John Henry Brown.

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with an eye ever alert to detect, a soul ever ready
to absorb, and an imagination ever ready to drape
in the robes of poetic fancy the majesty and beauty
and witchery of all that the treasuries of art and
nature disclose to the observant and appreciative

His first efforts in the field of letters were con-
fined to literary and reportorial work for New York
newspapers and magazines. His first poems ap-
peared in the New York Mail and Express and the
Galveston-Dallas (Texas) Daily News. The broad
prairies, the mountains, the pure, fresh air, the


songs of the birds and the wild, free life of his
Western home have furnished the immediate inspir-
ation for " Eanch Verses," published by G. P. Put-
nam's Sons, New York, which have now run through
four editions and which have met with a reception
accorded to the verses of few American poets in the
latter part of the nineteenth century.

This is what some of the leading papers say of
" Ranch Verses:" —

"Chittenden's poems have a swing about them
which is very attractive. He gives us Flemish pic-
tures of Texas life, the realism of which is never
vulgar and the habit of which is rich, rare and
racy." — Chicago Post.

" A volume of poems which will fully entertain
lovers of song. It is in great variety and capitally
rendered. Mr. Chittenden is a born poet." —
Chicago Inter- Ocean.

" ' Ranch Verses' are tuneful, manly in sentiment
and musical in flow — full of spirit and vivacity." —
London Saturday Review.

" Curious and entertaining. A volume that is
sure to become a favorite." — Glasgow, Scotland,

" There is originality and spontaneity of inspira-
tion in ' Ranch Verses.' " — London Times.

"Have a catching cheerfulness. They are all
bright, fluent and readable." — Edinburgh Scotch-

"The ballads and character sketches have the
genuine ring. They are worthy of a place beside
those of Riley, Field, Harte and Miller." —
Review of Reviews.

" Will win from readers old and young unstinted
praise and warm eulogy. The bold intellect of the
author, tempered by culture and refinement, has
produced a volume that must bring him fame." —
Public Opinion.

" One of the most interesting and readable books
of poetry ever published."^ ^. T. Press.

" Contains most genial information about Texas
and the cowboys. One must really attach value to
this hook." — N. Y. Evening Post.

" A most charming book of poetry. Mr. Chit-
tenden is a genuine poet." — Boston Traveller.

"Bright and entertaining from cover to cover.
A book that one may open at random and be sure
to find something interesting and entertaining." —
American Bookseller. ■

" Texas has a poet of whom she may well feel
proud. The muses were dispensing their best gifts
when they threw their spell on ' Larry ' Chitten-
den." — Peck's Sun.

These selections of press notices are only a few
of the many thousands that have been printed in



praise of "Ranch Verses " in our own country and
Great Britain.

Ttie following extracts from his poems will give
the reader some idea of the merits and charm of his
verse: —


The leader was a feller that came from Swenson's Ranch,
They called him " Windy Billy," from "little Deadman's

His rig was " kinder keeiless," big spurs and high-heeled

He had the reputation that comes when " fellers shoots."
His voice was like a bugle upon the mountain's height;
His feet were animated, an' a mighty moviri' sight,
When he commenced to holler, "Neow fellers, stake yer

" Lock horns ter all them heifers, an' russel 'em like men.
" Salootyer lovely critters; neow swing an' let'em go,
"Climb the grape vine 'round 'em — all hands do-ce-do!
"You Mavericks, jine the round-up — Jest skip her

Huh! hit wuz gettin' active, " The Cowboys" Christmas


The boys were tolerable skittish, the ladies powerful

That old bass viol's music jms« got there with both feet!

That wailin', frisky fiddle, I never shall forget;

And Windy kept a singin' — I think I here Mm yet —

*' O Xes, chase your squirrels, an' cut 'em to one side,

" Spur Treadwell to the centre, with Cross P Charley's

" Doc. Hollis down the middle, an' twine the ladies'

-" Varn Andrews pen the fillies in big T Diamond's train.

" All pull yer freight tergether, neow swallow fork an'

" ' Big Boston' lead the trail-herd, through little Pitch-
fork's range

Purr 'round yer gentle pussies neow rope 'em! Balance
all! "

Huh! hit wuz getting active — " The Cowboys' Christ-
mas Ball!"

The dust rlz fast an' furious, we all just galloped 'round.
Till the scenery got so giddy, that Z Bar Dick was

We buckled to our partners, an' told 'em to hold on,
Then shook our hoofs like lightning, until the early

Don't tell me 'bout cotillons, or germans. No sir 'ee!
That whirl at Anson city just takes the cake with me.
I'm sick of lazy shufflin's, of them I've had my fill,
Give me a frontier break-down, backed up by Windy

McAllister ain't nowhar! when Windy leads the show,
I've seen 'em both in harness, and so I sorter know —
■Oh, Bill, I sha'n't forget yer, and I'll oftentimes recall.
That lively gaited sworray — "The Cowboys' Christmas


— {From " Sanch yerses.'"'j


Afar on the pathless prairies
The rarest of flowers abound ;

And in the dark caves of the valleys
There is wealth that will never be found;

So there are sweet songs in the silence
That never will melt into sound.

The twilight illumines her banners
With colors no artist can teach;

And aloft in the sky there are sermons
Too mighty for mortals to preach ;

So life has Its lovely ideals
Too lofty for language to reach.

Afar on the sea there's a music
That the shore never knows in its rest;

And in the green depths of the forest
There are choirs that carol unblest;

So, deep in the heart, there's a music
And a cadence that's never expressed.

Neptune's steeds.

Hark to the wild nor'easter!

That long, long booming roar.
When the storm king breathes his thunder

Along the shuddering shore.
The shivering air re-echoes

The ocean's weird refrain,
For the wild white steeds of Neptune

Are coming home again.

No hand nor voice can check them,

These stern steeds of the sea,
They were not born for bondage.

They are forever free.
With arched crests proudly waving.

Too strong for human rein,
The wild white steeds of Neptune

Are coming home again.

With rolling emerald chariots

They charge the stalwart strand,
They gallop o'er the ledges

And leap along the land;
With deep chests breathing thunder

Across the quivering plain.
The wild white steeds of Neptuae

Are coming home again.

Not with the trill of bugles,

Bat roar of muffled drums.
And shrouded sea weed banners.

That mighty army comes.
The harbor bars are moaning

A wail of death and pain,
For the wild white steeds of Neptune

Are coming home again.

Well may the sailor women

Look out to scan the lee,
And long for absent lovers.

Their lovers on the sea.
Well may the harbored seamen

Neglect the sails and seine.



When the wild white steeds of Neptune
Are coming home again.

How sad their mournful neighing,

That wailing, haunting sound;
It is the song of sorrow,

A dirge for dead men drowned.
Though we must all go seaward,

Though our watchers wait in vain.
The wild white steeds of Neptune,

Will homeward come again.


He's a quiet, easy fellow, with his pants tucked in his

And he wears a big revolver, which he seldom ever

shoots ;
He^has served his time as ranger on the reckless Rio

And he has the reputation for great marksmanship and

He.has strung up several horse thieves in the rustler days

gone by,
And although he seems so pleasant there's a devil in his


When he goes to take a prisoner he calls him by his

In that confidential manner that suggests the bunco

If the culprit is not willing, takes exception to the plan.
Our sheriff gets the drop, sir, and he likewise- gets his

Oh, it's " powerful persuadin'," is a pistol 'neath your

"Hands up, you've got to go, Sam," and Sam he ups and


In the fall at " county 'lections " when candidates appear.
The sheriff's awful friendly, for he loves to " 'lectioneer ; "
Then he takes the honest granger and ye stockman by

the hand.
And he augers them for votes, sir, in a manner smooth

and bland;
He is generous, brave and courtly, but a dangerous man

to sass.
^or his manner is suggestive of the sign — " Keep off

the grass."

His poems descriptive of ranch life have given
him his distinctive fame, but his marine verses are
equally good, if not superior. Frank Doremus,
his friend, and veteran editor of the Dallas News,
in writing of him, says: —

"Our poet is also a singer. For 'tis under the
inspiration of the moon and stars, by the dying
embers of the camp fire in the lonely hours on the
trail, that Larry has most endeared himself to his
Texas cowboy friends. With one accord they
listen to his sweet, musical tenor voice. His songs
are original verses modestly sung in minor-key
melodies of his own composition. Some are gay
and rollicking, but most of them are sad. ' Gwine

Back to Texas' and 'The Cowboy's Dream,' and
' Remembrance,' — the last 'dedicated to an unknown
divinity,' — are the most popular and best known."

It would be diflScult to find in the language a
poem capable of provoking a broader smile than
"Brer Brown's Collection," lines more instinct with
the joy of life and motion than the "Ranchman's
Ride" or the "Round-up," anything containing a
finer vein of melancholy than the "Dying Scout,"
anything more delightfully Western than " The
Majah Green," "Maverick Bill," the "Pai:son
Pickax Gray," and " Texas Types," or anything
breathing a more cheerful or manly spirit than
"The Cynic and the Poet," "Never Despair,"
and similar poems in " Ranch Verses " — the book
is full of the choicest pabulum suited to almost any
unvitiated taste.

The Chittenden ranch comprises 10,000 acres of
rich land, 200 acres of which are in a high state of
cultivation, is all under fence, and is stocked with
a large herd of high-grade Polled' Angus, Here-
ford and native cattle, and something like 200 head
of horses and mules. The ranch house is a com-
fortable frame structure, with a broad gallery, or
porch, running along the entire front of it, and on
the roof of the gallery is a neat little sign, " Chit-
tenden Ranch," surmounted by the head of a
buffalo. ■ The house sits back from the yard fience,
and in front of it are a few nicely kept beds of
flowers. From the front of the house you have a
view of the east end of the pasture and the rich
valley farm. From the window, near the poet's
writing desk, there is a fine view of the Skinout
Mountains, on the west. His life at the ranch is
an ideal one. His den is a cosy little southeast
room, simply, but nicely, furnished. The walls are
covered with rare pictures and photographs of
admiring friends from all parts of the world. His
library contains over 900 volumes of carefully
selected books by the best writers. It is here that
he sits and writes those verses which are read and
praised throughout the civilized world.

The Poet Ranchman possesses a versatility of
genius that gives him a wide range of power. His
love sonnets (all poets have a weakness for lustrous
eyes and crinoline) are true love sonnets, his humor
is fresh and true, his pathos is sweet and unaffected,
and his descriptions of his life in his ranch house
by the blazing winter fire are so vivid that, with
slight effort, we can see "Larry, God bless him,"
sitting in his easy chair penning his lines and ever
and anon raising his head to listen to the distant,
lonely hoot of the owl, or the nearer and lonelier
howl of the coyote, pausing for a moment in the
moonlight outside the cabin door.





Born at Nacogdoches, Texas, about the year 1818,
and is said to have been the first white child born
in Eastern Texas. He grew up in his native county
and was an intimate friend of Gen. Sam Houston,
Gen. Thomas J. Rusk, and other leading patriots
of his time. He was an aggressive Indian fighter,
and did much to help subdue the Cherokee Indians,
who for a time terrorized that section of the coun-
try. He lived at San Augustine, Texas, for sev-
eral years, and about the close of the Mexican "War
located at Rio Grande City, on the Rio Grande
frontier, where he engaged in merchandising for
two years and became a prominent and influential
citizen of Starr County. In the year 1852 he oc-
cupied a seat in the Texas State Senate and took
an active part in shaping legislation.

Later he was appointed to and most accept-
ably filled the position of Collector of Customs
of the District of Brazos Santiago until the year

He married Miss Mary Josephine Atwood in
1854 at Austin, at the home of Maj. James H.
Raymond. She was a daughter of William At-
wood, a Texas pioneer, who resided near Manor, in
Travis County, engaged in stock-raising. The At-
wcods were people of prominence, members of an

old and aristocratic family. Mr. Atwood married
MaryNealy, a relative of Gen. Nealy, of Confeder-
ate fame. In 1852 Maj. Durst purchased twenty-
one leagues of the Barreta land grant, located in
Cameron County, and granted to Francisco Balli,
of Reynosa, in 1804, by the King of Spain.

Fourteen leagues of this grant belonged to Maj.
Durst at the time of his death, in 1858, and were
left by will to his wife and three children.

James W. Durst, of Corpus Christi, was born
March 28, 1857, at Brownsville, Texas, which was
for a few years the home of the family, and was
only one year old when his father died.

Under the guidance of his widowed mother he
was given careful moral training and a good Eng-
lish education, which was completed at Roanoke
College, Roanoke, Virginia. He then accepted a
position as railroad accountant, remained so em-
ployed until 1882, and then returned to Texas, re-
joined his mother and lived for a time with her at
Austin. In 1883 he moved to his present ranch in
Cameron County. The estate has been partitioned
among the heirs. Mr. Durst owns a large tract of
land, embracing about thirty thousand acres, front-
ing on the Laguna Madre, improved and stocked
with cattle.



Col. Robert J. Sledge, one of the best known
stock-raisers and planters in the State of Texas and
a man who has contributed much to the advance-
ment of the portion of the State in which he resides,
was born in Warren County, N. C, on the 31st of
July, 1840, and was educated at the celebrated
private school of Ebenezer Crocker, at Whitis
Creek Spring, near Nashville, Tenn. His parents
were Robert and Frances Sledge. His mother's
maiden name was Miss Frances O'Briwn. She was
a granddaughter of the O'Briwn who led the Irish
rebellion of 1798.

Col. Sledge came to Texas in 1865 and located at

Chappel Hill, and for two years was employed on
the H. & T. C. Railroad and engaged in farming
near that point. He soon perceived that he could
enlarge the scope of his operations by resigning this
position and moving further into the interior. This
he did and in 1875 purchased 10,000 acres in Hays
County, on which he established a ranch, whose
area he has since somewhat curtailed. It is known
as Pecan Spring Ranch. He has devoted his atten-
tion principally to raising horses and mules on this
property. He ako owns herds of fine imported

During the war between the States he served in



the Confederate army as a soldier under Generals
Polk and Cheatham.

On the 25th of July, 1877; he married a daughter
of Col. Terrell Jackson, of Washington County,
Texas. For more than ten years he has been the
Texas representative in the Farmers' National Con-
gress, a body composed of the wealthiest and most
intelligent farmers living in the various sections of
the Union. He is also a member of the Board of
the National and State Alliance and contributed a
majority of the stock necessary for the establish-
ment of the Economic Publishing Company, of
Washington, D. C. He is president of the com-

pany. He was also one of the three members who
composed the National Cotton Committee and was
one of the organizers and promoters of the New
Orleans Exposition. A man of wide and varied
information, a graceful and pleasing conversation-
alist, and an excellent public speaker, he has
wielded a powerful influence in every assemblage of
which he has been a member. Conversant with the
pursuit which he has chosen for his life work, he
has no desire for political preferment. He is a fine
type of the elegant country gentleman and is a man
thoroughly representative of the section in which
he resides."



It is doubtful if there is a city of its size in Texas
that has counted, in time past, in its citizenship, a
larger number of worthy pioneers and successful
men than the city of Laredo. As a class they were
of the true pioneer type and suited in every way to
frontier life. Col. Santos Benavides, an eminent
soldier and citizen, was one of this class and a fit-
ting representative of an old and prominent family.

His father, Jose Maria Benavides, was a Captain
in the Mexican army and came to Laredo in com-
mand of his company. Here he met and married
Dona Marguerita Ramon, a granddaughter of Don
Tom as Sanchez, the founder of Laredo. By this
marriage he had two sons, Refugio, a resident of
Laredo, and Santos, the subject of this memoir.

He suffered the loss of his first wife and at a later
period married Dona Tomasa Cameras, who bore
him four children: Eulelaio, Christobal, Juliana de
Lyendicker and Francisca de Farias.

The father died in the year 1846 in Laredo.
Santos Benavides grew up with other members of
the family in Laredo, attended schools at home and
abroad and acquired a thorough knowledge of
stock-raising in all of its details. He also served
as salesman in a store in Laredo, where he acquired
a technical knowledge of merchandising. As a
young man he possessed a somewhat restless and
altogether daring and fearless nature. Among his
first military services he raised a company of State
troops for the protection of the Southwestern fron-
tier against marauding Lidians. At the beginning
of the great war between the States, the State

troops were reorganized and his regiment was
mustered into the Confederate States' service under
Col. Duff, and he was advanced to the rank of
Major, his brother, Christobal Benavides, assuming
command of his company. As the organization of
the Confederate army progressed Maj. Benavides
was promoted to the rank of Colonel, and from
that time on his regiment was known in military
circles as Benavides' Regiment. He served at the
head of his command until the close of the war,
mainly on the Rio Grande frontier, holding in check
the Indians from the north and repelling marauding
Mexicans from across the river. His campaigns
were at times characterized by thrilling incidents,
making, as he did, many aggressive raids and often
pursuing lawless Mexicans into their own country.
The Confederate army contained no braver or more
loyal and efficient officer than Col. Benavides,
and, as a graceful and just acknowledgment of his
almost invaluable services to his State and the Con-
federate cause, the Texas Legislature in 1864 in
joint session passed the following resolution of
thanks: —

"Be it resolved by the Legislature of the State
of Texas, that whereas in the autumn of the past
year, our enemy was invading the State from many
directions and was exultant in the prospect of
success by overpowering armies, by insidious
policies, by aid of traitors in our midst, by deser-
tions from our army and by fears of the weak in
faith, and at times which tried men's souls, when
unwavering patriotism and true courage were more



than ever to be appreciated, the people of this
State witnessed with admiration the attitude of
Col. Santos Benavides and his handful of men
who dared to dispute and did successfully main-
tain the possession of an extensive tract of our

" 2d. That the thanljs of this people are due and
are hereby tendered to Col. Santos Benavides and
the officers and men under his command for their
steadfast opposition to the enemy in the field and
the zeal they have shown in the service of their

" 3d. That the Governor of this State be requested
to transmit a copy of these resolutions to Col.
Benavides and that they be read to his regiment on
dress parade.

" Approved May 24th, 1864.


" Governor.
" M. D. K. Taylor,
" Speaker of the House of Representatives.
" F. S. Stockdale,
" President of the Senate."

During the last days of the war, Col. Benavides
was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General, but
the war closed before he assumed command in that
capacity. Col. Benavides was in poor health dur-
ing the latter part of the war, but remained in the
service until the final surrender and then returned
to his home in Laredo. There he regained in a
measure his health and almost immediately entered
business as a merchant, taking as a copartner his
brother, Capt. Christobal Benavides, under the
firm name of S. Benavides & Brother. They did a
large retail and wholesale business, the latter ex-
tending far into the interior of Mexico. The firm
continued business for several years and was then,
by mutual consent, dissolved, and Col. Benavides
entered trade alone at a stand opposite the city hall
and market, continuing therein up to the time of
his death, which occurred November 9th, 1891.
In civil life he was a polished and courteous gentle-
man of plain and easy manners.

In military life he was an aggressive, gallant and
skillful officer. Under all circumstances and at all
times he exhibited a kindness of heart and consider-
ation for the rights and feelings of others that en-
deared him to his comrades in aims and to bis
thousands of other friends.

He was always cool and deliberate in the forma-
tion and expression of his opinions. He fully ac-
cepted the verdict of the Civil War and gave his best
counsel and influence to the cause of reconstruction
and, with great hope for and faith in the future.

set vigorously about the building up of his impaired
business and estate. He was not a politician in the
usual acceptation of the term, and was never an
office-seeker ; but, at the urgent solicitation of his
people and in accordance with what he believed to
be the duty of a citizen, served the public in vari-
ous important capacities, notably as Mayor of
Laredo, in 1856, and three terms in the Texas State
Legislature, during the sessions of which he was a
member of various Important committees and made
his influence felt in the shaping of important legis-
lation. He did not speak or write the English lan-
guage sufficiently to address that body in the
vernacular, and his public utterances were all in-
terpreted by a private secretary, who was ever at
his side, and was noted for his directness of state-
ment, clear and sound logic, and broad statesman-
ship. He was a commissioner from Texas to the
World's Cotton Exposition at New Orleans in 1884 ;
he was ever a safe and ready champion of the doc-
trine of popular rights and government, therefore
at the time of the French invasion of Mexico his
influence, which was far-reaching in the border
Mexican States, was thrown on the side of the lib-
eral party and at critical times and under permissi-
ble circumstances he did not fail to exercise it and
from the time that Gen. Gonzales and Gen. Diaz
were put in power he was a friend and supporter of
their government.

Col. Benavides married, in 1842, Dona Augustine
Vallareal, a native of Laredo. They had no chil-
dren of theirown, but adopted and liberally educated
four. Of these, Augustina, an acccomplished lady,
became the wife of Gen. Garza Ayala, of Monterey,
Mexico, once General of Mexican Artillery and ex-
Governor of the Mexican State of Nuevo Leon, an
intrepid military officer, an able statesman, and
eminent lawyer. Dona Augustina died at Mata-

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 108 of 135)