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
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
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
" 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".