James Mathias "Jim" Fox

IV.D.b. JAMES MATHIAS "Jim" FOX s/o Branson and Nancy

IV. Mark Fox
D. Branson Fox

B: 30 Jul 1853 Sevier Co., Tennessee
M: Laura L. Magee
D: 2 Oct 1946 Nueces County, Texas

James Mathias Fox was the oldest son of Branson and Nancy (Walker) Fox. In 1872, shortly after his l9th birthday, Jim and his cousin, Sam Keeler, and three other Sevier County boys left Tennessee to find their fortune in Texas. They traveled by train from Knoxville to New Orleans, caught a steamer to Galveston,then traveled overland to Liberty Hill, a small community in Williamson County, about 40 miles north of Austin. There, they joined another cousin from Sevier County, Simon Fox. Simon was employed as a stone-mason and Jim worked with him for about three months before moving to Lampasas where he found work putting up split-rail fence. Shortly after, Jim, Simon and Sam signed on to help take a herd of 1onghorns to Wyoming. The cattle drive took them 1700 miles--north to the Red River, where they picked up the Chisholm trail, thru Indian Territory, Kansas, Colorado and on to Wyoming.

By 1878, Jim had married Laura Lavernia Magee, daughter of Patrick Magee and Jane Caroline Gill. In 1880, Jim and Laura and their infant son, James Branson were living in San Saba County. Neighbors were Laura's parents and brothers. In l882, Jim, Laura and their two sons moved to Caldwell County, Texas where several of the Magee families were living. Laura died 9 Mar 1924. Jim retired from farming about 1926 and moved to Nueces County to Live with some of his children. Jim was about 6'6" and remained slender and straight until his death in 1946 at the age of 93. Jim and Laura are buried in the Clark's Chapel Cemetery, which is Located about 5-6 miles west of Lockhart in Caldwell County.

The children of Jim and Laura were:

+ James Branson B:1879 Nov 02
+ John Abner B:1881 May 28
+ Oscar Ney B:1883 Jul 08
+ Patrick Otis B:1885 Jun 25
+ Edward Earnest B:1887 Aug 01
+ Ida May B:1889 May 01
+ Earl Walker B:1892 Jun 23
+ Lula Jane B:1894 Feb 17
+ Joseph Eugene B:1901 May 11

Dick D. Fox

Lockhart, Texas 78644
United States

FOX Links
Dick D. Fox's Home Page
More Fox Genealogy
Branson Fox
Jim's Father
Mark Fox
Jim's Grandfather
Adam Fox
Jim's Great Grandfather
John Fox
Jim's Son John
Earl Fox
Jim's Son Earl



By J. Henry Martindale

A few weeks ago when J.M. Fox came up from Robstown to attend a reunion of his family which was held at the Lockhart State Park in observance of his 93rd birthday, he came by my office, for a chat, and among other things requested that I write his obituary, when he had headed for the last "round up�, using the cow boy term he had learned when he rode up the old Chisholm Trail in the long, long ago.

Jim Fox, I believe he would like for me to call him that, was a good man, a Christian gentleman and a member of the Methodist Church from early youth. He was the kind of man our Master had in mind when he referred to his followers as "the salt of the earth."

He was one of those hardy pioneers that helped make Texas the great State that it is today. He knew many interesting stories of the pioneer days in Texas and took pleasure in relating them to the younger generation, whom he didn't think were any worse than the youngsters of seventy years ago.

Mr. Fox died suddenly early Wednesday morning, October 2, 1946, at the home of his son, Eugene, near Robstown, with whom he had lived the past several years. Funeral services were held Wednesday in Robstown so the many friends and relatives in that section might attend, and again Thursday afternoon from the McCurdy Funeral Home in Lockhart with Rev. M. P. Burton, pastor of the First Methodist Church and Rev. Gaston Hartsfield, life-long friend of the deceased, officiating. Interment was in the Clarks Chapel Cemetery.

Pallbearers were eight nephews (grandsons), Lonnie Fox, Collis Mayo, Clyde Mayo, Bryan Fox, Walker Fox, James Ellison, Preston Fox and Roy Traweek. James Mathias Fox, son of Branson and Nancy Walker Fox was born in Seveire County, Tennessee on July 30, 1853, and was 93 years l2 months and 2 days old at the time of his death. He came to San Saba County in 1871 and to Caldwell County in 1874, where he lived for 50 years. He was united in marriage with Laura Lavernia Magee on January 29, 1879. who preceded him in death on March 9, 1924. Oscar Fox. who grew to manhood, and two daughters, who died in infancy also preceded him in death. Survivors include six sons. J.B. (James Branson) Fox, J. A. (John Abner) Fox, and E. E. (Edward Earnest) Fox of Lockhart, Earle Fox of Luling, P.O. (Patrick Otis) Fox of Robstown and Eugene Fox of Robstown, two daughters, Mrs. Ida Mayo of Robstown and Mrs. Lula Ellison of Kingsville; one brother C. B. Fox of New Castle, Okla., and 39 grandchildren and 55 great grandchildren.


Funeral services for J. M. Fox, 93, retired farmer and trail driver will be held at 4 p.m. today at the McCurdy Funeral Home. Mr. Fox, a pioneer Caldwell County resident, died Tuesday night at the home of his son, Eugene Fox, near Robstown. He had recently observed his 93rd birthday.

He was once a Chisholm Trail driver. Survivors include six sons, J. B. Fox, J. A. Fox, and E. E. Fox, all of Lockhart; Earl Fox of Luling, P.O. Fox of Corpus Christi, and Eugene Fox of Robstown; and two Daughters, Mrs Ida Mayo of Robstown and Mrs. Lula Ellison of Kingsville.

The funeral services will be conducted by the Rev. Gaston Hartsfield, for years friend of the family.

A Letter From Jim Fox's Niece in Tennessee

May 18, 1994
Dear Cousin Dick

Your letter and family information was gladly received. It is a joy to me to find a new cousin. I was glad to hear of Uncle Jim�s later days. I was 14 years old when he came to visit us in 1924. All relatives were just carried away with him. His pictures were just as I remembered him - the big Texas hat and all. My niece still has a good family picture of your family, fine looking. Two daughters, Ida and Lula, and many handsome sons. I remember Pat, Branson and Eugene. How thrilled all were with his Old West stories. Especially the one he was almost hanged for another guy�s wrong doing because he was tall and his name. Jim the other guy had stolen a horse or shot someone.

June, 7, I will be 84 years old. I�m the only living of my parents big family. I write poorly from a stroke I had five years ago. My son and wife live by me, and are so good to me. She said tell you she is getting the records of my parents grandchildren. There are 16 of them, they are scattered from Virginia, Washington, Arizona, Texas, and Washington state. Each year they come back for reunion at my home place.. There are 6 of them living in the county.

Branson Fox and Nancy Walker are in Fairgarden Cemetery just 2 miles from me. Your records are good as I know them. Uncle Jim was the instigator of my daddy writing the Fox history you spoke of, which someone put in Sevierville library. While daddy lived we always took flowers to grandfather�s grave on Memorial day. He died suddenly when my daddy was very young -- 7 or 8 years old. He seemed to have acute appendicitis. Grandmother was left with an unborn child. The older sons Jim, Tom, John and Charlie went west and left my daddy to take care of grandmother and the little ones. They were Hester, Evelyn and Walter. Evelyn married Thomas and went to Oklahoma. Hester died young and is buried in Fox Cemetery.

There are only 3 Fox men living in Fox Community, the original settlement where they came in late 1700. The Indians killed Mark. His grave is the oldest known grave in this county. We are all descendents of Adam Fox the other brother of Mark who journeyed here from Pennsylvania. Grandmother and her children were very poor, but my father never complained, and he loved his older brothers, when they came back to visit us., tho� they had left him to care for her and the children. Uncle Charlie came from Oklahoma to visit. I can just remember him about 1918. His wife was Indian, he managed Indian affairs. They had two children. I never saw uncle John. Uncle Tom was a detective. My mother said he came back one time to see them. My mother was from a wealthy family on the river in Jefferson County. With her money and their hard work, she and daddy progressed, he was considered a master farmer. She was a wonderful Christian lady who gave much to the poor.

Yes, I know Richard Risingser, he has visited us in the last few months. He is my daughter-in-law�s cousin. He is of the Wayland family who married into the Foxes years ago and I suspect you may be as much a historian as he is. I have also had long conversations with him on the phone.

A few years ago I saw on TV a handsome young man, Todd Fox from Marble Falls, Texas who was a rodeo rider. I seriously thought of writing him to see if he was from Uncle Jim Fox�s �tribe�. But I thought he might not want to be bothered by an old lady.

Well my poor writing has turned to a chronicle. But thank you very much for the interest you have had to send this and the pictures. I would love to hear about your life and family. I have often wished to hear from Dear Uncle Jim�s family. My very best wishes to all of you.

Ruth Fox Elder

PS: I never heard anything about Nancy Walker, she lived so many years before my time.

Adventures of Jim Fox

The Record is privileged to present this week the story of J.M. Fox�s experience on one of the first epic trail drives from Texas into the Far West. A native of Tennessee, �Grandpa� Fox, as he is affectionately known to many here came to Texas in 1872. He settled years ago near Lockhart, but moved to the Petronila community in 1926 to join his son in farming. J.M. Fox, alert and erect, is today almost 87 years old. He divides his time between his home with his son J.E. Fox of Petronila and his daughter, Mrs. Calvin Mayo of Robstown. He has five sons also at Lockhart, a son at Alice and a daughter at Ricardo. Only 18 months ago, the beloved old frontiersman and pioneer rode horseback in the first King Cotton Carnival and he still enjoys a occasional jaunt in the saddle. J.M. FOX WAS ONE OF SIX BOYS WHO TOOK 1800 CATTLE TO WYOMING IN 1873 by Roy L. Swift. From the Robstown Record, March 1941.

No Tennessee store keeper wrote ruefully across the bottom of a J.M. Fox account: �Gone to Texas,� for he was too young in the ways of the world to have to run up any kind of account when he left for the frontier in 1872. But, born at Fair Garden, in Sevier County, Tennessee, on July 30, 1853, young Jamie Fox had run up, sapling-slim, to six foot three already when at nineteen he bade the blue ridges good-bye and boarded an emigrant train. Texas, to him, was not a refuge from bad debts nor from bush-whacking enemies; Texas was the land of promise to a restless boy who saw little in store if he stayed in the war-stricken middle lands between North and South. And already a year in Texas had been his idolized cousin, Simon Fox, nine years older than he, who as a boy just leaving his teens had fought all through the War of the Secession (with the Union). Jamie fox was bound to join him.

The little railway train puffed down the Mississippi Valley from Knoxville to New Orleans, bearing Fox, one Sam Keeler, who was a neighbor boy (and also a cousin), and three other young bucks from Sevier County. They spent no time among the dark, excitable people of New Orleans, but boarded a cost-wise steamer that bore them down thru the muddy Mississippi delta and across the Gulf to Jean LaFitte�s island, lately become the chief port of fabulous Texas.

The boys made their way to the tiny capital of Austin, as Simon had instructed them, and there found that Liberty Hill, where he had settled, was a hamlet in the hills forty miles up the Colorado River. Reunion with the cousin in November, 1872, was happy, but they found the young veteran busy at the prosaic trade of stone-mason. Jamie worked with him for three months of so, until they heard that there were jobs in Lampasas, further up county, where folks were talking about this fantastic new business of moving the range cattle half-way across the nation up some vague �trail� to hungry Middle Western Markets.

At Lampasas, Jamie Fox found that he had a better mouse-trap than anyone else and the folk made a path to his door. That is, he could lay an old-fashioned rail fence as straight as a die, and no one else in the Hill Country seemed to know the trick. Among the interested people who came around to see the first fence he laid, around a bit of pasture lot, was one John Sparks, rancher, frontiersman, and promoter. He took Jamie on at once and set him to work building and building with cedar pickets from the cedar brakes in the hills. And Simon Fox went on building chimneys.

THE FIRST DRIVES: Hard-pressed ranchers, cattle poor, were listening feverishly to the tales told by the lean riders just back from a drive up the �Beef Trail� to Cheyenne. These hill folk had but lately felt the first hard cash their cattle had brought them since before the War, for the first herd had been bought and rounded up and driven north only the year before. The live-oak motts and the river bottoms were still full of the spry longhorn cattle; the ranchers were eager to see another herd go up the Trail.

John Sparks was not slow to capitalize on this pressure. He put his hands including Jamie, Simon Fox and Sam Keeler to work rounding up the cattle from all over the country. When a great herd was congregated near town, Sparks cut out and held all brands whose owners had listed their stock with him for the drive.

TWO YEAR OLDS AT $5.00: Grading and appraising was a simple business in those days: beef cattle four year old and upwards went at $10; cows and 3 year olds were worth $7.00 and yearlings and 2 year olds brought $5.00 a head. Thus they were graded and thus they were sold. An approved invoice of the number and value under each brand was recorded at the county courthouse against the day of settlement.

LOST 9 IN 1700 MILES: John Sparks made a fortune that year as fortunes went in the days of Reconstruction. With fabulous success his crew of raw hands carried 1800 longhorns up 1700 miles of wilderness trail across the Indian country to Cheyenne, Wyoming and lost only 9 head by the wayside; six by drowning in the Red River, one by drowning in the Washita and two by a lightning bolt under Pike�s Peak. They shot all the calves that were born (about 200) for the cows could pick up then and follow the herd, not mourning very long. Of the 200 yearlings Sparks bought, he sold only 60 as such, for in the four months on the trail, most came two year old. They swam three streams, the Red, the Washita and the Great Bend of the Arkansas. Sparks doubled his money and Jamie Fox became a man.

The trail boss, Elon Ezell, and one Lampasas rider who had been up the trail the year before were the only men in the crew who had ever driven a cow farther than the barnyard gate. Besides Sparks, there were eight and he hired three seasoned cowhands to go along for the first few days to get the herd started and the raw boys broke in. Luckily, their first stampede on the second night out came while the trained hands were on guard. Jamie and his cousin Simon had just gone off duty and were sitting beneath the wagon, poking at the campfire when someone yelled �Look out boys! Hyar they come!�

THEY SPLIT A STAMPEDE: Says J.M. Fox today, leaning forward eagerly as he tries to convey to us that far off picture of massed cattle rushing in the dim night. �We heard a roaring like thunder and the ground a shaking and my cousin and I knew that they�d kill us if they run over us. We grabbed up a blanket apiece and each took an end of the wagon, standing there waving and shouting till that big stream of cattle coming right at us split around the camp and rumbled on past. Now, we had made camp under an old dead live oak tree, without bark, about a foot in diameter and no limbs anyways near the ground. The last thing I saw before the herd hit us was Mr. Sparks making a flying leap up the slick trunk of that tree. I took a look again, as the cattle was going by and could see him ten or twelve feet up against the sky. But I reckon the tree was too slick for when the dust cleared away a little and the cattle was gone, there he was, setting on the ground with his arms and his legs around the trunk, looking pretty foolish. Well, sir, those seasoned riders had stuck with the herd and the first open place they come to they began to crowd the leaders, turning them across the others so as to run them all into a mill that stopped em� right there.�

Next day the veterans turned back to Lampasas and the six callow boys with their hard bitten trail boss and John Sparks shaped the big herd on up toward Wyoming alone. The more or less local trail crossed the Brazos at Kimbleville, an easy ford 30 miles above Waco. There they struck the main Trail. Fort Worth was a village of only a few hundred souls, not incorporated when the Sparks herd went through, though it was when Jamie came back through that fall. The Beef Trail struck right through the center of the dusty little town. �About forty miles beyond Fort Worth, we had our second stampede ... and there I had the closest shave of the whole trip.�

JAMIE�S CLOSEST SHAVE: ��Twas night. Come up a rain; everything was still; there was a clap of thunder in the stillness and then all broke and run. It was across open country; we went in the driving rain, with me hugging alongside the cattle to try to keep up ..... and ahead. The cattle all strung out headlong, but our boys up front finally began to turn them into a mill. This milling of the longhorns up ahead was just like a traffic jam and the main body of the herd began to swell out forcing me sideways as I ran. In glimmers of lightning, I could just once in a while catch a glimpse of the world full of running cattle and tossing horns, the driving rain and the prairie. Suddenly in dead darkness, my horse stops so sudden as might near throw me; I spurred him but he wouldn�t move and the cattle began to crowd so close that I had to quirt them off as they tore by as I still tried to get my horse going�. It was a desperate feeling, that horse seeming crazy and the cattle�s heads a-tossing around me, their horns rattling against my saddle. But then there come the big flash of lightning and I stared right down past the horn of my saddle away many feet below me to the top of trees with the flood stream rolling by! That was my closest shave.�

Though his horse was teetering on the edge of the bluff they were on the extreme edge of the milling herd and not a cow had plunged off into the flood.

NO CHISHOLM TRAIL IN TEXAS: The drive hit the Old Red River Crossing going out of Montague County across into the Indian nation at the point known to some as the Old Spanish Fort. �There we struck the Chisholm Trail .. and here let me tell you something about it and the man it was named for. Jess Chisholm was a half breed Indian whose mother was the sister of Sam Houston�s Cherokee wife. He blazed the Trail from Red River to Abilene, Kansas and this talk you hear of going up the Chisholm Trail while still in Texas is all clap-trap. There wasn�t a foot of it inside Texas. One story was that Chisholm was hired to plow a furrow by compass with a yoke of oxen all the way through to Abiline. I can�t say how true that is for when we went up in �73, the Trail was already beaten out into a hoof packed lane fifty to a hundred feet wide, sweeping across the otherwise featureless prairie.

The Red River was on a five foot rise when we come to it that day. We pushed on in and crossed the cattle right then without waiting for we didn�t know but what it was coming on up. Six head were swept away but by next evening the stream had gone down so that we could even ford with the chuck wagon.�

TWO HANDS PULL OUT: �Eight men and boys of us was supposed to go on through. Elon Ezell was a hard man to get along with though and as we progressed up into the Nation, Ben Davis, the Irish boy who dubbed me Jamie, fell out with him, was fired and pulled out and went back to his home in Iowa. Sam Keeler, one of my friends (and cousin) who had come from Tennessee with me, pulled out with him. That left Ezell, John Quillin of Lampasas, Sam Chester, a boy from Florida, Simon Fox and me and George Lephew, the cook. The six able hands of us that was left drove those 1800 cattle a thousand miles on across to Wyoming, something the like of which was never heard of before. We had four horses apiece. All the stock was very thin when we started but both horses and cattle fattened on the trip. Why, most of the way, the grass was so fine that a horse could have lived several days at the end of a stake rope. We turned the spare horses in with the cattle while moving thru the day. At night though, they were kept separate and it was my trick to ride loose herd on them until eleven at night, all the way through the Nation to keep the Indians from stampeding them away. After that time of night, it was known the Indians never did their stealing late because they had to count on having the rest of the night to get a long way away under the cover of darkness. We had no trouble though all the way through the nation. The Indians at that time were all supposed to be quiet at home on their reservations.�

A SURPRISE ENCOUNTER: �One day Mr. Sparks rode on ahead of the herd to look for a camping place on the chance too that he might shoot an antelope. As he topped a rise, there sprung into view, on a creek beyond, five Indian teepees, with the men and women idling about. At sight of the lone man against the horizon, the bucks jumped on their horses, taking only a twist of rawhide around the critters� nose for bridle. Heads down behind the horses� shoulder, gun in hand, they come at him like something thrown from a shovel.

Sparks knew that when they got close enough to shoot they could see beyond to the herd and us other men, so he waited quietly. When they were almost upon him, he threw up a glittering new Smith and Wesson revolver. They jammed to a halt on the bigness of a blanket, staring at the herd, winding off there on the flats into the South, most far as they could see.

As he rode up closer, them eyeing the cattle and the riders, he found some could talk pretty good English .... but not good enough to understand his questioning them on their attack.

They parleyed amongst themselves, ignored his upbraiding, and then demanded some cattle, account of the herd was eating their grass. But Sparks knew his ground. The men admitted they were Osage and he charged them with being a hundred miles off their reservation where they ought to be peaceful at home answering roll call.

Taken somewhat aback, they still wanted cattle. First, their spokesman threw up four hands of fingers to indicate how many they wanted. He scoffed. Then it was two hands; then sullenly one hand and Sparks still made light of their demands. Finally, to make the parting in good spirits and in some semblance of a trade rather than admittedly paying tribute, he swapped one yearling for a wonderful, braided lariat, a quirt and three soft, dressed buckskins.

The Osage came back down the hill with Sparks to the herd, wanting to kill their yearling right then and there. The boss made them wait until the herd moved on by (the cows would�ve crowded so, at the blood, milling and lowing). The boys fresh from the south and east stared in wide-eyed curiosity at their first Indians --- aboriginal starving creatures --- as they sat their fuzzy horses and avidly held the calf the men had roped for them.

As the herd cleared the flats, one buck rode right up on top of their prize and shot it in the pit at the base of the skull. The men fell off their horses upon it. before they had skinned a place as big as your hand, they were carving thin slices off the quivering carcass with their razor-keen knives and devouring the steaming meat.�

�I saw that�, says Mr. Fox, looking back from the Twentieth Century into another age. �I saw that with my own eyes.�

WEST FROM THE CHISHOLM TRAIL: �We crossed the Cimarron, leaving the Chisholm Trail there at our right and taking the extreme Western Trail. About that time we saw the smoke of a train beyond the hill one day, so a couple of men struck off from the herd with Mr. Sparks and he intercepted the train and boarded it, the men bringing his horse back. Mr. Sparks went back home to Texas, planning to make his way into the Northwest by rail later in the summer and sell the herd in Wyoming before we reached there.�

A PLAINS TRAGEDY: �The next herd up the trail, about a week ahead of us, was in the hands of a couple of men named Chambers and Billy Wishert. At a little trading post we learned a grim story --- and saw a fresh grave, just about fifty yards to the west of the beaten trail.

Chambers and Wishert had gone ahead of the herd ... just as Mr. Sparks did, to look for water. Wishert was on a fresh horse, but Chambers� pony had been rode all day. Suddenly the two men found themselves surrounded on three sides by whooping Indians on horseback. They took off on the one open side with the savages strung out behind them. The two Texans shot their guns empty as they ran; at least Wishert did. Then Chamber� horse began to fail and stumble. �Go ahead,� shouted Chambers. �No use both dying,� and he gallantly waved goodbye.

�It was the hardest thing I ever did,� Wishert told me years later, �but I did it, and as I looked back, I saw the savages shoot Chambers from his horse. He fell, but as the Indians rode up, swinging their darts to finish him, the doomed man rose up on his elbow. I saw the plume of smoke from his pistol; an Indian dropped his dart and swayed on his horse, but two others rode up beside him to keep him from falling. About a dozen more clustered about the stricken Chambers.�

FOUND GOOD INDIAN: �Well, sobered and scared a little, our crew pushed on up the Trail past the lonely grave. The cattle were going along nicely and the boss motioned me on up to take the place on the point of the herd. Seeing some buzzards swooping down into a hollow, I rode over to investigate. Right under the bank of the creek was the body of an Indian, half wrapped in blankets, staked in behind some persimmon sprouts to keep the coyotes off. I�m satisfied it was the Indian that Chambers had fatally wounded with his last shot.

I was telling the story in Kennedy, Texas, twenty years later to a group of men in a store. A man heard me through, then came up and identified himself as Billy Wishert. He verified my story. These too were Osage Indians. They had the nature of sheep killing dogs, straying away from their reservation to run loose and do things like that. The tragic incident happened at about the point of the present railroad station of Pond Creek.

We struck the Union Pacific at Great Bend and followed the railroad on up beyond Dodge City which we found just in the flush of that outlawry that made it so notorious.�

ONLY ONE FORCED MARCH: �All this country was bare of brush. We would go hundreds of miles without seeing so much as a riding switch. The only firewood was buffalo chips. Our cook, Lephew, kept a big rawhide tied under the wagon and would throw in nice, select chips whenever we passed through the buffalo grounds. That way we had dry fuel when it rained.

And it did rain, so much that we really suffered. But all the way the grass was might fine. The curly mesquite of buffalo as it was called up yonder was as thick as carpet and about six inches high. Most of the time there was plenty of water.

Only once did we make a forced drive ... that was this side of the South Platte. We had tried to water our herd on the Bijou, but it was so shallow and alkali they wouldn�t drink. A passing rider advised us to go on to Cow Creek where he knew of some big holes. When we got there in late afternoon, we found them dry!

It was dry camp that night -- no supper or breakfast and our water kegs dry. Twenty-two miles on to Lost Spring we marched through the next day, whipping up the cattle until they got close enough to smell the water. And we got there in the late afternoon with our tongues swelled out of our mouths.

Lost Spring broke out of a hillside to form a little pond. We had to get there first to get any clean water for ourselves. Then came the herd, strung out for five miles with the runty yearlings trailing and bawling and the big steer out in front striding toward the hole like saddle horses!�

IN THE SHADOW OF PIKE�S PEAK: �It was an awful dim trail thru that piece of country�, Mr. Fox recalls. And his backward reaching mind recollects little of moment across the rolling wastes of eastern Colorado. But --- �I had the worst time of my whole life just as we passed Pike�s Peak. There ain�t no infidels! Our trail boss, Elon Ezell was the wickedest man I�d ever seen til then. His cussing was fearful. He�d begin with Adam and cuss up by generations.

There on the slopes of the mountains, with the towering cliffs of Pike�s Peak looming above us, that eternal plume of cloud streaming from her peak, we bedded our cattle down. But they were restless and the air seemed charged. Along towards midnight, I saw a black streak make up all around the horizon to the east. I galloped up to camp and called for more hands to help with the cattle. Roused from his sleep, the boss was irritated. He began to cuss the cattle for not staying bedded down, got strung out on their ancestry and wound up the ceremony by wishing that lightning would strike the g___ d___ herd.

There came up the most awful storm I ever saw. Beaten by wind and rain, the cattle began to drift, to run and they finally split on us. We followed them it seemed like hours through that storm until finally the boss sent word up the line to let the cattle go and every man for himself. Just then lightning struck in the middle of the herd and Simon Fox, who was nearby said it looked in the glare like seven hundred cattle hunkered down under that bolt. Two was killed. The herd broke up and cattle went every way.

Dead tired and wet to our gizzards, we lay down that night to ourselves in the sheet of water that streamed down the mountain�s long slope. I slept with my head on the haunch of my horse. Next morning I woke, stiff and sore in the bright sunlight. Here and there on the rain scoured hill, other riders sat up and stretched creaky joints and we made our way back to the chuck wagon to get coffee before setting to the work of gathering the herd. The boss was squatted down by the fire, sober, keeping his counsel. Boys, I ventured to remark, did you notice that Cap�n didn�t cuss those cattle none after that lightning struck? He looked at me quick, but held his tongue and do you know I never heard him do near so much cussing after that night.�

Reunion with Owner: �Sparks, after selling his cattle in Wyoming, was coming back down the line to make connection once more on the Trail. On a long guess, he got off the train at Hugo, Colorado. He asked whether a herd with the road brand 7L had come through. �Why, its camped right out there 500 yards this minute,� said the station agent. Thus the owner rejoined his northward grazing fortune without a hitch. He had sold the cattle further north than we had planned, so he had to make a deal with us to carry the herd 200 miles more, to the mouth of the Laramie River.

We delivered them, where the Laramie ran into the Platte, at Fillmore�s Ranch, the prettiest place I ever hope to see. There was a great plain, 30 miles wide and maybe a hundred long, bordered by hills, with the Laramie River Winding through it and the ranch buildings back near the hills under some cotton woods, overlooking pastures of high grass fields that ran down toward the bottoms.�

End of the Trail: �We came in there to the ranch on the 15th and 16th of August, 1873. I remember for the snow was freezing at the timberline on the mountains above and I well remarked the sight of snow in August. Our Trail had brought us from Cheyenne to Laramie City and down the river with Fillmore�s Ranch, our destination about where Wheatland is now.

Fillmore was an Easterner, but a mighty fine fellow nevertheless. All his cattle was Texas stock, brought up the Trail in the last 2 or 3 years.

Our deal with Sparks was thirty-five dollars a month and food. Fillmore wanted two more hands and he offered Simon Fox and me forty dollars a month and I do believe he would have paid forty-five. We didn�t take him up though I�ve wished a thousand times I�d stayed.

When we was paid off, we all went into Cheyenne and stocked up on California goods. We bought everything in one house ... thirty-five dollar suits, shoes from wooden boxes and it was there I bought my first broad brimmed hat ... Worn them ever since.

Ezell got a job right off as a team boss freighting supplies to the Red Cloud Agency above Old Fort Laramie and we never saw him again. Mr. Sparks went back on the train, but he�d bought a new wagon and Simon fox and I was the only two that had contracted to work all the way back. So, with three ponies and plenty of grub, we drove back in style on full wages, bringing the second �patent wagon� that had ever come south.�

A Rancher Named King: �You never knowed no man�s name on the Beef Trail, but we did run into one party I learned the name of and come a thousand miles along the way with them. The gentleman said his name was King and he owned a huge ranch in South Texas, I heard. And I shall tell that story later.�

To be continued .....

Dick D. Fox
1512 Parkview Drive
Lockhart, Texas 78644
United States