Unit 9, Section Two Notes

Unit 9, Section Two Notes – The Cattle Kingdom
Ranching in Texas began with the Spanish, who
established ranches as parts of missions
during between the 1500 and 1700’s. They
built these ranches in the Rio Grande and San
Antonio River Valleys, where ranching was
supported by a good climate, water supply,
and abundant grasses.
Rancho – Ranch
Remuda – Group of Remount Horses
La Reata – Lariet
Lazo – Lasso
Rodeo – Roundup
Vaquero – Cowboy
Eventually, people began opening their own
cattle ranches, like Martin de Leon, whose
cattle ranch was in Victoria County. As more
people acquired cattle, fights occurred
between people over cattle. The Spanish
government ordered that all owners brand
their cattle so they could prove ownership.
In the late 1800’s, one out of every three
cowboys was Mexican or of Mexican descent in
Texas. The cowboy was of life is rooted in the
vaquero, from the herding and ranching of
cattle to the tools and dress of a cowboy. Most
Mexican-American vaqueros were in South
Texas, as well as large Mexican-American ranch
owners, like Macedonio Vela and Dionisio
The first cattle drives were staged by Tejano
ranchers who herded cattle to Mexico. During
the 1800’s, U.S. settlers came to Texas and
many decided to ranch instead of farm. Some
Texans drove cattle to out of state markets to
make a larger profit. During the California
Gold Rush, cattle were driven to the state to
feed the growing population of miners.
Though you had a chance of profit, cattle
drives were dangerous and difficult.
The longhorn appeared in Texas in the mid1800’s, as a new breed developed between
the mix of English and Spanish cattle. They
thrived well in Texas. They could endure both
hot and cold weather and live on small
amounts of water and grass. They were also
resistant to Texas Fever, a disease that
commonly killed cattle in Texas. Because of
their horns, they were less likely to be
attacked by mountain lions, wolves, or other
During the Civil War, the number of cattle in
Texas grew rapidly, as there were few people
left to tend to them or herd them to market.
By the end of the Civil War, about five million
cattle roamed the state freely, most
When the demand of an item is higher than the
supply, the price goes up!
 Example: When the new Playstation 3 came out,
there was only a certain amount, and everyone
wanted one! Because of this, Sony could charge
more money for one and people would pay for it!
When the supply of an item exceeds the demand,
the price for that item goes down.
 Example: Now that there is a new version of
Playstation, the older versions are worth less
In the North, the demand for cattle was more
than their supply, while it was the opposite in
Texas. Because there were so many cattle in
Texas, cattle sold for $3 to $6 each, while in
New York, cattle sold for as much as $80 a
head. This convinced Texas ranchers to drive
their cattle north to make a higher profit.
They just had to get their cattle to the
stockyards and processing plants in Kansas,
Missouri, or Illinois, where the railroads would
take the cattle the rest of the way to market.
To get these cattle to market, cowboys gathered
the cattle in a round up, branded them, and
drove them north. On the way, the cattle grazed
on the open range, just as they had been doing
in Texas. Problems arose, though, as the drives
entered Missouri and Kansas, where there was
little open range left. Most of the land was being
farmed on, and as the cattle moved in, crops
were trampled. Texas longhorns also carried
Texas Fever, which killed northern cattle. After
angering enough farmers and ranchers, Missouri
and Kansas passes laws to stop cattle drives
from Texas.
Joseph McCoy stepped in with a solution. The
state of Kansas passed a law stating that
cattle drives could go through the state if
they stayed west of farming land. McCoy
then created a cattle market in Abilene,
Kansas, with holding pens and loading
chutes, right where the Kansas Pacific
Railroad began. He even got the ranchers a
special rate for shipping cattle to Chicago on
this rail line. He was the first person to think
of doing this!
In 1867, Texas cowboys herded over 35,000
longhorns along the Chisholm Trail, which
was named for the fur trader, Jesse Chisholm,
who blazed it. The trail was not near farms, so
it was a perfect way for Texas cowboys to
move their cattle from South Texas to
Abilene, Kansas. In 1871, between 600 and
700 thousand cattle arrived in Abilene.
Eventually, farms and towns were created
along the Chisholm Trail as the Indians moved
further west. A new trail needed to be found.
The Western Trail was created in 1874. This trail
went from Kerrville, Texas, crossed the Red
River, and ended at Dodge City in southwest
Kansas. The Western Trail quickly became the
most popular route for moving cattle from
Texas, and was used until the closing of the
open range.
Not all cattle drives ended at railheads. Some
ranchers saw an opportunity in driving their
cattle to the northwest to military posts,
mining camps, and American Indian
Reservations. Charles Goodnight and Oliver
Loving blazed a new trail further west, going
through Fort Sumner, New Mexico, known as
the Goodnight-Loving Trail. It soon became
one of the most traveled trails, but it stopped
being used when more railroad lines came to
The towns at the end of these trails, such as
Abilene and Dodge City, soon became known
as Cattle or Cow Towns. After arriving in the
towns, cowboys got paid for their work.
Cowboys could be rowdy and could make the
towns violent. This forced some of the towns
to bring in outside law enforcement to deal
with the problem.
Sometimes ranchers drove their own cattle to
market, but most hired drovers and trail bosses
to do it for them. A typical cattle drive had 8 to
12 cowboys caring for up to 3,000 cattle. The
cowboys also had a least one extra horse for the
trail, and these extra horses were known as the
remuda. There was usually always a cook on the
drive, as well, whose supplies were carried in the
chuckwagon. On a good day, the drive could
move 15 to 18 miles. Though they were exciting,
cattle drives were dangerous.
South Texas was very well suited for ranching.
One of the biggest and most well-known
ranches in South Texas was the King Ranch,
started by Richard King and Gideon Lewis.
King’s wife, Henrietta King, later developed
the ranch and helped to make South Texas
prosperous. She donated land and money to
many organizations and helped to establish
Texas A&M University in Kingsville, Texas.
After the Plains Indians were removed from the
Texas Panhandle and placed onto reservations in
Oklahoma, the Panhandle was opened for
ranching. The region’s flat land and grasses were
perfect for ranching. Ranchers adapted to the
dry climate by using windmills to reach the
underground water supply. In the 1870’s, Charles
Goodnight and John Adair established the JA
Ranch in Palo Duro Canyon, one of the first in
the Panhandle. The JA eventually covered more
than 700,000 acres and supported 40,000 cattle.
Soon, people from outside of Texas realized
that they could make money from the
prosperous Texas cattle industry.
Corporations being run by Northern and
British investors began opening ranches in
the Panhandle. The XIT Ranch was one run by
outside investors. This ranch later funded the
construction of the state capitol building that
we have today.
Lizzie Johnson Williams started out as a school
teacher in Austin and became known as the “Texas
Cattle Queen.” She kept books for the early cattle
drives, wrote articles about the cattle industry,
invested in land and cattle, and became a Texas
legend. She had her own cattle brand and owned
cattle ranches throughout Texas. Other women in
Texas, such as Margaret H. Borland and Dona
Maria del Carmen Calvillo, also owned and
operated ranches in Texas.
Most Texas ranches were far from towns, so
ranchers were generally resourceful and smart.
They handled the tasks of a ranch and
homestead. They also relied on the cowboys
who worked for them and completed the daily
work on the ranch. Many cowboys in Texas were
of African American or Mexican American
descent, though they sometimes faced
discrimination. Cowboys usually wore cowboy
hats or sombreros to protect them from the
harsh sun. They also carried lariats, light ropes
used for lassoing steers.
Bose Ikard was born a slave. After the Civil War,
he went out west and worked for Charles
Oliver Loving on the JA Ranch. He was one of
Charles Goodnight’s most trusted ranch
hands. In this industry, one out of every three
cowboys was African American. They suffered
less discrimination than in other industries.
Bose Ikard was laid to rest in Weatherford,
Cowboys eventually became an important part
of American popular culture. Novels, wild
west shows, and movies glorified the cowboy
life, making it seem easy and carefree. In
reality, cowboys faced many dangers, such as
blizzards, floods, fires, and stampedes. They
often worked for 24 hours straight, sleeping
in their saddles. Most only earned around
$300 a year, and that equaled out to nearly
nothing after buying the supplies they
needed on the trail.
Nat Love was granted his freedom at the age of
15, and then he went out west to Kansas. He
was offered a job as a cowhand if he could
stay on a bucking horse. He did and was hired
for $30 a month. He worked the cattle drives
for over 20 years. In 1876, Love entered a
rodeo and rode a bucking mustang for 12
minutes and 30 seconds. He was a legend
after that!
Many farmers and ranchers wanted to fence
their land, but it was expensive to do so until
Joseph F. Glidden invented barbed wire.
Many small scale ranchers disliked the idea of
fencing the open range, but the idea still
became popular. By the end of the 1880’s,
there were barbed wire fences in every Texas
county, which marked the end of the open
Fencing led to conflict in Texas in the 1880’s.
Small ranchers complained that they were
being surrounded by the fences of large
cattle companies. Also, large ranchers fenced
off water sources, even if they didn’t own the
land, and many small ranchers had cattle that
died of thirst. Range wars broke out, with
ranchers cutting other ranchers’ fences.
Wealth cattle operators even hired guards to
protect their fences, but gunfights still
As larger ranchers began fencing their land,
they would often block off roads and mail
delivery was interrupted. In 1884, the Texas
legislature made fence cutting illegal, but it
also required that a gate be put in for every
three miles of fence. People were also
banned from fencing land that they did not
own or lease. Texas Rangers were sent to
enforce the new laws.
By the 1880’s, the open range began to disappear
and other changes caused problems for the
cattle business. Many ranchers had so many
cattle that they accidentally allowed the
overgrazing of their land, which damaged the
grasses and soil. Along with the invention of
barbed wire, the building and expanding of
railroads into Texas put an end to the need for
long cattle drives. Regardless, Texas was left
with a great legacy. Throughout the world, Texas
is known for cowboys and cattle drives. Cattle
ranching continues in Texas and is still a
significant part of the state economy.
UT Mascot – the Longhorn
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has
been around for 75 years. Counties throughout
the state have livestock shows.
Ranches, like the King Ranch in Kingsville, invest
in agricultural education.
Many new breeds of cattle have been created in
Texas, including the Longhorn and Santa
Getrudis breeds.
Dallas Cowboys are named for the heroes of the
Texas frontier.
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