Check out this image of the J. Marvin Hunter's Frontier Times Museum as it looked in 1933, less than 10 years after the journalist edited and helped publish Trail Drivers of Texas. Many, many thanks from The Gruene Cowboy. Visit the museum to learn more about the lives and lifestyles of many of the cowboys featured in our book.
For many cowboys the hard life began long before the saddle: "My parents died in 1866, their deaths being about three weeks apart, leaving thirteen children, eight boys and five girls, the eldest being only eighteen years old, to fight it out with Comanche Indians, and believe me, we had a time...on one occasion they came down upon us seventy-five in number, all giving the Comanche yell. Five of us little brats were about 200 yards from the house." — Levi J. Harkey of Sinton, writing of his childhood in 1866 Richland Springs, Texas
Several of the cowboys who contributed to The Gruene Cowboy also served as Texas Rangers. Wrote T.J. Garner (with characteristic understatement): "In the fall of 1870 I joined the Texas Rangers at Gonzales, and was mustered in at San Antonio. Went to Montague County and fought Indians that winter and also the following spring and summer. Had some close calls but came out without a scratch." Two years later, he headed up the trails.
Cowboy weekend, p. 298: "I got up and left for more sights - you have seen them in Abilene, Dodge City and any other place those days. I walked around for perhaps an hour. The two toddies were making me feel different to what I had felt for months, and I thought it was about time for another, so I headed for a place across the street, where I could hear a fiddle. It was a saloon, gambling and dance hall ... a girl came up and put her little hand under my chin, and looked me square in the face and said, "Oh you pretty Texas boy, give me a drink." -- My First Five-Dollar Bill, by J.L. McCaleb, Carrizo Springs
Cowboy William B. Kremkpau noted that on one trip to Dodge City, the trail boss was fine but the adventures were wild:
"We went the western trail and had all sorts of exciting experiences on the trip, thunderstorms, swollen streams, stampedes, Indians, long dry drives, wild animals, loss of sleep, and a frequent hankering for the chuck wagon when kept in the saddle for twenty-four hours or longer."
The Gruene Cowboy goes on sale this weekend at Hunter Junction, Gruene's first retail shop. The store's located in the 1854 Rudolf du Menil building (that's even older than some of our cowboys!) , 1254 Gruene Rd., New Braunfels, TX 78130.
A great souvenir!
The Gruene Cowboy, a collection of stories first gathered by the San Antonio-based Old Time Trail Drivers’ Association between 1915 and 1923, launches Sept. 23 in the Agriculture Barn (near the antiques exhibit).
“The Gruene Cowboy shines a new spotlight on the fantastic stories captured in the original Trail Drivers of Texas,” says Rebecca Huffstutler Norton, executive director of Frontier Times Museum in Bandera, Texas. “The Gruene Cowboy continues efforts to preserve these stories by introducing a whole new audience to the brave, hardworking cowboys who created the Texas cattle industry and their way up the cattle trails.”