Posted on 01/20/2009
Horses were vital to driving cattle up the trail during the 1860’s through the 1880’s and when a thief decided to take what wasn’t his, justice was often very painful. The following describes such an incident. This report appeared in the Texas Live Stock Journal dated July 19, 1884.
…A West Texas cattleman, who has recently been up in the B.I.T., along the trail, when about thirty-five miles south of Washita he came up with an old trailman, who had under guard a horse thief, and learned from him that he was in a quandary as now after 48 hour chase he had captured this thief and got back his horse, but officers and law were too distant for his disposal, and he could not leave his cattle. Finally he tied the thief and staked him securely for the night. When morning came the old man’s mind was clear. He stripped the thief to the waist, and gave him a most unmerciful whipping, cutting the flesh at every lick. The whipping which was witnessed by our informant added to the dancing of the victim and the satisfaction of the trailman, was an interesting sight. The piteous cries for mercy and the moans of the thief must at least have affected the administering agent of justice, for after two hundred lashes had been well applied the cords were cut from the victim, and he was permitted to leave, swearing that he would never steal again. This looks like a queer way to get even with these knights of the halter, but we venture to say the impression thus made will prove a lasting one…
Bill Benson – Executive Director