Nueces County Cattle Brands

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Nueces County Cattle Brands - CORPUS CHRISTI TIMES, Tu«s., Jan. 19, 1960 9...
CORPUS CHRISTI TIMES, Tu«s., Jan. 19, 1960 9 NUECES CATTLE BRAN DS... History With a Curlicue ~FTM$7:ZfVKzL''Ik *Ji.:U'. '»%%» *ZFT ' '^At-K3£«~.v'~*'».':. ··/·*'£ BRANDS PRESSED INTO CONCRETE OF FLOOR IN COUNTY JAIL . . . Kennedy's laurel leaf (left center), King Ranch's Running W beside it SAMUEL GLENN'S FANCY A BRAND FILED IN 1859 . . . Clerk Reuben Holbein's writing as elaborate as any brand By ERNEST MORGAN Of the hundreds of cattle bnutds registered with the Nuecei County clerk since the county was organized in 1847. only 40 are still legally on file. The decline in registered brands reflects the change in the county's economy from a cattle country to a county of farmers, manufacturers and oilmen. Cattle brands must be registered every two years. Of the 40 Interested enough to file their brand* with the county clerk in the'past two years, several were from out of the county and 12 were city-dwelling Corpus Christians. The old brand records, stacked In the basement of the court- houM, «how how the brands themselves have changed. The modem brands arc mostly simple combinations of initials. The brands, of the 1850s and '60s were far more intricate and some were big and elaborate. Of the present brands, B. B. Bonar, 801 Coleman. has registered a B to the third power, .T. W. Benton, 5759 Hampshire, has a combined JB, and Joe C. Harney, 333 Louiso, has a combined JH with a half circle following. Other brands now on file are WW. XX, C-Y, D inside a diamond. W with a bar through it, hv. and a sort of Flying L. George A. Hamilton of. Corpus Christi has the last registered brand, one that looks like an upside down mushroom. Brands have always been intensely interesting to cattlemen. Former Sheriff John Harney, who died this year and who came of an old Nueces County family, had a large collection of branding irons used by Nueces ranchers. When the jail was being remodeled early in the 1950s, Harney decorated the concrete floor with impressions of the brands. The marks are still there, worn but legible. In the old days, before sorghum and cotton pushed the cattle off the range of Nueces County, brands were symbols of pride, of attempts at wry humor or even of prayers for good fortune dating back to Aztec times. Some of the brands registered in the 19th Century were contractions of names, like Charles Lovenskiold's OLD, filed in 1858: George Robertson's ROB o» 1857 or Mistress Nina Fogg's FOG of I860. Some were a walking cowhide joke. George Redus branded his cattle SOT in the '60s. William Hobbs filed a brand in April. 1868 of SHE with the H and E run together, a reference possibly of a romance Hobbs wanted the world to wonder about. Some brands were just numbers burned into a steer's side. Registered in the 50s and 60s were the 88 brand, the 13 and the Circle 5. The 0 brand may have inspired the 10 brand or the 000, or the 2 brand the 22, the 25 or the 27. A few brands of those days were outlines of familiar articles. Pedro Ramaz registered a coffeepot outline as a brand in April, 1869. John McMahon filed something that resembled a bass fiddle in January, 1868. In June of the same year, James Bryden registered the outline of a boot. Mrs. Mary Christmas, wife of Theophilius, filed the TT brand in June, 1868, a registration significant largely b e c a u s e she passed up an obvious play on her name. An XMAS brand is on file in another county. Mifflin Kennedy filed the laurel leaf brand for his Rancho Laureles in November, 1868. The following February, Kennedy's partner, Richard King, filed the famed Running W of the King Ranch. The origin of the King Ranch's Running \V has never been firmly established. Parson A. Walker registered a brand like the Running W in Nueces County in November, 1854. There is no record of transfer when King registered- his brand 14 years later. One story has it that me Running W originally was a snake brand of a ranch King bought. According to the story, King simply cut off the head of the snake and came Up with a Running- W. Vaqueros call the Running W the little snake. Brand inspectors had to look closely sometimes to tell whose steer was whose. Francis A. Miller and Celicia F. Miller filed the same brand on the same day in August, 1862. Francis branded his stock with a Z on the left ribs. Celicia used the same brand on the left shoulder. Brands filed by Latin American ranchers of the mid-19th Century were usually distinctively different from the Anglo Americans' marks. Latin Americans used intricate symbols as brands to which no name could be given. Mrs. Hor- tetise Warner Ward of Corpus Christi in her book, "Cattle Brands and Cow Hides," says the oldtime Texas cattlemen called these brands dog irons or quien sabes. Mrs. Ward said that when a vaquero was asked what his brand was he merely pointed to it on the flank of his horse or dismounted and drew the brand in the dust. If pressed for a name, he would answer "Quien Satoe. Who knows?" The brands often were designs with flourishes and curlicues, called tauhitas. In some brands a flourish would hold up a curlicue which would connect with another flourish, or several of them. According to Mrs. Ward, the quien sabes had a meaning which can be traced back to Aztec mythology or to ancient Spain, even though me meaning was incomprehensible to the Texans, who preferred their brands simple and often was unknown to the Latin American owner of the brand. Some of the brands were fairly simple such as the stick figure of a man filed by Miguel Valdez in March. 1867. Others were highly elaborate, such as the brand registered by Jose Garcia Trevino in December, 1868, that looks like an X surmounted by * flaring tent with a J lying on its side above. George Alaniz filed a brand like an A with a wiggle working off the apex, an upside down half moon off the left leg and a circle off the right. The flourishes often were the only way to tell quien sabes apart. In August, 1859, Crescendo Cortes filed a brand that looked like two fish hooks back to back with a .half moon and circle above. The same day FiOsalia Garza registered the same brand except for a tauhita on the right hook, and Elogio Graza filed the same design the same day except Elogio used a tauhita off the shank of the hooks. Not all the quien gabes necessarily had meanings and not all were filed by rancheros. Samuel Glenn filed a fancy A in June, 1859, that used a wavy tauhita at the apex and flourishes off the end of each leg. M. G. Turner registered a swastika, composed of two Ss crossed. The swastika was a symbol much used by Indian tribes in early Mexico, but as Mrs. Ward pointed out. Turner may have bought the brand or just favored its appearance without any idea that it had a primitive meaning. William Corkill in July, 1866, filed as a brand another old symbol, a triskelion, -- three human legs joined at the thigh to form a wheel. The brands are neatly and sometimes beautifully drawn in the left margin of the old record books. The names of the owners and the dates of registration are written beside the brands in a flowing penmanship as elaborate as any quien sabe. Brand Book B, which covers from 1853 to a few years after the Civil War. records history like a textbook. County Clerk Reuben Holbein recorded the brands in his fine hand until February. 1861, when an assistant, W. 0. Docharty, took over in a heavier, blacker style. That was the year the Civil War began and in September Holbein resumed the job of registering brands. D o c h a r t y had gone off to war. Holbein recorded the few brands filed during the WHT years. None was registered during a period of one year, 18R4- 65. and then N. Taylor, who who signed himself county clerk pro tern, took on the job. Joseph FitzSimmons b e c a m e clerk in 1866, just in time for a rush of registrations as Texas began to recover from ths war, gather up the cattle and send them off to the railheads in Kansas. QUIEN SABES FILED IN NUECES COUNTY RECORDS ... taoMiptclMiMtM* brands «C enlicms and floarithm TWO PAGES OF BRANDS FROM NUECE8 COUNTY RECORDS ... Mlfflfai KenMdy'i taml leaf at «pp«r right

Clipped from
  1. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times,
  2. 19 Jan 1960, Tue,
  3. Page 9

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  • Nueces County Cattle Brands

    mcm_tx – 22 Feb 2013