Category Archives: Creative Connections

The Tangled Tales of Barbed Wire

Three of the often cited reasons for the closing of the frontier of the American West typically include the telegraph, the transcontinental railroad, and barbed wire.

Display of different types of barbed wire. Cattle Raisers Museum. Fort Worth, TX.

So you may be surprised to learn that large scale manufacturing of barbed wire began first in the Mid-West in central Illinois (1874-75) before expanding to the American West.

The invention of barbs also made its way into other preventative products, such as calf weaners, cattle yokes & pokes, and even into poison bottle designs.

Joel Horn Breachy Cattle Yoke

1890 Ad Hoosier Automatic Calf Weaner

Barbed wire was invented mostly for cattle, but was also a means to deter other animals and humans from crossing over or through the fencing. It was certainly effective. However, accounts of the harmful effects of barbed wire on livestock resulted in an outcry from not only agriculturalists and stockmen but the public at large, including local chapters of the early formation of the Humane Society. Stories spreading the cruel and inhumane nature of barbed wire fences circulated in the press. Some such stories included rather graphic accounts of cows & their calves or horses & their colts running into barbed fences.

Safety Barb Wire Advertisement Circa 1895

Cochliomyia hominivorax or screwworm fly

As production of barbed wire grew, so too did its opponents, who called for legislative action. States like Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Texas proposed bills to restrict or outlaw use of barbed wire. Court hearings recorded testimony of those for and against. Some farmers and their advocates claimed barbed fencing was “one of the greatest inventions of the age.” Many opponents of these anti-barbed wire bills argued that barbed wire fencing saved more animals than it hurt and would do “nothing more than scratch any stock.” However, there was growing evidence to the contrary in the Great Plains. In Texas, harmless scratches developed into nesting grounds for the screwworm fly, which embedded its eggs into the animal’s flesh, eating its tissue and sometimes resulting in death. The parasitic fly was native to the tropical Americas and appeared in the southwest US in the 1840s, eventually growing into an epidemic problem in the 20th century. Large herd loss was also a result of a combination of barbed wire fencing with severe storms & blizzards of the 1880s, as cattle trampled those trapped in the fencing during a drift or stampede.

In addition to court hearing accounts and other published stories, evidence of the rise in injuries as a result of animal and human contact with barbed wire fencing is seen in the upsurge of medicines designed specifically for barbed wire injuries, such as Silver Pine Healing Oil.

“Silver Pine Healing Oil, International Stock Food Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota,” DPLA Omeka, accessed November 10, 2017, https://dp.la/exhibitions/items/show/811815.

Despite these concerns, there was a drastic increase in the amount of barbed wire made, with 120 million pounds sold in 1881 and an estimated 250,000 miles of barbed wire fences across the country within the same year. Today there are over 115,000 miles of old, unused barbed wire fencing that kills over 92,500 animals annually due to collisions. Unfortunately, it is expensive and time consuming to track all of this fencing. However, technologies such as geographic information system (GIS) are helping. Just as researchers in Canada are using GIS to track black bears & wolves to determine where they intersect with roads, efforts to map all the old barbed wire fencing in the American West are being pursued. The good news is that in addition to regulations making new barbed wire fencing less harmful, where they are cutting down outdated and idle barbed fencing is helping to reduce the percentage of animal deaths.

Of course, there’s much more to the fascinating story of barbed wire. I recommend checking out the newly published book from Texas A&M Press, The Perfect Fence: Untangling the Meanings of Barbed Wire by Lyn Ellen Bennett and Scott Abbott.

Viva el vaquero!

From September 15 – October 15, as a nation we observe and celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. This time is an opportunity to recognize and honor the histories, cultures, and contributions of fellow Americans whose families and ancestors immigrated from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central & South America.

By Doerr & Jacobson — Photographer – Original source: Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views. / United States. / States / Texas. / Stereoscopic views of San Antonio, Texas. (Approx. 72,000 stereoscopic views : 10 x 18 cm. or smaller.) digital record. This image is available from the New York Public Library’s Digital Library under the digital ID G92F039_034F: digitalgallery.nypl.org → digitalcollections.nypl.org Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10083425

In the American West, Hispanic culture, particularly the tradition of the vaquero, helped establish the foundation for much of cowboy life as we know it today. Working alongside the vaqueros, Anglo cowboys learned and adopted their tools and techniques. Adoption of the vaquero practices was so widespread, especially in the Lone Star state, that many of the terms used have become practically “Texan.”

Here’s just a handful of the Spanish words commonly used in Texas:

Armadillo (literally, “the little armed one”)

Bronco (means “wild” or “rough” or “rude”)

Burrito (literally “little donkey”)

Chaps (from Mexican Spanish chaparreras)

Hammock (from jamaca, Caribbean Spanish word)

Lariat (from la reata, braided rawhide rope)

Lasso (from lazo)

Mustang (from mesteñas, – a wild horse)

Patio (In Spanish, an inner garden or courtyard.)

Remuda (regionalism for a relay of horses)

Rodeo (roundup / show of skills – verb to encircle)

Sombrero (sombra, “shade,” – any kind of hat)

Wrangler (caballerano, one who grooms horses)

Frederic Remington | The Cow Puncher | 1901 | Oil (black & white) on canvas | 28 7/8 inches x 19 inches

Frederic Remington was well aware of the vaquero and its influence on the Anglo cowboys. He once chided his friend and Western writer Owen Wister for having claimed Anglo-Saxon origin of the cowboy in Wister’s article “The Evolution of the Cow-Puncher,” which appeared in Harper’s Monthly in 1895. In fact, Wister traced the genealogy of the Western cowboy to that of the knights of medieval Europe. In a letter to Wister, Remington corrected his friend, noting that the traditions of the cowboy were of Latin origin and evolved from the vaqueros of Mexico and Texas.

Not only did Remington witness the cowboy in action during his journeys out West, but the artist also traveled to Mexico in 1889 and later in 1893. He spent weeks sketching and photographing vaqueros and their horses, providing the artist with an array of firsthand material for his work.

Vaquero de Fort Worth | 2012 |Thomas Bustos and David Newton | Bronze | North Main Street and Central Avenue Plaza | Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Public Art

Fort Worth celebrates its own ties to the vaquero tradition, and in 2012 the city commemorated a part of its Hispanic history with the installation of Vaquero de Fort Worth. The artists David Newton and Tomas Bustos were sensitive to the importance of this piece and paid careful attention to the historical accuracy of each detail of the vaquero. Now a part of the city-wide public art collection, this bronze sculpture overlooks the historic Northside, which is home to the Fort Worth Stockyards district, an area that developed due the success of the cattle business.

Vaquero de Fort Worth, detail

Remington: The College Years

It’s August, and for students in Texas, that means the beginning of another school year. For some students, this month marks the beginning of their college years and will perhaps set the direction of their future careers. For many co-eds, college will be a time to discover their path, as was the case for SRM artist, Frederic Remington.

In the spring of 1878, Remington wrote to his Uncle Horace Sackrider, “I am going to try and get into Cornell College this coming June and if I succeed will be a Journalist. I mean to study for an artist anyhow, whether I ever make a success of it or not.” However, Cornell University did not have a journalism department at that time, so instead Remington enrolled in the newly created School of Fine Arts at Yale. He was one of 7 men, along with 30 other art students, in both the first art school at an American university and the first coeducational school at Yale.

Remington’s art instructors included J. Alden Weir and John Henry Niemeyer, both of whom had studied under French academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme. Niemeyer, his drawing instructor, had come to Yale as a professor in 1871, just 2 years after the art school was founded and remained for over 30 years. Many considered Niemeyer a great teacher.

While at Yale, Remington successfully published his first illustration in one of the college newspapers, the Yale Courant. The sketch portrayed an injured football lineman recuperating in his room, his right foot elevated and his desk covered with bottles of liniment, or healing ointment. Could this be a self-portrait?

Frederic Remington, “College Riff-Raff,” cartoon, Yale Courant, November 2, 1878, p. 47.

Remington disliked the academic approach of his art school which followed the strict, classical training of the period, like sketching from plaster casts. Instead, Remington preferred to focus his attention on playing football. The young co-ed joined the Yale team as a rusher in the fall of 1879. The team did not fare so well during Remington’s sophomore year, losing the 1879 championships in what became one of the highlights of the Yale-Princeton rivalry.

Remington in the football uniform of the day, canvas jacket and flannel trousers. Internet Archive Book Images.

Yale football team, 1879. Remington front, lower right.

Unfortunately, Remington did not return to college after the holiday break that year due to the death of his father. Although college did not work out for Remington, it did not deter him from pursuing a career in the artist, first as a commercial illustrator, and later as a painter and sculptor, achieving success in all media.

Waffles in the Garden

Happy Summer Solstice! Summer is a time for fun and adventure…in the garden! Vegetable gardens are in full bloom this season. In Texas, gardeners have to remain diligent about watering and protecting their precious plants from the brutal heat. In the Southwest, where it’s dry and arid, people have developed techniques in order to adapt their gardens to the environment. One such technique is practiced by the Zuni (A:shiwi) called Latdekwi:we, or waffle gardening.

Timothy O’Sullivan. Gardens surrounding the Indian pueblo of Zuni, 1873. Stereograph. Source: Stereographs from geographical explorations and surveys west of the 100th meridian, expeditions of 1871, 1872, 1873, and 1874 – 1st. Lieut. Geo. M. Wheeler, Corps of Engineers, commanding. Courtesy Boston Public Library.

Charles Francis Browne, Nai-U-Chi: Chief Of The Bow, Zuni 1895, 1895, Oil on canvas, 18 1/2 x 12 3/4 inches

Members of the Zuni people, like Nai-U-Chi, felt a close connection with the environment and maintained a special relationship with the natural world for centuries. Through their keen observations, the Zuni adapted farming skills to the lands in which they lived. Because New Mexico receives very little rain, the Zuni developed a dry-farming method – Latdekwi:we. The technique earned the nickname waffle garden because from above, the layout of recessed beds resembles the delicious breakfast food.

A waffle garden is typically intended for a single or extended family, like a kitchen garden. Think of the waffle garden as the original “square foot garden.” The garden consists of a grid of squares with each square surrounded by berms, or raised mounds of dirt. The shape helps any water flow directly to the plants.

“Zuni gardens,” c. 1927, by Edward Curtis, via Library of Congress

The summer solstice holds an important place for many Native societies. For the Zuni, their spiritual practice is connected to the life cycle of all plants. Summer is a time for growth. During the summer solstice, the Zuni people perform ceremonies in hopes of a summer rainy season. The design of the waffle gardens help trap and retain what moisture the area does receive.

The Zuni people, along with other residents in arid regions, continue to practice the waffle gardening method today. By employing techniques that are specific to the environment, anyone can grow a healthy vegetable garden, even in the desert. Unfortunately, though, you can’t grow waffles.

Zuni Youth Enrichment Project (ZYEP) Summer Camp

Zuni WIC Community Garden

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

Cultural Awareness

Dr. Laura Evans from UNT leading training on cultivating critical cultural awareness through art.

Dr. David Cross from TCU guides our class through the various stages of child brain development.

Dr. David Cross from TCU guides our class through the various stages of child brain development.

The end of the year is a time for reflection and review. In the education department, much of our attention has been on training a new class of docents at the Sid. Over the course of 13 weeks we have learned so much. Scholars from near and far have taught us about the background of two iconic artists of the American West, Frederic Remington and Charles Russell, as well as the history surrounding the time period in which these two artists lived and worked.

Educators and psychologists have opened our eyes and minds to the experiences of our visitors whether through differences in culture, language, or age. Staff has guided our new teammates through the nuts & bolts of crafting and leading tours, providing an opportunity for each docent in training to practice their new skills. And I’m happy to announce that we have nine talented new docents ready and willing to help share the Sid Richardson Museum with you, our visitor!

New Docent Gayle Massey leading a practice tour presentation.

New Docent Gayle Massey leading a practice tour presentation.

New docent Irene Parker leading a practice tour presentation.

New Docent Irene Parker leading a practice tour presentation.

New Docent Beth Haynes leading a practice tour presentation.

New Docent Beth Haynes leading a practice tour presentation.

We recently celebrated the contributions of all of our docents this year at our Annual Docent Luncheon. Andrea Hassenteuffel, Director of School and Family Programs, took a moment to reflect and share our gratitude and appreciation for this amazing group of people who volunteered countless hours to serving our community and sharing Sid’s great collection with such a wide and diverse audience.

In thinking about each docent individually, Andrea imagined what Sid would think if he were alive today. Then she pondered, what qualities do Sid and our docents have in common? Using Sid W. Richardson’s name as a guide, Andrea found just the right words that not only describe Sid but our docent team.

Self-less

Innovative

Dedicated

Willing

Reliable

Intelligent

Cool & calm

Hospitable

Able

Ready

Diligent

Sincere

Open-minded

Noteworthy

All together, these individual talents create a pretty amazing team. Thank you, docents, for all you do for the Sid Richardson Museum. And congratulations Docent Class of 2016!

Annual Docent Luncheon 2016

Annual Docent Luncheon 2016

For Love of Russell

This month we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of “For Love of Russell,” a one-woman monologue of the life of cowboy artist Charles Russell as told by his wife and business manager, Nancy Cooper Russell. Visitors have an opportunity to experience the performance every Second Saturday of the month.Cowgirl Visit

The role of Nancy Cooper Russell is performed by one of our museum docents, Roberta Atkins. Roberta has been with the museum since the institution first embarked on a docent program in 1999. In 2005, when the museum closed for renovations, Roberta began to conceive and write what became the “For Love of Russell” monologue based on research about Nancy and her relationship with Charles Russell. After the museum re-opened in November 2006, Roberta performed for a museum audience for the first time.

In 2012, Roberta reached her 100th performance, a feat that did not go unnoticed. To celebrate this special milestone, Sid Richardson Foundation president, Pete Geren, surprised Roberta by dressing up as Charles Russell. Nancy and Charlie were reunited at last!Charles & Nancy 2012

The Sid Richardson Museum is blessed to have such a gifted group of docents.  Thank you, Roberta, for sharing your time and talents with our visitors! Happy 10th Anniversary, Nancy Cooper Russell!Roberta1

 

The Ocean of Sunrise

Fall is just around the corner and with it comes a new season of Tea & Talk. This program is geared towards adults who are interested in slowing down their art viewing process and digging a little deeper into our collection (and for those who enjoy a good cup of a tea afterwards!). For our first Tea & Talk of the 2016-2017 season we viewed and discussed a portrait painted by Charles Francis Browne, Nai-U-Chi: Chief of the Bow, Zuni 1895.

Tea & Talk, September 2016, Sid Richardson Museum

Tea & Talk, September 2016, Sid Richardson Museum

Charles Francis Browne, Nai-U-Chi: Chief Of The Bow, Zuni 1895, 1895, Oil on canvas, 18 1/2 x 12 3/4 inches

Charles Francis Browne, Nai-U-Chi: Chief Of The Bow, Zuni 1895, 1895, Oil on canvas, 18 1/2 x 12 3/4 inches

As noted in the title, Nai-U-Chi was part of the Zuni, which are a federally recognized American Indian tribe and one of the Pueblo peoples. Today, most Zuni live in Western New Mexico. Traditionally, the Zuni were an agricultural community.

Studio portrait of a delegation of five Zunis and a Hopi brought to Washington by Frank Hamilton Cushing. Standing, left to right: Naiyutchi (Nai-uchi); Nanahe (Na-na-he), a Hopi adopted by the Zuni; Kiasiwa (Ki-a-si). Seated, left to right: Laiyuahtsailunkya (Lai-yu-ah-tsai-lun-kya); Governor Laiyuaitsailus (Hai-ya-ah-tsai-hi or Pedro Pino); Governor Pah-lo-wah-ti-wa (Patricio Pino). Men are wearing traditional clothing, including leather leggings, beaded necklaces, concha belts, and cloth headbands. 1882. Photo by John K. Hillers. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution (P03402)

Studio portrait of a delegation of five Zunis and a Hopi brought to Washington by Frank Hamilton Cushing. Standing, left to right: Naiyutchi (Nai-uchi); Nanahe (Na-na-he), a Hopi adopted by the Zuni; Kiasiwa (Ki-a-si). Seated, left to right: Laiyuahtsailunkya (Lai-yu-ah-tsai-lun-kya); Governor Laiyuaitsailus (Hai-ya-ah-tsai-hi or Pedro Pino); Governor Pah-lo-wah-ti-wa (Patricio Pino). Men are wearing traditional clothing, including leather leggings, beaded necklaces, concha belts, and cloth headbands. 1882. Photo by John K. Hillers. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution (P03402)

Nai-U-Chi was a member of the Bow Priesthood, a group that exerted considerable power within Zuni life. During Tea & Talk, many participants commented on the various details they saw in the portrait: the red cloth headband, what appears to be a linen-like top, and a sash decorated with unidentified objects. What are those gray objects adorning the sash? Are they arrowheads? After the program, I consulted some of our knowledgeable museum staff and discovered that the artifacts on Nai-U-Chi’s clothing were shark teeth!

Charles Francis Browne | Nai-U-Chi: Chief Of The Bow, Zuni 1895 | detail

Charles Francis Browne | Nai-U-Chi: Chief Of The Bow, Zuni 1895 | detail

How did a man living in New Mexico in the late 19th century acquire shark teeth? Unfortunately, I have not been able to confirm in print where or how Nai-U-Chi came to possess these items. One must consider a likely possibility that by the time of this portrait, 1895, the Zuni, as with many other native groups, were regularly trading with Americans and other travelers. Another possibility involves a pilgrimage to the Atlantic Ocean.

Most of what we know about Nai-U-Chi is from records of Frank Hamilton Cushing, a pioneering anthropologist associated with the Smithsonian Institution who lived with the Zuni from 1879-1884. Mr. Cushing learned that for many years it had been a dream of some of the Zuni chiefs to visit the East, a land of fable to see “the Ocean of Sunrise.” Living in the dry lands of New Mexico, the Zuni believed their prayers brought clouds from the ocean in the east, clouds that would give them rain.

Many other nearby tribes had had representatives visit Washington, D.C. – the Apaches, the Navajos, but not the Zuni. So Cushing guided a group of Zuni men East, as accounted in an article published in an 1882 issue of The Century Magazine. Eventually, the group made it to their final destination in Boston, selected so as to be as far east as possible.

Upon arriving at the ocean, Nai-U-Chi led the party in a ceremony, scattering sacred meal, which was composed of corn meal and finely ground precious seashells, over the waves. Nai-U-Chi concluded the ceremony with a prayer in which “consideration was asked for the children of the Zunis, of the Americans, and of all men, of the beasts and birds of the world, and of even the creeping and most vile beings of earth, and the most insignificant.”

Portrait of Nai-Uchi (Elder Brother of the Bow Priest) in Native Dress with Squash Blossom Necklace and Ornaments 1879. Photographed by John K. Hillers. National Anthropological Archives. NAA INV 06370200 OPPS NEG 02233 A.

Portrait of Nai-Uchi (Elder Brother of the Bow Priest) in Native Dress with Squash Blossom Necklace and Ornaments 1879. Photographed by John K. Hillers. National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution. NAA INV 06370200 OPPS NEG 02233 A.

During Tea & Talk, I asked the group what they might infer about the sitter or how they would describe the sitter in Charles Browne’s portrait of Nai-U-Chi. Someone said they imagined him to be an important man. Another participant admitted to feeling respect for the man. In one of the few written descriptions I have found of Nai-U-Chi, he was described as having “a genial, contemplative look, a kindly placidity of countenance, and he was full of poetry, telling folk lore stories charmingly.” I like to imagine what stories Nai-U-Chi could have told us had we had the chance to sit with him longer.

Tea & Talk, September 2016, Sid Richardson Museum

Tea & Talk, September 2016, Sid Richardson Museum

Tea & Talk is a free monthly program, offered the 1st Wednesday of every month at noon from September-May. I hope to see you next time!

Cowboy Journals and the Art of Handwriting

Have you ever kept a journal or a diary? Did you ever travel with your journal?

In 1868, Texas cowboy Jack Bailey kept a journal of his experience on a cattle drive. It is one of the earliest known day-by-day, first-hand accounts of a cattle drive from Texas to Kansas during the period just after the Civil War.

The era of the cattle drive was a short-lived period, from about 1865-1895. But it is from this period of the open-range cattle industry that many of the myths, legends, or heroic concepts we have of cowboys today was derived.

It’s estimated that 6-9 million head of cattle were driven by cowboys from Texas to Kansas between 1867-1886. What do you think was the average age of the cowboys who drove these cattle?

Charles M. Russell | Breaking Camp | ca. 1885 | Oil on canvas | Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

Charles M. Russell | Breaking Camp | ca. 1885 | Oil on canvas | Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

Most of these cowboys were young men in their late teens early twenties. Jack Bailey was 37 yrs old when he ventured on his 3 month journey. Relatively speaking, Bailey was an old man doing a young man’s job.

How often do you find a cowboy who keeps a journal while on the job? The answer is not often. Most accounts of the cattle drive experience we have are recollections told decades later. The earliest known diary of a trail drive was kept by George Duffield in 1866, two years before Jack Bailey’s journey. But Duffield’s record contains little detail of the drive, only short summaries of each day’s activities. In contrast, Bailey’s journal is a narrative. He shares a story, the ups and the downs, sprinkled with a few humorous anecdotes.Bailey Journey

Bailey kept his journal in a small notebook, similar to the ones sold in drug and general stores in the West during the late 1860s. Aside from a few dates that are printed at the beginning of entries, everything else is written in black ink, perhaps iron gall.

Bailey’s writing consistently stays within the printed blue lines. Remember that he’s writing these entries while on the trail, not from the comfort of a desk at his home. Bailey’s penmanship is good, suggesting that he learned it in school, where he would have learned  Spencerian handwriting.

Do any of you remember learning cursive in school? Do you still write in cursive?

In the mid-1800s, abolitionist and bookkeeper Platt Rogers Spencer attempted to democratize American penmanship by formulating a cursive writing system, known as the Spencerian method, which was taught by textbook. Schools and businesses quickly adopted this form of handwriting, so much so that the Spencerian form of penmanship became the standard at time when an elegant handwriting was much prized.

Jack Baily Journal, 2001.074, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

Jack Baily Journal, 2001.074, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

IMG_7186How many of you still mail hand-written letters to friends/relatives and write notes to loved ones? Today, in our computer age, a fine, beautiful, and legible handwriting brings a warm personal touch to our correspondence. The museum recently hosted a program in which participants learned the principles of Spencerian script, practice their handwriting, and even learned how to fashion their own feather quill pen.

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Beef Bonanza!

The Texas Cattle Trail era is a mythological period of American history. The language and characters of the period have become part of our identity. You’ve heard of maverick politicians. Ever use the phrase “time to hit the trail?”

Cattle herd and cowboy, circa 1902

Cattle herd and cowboy, circa 1902

After the Civil War, the cattle business blossomed, largely by the booming industry in the north and reconstruction in the south. From 1867 to 1895, over 98,250,000 cattle trailed from Texas to northern markets. Beef was starting to replace pork as the country’s preferred meat product.

In 1867, Joseph G. McCoy, a visionary in the beef industry, began working with railroads like Union Pacific to build a rail spur in Abilene, Kansas, where he opened his operation the following year. McCoy advertised for northern cattle buyers and Texas cattle drivers. In his first season, 35,000 head of cattle passed through his depot. That number doubled the following year and doubled again by 1870. In 1874, McCoy penned the classic Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest, which scholars consider to be one of the most important books about the early cattle industry.IMG_6648

Joseph G. McCoy. Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest, By Joseph G. McCoy, the Pioneer Western Cattle Shipper. Kansas City, MO: Ramsey, Millett & Hudson, 1874.

Joseph G. McCoy. Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest, By Joseph G. McCoy, the Pioneer Western Cattle Shipper. Kansas City, MO: Ramsey, Millett & Hudson, 1874.

What was life like on cattle drives? A trail crew, or “outfit,” usually consisted of 10-12 men. The ideal size of a trail herd was about 2,500. Rather than race to the cattle depot, the trail boss made sure the herd kept a steady pace of 7-10 miles per day so as to keep the cattle plump for market.

One of the biggest dangers on the drive was crossing rivers. As the crew traveled north, the rivers became wider. Most men could not swim.

Cowhand, waddy, cowpuncher, vaqueros, buckaroos. These were the common names for what we now refer to as cowboys. Who were these men?

The species “cowhand” is no special breed of human; but he is a special type created by his special way of life. Perhaps, though, it does take a special kind of guy to choose to be a cowhand. The cowhand is possessed by a sort of pioneering spirit; he likes nature – that is, nature in the raw. He doesn’t mind taking a chance win or lose. He can take it on the chin and keep coming back for more. – Fay E. Ward

Cowboys came from Texas and everywhere else. The group was diverse: Black cowboys, Mexican cowboys, American Indian cowboys, British cowboys. It’s estimated as many as 20% of the cowhands were born outside the U.S.

James Sanks Brisbin | The Beef Bonanza: Or, How to Get Rich on the Plains | 1881 | Book | The Rees-Jones Collection

James Sanks Brisbin | The Beef Bonanza: Or, How to Get Rich on the Plains | 1881 | Book | The Rees-Jones Collection

By the 1880s, the landscape of ranches and the cattle business was changing. The trail industry was dissolving into the hands of larger ranches, often financed by British capital and other non-local entities. James Brisbin, vice-president of the National Cattle and Horse Grower’s Association, actively promoted investment. In 1881, Brisbin published The Beef Bonanza; Or How to Get Rich on the Plains. Historians consider this publication to be the most important promotional book to draw major financial investors from northern Europe and the East Coast to the cattle industry.

Frederic Remington | The Fall of the Cowboy | 1895 | Oil on canvas | Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Collection

Frederic Remington | The Fall of the Cowboy | 1895 | Oil on canvas | Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Collection

The year 1885 marked an end of an era. With the invention of barbed wire, the development of railroads, overgrazing, settlers, what was once known as the “open range” was no more.

The Rare Breed

On Feb 2, 1966, The Rare Breed premiered in Fort Worth at Palace Theater, 117 E. 7th Street, the first of four pre-release showings of the film. The premier coincided with what was then called Fort Worth Fat Stock Show. An archive of the premier features Maureen O’Hara and James Stewart walking the red carpet to Fort Worth fanfare.

1968 photo courtesy of Larry Brown

1968 photo courtesy of Larry Brown

The film is directed by Andrew McLaglen, who is known for films like McClintock!, Shenandoah, Bandolero, just to name a few of his 31 feature films. In addition to film, Mr. McLaglen directed such television shows as Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, and Rawhide.

Buried in the credit of The Rare Breed is a name some movie fans might recognize. The music for The Rare Breed was scored by Johnny Williams, now known as John Williams, the composer of many film scores, including Jaws, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones.Hereford_bull_large

The Rare Breed is about the introduction of Hereford cattle to the American West. The Hereford breed – originally from Herefordshire, England – has been called “the great improver.” Texas cattle were tough, which was great for the rough terrain, but not so great for the meat. By crossbreeding with Herefords, folks hoped to improve the quality of Texas beef.

Charles M. Russell, When Cowboys Get in Trouble (The Mad Cow), 1899, Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches

Charles M. Russell, When Cowboys Get in Trouble (The Mad Cow), 1899, Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches

Interestingly, Herefords were first introduced to the US in 1817 by Henry Clay, the Kentucky statesman and orator. Unfortunately, Mr. Clay did not bring over enough cattle and bulls, so his Herefords were eventually bred out. Decades later, a number of important ranchers, including Charles Goodnight, brought Herefords to Texas and successfully began crossbreeding.