John Clay, Jr.

Overview

In the western cattle industry, John Clay's name looms large. The young scotsman entered the field in the late 1870s, and he was soon employed by Scottish investors, purchasing and overseeing land and cattle. From Texas to Kansas to Wyoming to California, Clay's story covers the full breadth of ranching in the West. Clay's story includes tales of trail drives, rustlers, the Johnson County Invasion, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, the Swan Land and Cattle Company, Tom ...

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Spokane 2001 Hardcover First Edition New Book 285 pages, frontis, illustrations, in original shrink wrap Johnson County War, Tom Horn, Swan Land and Cattle Company, trail ... drives, rustlers, Wyoming, etc., Western Frontiersmen Series XXIX. Read more Show Less

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Overview

In the western cattle industry, John Clay's name looms large. The young scotsman entered the field in the late 1870s, and he was soon employed by Scottish investors, purchasing and overseeing land and cattle. From Texas to Kansas to Wyoming to California, Clay's story covers the full breadth of ranching in the West. Clay's story includes tales of trail drives, rustlers, the Johnson County Invasion, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, the Swan Land and Cattle Company, Tom Horn, and much, much more.

Called by some the dean of American stockmen, John Clay also ran perhaps the largest livestock commission firm in the country, and controlled a network of nearly two dozen banks that were directed by a private lending operation that we can only call large because there are no surviving records to give us a more precise measure. Through such diversity, Clay escaped the tribulations of other professionals in the same fields by controlling his assets in a way that was probably unique.

But there was also the John Clay who followed the hounds in his native Scotland, astride the great horse Chicago, until his eyesight and growing weight forced him to retire from the hunt, and there was John Clay, publisher and author, whose work is nowhere fully catalogued, and a partial list fills several pages.

Finally, there is the John Clay who led the cattlemen's confrontation with the "rustler" faction of frontier Wyoming at the time of the infamous Johnson County Invasion. Clay's blanket denials of involvement in that dispute have always been greeted with skepticism by historians, but the paucity of documentation has prevented more than a general review of the issue. Here, Clay's extensive presence in the West is placed in the context of that conflict.

Most of what is known about John Clay and his family comes from his own prolific pen, and much of this biography comes from that source, but also added are some of the details which Clay did not give, and place his work in the context of an exciting period in the history of the American West.

Cattle Ranche and Wyoming Cattle Ranche companies, Western Ranches, Limited, and the Swan Land and Cattle Company are just a few of the outfits which he managed. In 1890 was elected sixth president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, serving for six years during the tumultuous era which included the invasion of Johnson County. Jim Averell and Ella Watson (Cattle Kate) were lynched by men in the employ of Clay and his associates. Clay also had close contact with Tom Horn, and is suspected by some of having been his employer.

Fully annotated and with an analytical index, the work includes a partial bibliography of the writings of John Clay, with a thorough bibliography of other sources on the man and the period. Seven illustrations enhance the work.

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Editorial Reviews

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Scottish-born Clay (1851-1934) was called the dean of American stockmen during his lifetime, but also ran perhaps the largest livestock commission firm in the country, controlled a network of nearly two dozen banks, was a prolific publisher and author, and protected his enterprises from financial risk by moving assets between segments of his operations. In addition to all this, Woods, who is not identified, also considers his rumored role in the Johnson Country invasion, pitting cattlemen against what they called the rustler faction of Wyoming. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870623042
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 7/2/2001
  • Series: Western Frontiersmen Series
  • Pages: 283
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence M. Woods, an attorney and certified public accountant, resides in Worland, Wyoming. He is the author of several books, including British Gentlemen in the Wild West and Alex Swan and the Swan Companies.

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Table of Contents

Preface 9
Section I John Clay, The Man
I. The Men Named John Clay 13
II. Scottish Farmers 23
Section II Range Manager
III. A Scottish Lad In the New World 35
IV. Working for Scottish Investors 51
V. Indian and Boomers 59
VI. Ranching on the Sweetwater 73
VII. In the Black Hills 87
Section III Punishing Rustlers
VIII. Clay and the Rustlers 97
IX. In Charge of the War 111
X. Damage Control 125
XI. A Law Unto Themselves 133
Section IV The Swan Company
XII. Managing the Swan--the Cattle Years 145
XIII. Managing the Swan--the Sheep Years 159
XIV. President of the Swan 177
Section V The Clay Financial Empire
XV. Commission House and Money Lending 193
XVI. The Early Clay Banks 201
XVII. Bank Charter Frenzy and Aftermath 211
Section VI Other Interests
XVIII. A Shareholder and Other Tasks 225
XIX. Publishing and Other Clay Enterprises 235
Section VII Summing Up
XX. The Clay Management Style 243
XXI. Days of Ease and Decline 253
Epilogue 267
A Selected Bibliography 271
Index 275
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