Reed Anthony, Cowman HTML version

X. The Panic Of '73
I have never forgotten those encouraging words of my first employer. Friends
tided my finances over, and letters passed between my banker friend and myself,
resulting in an appointment to meet him at Fort Worth early in February. There
was no direct railroad at the time, the route being by St. Louis and Texarkana,
with a long trip by stage to the meeting point. No definite agreement existed
between us; he was simply paying me a visit, with the view of looking into the
cattle trade then existing between our respective States. There was no obligation
whatever, yet I had hopes of interesting him sufficiently to join issues with me in
driving a herd of cattle. I wish I could describe the actual feelings of a man who
has had money and lost it. Never in my life did such opportunities present
themselves for investment as were tendered to me that winter. No less than half
a dozen brands of cattle were offered to me at the former terms of half cash and
the balance to suit my own convenience. But I lacked the means to even
provision a wagon for a month's work, and I was compelled to turn my back on all
bargains, many of which were duplicates of my former successes. I was humbled
to the very dust; I bowed my neck to the heel of circumstances, and looked
forward to the coming of my casual acquaintance.
I have read a few essays on the relation of money to a community. None of our
family were ever given to theorizing, yet I know how it feels to be moneyless, my
experience with Texas fever affording me a post-graduate course. Born with a
restless energy, I have lived in the pit of despair for the want of money, and
again, with the use of it, have bent a legislature to my will and wish. All of which
is foreign to my tale, and I hasten on. During the first week in February I drove in
to Fort Worth to await the arrival of my friend, Calvin Hunter, banker and
stockman of Council Grove, Kansas. Several letters were awaiting me in the
town, notifying me of his progress, and in due time he arrived and was
welcomed. The next morning we started, driving a good span of mules to a
buckboard, expecting to cover the distance to the Brazos in two days. There
were several ranches at which we could touch, en route, but we loitered along,
making wide detours in order to drive through cattle, not a feature of the country
escaping the attention of my quiet little companion. The soil, the native grasses,
the natural waters, the general topography of the country, rich in its primal
beauty, furnished a panorama to the eye both pleasing and exhilarating. But the
main interest centred in the cattle, thousands of which were always in sight,
lingering along the watercourses or grazing at random.
We reached the Edwards ranch early the second evening. In the two days' travel,
possibly twenty thousand cattle came under our immediate observation. All the
country was an open range, brands intermingling, all ages and conditions,
running from a sullen bull to seven-year-old beeves, or from a yearling heifer to
the grandmother of younger generations. My anxiety to show the country and its
cattle met a hearty second in Mr. Hunter, and abandoning the buckboard, we