Votes and DoumICHts
,otes o# ro#tier editors a#d Vewspapers
s population moved into West Texas following the Civil War,
a new way of life was born which was destined to live in
literature, song, and memory long after its brief life was
over. Walter Prescott Webb has designated the new era as that of
the Cattle Kingdom.' One may say that its years of life were from
1866 to 1885; its territory in its broadest sense was, roughly, the
western part of the United States: the Great Plains.
Cowboys who drove cattle long miles up the trails during
that boisterous era became famous in stories and ballads. So did
the badmen and toughs of the period. Even the cattle themselves
were sung about and were the subject of stories told long after
the campfires of the trail drivers had gone out. Lost in the gun-
smoke and choking trail dust of that period was someone who
perhaps did more than anyone else to immortalize those years of
American history: the frontier editor.
This man generally was every bit as heroic as the most intrepid
United States marshal; he was as daring and fearless as the wildest
cowboy. A study of the newspapers of the Cattle Kingdom will
prove it. Taking his chances of being called wrong-or worse, of
being shot or beaten up-the frontier editor took sides on almost
every issue, and he had no hesitancy about voicing his opinions.
The Albany Star, in 1883, printed this story:
The editor of the Vernon Guard in Wilbarger County saw fit in an
issue of his paper to say that the sheriff of that city was not the proper
kind of an official. The sheriff made no reply other than to say that
if anything ever again appeared against him in that paper he would
shoot a sufficient number of holes in the editor to let out ten thousand
hurrying souls. The editor duly received the notification and after
saying the sheriff is everything from a liar to a would-be murderer,
winds up as follows:
'Walter Prescott Webb, The Great Plains (New York, 1931), 2o6.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/. Accessed March 13, 2014.