Although I would have preferred to link directly from my web page to this oral history at the WPA's web page, this was not possible.  Their pages are not set up to accommodate such links.  I was able to copy the text exactly as it appears on their site.  What follows is an exact copy of the document found at the WPA's web page with one exception.  I deleted a bit of information on viewing  the document that is not relevant for this site.  The references to "Page image" below refer to links of images of  the original type written page. 

This project is online thanks to the:
Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA General Writer's Project Collection.



Luther C. Hart


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Gauthier. Sheldon F. {Begin handwritten} [52?] {End handwritten}

Rangelore.

Tarrant Co., Dist[,.?] 7

Page # 1

FC 240

[Luther?] C. Hart, [55?,] living at 1405 [Waterman?] St. Fort Worth, Texas , was born at his
father's farm Mar. 16, 1884. His father, John C. Hart, then owned a farm and ranch located in
Williamson Co. Texas . Hart farmed a small tract of fenced land and his cattle ranged on open
range.

Father learned to ride at an early age and at the age of 12 he gegan to ride the range. He
continued working on his fathere's ranch till he was 20 years old. He then secured work with the
'Half Circle J' which was owned by [Hardy?] Watson.

The 'Half Circle J' was located in Clay Co. Texas . He quit the 'Half Circle J' in 1906 and went
to Andrew [Co?] Texas and there worked for the {Begin deleted text} Carter {End deleted
text} {Begin inserted text} {Begin handwritten} Carver {End handwritten} {End inserted
text} ranch. During the period he worked on the {Begin deleted text} Carter {End deleted
text} {Begin inserted text} {Begin handwritten} Carver {End handwritten} {End inserted
text} Ranch he experienced a great deal of trouble with cattle [that?] became addected to the
loco weed (arggullu). He quit the range in 1808 and since has enganged in stock farming.

His story of range life follows:

" I was born in Williamson Co. Texas Mar. 16, 1884, at my [father's?] farm. My father's
name was John C. Hart, and he cultivated land, also ranged cattle. His herd averaged around
1000 head and he branded with the outline of a heart [thus?]:

Illustration

"The cattle grazed on an open range, as all cattle did there in tho 80's. Our adjacent ranch
neighbors were the Purcelly's Cambell's and [Heeman's?] outfits. All of the herds averaged
around 1000. Some herds numbered [lo?] as 250 and a few up to 1500. We were what then
was called grease-pot outfits.

"Prior to the 80's there a number of large ranches in Williamson Co. but they had moved
further West.

"I [learned?] to ride a hoss at an early age. About the first thing father tried to teach me was to
ride a hoss, and how to handle one. When I was 12 years old I started to help look after the
herd, except for the short periods that I went to school. At the age of 14 I was doing the
[work?] of a regular hand. Perhaps not so well as a man, but was filling in nearly up to [sbuff?].
{Begin handwritten} C12 - 2/11/41 - Texas {End handwritten}

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Of course, I [couldn't?] rope, bullgod and ride equal to a man, which would be unreasonable to
expect, but I was considered better than the average kid. I was larger than the average run of
buckaroos of my age. I am today above the average man in size. I am a [triffle?] over six [foot?]
three inches tall and weigh 230 pounds, and its all bone and muscle. I was 16 years old before I
could stay with a pitching hoss tolerable well. I never did any wrangling till I was 17 years old.

"I tried to wrangle critters when I was 14 and 15 years old, but I was put into the air high
enough for birds to build nest in my pockets, in face of the fact that I was strong as a young steer
breaking through a fence going to a corn patch.

"The Hart family, with the exception of a couple extra hands during the roundup, looked after
our herd. I had two older borthers and [we?] did most of the [work?] after I [was?] old enough
to ride. About all we did was ride the range keeping our eyes on the critters. All of the riders
working for the other outfits did the same thing, that is we worked together and each waddy
would give attention to the other fellow critter, if he met up [with?] one [that?] [needed?] it. In
other words all the outfits treated [the?] cattle as though it was their critters.

"At the time I started to work my father couldn't afford to hire help, because the prices of cattle
was too low. A panic hit around 1893 [and?] at one time, around 94-5, one couldn't give cattle
away. Every one had to many cattle, especially if one had to hire help to look after the herds.

"We looked after our herd and the cattle increased in numbers

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steadily. Father calculated that there would be an end to the panic and low prices. After about
five years things changed for the better and we then had the cattle.

"During the spring roundup all the outfits that ranged critters in that section united into one crew
and the roundup was did as if the critters belonged to one man. Some one of the various crews
would be appointed as the roundup boss. As the critters were gathered, the different brands
would be separated into one bunch. The cattle would be branded and counted and then turned
loose on their respective grazing grounds. By fall the critters would be again mixed to a great
extent and then another roundup was held to separated the animals.

"We never had enough critters at one time, which we had ready for the [market?], to make up a
paying driving herd. Therefore, [father?] sold most of his cattle to cattle buyers that came
[through?] the country, or he would throw in with some drover and put his critters in the drovers
herd. After the [criters?] were sold settlement was made.

I didn't get into to real ranch work until 1904 at which time I joined up with the 'Half Circle J', so
named because the brand was made thus:

Illustration J'. The outfit [was?] owned by Hardy Watson and his camp was located near
Shamrock, Wheeler, Co. Texas .

"The 'Half Circle J' outfit run better than 15000 head of cattle and 400 head of hosses. There
was a crew of seven hands besides the two sons of Watson. Jim Watson was the top-screw and
Jack was the belly-cheater.

"The cattle grazed on a fenced range and were herfords and blackpolls.

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"We lived well while on the home ranch. The chuck was the best and we had plenty varity of
well cooked grub. As unsual on a cow outfit, beef was the main meat dish, but Watson backed
that up with lots of canned vegetables and there was always something to satisfy our sweet
tooth.

"We had night riding to do on the 'Half Circle J', not because it was necessary to hold the herd,
but becuase of the rustlers. It was necessary to have someone watching the herd constantly, so
one or two men stayed with the critters [during?] the night. During the day the work was divided
among various crews. The fence riders had a certain number of miles to travel each day going
over the fence looking for breaks. All breaks were reported to the repair crew that went to the
reported spots and did the repairing. There were the men that attended to the sick and injured
critters, which were constantly showing up.

"The grass would become mighty short with the approach of winter and then we drifted the herd
into Okla. and herd the animals in the Arbuckle Mountain district. There we had [no?] fence and
it was necssary to [do?] line riding at all hours [to?] keep the animals bunched. There is where I
got real early day cow work. We lived in the open while [i?] the Arbuckle Mountain district. We
moved our camp from time to time, that was necessary to keep the herd on good grazing
grounds. Thus, during the winter months we lived behind the chuck wagon, lining our flue
[squatted?] on [our?] haunches and doing our [sleeping?] rolled in a blanket. When it rained or
snowed, we threw a slicker aver the blanket. Many mornings I have awaked to find encased in a
shell of ice, but I would warm as toast. After

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ice forms one became warm, because once the ice formed then the air and wind would be
excluded and the heat form the body was held within the shell. I never had a cold and felt like a
two year old mule colt allthe time I was in the Arbuckle Mountain district.

"Our hardest job was keeping the critters from drifting when a storm was drifting our way. Two
or three days before a storm hit the animals would become restless and hanker to get some
where else. Occasionally we would have a stampede, but the herford critters are not much for
running and we never had a great deal of trouble to check a stomp.

"The land where we herded our critters was Indian land and the Indians looked to us for their
[woha?]", which was the Indian word for beef. Watson's rule was to give the Indian beef in
reasonable amounts. He reasoned that the Indian would get beef one way or another and [that?]
it would be cheaper for us to give than fight the Indians to [keep?] them away from the herd.
The Indians would call about once each week and pick out a yearling or two and then go their
way.

"Just as the spring grass got up in good shape, we would drift the herd back to the home ranch.

"The spring branding of calves took place during April and then we had a busy time for a few
weeks. Also, the hosses were branded during the spring.

"The cattle which [were?] sold, was shipped by rail to Fort Worth and the Kansas City
[markets?]. [When?] a shippment was made waddies went with the cattle. The waddies' work
was watching the critters to see that none got down and be stomped to death. If a critter once
got down in a packed car, it would not be able to get up because of the crowding by the other
animals. As a rule no critter would

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get down unless it became sick. [Every?] time the train stopped the bull [nurses?] would look
over the cars [of?] cattle and give the critters what [attention?] was necessary.

"In additon to the cattle work we had considerable hoss work to do. The hosses that were to be
sold were wrangled and broke to [the?] saddle. The wrangling was done by all the crew, as
everyone was a hoss buster. [?] ever, Jim Watson was the top wrangler. He had hoss busting
down to a nat's eye and could bust a critter quicker than any man I ever saw at [the?] work.

"There were many waddies that could do a pert job of busting. The difference was in the
neatness and quickness that some could do the job. Jim Watson was one of the fellows that
could bring a hoss to thaw pronto. He could ride 'em with or without a saddle. The hosses on
the 'Half Circle J' were not so wild, because they ranged within a [fence?] and [we?] had
contact with the animals a great deal, thus we did not have any real tough aniamls to deal with.

"I quit the 'Half Circle J' in 1906 and went to Andrews Co. Texas , N. of Midland. There I
went to work for Clarence Carver. He had a cow camp in Midland Co. located on the [ecos?]
River and one in [Andrews?] Co. where I worked, which was located in [the?] Comcho draw
section. Carver' brand was 'CC' and he ranged around 15,000 head

"Some of the range was fenced, but a large number of the critters run on the open range.

"I did fence riding most of the time while with the 'CC' outfit and recived $30. per month which
was ct$[?]. more than I received with the 'Half Circle J' outfit. Night riding was not done except
when the critters showed a tendency to drift. The cattle [of?] the 'CC' range was wilder stock
than those on the 'Half Circle J'[,?] because

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they were a mixed breed, having lot of longhorn blood.

"We lived [allot?] behind the chuck wagon and as on the 'Half Circle J' the chuck was a-one.

"The top-screw for the Concho [Draw?] camp of the 'CC' was Odd Frances, [no?] sheriff of
Midland Co. and William Schney, Red [Hoods?], Bill Allen and [Peg?] [Zeg?], the
[belly?]-cheater, were in the crew.

"[On?] the 'CC' outfit was where I learned my lesson about the loco weed (Aragullus). Until
then, I had just 'heard about it, because I had not been in a country where the weed grew. It
grew in many sections of W. Texas and the Andrews Co. section was one of the sections.

"The weed stays green in the winter time, after other vegetation turns brown. Naturally, the
critters hankers for green food and will eat loco weed. When once the animals [starts?], and gets
enough so the weed gets a hold, all the powers of Hades can't stop the critter from eating the
weed and will starve to death hunting for it. The animal will stay on a hunt for loco weed till it
drops for the need of food and water. I have seen a [locoed?] critter driven into water, after
being famished for it, then kill itself by drinking too much. But, hungry as it may be, one can drive
the critter into the most succulent grass and nary a bite will the animal eat.

"[When?] once a critter get a good start on the weed, there is only one way to stop [such?]
animal [from?] eating it and that is by killing the beast.

"A well locoed animal is unmanageable. It [gets?] wild from the [carving?] for the weed and sees
things topsy-turvy.

"To give some idea of the job a person has trying to handle a locoed critter, I shall prattle about
a few of the things I met up

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dealing with locoed critters.

"When I first [hit?] on the 'CC' I didn't know how to spot a locoed critter that just had a touch
of the weed, but soon learned [to?] watch the animals eyes and look at [the?] pupils. The pupils
would show various stages of contraction, depending on the amount of the weed/ {Begin
inserted text} that {End inserted text} and been eaten by the critter, and contraction was the
first sign to [show?]. Finally the animal will stare and have a far-away look and later it will will
become restless, keeping on the move, of course, hunting for the weed. It to impossible to hold
a locoed critter with a bunch of cattle, unless one stays on top of the critter every minute and
when they are real bad all Hades can't hold the critter. The last stages of the animals conditions
is the losing of weight and then death.

"I saddled a hoss on morning for a drag across the range to do some fence riding. I was
[jogging?] along at a fair rate of speed and came to a spot where there were several gopher
mounts. Usually, a hoss will take an extra long strid or a short one to keep from stepping on the
mount, but this hoss made a leap as though he was clearing a high bank. The leap caught me off
my guard and I hit the gound, but held onto the reins. I never reckoned that the hoss was leaping
to clear the mound, but thought that it was one of its fancy tricks, because the cowpony had the
habit of [pitching?] unexpectedly. They seemed to want to [let?] the rider know that it could
[pitch?] [and?] would suddenly stop {Begin deleted text} {End deleted text} {Begin inserted
text} and {End inserted text} do a little pitching then go on. I mounted again and started on
[my?] way, and soon came to another mound. The critter [made?] another flying [leap?], but
that time I was on my guard and stayed in the saddle. After the second jump I surmised

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that was the hoss's way of missing a gopher hole and mound. Sure enough the next [mount?] we
came to he made his leap.

"Finally I came to a gap in [a?] fence, with the wire laying on the ground, and I never thought for
a moment that the hoss would do anything but step over the wire. The hoss made his famous
leap going over that wired and went high enough to clear a ten foot fence. That jump again
caught me off guard and I hit the ground, but that was the last spell, because from then on I was
ready for anything from that critter.

"When I returned to the camp I told Odd Frances about the peculair habit of the hoss and he
replied by saying, 'habit, hell, that hoss has a touch of loco'. We took a look at the critter's eyes
and its pupils were contracted. Odd ordered the hoss tethered with [feed?] put before it. The
hose was kept tethered for a week or ten days. I learned that if a critter is handled at the first
when it gets a touch of the weed, it can be saved.

"Odd instructed me, about what the older hands knew, regarding the need to keep a watch for
locoed critters. [With?] our hosses that could be done, out with the cattle it was impossible to
keep our eye out for contracted [pupils?] and we could not spot a loco untill the critter was too
far [gone?]. The only/ {Begin inserted text} /way {End inserted text} we could catch the cattle
at the start of their [loco?] eating was by looking at each of the [thounsands?] that were
[grazing?], and we could not spend that tim

"When we gathered [critters?] for the market we would cut out all the locos that we spotted, but
there were times when the locos didn't show up till we had the herd in the pen at Midland. It was
a five day drift from out ranch to the Midland [pen?]. There we loaded the critters into cars for
shipment to the fort Worth market.

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By the time we hit the pens, the craving for the weed would be at high pitch in the animals that
had a good start on the weed. On several occasions we got a number of critters into the pen
before we noticed the animals and had a [pert?] time before we could get the critters out. The
range critter is naturally fretful when put into a pen and when several locos get to cutting up
among a pen of critters something is sure to happen. Well, on each occasion that we got the
locos into the pen, the critters [broke?] the [pen?] fence fighting to get out.

"A locoed critter will fight the devil to get through a fence and [break?] out of a pen, but the
Devil can't drive it out. The animal will fight a man and hoss till it drops. We had to turn all the
critters out of the pen in order to get at the locoed beast.

"One of the most troublesome stampedes I ever [worked?] with was caused by a couple locos
in the herd. It happened with a herd being driven to the [pensaand?] the herd stampeded just as
we arrived. The two locos went hay-wire and that started the whole herd on the run. The pens
were [?] town and the critters lit out towards [Midland?]. The herd hit the town in high-rear and
the buildings caused them to split in all directions.

"In town the animals became more excited than ever and were running hilter-skilter. The town
[folks?] hit for shelter, pronto. They just turned the town over to the animals and we cowhands.

"There was one scene I can see plainly to this day and it tickles my innards every time I recall it.
We Waddies were [lost?] to know just how we should go about getting the critters out of town,
but we were doing our best to clear the streets of the steers.

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I was riding to head off a bunch that were coming into the main stem on a dead run. Just as the
bunch rounded a corner, a woman who was loaded down with a ton of leaf lard around her ribs
and hips came waddling up to the corner. She had an arm full of bundles, and when the steers
saw me riding head on towards them, or it may have been her the animals looked at, a couple of
the critters let out a snort. At some moment the snorts sounded the womans hands went up in
the air and her bundles dropped to the ground. [She?] let out a yell and turned to run, but
stumbled and fell. I rode betewwn that bundle of leaf lard and the snorting steers just in time to
head the animals around the woman.

"After six hours or so we got the animals under control and into the pen, minus the locos which
were shot.

"It was against the law to ship a loco, so we always had to look the critters over carefully while
loading the animals.

"One more word about a loco hoss and that is this. A hoss with a touch of the weed will work
till it drops without faltering.

"I remained with the 'CC' outfit for two years and then quit to go farming, but my farming has
been stock farming.