field notes ➤ Jake Simmons, 1937

❝ I have from the time I was a little boy been interested in the cattle business, and I have studied it from every angle and from its beginning to the present day. I never did much farming in my life, that is, extensively, as I have always worked on the range and ranches and am still today engaged in the raising of the cattle on my miniature ranch of 1,100 acres, compared with the ranches in my early manhood. . . .

With the subduing of the wild Indians, buffalo herds disappearing, and the railroad operating, cattle were shipped from Texas to the Indian Territory, and by 1880 ranches of all sizes and description were in progress. These Texas cattle were of all sizes and colors, long horns, Mexican types, et cetera. Some were wild and half-wild, and many of them were branded before arrival in the Territory, which necessitated each ranch maintaining a brand record. Each ranch had its particular range, and some of these ranges overlapped . . . .

Employees on the ranch consisted of superintendent or foreman, cow punchers, horse wranglers, cooks, and salt boys who kept up the salt licks. The number of employees varied in accordance with the size of the ranch. . . .

The ranch hands, all of them, were jolly good fellows. They dressed picturesquely with large brim hat with high crowns, a large handkerchief around their necks, high-heel boots, shirts usually of some bright color, and chaps over their trousers. This was the comfortable dress for the cow punchers, and each had its particular part in a cowboy’s life. The hats were used to protect them from the rays of the sun, and they were beneficial in heading off a cow or starting a bucking bronco. The handkerchief which they wore about their necks were often used in caring for their wounds and those of the doggies, the high-heel boots kept their feet from slipping through the stirrup on their saddle, the chaps protected their trousers and legs from the whipping of the high grass, which at times was half high to the sides of a horse, and the heavy shirts not only protected them from the sun but from insect bites of all kinds. There was little education and refinement among them. They loved to play pranks on each other and, not because I was a cow puncher myself, I am compelled to say that they were brave men, hated a thief and a coward, and despised lawlessness in any form. . . .

I remember when only a mere boy of my first job on the ranch, and for this job I was paid six dollars a month. Later on, I received ten dollars a month and so on until I began to know my cattle and became a buyer and bought thousands of head for the ranch where I was employed. By this means and my allotment, I myself engaged in the cattle business. ❞

Nations Remembered: An Oral History of
the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws,
Creeks, and Seminoles in Oklahoma, 1865-1907

by Theda Perdue
(University of Oklahoma Press, 1993)

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