John T Waggoner
WISE COUNTY MESSENGER, Decatur, Texas, Thursday, July 24,1980 13-A Dan Waggoner: cattle baron of is be The both from (Editor'i note: The foUowing article i$ reprinted from a 19^9 edition of the Me»8enger. It't about one of Wite County'ilegendaryfigureM, cattle baron Dan Waggoner, With the Old Settler» Reunion underway, we thought you might enjoy reading about a man who helped shape the county's destiny). By “C.C.” in Fort Worth Press Daniel Waggoner, founder of the Waggoner fortune, lived at the end of Main street at the edge of town, in a big house, the finest in town. Heowned a bank and it was named the First National. It was on the public square of the town and had a green tree growing in the yard behind it. He belonged to the Methodist church and gave it the finest carpet it ever had on its floor. Waggoner wore hard-boiled white shirts and was without sensibility as to flecking the expanse with amber on occasion. Sometimes his black broadcloth broadcloth trousers showed patched with cloth of dingier hue. All his cares seemed to roll away when in summer, in working attire, he could stuff his trousers in his half-length boots and relax. NEIGHBORI.Y MAN Tho the financial over-lord of the community, he loved to sit on the front porches of his neighbors and discuss their smaller affairs, saying things good and things, not so charitable, much like other human beings. IN TWO VOICES An anecdote was built around the man who had the vocal peculiarity. It was said once upon a time he was driving a team hitched to a wagon, when the team ran away. The wagon bed was precipitated on the ground, wrong side up. with the driver imprisoned under it. Thereupon a twotoned plea came from under for aid. A bass voice acclaimed, “Somebody better come here,” and a treble voice completed the appeal—"and take off this wagon bed!” Two horsemen had arrived and heard the plea. One of them replied. "Hell! If the two of you under there can’t lift a wagon bed, you can just stay there." They went on their way. In Wise county and Decatur, numerous of the Waggoner kin also lived. John Waggoner, a brother of Daniel, resided not far distant from the "mansion" of the wealthy brother. He had a large family of sons and daughters. OTHERS IN FAMILY Jack Moore, a brother-in-law by virtue of marrying a sister of the Waggoners, lived in Decatur and had reared a large family. To the numerous nephews and nieces of these families, Dan Waggoner became in name, simply “Uncle Dan.*" As that he became known to friend and foe and to all thruout the region, who found it expedient for one reason or another to assume a relationship relationship of affection for the man of wealth and power. VENTl RE IN BUSINESS Always he was a cattleman, a horseman horseman and a landman. He loved those things because they were so close to his nature, close to the soil. There was an early time when he could have been "sidewitched’’ to merchandising and later still a period when the oil milling industry could have monopolized his career. The first of these experiences in business came when he was induced to set up a general store at Decatur in partnership with the late Colonel Bob Collins, who himself afterwards became one of the leading country weekly editors of North Texas. The very early experience in store- keeping came in the youthhood of his son, W.T. or Tom Waggoner, who for a while was clerk in the store. It was discovered by the Waggoners, however, that their genius lay out-of doors and they shelved the general store. Cattle feeding came on as an industry in Texas. To mark their second entrance into commercial lines, the Waggoners acquired a string of cottonseed oil mills to obtain meal to feed their beeves. Later these were disposed of, probably for the identical reason that dictated sale of the general store. In the very earliest days of the settlement of Wise county a young man came out from Hopkins county, driving before him a herd of cattle and horses. At his side for company and help was a little negro slave boy whom he owned. The man was Dan Waggoner and that aggregation represented his start in life. There were 242 head of the cattle and six horses. The slave was worth about $400. Waggoner was not a native of Texas, however, having been born in Lincoln county, Tennessee, July 27, 1828, the son of Soloman and Elizabeth Waggoner, the former of whom was a native of South Carolina. MOVE TO WISE COUNTY Bred in the latter also was an inward to Wise county, at that time an unorganized and unsettled region and outermost post in a vast frontier line. The pre-nuptial name of his wife was Nancy Moore, daughter of William Moore, of Hopkins county. To them a son was born, William Thomas Waggoner, present owner of the estate, and among other enterprises sponsor of the race course known as Arlington Downs. Ensuing on the death of his first wife. Dan Waggoner married in Wise county. Cicely Ann Hal.sell, daughter of a pioneer. In later years Tom Waggoner, the son, married her younger sister, Ella Halsell. Most of the education obtained by the elder Waggoner was on the frontier and from the book of nature. In the western region to which he came, he settled about two miles from a post called Taylorsville, which is the Decatur of today. At that time the po.st was made up of one general store set down on a prairie hill near a spring that gushed in a ravine. SMALL RANCH From there, he pushed over to the western side of Wise county, bought a small ranch and added 200 head of cattle to the small herd he owned. In this way, his herd and acres of land began to increase. Further along he bought the remnants of the herd and the recorded brand of Eli Lindley, who had been formerly a neighbor in Hopkins county. It is of tradition in Wise county that the Waggoner fortune took its rise from acquisition of the Lindley cattle. There were many hundreds of them, tho they were scattered to the "four winds of the region,” and had to be collected together. Thru it all his life was placed in jeopardy many times from Indians and outlaws. It was from this grueling existence that his faculties were keenly sharpened and his unusual insight into human motive developed. After the war, there was a great development in the cattle enterprise. At about the same time or somewhat later, there was also phenomenal development in cotton raising, marked in Wise county by the incoming of typical cotton farmers from the old states of the south and southeast, who came forward to fence off the range and raise cotton. It was no longer a place for the Waggoner herds, which had multiplied into the thousands. The trek was made by the Waggoners to countries further west, mainly to W'ichita and Wilbarger, and to what was then the Comanche reservation in the old Indian Territory. A half-million acres of this reservation were leased, and on the Texas side thousands of acres bought. A great portion portion of the latter is now the Waggoner oil domain of fabulous value. The Waggoner fortune had become stupendous, reputedly the greatest of all in the Southwest. The elder Waggoner was still in his prime and remained in close contact with his immense enterprise. enterprise. His home was retained at Decatur, tho much of his time in spring and fall periods was spent at his ranches in western counties.