a cosy camp early in the evening.
Everything needful was at hand, wood, water, and grass. Cowmen in those days prided
themselves on their outfits, and Carter was a trifle gone on his men.
With the cattle on hand, drinking was out of the question, so the only way to show us any
regard was to bring us a box of cigars. He must have brought those cigars from Texas, for
they were wrapped in a copy of the Fort Worth "Gazette." It was a month old and full of
news. Every man in the outfit read and reread it. There were several train robberies
reported in it, but that was common in those days. They had nominated for Governor
"The Little Cavalryman," Sol Ross, and this paper estimated that his majority would be at
least two hundred thousand. We were all anxious to get home in time to vote for him.
Theodore Baughman was foreman of our outfit. Baugh was a typical trail-boss. He had
learned to take things as they came, play the cards as they fell, and not fret himself about
little things that could not be helped. If we had been a month behind he would never have
thought to explain the why or wherefore to old man Carter. Several years after this, when