Reed Anthony, Cowman HTML version

V. Summer Of '68
The death of Mr. Loving ended my employment in driving cattle to Fort Sumner.
The junior member of the firm was anxious to continue the trade then
established, but the absence of any protection against the Indians, either state or
federal, was hopeless. Texas was suffering from the internal troubles of
Reconstruction, the paternal government had small concern for the welfare of a
State recently in arms against the Union, and there was little or no hope for
protection of life or property under existing conditions. The outfit was accordingly
paid off, and I returned with George Edwards to his father's ranch. The past
eighteen months had given me a strenuous schooling, but I had emerged on my
feet, feeling that once more I was entitled to a place among men. The risk that
had been incurred by the drovers acted like a physical stimulant, the outdoor life
had hardened me like iron, and I came out of the crucible bright with the hope of
youth and buoyant with health and strength.
Meanwhile there had sprung up a small trade in cattle with the North. Baxter
Springs and Abilene, both in Kansas, were beginning to be mentioned as
possible markets, light drives having gone to those points during the present and
previous summers. The elder Edwards had been investigating the new outlet,
and on the return of George and myself was rather enthusiastic over the
prospects of a market. No Indian trouble had been experienced on the northern
route, and although demand generally was unsatisfactory, the faith of drovers in
the future was unshaken. A railroad had recently reached Abilene, stockyards
had been built for the accommodation of shippers during the summer of 1861,
while a firm of shrewd, far-seeing Yankees made great pretensions of having
established a market and meeting-point for buyers and sellers of Texas cattle.
The promoters of the scheme had a contract with the railroad, whereby they were
to receive a bonus on all cattle shipped from that point, and the Texas drovers
were offered every inducement to make Abilene their destination in the future.
The unfriendliness of other States against Texas cattle, caused by the ravages of
fever imparted by southern to domestic animals, had resulted in quarantine being
enforced against all stock from the South. Matters were in an unsettled condition,
and less than one per cent of the State's holdings of cattle had found an outside
market during the year 1867, though ranchmen in general were hopeful.
I spent the remainder of the month of October at the Edwards ranch. We had
returned in time for the fall branding, and George and I both made acceptable
hands at the work. I had mastered the art of handling a rope, and while we
usually corralled everything, scarcely a day passed but occasion occurred to
rope wild cattle out of the brush. Anxiety to learn soon made me an expert, and
before the month ended I had caught and branded for myself over one hundred
mavericks. Cattle were so worthless that no one went to the trouble to brand
completely; the crumbs were acceptable to me, and, since no one else cared for