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Chisholm Trail 150


Series #5

Posted on 01/20/2009

PART II OF WHAT IS A MAVERICK? This is a follow-up to a story entitled ORIGIN OF THE TERM MAVERICK, appearing in the “Texas Live Stock Journal” dated May 1906;

It states, …You know that the term is applied where cattle of various owners promiscuously mingle on the common range: that is to say, where fencing is not the common rule. The cows bear the brand of the owner and the calves are known by the brands of the cows. Calves are branded as soon as found but invariably some are not found and branded in time. The calf, becoming independent, soon leaves the cows and sets up in business for himself. if unbranded, who is the owner? Who can tell? It becomes impossible to determine the ownership. But right here one thing does happen–the unbranded calf adopts a name and is known as ‘a maverick,’ meaning nobody’s calf… The Hon. Samuel A. Maverick, a citizen of San Antonio, Texas, was during 1845 temporarily residing at Decrow’s Point, on Matagorda bay.”

Maverick received about 400 cattle for payment due him but since he was more interested in real estate then livestock the cattle were turned over to a colored free slave family to raise. (More to follow)

The expression “maverick” is a Texas phrase and among cattlemen has come into quite general use…A group of Texas cattlemen had met in the cafe of a downtown hotel after having disposed of their cattle at a profitable figure out at the stock yards and the conversation gradually drifted to topics connected with the range. The cowmen were in royal good humor and some of the stories they told of incidents along the border of the Llano Estacado (Staked Plains), were of a really startling nature. “I’ll bet there is not one in this bunch that knows how the term ‘maverick’ originated, spoke up one from out on the Pecos, as he laid down his broad-brimmed white hat down in an argumentative manner. Some offered an explanation but none of their answers seemed to satisfy the cowman from the Pecos.

“You are all wrong, and if you will listen a minute I will tell you,” he announced.
More to come.

Bill Benson – Executive Director