Central Texas Cowboys v. 20,000,00 Longhorns
“THE GRUENE COWBOY shines a new spotlight on the fantastic stories captured in the original Trail Drivers of Texas.”
Rebecca Huffstutler Norton, Executive Director
Frontier Times Museum, Bandera, Texas
The Gruene Cowboy
Saddle up with Central Texas cowboys like H.D. Gruene, who between 1860 and the 1880s crossed the Guadalupe River to blaze the cattle trails north to Dodge City, and beyond!
In 2014, a reporter for MyCanyonLake.com, perusing a bookstore in San Antonio, stumbled across an old, blue and very thick book with over 1,000 crumbling yellow pages. It had a very intriguing name, The Trail Drivers of Texas.
Prominently featured were original accounts by Central Texas cowboys who drove 20,000,000 cattle up north between 1865 and the 1890’s, carving out the wild, wild American West. These mostly bored teenagers and young men, weary of farm and ranch life, signed on with trail bosses only to endure brutal weather, stampedes, attacks by Native Americans and many other hardships including fleas, outlaws and wiley midwestern farmers. The Larry McMurtry book, Lonesome Dove, is based on one cowboy’s account of the death of Oliver Loving.
Canyon Lake-based Imprint SafariMultimedia.com decided to reissue The Trail Drivers of Texas but and make it more accessible to modern readers. It was renamed The Gruene Cowboy in honor of trail rider H.D. Gruene, whose family founded the now famed Central Texas tourist town and music mecca of Gruene. This new edition includes only the most colorful stories from the original volume. Archaic spellings and punctuation have been modernized so they don’t distract modern readers from visceral storytelling. Page-long paragraphs have been shortened to improve readability.
Forget t-shirts and koozies. The Gruene Cowboy is the perfect gift or souvenir for visitors who’d like a real keepsake of their visit to Canyon Lake/Gruene/New Braunfels.
Who Wrote The Trail Drivers of Texas?
In 1915, George W. Saunders, a self-described “old-time” cowboy, organized and founded the now legendary Old Time Trail Drivers’ Association in San Antonio, Texas. Worried that other old-timers would soon die, taking their colorful accounts of the Wild West with them to their graves, Saunders urged his group to gather the accounts of aging Texans who as young men and women “went up the trail with cattle or horses between 1865 and 1896.”
The result was the 1924 masterpiece, The Trail Drivers of Texas, from which The Gruene Cowboy is excerpted.
‘Such a book has never been written’
Wrote Saunders: “It is our purpose to write a history dealing strictly with trail and ranch life and the early cattle industry. This book will consist of letters written by trail drivers only, giving the minutest details of their experiences of bygone days at home and on the trail, and will contain facts and be full of thrills. Such a book has never been written; all the books published on this subject have been by some author who spent a few months on some ranch, then attempted to write a book, understanding very little about stock or the stock business, and consequently having them pulling off stunts that have never been pulled off anywhere else but in the fertile imagination of some fiction writer.”
Available at Opa’s German Store, Hunter’s Junction and Cotton Eyed Joe in New Braunfels, through Amazon.com, and at the Briscoe Western Museum in San Antonio. And hey, we live in Canyon Lake. Give us a call at 713-550-7014 and we’ll run you over a copy.