Heathcock Genealogy Database - Person Sheet
Heathcock Genealogy Database - Person Sheet
NameJohn Edmund Gardner , 2C2R
MotherMartha Anne Stacy (1822-1882)
Marriage10 Jan 1877
ChildrenJoe (1877-)
Notes for John Edmund Gardner
The following is a letter written by John Edmund Garner and given to Clayton Heathcock by Tom Graham in 1996:

I was born in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, May the 2nd, 1845. In 1851 we came to Texas. We lived the first year in Goliad County, Texas, and then moved to Atascosa County. There were two families of us moved in one wagon, driving a yoke of oxen whose names were Buck and Brandy from Louisiana.

There were 5 children in each family. We were among the first settlers in that County, and lived there several years before it was organized. My father, Joe Gardner, was on the first jury ever set in that County. From there we moved to Frio County which was unsettled at that time which was a few years before the Civil War. For the first 2 or 3 years the Indians did not bother us much as we had but few horses for them to get. We kept them scattered up 2 or 3 in a place and in the brush so they could not get them. We moved about two hundred head of cattle to the Frio which was good stock of cattle in those days. Everything went on very well up to that time, cattle was worth but little, and we made our living out of the woods. San Antonio was our trading point and where we got our bread, which was corn meal. At that time San Antonio was a small town without a plank floor or shingle roof, but quite a shipping point, though all done by wagons and mostly oxen. At this time we were living on Frio River, 4 miles above Frio City at what is known as the Gardner Crossing. The widow Tomlin was our nearest neighbor 30 miles distant on Black Creek. At that time the country had plenty of mustang horses and cattle, game of all kinds.

About that time several large herds of cattle came in from the coast owned by W. G. Grimes, Tom Cornor and others and we thought we were over stocked and ruined. Their cattle were wild as deer and them poor fellows could not run much in the brush. So then it got to general round ups and we would all meet and have 2 or 3 horses apiece and everybody would do his own work.

No chuck wagons or cooks, we packed our chuck on our horses and our bedding. We would work all day and have a game of Monty at night, if any dispute came up, it was always settled right on the spot. Mexicans would often bring Mescal over to sell us. We could buy a big goat skin full of Mescal for $5.00. This was about the beginning of the Civil War. The men all had to go to war and there was but few left at home to do the work, mostly old men and boys and I was on the boy list, yet my brother A. F. Gardner volunteered and went to war. The soldiers were all taken off the frontier so we were left to protect ourselves. I joined the ranger service and served for three years. At the same time the Maximillian War broke out in Old Mexico. That caused a great many to cross over on to this side and generally the hard kind and a good manv Americans from the south flocked to the Rio Grande. It was too hard for them on the other side so they hung up on this side. There being no protection on the frontier, the Indians were very bad, and their raids were very frequent. They stole our horses and drove off most of our cattle, but cattle being wild and in a brushy country, they could not get them all. For three years, we could not work our cattle much; when the war broke the cattle were very wild and lots of old stray beeves and mavericks. In 1865 we had a stock meeting in Frio County on the Frio River at the mouth of Buck Creek about 15 miles from where Pearsall is at present which is the county seat of Frio County.

There was no commission men nor women at that stock meeting, so we were to brand each others calves and sell each others beeves, and try to get a law passed for County inspections. So we got the inspection law passed all right, but we would put our own brand on the calves and his brand on the ground, but these stock meetings kept up every year until they ran into conventions and ran by commission men and women and inspeet us to death.

By this time a few packing houses opened up, but used nothing but the hide and tallow and fed the meat to hogs. Alvin & Poole chartered the Morgan line of steamers and sent out beef buyers and that was our first beef market. So Shanghigh Pierce, Joel Collins and Bill Bishop, John Moore and others bought cattle in our country. I went to work for Joel Collins driving cattle to Indianola. I drove there for about 6 years. The firm quit and the Kansas Drive was in full blast and I started driving up the trail in 1871. I left the Adams ranch in Uvalde County with my first herd for Abilene, Kansas. I got through all right. In 1871, I drove to Wichita, Kansas. I shipped the first cattle that was shipped from there. There were three different parties shipped, Joel Collins and Talley Brent. Shanghigh Pearce was driving for Wichita that year and did good work as he did at everything he went at. I drove for Joel Collins in 1872, 73, 74, and 75. Then Joel Collins and myself bought 200 fat cows, horses and wagon at Ogallaha and drove them to Deadwood in Black Hills-the first cattle that were driven to that country. We sold them and they butchered there. Myself, Joel Collins and Sam Bass went with the herd. I stayed there all winter and left in the spring of 1876 busted. I rode a little mule and came alone. I got to North Platte, Nebraska and went to work for Seth Mabery. The general round up started and all met at North Platte City. The night we met there Sam Mathis, the boss, got a dispatch that the Indians had stolen all the horses that was left on the ranch, so the boss started me after them Indians. I was 40 miles from the trail but I struck it next morning. They went west of all settlements. They killed two men on the way over. I overtook them before they got to the Territory and got all of the horses. When I got back Seth Mabery was at the ranch and I went driving cattle to the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail Agency. I drove up there about two months and came back to Ogallaha and took a herd of 3000 to the Niobrara River at Old Whet Stone Agency. It was the first herd that ever went straight across from Ogallaha through the sand desert on the head of Niobrara River. I had nothing to go by except sun, moon and stars as the country was unsettled entirely at that time, though I found water every day except two. I drove 2 days without water. I delivered my herd and went back to Ogallaha. When I got back Mabery had sold 1500 beeves to Jug Conklin of Kansas City to be delivered and shipped from Ellis, Kansas. I drove the herd to Ellis and shipped it out and went with the last train to K. C. From there I came home to Frio County, Texas.

It was late in the fall when 1 got back home and married the 10th of January to Miss Cora Boone. On October 15th, the same year we had a baby boy born to us who is known as Joe Gardner who is a very noted roper. I decided then to quit working for wages. I had a few cattle and I moved out to the Nueces River on the Cochina ranch which was unsettled. Mexicans and Indians raided that country often. It was a hard matter to keep a horse that was good property so we rode wet horses from Old Mexico mostly. There my brother a few years before was wounded by the Indians 6 times and was rescued by my elder brother after he was shot down. We followed them thinking there was but 12 Indians, but when we overtook them there was 30 and 7 of us. We saw at once we were over matched but we had to make the best we could of it. We fought, got one man wounded. We held the ground and when they drew off and quit, we were willing. I was in many fights with Indians and Mexicans which I will withhold from the public as it would sound fishy these days. In 1885 I moved up the river near Eagle Pass, lived there one year. From there I moved to Presidio County. It was a dry year so I went broke with John Means, W. H. Cleveland and others and with my little buneh that I had left, I moved to Big Lake in Reagan County which was Tom Green County at that time. I went in the sheep business and made good until Grover Cleveland was elected his second term. Then the bottom fell out and I went in the cow business again. The land boom came on and I had a small ranch and not much chance to spread out so I sold out. I moved to El Paso County, which is Hudspeth County now as it was divided. I settled a ranch which my son and son-in-law now owns. I lived a fast life in my young days and I thought a great deal of women at the same time. I was a particular favorite of theirs. I made it a rule through life to never turn the dark side of a woman's card up and I have seen enough to know that there is but one way to go through life and that is on the dead square in every respect.

Mr. John Gardner died April 23, 1926.
Last Modified 17 Mar 2022Created 21 Apr 2022 using Reunion for Macintosh
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