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On The Back Porch

A Cowboys Poem

January is coming on and this story and poem is based on a January event. Texas is a state that is filled with history and lore. And this is often apparent when we find ourselves out and about doing research for my writing or just enjoying the beauty of our great state. When my young bride, Stella, and I travel to Alpine, Texas to be a part of The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, we plan our stay at the Quality Inn . Not only is it a great location, but some of Texas’ best people stay there! This hotel also allows me to entertain their guests in the lobby once the western sun sinks behind the magnificent bluffs that abound throughout this part of Texas real estate. The lobby walls are covered with murals that depict the history of this area. One wall is a picture of a historic event that occurred on January 28, 1891. It sets the scene for a winter gather or round-up of steers to be shipped to market. The incident was near Leoncita Springs in Brewster County and was the site where a rep named Fine Gilliland for the Dubois and Wentworth firm disputed the ownership of an unbranded brindle steer that was claimed by Fort Davis rancher, Henry Harrison Powe. Powe believed this brindle yearling belonged to a cow with his HHP brand. The dispute resulted in gun fire and Gilliland killed Powe, then fled the scene on horseback, but was later killed in a shootout with Texas Rangers. The cowboys pulled the steer to the branding fire and branded one side with the date “JAN 28 91” and on the other side branded “MURDER.” The steer was turned loose to wander the desert hills and legend claims that the “Murder Steer” will always be seen when a foul deed happens. My Ol’ Daddy was known to say, “When a feller gets hisself into mischief resulting in a guilty conccience, he can see strange thangs in the dark!”


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