Imagine living in a dugout under a cottonwood tree – for 10 years! Larkin Patrick Williams (1851-1930) did that in the 1860s and his sole job was to see that the Waggoner cattle didn’t slip into the herds of cattle crossing the Red River during the Chisholm Trail drives. Lark, a Texan, worked for the Waggoner Ranch at Doan’s Crossing, according to Doyle W. Williams of Fort Worth, Texas, who shared this story with us in 2015.
Doyle saw our request for the Real Cowboys exhibit in the Daily Ardmoreite. He had already published the story in a family history book, “My Father’s Branch: The Lineage, Lore, and Life of Larkin Eugene Williams.” Larkin was Doyle William’s great uncle on his father’s side.
“Lark” as he was called, was born in Cherokee County, Texas, and moved with his family to Coleman County, Texas in 1864. As a young man, he went to work for Dan Waggoner on his ranch near Vernon, Texas.
With the growth of that ranch, Waggoner stationed Lark at Doan’s Crossing, which was a popular place to move cattle herds across the Red River on the way to Kansas.
Williams said, “Lark’s job was to ensure that the many herds crossing the Red River did not accidentally or ‘otherwise’ pick up any of Waggoner’s cattle along the way. If Lark found Waggoner’s cattle in a herd, he separated them out so others could return them to the ranch.
It was not a job without risks.
The drovers bringing their herds up the Trail did not always want Lark going through their herds. He is reported to have had many near shooting scrapes in the execution of his job,” Williams wrote us.
Williams said that Lark had a ‘working’ relationship with the Indians on the north side of the Red River. An uncle, Arthur Williams (1889-1969) shared with Doyle a story about Lark dealing with the drovers that didn’t want their herds inspected.
Arthur’s story was that Lark would ride out just across the Salt Fork where it dumps into the Red River, and wave to the Native Americans when drovers balked at the inspections. “And brother, they’d cross that river and those fellows would let him look through that herd riqht quick.”