J. W. Williams's classic survey of the big ranches of the Southwest reaches deep into the stories of key players in American ranching history. Colorful tales of the finest cutting horse, the meanest cow thief, the most princely cowman of them all--even the hair-raising details of gunplay with a badman whose name cannot be revealed--are told in bare-knuckle fashion that leaves no cushion to soften the truth.
This is an account of many journeys by car down roads that led to roundup grounds and to chuck with the cowboys; to the ranch homes of those who built the great cattle empires; to the Burnetts, the Spurs, the Pitchforks, and the Matadors; and to many points along the way where ranching history was made. A master storyteller, Williams connects these sites to living legends of the cattle and beef industry. He spent the night beneath the stars in Colonel Goodnight's Palo Duro Canyon, drove across the state line near the original XIT fence northwest of Amarillo, and glided along the base of the impressive Sawtooth Mountain for out in the Reynolds' Kingdom of the Long X, half a hundred miles west of Fort Davis.
The Big Ranch Country reaches far up into the Texas Panhandle, deep into the Big Bend of Trans-Pecos Texas, and down south to the great ranch empires of the Texas coast. Williams was the first to publish maps of most of the great Texas ranches and tells many of little-known stories of the land that once was home to Boley Brown, the prince of good neighbors; Quakers who moved to the plains to escape the wicked world; and the Hank Smiths, whose famous old rock house was once the last "outpost of civilization."
Jesse Wallace Williams (1891-1977) was a teacher and historian whose consuming interest was tracing Southwestern trails from the Spanish period through the American occupation. He authored numerous articles and three books besides The Big Ranch Country: Sizzling Southwest Football, Great Moments with the Coyotes, and Old Texas Trails. The latter, which he began in 1942 under a Rockefeller grant, was published posthumously.