The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971 Page: 278
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
is Fifty Years on the Owl Hoot Trail, rightly described in the "Intro-
duction" by Edward Everett Dale as a book which "gives to the reader
a more authentic understanding of ranch life and the social history
of the American frontier than he is likely ever to get from fiction or
so-called 'Westerns.' "
Jim Herron's personal observations about the Oklahoma Territory
and the great Southwest deserve attention because they recount hon-
estly events of a full and colorful life during an important period
in the history of western America. The old cowman spent fifty-six
of his eighty-three years riding "The Owl Hoot Trail." He was a
cowboy, sheriff, and deputy United States marshal, fugitive from the
law, and hotel and saloon owner. He was also an international cattle-
man often in trouble with the Mexican government because he wasn't
above paying good gold coins into the hands of the revolutionary
leader Pancho Villa for the privilege of driving herds across the
U.S.-Mexican border. He first fell afoul of the law when, as he en-
gaged in cutting back local stock from the animals moving north
along the range in Oklahoma Territory near the western trail to
Dodge City, he began separating and personally branding the lame,
sick, and maverick beasts with his own mark. For this he was charged
with violation of the regulations of the Cattlemen's Association. A
bit of brand-changing didn't seem too serious an offense to the easy-
going and friendly Herron-especially as economic pressures on his
family would be eased by the action-and he was unable to under-
stand why his transgressions should result in a trial and the loss of
"a good name." Upon conviction he fled to Arizona. There, and in
Mexico, he led a successful and exciting existence, often just a jump
ahead of bounty hunters and frequently the subject of "wanted"
posters. He never cleared his name, though he married several times,
raised law-abiding families, and entered fully into the social and
economic life of the communities in which he lived for nearly half
The Herron story is a generally candid account of life in a time,
as editor Harry Chrisman says, "that has gone and can never be
again." It provides vivid pictures of the frustrations which confronted
a sensitive man as he tried to "clear his name," and as he made a
"new" life for himself on another part of the frontier. The fact that
it was dictated by an aged and blind grandfather to a teenage grand-
daughter, who undertook the task of copying down Grandpa's words
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971, periodical, 1971; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/m1/290/: accessed January 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.