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Catalogue Ten, Part Four, Vol. II, The Ranching Catalogue, D-G

week, while several large herds are still being collected for the same destination, to leave dur-

ing the week. We suppose from a rough calculation that over three thousand head of cattle will

be driven from the counties of Crawford, Sebastian and Scott by the time the last drove leaves

this season. We learn that large droves are also being sent from other frontier counties and the

Cherokee Nation. Captain Denckla, at Port Gibson, will leave on the 12th inst. with about 1,800


One of the fullest descriptions of the country the Southwest drives had to cover appeared in

a letter to the editor of the

Southern Californian

which was published in that journal and, later,

on August 16, 1854, reprinted in the

Daily Alta California

of San Francisco. The letter was writ-

ten by a Texan drover named Kirkpatrick.

“I started from San Antonio, Texas, on the 1st of April 1854 in company with a party of stock

drovers from that section of the State. (I may say here, incidentally, that the report of high prices

in the market of California for beef cattle, which reached Texas in the early part of the present

year, has given rise to an active speculation in Texas stock, and, consequently, the road is now full

of beef cattle from Texas, destined for this market, from 15 to 20,000 is the lowest estimate I have

heard of the number. At present prices here, there will be great losses sustained by drovers.

“From San Antonio to El Paso the road is an excellent one the main portion of the way lead-

ing over a high, dry and gravelly table land, constituting, perhaps, the best natural road in the

world. For 250 miles grass and water of a fine quality abound. But for the last 400 miles of the

route, grass becomes scarce and water is not to be found in sufficient quantities for the stock

drover. This territory is at present infested by perhaps the most bold, daring and dangerous of

all the Indian tribes–the Mescalero Apaches.

“The train with which I travelled was surrounded by them and stopped upon the road, and

we had every prospect of a bloody battle, but finally the difficulty was compromised by our con-

senting to trade them tobacco for skins. A cattle drover from Texas, who had preceded us, was

not so fortunate. I refer to Mr. Hedges of San Antonio, whose party was waylaid in a bad canon

known as the Eagle Springs, being taken by surprise, had two of his men killed and 176 of his

cattle driven off by the Indians. Frequent difficulties have taken place with emigrant parties, as I

have since learned, and the Apaches were pretty severely handled by some of them.

“From El Paso the road is for the greater part an excellent wagon way, similar in structure and

quality to that already described. Some difficult passes in the mountains contribute the excep-

tions to this remark. We met with no serious obstruction from Indians but our stock suffered se-

verely from want of water and grass. The general character of the country is that of an elevated

plain, high, dry and sterile. The Santa Cruz Valley of Sonora is the Oasis of this Sahara–a beau-

tiful, fertile and lovely valley, but narrow and enclosed by lofty and sterile mountains. Here are

several Mexican villages and a few ranches. The villages are Santa Cruz, at the eastern extrem-

ity of the valley, Tubac and Tucson. These Mexicans live in extreme and perpetual dread of the

Apaches, their deadly enemies. Depredations and murders are continually perpetrated upon

them by the Indians. They are much elated by the news of the purchase of Sonora (i. e, the Gads-

den Purchase) by the United States. We reached the Gila at the Pimo Villages.”

“Spica,” the San Francisco

Daily Herald’s

Los Angeles correspondent reported on November

10, 1854, that 5,000 beeves had crossed the Colorado in a month, mostly from Texas, and 2,000

more were expected daily. When John James and James Bell hit the Colorado River in 1854 with

their herd, they were told at Ft. Yuma that 10,000 head had already crossed. And still James’s

steers brought $25-$30 in the Los Angeles market. According to the appendix of the 1880 Cen-

sus, concerning California after the Gold Rush, “A demand for cattle then arose. At first these

were inferior in size and appearance to the best California cattle but after 1852, good cattle came

in rapidly from the States.” After 1860, cattle were trailed into California not only from Texas,

Missouri–like Loveland’s herd–and Illinois, but from Oregon, reversing Philip Leget Edwards

and Ewing Young’s trek of 1837. But most came from Texas. By 1871 probably 75,000 head had

been trail herded from the Lone Star State to the Golden State.

The exciting times were the mid-’50s. The San Francisco


reported on September 5,

1854, that five cattle trains–hose of Edwards and Piron, Matson and Company, Tellus and Com-