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"Cowboy" William C. Gaines
submitted by Dana

I was going through some of my Grandmother, old papers and ran across this story that she had kept. It was typed on an old type writer and I just copied it off.


Life Story of Cowboy Gaines in Oklahoma

This is the story of my life and activies in Oklahoma since 1902.

The parents of William C Gaines came from South Carolina in 1852 in an ox wagon to Hunt Co., Tx. The family of Martha Ellen Combs moved from Alabama to Texas. These two young folks formed a life partnership on January 11,1888. I moved in with them on February 5, 1889 while they were living on a little farm near Campbell, Hunt Co., TX.

The eary years of my life were uneventful on various farms near Campbell, where we lived until Dec. 1902 when we moved to Oklahoma. I herded cattle in the wichita Mountains nine miles west of Apache, which is in Caddo county. In June 1903, we went to the Osage Reservation, which later became the Osage County, where I worked for W K Hale. My first job was that of a "line rider" or one who's duty was to ride around the fences daily and see that they were not broken down by cattle in their attempt to mingle with those of the ajoining pastures, this was a care free life.

The daily routine was very much the same until time for the fall roundups for shipping the fat cattle to the markets. My place was to ride between the "cut" and the "herd". The "herd" was the bunch of cattle thrown together for the convenience of choosing the fattest ones to be shipped to Market. The "cut" was another word for those that were chosen to be shipped. It was my duty to keep count of those selected in order to know when a train load had been cut out.

As Fairfax was the end of the railroad at that time, we had to drive them either to Elgin, KS or Kaw City, OK to load them for shipping to such places as Kansas City, St Louis, Chicago, Ect. Being the youngest hand in the bunch I was given the job of riding "drag" which was the word used to designate those who rode behind the bunch to keep them from straggling along. Older and more experienced punchers were given the job of "riding Point". This meant they were responsible for keeping the bunch headed in the right direction to the shipping point; also they hed to keep them from mixing with the cattle of the pastures which we had to cross.

Guy Lombardo has boasted of having the sweetest music this side of Heaven. It is very evident that he never listened to a cowboy on night herd singing to quiet a bunch of restless cattle. In order to keep better watch over the sleeping herd, the night riders were divided, and half of them rode clockwise and the other half rode counter -clockwise. This method kept the riders in closer contact with the herd. It was rather uncanny to note that about midnight, the cattle would get up and begain to stir around a little.

In roundup time, the cowboys from nearby pastures gave freely of their time to help with the work. No one thought of charging for his time, as all work was on an exchange basis. Helping the other fellow was the simple and friendly way of life on the range.

Discribing the roundup activities would not be complete without mentioning the old "Chuck wagon", and the good food that was cooked over open fires and served in tin plates and tin cups. When the wood was not available for cooking, "cow chips", also known as surface coal, were used for the fires. In the absence of chairs and tables, the food was eaten while squatting on the ground or any other comfortable place that could be found. Biscuits were cooked in a big dutch ovens wit the fire heaped on top as well as under it. The menu was usually roasted beef, potatoes, and always those good old red beans well seasoned with chunks of meat. Coffee was served in tin cups. Nothing fancy about the menu, but the food was nourishing and sure to satisfy the ravenous appetites of the punchers, I think the maddest man I ever saw was one time when we were on roundup, and a gallon bucket of mollasses turned over in his "chuck box". He really polluted the air with a variety of well-chosen words.

Horses were fed shelled corn in murrells. A Murrell is a big loose bag that hung over the horse's hose. It was suprising to note how well they could flip those murrells and get every grain of the corn. At night the horses were turned out to graze in the horse trap, which was another name for a small pasture. One of the horses was kept staked out for the Wrangler, who's duty was to drive the horses to feed and the ones to be ridden were saddled up and ready for the day's work.

Here is a partial list of the cowboy's I knew back in the early days of 1900's. John and Buster Morris, Ben and Emmett Caddell, W K Hale, Hugo Milde, Dean Swift, Vene Frazier, Roy Horne, Jim Holland, L B and Ralph Morledge, Pitts Beatty, Rod Williams, John A (Crowbar) Beggs, Ancel Sawyer, Tom and Henry Crammer.At one time Henry Crammer the World Champion bronc buster, but one day I saw a horse throw himas high as the bridle reins woud let him go. Many of the punchers lived in Llano, TX, and came up in the spring with a train load of cattle to be fattened on the blue-stem grass of the Osage pastures. When the cattle were shipped out in the fall, these fellows would go back home and return the next spring with another train load of cattle.

As a Precaution against tick fever, all the cattle being shipped into the Osage pastures had to be dipped in a solution of water and crude oil. The dipping vats were approximately three feet wide, forty feet long and about eight feet deep where the cattle weere forced in and sloped up gradually so they could walk out into the draining chute. A very amusing incident happened one time while dipping a bunch of cattle. A Texas cowboy by the name of Bailey slipped and fell into the vat. Naturally he took a bit of teasing about having to be dipped to get rid of the Texas ticks.

There were no houses available; therefore we livid in tents, or cow camps, during the summer. This was not a bad way to live except in rainy and leaky tents. During the winter of 1904-05 we lived in tents, and the temperatures really went down to the bottom of the thermometer. This was my first experience in living in real air conditioning with no fire except a small wood-burning stove in a little log cabin where the cooking was done.

A new world opened for me when I was shown a better way of life in the fall of 1907. The man who gave me a chance to start in my new world was J J Quarles, who was cashier of the Osage Bank, Fairfax, OK. I was green as the pastures I rode, but Mr Quarles must have seen an undiscovered talent. He needed someone to help him in the bank to take the place of his son, Frank, Who had moved to a better job with the First National Bank, Pawhuska, OK and I was given a new chance in life.

Before going any further, I feel that it is well to give a few more words of appreciation and praise to Mr Quarles. He was a true friend to all who knew him. He spoke the Osage Language fluently, and was ready to help the indians whenever they needed him. As evidence of their respect and friendship for him, they gave him the Indian name of Pah-see, which meant Yellow Nose. When Mr Quarles died, a large group of old indian friends gathered at his grave and morned in their tribal wailing for the dead for several days.

My work at the bank was very interesting and enlightening to me. Mr Quarles patiently taught me as much as about keeping books as I was able t ounderstand. I came contact with many Osages who came into the bank. Many of them spoke good english, but preferred to use their own language. For Example; they often came in with bills of 10 or 20 dollars to get smaller change. This is the way they ask for it-wy ho tah mah susky, combra. the litteral translation is "little money, want". Sometimes they had a handful of silver which they wanted to exchange for bills. Then the request was ti nunk ah mah susky, combra, which meant " paper money want". I worked in the bank for 6 months before drawing any pay; then my first salary was $10.00 month.

Mr and Mrs Quarles wery graciously took me into their home where I was treated as another member of the family. I took care of their horses and the cow in return and my room and board.

After working in the bank for tqo years, I realized that with my very limited education, it would be imposible for me to compete with the business world. In November of 1909, I borrowed money from two of my friends and went to Tonkawa, OK, where I rerolled in the commercial department of the University Preparatory School- Better known as the U P S. I specialized in shorthand, typing and english.

Early in June of 1910, Mr Robert Dunlop, Newkirk, OK, who was a canidate for Oklahoma Dtate Treasurer, called down to the U P S and asked for someone who could do his office work and take care of things while he was campaining over the state. Fortunately, I was chosen to take the job. He would come home over the weekend. He was elected State Treasurer in the fall of 1910. I asked him for a job and he accepted me to do the stenographic work in the treasurer's office. I worked there until August of 1914.

In August 1914, I was employed in the Accounting Department of the Oklahoma Branch of the Ford Motor Company. I worked in nearly every job in the office, but the most important one was that of bookkeeper. I was with th Ford Motor Company from August 1914 to February 1931, with the exception of a little more than nine months served in the US Navy during World War 1. For the last 6 years of service with Ford, I was the cheif Clerk, or head of the Accounting Department.

I worked for a number of years for Oklahoma City firms for varous periods of time until march of 1944. Then I was hired by a good Masonic friend, Fred F Fox and was THE Accounting Department of the Fred F Fox Insurance Company until I resigned January 31, 1967.

I like Oklahoma and the good friendly people who live there. It is a pleasure to turn back the pages of time to the days of long ago, and remember many opf the good times. they can never come back, but I can relive them in the faded memories that are mellowed with the passing of years.

In the summer of 1945 I went back to Fairfax for a visit with a few old-time friends who still live there. I borrowed a horse and rode over part of the old familiar places that I knew so well, which included a small part of the old lines. I found that my britches didn't fit the saddle as well as the ones I wore in 1903, but that didn't keep me from enjoying the happy thoughts of the days of long ago.

It brought back memories of other days as I had some imaginary roundups, but missed the old-time fellows with whom I rode so many years ago. They were grown men when I knew them, and I'm sure they have finished thier alloted span of years and are waiting on the other side for the final roundup. It is rather hard to realize that so many years have been stored away in the attic of time, and it brings to me the solemn thought that I, too, am heading for the last roundup.

Here is an old poem I have known for many years, but don't know who wrote it.

" Last night as I lay on the prairie
Watching the stars in the sky.
I wondered if ever a poor cowboy
Would get to the sweet bye and bye.

Oh! they say there will be a great roundup
Where cowboys like cattle will stand
To be cut by the riders of Judgement
Who are posted to know every brand".

 

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