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.

Brand cards-1

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.

Statement of J. F

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.

Odis “Pop” Echols – An Exhibit at the Southwest Collection

Odis Echols and his Melody Ranch Boys KWKH Car

This April the Crossroads Music Archive at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library is excited to debut their exhibit, “Odis ‘Pop’ Echols.” It highlights the life of the titular Echols, whose influence on music in the United States was tremendous.

Echols Brothers Trio

Odis Echols, known as “Pop,” was born May 7, 1903 in Enloe, Texas. In 1922 he moved near Clovis, New Mexico, with his bride Grace Traweek. There he taught shape-note singing, formed the Echols Brothers Trio, and joined The Plateau Quartet. In 1926 he won a spot with Frank Stamps’ original Stamps Quartet, which traveled the South singing gospel and popular music of the day (while selling Stamps-Baxter songbooks…) Echols often got standing ovations for his baritone rendition of “ol’ Man River.” In 1927 the group recorded for Ralph Peer of Victor Records and their “Give the World a Smile” became the first gospel record to sell one million copies! Echols formed his own quartet and opened a songbook store in Lubbock, Texas, organizing singing schools at churches across West Texas all the while.

Odis and Stamps Record Cover

Soon Echols had moved his Stamps Melody Boys to CBS affiliate WHAS in Louisville, Kentucky, where he convinced Mutual Radio Network to broadcast the first coast-to-coast gospel music show. In the meantime he built Hartford Publishing into the second-largest gospel publisher, sold his interest in the company, and moved to Shreveport, Texas, where his Melody Boys sang on KWKH’s Red River Valley Roundup, the forerunner of the Louisiana Hayride.

KCLV Building ADJ

He moved back to Lubbock, where he worked as a radio announcer at KSEL and mentored entertainers including saxophonist Bobby Keys and vocalist Charlene Hancock. Never one to stop pushing forward, Pop then purchased station KCLV in Clovis in 1953, and settled there.

Empire Room McGuire Sisters

In 1957 Pop appeared on national television’s This is Your Life at the request of teen idol Tommy Sands, who credited Pop with starting him in show business. But his biggest success came a year later when he met Charlie Phillips and collaborated on the song “Sugartime.” You know the song: “sugar in the mornin’ / sugar in the evenin’ / sugar at suppertime.” (Enjoy the earworm!) Released with McGuire Sisters’ vocals, in 1958 “Sugartime” went gold and reached Number One on the pop charts. Pop Echols continued to work in the music business until his death on March 23, 1974.

While the exhibit is only up from early April until the early fall, Echols’ Papers are forever available for research at the Crossroads Music Archive here at the SWC! Contact our ever-helpful Reference Staff if you’d like to take a peek at them.

– Curtis Peoples, Associate Archivist, Crossroads Music Archive

Native American Collections!

NAblog001Among its collections, the SWC houses several related to Native American organizations. Altogether, these records document significant portions of the 20th century history of Native Americans in West Texas, as well as parts of New Mexico and Oklahoma.

NAblog002The Mescalero Apache Cattle Raisers Records, 1960s-1990s, for example, consists of two collections, the first of which is linked above, and second of which can be found here. The records were donated by N. E. Britton, the manager of the historic Block Ranch in Lincoln County, New Mexico, from 1952 to 1964. In 1964 he became manager of the Mescalero Apache Cattle Raisers Association where he remained until 1984. The first collection includes minutes of board meetings, cattle record ledgers, sales contracts, journals, newspapers, maps, and correspondence dating from the 1960s to the 1990s. The second contains detailed cattle and livestock expense documentation and market records as well as correspondence, journals, legal material, maps, memorabilia, and newspapers.

NAblog004The West Texas Native American Association Records (WTNAA), 1992-1996, is another such collection. It consist of articles, correspondence, journals, tables, and minutes. Many programs and other documentation regarding their annual Pow Wow, an intertribal festival wherein members don traditional costumes and participate in music and dance festivities, are included. Financial materials, by-laws, a copy of their constitution, insurance information, and photographs are also present in lesser quantity. All of these materials relate to the day-to-day operations and major events of the organization. The Association, headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, encourages the preservation and education about Native American culture. Some Association members are descendants of North American tribes, while other non-Native Americans join as a result of their interest in Indian culture.NAblog003Another frequently used collection is the Chilocco Indian Boarding School Records. Located in Chilocco, Oklahoma, the school closed its doors in 1980 after 96 years of providing service in vocational education and training to Native Americans from across the U.S.  Not only did the campus provide buildings with classrooms but also dormitories for boys and girls. The collection includes the original Chilocco Indian Boarding School student rosters for the years 1968-1975, as well as a 1963 Baccalaureate and Commencement Program, news clippings concerning the history of the school, and a list of former school employees. Interested researchers should note that two agencies, the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), have the largest and most complete holdings on Chilocco Indian School.

Lastly, the Indian Schools Collection, 1929-1945 consists of correspondence, financial material, original drawings by Indian children, literary productions, maps, schedules and lists, food and clothing allotment records, and scrapbook material. This collection is based around actions begun in 1824 by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The BIA held jurisdiction over Native American trade, removal to the West, protection from exploitation, concentration on reservations, and education. Unsuccessful in preventing wars and eliminating corrupt practices, the focus of the BIA was changed by the Dawes Act of 1887, the Burke Act of 1906, and through the Meriam Report of 1928. Indian educated geared for all age levels eventually became the Bureau’s priority, resulting in the establishment of day schools to serve as community centers. Boarding schools were reformed, and saw the introduction of Indian culture into their curriculum. Materials related to these years make up the bulk of the collection, particularly from 1933-1948 when John Collier, a strong proponent of these reforms, served as commissioner of Indian Affairs.

To examine these collections, researchers may contact our Reference staff via email, phone (806-742-9070), mail (MS41041, TTU, Lubbock, TX 79409), or fax (806-742-0496).