West Texas Influence on the Early Cattle
Industry of Arizona
JAMES A. WILSON*
THAT THE FRONTIER OF THE ANGLO-AMERICAN CATTLEMAN IN THE
Southwest was an extension of the Texas experience was nowhere
more apparent than in Arizona. West Texans were among the first to
recognize Arizona's worth as a grazing region, and they moved their
herds westward throughout the last third of the nineteenth century.
When they went west, they did so for several reasons, and they con-
tributed to this new grass country not only their proven range methods,
but serious problems as well. Those Texans who sought freedom from
drouth, wire, and nesters "knew cows," and they imparted their
knowledge to unseasoned Arizonans. But Texas cattle also brought the
miseries of disease and overstocking, and Texas rustlers brought law-
lessness. Whatever their motives, West Texans entered Arizona and
were instrumental in the development of its stock-raising potential.
American beginnings in the Arizona range cattle industry were
largely Texas beginnings. From the late 1840's to the outbreak of the
Civil War, Texas stockmen trailed longhorns across southern Arizona
headed for the markets of California, where their five-dollar beeves
might bring as much as $150. Thus the arduous Texas-California trail
was established well in advance of those which culminated at the
Kansas railheads. These western drives continued on into the 1870's,
and in 1871 the number of Texas cattle delivered to California was
estimated at 75,000oo.
Not all of the Texans who ventured into Arizona were transients.
Even before the start of sectional hostilities, some were impressed by
the rich gramma which abounded in the Gadsden Purchase. They soon
discovered, however, that although the valleys of the San Pedro and
*Mr. Wilson is an assistant professor of history at Angelo State College.
1See the excellent introduction by J. Evetts Haley in James G. Bell, "A Log of the
Texas-California Cattle Trail, 1854," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XXXV (January,
Igg9), 208-210. See also Ralph P. Bieber's scholarly introduction to Joseph G. McCoy,
Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest (Glendale, 1940), 25-27;
Garnet M. and Herbert O. Brayer, American Cattle Trails, 1540-1900 (Bayside, New York,
1952), 39-40; and Rupert N. Richardson and Carl C. Rister, The Greater Southwest
(Glendale, 1935), 340o.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/. Accessed March 5, 2015.