Parkersburg Man Tells
of TwelveYears Spent
As Soldierand Rancher
Thefollowing interesting story of twelve years spent as a soldier and cow puncheris written for The News by Earl DeVaughn who is a Parkersburg man and is atpresent connected with the U. S. Army Recruiting Station at Huntington:—
I left myhome in Parkersburg, West Virginia over twelve years ago and myfirst visit home was in March 1919. Onleaving home in March 1907 I enlisted in the army at Columbus Barracks, Ohio, for Cavalry unassigned and was forwarded to theThirteenth Cavalry at Fort Sill,Oklahoma, arriving there aboutthe fifth of May. The following June thethirteenth the Cavalry marched overland to Fort Leavenworth, Kansasfor a change of station, arriving on the twentieth of July, 1907.
On March 1,1909 the Thirteenth Cavalry embarked on the Army transport “Logan,”or rather they left Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on the first of March 1909 and embarked on the “Logan” for the Philippines. Sailing from San Francisco on the sixth of March. [sic]
At 7:20 P.M. on the thirteenth of March the transport “Logan”ran aground in HonoluluHarbor on a Coralreef. The H. M. S. Cambrien and Flora,British cruisers, assisted in trying to dislodge the Logan by attaching steel cables and sinkinghooks, but all attempts failed until midnight of March 19. At midnight the Logan, after first being unloaded and most ofthe regiment given shore leave, was dislodged by the small harbor tugboats“Iroquois” and “Intrepid.” The waterline on the bow of the Logan was thirteen feetout of the water, there were thirteen organizations on board, we had been onour journey just thirteen days from the time we left SanFrancisco until we were hauled off the reef at Honolulu. The Honolulu Bulletin published quite a column on the “ThirteenthHoodoo.”
We arrivedat Manila on April 6 and after a few hoursweighed anchor for CampMcGrath, BatangasProvince, P. I., arrivingthere early the next morning, April 7, 1909. We were there for the purpose of relieving the Ninth cavalry, (ColoredRegiment.) [sic] I sailed from Manila on the fifteenth of February 1910 for the United Statesfor the purpose of being discharged. Itwas on the transport heridan [sic] this time. We arrived at Nagasaki,Japan February20 where our ship was coaled. I wentashore on leave for twelve hours. Weleft Nagasaki, on Washington’s Birthday andarrived at Honoluluabout the sixth of March. Left Honoluluabout the eighth arriving at SanFrancisco on the fourteenth of March 1910. I was discharged at Angel Island, Californiaon March 22, 1910. Howard McKain, a boywho had enlisted with me, was discharged at the same time, and looking foradventure, we decided not to return to our homes in West Virginia, but remain in the west.
Undecidedas to where to go, or what to do, we purchased tickets for Albuquerque, New Mexico. At Albuquerque,we failed to find employment or adventure, so I suggested that we go to El Paso, Texasand look up some land office and file application for Civil Service position asForest Ranger. On the train en route to El Paso we made the acquaintance of a half-breed Indianwho had been to Socorro, county seat of Sucorro [sic] countyNew Mexico,on a murder trial. The Indian said thathe had a homestead in the GilaForest reserve and that the best place for us to filean application for Ranger would be at SilverCity, N. M., so we threw away ourtickets and changed at Rincon, N. M. for the SilverCitybranch. At SilverCity,after applying for the civil service position and upon the invitation of ahalf-breed to accompany him to his ranch and await word from our application,we embarked on a stage coach and were transported 120 miles southwest to theMogollon [sic] Mountains, cow country and mining district. After leaving the stage line 10 miles fromthe mining town of Mogollon, we walked fivemiles to the little cow town of Alma, near the Arizona boundry [sic] in the south-western part of New Mexico. At Alma we waited three days for the Indianto finish a poker game and then he secured horses and hackamores for us and weset out for his homestead across the state line in Arizona, the roughestcountry I have ever seen, no roads, just trails and some very steep anddangerous trails at that.
TheIndian’s ranch proved to be a one roomed cabin about twenty by thirtyfeet. The cabin contained a set of bedsprings supported by packing boxes. Inthe corner was a quarter of beef wrapped in an old quilt. A Winchesterrifle and two 45 caliber revolvers hung on the wall near the bed. The floor was littered with boots, spurs,boot-jacks, leather chaps, ropes, etc. After staying with the Indian for a couple of weeks, McKain and Idiscovered that he was a cattle rustler in a small way. He only rustled what was needed for freshmeat for himself and his hermit father who lived in a canyon about five milesdistant. The hides of the stolen cattlewere cut up in strips and wound around parts of his saddle to keep it fromwearing. His father had not been to thenearest town, Alma, 16 miles, in five years. He was 80 odd years old and had been raised by the Indians in Texas in the earlydays. He and his Indian wife hadseparated some years previous. His sonsuggested buying him a cook stove, but the old man swore he would not have thenew-fangled thing on the place as he had done his cooking all his life over acamp fire. He occupied most of his timehunting, being still a good shot. Mountain lions he ate the same as deer, the mountain lion skin served asa door for one of his cabins, he had two cabins, one he used as a kitchen wherehe had his camp fire. The end of thecabin was knocked out to permit the smoke to escape. The other cabin he used for sleepingquarters. A Navajo blanket served as ahammock in which he slept. Part of thetime he put it out in the garden. Heground his corn in an old coffee grinder. He offered me a pile of deer pelts for a bed and insisted that I staywith him over night on the occasion of my visit. He had quite a few head of horses and cattlewhich his son attended to. After stayingsix weeks with the half-breed awaiting word from our application, the Indiandied from the effects of a gunshot wound he had received some time previouslyin one of his rustling trips. Mosteverything he had was sold to pay his debts. McKain went to work baling alfalfa for the Diamond “A” outfit, and I gota place with the H. U. Bar ranch “riding fence” during the round upseason. Attired in chaps and armed witha Bisley model Colt 45 I felt as if I had gone back in history 50 years. The carrying of arms was not against the lawin New Mexicoat that time, however, you were allowed 15 minutes to get rid of your armsafter entering any settlement or congregation. A round up is a congregation of men, but as far as it pertained to thecarrying of arms it was disregarded, as the men had need of their shooterssometimes during their work.
It wasduring the time of the appearance of Halley’s Comet, May, 1920, that I went towork as a cow-puncher. Our outfitconsisting of one or two men from each of the surrounding ranches, about tenmen in all, left the H. U. Bar early one morning in May with our “chuck” andbeds packed on spare horses. There wereno roads. We established camp about 20miles from Alma, near the Arizona boundary. My duties consisted of wrangling horses,having breakfast before daylight, and riding fences, making the necessaryrepairs. No one returned to camp fordinner, neither did they carry their dinner with them. There are two meals a day in a cow camp. Each man in the round-up looked after theinterest of his employer, branding calves and occasionally claiming a maverickas his own. Once in a while, an old cowhand would spot a “sleeper.” (A sleeperis a young calf with the brand of its mother on its hips, made not with abranding iron, but by plucking the hair till it looks as if it had beenbranded.) That was done by some rustlerso the cowboys of that particular ranch would not rebrand the calf thinking ithad already been attended to. After thecalf had become old enough to leave its mother, it would be watched and brandedby the rustler with his own brand. Amaverick is a calf or cow over six months old without brand or ear mark, andbelongs lawfully to the first man who puts his iron on it. But needless to say there are few mavericksin the cow country. I worked for the H.U. Bar for about six weeks and during that time I saw no human beings exceptthe men of the cow camps. I knew that Iwas an extra hand and that when the round was over I would be out of a job, soI sought employment as a miner. I foundemployment in the small mining town of Cooney, New Mexico nine miles from Alma and three miles from Mogolon [sic]. The town was inhabited by about one hundredMexicans and one American family, the president of the mining company and hisfamily. During the time I worked there,the latter part of 1910, the stage line which had five stations, was held upand robbed three times within four months. A member of the New Mexicomounted police lived at Alma, he and two other members who had been sentMogolon [sic] were assigned to the case. The two mounted officers who werenon-residents of the community put in most of their time gambling and drinkingin the various cow towns and mining camps along the route of the stage, andoccasionally insulted some citizen. Onone occasion one of the officers stopped a miner coming from the mines afterthe day’s work, and ordered him to throw up his hands at the point of thepistol while the other searched his person. The miner swore out a warrant for the arrest of the mounted officer andit fell to the lot of the bartending deputy sheriff to serve the warrant. The next morning when the two officers rodeup to the saloon, one of them came in while the other remained on thewalk. As the bartender handed thewarrant to the officer, the officer reached for the warrant with the left handwhile with his right hand reached for the pistol in his belt, as the bartendernoticed this, he whirled and reached for his gun which lay on the shelf back ofhim, but he received a death wound from the gun in the hand of the officer onthe walk in front of the saloon. The twoofficers continued to walk the one street of the town unmolested, until aboutnine o’oclock [sic] the next morning, when they were both on one side of thestreet, suddenly from the other side of the street appeared from almost everydoor and window, Winchester rifles and pistols and a voice called for them tounbuckle their belts and surrender. Thethird mounted officer at Almawas notified to come up and take charge of the two. He arrived and after restoring their arms tothe two officers under arrest, he started overland to the county seat, Socorro,N. M., a distance of over two hundred miles. The Sheriff was notified and he apprehended the men and placed all threeunder arrest, however, all three came clear of the charge.
I left thecountry in February 1911 going to FortBayard, N. M. tore-enlist in the army, but could not get anything except the Hospital corps, soI went to Deming [sic] N. M., where a recruiting office had recently beenopened. There I was accepted for Cavalryunassigned and was forwarded to ElPaso, Texas. Howard McKain remained in the cowcountry. From ElPaso I was sent to FortLogan, Colorado,where I changed from cavalry to infantry unassigned. I was enlisted at FortLogan on the eleventh of March, 1911and in April I was sent to join the Eighth Infantry at SanDiego [sic] California. This was during the first outbreak of theMexican insurrection, when the American government sent so many troops to the Texas and Californiaborders. The Eighth Infantry was in campat Point [illegible] for a few days and they made a march of 52 miles east ofthe border to Campo [sic] California. The regiment was split up and stationed atdifferent points along the border in the Imperial Valley. I belonged to a detachment of 52 menstationed at Tecarte, opposite Tecarte, Mexico, 43 miles east of San Diego. Across the border from our camp, a histance [sic] of 600 yards we couldsee a force of Mexican Federals come in and make camp on top of a small hillwhich was protected by rough stone walls built in zig-zag fashion in alldirections. The Federals would remain afew days and move on and a detachment of Insurrectos would ride into town andoccupy the knob. All the inhabitants ofthe town were on the American side living in wagons and tents. During our stay at Tecarte, we saw the townon the opposite side of the of [sic] the [sic] border burned by theInsurrectos.
We capturedGeneral Jack Mosby, Insurrecto leader, while we were at Tecarte. His command was made up of Mexicans, negroesand American tramps. He had beenwounded, shot in the hips while running up hill the bullet coming out near hisneck. Our hospital detachment broughthim around all right, and after saying that he was through with Mexico, wereleased him. A few days later we sawhim on a large white horse on the Mexican side. He rode down to the line and gave the boys a box of cigars. We made other captures, one an American whohad deserted Mos-American [sic] brand. He was turned American brand. [sic] He was turned over to the custom officials.
The eighthinfantry returned to their station, Monterey,California, about August 1, 1911and remained at that post until February 1912 when they sailed to thePhilippine Islands. I was now making mysecond trip to the Orient. But this timeI was not stationed in peaceable Luzon. We landed at Zamboanga [sic], on the Island of Mindanano [sic] on March the 5th,1912. Here our regiment was split up bybattalions and detachments, some of them going to Jolo Jolo. I went to CampKeithleywith the mounted detachment or mounted scouts of the eighth. CampKeithley is in the interior ofMindlanao [sic] and is situated on the bank of LakeLanso,nine miles from the coast as the crow flies, and 26 hundred feet above sealevel. The outlet of the lake is theArgus river which drops 2,600 feet in 20 miles of its course to the coast in aseries of falls, one, Maria Christins [sic], having a drop of 190 feet.
From CampKeithley,I went to Prang on the southern coast of Mindanao[sic], and then back to Keithley. In thelatter part of 1913 my regiment sailed from Manila for a station at Cuartel deEspana. Cuartel de Espana means “Quarterof Spain” and they are built behind the walls of the old walled city of Manila.
I wasstationed here until the Eight [sic] infintry [sic] was ordered to Fort WilliamMcKinley in March 1915. FortMcKinleyis situated eight miles from Manila. October 15 of the same year I sailed from Manila for the U.S. Having [sic] been transferredby the War department from the Eighth infantry to the Nineteenth infantrystationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Icame back by way of Japanand Hawaii asusual. After spending ten days at theWorld’s Fair in San Francisco, I proceeded toFort Sam Houston, San Antonio,and reported for duty. In May 1916,Companies A. and B. of the nineteenth were sent to EaglePass, Texas on the Rio Grande opposite Pedrigas Negros,Mexico, to relieve theSeventeenth infantry who went into Mexico with General Pershing. We remained on the border 30 days performingthe necessary guard duty until the arrival of the Third infantry from New York state. From Fort Sam Houston, we went to CampTravis[sic] Texas. In June 1918 we were ordered to FortBliss,near El Paso, Texas. At FortBlissI was transferred to the regular army reserves on March 24 [sic] 1919, and return[sic] to Parkersburg,arriving March 28, just 12 years and a few days since I had left. I remained at home almost three months andthen I began looking for a recruiting office. I enlisted at Columbus Barracks, Ohioon June 23, 1919, and was assigned on [sic] recruiting duty at Huntington, WestVirginia.
I am nowriter. If I were I could make this astory four times as long by relating the experiences I have had in the Islands and on the border. My advice to young men who wish to seesomething of the world is to join Uncle Sam’s Army.
[Source: Retrieved and transcribed by Nanci HeadleyKotowski
from The Parkersburg News ofSunday, January 4, 1919.]