The Newcomb Diaries of the Anne Watts Baker Papers

JournalofaTrip

In this blog entry, we’re taking a look at our Anne Watts Baker Papers, which you can find in their entirety over here: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/ttusw/00458/tsw-00458.html. Baker principally collected diaries and other materials pertaining to the Reynolds and Matthews families of Shackelford County, Texas. But the choicest cuts come from the journals, letters, and scrapbooks of Samuel and Susan Newcomb, dating from the mid- to late-19th century. For example, the page above is from a handwritten draft of “A Journal of a Trip from Clear Fork in Stephens Co. to the San Saba River” by the Newcombs. It was later published, and we have that printed version in our collection as well.

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Not all of Newcomb’s items revolved around the “Journal.” The two halves of the letter above, dating from February 6th, 1865, tell the tale of a hastily dashed off plan about a fort, an ‘indian rade’, and other events around the Fort Davis, Texas, area.

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Here is another letter dating from around the beginning of the Civil War, which was not at all affecting the life of Mr. Newcomb. He was more into having dinner, then heading on out to hunt for more game, perhaps for a second dinner. The man was hungry, no question.

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This letter is virtually impossible to read in this image (although you can get a larger version of it among our digital collections over here: http://hdl.handle.net/10605/352417) But what’s interesting about it is that the parts that are water stained have made the rapidly-fading ink more legible. The peculiarities of paper and ink could, and often do, make up entire college courses.

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Susan E. Reynolds Newcomb left plenty of her materials in the collection as well. This is a diary entry from New Year’s Day, 1896. She expresses a positive outlook for the new year, despite the “perfect gale from the northwest” that was “very disagreeable.”

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And to add something completely different to the collection, the Newcombs created a scrapbook full of poems and odd little cartoons like this one. There’s a 100% chance that the baby went ahead and at that food anyway, y’all.

 

Want more Newcomb books, letters, and diaries? Have at them over here among our digital collections: http://hdl.handle.net/10605/352417  And if you’d like to see the real deal, contact our ever helpful Reference Staff and they’ll see what they can arrange.

Cattle Rustling in the Archives

Portions of brands found in Spence Brothers Herd

At the Southwest Collection, we acquire more materials than we can describe in a thousand of these blogs. Some collections span nearly 1,000 linear feet, some a mere wallet-sized box. The Charles M. and James E. Cree Papers are one of the latter. Ranging in type from correspondence to cattle brand identification and stock counts to financial statements, the collection might at first glance inspire little interest. A closer examination, however, reveals over a decade of cattle-rustling and vandalism on a New Mexico ranch at the end of the 19th century.

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James E. Cree was a Scotsman who owned of a distillery in Edinburgh, Scotland (his son, Charles, whose name the collection also bears, was born years after this tale.) He founded the Angus VV Ranch in the 1880’s on Little Creek near Angus in Lincoln County, New Mexico. Cree and his partner Brandon Kirby are credited with introducing the Angus breed of cattle to New Mexico. Pat Garrett, former sheriff and noted slayer of Billy the Kid, at one point served as ranch manager on the VV ranch. (Although in this context, that is just some fun trivia.) The numbers of calves on the VV and other ranches are noted in the document above, as is the certification of the VV brand, below.

Brand Certificate August 30 1886-1

Report of Agent of South Eastern New Mexico Stock Growers Association 1894-1

Why do those administrative cow counts matter? Well, according to the report above as well as several related documents, someone in the Lincoln County area had been cattle rustlin’, specifically “Slick” Miller, Allen Hightower, and the Spence Brothers. From secluded spot to secluded spot, Miller and Hightower had driven the cattle stealthily until the Spences bought them at $4-5 a head. This tale was summarized by an unnamed Agent of the South Eastern New Mexico Stock Growers Association, the report of whom can be seen above, after extensive investigation and testimony.

Statement of Louis Herrera November 12 1895 2-4

Louis Herrera, a ranch employee, provided at least four separate statements at least four separate statement to investigators, a portion of which can be seen above. In other instances, only a portion of the testimony survives. The statement of J. F. Allison, below, is one such. He was involved in the arrest of “old man Eaker,” another rustler who plundered the VV.

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The conclusion of these investigations is not immediately apparent. Some rustlers were certainly arrested; others appear only once or twice in the documents. It is also possible that because these records span over a decade, other instances of cattle rustling are being document here. Perhaps some intrepid researcher could piece the entire story together using the Charles and James Cree Papers along with other SWC collections, or even collections from other archives. So take a look through the papers for yourself, and feel free to get ahold of our Reference Staff. They’re here to herd you through the process if needs be.