DescriptionLetter Signed by Twenty-Two Prominent Texas Ranchers Warning Two Suspected Cattle Rustlers to Beware. Three pages, 7.75" x 13", "Leona Frio County Texas", January 6, 1866. This gripping letter was written to J. R. Burleson and James Roberts, both suspected of the "rascality" of stealing "beeves." The ranchers who signed it (including Mont Woodward, J. G. Woodward, Louis Ogé, and William Eastwood) were obviously prepared to take these serious matters into their own hands. Using direct language, they write that they have "received testimony" that the two suspects were "in possession of a drove of 18 to 20 beeves belonging to the said John Hill and other men, none of which were yours." Based on that testimony, the letter continues, the ranchers believed "fully in our minds that there was something wrong intended with respect to that drove of beeves." The ranchers warn that "the whole country is now wide awake to the rascality that has been carried on in different sections of the country for the past four years by unprincipled men and all honest men are on the move to remedy the evils that have befallen us. . . . We are determined to do all in our power to arrest the rascality that is abroad in the land. . . . We cannot lie still and see ourselves robed of our property without making an effort to arrest it. We cannot remain silent any longer. We have saw and heard enough."
Before the invention of barbed wire in 1873, Texas cattle fed on the open range. Cattle rustling resulted from this open range and the high beef prices which followed the Civil War. The theft of branded cattle became a serious offense, often resulting in the lynching of the rustlers by vigilantes. This earnest letter contains weakness, separations, and tape repairs along some folds.
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