Saturday, November 20, 2010

WHERE DID COWBOYS COME FROM ANYWAY?


Coming Soon!
Re-Print of "SALVATION, TEXAS"
a contemporary mystery/police procedural/ romance set in West Texas, by Anna Jeffrey

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Cowboys are uniquely “Texas,” and evolved in the course of sweeping social change. Following is a generalized story of how that came to be, with a lot of details left out.
            After the Civil War, displaced southern farmers largely made up the huge migration that took place from the southern states to Texas. There, the new residents met up with legendary Mexican vaqueros. The vaqueros had been gathering and tending the wild longhorns that roamed the Texas prairies for generations and were known for their skills with a rope as well as for outstanding horsemanship. It didn’t take long for the young men and boys new to Texas to learn those skills from the Mexicans.
            At the same time, with the post-war economic recovery, came the driving demand from the east for beef. Ambitious entrepreneurs knew how to satisfy that demand if they could just get those longhorns to a railhead to be shipped east. Thus came the cattle drive. Many of the hands those entrepreneurs hired to drive the cattle north were mere teenagers or at the most, young adults. These young men, with their southern customs and mannerisms and skills they had learned from the Mexican vaqueros became known as “cowboys.”
            Obviously, the meat from the wild longhorn cattle was tough and the animals were hard to manage. Investors saw an opportunity to provide a better product. From as far away as Europe and England, new domestic breeds of cattle were imported and huge cattle ranches were founded in Texas and the western states, which also required the services of “cowboys” as ranch hands.
            Of course there were plenty of horsemen and cattle tenders in Texas long before the Civil War, but the term “cowboy” didn’t begin to emerge until the cattle drives.
            The “cowboy” legend was further propagated by the emergence of rodeos, where the participants were cowboys showing off skills they used in their daily work. This is probably the legend that has been forwarded to today. When anyone thinks of cowboys these days, they usually think of rodeo cowboys.  

Anna Jeffrey 

11 comments:

  1. ANNA--love the post! The cover for your book is so good--I'm jealous. Your information is spot on. I think many of us know snippets of facts, but you wrapped it together nicely.
    I think we here in Texas forget that most of our ancestors were those displaced poorer Southern people after the Civil War. Since Texas was barely touched by the war, it must have seemed like a blessing from heaven. But the Comanche were waiting! What tough years.
    And the cowboy survived. Celia

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  2. Interesting history. For some reason I have it in my head that the Mexican vaquero came from Argentina. Is that right? Or is it the other way around?

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  3. Anna,
    Great reminders of the cattle roundups. When driving across Texas I'm always amazed by the seemingly impenetrable thickness of the mesquite and cactus. It must have been a rather uncomfortable business rounding up Longhorns out of the thorny mesquite and prickly pear cactus. No wonder they wore long leather chaps. And the poor horses. They had to have tough skin. Add to that the long horns of the wild cattle. Must have been enough to get the adrenalin going.

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  5. Celia, thank you so much for your comment on the cover. I created it myself with a couple of photos I bought from the royalty-free sites and Photoshop. It was so hard. It really makes me feel good to have someone say something good about it. .... I did the same thing with the "Sweet Water" cover but later decided it wasn't good enough. I then hired someone to re-design it. This time, I was determined to do it myself, so I worked on it until I was satisfied with it. Thanks again.

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  6. Kathy, the word vaquero is Spanish for cowboy. A vaquero could be from any of the Spanish-speaking countries. We probably associate the word with Argentina most often since nowadays, it seems to be the only one of the Latin American countries that still has a strong cowboy culture.

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  7. Jeanmarie, without a doubt the longhorn cattle had tough hides to be able to thrive in the landscape of early Texas. Being from West Texas, I look at the cactus and prolific mesquite trees and wonder how thick they might have been in the 19th century. They were certainly present because Indian stories tell of them using the mesquite beans for food for both themselves and their animals. What I know about them today is that they can make a pasture unfit for grazing.

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  8. Anna, loved the post! And I'm so glad you have your book out on Kindle now. I loved that book!!! I know anyone who reads it will love it too.Thanks for sharing!

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  9. ANNA--you know why I love the cover? It has three things on it. An artist friend of mine told me one time--in decorating my new home--always group things,instead of have too many scattered objects, dotted about. She said three was the perfect number. So when I wrote my art info form for my first novel, I asked for three things--I don't like a cluttered cover--a horse, a sunset, and a man. I got the perfect cover for ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS. Yours, is that way--uncluttered. Simple, with a great cowboy that looks real--not showing his abs, etc. I could fall in love with your cowboy. Celia

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  10. Okay, I have to answer Celia's post. I agree with her. I love Marin's covers for the same reason. Her covers look like real cowboys at work. You did a great job with your cover, Anna.

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  11. How funny, I have Salvation, Texas in my stories, too. My first book with it is Salvation Bride. I put my Salvation near Bryan/College Station, because west Texas hadn't been developed enough for the time period of 1873. I have a contemporary with Salvation mentioned and plan to write more about the little town, both historical and contemporary. Happy sales.

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