Twenty-Four Years A Cowboy And Ranchman In Southern Texas And Old Mexico

Twenty-Four Years A Cowboy And Ranchman In Southern Texas And Old Mexico

by Will Hale


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Hale tells the story of his years as a cattle rancher and cowboy in unadorned, often humorously authentic language. Battles with Comanches and Mexicans, cattle raids, love affairs, and murders spice up the pages of this narrative of 19th century life in Texas and Mexico.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781589761001
Publisher: Narrative Press, The
Publication date: 07/01/2001
Pages: 268
Product dimensions: 0.61(w) x 5.50(h) x 8.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Will Hale tells us about his life on the Texas and New Mexico ranges in straightforward language, rich with range patois, in this narrative covering a piece of American history from the Mexican War (1835-36) to the 1880's (Yes, we realize that's more than twenty-four years). Hale's adventure starts when he shoots a fellow young boy in a schoolyard tussle and has to skip town, and he navigates the rest of his life with the same disregard for the law and lack of morality. Get a glimpse into the mind of a real outlaw cowboy as you follow him through Indian fights, cattle raids, murders, love affairs, practical jokes and wars. He treats each of these events with equal breeziness.

We get a good taste of Hale's nonchalance early in the book, when he is describing an attempted horse robbery:

"The next day the boys rode out and looked after the cattle and shot four or five Indians. That same night a couple of the boys were watching the horses and one noticed something coming along like a hog. When it got close it began to grunt like a hog. Harden knew there was no hog any closer than Fort Brown, and was not certain what could happen. So he thought he would shoot him for luck. He took out his revolver and shot two or three times, and one or more of the boys came out to see what was the matter. He told them he had only shot a hog. On looking at it they found it to be an Indian who was making for the horses in order to scare and eventually steal them."

Hale attempts to give little summaries of current events, but devotes much of his narrative to his numerous courtships and the practical jokes he and his best friend were constantly playing. For example, to get back at a particularly onerous teacher the two boys put a snake in his desk one morning:

"As soon as the teacher opened the drawer for his pencils the snake saw the hole in his sleeve and I suppose the snake thought it was a hole in a hollow log or a tree, by the way it acted, so the snake went up his sleeve. The teacher saw it and yelled and was so badly scared...he jumped so high that he made two or three running motions in the air, before he touched the floor."

Although Hale becomes involved in much more serious business as the book progresses, such as transporting large herds of cattle across the hostile range, he never seems to outgrow this childish mindset.

"We were soon to need some money, and did not want to sell any cattle to get it either, so Jim Smith proposed to go where they carried gold from Chihuahua...and capture a mule train load of it...The Mexicans seemed to think everything was all right. They had stacked their firearms. They had four men guarding them. All at once Smith gave a whistle and shot them dead. It took us no time to pack the mules for we had them to do it by saying we would kill them."

Some of the action may be exaggerated, and in his effort to impress the reader Hale involves himself in some famous escapades, like the pursuit of Billy the Kid. But Hale's voice is so authentic that it's hard to doubt him.

Until recently, only a few copies of the book existed. Hale himself may have published the book originally, and later destroyed most of the copies in order to protect himself and others who might be incriminated by it. Don't miss this one - it even made bibliophile Louis P. Merril's List of 100 Scarce and Rare Books About Cows!

Table of Contents

1My Start1
2Battle of Resaca de Palma4
3Battle in the Narrow Mountain Pass of Buena Vista7
4Capture Some Negro Soldiers and One of the Boys Shoots an Indian, Who Was Acting like a Hog, So He Could Scare the Horses off, Then Steal Them12
5School Commences Again--The Same Old Teacher--The Principal Again. Me and Jim Says We Will Deal Him Misery24
6Fight with the Mexican and Indian Horse Thieves30
7School Commences in October Again with a New Teacher Whose Name Was Moore33
8A Trip to Galveston and Then to the Ranch. My Trip Was Very Disagreeable and Wearisome37
9Another Trip to Galveston and Then to the Ranch45
10First Year a Cowboy. A Big Fight with the Kickapoo Indians53
11Father and I Spend the Winter at Corpus Christi. I Fall in Love with a Mexican Girl58
12The War of Secession and the First Battle at Bull Run--We Are Badly Defeated in This Battle63
13Campaign in 186266
14The Last Days of the Confederacy--Campaign of 1864 and 1865 Ends the War71
15After the War Went Back to the Lone Star State and Followed the Wild Life of a Cowboy74
16I Make Another Trip to Fort Brown. Shooting Scrape with Two Mexicans and a Negro82
17I Take a Partner in the Cattle Trade, and Father's Opinion. He Says a Woman Should Be the One88
18Another Cattle Raid and One of Mr. Pink's Detectives Comes to See Us95
19We Relieve the Mexicans of Their Gold and Silver and Then Take a Trip to Galveston100
20Killing of Captain Gondales, Major Decelli Vercipuci, and Whan Deoli106
21We Make Another Trip to Matamoros. Jim Smith Saves a Girl's Life111
22The Smith Boys and Scott Arrive at the de Soyos. Jim Smith Goes to the Horse Races and the Bull Fights118
23San Tigo Comes in and Jim Gets a Good Look at Him126
24The Fight Close to the Canyon. Palametho and Many a Mexican Chews the Dust134
25Jim Smith Cuts a Mexican Sentry's Throat and Relieves Them of Their Captives147
26The Last Days of the Smith Gang. We Never See Tom Scott Again. We All Were Glad to Leave156
27These Are Our Last Days in Southern Texas and Old Mexico. We Sell Our Property and Go to Missouri168
28A Trip to Galveston. Me and Tom and the Smith Boys Go to Missouri. Jack Lewis Kills Two Negroes and Then Goes to Western Texas171
29Tom Rily Marries and Then I Am Alone175
30In the Wild West Again. Trip to Southwestern Texas or Southeastern New Mexico with Bob Dixon179
31War in Lincoln County, New Mexico, Known as the Lincoln County War189
32The Kid Returns from the Texas Panhandle and Kills a Man at Fort Sumner, and Shoots One of His Own Men Through the Shoulder193
33The Kid Kills Jim Caralyle and Makes His Escape to Antonchico and Steals Some Horses196
34The Capture of Billy the Kid and His Men at Stinking Springs201
35A Trip Back to the Ranch, and Then Go to the Black Hills in Dakota with a Steer Herd204
36The Negro Cook Shoots the Mexican Horse Rustler. The Mexican Thought He Would Use His Spade Again, but Was Mistaken208
37The Colorado Boy Ropes a Bear. His Horse Bucks Him Off, and the Saddle Comes Off and Is Left with the Bear, Who Chews Some of the Rigging Off212
38I Employ a Young Negro, Who Drives the Horses in the Day Time and the Colorado Lad Herds Them at Night. The Negro Horse Rustler Gets Drunk at Pueblo, Colorado, and Tries to Whip the Negro Cook, Who Whips Him Mighty Near to Death with a Mule Whip|p216
39A Letter from My Girl. I Want to Leave the Wild West221
40We Cross into Dakota, Close to Where the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Leaves Dakota and Goes into Wyoming. We Arrive at the Lynch Ranch. Me and Lynch and Also Mills Go Hunting in the Black Hills225
41On Our Way to the Pecos Valley of New Mexico, Never to See the Northern Country Again. Mills Whips a Gambler at Cheyenne, Wyoming229
42Billy the Kid Makes His Escape after Killing His Two Guards. Then Goes to Fort Sumner and Is Killed During the Summer by Pat Garret, Sheriff of Lincoln County232
43The Last Days in the Pecos Valley of New Mexico. I Go to Pecos City and Take the Train for New York City236
44We Are All Together Again, and Father Is Happy I Am at Home240
45I Get Married and We Dispose of the Property, and Make Preparations to Go to England244
46The Trip to England Given Up. I Talk Father in the Notion Not to Go248
47The Cowboys Have a Fight with Some Mexican Wild Horse Hunters252
48A Trip to Las Vegas, New Mexico, with Father and Mother, Who Are on a Trip to Denver, Colorado254

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