I am taking another 10 week series of Intermediate Genealogy Classes from the San Juan Adult Education Center with Glenda GARDNER-LLOYD. Glenda is also a charter member and the first President of Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society and I consider her a friend of mine too. I have taken these series of classes several times in the past, starting with several years of the Beginning Series and now the Intermediate. I don't know everything and I am the first to admit that but who needs to take the same classes over and over. Well apparently I do along with many others. I really feel it is a way to re-focus research and/or jump start and organize my research. We all need that little nudge every now and then and this is one of my ways to do that.
This past week Glenda's subject was "Cattle Brands and marks as a Genealogical Source". I said to myself so what, big deal and got my knitting out!! I was wrong, it is important in so many different ways and this is just another way to put more flesh on the bones of your ancestors. Goodness knows that I only have some ancestors with only their names, dates and location but with nothing else. Who the heck are they anyway?
Glenda said: "A cattle or crop brand was the American form of a family crest. It was burned into the hides of animals and bundles of tobacco and cotton (and some slaves too). It was engraved on table silver, monogrammed on family linens, painted on barns and mailboxes, built into gates and entrance structures, worn on belts and belt buckles, put on license plates and more."
She is from a ranching background and would know all about these things. Apparently there are town, county and state records for cattle marks. For state brand registrations, and brand inspectors.
This got me to thinking about my great grandfather Mounsey LITTLE in Dryden, Tompkins Co., New York- and his cattle he brought from Texas/Kansas. Did he have a brand? What would it have been? ........... this is a newspaper article my father gave me years ago about my mothers grandfather ............
'THE POST STANDARD - 1935 - Pg 16 .... NEWS OF ITHACA' [Tompkins, New York]
** STARVING CATTLE FROM KANSAS TAMED BY FARMER AT DRYDEN**
Little conquers beasts with much food........ w/pictures
DRYDEN-- Back in '84, when the west was still the west and hordes of young men were heeding Horace Greeley's famous counsel, Mounsey Little left this community on a trip which took him into the cattle country of the Texas panhandle.
Tho he saw his share of picturesque cowboys and Indians, the rugged and beautiful scenery of the west and the wild prairie and all the other attractions of 50 years ago, Mr Little's most cherished memory is of thousands of Texas beef cattle, milling on the flat and far-flung tablelands, an awe-inspiring sight to the man who began life in mountainous County Cumberland England, under towering Skiddaw, southern sentinel of Scotland.
There is much satisfaction now for Mr Little, at 85, in the ownership of a small herd of Hereford cattle, brought east one year ago from the drought-stricken and famine-ridden Kansan plains to fatten in the lush meadows of his 55-acre garden spot on the Harford Road.
CATTLE TRANSPORTED - last summer, when the great drought created havoc in the mid-western plain states, when feed crops burned up and cattle were dying by the thousands on the stricken ranged, Mr Little seized the opportunity to fulfill a long-cherished dream. Thru his son he brought a carload of some 80 starving cattle to this richly fertile section.
Mounsey Little chuckles now as he recalls how the starved and thirsty cattle, weak and weary from their long trek, bolted from the car on the railroad siding in his lower meadow. Taking no notice of the runway provided especially for their unloading, the cattle rushed from their car and plunged into the rich grazing of the pasture.
Looking more like 'sun fish' than beef cattle, their sides flat and their backs bowed up from lack of belly weight to hold them down, the cattle fed ravenously and picked up weight from the first.
ADDS OTHER FOOD.... the Little's speeded up recovery in this case by converting surplus farm produce into cattle feed. Mounsey Little produced 500 bushels of potatoes from his cellars to augment the pasture supplies and added about five big wagon loads of beets, dumped about the pasture where it would be handiest for the new boarders.
Working patiently with the herd, now split up into three scattered pastures, the Little's have finally tamed a few of the wild cattle sufficiently to come and lick salt from their hands. It has been a slow but highly interesting process for Mounsey Little, who can't recall having seen any Texas cowboys getting away with such tactics out on the panhandle back in '84.
Of the 80-odd head of starved cattle unloaded in the lower pasture last summer, Mr Little fairly gloats over the 10 fat heifers and a half-dozen eastern-born calves he has wrangled away from his son to brighten the rich green background of his neat farm with their white-splashed red coats.
SEEN BY MOTORISTS.... still scary and almost as fleet as a herd of deer, the cattle range over the restricted Little farm from the tree-shaped watering hole in the foothills to the deep clover field near the highway where they attract attention from passing motorists.
Mounsey Little was born in Bassenthwaite, County Cumberland in the rugged foothills of the Scottish mountains. As a boy, he roamed the northern English countryside, fishing for salmon in famous streams and never dreaming he would spend the greater part of his life far away in the rolling hills of Dryden town.
Coming to this country in '72, Mr Little soon found his way to Dryden village where he set up a market in '76 and built a flourishing business thru 40 active years as a merchant. Just before the world he retired from business in favor of his son Joe Little, and took over the neat Little farm on the village limits on Harford Road.
Isn't this article a wonderful treasure to have! I just reread through this article again and there is so much great information. Wish all the articles could be this informative.
Now a couple of questions asked by the class and answered by Glenda:
Did all ranchers brand their cattle? It depends. If the ranchers are sharing pastures then definitely they would all brand their cattle so they each could tell which cattle belonged to them. But if they have their own pastures they may not brand.
Would they brand their cattle when they bought them or after they get home? More than likely they would brand them where they bought them......... so in my great grandfathers case that would be in Texas or Kansas or did he develop his brand while in New York and took it with him?
Gee whiz this is getting a little complicated. I believe I will check the brand marks register, starting in Town of Dryden, then Tompkins County and then the State of New York. I need to figure out what the county seat was in 1884. AND then I will look at records in Texas & Kansas.
Any suggestions from anyone out there?