THE CHISUM WAR
OR LIFE OF
Stirring Events of Cowboy
Life on the Frontier
HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
R01 064 47425
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THE CHISUM WAR
OR LIFE OF
Printed by SMITH, Electra
Stirring Events of Cowboy
Life on the Frontier
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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
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-
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
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
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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
THE CHISUM WAR Page 9
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
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
Charlie asked the boy what was wrong. The
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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
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
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-
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-
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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
The hunters had much trouble with the In-
dians but they fought them and stayed in after
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
"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-
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
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-
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
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
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
"No one killed?"
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
HISTORY OF THE CHISUfl WAR:
OR. LIFE OF IKE FRIDGE
Printed by SMITH, Electra