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Ochiltree County Biographies

OCHILTREE, WILLIAM BECK
OCHILTREE, THOMAS PECK
CRESSWELL, HENRY WHITESIDE
JONES, CHARLES EDWARD
PLUMMER, JOSEPH H.
BOICE, HENRY S.

OCHILTREE, WILLIAM BECK
(1811-1867)

William Beck Ochiltree, pioneer settler, judge, and legislator, was born on October 18, 1811, at Fayetteville, North Carolina. The family lived for a time in Florida and after 1820 in Alabama, where Ochiltree began practicing law.

In 1839 he moved to Nacogdoches, Texas, and continued the practice of law. During the Republic of Texas era he was judge of the Fifth Judicial District, secretary of the treasury in 1844, adjutant general in 1845, and delegate to the Convention of 1845.

After annexation he was a representative in the Sixth Legislature in 1855 and delegate to the Secession Convention in 1861. He was elected to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States but resigned after a short time to return to Texas and raise a regiment.

Ill health forced him to resign in 1863. He subsequently lived at Jefferson until his death on December 27, 1867.

The community and county of Ochiltree were named in his honor.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: George L. Crocket,
Two Centuries in East Texas (Dallas: Southwest, 1932; facsimile reprod. 1962). Carolyn Reeves Ericson, Nacogdoches, Gateway to Texas: A Biographical Directory (2 vols., Fort Worth: Arrow-Curtis Printing, 1974, 1987). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832-1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Texas Republican, January 4, 1868. Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813-1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938-43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

Robert Bruce Blake



OCHILTREE, THOMAS PECK
(1839-1902)

Thomas Peck Ochiltree, Texas legislator, politician, promoter, newspaperman, and soldier, was born at Livingston, Alabama, on October 26, 1839, the year his family moved to East Texas. He was reared at Nacogdoches and Marshall and fought Indians with John G. Walker's company of Texas Rangers in 1854-55. In 1856 he became assistant chief clerk and sergeant at arms of the Texas House of Representatives, and in 1857 he was admitted to the bar by a special act of the legislature.

Ochiltree practiced law in partnership with his father in Marshall and Jefferson and continued in public life as secretary of the state Democratic convention in 1859 and delegate to the Democratic national convention in 1860. He edited the Star State Jeffersonian, a Jefferson newspaper, in 1860-61, then enlisted in Hood's Texas Brigade, in which he was promoted to major.

Ochiltree served on the staffs of Henry Hopkins Sibley, Thomas Green, Richard Taylor, Samuel Bell Maxey, and James Longstreet in the armies of North Virginia, New Mexico, Louisiana, Indian Territory, and Arkansas. He was brevetted a colonel four days before Robert E. Lee's surrender, captured near Appomattox, sent to prison camp on Johnson's Island in Lake Erie, and released when a friend appealed on his behalf to President Andrew Johnson.

After the Civil War, Ochiltree spent a few months in Europe. He continued newspaper work by writing for the New York News and editing the Houston Daily Telegraph in 1866-67. He later wrote the "Ranger" column for the New York Sportsman. In 1867 he made another extended trip to Europe as representative of the banking and shipping firm T. H. MacMahon and Company, which wanted to establish a steamship line from Liverpool to Galveston. In 1868 he supported Grant for president and later promoted fair treatment for black citizens.

A colorful figure and powerful speaker, Ochiltree returned to public service as commissioner of emigration for Texas (1870-73), United States marshal for the Eastern District of Texas (1874), and an independent representative of the Galveston district in the Forty-eighth Congress (1883-85). He played a role in lobbying for a deepwater harbor at Galveston and later was a representative and general counsel for the mining, railroad, telegraph, and cable interests of J. W. Mackay and investment counselor to the Marquis de Mores and John Thomas North. Between 1865 and 1902 he made more than sixty trips to Europe to promote Texas interests.

Upon retirement from Congress, Ochiltree made his home in New York. He died at Hot Springs, Virginia, on November 25, 1902. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, but was reinterred in Mount Hope Cemetery, New York, on November 8, 1903.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Biographical Directory of the American Congress. Claude H. Hall, "The Fabulous Tom Ochiltree," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 71 (January 1968). Sidney S. Johnson, Texans Who Wore the Gray (Tyler, Texas, 1907). C. W. Raines, Year Book for Texas (2 vols., Austin: Gammel-Statesman, 1902, 1903).



CRESSWELL, HENRY WHITESIDE
(1830-1904)

Henry Whiteside (Hank) Cresswell, range cattleman in the Texas Panhandle, the son of John Cresswell, was born at Fairfield House, Lancashire, England, in 1830. At sixteen he immigrated with his father and brothers to Huron County, Ontario. In Canada, by his own account, he was engaged twice before he was twenty-one. That seemed to have ended his romantic history, as he remained a lifelong bachelor.

In 1856 he left Canada, stayed for a time in Missouri, and then spent about twelve years prospecting in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. During that time he became increasingly interested in cattle. About 1870 he purchased 100 cows and started a dairy farm near Pueblo, Colorado. This enterprise was occasionally beset with attacks from hostile Indians until Cresswell returned from a visit to his brother in Canada with a breech-loading gun he had bought in New York City for $300. This new weapon proved effective against the Indians, who did not bother him again.

In 1874 Cresswell first registered his Bar CC brand in Colorado. His success under adverse conditions won him many friends, including Charles Goodnight, and attracted the attention of several wealthy, influential businessmen. In 1877 he formed the Cresswell Land and Cattle Company with the brothers J. A. and M. D. Thatcher and O. H. P. Baxter. That same year Cresswell established his Bar CC headquarters in Ochiltree County, Texas, with a foundation herd he drove south from Colorado.

As his acreage and cattle expanded, he became a favorite among ranchers and their families throughout the upper Panhandle. He had a benign attitude toward homesteaders who came into his range, and his employees likewise benefited from his generosity, as he encouraged them to start their own herds. His word was said to be as good as some men's oaths. The town of Cresswell, founded by the Klapp brothers, was named for him.

After British investors reorganized the Bar CC as the Cresswell Ranch and Cattle Company in 1885, Cresswell stayed on as head of the ranch until 1889. In the meantime he entered into a partnership with A. J. (Tony) Day and ran cattle in the Indian Territory, using a Turkey Track brand different from that of the Turkey Track Ranch. For fifteen years Cresswell and Day operated there and near Grand Rivers, South Dakota, and Billings, Montana.

When nesters began crowding into these northwestern states the partners moved their operations to the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, where they leased a large tract for two cents an acre. They stocked it by buying herds from various ranches in New Mexico and West Texas and shipping on four consecutive railroads. In 1896 they moved a herd of 10,000 cows to Canada from the F Ranch, on the head of the Pease River, which Cresswell purchased from L. R. Moore of Kansas City.

While engaged in this expensive but successful Canadian cattle operation Cresswell suffered an infection in his foot that became gangrenous. Despite three operations at the hospital in Medicine Hat, Alberta, he died, on January 29, 1904. Tony Day carried on the business until 1908, when he sold the Canadian ranch to Gordon, Ironsides, and Fares of Winnipeg. Hank Cresswell is remembered in the Panhandle as a "range cattleman with few equals and no superiors."

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Laura V. Hamner, Short Grass and Longhorns (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981). Wheatheart of the Plains: An Early History of Ochiltree County (Perryton, Texas: Ochiltree County Historical Survey Committee, 1969).

H. Allen Anderson



JONES, CHARLES EDWARD
(1852-1935)

Charles Edward Jones, buffalo hunter, merchant, Indian trader, teamster, and rancher, son of James J. and Esther T. (Clarke) Jones, was born at Neenah, Wisconsin, on August 10, 1852. He was given many nicknames in his varied career--Dirty Face, Chief Coffee, and Farmer, among others.

As a young man he was employed by a Wisconsin firm to go to Kansas to hunt buffalo and ship the hides back. He arrived in Dodge City in 1872 and joined the slaughter; he once boasted that "he had killed 106 buffaloes before breakfast." When the hunters moved south with the declining herd, Jones began hauling supplies to them in the Panhandle and returning hides to Dodge City.

He gained a reputation on the plains for being fearless and self-reliant, whether hunting or freighting. Many tall tales about him have survived in popular history and literature. He organized the first caravan of wagons to haul goods and supplies for Adobe Walls and helped build the picket structures there. He was on a return trip to Adobe Walls when he heard of the massacre of Joseph H. Plummer's crew, and drove a six-mule team ninety miles without sleeping or unharnessing in order to take ammunition to the traders and hunters.

He served briefly as a scout for Frank Dwight Baldwin under Nelson A. Miles's command, and then joined Emanuel Dubbs's hunters in their attempt to return to the Panhandle after the second battle of Adobe Walls in 1874. In the fall of 1874 Jones and Joe Plummer, who also served under Baldwin, built a cottonwood-picket store on Wolf Creek in Ochiltree County, at a site near present U.S. Highway 83. The trail they marked to Dodge City, the Jones and Plummer Trail, became the major freighting trail south until the railroads reached the Panhandle in the late 1880s. From 1874 until the last decade of the century, the trail was a major influence in welding a three-state region into a community of common business, economic, and social interests.

Jones bought his partner's share in the store in June 1878 and continued as Indian trader, teamster, and rancher until he sold his holding to the Barton brothers. Eventually, the store became headquarters for H. W. (Hank) Cresswell. In 1889 Jones purchased a ranch four miles east of old Fort Supply, Oklahoma, where he farmed and raised horses and mules. He spent his declining years in Woodward, Oklahoma, and died there on June 3, 1935. He never married. He is not to be confused with Charles Jesse (Buffalo) Jones, another hunter not associated with Texas.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Lindsay Baker and Billy R. Harrison, Adobe Walls: The History and Archaeology of the 1874 Trading Post (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). Wayne Gard, The Great Buffalo Hunt (New York: Knopf, 1959). James L. Haley, The Buffalo War: The History of the Red River Indian Uprising of 1874 (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1976). C. Robert Haywood, Trails South: The Wagon-Road Economy in the Dodge City-Panhandle Region (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986). Charles E. Jones Papers, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas. J. Wright Mooar, Interview by J. Evetts Haley, July 28, 1937, Haley Collection, Midland. Henry H. Raymond, "Diary of a Dodge City Buffalo Hunter, 1812-1873," ed. Joseph W. Snell, Kansas Historical Quarterly 31 (Winter 1965). Woodward (Oklahoma) Daily Press, June 4, 1935

C. Robert Haywood

PLUMMER, JOSEPH H.
(?-?)

Joseph H. Plummer, buffalo hunter and freighter, was an enigmatic frontier character who played a brief but important role in the history of the Texas Panhandle. He appeared in the vicinity of Dodge City, Kansas, in the early 1870s and began buffalo hunting in the company of such hide men as Billy (William) Dixon, James H. Cator, Bartholomew (Bat) Masterson, and J. Wright Mooar.

He probably first became acquainted with Charles Edward (Ed) Jones at that time, and in the spring of 1874 the two were hired as teamsters by Alexander Charles Myers and Frederick J. Leonard to trace a suitable route between Dodge City and the newly established trading post at Adobe Walls, Texas. In Adobe Walls, Plummer formed a partnership with David Dudley and Tom Wallace, whom he had met in Dodge, and they camped near the post to await the spring migration of the buffalo herds.

In early June the trio moved their campsite fifteen miles southeast to Red Deer Creek, near its junction with the Canadian River. Later that week Plummer took a wagonload of hides back to Adobe Walls and exchanged them for supplies. On returning he discovered that a party of Kiowas led by Lone Wolf had raided the campsite and murdered and scalped his companions. Plummer hastily rode toward the post to spread the alarm.

On the way he encountered Frank Maddox's Houston and Texas Central Railway surveying party, among them William B. Munson, who helped Plummer bury his comrades before hurrying back to the safety of Camp Supply. Plummer retreated to Adobe Walls, then left for Dodge City a few days later with J. Wright Mooar's organization. On the way they came upon Ed (Charles E.) Jones driving a freight wagon to Adobe Walls; Jones delivered his goods and then rejoined the Mooar caravan on Palo Duro Creek, in what is now Hansford County.

Although Plummer missed the second battle of Adobe Walls on June 27, he and Jones volunteered as army scouts with Col. Nelson A. Miles's regiment in July. However, their apparent scorn for military discipline soon led to their dismissal by Lt. Frank (Francis) D. Baldwin. At that time Jones and Plummer began their renowned partnership.

In the fall of 1874 they arrived with a wagonload of supplies at Wolf Creek, in what is now Ochiltree County, where Jones had traded the year before with the Cheyennes and Arapahoes. There they erected a trading post, complete with a bar and living quarters, out of cottonwood pickets and sod. For the next four years they continued freighting and welcomed Indians, teamsters, cattle drovers, outlaws, and lawmen to their road ranch on the Jones and Plummer Trail.

Early in 1878 the partners started a cattle ranch. Such an occupation apparently was unsuitable for Plummer, however; in July 1878 he terminated the partnership, leaving Jones with the ranch's assets and liabilities, and departed for Dodge City, where for a time he loafed and raced horses. Even before he had gone to Adobe Walls he was said to have owned a gray mare that he raced for both pleasure and profit. Then, as suddenly as he had appeared, Joe Plummer vanished in obscurity.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Lindsay Baker and Billy R. Harrison, Adobe Walls: The History and Archaeology of the 1874 Trading Post (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). Wayne Gard, The Great Buffalo Hunt (New York: Knopf, 1959). C. Robert Haywood, Trails South: The Wagon-Road Economy in the Dodge City-Panhandle Region (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986).

H. Allen Anderson



BOICE, HENRY S.
(1860-1919)

Henry S. Boice, rancher and manager of the XIT Ranch, was born in Las Vegas, New Mexico, in 1860, the son of a local physician. He began working as a cowboy at age fifteen for fifteen dollars a month. Since his contemporaries were mostly native New Mexicans, he spoke mainly Spanish throughout his youth.

Beginning in 1878 Boice worked for Henry W. Cresswell's ranch near Pueblo, Colorado, where he became foreman at age twenty-one and subsequently Cresswell's partner. Boice also ran his own cattle, branded LK connected. When Cresswell drove his herd down to the Panhandle of Texas, he put Boice in touch with David Berry, a New York financier, who also owned a herd in Pueblo County. The result was the formation of the Berry-Boice Cattle Company, in which Boice managed the range and supervised the buying and selling of cattle.

In 1881 Boice moved the company herd, branded with three sevens, to a choice range along Palo Duro Creek in Ochiltree and Hansford counties. The Three Sevens Ranch was mainly a steer operation, and Boice contracted for steers throughout the Southwest, purchasing 25,000 a year. Most of these were shipped from the Panhandle to ranges in North Dakota. Because of his extensive travels, he gained perhaps the widest knowledge of ranchers and cattle among his contemporaries. Cresswell and other Panhandle ranchers were counted among his circle of friends.

In 1885 Boice trailed the remainder of his Three Sevens cattle to North Dakota and closed out his Panhandle operation. By that time the Berry-Boice Company was operating on a grand scale, mostly in the badlands along the Little Missouri River. There Boice became acquainted with Theodore Roosevelt and Gregor Lang, whose ranches bordered his own. By 1896 Boice was the leading shipper of grass-fed young steers through the Chicago commission firm of Clay, Robinson and Company.

Boice was among the first to buy purebred bulls and breed up his stock. The Kansas firm of Gudgell and Simpson, established in 1879 to import bulls for breeders, sold him several prize bulls, especially Herefords. Boice went to Independence, Missouri, to do business with Charles Gudgell, and met Gudgell's daughter LuBelle, whom he married in 1891; they had three sons and two daughters.

When the Berry-Boice Company closed out in 1897, Boice formed the H. S. Boice Cattle Company and purchased the Beatty brothers' ranch, with headquarters at Point of Rocks on the Cimarron River, near the point where the Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado boundaries meet. The firm shipped from the railroad towns of Texhoma and Arkalen, Oklahoma, a fact that necessitated a drive of more than a hundred miles to load the cattle. Since only Hereford bulls were used, Boice's herd grew in both quality and quantity during the decade of the ranch's existence.

Although his family resided at Kansas City most of the year, they spent summers at Point of Rocks, where the sons gained valuable ranching experience. During this period Boice and several partners formed a livestock loan and commission company in Kansas City, but this enterprise soon fell into financial straits, and the partners lost everything. Boice accepted the general managership of the XIT Ranch in 1905 and moved his family to Channing, in Hartley County, Texas.

By 1906 he had closed out the H. S. Boice Cattle Company, and two years later he began investing in the Block Ranch, in the Carrizozo-Roswell area of New Mexico, and the Chiricahua Cattle Company in southern Arizona. Boice remained with the XIT until it closed out its cattle operations in 1912. As the Capitol Freehold Land and Investment Company's last general manager, he won a reputation for his refusal to smoke, drink, or swear and for possessing "a will like a rock." R. L. Duke was among the range foremen who worked under him.

After 1912 Boice and his family settled at the Chiricahua (CCC) Ranch, which he and his partners reorganized as the Boice, Gates, and Johnson Cattle Company. Boice died on the ranch in December 1919. His two oldest sons, Henry and Frank, and their sons continued Boyce's successful efforts at improving their stock of purebred Herefords.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Cordia Sloan Duke and Joe B. Frantz,
6,000 Miles of Fence: Life on the XIT Ranch of Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961). J. Evetts Haley, The XIT Ranch of Texas and the Early Days of the Llano Estacado (Chicago: Lakeside, 1929; rpts., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953, 1967). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).

H. Allen Anderson

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This page was last updated March 17, 2003.