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114 WE TRAILED THEM THROUGH THE MARSHES BY SOLOMON ALEXANDER WRIGHT Solomon Alexander Wright was born in Newton County, Texas, in 1864 and died in California in 1937. The year he died he sent a longhand-written autobiography entitled My RAMBLES to J. Frank Dobie. Dobie looked it over, pronounced it "fresh and genuine" and unique in its description of life in early Southeast Texas, and published it in 1942 under the auspices of the Texas Folklore SOciety. Solomon hunted and logged and herded and loafed all through Southeast Texas, and his ;ournal is as casual as his life was during those last decades of the nineteenth century. Like most old-timers whose lives happen to be the East Texas big woods and the hunt, Solomon's tale is about deer, bear, and turkey hunts; water moccasins , alligators, and wild hogs; and about moving alone, slow and contented, a part of the tall timber that was so much a part of his life. The following selection is from a chapter of My RAMBLES entitled "Cow Work." During those years when the West Texas ranchers were·moving their herds up the prairie trails to Kansas depots, East Texas cattlemen were sifting their wild-eyed brush stock through the cypress brakes and pin-oak flats that edged the Big Thicket. They headed for the seaports of Orange, Beaumont, 44. A brush cow coming out of the yaupon. and Houston, and their drives were filled with as much excitement -and boredom-as those that went up the Chisholm Trail. These drives were a part of Solomon Alexander Wright's rambles during the early J880's.-F.E.A. After nearly all of the cattle were trailed out of 1'""Middle and West Texas to Wyoming and Montana , there was a mad scramble to get cattle to restock the range. As a result, stock cattle went sky high. This was in the early 'eighties . Up to that time stock cattle had been selling in East Texas for five and six dollars a head, calves thrown in. Now prices soared to fifteen dollars a head, counting calves. By "stock cattle" is meant she cattle, calves to old cows, and bulls of any age. A Mr. Childs came from the Panhandle country down home to buy cattle, and Father sold him 150 head of scattering cattle. That is, cattle that ranged off in other people's ranges. Nearly 115 45. High water in the Big Thicket (Courtesy Clyde Gray's Heritage Garden, Woodville). WE TRAILED THEM THROUGH THE MARSHES every farmer in East Texas had from half a dozen to a hundred head of cattle. Father's cattle were all Mr. Childs could buy in the lower ends of Newton and Jasper counties; so he went up country and bought about 700 head from the farmers. When he drove down to our place on his way to Orange to ship them, I got a job helping to trail them. There is a noted swamp country in Southeast Texas called the Big Thicket. It extends west across the lower ends of Newton and Jasper counties and down into Orange County, and crosses Hardin , Liberty, Polk, Tyler, and Montgomery counties. Before it was cut off and drained, the Big Thicket was maybe fifty miles wide in places and a hundred miles long. It is low, wet, and very thick and brushy. A chain of marshes cuts it in two south of our place. The road from up country to Orange ran east of the marshes, through the Big Thicket. Trailing nearly a thousand head of cattle down this road without losing some of them was not likely. We trailed them through the marshes. It was about ten miles through, with water six or eight inches deep. Both cattle and horses would bog about half-way to their knees every step. Here and there in the marshes are thickets of short-leaf pine s.aplings growing on little rises of ground. The water was not over these island plots, but the ground was full of water and was boggy enough to bog a buzzard's shadow. The first day we drove about fifteen miles to Oliver Clark's place. Clark lived on one of those pine-sapling islands-one just high enough to afford a little drainage. His was the only habitation in the marshes that I know of. A few people lived in the Big Thicket. The only place Clark had for penning the cattle was a three...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781574414981
Related ISBN
9781574411423
MARC Record
OCLC
828870152
Pages
256
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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