Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cattle of Texas - 165 Years or so ago . . .


This letter from President Sam Houston was printed Jan. 1846 in the American Agriculturalist & the Rural New Yorker, Volume 5.  I've included the two recipes that appended the page where I found this letter - just in case any reader is trying to decide what to whip up for dinner........


Indian Cakes.—Boil some corn meal, as mush, for five or six hours; then mix it as a batter, and add some wheat flour to make the cakes hold together and turn easily; and two or three eggs, with salt to season; bake on the griddle till brown.
Mush.—It is very common to make mush by boiling only a few minutes. This is all wrong. It should be boiled one or two hours, and if longer it will do no harm. It will be necessary to occasionally add some water to keep the mass thin and prevent burning.


CATTLE OF TEXAS.

"The following letter of President Houston was addressed to a gentleman in this city, and kindly handed us for publication. It is the best description of Texas Cattle we have yet seen, and we trust its publication may serve to call the attention of stock Breeders to this interesting section of our country.

Galveston, Texas, Dec. 1st, 1845.
No present to me at this time could have been more acceptable than a fine Durham, as it is my intention to carry out the object which first induced my location in this country—that of stock breeding. The present condition of our country, in consequence of annexation to the United States, will leave men free to pursue the more pleasing and profitable business of agriculture and herdsmen, than has been allowed for many years to our citizens, while under the various influences of excitement and uncertainty. Fortunately for us, we shall soon be at rest, when our natural facilities will be inquired into, and our resources developed, by those who have capital and possess enterprise.

   Doubtless no country on earth possesses equal advantages to Texas as a stock-rearing community. Stock here requires no feeding cither in summer or winter, and costs no trouble nor expense save marking and branding. Salting is not necessary, as salines or licks are in every part of the country; so that in fact, an ox weighing one thousand weight, or the most valuable cow, would not cost a farmer one cent in its rearing.

   Our prairies are clothed with the most nutritious grasses, sufficient for countless herds. Heretofore, the Durhams have not prospered in this country; but this, to my mind, is readily accounted for. They have generally come by water, and remained on the seaboard, where the insects are more numerous than in the interior; and where, too, the climate is not so congenial to the constitution as the rolling country, not only of cattle, but likewise of horses. Some Durhams have been introduced from Missouri, and remained in the interior, about one hundred miles from the seaboard, and they have done well.

   There is no good reason why blooded cattle or blooded horses should not do well in Texas, if proper care be taken of them the first year. The change of climate, from a northern to a southern latitude, will have an influence upon all animals, as experience has shown; this fact being known, should not be disregarded, while the animal is undergoing acclimation.  My opinion is, that November would be the most favorable month for the introduction of blooded stock, and that they should be fed on hay or corn-stalk fodder, with very little grain during the winter, and be kept sheltered. If this course were pursued, I am satisfied that there would not be more than one failure in twenty experiments.

Durham Bull, 1856, Purchase a Print Here
   The present stock of cattle in Texas is generally a mixture of Mexican, and cattle from the United States. They each show a distinctness of character. The Mexican (or Spanish) cattle are not so heavy or compactly built, but are taller and more active; nor do they weigh as well in proportion to appearance when slaughtered as the American cattle. They are more active than our cattle, with remarkably long, slim, and sharp horns : they are not so good for milk as ours. A cross of the breeds I consider an improvement, and for oxen decidedly so, for it blends the power of the American with the sprightliness and activity of the Mexican cattle. There is a fact in the natural history of Texas, which has heretofore claimed but little notice, and which seems to me not unimportant.

   When the first colonists, under Mr. Stephen F. Austin, arrived in Texas, they found herds of wild cattle on the Brassos and its tributary streams. There was no tradition of their origin, nor has anything satisfactory on the subject yet been ascertained. They have receded as the settlements advanced, and are now above the Falls of the Brassos (Brazos), and principally upon Little River. They are of a brindle or reddish color, and are represented by those best acquainted with them as more wild, and, when wounded, much more dangerous than the buflalo. The males have occasionally attached themselves to herds of tame cattle, and become very gentle. Calves have been caught by our pioneer settlers, and reared. The cross is said to be an improvement upon our common stock, imparting to their offspring an appearance, in color and proportion, of the wild cattle. The males I have been assured by hunters and other persons, are as large as the finest Durhams. I have seen work oxen, said to be half breeds, much larger than any others which have fallen under my observation in the United States or Texas.
Longhorn Cow in Texas - Wikipedia

   For years past I have endeavored to procure the full bloods; but in consequence of other duties I could not use the attention necessary to ensure success. I will now renew my exertions with increased interest, and I hope it will be in my power to produce a cross of the Durhams with the original Texas cow. Should I be fortunate in my efforts, I shall be happy to apprise you of the result."
Sam. Houston.



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