In the mid 1800s, settlers began claiming land in Texas and accumulating herds, many of which were made up of free roaming cattle that inhabited the area. For many years, rustling was a problem and was one of the reasons why the Stock-Raisers’ Association of North-West Texas was formed in late 1876 and early 1877 in Graham, Texas by some of the area ranchers.
The organizers included C. C. Slaughter and James C. Loving, a son of Oliver Loving. Others attending were Samuel Burk Burnett, C. L. Carter, Joseph Graham and John N. Simpson. (2) Dan and Tom Waggoner also joined the movement later. Other states such as Wyoming had set up associations to help combat rustling. They would band together and assist each other in fighting the cattle thefts. Rather than meeting in a local hotel or saloon, they met under an old oak tree in the area. Carter was chosen to be the the head of the group and Loving was selected as secretary. The actual tree has been identified though the years, though it finally fell to a windstorm in 1976. (1)
The original name of the group was Stock-Raisers’ Association of North-West Texas. It was changed to the current name of Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association a little over 100 years later in 1979.
Of the organizers, the names of Slaughter, Loving and Burnett would probably be more familiar. Carter was Christopher Lawson “Kit” Carter (1819-1888), originally of Virginia. He was the husband of Nancy Smith “Ann” Ross, an older sister of Lawrence Sullivan “Sul” Ross. The Carter couple had married in Missouri in 1842 before either family had settled in Texas. The Carters had first lived near Waco before moving further up the Brazos closer to Graham. They had lost their third son Shapley Carter in an Indian attack in 1869.
The initial “covered” area extended from west of Fort Worth to near El Paso and did not include the Panhandle. It was divided up into six districts. There were no paid employees other than some of the ranchers at first and Carter served as chairman for many years.
The main focus at first was prevention of rustling. Another aspect was keeping track of itinerant cowboys who may have been involved with rustling. A “blacklist” of cowboys suspected to have ties to rustling was maintained and furnished to the stockmen. A function that later developed with the group was to help stabilize cattle prices in reaction to the low prices offered by the meat packing companies, once the outside companies became major cattle buyers in the industry. In addition, the group tried to work for the lowest freight charges after shipping cattle to market by rail became the norm. The group also lobbied for the passage of laws favorable to the cattle raisers.
The Association now employs Special Rangers who receive training and commissions either from the Texas Department of Public Safety or the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and are authorized to investigate alleged crimes in either state. Over the years, at least four TSCRA officers have lost their lives in the line of duty.
On July 5, 1892, Field Inspector George Bingham Grissom and a constable by the name of James Green were both shot and killed in Clarendon, Texas by brothers of a man who had previously been sent to prison. Grissom is not believed to have been the target of the brothers but was killed after the attack on Green began. A second Field Inspector, William “Bill” Mayes was killed on May 14, 1919 as he and Officer William Miller of the United States Department of Indian Affairs were shot and killed while investigating a liquor still in Sherwood, Oklahoma. Field Inspectors William Davis “Dave” Allison and Horace Lorenzo “Hod” Roberson were both killed in an incident on April 1, 1923. Both were seated in the lobby of a hotel in Seminole, Texas on a Sunday and had come to town to testify in a case against two suspected cattle thieves the following day. Inspector Roberson’s wife was upstairs and came down with her husband’s backup pistol and was able to wound both suspects who were ultimately arrested, tried and sentenced to prison for the murders.
The group functions effectively as a trade association, but membership is open to anyone interested in the cattle industry. In addition to its other duties, currently about 30 Special Rangers are employed at any one time by the group to investigate crimes. The association regularly publishes information about cattle and equipment thefts, investigations and results of prosecuting alleged crimes.
(2) Lewis Nordyke, Great Roundup: The Story of Texas and Southwestern Cowmen (Edison, New Jersey: Castle Books, 1955)
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