The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966

THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. LXIX APRIL, 1966 No. 4
rhe RaHge Cattle JHdustry i the
/ig keid of exas
ROBERT M. UTLEY
T HE BIG BEND COUNTRY PRESENTLY IS ONE OF THE LEADING
cattle-raising regions of Texas, internationally known for
the quality of its Highland Herefords. Perhaps because
it was the last frontier conquered by pioneer Texas stockmen, in
the twilight of the long drive era, the open range, and indeed
the legendary Longhorn himself, most histories of the range
cattle industry have devoted little attention to it. Yet ranching
in the Big Bend deserves better of historians of the cattlemen's
frontier, for it was often as dramatic as that east of the Pecos,
and was not without significance. Because the Big Bend was the
last cattlemen's frontier to be conquered, it also was the last
stronghold of the open range and the Texas Longhorn.
The first cattle in the New World came from Spain, and the
range cattle industry of the Western Hemisphere has operated
ever since within a framework of techniques evolved on the
Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. As vanguards of the
Spanish colonial advance, missionaries introduced the first cattle
into Texas. The Spanish government encouraged stock raising
with liberal land grants, and private entrepreneurs developed
herds in Central and South Texas beginning about 1700. Despite
unfavorable markets and government commercial restrictions,
the mission and private herds increased enormously in the
eighteenth century. So did the population of wild cattle which
sprang from strays. The Spanish had two names for wild cattle
-mesteias, those that with skill and daring might be captured,
and cimarrones, those too wild to be controlled. At the close of

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117144/. Accessed August 21, 2014.