Monday, August 20, 2007

Sleeping with an umbrella

I met Mrs. Cornelia Adair in 1891. She and her niece and Dick Walsh and a man from Kansas came by and my sister-in-law had dinner—you call it lunch, now, but we called it dinner—for them. Mrs. Adair was nice-looking, wore a simple riding habit with divided skirt. Her niece was a tall, gangling girl. The niece rode a left-handed sidesaddle, and we thought that was the funniest thing. Guess she was left-handed, but imagine bringing that saddle all the way out here. After dinner Mrs. Adair asked if she and her niece might rest a bit and my sister-in-law showed them to the bedroom and they lay down awhile. Mrs. Adair laughed and joked about the night in the Goodnight cabin. Said she didn’t get any sleep; she was scared of rats tumbling down on her. Finally she opened her umbrella and held it over her face all night, but didn’t sleep much.
Marie Barbier Hess Interview Nov 22, 1956

Monday, August 13, 2007

Party from Friday to Sunday

Mrs. Adair would ride side saddle out with the cowboys to see what they were doing. Mrs. Adair thought a lot of her cow hands; she even set up a commissary where the cowhands and their families could purchase groceries and other dry goods. Every fourth of the July she would throw a big party in honor of them. Anyone who wanted to come could, and it lasted from Friday until Sunday night. All one could eat or drink was there at the taking.
Marie Barbier Hess Interview Nov 22, 1956

Monday, August 6, 2007

Chickens for company

The solitude and the wind were trying for a woman, and it was quite a domestic blessing when one day a cowboy rode in with three chickens in a sack. “No one can ever know how much pleasure and company they were to me,” Mrs. Goodnight once said. “They were something I could talk to; they would run to me when I called them and follow me everywhere I went. They knew me and tried to talk to me in their language. If there had been no outside danger, the loneliness would not have been bad.
Charles Goodnight Cowman and Plainsman by J. Evetts Haley

Monday, July 30, 2007

The isolated life of a ranchers wife

Mrs. Goodnight patched the cowboys’ clothes, sewed on the buttons, doctored the sick and injured, and sympathized with those rough but tender-hearted cowboys, isolated by the plains. Her first woman neighbor was the wife of T.S. Bugbee, the second ranchman of the panhandle. “For six months she and Mrs. Goodnight lived the most isolated life I have ever known in all my frontier experience,” said Goodnight. “Neither could have seen any women associates for from six to twelve months, but they both claim those to be among their happiest days.” Goodnight arranged for Capt. Willingham to bring his wife and two children to the Panhandle, but the first women who entered the Canyon after Mrs. Goodnight were Comanche with Quanah Parker’s band.

Charles Goodnight Cowman and Plainsman by J. Evetts Haley

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Drifting with a storm

In connection with his holding the stock on the home range, the puncher frequently found his work including trailing the stock following a storm. The cattle drifted ahead of the storm and had to be brought back to the home range when the weather cleared. After the fences were built, the stock drifted to the fences and then stood there until they froze or were trampled to death. On some such occasions the punchers would cut the fences and let the cattle drift with the storm, sometimes trailing with them in order to hold together as many as possible. Cattle that drifted too far from the home range were recovered by the outside man during the spring roundups or during the general roundup after that practice became established.

From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ranch wages

Wages on the ranch were standardized; $25 was the going wage, and a man’s wages were raised as he proved worthy. Top wages were $45. Mail service was a free, cooperative courtesy. The JA mail came from Wichita Falls to old Mobeetie; then a horse backer brought it to the nearest ranch, and it was carried to the next ranch, and so on. Mail was received about once a moth.
From Fred Scott transcripts

Monday, July 9, 2007

Roping buffalo and breaking horses

Many leisure moments was spent, pencil in hand, pondering over a tablet, wondering what to write the girl back home. Other leisure time was spent in breaking broncos, and the ranch paid us five dollars a head for all we broke.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Scott laughingly added that he roped the first buffalo he ever saw, being young and not guessing what would happen once he had it roped. The Goodnight buffalo herd was started about 1882. Mrs. Goodnight offered $75 for each live buffalo brought in. Scott states that he was thinking of that when he roped the buffalo. The buffalo ran the length of the rope and the abrupt jerk broke off the top of its head and the last Mr. Scott saw of it, it was headed in the direction of Plainview.
From Fred Scott transcripts

Monday, July 2, 2007

Prairie dogs at play

I remember once watching a bunch of young prairie dogs play. The little dogs were about the size of half-grown cats. I got off my horse, and started crawling toward them, flattened out against the ground as best I could. When they would notice me, I would lie perfectly still. I proceeded in this way until I got within reach of their hole, knowing the next move I made would cause them to run into it. I slammed my hat in the hole, and they darted in, as I had expected, and I came up with a hat full of baby dogs.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, June 25, 2007

Dances and Church

Dances were the greatest pleasure. People came for 25 miles to dances often staying all night. The cowboys were always welcome in a nester’s home, and this meant much to a lonely puncher. Churches and Sunday schools were organized as the settlements began. It was a pleasing diversion for some of the campers to attend the services.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Sunbonnet Incident

My friend Jeff would ride out occasionally and visit with the nesters. On one of these rides, he had met a young lady who had impressed him somewhat, and he wanted me to meet her. I consented, and we rode over. The house was a two room box affair with nothing between it and the horizon but a barbed-wire fence. By the time we got our horses tied, a bunch of youngens came flocking out of the door, and climbed all over Jeff. He struggled out at the door and with one hand hanging to each boot strap. There were several women in the house, some of them neighbors from eighty miles away. The girl we had come to call on had climbed onto the loft by way of a ladder to whiten her face. I was very bashful, and not much of a hand with the ladies, so I sat quietly by and let Jeff do the talking. The girl fuluetted in, and everything went nice enough, until a youngster slipped up behind me and swung an old fashioned sunbonnet over my face. Holding on to the string with all of his might and main, he fastened it tightly. I had to fight to extricate myself. This naturally put an end to our call. Jeff stamped out, frothing at the mouth and never called on the young lady again, nor does he like to be reminded of the incident.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, June 11, 2007

No need to lock the door

Nobody did not bother any property. If you left your house, money, or anything else, you would find everything right there when you came back. I could not explain that. I went to a camp that I had not been to in quite awhile and there was a man in the house. I guess he was a convict. I saw he had not anything much to eat, and I told him the wagon would be there in a little while with something to eat. I went to get something off my horse and when I came back, I could not find him. He must have gotten out in the Canyons. He never bothered a thing. There was a gun sitting by the door and he did not take that.
From Fred Scott transcripts

Monday, June 4, 2007

True Hospitality

There was true hospitality at camps. A puncher riding up always made his presence known. If it was dark, he called out who he was, and the nature of his mission. A knock was so rare, it caused suspicion. Anyone was welcome at mealtime. If the host were away, it was the custom to go in, cook what you found, and leave the place in order.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Codes of the West

Other forms of entertainment included an occasional visit to the home of some nearby nester; these visits were more frequent if the nester’s daughters were of “courting age.” Practical jokes on each other and the occasional visitor to the camp often made the camp life less lonely.

In these jokes the established codes of the west were observed with due respect. The punchers in the camp never knew if the stranger in their midst was a drifting puncher “on the square” or a dangerous criminal with a very itchy trigger finger. Regardless of the identity of the visitor, he was always welcome to share the dugout. If he arrived at the dugout when no rider was there, he helped himself to what food he needed, washed his dishes, slept in the dugout if he wished, and went his way. If the camper was there, no personal questions were asked of the stranger, and he volunteered only such information about himself as he cared to disclose. If the visitor was an acquaintance of the camper or campers, the evening took a more affable aspect with practical jokes, possibly a game of cards, and much exchanging of ideas or experiences.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, May 21, 2007

Cowboys and Love Stories

For entertainment in the line camps, the punchers depended largely on reading material. In the fall the campers would get a complete series of magazines from Kansas City with nothing in them but love stories. At night one of the campers would read the stories aloud while the other camper kept the fire going. Sometimes one of the men would get so mad at the characters in the story that he would go outside the dugout and fire his six-shooter into the air.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, May 14, 2007

Charlie Enjoyed a Good Joke More Than Anyone

I had never cared much for card playing for I had seen so many fellers lose their heads over it, but in the winter camp when a puncher dropped in for a visit, I liked to play. I’ll never forget one night Steve Keaterson came to my camp and was trying to teach me a game. He kept talking about what a bonehead Charlie Taul was when it came to learning card games. During all that time, Charlie was lying just outside the camp. He had put his slicker over the chimney, and was waiting to see the smoke run us out. Charlie enjoyed a good joke more than anyone.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, May 7, 2007

A $3000 Saloon Bill

If a man was found with a deck of cards or if two men were in a card game, Mr. Goodnight just fired them. NO fighting or horse racing was allowed. You see we all carried guns, and it would be dangerous to have two men at outs. It would have been a good place to raise a boy. There was never any whisky or anything. The men would get to feel rather good sometimes when they went to town, but they were never in town more than one day. On one of the trips to Dodge City, Goodnight told the men that he would give them two days off and told the restaurant man—it was sort of a restaurant and saloon together—to let the men have all they wanted and to send the bill to him. Well those 14 or 15 men had a bill of $3000 for the two days.
From Fred Scott transcripts

Monday, April 30, 2007

Sleepin' Under a Tarp

Eleven hundred steers were taken on a thirty day trip; few old cows were taken. Of course, the covered chuck wagon with the groceries and 50 gallons of water was brought along. No one ever slept in the wagon. Every man had a tarp under which he slept. Sometimes he would raise up in the morning from beneath four inches of snow; however, they were never sick because they were in open all the time. One member of the bunch traveled at least a day ahead of the herd and returned at night to camp. On the next morning, he would instruct the cook where would water at lunch time that day. Immediately following breakfast, the chuck wagon was driven ahead to the designated place, and dinner was awaiting the men with the herd when they arrived.
From Fred Scott transcripts

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Small Dugout and a Big Corral

You made your own tools then, if you were like us and hadn’t brought any machinery with you. Louis got timber from the Canyon and made a planter and put a pipe on it and I went along behind him and dropped the grain in the row. Two or three years after arrival, Louis traded a span of mules for some mixed cattle, and about a year or so later he traded the cattle’s increase for the digging of a well at the dugout. Up until then, they had hauled water 3 miles and had hauled wood for fuel from the canyon. Our dugout was about half way between the JJ and the JA Ranches, and the boys could not make the whole distance in a day driving anything, so they used our corral and stopped over a lot of the time. My brother had made a good corral from pickets. We took cattle during the winter months to feed for Goodnight, the Dyers and others, so we had to have a good, big corral.
Marie Barbier Hess Interview Nov 22, 1956

Monday, April 16, 2007

Daily rides

On daily rides, the puncher watched the bog holes to see that no cattle mired down. The fences in his locality had to be kept up, and all long-eared calves were to be marked and branded. A running iron and hobble ropes were carried on the saddle. When a long eared calf was found, he was hobbled, a fire was built, the iron heated, and the branding was done.
(long-eared calf=an unmarked calf
Running iron=a short iron with which any brand could be formed)
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Boxes to sit on were a luxury

The cooking was done over a fire place, in the rear of the dugout—the fireplace facing one as he descended the steps. The crude bed was made of hackberry logs built against the wall. The mattress was made of feed sacks sewn together, and then stuffed with hay. It was a mighty good bed after sleeping for weeks on the ground. Every cowboy furnished his own bedding. A puncher’s clothes were kept in an oil cloth bag, known as a war bag. It had a side opening; the clothes laid in it flat and the whole thing was used for a pillow. There was little furniture in a camp other than the bed. A box on the wall served as a cabinet. Boxes to sit on were a luxury—a fellow sat cross-legged on the floor when he ate, holding his plate on his knees.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, April 2, 2007

Cookie's menu

Meals in a camp consisted of sour dough bread, beans, steak, rice potatoes, onions, dried fruit, oatmeal, coffee, and a lick. Lick was homemade syrup flavored with vanilla or an orange and was a favorite dish with all the punchers. The sour dough bread was cooked in a Dutch oven, which was placed in a bed of live coals. The lid had to be heated too, so that the bread would cook and brown evenly. A whole oven full had to be cooked at a baking or the bread would not rise. Groceries were furnished to the boys from the commissary at headquarters. It is interesting to remember that oatmeal came in large barrels. I always cooked an oven full of biscuits and ate as long as they lasted, then cooked a new batch. Often I fed them to my saddle ponies. I would take a biscuit and catch nearly any horse I rode. If I didn’t have a biscuit, I would fool them with a white rock.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, March 26, 2007

Wash and Wear Laundry

The punchers took great pride in their cooking and housekeeping; in fact, they got to be plum cranky about it. Their washing was done in camp—there was no other way out of it. When in reach of JA headquarters, there was usually a woman or two that did it. Many a time I rode out into a lake or creek, and washed out my shirt and handkerchiefs. If the weather was warm, I would put my shirt back on and wear it, letting it dry on my back.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, March 19, 2007

An Association with Nature

My camp, being located in the Palo Duro, afforded me the privilege of close association with nature. I loved to ride to a steep ledge and view the canyon at sunrise and to smell the dewy cedar and listen to the mockingbirds. I learned to know the trees, shrubs, and flowers in their season and the signs and legends belonging to each. I have fed wild turkeys and quail the bread and beans from my table. I delighted in a plunge at the big spring, formerly a watering place of the Indians. The hoot of the owl, and howl of the coyote, were music to my ears through the long night. My comrade was my horse. A feller could spend lots of time pettin’ and currying a horse. We would soon have a feeling of confidence between us—a feller often had a horse smart enough to learn tricks.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Friday, March 9, 2007

Beans and Boots Don't Mix

One winter I had bought a pair of hand me down boots, trying to be economical. They fit too close to be comfortable, so I devised a plan to stretch them. I filled them with beans and water, thinking that the beans would swell, and in doing so, enlarge the boots. The plan worked, but too well—the next morning the tops were stretched off the soles. I felt no better over my attempt at economy.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, March 5, 2007

A Cowboy and His Cat

When I went into winter camp I always took plenty of tobacco and usually a cat. I always liked a cat around camp—a cat and a briar pipe were lots of company when a feller spent months shut off from the world. Of course, a puncher would drop in for a meal or a visit once in a while, or maybe, I would meet a puncher now and then while riding. But I have gone for weeks at a time without seeing a soul.”
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, February 26, 2007

Boiling Beans

A camp was simply a half dugout, made in the side of the bank, located usually near a spring or running water. There were a few camps located “on top” where water had to be hauled for camp use, as there were few windmills. Water was sometimes hauled to the canyon camps, when water there would be too “gippy” to use. Soap will not lather in gyp water, and the beans could be boiled in it all day long and still rattle in the pot. We learned, though, that by adding baking soda to it when the water reached the boiling point, and then skimming off the top, it was fit to use. You had to have a large vessel though, or it would boil all over everything.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Monday, February 19, 2007

Solitude on the Open Range

Line camps on the open range were lonely places in the early eighties, for there were no nesters and very few towns in the panhandle region of Texas. Supplies for the ranches were freighted in by ox-team from such distant places as Colorado City, Texas, or Dodge City, Kansas. Men in the line camps often went for weeks or months without seeing any one, except for a rare visit from a drifting puncher who stopped by for a meal or a visit or an accidental meeting with another rider working out from his line camp. In the old days news was often months old before it reached the line camp.
From The Camp Life of a Cowpuncher by Carroll Doshier as told by Jim Christian

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Charles Goodnight's front yard

Colonel Goodnight told of his having gone to Dodge City to meet a friend of Mrs. Adair who was coming to the JA ranch for a visit from England. On the way they passed through a gate and Mr. Goodnight remarked that it was the gate to his front yard. After driving twenty-five miles further the Englishman asked, “Well, for God’s sake, how large is your front yard?”
Excerpt from a Laura Hamner transcript

This blog officially opens Feb 17 and will continue through August 19 congruent with the exhibit JA: The Paloduro Ranch. We hope you enjoy these stories from the PPHM archives.