Texas Horse Trade, a short story by papa welton. Date added: 2008-08-24. Times viewed: 2080.
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- Intro: A story of how my step father traded horses in the early 1900s
- In 1910, the roads of south eastern Oklahoma and north eastern Texas were not much more than wide trails. The horse trading business was at its hay day. There were a lot of horse traders roaming that part of the country. This is the story of Papa's horse trading was known to a lot of folks. This is just one of the tales of his dealing with horses.
Frank had stopped at a friend's house and asked, "Will it be alright for me to leave my team and four horses here for a few days." Mike replied, "You know you can Frank." "Would you have that old mare that always com home when she gets loose?" "Yaha, in the pasture behind the barn." "I wanted to borrow her so I could catch the ferry on the Clarksville road." "Sure you know you can borrow anything that I have on this place."
Frank put the horses down in the pasture behind the barn and caught up the mare. After saddling her, Frank strapped his bed roll and a gunny sack to the saddle.
Mounting up he left the Lick Skillet ranch behind as he was heading down to the ferry six miles away. Frank arrived about a quarter mile from the ferry and pulled the bridle from the horse, tying the bridle to the saddle, Frank gave the mare a good whack on the rump to head her back to the barn.
Frank walked on down to the ferry to wait for it to come back across. As Frank was waiting, a wagon pulled up and the driver got down stretching. While they were talking Frank struck an agreement with the driver to let him ride on over to Clarksville. They crossed the Red River and by late that evening were about two miles from Clarksville. They crossed a creek and Frank told the driver, "I thank you for the company and the ride but I believe I will camp here instead of going on into town.
Frank camped about two miles from Clarksville. After concealing his camp as much as he could and by putting it in a draw, it was hard to see unless you were within five feet of it. As the sun was going down, he started to town. Frank got there after it was dark and he went down the street looking the town over. Frank checked out where the people of town had horses in sheds or corrals behind there houses. He spotted a sign across the street, which had livery horses for sale.
Frank went over and looked at the horses in the corral. A man who had come out of the livery spotted me. Frank hadn't wanted anyone to notice me. The liveryman came out toward me and asked, "You want to buy a horse." "No, I was just killing time before I turned in for the night." "That is a good thing because the horses that you are looking at are ready for the glue mill. None of them is any good from being old broke down and wind broke. The good horses were in the barn in stalls."
"Can I take a look at the horses in the barn?" "Come on and I'll show you the best horses in the country." We went into the barn and he was right. The ones he had were the best Frank had seen for a long time. Frank asked, "What are the price range of the horses out in the corral and the prices of these in here?" He laughs and said, "All but one in the corrals outside is about twenty to thirty dollars and the ones in the barn ranged from three hundred dollars and up. Some of those horses in the barn old man Clutching wouldn't part with for anything."
They talked a while longer and Frank told him good night, it was about time to turn in for the night. Frank turned and started toward the hotel as he was coming to the banister at the steps and saw the holster was heading back inside the livery. Cutting around the hotel and headed back to where he was camped. Frank arrived at camp and checked out the horse and gear to make sure everything was still just like it was when he had left. Then rolled up in a blanket and went to sleep.
The next morning, when it was just breaking dawn Frank started gathering the roots he would need for the potion he was going to need. Washing his clothes in the creek and have a good meal of fish, he caught while taking a bath. Frank settled down to let the concoction dry out in the sun on a flat rock. Staying the night Frank was up early the next morning and he headed for town. Coming into town, he stopped at what appeared to be a greasy spoon type of cafÃ©. Frank ate what he could of the food they had to offer. It was some half-cooked hog meat and half-done fried bread with sugar syrup to pour on the bread to make it almost eatable. Frank could have done better with what he cooks over the fire at camp.
Frank eased on down toward the livery and hung around watching for the night man to leave, because he didn't want the man to see him and tell the owner he had looked over the horses before. When the night liveryman went into the hotel, he told Frank before he had a room in the back. Frank waited a few minutes and then went on down to the livery. Frank stopped outside of the doors and leaned upon the corral looking at the horses. The owner came out after a short while and just stood looking into the corral. After about five minutes, he said, "It's nice to just look at good horse flesh moving around." Frank answered, "I want to buy a good horse for myself and also might be interested in a few more to take for trading on down the line." "Of course, I have a few trade horses we could make a deal on." "The trade horses need to be good enough looking to trade." Frank replied.
They walked into the corral and the livery man roped one, which wasn't very good to look at. The mare had a blockhead, wide rump with nearer front withers and looked
walleyed as if she had a mean streak. Frank said, "I will need a saddle, bridle and a blanket thrown in on the deal. I also want to see the gates on the horse, so someone else needs to ride her." The livery man looked at the crowed gathering at the corral fence and hollered to one of the men who were there to get a saddle and bridle. Frank knew right then she was a mean one to ride. While the hand that went to get the gear was saddling the mare, Frank slipped some quite root mix he had made the day before into the horse's mouth. It was a mixture of Dandelion, Hackberry, May Pops and a vine root which he never learned the name. This mixture was some his father had taught him to make and to give to animals to calm them down so you could work with them.
By the time the mare had the saddle cinched, she was calming down. Frank suggested to the hand to ride her around. Frank wanted to see how she handled. The man gave us both a questioning look but the liveryman said, "Go ahead get on the horse." The hand pulled his hat down as far as it would go and climbed a board gripping the saddle horn with both hands as we backed of from them. The mare just stood there looking at Frank and wouldn't move. Finally, the rider started kicking the mare in the flank and she moved out at a walk. The rider couldn't get the mare to move any faster.
Frank asked, "How much for the mare and the gear?"
The livery owner said, "One hundred dollars for all."
Frank just laughed and said, "That is way too much for a horse and gear when the horse could barely walk with the weight on her back." Everyone at the corral fence was snickering but with their back turned away from us.
Frank told him, "For the horse and gear I will give you twenty-five dollars."
The liveryman said, "If that horse and saddle isn't worth seventy-five dollars than every horse I owned isn't worth twenty dollars."
The town marshal was standing very close to us. Frank said to the marshal, "Am I hearing this livery man right or was I not hearing what I thought that I did."
"I heard all the horses the livery man owned were not worth twenty dollars if that bronco isn't worth seventy-five dollars." The Marshal said.
"Is he a man of his word?" Frank asked with concern on his face.
"He is a man of his word and will do what he said." The Marshal replied.
"Marshal would you pay seventy-five dollars for a horse like that." Frank asked. About that time, the horse laid down on the ground as the rider jumped clear.
The Marshal said, "I wouldn't pay that much for a horse that lies down on the rider when he has just been saddled. In fact I wouldn't even buy the horse."
Frank looked over and the liveryman and said, "I'll take ten horses for twenty dollars a piece, but I have to pick them."
The livery man answered, "Ok."
Frank pulled his book out with twenty bills of sales in it and he told the man to sign him ten of them. As he was signing them Frank said, "If you can get the mare up and walking, I will give you forty dollars for her and the gear."
The livery man replied,"Deal." He signed all eleven bills of sale and got the marshal to witness them. All the time the marshal was trying to keep from laughing. The marshal knew what I was going to do.
Frank paid the liveryman for eleven horses and they finely got the mare to her feet. Frank led her outside the corral and let her get a few drinks at the water trough. It had about ten minutes before the quite root wore off completely and all hell would break loose. Frank tied her to the corral and went into the stables. He picked out the horses he would be getting if this plan worked out. Frank knew they all had halters on and he backed them out of the stalls and tied them all together on one rope. Working as quickly as he could, he then led them outside and mounted the mare. The liveryman started to holler, "Them horses are not for sale or trade."
Frank said, "Just ask the marshal and the rest of the folks standing around what kind of deal you made. You set the terms of the sale not me." Frank turned the mare down the street in the opposite direction of my camp. The liveryman might want to get the horses back by hook or crook. Frank started gigging the mare with his spurs trying to make her run and finally she got the message and hit a dead run by the time we were clearing the town.
After about two miles, the mare started slowed down to a walk and Frank let here mosey on along for another couple of miles. Frank came to a creek and let the horse's water, all the time he didn't get down off of the mare. Then he turned north walking the horses in the creek and stopping at the tree, that he had tied his bedroll and gunny sack. Frank turned back toward my camp for he was going to get my gear on the horse waiting there and move on down the trail. Frank had the feeling the liveryman would come after the horses. He was going as far as he could before dark and try to make sure the trail wasn't easy to read before he made camp again. Maybe he could get to the river and swim the horses across.
Frank stopped to let the horses have a breather when a man came up to him. The man said, "Frank if it hadn't been old man Clutching you were skinning, I would have stopped you."
Frank replied, "I don't think I know you sir."
"You probably don't but I know you and your horse trading." The man reached into his pocket and brought out a Texas Ranger Badge pinning it on his shirt. "My advise to you Frank is get across Red River and don't come back to Texas to trade horses. You had better get for the old man has hired some thugs to come after the horses." On that note, the Ranger turned his horse and rode east out of sight.
Needless to say it didn't take Frank long to get on down to the river and swim the horses across. He didn't stop that night until he had got back to the Lick Skillet Ranch.
The article is just one of the stories that were told about papa when I was growing up. It was told to me by Foot and a Half Brown who had known papa for over sixty years.
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