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33 Records from the early 1870s illustrate the growing animosity over cattle once the trade became profitable. Mason County’s problems began during Reconstruction. The successful removal of Franz Kettner as Hide and Cattle Inspector for Mason County during 1872 was an early attempt to dominate the cattle trade by Ben Gooch, a rancher with widespread cattle interests. In this, Mason County was not unique in either the state or the region. As early as 1871, Llano County stockmen petitioned the government for prohibitions on mavericking , noting in part that “We would further represent that there are many persons Killing Calves in the woods and Marking & Branding calves & yearlings who are known to own no Cattle of any description whatever.”1 In San Saba County, county officers asked Richard Coke “for an organization of some kind of armed force” for protection against “hostile Indians & other marauding parties” who were “continually depredating” on the property and lives of the citizens.2 The marauding parties referred to by San Saba officials included both maverickers and nonresident stockmen. The practice of mavericking , entirely legal at the time, posed a threat to established cattlemen , most if not all of whom had gotten their start in the same way. These men generally were looking to start their own ranches, and the increased competition for unbranded cattle and the money they meant. In many cases the maverickers actually worked for nonresident stockmen. Among these, all linked to the Hoo Doo War, were Daniel Hoerster, Karl Lehmberg, and A. G. Roberts. chapter 3 “Stock War!” 34 Chapter 3 Roberts was particularly assertive, purchasing small herds in various counties. In Llano County he came under the scrutiny of the mob. Miles Barler, an admitted mob member, reported: There was a man by the NAME OF ROBERTS, who came in here and bought up a few little stocks of cattle just to get a claim on the range. He then hired about fifty outlaws and regular desperadoes, and they gathered nearly everything on the range and drove them off to Austin and San Antonio and sold them for what they could get and would divide up the proceeds among themselves and then come right back and get another herd. The people would indict them but they would swear for each other and get out of it every time.3 Barler’s memoirs are important and provide details about the feud that cannot be found elsewhere. As with those of any feud participant , they reflect a partisan view and must be used with caution. Barler provably falsified, either by omission or commission, some events of the feud and created others out of whole cloth. When he wrote his recollections during the late 1890s he was under the belief that all of the court records pertaining to the feud had been lost. He was mistaken. Records for both Llano and Mason Counties during this time are fragmented, and a clear picture is difficult to determine. The surviving District Court records for Llano County have numerous charges of cattle theft entered on the docket. In many cases, A. G. Roberts served as surety for the defendant, an indication that the men may have worked for him. One such case was Peter Rainbolt, indicted August 23, 1873, for illegally branding and marking a yearling.4 Other names linked to the feud were also charged with cattle theft. Among these were Sugar M. Cain,5 Heinrich Hoerster, Karl Lehmberg, Joe and John Olney, William Murchison, Ike Pryor, Thomas S. and William Z. Redding, and James Williams among others.6 While the details of the cases are generally lacking, in some instances the circumstances can be determined with clarity. Mason County cattleman Heinrich Hoerster was indicted in Llano County on August 22, 1872, for purchasing and driving cattle to mar- 35 “Stock War!” ket without road branding them. The case dragged on into 1873 and was eventually appealed. The court records here are somewhat unclear , but it appears that the Hoerster may have been indicted with others in the German community. “The state by her attorney excepts to the court. Defendant required to enter into recognizance on appeal , and defend. Henry Hoerster & F. Ostrich [sic] and F. A. Grote and Otto Lang in the sum of $500.” Hoerster’s appeal was disallowed on September 11, 1873.7 As late as 1875 the case was being continued . The existing documentation remains uncertain if Friedrich Oestreich, Fritz Grote and Otto Lang were codefendants...


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