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Full text of "History of the Chisum war ; or, Life of Ike Fridge : stirring events of cowboy life on the frontier"

HISTORY OF 



THE CHISUM WAR 



OR LIFE OF 



IKE FRIDGE 





Stirring Events of Cowboy 
Life on the Frontier 




HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 



R01 064 47425 





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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation 



http://www.archive.org/details/historyofchisumwOOfrid 



HISTORY OF 

THE CHISUM WAR 

OR LIFE OF 

IKE FRIDGE 



Printed by SMITH, Electra 



Stirring Events of Cowboy 
Life on the Frontier 



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IKE FRIDGE 



THE CHISUM WAR Page 2 

THE CHISUM TRAILS 

Every Texan has read of the Chisum! Trail, 
and has heard stories of the happenings there^- 
on, and of the great beef herds piloted to northern 
markets over this "Hoof Railway" from the Lone 
Star State to Kansas. 

This trail had its beginning in Denton Coun- 
ty, near the center of this great state, and cross- 
ed the Red Reiver near where St. Jo now stands. 
It continued through the Indian Territory, cross- 
ing the Big Blue near where McAlister, Okla. now 
is, and passed through the Osage Country where 
the world's wealthiest Indians are at present. This 
historic trail could be followed on to Coffeyville, 
Wichita, Abilene, and Fort Dodge, Kansas. 

This "Hoof Railway" derived its name from 
that noble cattle king, Col. John Chisum, who 
opened the trail and drove cattle herds from his 
Clear Creek ranch in Denton county, to the Kan- 
sas markets and the end of steel. 

That interpid pioneer, at the age of forty- 
five — a calm, peaceful and sober man, as gentle- 
man in every respect, raised in cow country and 
determined to live in cow country — saw the ap- 
proach of the settlers and the tenderfoot crowd- 
ing the ranges, and his dark brow was knitted 
in thought as he decided to push westward still, 
and he opened another "Chisum Trail," little 
known to the present day reader, but a trail that 
served its purpose and played a big part in the 
opening of the western part of the Grand Empire 
of Texas' and of the New Mexico country. 

Col. Chisum purchased large herds of cattle 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 



Page 3 



and started his drive to New Mexico from his 
"Home Creek Ranch" near the Concho river, go- 
ing up the Concho to where Big Springs, Texas, 
is at present. He then made a cross-country drive 
to the Pecos river, a country that was well water- 
ed in the rainy seasons but in dry times present- 
ed an almost impossible obstacle, as there wasn't 
enough water for a distance of ninety miles to 
serve a trail herd. 

He struck the Pecos at Horse Head Crossing, 
and proceeded up the river into New Mexico, es- 
tablishing a ranch; about thirty miles from Fort 
Sumner, where United States troops were sta- 
tioned. 

Cattle from this ranch were driven through 
to Denver, Colo., and marketed at Pueblo. Thus 
had the brave pioneer established another trail 
to live after him and to be used by his fellow 
men. This constituted the "Western Chisum 
Trail." 




IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 4 

IKE FRIDGE— A CHISUM COWPUNCHER 

I had been with Col. Chisum since I was four- 
teen years old, and in April, 1869, we left the 
Clear Creek Ranch in Denton county to go to the 
Chisum ranch on Home creek, forty miles east 
of Fort Concho. 

I was just a boy but I was skilled in riding, 
roping and shooting, as these had been my daily 
pastimes practically all of my life. 

Our outfit consisted of three thousand Texas 
cattle, thirty men, chuck wagons and three yoke 
of oxen — those patient, slow but strong and effi- 
cient beasts of 'burden that always reach their 
destination with their load, if they are given care 
and time. 

We had a saddle remuda of one hundred head 
of horses, among which was every kind of cayuse 
you could wish for. There were horses that were 
trained for roping and holding, for cutting herd; 
and all the tricks known to the typical cow horse 
of the Southwest were in that bunch. Among 
these horses were to be found tough buckers, easy 
saddlers and a few good racers to furnish amuse- 
ment at the proper time. 

Ideal weather and good grazing for the herds 
made this a wonderful trip. Crossing through 
country that was a treat to the eye, and fording 
beautiful streams at intervals, we had a fine time 
on the drive. 

Crossing the Brazos at Fort Belknap, out by 
where Colorado City, Texas, now stands, we reach 
ed the ranch about the middle of May. 

This western ranch owned by the Colonel was 



THE CHISUM WAR 



Page 5 



situated in fine cattle country; there was lots of 
Mesquite grass over the broad plains and enough 
hills and rocks to furnish shelter in the winter. 
It seemed a veritable breeding ground for the 
hearty Long Horns. The ranch house was built 
of pecan logs, with: three large rooms, and was 
so sturdy that it would serve for a good fort in 
time of trouble. Large corrals were all about, 
constructed for the most part, of pecan, but with 
hackberry and other native timber used for con- 
venience. 

The Coggins Ranch headquarters were about 
four miles away, and that was considered a close 
neighbor. Chisum built a stone commissary, 
where he stored supplies for his men and the 
outfits in the surrounding country. This build- 
ing, about 20x40, feet, had port holes for use in 
lepulsing the Indians, and was surrounded by a 
nigh picket fence of Mesquite posts. Five or six 
families used this for a school which was taught 
at that time by a Prof. Whitius. 

Numerous Indian fights in the country made 
it necessary to: have a fortified place for the 
school. 




Page 6 THE CHISUM WAR 

MY FIRST INDIAN FIGHT 

The roaming fever and a desire for more 
range caused this dauntless pioneer to seek fur- 
ther west for another ranch, and we set about 
gathering his cattle which were scattered over 
plains. It was open range country from the Colo- 
rado river to the San Saba, and during the brief 
period Col. Chisumj had been in the country, his 
stock had learned to use quite a bit of territory 
in their quest for food and water. 

We started on a cow hunt with' an outfit of 
twenty men, with three horses to the man, and 
two pack horses. We had no skillets for' frying, 
but each man had a tin for his coffee, and a rusty 
bread pan was tied on a pack horse. Our bread 
was made of flour, cold water, salt and soda. Each 
man cut him a green stick for his cooking. We 
trimmed the bark off, took the dough and rolled 
it around the* stick and cooked it over the fire. 
Our meat was also cooked over the fire on* the 
green boughs. 

We worked until we had gathered a thousand 
head of cattle, when the boys remarked that we 
had not seen any Indians yet. Then one morning 
we had our herd in pens and were eating break- 
fast when a man from another outfit came and 
told us that the Indians were in the country, and 
they had had a fight with them and had set them 
afoot by capturing their horses. 

It had rained that morning and the trail 
would be easy to follow, so the boss decided that 
we would follow them and detailed five men to 
stay with the cattle and horses, leaving the cattle 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 7 

in the pens. As I had never seen any; Indians I 
asked the boss man to let me go along with them. 
He objected, saying: 

"Kid, you had better stay at the camp." 

But I said: "No, I want to go." 

The men urged him to let me go, but before 
I got back, I wished that I had listened to him. 

We followed the red men about six miles 
down the Colorado river. Bluff Creek came in on 
the north side of the Colorado and at the mouth 
of the creek, in a pecan thicket, we struck the 
Indians, being right at them before we saw them. 

There was a rain of arrows and lead, com- 
ing thick and fast. Jeff Singleton, an old-time 
pioneer man, raised on the frontier and who had 
a sister and a brother-in-law killed by the In- 
dians, was anxious to get at^ them and get re- 
venge, so he was in front and began to snap his 
gun, which he found to be empty. As he whirled 
his horse to run an Indian shot him in the back 
with an arrow. One of the boys ran to him, took 
his knife and cut the sinew that held the spike to 
the wood. Singleton pulled the arrow out but he 
left the spike in his back. 

We fought them about twenty minutes, kill- 
ing ten and wounding two, who later were drown- 
ed as the band swam the river in making? their 
escape. 

We had had about enough excitement and 
went back to our camp. Singleton didn't seem to 
suffer from the wound, which was washed by his 
brother, who upon reaching the camp got an old 



Page 8 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 



pair of horseshoe pinchers and pulled the spike 
out of Jeff's back. Three of the men then took 
him to the home ranch where he rested up about 
a week and came on back to the camp. We fin- 
ished gathering the herd and went on back to the 
ranch. 




THE CHISUM WAR Page 9 

NEW MEXICO 

The first of September we started this herd 
to the ranch that Col. Chisum was establishing in 
New Mexico, thus opening up the western Chisum 
Trail described in the preceding chapters. The 
new ranch was named the "Bosque Grande," 
meaning "Big Timbers." 

Arriving at the ranch without any serious 
trouble we branded the cattle and turned them 
loose on their new range in a short time. The 
range that Chisum used then was crossed by the 
Pecos, the Seven .Rivers, Maso and the Hondo; 
and after leaving the Pecos Valley was a hilly 
and mountainous country, but it afforded good 
grazing for the stock. 

My work that winter was, with the help of 
five other men, to keep the Buffalo off the 
range. 

During the cold "northers" the Buffalo would 
drift in by the thousand, and we had to turn them 
from the choice range to save it for the cattle. 



Page 10 THE CHISUM WAR 

BURIED WITH HIS BOOTS ON 

On Christmas Day Col. Chisum invited all the 
men to his ranch for dinner, and while we were 
at the ranch a big negro got wild and killed a dog 
that belonged to a Mexican boy. When we got to 
them the boy was crying. 

In the crowd was Charlie Nebow, a tall, slen- 
der, light complexioned Irishman. Nebow was a 
fine, jovial fellow when he was sober but he was 
quick tempered and easily stirred up when he was 
drunk. Hej wore his hair long like so many of 
the early day men, and was as true as; steel at all 
times. 

Charlie asked the boy what was wrong. The 
answer was: 

"That negro killed my dog." 

Nebow went over to the negro and asked him 
why he killed the boy's dog. 

The negro said, "Maybe you don't like it." 

They both pulled their guns which, worn in 
true cowboy style, were easy to get to. The ne- 
gro was just a little the quicker on the draw and 
he shot Nebow in the top of the head. As Nebow 
fell he shot the negro through the thigh. 

The ball had merely creased Nebow, glancing 
so he was not seriously hurt, and he got up and 
ran to the negro. He struck the black over the 
head with a gun barrel, knocking him over a box. 
He then| pulled out his knife to cut the negro's 
head off but the father of the Mexican boy ran 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 



Page 11 



to Nebow and pulled him off the negro who be- 
gan running' and shooting back at the crowd. 

We all returned the fire, killing him instant- 
ly. The next morning we buried him. Some of 
the boys got a spade and went down to the Pe- 
cos river where they dug his grave. Taylor Ridge 
and I were detailed as a hearse, so we put a rope 
around his legs and got on our horses and dragged 
him to his grave. We wrapped him in his saddle 
blanket and buried him with his boots on. 




Page 12 IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 

INDIANS STEAL OUR HORSES 

In the spring of 1871 we went back to Texas 
with an outfit to gather another herd of cattle. 
We got to the Home Creek Ranch about the middle 
of May. 

Five men and I stayed at the ranch while 
Col. Chisum and the rest of the bunch went to 
San Antonio, that famous frontier town that has 
seen so much bloodshed in its many battles, in- 
cluding the fall of the Alamo and its valiant de- 
fenders — that city that has been under five dif f er- 
flags — where he bought a cavy of horses. 

When Chisum got back with the horses, he 
hired an outfit to gather thej steers for the re- 
turn trip to Mexico. They were gathered without 
any unusual happenings and were planning to 
take the trail the next morning but like a thun- 
derbolt from a clear sky, an Indian attack was 
made against us. 

After a short skirmish the red skins succeed- 
ed in getting away with all of our horses except 
five head. 

Another trip was \made after saddle stock, 
with Col. Chisum mounted on a mule and accom- 
panied by a man by the name of Smith, myself 
and a half-breed Indian. 

After the purchases were made we started 
back with the bunch of horses, and Col. Chisum 
left us to go to his old home in Denton county on 
business, leaving Smith in charge. He entrusted 
$2000 to Smith's care with instructions to take 
it to the foreman, Jim McDaniel, at the ranch. 



THE CHISUM WAR Page 13 

When we were near Cleburne, then a very 
small village, Smith rode ahead to locate a field 
to hold the horses in over, night. Darkness came 
without his returning, so I sent the half-breed to 
a house where he secured a field in which to 
put the horses. Upon inquiring about our leader 
we found that he had not stopped to ask about 
grazing for the stock but had "lit-a-shuck" so to 
speak, taking the two thousand bucks with him. 

The half-breed and I got two fresh horses and 
left the remainder of the cavy with the farmer 
to care for until we should return, telling him 
that we would go in search of Smith. We went 
back about eight miles and found a house where, 
upon inquiry, we learned that he had passed 
headed north. Riding on until about midnight we 
decided to stop until daybreak. Next morning 
we hit his trail, which was; easily followed as a 
number of people along the way had seen him. 
After pushing our horses hard all day we overtook 
Mr. Smith about two miles north of Denison. 

We got his horse and saddle and the two 
thousand dollars with which he was trying to es- 
cape, and we went back to where the horses had 
been left, proceeding on to the ranch with them. 

When the Colonel returned from Denton we 
all started up the trail to Mexico again, with Col. 
Chisum as our trail boss. This was a slow, hard 
trip and we ran out of flour when we hit the 
Pecos river. There followed nineteen days of liv- 
ing just on beef. We had a preacher with us 
who prayed for flour ,and expected his prayers 
to be answered literally. He was very timid when 
we started on the trip but he didn't have the stuff 
to stick, and was very tough when we reached the 
ranch, renouncing - his religion. 



Page 14 THE CHISUM WAR 

SET AFOOT WITH FOUR THOUSAND STEERS 

In the spring of 1872 we gathered more cat- 
tle in Texas. Chisum had bought (Hoggins'" cat- 
tle, the neighboring rancher on Home creek. One 
outfit hit the trail and I came on with the sec- 
ond bunch of four thousand steers, all headed for 
the Bosque Grande Ranch in New Mexico. 

When we reached the Pecos River we found 
where one of the cowboys with the first bunch 
had been killed by Indians. We drove on to Lov- 
ing's Bend before we had any trouble but there 
the Indians surprised us at night and drove off all 
the horses except four that were being ridden on 
guard around the steers. 

Had it not been for the fact that the herd 
was used to handling by this time and trail-weary 
from the many miles they had come we would 
have lost them all without more horses, but as 
they were accustomed to the routine of the trail, 
we used the four horses to point the herd and 
for flankers, the other boys driving on foot and 
helping to keep the bunch moving. We made it 
to the ranch in fifteen days with the entire herd 
except possibly a few which the boys afoot had 
to use their "Colts'^ on to keep from being run 
down and gored by the long keen horns known 
only to the ' Texas Longhorn" and other kindred 
breeds. 

You, of course, know that a cowboy has a 
decided distaste for "foot work" and it is easy to 
imagine the delight of all when the ranch was 
reached and "mounts" secured. 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 15 

THE WAR BEGINS 

The Maxwell Ranch near Fort Sumner was 
considered a Mexican outfit. Although Maxwell 
was a white man, he had married a Mexican girl 
and he used Mexican punchers. 

He was driving lots of stock from South Tex- 
as and I had been left at the ranch to cut trail 
herds that were being brought through Chisum 
range by Maxwell and others who were moving 
cattle either from Texas or to the markets. The 
two or three years passed had done much toward 
settling up the country and a lot of Texas cattle 
had been brought into Mexico. 

One morning a herd was sighted, and Tabb 
and I went out to, cut it for Chisum stock. It 
proved to ba a Maxwell herd, all the punchers be- 
ing Mex except the boss man. He and Tabb got 
into a dispute over some cattle and as Tabb rode 
into the herd, Maxwell's boss man shot him in the 
back. 

When Tabb fell off his horse the Maxwell 
man struck a lope, and I began shooting at him. 
He ran off about a hundred yards and fell off his 
horse. The boss man at the ranch heard the 
shooting and came hurriedly toward us. 

Two Mexicans ran up to me and said, ' 'May- 
be so Gringo dead." My gun was empty but I 
kept them off with it, as I was afraid to reach 
for Tabb's gun, knowing that would be giving 
away the fact that mine was empty, and knew 
they could shoot me before I could get Tabb's 
gun into position. 

When the boys rode up, they ran into the 
Mexicans: and killed one of them. Four or five 



Page 16 IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 

other Mexicans went to their fallen boss, picked 
him up and put him in their chuck wagon. We 
took Tabb back to the ranch where he died in a 
few minutes. We buried him the next day. 

Cattle thieves had been making things mis- 
erable for us and there had been several skirmish- 
es from time to time, but Col. Chisum had held 
the boys in, knowing full well what a range war 
meant. However, when Tabb, who was a very 
efficient man and was the Colonel's trusted book- 
keeper, was killed so cowardly, having been shot 
in the back while trying to cut out some of Chis- 
um' s cows which would have been carried on with 
the herd if not taken out, the Colonel declared 
war. He said the rustlers had to be exterminated 
or driven off the range. That meant fight to the 
death, as every loyal cowboy would stay with his 
outfit and fight for his boss as though for his 
general in time of war. 

Tabb was particularly valuable to the ranch 
in that he was not only a good bookkeeper, which 
was a scarce article in that country then, but he 
was a high spirited Kentuckian and a good man 
in a fight. Fighting men were needed to help 
conquer the enemies of the stockmen and estab- 
lish law and order. If his face had not been turn- 
ed when the Maxwell boss started to make trou- 
ble it might have been a diffrent story. 

A few days later Jeff Chisum, the invalid 
brother of the intrepid Colonel, went to a dance 
at Port de Luna in company with another man. 
They were set upon by the Mexicans and robbed 
and beaten almost to death. This following so 
closely after the death of Tabb, put the Colonel 
on the war path and he told the boys not to let 
a Mexican go through the range. 



THE CHISUM WAR Page 17 

BILLIE THE KID 

"Billie the Kid," one of the most noted and 
among the most dangerous of all New Mexico 
outlaws, joined with the rustlers in a crusade 
against our ranch. They organized and began a 
series of well planned cattle raids. 

The Kid's career of crime started when he 
was quite young, and he literally grew up to kill 
— and to be killed. He was sixteen when his fa- 
ther died. Billy was a great lover of his mother 
but when she married.) again he began to drift. 
He bought the best horse that could be found and 
secured the very best in firearms that existed in 
that day. Long rides over the country alone fol- 
lowed and his mother talked to him time and 
again in an effort to settle him down but all to 
no avail. 

Billy went into a Mexican sheep herder's 
camp one day and found it deserted at the time. 
It was the custom of the times to make yourself 
at home if in need of food and shelter, whether 
the owner was at home or not. In keeping with 
that custom the Kid began the preparation of a 
meal. Just as he had it ready to eat the Mexican 
came in and began abusing him. The Mex ran at 
Billy with a knife, but was stopped by a bullet 
from the: Kid's gun. 

This was the first man Billie had ever killed, 
and though he went home and was not suspected 
of having killed the Mex, he was put on the war 
path. His murderous career was definitely be- 
gun and though the first killing was probably jus- 
tifiable, and in self defense, others followed that 



Page 18 THE CHISUM WAR 

were not. 

Soon after this incident the Kid saw four 
prospectors in the mountains. They! had good 
horses and Billie thought they had plenty of mon- 
ey. He laid a plan to kill them.| Stealing into 
their camp one night while they were! asleep, he 
brutally killed the four of them. He took what 
money they had and hid the horses in the moun- 
tains. 

The Kid then returned home but his frequent 
absences and roaming disposition attracted atten- 
tion and the cloud of suspicion settled upon him. 
His mother's home was surrounded at night and 
the Kid demanded. Instead of surrendering he 
fixed up a kind of dummy and put it in the door- 
way. Firing a few shots from near the dummy 
to attract the officers' attention in that direction, 
he whirled and ran out a back door. However, 
he was discovered and fired upon as he ran, re- 
ceiving two bad wounds. The faithful mother 
made trips to his mountain rendezvous daily and 
nursed hetf' outlaw son back to health. Tnere 
could be no more of deceiving the public. The 
die was cast. So as soon as he could ride, "Billie 
the Kid," as he was ever afterward known, took 
the trail. Hiding out in Colorado for awhile, then 
boldly returning to his old haunts, he joined hands 
with the cattle rustlers of the district, where his 
skill with firearms and his reckless daring won 
him the leadership. 

A period of raiding followed that was never 
before equalled and frequently United States 
troops had to take a part to defend the ranchers 
and their property. 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 19 

IKE FRIDGE AND CHISUM PUNCHERS 
ARE CAPTURED 

A few days after the Colonel declared war on 
the rustlers, two of the boys on the north side 
of the range killed a Mexican. They were arrested 
and put in jail in Las Vegas. Then one day 
about a week later while eight of us were on the 
range branding 1 calves, a detachment of soldiers 
from Las Vegas surrounded us and we were ar- 
rested for the killing of the Maxwell boss in the 
trail herd the day Tabb was killed. We were put 
in jail with the other two boys. 

A white man in Las Vegas, who was a friend 
of Chisum's got in touch with the Colonel in Kan- 
sas City where he had gone on business. The 
friend informed him that his boss man and nine 
punchers were in jail in the Mexican town which 
was controlled by the rustlers and their element. 

After several weeks of confinement we were 
tried before a justice of the peace and with the 
aid of a lawyer Chisum had sent from Kansas 
City, eight of us were turned loose. However, 
they refused to release the first two that were 
locked up, announcing that it was their intention 
to hang them. Jim McDaniel, our boss man, said : 
"You will never hang them unless you do it in two 
or three days." McDaniel told the men to be 
ready to go at any time, as he would soon come 
after them. 

We got back to the north camp and McDaniel 
went on to the ranch . He got a bunch of men 
and twenty of us went back to Las Vegas for the 
prisoners. We arrived there about daybreak with 



Page 20 IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 

six extra horses and saddles. Three other white 
men and a negro were in the jail and the boss 
figured he would take them away from the Mexi- 
cans, too. 

McDaniel took five men and went to the jail, 
leaving the rest of us to guard the streets. He 
said upon leaving us: "When you see any men, go 
to shooting up and down the street/- They found 
two Mexican guards, both asleep. Jim McDaniel 
took their guns away from them and pushed the 
door in where the keeper slept, capturing him 
and securing the keys to the jail itself. Then; he 
put the two guards and the jailer in a cell and 
took the five white men and negro out and armed 
them with the guns he had secured from the 
Mexicans. He locked the jail and threw thei keys 
away on the way back to our camp. 

On the return trip to the camp I was talking 
to the negro and said: "Snowball," (that was the 
nickname I had given him) "if those, Mexicans 
follow us we will have to put up a fight." He 
was greatly excited, but as the jail delivery was 
accomplished without any shooting or other dis- 
turbance and before the citizens were awake, we 
got away without any> trouble and went to the 
ranch that night. 



THE CHISUM WAR Page 21 

MEXICANS KILL CHARLIE RANKINS 

A couple of days after the Las Vegas trip 
and the jail delivery, McDaniel told Charlie Rank- 
ins and me that he wanted us to go to Portf d£ 
Luna that night. 

Rankins was about thirty-five and high- 
strung. He was as brave as need be, but was too 
reckless. When we went after our saddle horses 
that evening I told him he had better catch the 
fastest horse in his string as we were liable to 
have to do some running. He was older and 
thought that I was unduly excited, and replied : 

"Oh, you are only scared," 

I said: "No, not that, but you know how 
those Mexicans are." 

He was head-strong and selected an easy 
saddler for the long ride instead of a swift run- 
ner, which fact probably caused his death. After 
a night ride we stopped outside of the town about 
three in the morning and rested our horses until 
day break. As the morning light came, we rode 
into Port de Luna, not knowing what dangers 
were ahead and really not caring much, since we 
were accustomed to meet all emergencies with our 
six guns smoking, and the Chisum outfit had a 
reputation of winning most of such arguments. 

Stopping our mounts in front of the first 
chili joint we came to we had breakfast, with 
plenty of the black coffee the restaurant men 
knew cowboys liked. The stores were beginning 
to open v/hen we had eaten, so we rode over to 
buy our stuff before too many people were astir 



Page 22 THE CHISUM WAR 

— intending to make peaceful departure if vpos- 
sible. 

I stood guard with the horses ready while 
Rankins bought tobacco and cartridges the boys 
had sent for and attended to the business McDan- 
iel had sent us on. About the time the things 
that were bought from the big Mex behind the 
counter were safely in the pack sacks, I saw three 
Mexicans coming across the street. I stepped in 
the store and! told Rankins to hurry, that some 
officers were coming. As on the previous even- 
ing, he said: 

"Oh, you are only scared." 

They came in the store and asked us where 
we were going. Rankins replied in Spanish that 
we were going to a ranch. One of the Mexicans 
then said: 

"You are Chisum's cowboys." 

They went for their guns but we beat them 
to the draw and took their guns away from them. 
Knowing that all the Mex officers were in league 
with the rustlers and were trying to help them 
by jailing the Chisum cowboys, we didn't feel 
that we were resisting real constitued auhority in 
refusing to let them arrest us. After disarming 
them, we marched them and the store keeper to 
our horses, and adjusted our packs. 

Mounting, we bade them "goodbye" and 
struck the trail out of town. Once out of town 
Rankins pulled down to a walk, and I urged him 
to ride up, feeling that they might get a bunch 
and follow us. 

He said: "We will stand them off." 

Sooner than I even suspected we discovered 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 23 

that we were closely pursued and I got Rankins 
in the notion of riding to escape^ as we were 
greatly outnumbered. The outlaw population kept 
their horses ready for instant action and they had 
joined with their friends, the "officers," and were 
on our trail bent on getting our blood in revenge 
for those of their number we had killed on the 
range in the fights there. 

Charlie's horse couldn't run fast and we were 
loaded with the results of our purchases. Also, 
our horses had been ridden practically all night, 
so the chase didn't last long until they* were gain- 
ing on us. When the intervening distancq had 
been cut to about two hundred yards they began 
shooting. Charlie Rankins was shot in the back. 
He fell over on his horse's neck, saying: 

"They sure did get me." 

He then told me to get away if I could, and 
seeing that he was actually "got" and that by re- 
maining with him we would both be killed, I put 
spurs to my good mount and soon got ahead of 
them. They had checked up a bit on reaching 
Charlie, then came on after me. About four miles 
away there was a long canyon and I made for it. 
When I struck the head of the canyon I found it 
to be very rough with lots of rock and brush. Just 
as I got to the bottom my/ horse stumbled and 
fell, pinning my left leg. He jumped up, but my 
leg was hurt so badly that I thought it was brok- 
en. I hobbled to where my horse was, but by 
that time my leg was hurting so , badly that I 
couldn't get on the horse. I led him back in the 
brush and tied him, and got behind a large rock, 
thinking they would pass me. It was not long 



Page 24 IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 

until they came., 

As they passed on I recognized a white man 
in the crowd by the name of Perison. He was 
stealing cattle from Chisum. There was a Mexi- 
can behind Perison, and when the Mex got to 
where my horse fell, he got a sack of tobacco and 
some cartridges I had dropped. He then looked 
down at my horse's tracks, trying to see which 
direction I had gone. 

He then picked up my trail and started to- 
ward me, and I knew he would see my horse if 
he came in that direction. I thought of trying to 
disarm him, but another idea came into my mind. 
Knowing I was crippled and could not put up much 
of a fight, I just decided I had better take the 
safest way. Then, too, he or some of his gang 
had killed my partner, Charlie Rankins, and I felt 
that there would be no harm in getting him in re- 
turn. I knew that the other Mexicans would hear 
the shooting and that a quick getaway would be 
necessary to avoid capture or worse. Fast action 
was necessary as he was by that time only a few 
feet from me, coming with his gun in hand trailing 
my horse. 

As I raised my gun he looked up and said, 
"hold up" in Spanish, but I shot him. When he 
hit the ground I picked up my sack of tobacco 
and cartridges. He had a new forty-five six 
shooter and belt of cartridges. I rolled him over 
and got them. The time that had elapsed had 
helped my leg and the excitement had helped me 
to forget the pain, so I made it to my horse and 
mounted. Riding up out of the canyon I looked 
back to see them coming toward me, but my good 



THE CHISUM WAR Page 25 

horse struck a lope for the Pecos river, which we 
reached after some fast riding and crossed safely 
to the east side. I was then about ten miles above 
the ranch and turned my horse down toward it. 
I hadn't gone far, though, until I saw a party of 
horsemen coming up the river. I thought of hid- 
ing as my horse was too far spent to stand ano- 
ther chase after the long run he had just made 
to the river, but as the party came closer I rec- 
ognized a horse in the bunch and the riders prov- 
ed to be four of our own men. 

On telling them what had happened I found 
that they seemed to be more anxious about the 
tobacco and cartridges than they were about the 
dead Mex. After smokes were secured and they 
began to talk it developed that they had just had 
a fight with Billie the Kid and some of his outfit, 
killing two of his men. 






Page 26 THE CHISUM WAR 

THE BATTLE ON THE MASO 

We all went on to the ranch and next day 
started out to brand some calves just as though 
no fighting had taken place. Working until night 
we made camp at an adobe house on the Maso 
creek. The house was about twenty feet long and 
fourteen feet wide. One door and a fire place 
were the only openings. We cooked in the fire- 
place and used a box for a table. Eight of us were 
in the house, some of the boys were cooking sup- 
per and the rest were on the bunks. 

The moon was shining brightly and we had 
no thought of trouble until a noise was heard on 
the outside. 

A man called "Hello." 

Jim McDaniel, our faithful foreman, was a 
tall, light complexioned man, always sober, and 
ready to protect his men in every way possible. 
He was a good manager and boss and like the 
rest of us, was not married, as there were no 
women in the country at that time except Mexican 
senoritas and senoras. In fact, at one time I 
didn't see a white} woman for four years. Mc- 
Daniel had lots of nerve, and we were all willing 
to do as he said in any emergency, for he was a 
peaceful man and never rushed into trouble, de- 
siring to avoid it if possible. When he heard the 
call "hello" he went to the door. 

Perison, the cattle; rustler, was the leader 
of the party outside and in answer to McDaniel's 
query, he said: 

"We are officers of the law and we demand 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 27 

your surrender." 

McDaniel knew they were fake officers, just 
plain rustlers in fact, and! if we surrendered we 
would likely be shot down by the Mex element like 
dogs, so he countered: 

"I shall talk to the men." 

With one accord we all said, "No, we will 
never surrender." 

After having let us make our own decision, 
McDaniel then took charge of the affair and di- 
rected the fight in his usual able manner. He 
said, "We will all rush to the door as if we were 
going to surrender and then open fire on them. 
Be sure to get Perison first." So in answer to 
their demand for surrender, we sent them a full 
charge of lead. 

We then rushed back into the corner to be 
out of line of their return fire as we were out- 
numbered, and because of the smoke from the 
guns, we couldn't tell just what effect our volley 
had had. The outlaws, most of whom were Mexi- 
cans, backed off about thirty feet to a lot of rocks, 
but kept up a continual fire at the door. Curtis, 
a young fellow about twenty-two, and an excellent 
shot, brave and daring as could be, but reckless 
beyond any degree of caution, rushed to the door 
and opened fire on the attackers. The Mexicans 
killed him instantly. 

After a few minutes of intermittent firing, 
McDaniel said : "We will quit shooting for awhile 
and the rustlers will think we are all killed." They 
shot the door to pieces but it was not long until 
they quit shooting. We then heard one of them 



Page 28 IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 

say: 

"They are all dead." 

McDaniel whispered: "Let them come to the 
door and we will make another run on them." 

As they came near the house we started to 
shooting at them. A Mexican will almost always 
run when the fight is hot and at close quarters, 
and as soon as we began our surprise volley they 
took flight, shooting as they ran, but the white 
men put up a strong fight. As the Mexicans 
whirled to run, McDaniel gave the order to charge 
and crowd them. We killed Perison and six oth- 
ers, the remainder making their get-away. All of 
our boys were wounded in the close fighting with 
the white men who had not run with the Mexi- 
cans except Charlie Nebow and me, and Nebow 
said : 

"Kid, just you and I to finish this." 

We went back and layed Curtis out on a bunk 
and cared for the wounded ones. There was so 
much shooting and fighting on the range that 
every real cowboy knew how to give first aid to 
a wounded man, and, if necessary, he could do a 
pretty fair .fob of treating him. 

After the boys and McDaniel had been patch- 
ed up they were helped on their horses and a 
trip started to a camp about six miles from there, 
where we knew about twenty men were stationed. 
It was a gruesome journey — two well men caring^ 
for five wounded ones and expecting an attack 
from the ones who had gotten away from the 
adobe house alive. 

A Frenchman who had been a doctor, lived 



THE CHISUM WAR Page 29 

not very far from the camp we went to, so three 
men of the twenty were sent for the doctor and 
his good wife. Others were sent as messengers 
to the ranch headquarters with news of the fight, 
which had been about the worst since hostilities 
had begun, having lasted for quite awhile and had 
resulted in the death of seven of the rustlers and 
one of our boys, with five more of them shot, 
more or less seriously. 

Several of us went out the next morning and 
hauled the dead rustlers and threw them into a 
canyon. We had no tools for .grave digging and 
you don't care to scratch a grave in the hard 
ground for a bunch of guys who had been trying 
to put you out of the running only the night be- 
fore. We got Curtis' body and brought it over to 
the camp where it was buried. The French doc- 
tor and his wife stayed with the boys about a 
week and pronounced them all out of danger, then 
returned to their home. 



Page 30 THE CHISUM WAR 

MANY CATTLE STOLEN 

During the Chisum trouble in 1872 the rust- 
lers were very bad. One day while the main out- 
fit was out branding calves, a man came to head- 
quarters and reported that he had found a trail 
of about six hundred head of cattle going west to 
the mountains. He had examined the trail and 
found the tracks of eight horses and one burro. 
The boss and I and one other man were at the 
ranch. We went to the cow wagon on the range 
and got twelve men, ate lunch and got horses, and 
started after the cattle. 

We struck the trail that afternoon and fol- 
lowed it until night. As the moon was shining 
and six hundred cattle leave a plain trail, it was 
decided to keep going, and the chase was kept up 
until the moon went down about two in the morn- 
ing. Our horses were tired and we stopped and 
hobbled them so they could graze about a bit and 
rest. I was put on as first guard to watch the 
horses and keep a lookout for trouble. We hadn't 
been stopped more than an hour until I heard 
cattle. I listened awhile, then waked up the boss 
and told him I heard the cattle. He got up and 
listened. We could tell they were dry cattle want- 
ing water bad. 

The boss waked the other boys and we sad- 
dled our horses and went on. About a mile from 
the herd of cattle the boss began to ride slow so 
wq wouldn't make any noise. We got in about 
two hundred yards of the herd and stopped for a 
council. Some of the boys wanted to wait until 
daybreak and some wanted to go on then. Me- 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 31 

Daniel turned to me and said: 

"Kid, what do you think about it ?" 

I replied: "If I was doing this I would go up 
and turn loose all their horses." They had the 
horses staked with saddles on six. We could see 
only two men around the herd. So McDaniel said 
he thought that was a good idea. There was no 
doubt at all about it being a stolen herd; as no 
legitimate rancher would have been driving in that 
direction and manner, so there was no use to hesi- 
tate about starting the fight. 

The boss and Charlie Nebow and I got! off 
our horses and slipped up on foot. We saw a little 
fire where six men were asleep. Turning all their 
horses loose we headed them toward the herd and 
went back to where our mounts were. McDaniel 
said, "Now we will slip around between the horses 
and the camp. Six men will go to the herd, three 
on each side, and the others will make a run on 
the camp." The horses were drifted, into the herd 
of cattle. Charlie Nebow and I and a puncher by 
the name of Blair went around the herd on one 
side. 

When we got in about fifty yards of the cat- 
tle we saw a rustler coming around the herd to- 
ward us. It could be told that he was a Mex by 
the big hat he was wearing. He evidently thought 
we three were some of his own men as he came 
quietly on toward us for a time, but soon saw his 
mistake and turned back. 

Nebow says to me: "Line him up." We be- 
gan to shoot at him. We ran him about a hun- 
dred yards when he either jumped off his horse 



Page 32 IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 

or fell off, we didn't know which. I ran and 
caught his horse, on which was a brand new Cali- 
fornia saddle. As I was about bareback I took 
the saddle. The other boys, who were going to 
their camp began shooting into it when they heard 
us firing, but they never did know whether they 
killed anyone or not. We got the cattle and all 
the horses and started back. When daybreak 
came we let the cattle graze and they drifted eas- 
ily back toward their range and watering places, 
where we turned them loose again. 

The saddle I had appropriated had blood all 
over it. Some of the boys laughingly remarked 
that the Hex's nose must have been bleeding. 

This was about the last big raid the rustlers 
made that year as Uncle Sam soon sent a marshal 
into the country and later on troops came. There 
had been numerous raids and fights in which the 
other bunches of Chisum's punchers had taken 
part, but we have not tried to give them all here 
as the details would have had to come from 
others. I heard all about them at the time, but 
fifty years or more is a long, long: time, to try 
to tell accurately, from memory, the details of 
battles that were not impressed vividly on one's 
mind from actual contact. 



THE CHISUM WAR Page 33 

"BILLIE THE KID" IS KILLED 

A United States marshal, Pat Garrett, was 
sent to help quiet the outlaws and stop cattle 
rustling. He soon decided that the best way to 
break the backbone of the gangs wasj to get the 
leader. 

After several battles with "Billie the Kid's" 
gang and the death of some of his most prominent 
fighting men, Billie was finally trapped and cap- 
tured, but after being sentenced to hang he kill- 
ed two of his jailers and made his escape. Every- 
one knew then he would never be taken alive as 
his deeds were so bloody and the hanging sentence 
was over his head. He could expect nothing ex- 
cept to die if he should be captured, and his guns 
had carried him through so many tight places 
that if he should, be cornered no other thought 
would even enter his mind except to fight his way 
out or die trying. 

It was he that Pat Garrett intended to get 
as the leader of the bunch of lawbreakers. So 
many were the deeds of daring and of cruelty that 
had been accredited to Billie that everyone fig- 
ed peace would reign if he were eliminated. Still 
in some sections he was admired for his bravery 
and daring exploits and he had the sympathy of 
the ranchers. These ranchers, of course, were the 
ones who had not suffered from the rustler raids, 
and who shielded the Kid for the protection of 
their herds as much as anything else. 

An outlaw never gets so bad but that a girl 
cannot enter his life and win his affection. Billie, 
though a hardened criminal, was a flashy knight 



Page 34 THE CHISUM WAR 

of the saddle, and went strong for showy garb of 
the Mexican caballero type. This gave him an 
idea that the ladies should all be attracted by 
him. Being a frequent visitor at the Maxwell 
ranch, he became deeply in love with a senorita 
there. 

His love was not returned however, and it 
was through this girl that the U. S. marshall laid 
his plan to get the outlaw into his meshes. It was 
next to impossible to locate him out on the range, 
and harder still, to get in a position to kill or cap- 
ture him there. Garrett went to the Maxwell 
ranch and holed up out of sight of all comers so 
that no word of his presence would be conveyed 
to the Kid by his friends. After a period of pa- 
tient waiting he was rewarded by a signal from 
the girl that the outlaw was in her parlor. Billie 
had pulled off his boots and made a silent entrj 
into the house. 

The marshal and Maxwell were in an adjoin- 
ing room. Billie heard them talking and asked 
the girl who they were. She told him that it was 
only Maxwell and a friend of his. Soon after the 
girl had let them know by a pre-arranged signal 
who her visitor was, Maxwell got up from his 
chair and left the house. He purposely made 
quite a bit of noise as he was leaving to make the 
Kid believe he was the visitor and was quitting 
the place. The girl then told the outlaw that Max- 
well's friend had left. Billie, thinking it was Max- 
well who had remained in thej room, started in to 
talk to him. 

As he came through the door Pat Garrett had 
him covered. Just as soon as the Kid discovered 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 35 

the marshall he went for his guns. But Garrett 
had only to pull the trigger and the most danger- 
ous outlaw and desperado ever on the Western 
Texas and New Mexico ranges was no more. He 
fell to the floor dead as the man of the law had 
done a good job. 

"Billie the Kid" had gone the route of so 
many criminals. He had fallen for a woman and 
given the officers the clew that led to his destruc- 
tion. The marshal asked the government for 
troops to aid in running down the rest of the 
bunch and when the U. S. soldiers interfered the 
outlaws were without a leader. Both Perison and 
the dreaded Kid had been killed. The remaining 
rustlers left that part ot the country and the 
Chisum-Outlaw war was over for that year, but 
not for all time. 



Page 36 IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 

IKE FRIDGE SHOT BY INDIANS 

After the trouble with "Billie the Kid," and 
the trouble with Perison and the other rustlers 
was all over, we started with a bunch of extra 
saddle horses to Texas to get the last of the cattle 
that Col. Chisum had bought from Coggins a year 
or two before. When we got to Rock Creek, 
twelve miles west of where San Angelo now 
stands, we camped for the night. 

Just in the middle of a peaceful "cow camp" 
evening — the moon about two hours high, four 
men on guard around the saddle remuda, two sit- 
ting by the fire parching coffee, and the rest of 
the men lying around on their blankets chatting 
after a hard day's ride — a more peaceful and 
quieter picture could not be imagined — as I have 
said, just in the middle of all the serenity the 
calm was broken by the dreaded Indian yell. 

The cow waddies snapped into action, every 
man grabbing his gun and seeking what shelter 
the hastily made camp afforded. The yell of even 
a small bunch of Indians on a quiet night, leaves 
the impression that you are attacked by thousands 
of them and we never did know just how many 
were on us. Part of them ran our horses off, the 
others came toward our chuck wagon. During 
the thick of the fight I was standing by the wagon 
shooting over it, when a bullet hit the wagon tire. 
A piece of the leaden bullet split off and hit me 
in the head. I called to a man nearby: "I'm shot 
in the head." 

He and another puncher or two looked and 
saw the blood, examined the wound and found the 



THE CHISUM WAR Page 37 

piece of bullet. They pulled it out. My bunkie, 
Charlie Nebow, said: "Hell, Ike Fridge, you are 
not hurt." 

We fought them for an hour. They killed 
one man and wounded two. We never knew how 
many Indians we killed as they carried them all 
away with them, but some of us were behind the 
wagon and others used their stacked saddles for 
a barricade and our casualties were light compar- 
ed with that of the redskins, who were in the open 
and exposed to our well aimed fire. 

The four men on horseback who had been 
holding the horse herd before the Indians took it 
away from them, rode to Fort Concho that night 
to get a doctor and a hearse and to secure some 
teams to pull our wagon to the fort. At daybreak 
the army ambulance and doctor came, along with 
a detail of ten soldiers. They took the dead cow- 
boy and one of the wounded ones to the Fort 
where the wounded man was cared for in the mili- 
tary hospital. I was not hurt badly enough to 
go to the hospital, and a little patching up by the 
army surgeon who came out to the camp put me in 
good shape again. We buried the dead man that 
day in Fort Concho. 

Before we left the battle ground to go to Fort 
Concho we picked up over two hundred arrows. 
A number of the Indians had guns that the white 
man had supplied them with to use against him. 
It was a bullet from one of them that came so 
near to bouncing me into the "Happy Hunting 
Ground," to use the Indian way of describing eter- 
nity. The Indian would have been a far less for- 
midable enemy to us in the settlement of these 



Page 38 THE CHISUM WAR 

United States if the love of money had not been 
so great in the white man. Guns and ammunition 
were traded for furs or other things the Indians 
had that could in turn be exchanged for money. 
The traders in some instances were bound to have 
known that the guns they were putting into the 
hands of the red man would later be turned back 
on them or others of the white race, but greed 
controlled their actions. 

Hence,in addition to the two hundred arrows 
we found and those that we didn't pick up, many 
leaden bullets whistled into our camp during the 
hour that the fight lasted. 

Four government mules had been brought out 
by the soldiers to pull our wagon in and when it 
reached the government post! our boss, Jim Mc- 
Daniel, bought two yoke of oxen to pull it on to 
the ranch, a distance of about forty miles. When 
we got to the ranch Col. Chisum was there. After 
he was told of the trouble he laughed and said : 

"I win a suit of clothes on that." 

Chisum had bet Eugene Tague that the In- 
dians would get our horses before we got to the 
ranch. 

The Indians were bad in the country that 
spring. They had killed many men and stolen a 
lot of horses. After losing the remuda we started 
from New Mexico with Chisum taking three men 
and myself to Austin where he purchased a bunch 
of horses. When we returned from Austin, Cog- 
gins delivered the remainder of the herds the 
Colonel had bought from him. They were then 
started onj the long trail to Mexico where they 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 39 

were turned loose with those of the bunches that 
had preceded them, or at least on the same range. 
This gave Col. Chisum about all the cattle he 
could handle conveniently with the pests such as 
Indians, cattle rustlers and mean Mexicans to con- 
tend with, not to mention weather conditions. 

It was late in the fall when we arrived at the 
New Mexico ranch. Of course, before the Coggin 
cattle could be turned on the range it was nec- 
essary to brand them all with the Colonel's brand, 
While this was being done there was some more 
gun play. We had a negro in the bunch who was 
helping brand the cattle. He and one of the white 
men, Carnahan I believe it was, had had some 
trouble and during the work of branding, the 
negro saw a chance to take advantage of the 
puncher, 

The negro said, "I am ready for you now," 
and made a move to draw his gun. Jim McDaniel 
heard him and whirled around, drawing and fir- 
ing his gun as he turned, shooting the black be- 
tween the eyes before he could kill the cowboy. 

We buried the negro by his partner on the 
bank of the Pecos river. His partner had been 
killed the previous Christmas day in a fight at the 
ranch, as detailed in a preceding chapter. 



Page 40 IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 

THE LaPATCHES ON THE WAR PATH 

That winter saw a lot of trouble. The La- 
Patche Indians were particularly bad. We give 
only one or two incidents that are especially in- 
teresting due to the peculiar manner in which the 
fighting took place. 

Goodwin and Walker, two of the Colonel's 
cowboys, were camped in a kind of dug-out, used 
for a line camp. It was built in the head of a hol- 
low or draw and covered with poles and dirt. The 
door was made of box lids and rawhide strings. 
In that day rawhide strings were used in most in- 
stances where we now use wire nails. The chim- 
ney was cut in the bank and topped off with large 
rocks. 

The boys reached the dug-out about an hour 
before sunset and began the preparation of the 
evening meal. While the men were busy cooking 
their supper about thirty redskins attacked them. 
Some ran up on top of the dug-outj where they 
would be safe from bullets from within. Others 
began shooting in the door. One of the boys 
closed the door whic* 1 turned the arrows success- 
fully, and they did not rush the door for fear of 
being stopped with a white man's bullet. 

The red men then resorted to the strategy 
which is their nature. When Goodwin or Walker 
would stick a gun out to shoot, the Indians on the 
roof would drop rocks on their gun barrels and 
knock them out of their hands or spoil their aim. 
The savages threw rocks down the; chimney until 
they filled it up. They then began to dig holes 
in tiie roof. Goodwin and bis partner decided they 



THE CHISUM WAR Page 41 

would make a break for liberty. 

As most of the Indians were on the dug-out 
the boys opened the! door and ran. Walker did 
not get far until an Indian shot him through the 
leg. He fell and Goodwin picked him up and put 
him under a cactus. Goodwin told his comrade 
that he would go to the ranch and get help. How- 
ever, he had not gone very far until he heard the 
Indians yelling and he knew they had found Wal- 
ker. As soon as Goodwin got to the ranch he got 
help and went back, but found only Walker's dead 
body. 

One month later in a colorful fight Indians 
killed Goodwin and his brother. 



Page 42 THE CHISUM WAR 

WAR RE-OPENS— COL. CHISUM DIES 

With the coming of spring the Chisum War 
opened again. The remnants of the old rustler 
gang, together with a number of new recruits, 
drifted back into the territory,) and the range 
again was the scene of fighting between the pun- 
chers and the cattle thieves. 

Col. Chisum was in poor health, suffering 
from cancer of the mouth. He was so worried 
over his physical condition and financial troubles 
that they took him to Kansas City for treatment 
and a rest. When they got ready to start with 
him he called all his men to his bedside and said: 

"Jim McDaniel, handle the ranch the best 
you know how and when I get to Fort Union I 
will consult the commanding officer and try to 
stop this war." 

Then he called me over and said: 

"Ike Fridge, if I get back alive I will make 
you my sole heir, for you have made me a faith- 
ful man." 

At that time I was only a "straw boss" but 
had been with the Colonel since I was a fourteen- 
year-old boy, and my extreme youth and conduct 
in time of danger had attracted his attention and 
won his affection. He was never married and 
having no direct heirs, he planned to leave me 
what he had. 

Though the trip to Kansas City was made 
with as much care as possible with the crude 
mode of travel that prevailed then, the intrepid 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 43 

Colonel failed fast and was very low when the 
city was reached. He was given the very best 
medical attention possible, but he soon died. 

With the passing of Col. John Chisum the 
west lost one of its most courageous pioneers and 
developers. He never permitted fear of the Red- 
skins or cattle rustlers to interfere with his plans 
for acquiring a new range or extending his herds. 
He met them on their own terms and the loyal 
cowpunchers on his ranch were so endeared to 
him that they never hesitated to make an ad- 
vance to meet an enemy at his bidding, or for 
that matter, at the request of the faithful fore- 
man that served him. 

His remains were returned 1 to Denton, Texas, 
and laid to rest near the scene of his first great 
venture in the cattle game. Not far from his 
resting place lies the famous "Chisum Trail," that 
he established, leading to the Kansas markets, 
and that trail still lives in the memory of every 
"early-day" cow man who remains in this time of 
the steel rails, and the fast automobiles which 
travel over paved highways that in Col. Chisum's 
life were only cow trails. 

Not longl after the death of the Colonel his 
creditors came west and soon tore up the great 
Chisum ranch. What the creditors left, his two 
brothers received. 



Page 44 IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 

"LET'S HANG HIM" 

Our cook at the ranch was Beaver Smith, a 
Yankee negro. When he got drunk he would al- 
ways shout the praises of Lincoln. Now, of 
course that kind of talk did not go very well with 
the boys. The war between the states was fresh 
in their memory, and they had all been raised 
by southern parents, some of whom had lost their 
lives in the conflict of only a few years before. 

One day Beaver got drunk and began yelling 
for Lincoln again. The boys got enough and one 
said: 

"Let's hang him." 

These words usually meant action, as there 
were very few jails and any offense that was con- 
sidered a crime called for hanging. Someone went 
for a rope. But since the negro had really com- 
mitted no crime, I didn't want to see him hanged, 
so I said: 

4 'Boys, don't hang him, just brand him." 

That idea seemed to suit them, so they got a 
spade hot. This was the last one of three negroes 
the Colonel had taken to New Mexico, the other 
two having been killed as already described. As 
this was the last one, I wished to do the branding. 
We laid him on his stomach and I put the Chisum 
brand on his loin, then jingle-bobbed his right 
ear, as that was the Colonel's mark, 



THE CHISUM WAR Page 45 

WE BID GOODBYE TO NEW MEXICO 

After the tearing up of the great Chisum 
ranges and the passing of the power of the Chis- 
um organization, the rustler-controlled Mex gov- 
ernment in the Spanish towns around began to 
make things hot for former Chisum men. Things 
continued to get warmer and eight of us left one 
night for Texas. There was no brass band to play 
at our departure and no farewell turkey dinner in 
our honor. We just rode, and when daybreak 
came we were near the border of Texas, and soon 
were out of the state of New Mexico. 

One week later, by traveling light and fast 
we were making our arrival at the Chisum ranch 
in Texas. The Chisum brothers had a few cattle 
left and one of the old bosses by the name of Fitz- 
gerald took us on and started out on a round-up 
of the scattered herds. The outfit consisted of 
fifteen men. We started for the San Saba river 
and gathered quite a bunch of cattle. 

One morning Coggin and five other men 
went down the river to make a drive while the 
other men came around the other side where we 
were holding the cattle. The river was south of 
us and there was a range of hills on the north. 
Where the hills met the bank of the river, it was 
impossible to cross either the range or the river. 

Some of the boys looked back and saw a cloud 
of dust. We thought it was cattle raising the 
dust but Coggin said it was Indians. As they 
came nearer we saw that sure enough a large 
number of Indians was advancing upon us. We 
knew that it was useless to run and that we might 



Page 46 THE CHISUM WAR 

as well prepare to fight. 

One man who was riding a fine horse, said: 
"I will never fight them. I can outrun them." 
The rest of us got off oui\ horses and were ready 
to fight, but the fellow that thought he could out- 
run them headed his horset up the river. The In- 
dians were there by then and fired on us but as 
soon as they saw the lonely figure running away 
they knew they had easy prey, so they took after 
him. They chased him to where the hills and 
river came together and he was in a natural trap. 
There he was killed. 

We rode four miles to a ranger camp to noti- 
fy them, as there were too many redskins for us 
to handle. We joined forces with the rangers and 
tried to overtake the Indians, but failed. 

The body of the man that was killed was 
found and carried back to the ranger camp where 
it was buried. The next day we went on another 
round. A long hollow or draw that drained into 
the San Saba river was selected as the starting 
point for one drive. The boss left a negro and 
me to keep the herd moving down the draw, while 
the rest of the men werei scattered on either side, 
throwing what strays they picked up in to us in 
the draw. At the mouth of the draw was a big 
flat where we intended to throw all the bunch of 
cattle together. 

The mesquite trees were very thick and in 
driving down the draw I thought I saw some 
horses' legs through the trees. Upon closer in- 
vestigation I made out that they were in reality 
horses. When we came to a little opening in the 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 47 

brush we saw that the horses were being ridden 
by Indians. 

The negro said : "Let's turn back." 

I told him that the Indians hadn't seen us 
yet and there was no use turning. 

"Maybe we can fool along behind them and 
they will go on down to where the main bunch 
of men are." 

They finally saw us, however, and then went 
to running. An Indian will fight if he knows he 
has the advantage, but in this case they couldn't 
tell, for the thickness of the brush, how many men 
were after them. When the negro and I saw they 
were on the run, we just dropped in behind them 
and went to shooting and giving the old-time cow- 
boy yell, which, when given by cowboys on the 
war path is almost as vicious-sounding as the In- 
dian yell. We killed one horse but the rider jump- 
ed on another mount and stayed up with his gang. 

The boys at the main holding place heard the 
shooting and came up the hollow toward us. They 
ran into the Indians and killed one. We all got 
together and chased the red men about two miles, 
but couldn't catch them. 

It was late in the fall when the rounding up 
was completed and we went back to our ranch. 
There wasn't much work to be done until next 
spring and the Indians didn't raid us that winter, 
so we had a few months of quiet ranch life. 

In the spring of 1873 things changed. A 
few people began to move in. A man by the name 
of Bill Williams lived near Brownwood He had 



Page 48 IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 

a wife and four children, a six-months-old infant, 
a girl of six, a boy of eight, the eldest being a boy 
about twelve, 

Williams built a log house but as he had no 
lumber, he didn't put up any doors. One morning 
he and the oldest boy had gone to the post oaks 
to cut timber to build a cowpen. While they were 
away from the house, Indians came. 

The signs showed that the woman put up 
a desperate fight but she was killed and scalped. 
The baby was thrown into the fire and they took 
the other two children and left. Williams heard 
the shooting and hurried home, only to find his 
home wrecked. His wife was killed, his baby 
burned to a crisp and two of his children missing. 

He sent his son to the little settlement of 
Brownwood to report what had happened. The 
citizens followed the Indians, crowding them so, 
that they found the boy with his hands tied be- 
hind his back and his body in the forks of a tree. 
Th chase led on to Red river but the Indians were 
never sighted. 

Williams buried his wife and baby together. 
He left the twelve-year-old son at Brownwood and 
joined the Texas Rangers, vowing he would get 
an Indian for every hair in his wife's head. He 
made; one of the best rangers on the frontier and 
did kill a lot of Indians. I was in company with 
him later and found him to be a likeable fellow, 
but he sure did hate redskins* 



THE CHISUM WAR Page 49 

THE BUFFALO SLAUGHTER IS ON 

By the middle of the summer great changes 
had come about. Tenderfoots began to pop up 
in a hurry and buffalo hunters came thick and 
fast. The great, mass of buffalo began to be 
slaughtered. The white carcasses were thick all 
over the prairie. One good buffalo hunter could 
kill sixty in one stand. If a buffalo leader was 
killed, the rest of the herd would circle around 
him and it was an easy matter to kill many of 
them. The hunters would pile the buffalo hides 
in their camps and then late in the fall each out- 
fit would have five or six wagons with six yoke 
of steers to the wagon. They would haul them 
to Fort Griffin or other freighting points. Most 
of the hides, together with the tallow, that was 
hauled to Fort Griffin ,was sold to Conrad and 
Ruth. 

The hunters had much trouble with the In- 
dians but they fought them and stayed in after 
the Buffalo. 

Howard Peak, writing for a Texas news- 
paper in 1926 has this to say in regard to the 
buffalo situation of the time referred to here : 

"Other than Weatherford, Stephenville, Com- 
anche, Brownwood, Coleman, Eastland, Palo Pin- 
to and Jacksboro — the latter was just across the 
creek from Fort Richardson — there were no towns 
west of Fort Worth, when the first train arrived 
50 years ago. 

"Forts Concho, across the Concho river from 
San Angelo, Camp Colorado, Fort McKavitt, Fort 



Page 50 THE CHISUM WAR 

Griffin and Fort Richardson, were active military 
posts, engaged in maintaining peace on the out- 
posts of the frontier. Abilene was not on the 
map, nor was Cisco. Buffalo Gap, some 15 miles 
to the southwest of Abilene, had sprung up as a 
cattle trading point, but as far west as El Paso, 
and to the uttermost confines of the Panhandle, 
with the exception of Tascosa, there was nothing 
but rolling prairie which was thick with buffalo 
and antelope. Owing to the fact that; the buffalo 
possessed such a valuable hide, they became com- 
mercialized and were slaughtered indiscriminate- 
ly. 

Thousands of hunters flocked to the West 
and engaged in the hunt for this valuable animal. 
His doom was sealed. The United States govern- 
ment closed its eyes to the ruthless slaughter, and 
permitted untold thousands of this life sustaining 
beast to be killed for the paltry sum of $1 for 
each hide delivered to covetous dealers who, in 
turn, shipped them to Eastern markets with great 
gain. 

The writer has seen in one day, in Fort Grif- 
fin, more than 5,000 buffalo hides stacked in bales 
ready for shipment. He has also seen in the 
yards of Morehead & Co., located at the foot of 
Houston street, Fort Worth, thousands of buffalo 
hides bound for the Eastern market. It is a cry- 
ing shame that a country like this should have 
been so short sighted as to permit the near ex- 
tinction of this grand and meat-giving animal. 
Today, only a few thousand buffalo are now in 
existence, and they are scattered from Col. Chas. 
Goodnight's ranch in Palo Duro Canyon, near 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 51 

Amarillo, to the confines of Western Canada. 

"While the meat of the buffalo was savory 
and sustaining, the hide was the most valuable 
part of the animal. Unless one has seen these 
beautiful robes, and slept in the open, and enjcyed 
their protecting warmth when a cold norther was 
bearing down on him, he cannot appreciate their 
benefits. The writer has been in the camps of 
the Tonkawa Indians, near old Fort Griffin and 
watched the squaws as they tanned, rubbed, dress- 
ed and painted these hides, rendering them into 
soft and furry robes that would grace the homes 
of a prince. 

"The finest of these coverings, measuring 
from 6 by 8 to 8 by 10 feet, as soft as buckskin, 
and stenciled on the fleshy side with depictions 
of Indian scenes and done by tribal artists, often 
sold for from $6 to $10 and, were it possible to 
get them today, would bring easily $100. 

But, like so many of the treasures of the 
early Westerners, the buffalo and buffalo robes 
have passed to the realms of the unknown and 
are now but a fading tradition." 



Page 52 IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 

WITH THE TEXAS RANGERS 

In the early spring of 1874 the* Indians made 
a big raid. I was with the Texas Rangers at the 
time. The raiders stole about four hundred 
horses. They cleaned the whole country and kill- 
ed several men. 

The cowmen and rangers got together fifty- 
strong and went after them. We cooked bread 
and got some dried beef and tied it on to our sad- 
dles and followed the redskins. On the second 
day out, as the Captain and I were riding in front, 
we saw a creek ahead with heavy elm and hack- 
berry on the north side and with a little row of 
hills to the south. The Captain stopped the men 
and instructed them to wait there while he and 
I went to the top of a hill to see what we could 
find. When we got to the hill, we got off our 
horses and crept to the top. There we sighted a 
plenty of redskins. Cautiously peering over the 
crest of the hill we saw them in a valley of ap- 
proximately four hundred acres. 

Their horses were herded by two boys we 
took to be Indians. The others were under the 
trees enjoying the shade while their squaws were 
cooking meat the hunters had killed. The cap- 
tain and I went back to our men and told them 
where the savages were. He detailed two other 
men to go with me to run the Indians' horses off 
as they charged the savage camp. We did as we 
were told and as we started the horses, a boy 
came riding toward me. I thought the best shot 
would win and fired at him but missed. 

He throwed his bow and arrows down and 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 53 

ran to me. When he got closer to me he said, 
"Me no Indian. We run the horses over the hill 
and round them up." I found the boy to be white 
and that he could speak some English. The Cap- 
tain had told me to join in the fight assoon as 
the horses were started, so after a few words 
with the boy I left him with the other two men 
and headed in the direction of the firing. 

By the sound of the shooting I could tell the 
main fighting was drifting up the creek. I spurr- 
ed my horse into a gallop up the hill and ran 
upon fifteen Indian warriors. They opened fire 
on me and of course I had to run. I turned and 
went to where some of our men were. By that 
time the Indians were badly scattered. I rode 
over three dead ones before I got to the white 
men. 

A cowman and the Ranger Captain were 
down off their horses fighting with a bunch of 
Indians that were hemmed in a bend of the creek. 
The captain told me to get off my horse and fall 
in. I did this just in time to save his life. An 
Indian was less than twenty feet from him. The 
Captain got a shell hung in his gun and was try- 
ing to get it out. The savage was shooting at 
him and I said: 

"Cap, look out or he will kill you." 

The Captain said, "He can't hit me." 

Just as the Indian raised his gun to shoot 
again, I shot him under the arm. He fell over on 
his head. 

We killed eight of the enemy and wounded 



Page 54 THE CHISUM WAR 

quite a lot. The band scattered all over the coun- 
try and it was impossible to trail them for ano- 
ther battle until after they came together again. 
Three of our men were slightly wounded. We 
went back to our horses. A Mexican we had with 
us had scalped the dead Indians. 

The Mexican could use the Indian lingo and 
we had him along as an interpreter. When we 
got back to my prisoner the Mexican talked in 
the Indian tongue with the boy for sometime. The 
boy said his people were killed by redskins and 
he thought they had lived at Lampasas. 

When we returned to our camp a couple of 
days later the cowmen came and got their horses 
that we had recovered from the raiders. 

We found out later from the boy that he had 
been with the Indians ten years. He said that he 
had a sister that was captured when he was and 
that she was a prisoner of the Kiowa Indians. The 
chief of that tribe was called Rain-in-the-Face. 
This boy stayed with the rangers for quite awhile. 
He thought his name was Helms. He gave the 
paint pony he was riding when he was rescued, 
to me as a token of appreciation. The boy fol- 
lowed me everywhere I went and when I was on 
guard duty he was with me. About a month la- 
ter the Captain started with the boy to Austin. 
When they got ready to leave he hugged my neck 
and cried. 

The Governor found out all he could from 
the lad about his sister and with the help of an 
officer and friends of the Helms family, made 
up one thousand dollars to give Rain-in-the-Face 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY 



Page 55 



for the delivery of the girl on the south side of 
Red river. It was all arranged through an Indian 
trader and the girl and her brother were sent to 
their grand parents in Tennessee. 

Three months later I quit the Rangers and 
went back to the cow ranch. 




Page 56 THE CHISUM WAR 

UP THE TRAIL 

While punching cattle I went up the trail to 
McAllister in the Indian Territory, with Fitzger- 
ald, an old trail driver. We carried a large herd 
and took about all the knocks that were coming 
to a trail driver. 

In those days the cowboys had no bedding. 
Our bed was our saddle blanket. The saddle was 
our pillow. We would stand guard all night 
around the herd of cattle with it raining and 
lightening. The lightning would play over the 
long horns of the steers as if they were lightning 
rods. 

Fitzgerald sold his cattle and we came back 
to the Texas ranch! late in the fall. 




IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 57 

MrKINZIE SLAYS INDIANS 

There were only two more big Indian raids. 
On one raid about two thousand warriors and 
squaws moved on the south side of Red River. 
They killed lots of buffalo hunters and citizens. 
Fourteen buffalo hunters fought a lot of the sav- 
ages for two days and nights. In fact they fought 
them until all the hunters were killed except one. 
He made his escape and came back to Fort Concho 
and notified General McKinzie. 

The General picked two companies of men 
out of his post and hit the trail. With McKinzie 
as leader the white men overtook the red men at 
Palodura Canyon. When the Indians were locat- 
ed McKinzie talked to his men and told them to 
kill everything that moved as "knits made lice." 

The attack was made about daybreak. Every- 
thing in the camp that could set alone began to 
shoot but that did not bluff McKinzey. The 
slaughter was terrific and even the hardened In- 
dian hater, McKinzie, was moved. He then chang- 
ed his orders and told his men to capture all they 
could. They killed, captured and wounded nine 
hundred of the savages and took fourteen head 
of horses. All the worthless Indian ponies were 
killed by the soldiers to keep the Indians that es- 
caped from catching them later and attacking the 
white folks. Then he gave orders to his men to 
go back over the battlefield and put out of their 
suffering all of the wounded who could not walk. 

He took the squaws to Fort Concho. Later 
on they were taken to Austin and traded back to 
the Indians for whites that had been captured by 



Page 58 



THE CHISUM WAR 



them. The government moved McKinzie as the 
officials were afraid he would kill all the Indians, 
but he had put the fear into their hearts so that 
no more big raids were made. 




IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 59 

FORT GRIFFIN A TOWN OF KILLERS 

By that time the buffalo had begun to get 
scarce. In the spring of 1875 the Buffalo hunters 
had to quit as there was not enough of the noble 
animals left on the plains to pay the expenses of 
the slayers. 

The tenderfeet began to pour into the coun- 
try and take charge of it. In the fall of 1875 I 
went to Fort Griffin and stayed there that win- 
ter as an inspector. My duties were to watch the 
slaughter pens for stock that might have been 
rustled from, my employers. A number of cow- 
men went in together on my salary to have me 
look after their interests there. The government 
had two hundred Tonkawa Indians at the post 
that they were feeding and it required quite a 
lot of beef for them and the soldiers that) were 
maintained there. 

The government bought beeves from anyone 
who had good stock and it was a temptation to 
tha rustlers to slip in a few head of stolen beeves 
when possible. I had some lively times that win- 
ter. Fort Griffin was a wild town. Shooting 
scrapes were common and lots of men were kill- 
ed there. To die with one's boots on was noth- 
ing uncommon, and a killing was soon forgotten 
for the reason that a more| recent one held the 
public attention. 

The soldiers at the Fort were, for the most 
part, negroes and the cowboys, rangers and buf- 
falo hunters did not like them. There were a 
number of bad fights between them and the fights 



Page 60 THE CHISUM WAR 

seemed to encourage lawlessness. 

Since I had always been on the range and on 
the go, this way of remaining in one place got 
old to me, so I went to South Texas in the spring 
of 1876. After gathering quite a herd of cattle 
we came back as far as Shackleford county, but 
two years later we came further north in search 
of better range and started a ranch on the Big 
Wichita River. This was a rolling mesquite coun- 
try and! the mesquite grass made fine pasture for 
range-bred cattle. 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 61 

A COWBOY FIGHT 

Starting from the little Wichita river in 1879 
with an outfit consisting of only four men we 
took a nice bunch of choice steers to Gainesville, 
Texas. The Indian trouble was all over and the 
range was so peaceful that no thought of trouble 
entered our minds, so after we had sold the steers 
at Gainesville, and delivered them to a ranch at 
Whitesboro, the three cowboys with me went on 
to Fort Worth for a sort of jubilee and general 
celebration characteristic of one of their type, en- 
joyed by those who have been long in the open 
spaces. 

That left me to return alone with the extra 
horses. Naturally, looking for company, I met 
a man that was coming west and we fell in to- 
gether. His name sounded funny to me, McAimey 
it was, but it wasn't considered just the proper 
thing to question people too much". He told me of 
his adventures in the western country and talked 
of the many fights he had sieen and taken part 
in. I knew better than to believe them, but be- 
ing lonesome and needing! help with the horses, 
too, I fell for his line, hook, sinker and all. I 
thought he was the very idea, but to my sorrow 
it was not long before I learned different. 

Just at the close of the second day's riding 
we got to Cambridge, just east of Henrietta. 
T^erp we we ^t i^to the little saloon to get a 
drin 1 ^ of their whiskey. Four men that had been 
in the saloon lonrj enough to be feeling ki^d of 
proud of themselves began to pick at us. They 
teased us co^siderablv a^d called us "Sap Oak 



Page 62 THE CHISUM WAR 

Cowpunchers." We didn't say anything. Just 
drank our little swig and went on about a half- 
mile and camped for what we thought would be 
the night. As we were making camp my new 
partner said: 

"I was just fixing to call those fellows' hand 
when you left the saloon." 

I told him, we didn't want to have any trou- 
ble. About that time the four men passed us 
and yelled at us some, and went on to Henrietta. 
We were so close to town that we decided we 
would go on to Henrietta and have a cafe meal. 
After putting the horses in the wagon yard for 
the night we headed to the restaurant and on 
the way we saw these same four men going down 
the street talking to each other. As we passed 
we spoke to them and they returned our greet- 
ings with "Hello, tenderfeet." We still] remain- 
ed silent. After we had finished eating we went 
down into the main part of town and entered the 
big false fronted dance hall. I knew the man who 
ran the hall and I saw a woman that was for- 
merly at Fort Griffin. She knew me at Fort 
Griffin as "Fant Hill Jack." 

This fellow Gibbins, the proprietor of the 
hall, said, "You boys come on and take a, drink." 

The girl walked up between me and my part- 
ner and said to me: "Jack, we have taken several 
drinks together." About that time these four men 
that had decided to torment us walked into 1 the 
dance hall. My partner whisjpered to me: "If they 
say anything I will call their hand." 

One of them walked up to us and put his 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 63 

hand on the girl's shoulder and asked her if she 

knew who she was talking to. She replied that 
she did. "He is my friend." As she said that, 
he took her by the hand and jerked her away 
from us. He had a quirt in his hand and hit her 
with it. That was more than I could stand to 
see and I knew he meant it as an insult to me. 
I walked up to him and slapped him in the mouth. 
He changed ends with the quirt and hit me over 
the head with the loaded end. The blow knocked 
me down over the stove. 

Now was the time for my gallant partner to 
show his metal. I figured) on him helping to keep 
the others back while I mixed it with this big 
fellow with the loaded quirt. But right there that 
partner's nerve wilted like a morning glory in the 
hot sunshine. Running into the big cowpucher, 
I grabbed him in the collar and was mixing it 
with him when one of his pals rushed into the 
melee. I backed toward a corner of the room to 
keep my back protected, and looked for the brave 
partner, but he was not to be seen. He had va- 
moosed. 

The( two fellows kept crowding me and I 
jerked my gun. The first one backed off but the 
other one came forward. I hit him over the head 
with the gun, and looked just in time to see the 
other one going after his gun. I learned that 
liis name was Giles FJippen. When I saw Flippen 
drawing his gun I knew trouble was going to 
start. I began to shoot at him and the third shot 
struck him. He fell and I started to shoot again, 



Page 64 THE CHISUM WAR 

but the fellow that ran the dance hall yelled: 

"You have killed him. Don't shoot any 
more." 

As the smoke cleared I discovered that the 
room was empty with the exception of the wound- 
ed man, the bartender and me. 

I went to the wagon yard where our horses 
were and' caught one and got on him bare-back, 
then rode up to the livery stable where my sad- 
die horse was. I thought that I might be able to 
get my horse and saddle, but I saw five men 
guarding the stable. Going back to my camp I 
decided to try again at daybreak. The next morn- 
ing when I got to the stable, a boy was the only 
person in sight. I told him I wanted my horse 
and he told me to saddle him, then he went out 
the front door. Just as I got the saddle and 
blanket on my horse, four men came in the door 
and started toward me. 

I asked them what they wanted and one fel- 
low said they wanted me. I then asked the 
spokesman if he was an officer and he said he 
was the deputy sheriff, so I told him that if he 
would send the other men out I would give up to 
him but rot to the whole bu^ch. As soon as the 
others left I handed him my gun. He took me 
bv the cafe for my breakfast and I asked him 
how the fellow was that had been shot. He said 
that the man wasn't hurt much but that I sho"M 
have killed him. We then went on to the jail 
where my former partner was safely locked ur> 
a^d after I got in I told him that he had proved 
himself to be a fine fellow. He was so ashamed 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 65 

that he didn't say much. 

They kept me in jail nineteen days and the 
fellow I had shot proved to be my friend., The 
grand jury went to his bed to see him in an ef- 
fort to get a bill against me for assault and at- 
tempt to murder, but he told them): 

"No, they should have killed the four of us." 
I was tried for assault and battery and paid 

a fine, then got my horses and outfit together 

and went on to the ranch. 



Page 66 THE CHISUM WAR 

CATTLE DRIFT OFF THE RANGE 

In the winter of 1879 — af cold wet winter — 
the cattle drifted south from the Red river and 
Wichita river ranges and we tried to holdj them 
as near the range as possible. The cowmen got 
together and put the south line of the range on 
the Clear Fork of the Brazos river, but cattle 
drifted there and cleaned up the forage of the 
range until we decided to turn them loose. 

Then in the spring of 1880 the cowmen had 
a meeting. We decided to go to the Colorado 
river, as that was considered about as far south 
as the cattle had drifted during the winter. There 
we were to commence the work of gathering and 
returning the herds to their home ranges. The 
twenty-fifth of March we made the start south 
and three hundred cowboys with ten chuck 
wagons all got together on Pecan Bayou in 
Brown county, just north of the Colorado river. 
There we fixed to work back to the ranch, and 
each outfit was given its territory to drag for 
strays. The people in that country said it looked 
like war times as we all assembled in that county. 

As we went down my cow wagon and outfit 
stopped for the night about two miles south of 
Cisco, which was just a tent town then. The 
Texas and Pacific railroad was being built and 
a town was springing up. There were two wood- 
en buildings and they were saloons. 

The boys wanted to go back to town that 
night, so we all went. The people there saw some 
real cowboys. The boys began to drink liquor 
and get noisy. Cisco had a city marshall. He 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 67 

came into the saloon where there was a bunch of 
the boys and said: 

"You boys will have to be more quiet." 

Dick McDuff asked: "Well, who are you?" 

"I am the marshall of this town," the man re- 
plied. 

Dick then asked him to take a drink, but he 
refused. Another boy told the bartender to give 
him a bottle, then he said to the marshall: 

"Now, you drink or we will pour it down 
you." 

Some of the cowboys were yelling", "Pour it 
down him," and the! officer took a drink of the 
whiskey. Then another puncher said: 

"This saloon man needs air." 

They began to shootj through the roof and 
the saloon man left the house. 

I said, "Boys, we had better go or we will all 
get into trouble." 

We went and got our horses, roped some 
tents and dragged them into the postoaks, then 
went down by a little hut they used for a jail. 
The house was about ten feet square and one of 
the boys remarked: "Let's turn it over." 

When we tied on to it, a man on the inside 
yelled : 

Don't, you will kill me." 

But, nevertheless, we turned it upside down 
and left the prisoner hollering. 



Page 68 THE CHISUM WAR 

When fixing to leave camp next morning we 
saw a bunch of men coming and as they rode 
up to camp we saw they were officers and were 
headed by the sheriff. He called for the boss 
man and I rode out to where he was. He said 
that he would have to take the boys back. 

I asked: "What is the trouble?" 

"Well, it is the way the boys acted last 
night." 

"No one killed?" 

"No." 

"You won't take us back then, and if you 
start to, you will have trouble. The saloon man 
sold that whiskey to these boys and they just 
drank too much. We paid him for all we got and 
these boys won't ever stand to go back without 
serious trouble. 

Then he said: "All right, we don't want to 
have any trouble." 

I replied: "If you want to start anything 
there) will be over three hundred of us to work 
coming back." 

Rather than incur the ill feeling of the cow- 
boys and cause a young war they went on back 
to town a d we proceeded on our journey to the 
general camp. 



IKE FRIDGE, COWBOY Page 69 

A BEAR IS ROPED— A WOMAN IS WED 

During the work of gathering the cattle for 
the drive north to the home range, Dick McDuff, 
Bob McKinney and I were driving a herd of cat- 
tle through the timber near a cornfield when we 
saw a big black bear run into the corn patch out 
of the postoaks. We took down our ropes and 
Dick roped the bear by the head while I caught 
him with my rope by the hind legs. Bob went 
down to a log house nearby and asked the! lady 
for an axe. They were old-fashioned frontier 
people and the woman simply said: 

'The axe is at the woodpile." 

The girl, however, figured we had treed 
something and asked Bob what we had. He told 
her that we had found a bear and added: 

"If you like bear meat, we will give him to 
you." 

We killed and dressed him and hung the meat 
in aj post oak tree in the yard and threw the skin 
over the rail fence. McKinney told the girl that 
the skin would make her a nice rug and she said 
she would dress it. They thanked us and we 
rode off. 

Awhile later I went into a store in a little 
town in that section and met the girl again. She 
looked me over and asked me if I was not one of 
the boys that had killed and given them the bear. 
When I admitted that I was, she told me that she 
and her mother had lots of fun out of her father 
by telling him they had killed the bear. We bade 



Page 70 THE CHISUM WAR 

each other goodbye and I never saw her again. 

We got back to the ranch on July 15th, and 
as the country was filling up with different kinds 
of people the real cowboys began drifting out and 
going to the western and northern territory. 



That winter we went into our home camps 
and one day a> cowboy from a nearby ranch came 
over and told me that there was going to be a big 
dance that night and asked me to go with him. I 
got my glad rags on and went and had a jolly 
good time. 

While there I met a young lady that attract- 
ed me very much and she didn't seem to have 
much trouble looking at me, so we spent the even- 
ing getting acquainted. I went back to the camp 
with my head filled with other thoughts than 
working on the range in all kinds of weather and 
eating cow camp grub. 

Other meetings occurred and I made up my 
mind that if I could get her to be my wife I would 
quit the roaming lifq and settle down. Once a 
cowboy makes a decision, action is what he 
craves, and she soon became Mrs. Ike Fridge. 



HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 



ROlObl M71S5 



txr T 

B 

FRIDGE, IKE 
HISTORY OF THE CHISUfl WAR: 
OR. LIFE OF IKE FRIDGE 



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