Tag Archives: Writing

All Trails Lead to Montague County

Well, perhaps not all trails lead to Montague County, but throughout history several have laid tracks through this area.  Each marking and shaping what Montague County would eventually become.  In 1882, the railroad laid the first tracks in Montague County.  Between 1867 and 1884 several hundred thousand longhorns passed through Montague County as the Chisholm Trail funneled across the Red River.  The Butterfield Overland Mail Route crossed the corner of the county on its short-lived existence between 1848-1869.  Even before that Marcy’s California Trail of 1849 (which Highway 82 follows today in several instances)  and the Texas Santa Fe Exposition in 1841 trekked across Montague County.  The earliest organized trail that traversed our county was the one laid out by the Chihuahua Trade Expedition

In 1839 and 1840, the Chihuahua Trading Expedition wound its way back to Mexico through Montague County.  The expeditions purpose was to open trade between Mexico and the United States via a less circular trail than the established trial through St Louis, Santa Fe and El Paso.  It was organized by Henry Connelly.  Connelly was a physician hailing from Missouri and a prominent merchant in Chihuahua.  The group consisted of Connelly and a party of 150 men.  With a bankroll of between 200,000 and 300,000 specie, the party left Chihuahua on 2 April 1839.  They traveled northeast to the Rio Grande, on to the headwaters of the Colorado and Brazos rivers.  They accidentally followed the Canadian River, thinking it was the Red River, for some distance, but eventually found their bearings and followed the Mighty Red downriver.  They crossed into Indian Territory at the mouth of the Wichita.  With the guidance of a Delaware Indian band, the party arrived at Fort Towson.

Fort Towson was a frontier military outpost for the Frontier Amy Quartermaster.  It was located approximately two miles northeast of the present day community of Fort Towson, OK and about seventy miles east of Fort Washita.  From Fort Towson, the expedition traveled on to Arkansas where Connelly boarded a steamship to Louisiana in order to trade his gold and silver from merchandise.

On the return trip, the caravan  included between sixty and eighty new wagons loaded with goods.  Also joining the group was a troupe of American equestrian circus performers transporting tents and various equipment in order to entertain in Mexico.  The return route passed from Fort Towson into North Texas, through present day Red River, Lamar, Fannin, Grayson, Cooke Montague, Clay and Archer Counties.  The party passed Paris and Bonham, dipped south of Sherman through Whitesboro, north of Gainesville and Muenster and into what is now the town of Saint Jo. The group then headed northward between Montague and Nocona where they encountered muddy prairies that impeded their progress for about five weeks.  Unfavorable weather caused problems throughout the trip.

Eventually they hit their original trail and traveled south to the Rio Grande, where once again they were met by difficulty.  They spent forty-five days negotiating tariffs in order to cross back into Mexico.  Governor Jose Irigoyen who had promised a cut-rate on the tax had died before Connelly and his crew returned.  The new regime requested full payment.

They reached Chihuahua 27 August 1840, some sixteen months after they set out on the voyage.  The route was not repeated due to unfavorable reports of the trail and the excessive tariffs.

Although this particular trail was only blazed once, other adventurous souls were not to far behind in making their way to Montague County.


Christmas Bananas

I recently had the opportunity to partake in the madness known as Black Friday at Walmart.  My pregnant daughter really wanted to go and I couldn’t send her into the abyss alone.  While I did score a vacuum cleaner for $8.88 and really enjoyed watching the mayhem, I could help but wonder how this became Christmas.

My father, Charles Don Castle, was born in Illinois Bend in 1932.  To say times were tough would be a gross understatement.  But when you ask him about his childhood, his memories are nothing but fond.

He was raised on the old home place that had been in his mother’s family since about 1897.  Arrowhead and squirrel hunting were his favorite past times.  His home was a typical  shotgun house, meaning you could stand at the front door and shoot out the back door without hitting any walls.  Three rooms in total.  The living room, that doubled as his parents bedroom, the kitchen, and the kids’ room. The remnants of which still lay in the pasture.  There was no outdoor plumbing, but the well and the outhouse were just a few yards from the house, so he never thought this was an inconvenience.

I recently asked him about what Christmas was like when he was a little boy.  I asked if they had a Christmas tree, he said no.  I asked if he hung a stocking, he said no.  I asked if Santa came to visit, again he said no.  It made me sad to think of my Daddy, who always made my Christmas’ very special events, as a little boy with nothing for Christmas.

“So, ya’ll just didn’t celebrate Christmas at all?”, I asked.  He looked at me like I had lost my mind.  “I didn’t say that”, he replied.  He told me that Christmas was one of his favorite childhood memories.   I reiterated his list:  no Santa, no tree, no presents.  He smiled, his blue eyes twinkled.  “Ah, but there were bananas!”, he said.

“Pap would ride into town (St Jo) and take the train to Gainesville every year right before Christmas.  He would bring back the biggest bunch of bananas you have ever seen.”, he explained.  He held his arms wide, indicating the bunch of bananas was at least three feet long.  He went on to describe how my grandfather would hand this large, yellow, bunch of bananas from the rafters in the kitchen of their home.  “You know what the best part was kid?”, he asked,  “I could get a banana anytime I wanted it.”

It was a very important lesson my Daddy taught me that day.  Christmas isn’t about the hustle and bustle, or the decorations, or the gifts.  It is a time to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, to spend it with true friends and family.  It is a time to really appreciate what is important in your life.

Merry Christmas!

Frontiersman and Indian Fighter – Levi Perryman

From the day he was born, Levi Perryman’s life was never easy.  On March 29, 1839, Levi entered this world, on the same day his mother, Elizabeth Farmer Perryman,  left her earthly home.  Less than nine months later, his father, Alex G Perryman was called to heaven as well, leaving Levi an orphan before the age of one. 

Levi Perryman. Photo courtesy of Montague County Historical Commission

His father’s brother, Jack Perryman, took Levi into his home and raised him as his own. Uncle Jack taught young Levi all the things a boy needed to know  to become a man on the Texas Frontier.   Levi attended school in Paris, Texas for a few short months, but the call of the wild west was too strong not to answer.  In 1859, he decided to head west where land was plentiful and fertile.   He chose Montague County as his home,  building a modest log cabin near Forestburg.

His Uncle Jack proposed a business venture, a cattle raising 50-50 partnership.  Jack followed Levi to Montague County with a hundred head of cattle. Under an oak tree, on the acreage Levi called home three miles west of Forestburg, his uncle presented him with “fifty head of cattle, a saddle horse equipped and a ten-dollar gold piece and said to him, “Now my son, root hog or die.””  The partnership worked well for both men until the War Between the States encroached on the business venture.

Levi joined the Confederate Army at Gainesville, Texas in Captain Gilbert’s company.  He also served in Marshall’s squadron and Company I, 31st Texas Dismounted Cavalry.  He participated in the Battles of Prairie Grove, Pleasant Hill and Mansfield.  According to B B Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co, 1906) Vol 1 pp 701-704, “In the spring of 1865, he was ordered to report at Galveston, but at Houston, he applied for and received a furlough home and before he reached his destination Lee had surrendered and the war was over.  During those three years of army life, no Yankee prison cell knew him and no federal bullet ever bruised his body.  No absence without leave and no hospital record were charged against him.  Mr Perryman was ever subject to duty’s call.”

Upon returning home after the war, he returned to his ranching endeavors with his uncle Jack.  In 1866, he married Mrs Josephine (Milam) Price, widow of Pleasant Price.  The new Mrs Perryman had a son, Pleas Milam, from her first marriage.  Together Levi and Josephine had eight children. These children were Napoleon, William J, Elbert, Kate, Lennie, Charley, Sarah and Bob.  Both Charley and Sarah died as infants and Napoleon died as a young child.  Josephine died in 1884, leaving Levi with a houseful of young mouths to feed.  He employed a gentleman named Pedro Videll to help tend to the children and home.

Levi Perryman seated, behind left to right are daughter Lennie Perryman Stallworth, stepson Pleas Price, son Elbert Perryman and daughter Kate Perryman Caddell. Photo courtesy of Montague County Historical Commission.

His cattle business was very successful.  He managed to acquire about twenty five hundred acres of land in Montague County.  Levi was well-respected in the Forestburg community and when the town was in need of a sheriff, Levi accepted the role.  He was sheriff from 1873-1878.  After his first term, he had no intention of running again.  The townspeople got together a petition urging his re-election.  He accepted, and served a second term in office.  During his tenure as sheriff, he had several run ins with the ever-present outlaws that disrupted the Texas Frontier.  He accompanied many criminals from the Montague County jail cells to their new home at the State Penitentiary in Huntsville.  The Paddock book states, “His heavy and avenging hand was laid on Wild Bill McPherson and it brought Bob Simmons back from Kansas and lodged him in prison and it reached out after Ike Stowe and made him suffer for his crimes.”

While widely known through north central Texas as a soldier, rancher and lawman, his greatest claim to fame was his prowess as an Indian fighter.  He was engaged in dozens of encounters with the raiding tribes that reeked havoc along the mighty Red River.  Later in his life he wrote his first hand recollections of these Indian fights.  In 1987, the Montague County Historical Commission received permission from Levi’s heirs to publish these accounts.  A copy can be obtained from the Montague County Historical Commission or at the Tales N Trails Museum.

First hand accounts of Indian Fighter Levi Perryman.

Levi purchased the cemetery that was used by the families in and around the Forestburg area in 1883.  He deeded the cemetery to the county.  The Perryman Cemetery  is located 1.5 miles from Forestburg on FM 455.  The Texas Historical Commission erected a marker that states, “The first marked grave in this burial ground is that of an infant who died in 1862. Other burials include those of a Mr Jones, a well-digger, killed by Indians in 1863 and Dory Booher and Ben Steadham former Confederate soldiers who had been captured at Lookout Mountain, Tenn. during the Civil War.  In 1883, the cemetery was purchased by Levi Perryman (1839-1921) and deeded to Montague County.  A Forestburg community leader, Perryman had been a Confederate soldier and Indian fighter and sheriff.  Still used, this cemetery serves as a reminder of the area’s pioneers.”  There are twenty-nine Perryman graves in the cemetery, all related in some fashion to Levi.

Perryman Cemetery. Photo courtesy of findagrave.com

Levi was involved in many community affairs.  He was a founding member of the Forestburg Methodist Church.  He was a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge in Saint Jo and later a member of the Masonic Lodge in Forestburg and Gainesville.

Levi Perryman died 22 March 1921, just a few short days before his 82nd birthday.  He is buried in the cemetery that bears his name.  An area newspaper, The Bowie Blade, printed a very fitting obituary.

“Levi Perryman, aged 82, died at this home two miles west of Forestburg March 22, 1921 and was buried at the Old Perryman Cemetery at Forestburg Wednesday afternoon, March 23, the Masonic lodge of Forestburg, assisted by the Methodist pastor, conducting the services.  Mr Perryman was one of the rugged pioneers of the county who came here when the west was young and who blazed the way for civilization.  He was born in Lamar County, March 29, 1839 and was left an orphan when only a few months old, and was raised by an uncle, Jack Perryman.  In 1859, he moved to Montague County and settled on the place where he died.  In 1866, he was married to Mrs Josephine Price and of this union, three children are now living.  E W Perryman, ex-county sherrif, Mrs H Caldwell of Denton, and Mrs Ed Stallworth of Forestburg.  Mr Perryman was elected sheriff of Montague County in 1873 and served one term, in 1878 he was petitioned to run again for sheriff and was elected a second term.  It is stated he made an enviable record as an officer and run to earth many horse thieves, a class of criminals that he hated worse than any other.  He was an old Confederate veteran, and a life long member of the Methodist Church.”

Pioneers Lost and Found: The Boggess Cemetery

Boggess Cemetery located north of Saint Jo, Texas. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

If you have ever spent any time in Saint Jo, Texas and wondered why the streets were named  Meigs, Boggess, Crump, Howell or Williams, a leisurely stroll through the Boggess Cemetery will ease your curiosity.  Many of the major movers and shakers of early day Saint Jo are laid to rest in this cemetery.  Including the town founders, Irby Holt Boggess and Joseph Anderson Howell.

Back row: Dr John G Crump, Capt Blevins, Sam Rowe, Professor Hughes. Front Row: W M Ross, Henry Ira Chancey, Frank Warren Sr, Irby Holt Boggess. Photo courtesy of Eddie Yetter

Both Boggess and Howell served with the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  Moving to Montague County around 1869, they formed a business partnership and plotted out the town of Saint Jo around 1872.  Boggess was originally from Meigs County, Tennessee.

Boggess, his wife and several other family members are buried in the Boggess family plot.  This plot is located just beyond where the original entrance gate was located.  It is rumored that after moving to Montague County, Boggess survived an Indian attack by taking refuge behind a cabin door made of Bois d’Arc wood.  This strong and dense wood stopped the bullets, saving his life.  As the story goes, he kept the door  as a memento and it was used as the lid to his casket.

Irby Holt Boggess tombstone seen through the footstones of the original gate

Not too far from the Boggess plot is the double tombstone of Joseph Anderson Howell.  He is buried next to his infant son. 

Joseph Anderson Howell's gravestone. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

Tombstones throughout the cemetery represent several well know families of the area.  Carrie L Crump, young wife of Dr John G Crump.  Dr Crump, remarried after his wife’s death and is buried in the Mountain Park Cemetery.

Grave of Carrie L Crump, wife of Dr John G Crump. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

There are a few fenced plots in the cemetery.  Two of which belong to the Hale and Fulton families.       These ornate fences have,    for the most part, withstood the test of time and the elements.    One of which is large enough to hold six to eight gravesites, but only two markers are present.  It is believed that the other graves were never marked or the stones have been lost or damaged over time.

The cemetery contains old graceful tombstones that are inscribed with a wealth of information.  Some relay only the names of the souls they protect, others give clues into the family history. 

One of the fenced plots at Boggess Cemetery. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

Others still, give hints to how harsh live could be, such as the double marker for the infant twins, Effie and Everett Hurd.  The earliest marked graves that can be found in the cemetery are that of Florence M Gann, a baby  girl not even three months of age.  A transcription of those buried in the Boggess Cemetery can be found here.  This list was compiled in 2004.  There have been a few graves that have been added in the last few years, since the list was put together.

Grave of infant Hurd twins. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

Along with the traditional tombstones, there are several markers made of sandstone.  If they were ever engraved with the name of the interred, the message has long been erased by decades of sweltering Texas heat, torrential spring storms, and freezing snow and ice as the seasons relentlessly changed over the years.  Other markers have  succumbed to vandalism or old age.

Example of broken headstones. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

The Boggess Cemetery is located about a mile north of Saint Jo on FM 677.  It is easy to spot on the right hand side of the road, but this has not always been the case.  As the families of the pioneers of Saint Jo died off, the cemetery was not in high demand.  The Mountain Park cemetery located within the city limits of Saint Jo, became the central cemetery. 

Jorden Crump Boggess, son of Irby Holt Boggess died in Oklahoma 1949 and his body was brought home for burial.  It was a cold, bitter December afternoon when the family laid him to rest.    The seasons came and went, native grasses crept in and over the worn tombstones until this historic resting  place was all but lost.  In 1963, a brave grave-digger took his chances among the briars, weeds and snakes in order to bury Jorden’s brother, A A Boggess.  Again, mother nature took its course, trying to recover this sacred patch of earth. 

Broken tombstone at Boggess Cemetery. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

Most people who passed the cemetery on daily basis traveling on FM 677, did not know the cemetery existed, those who did hardly took notice.   Everyone that is except an eighty year young spitfire named Kate Harris.  She along with the help of her niece, Janis Sneed, cleaned up the cemetery and continued to maintain it until her health would not allow it.  It was not an unusal sight to drive by the cemetery on a hot summer day and see Aunt Kate out on her riding mower tending the resting place of the town’s fallen pioneers.  Kate’s younger sister, Clara Bell Trice joined the effort when her sister could no longer hold up to the physical task of being the care taker.  Today, Aunt Kate’s niece, Clara Bell’s daughter, Janis Sneed still stands guard over the small patch of ground that was the final Earthly resting place of some of Saint Jo’s pioneer families.

Old gated plot at the Boggess Cemetery. Photo copyrighted material of Shannon Gillette

The Pony Express Rides Again

A publicity stunt, like no other, occurred March 1, 1939 in Nocona, Texas.  Miss Enid Justin, founder and owner of the Nocona Boot Company organized a re-enactment of the Pony Express which traveled  from Nocona to the World’s Fair in San Francisco.  The route followed the old Overland Mail Trail established in 1839.  The original trail entered Texas at Colbert’s Ferry in Oklahoma and stretched west through Gainesville on to El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, Yuma and Los Angeles and then up the  Pacific Coast to San Francisco.  The trip, from start to finish, was approximately 2000 miles.  Nocona was fast becoming known as the Leather Capitol of the Southwest and this event made Nocona and Miss Enid household names across the nation.

Miss Enid Justin. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

The rules were relatively simple.  Each rider would have two horses, that were exchanged after relays of no less than twenty-five miles.  A teammate followed with truck and trailer to make the switch along the route.  And the participants must finish with the same horses with which he started the race. Each rider was to carry U.S. regulation mail pouches, picking up mail along the route.  Specialty envelopes and Pony Express stamps were produced.  Upon reaching the World’s Fair the mail was postmarked and sent to the addressee.  Each rider was allowed to keep a percentage of the sales of these envelopes to help defray the cost of participating in the world’s longest horse race.

Pony Express envelope. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

Forty-two individuals from twenty-six states originally signed up to participate.  Even Ruth Roach Salmon, famed female rodeo bronc rider, was  planning on making the journey.  But come race day, only seventeen individuals were mounted on their trusted steeds at the starting line.  Sixteen cowpokes from some of the biggest ranches in Texas and one young lady rounded out the group.  This daring young lass, Vennie Greenwood, was crowned Miss Nocona.  The Houston Press  described Miss Greenwood, “Vennie is a girl. 16 years old, with flaming red hair”.  Even though most of the newspaper accounts focused mainly on her appearance,  the veteran cowpokes viewed her as serious competition.

Vennie Greenwood, Miss Nocona. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

The contestants were:  Vennie Greenwood and Chris Uselton, both from Nocona; Lige Reid and Tex Frazier, both of Electra; Taylor Tuck from Saint Jo; Bob Moyer from Crowell; Hudie Helms from Dumas; Jack Clifton from McClain; Shorty Hudson from Knox City; King Kerley from Quanah; Marvin “Slim” Mathis from Dalhart; V H Henderson from San Antonio; Shannon Davidson from Matador; L E Speers, George Cates, R L Scott all from Crowell and T J Sykes from Duval, Oklahoma.
The send off for the race was a huge celebration.  It was estimated that up to 10,000 people attended the start of the race.  Speeches were made, bands played and Miss Enid cut the starting line ribbon.

Miss Enid cutting the starting line ribbon. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

Amon G Carter, a native Montague County boy, gave the starting shot and the race was on.  All seventeen racers headed west out of town toward the first stop, 45 miles on down the road in Wichita Falls, Texas.  The stock trucks rumbled along behind the galloping mustangs.

Amon G Carter and Miss Enid at the kick off celebration. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

The first rider to reach Wichita Falls was Shorty Hudson, the cowboy from Knox City.  It took him six hours to complete the first leg of the race at an average of eight miles per hour.  The last to reach the pit stop was Miss Nocona, Vennie Greenwood after a grueling seven and a half hours in the saddle.  The riders bedded down in make shift camp sites near Olney to catch a few hours sleep before starting the second day.  During the second day of traveling, Miss Greenwood was disqualified by race judges for riding in her stock truck for a portion of the second leg.  She did continue with the race by vehicle as the mascot.
Large numbers of well wishers met the racers in each town, often accompanied by marching bands and other forms of entertainment.  Some towns handed out cash prizes to the first rider to reach their spot on the map.  The riders picked up more mail at each town.    T J Sykes who had taken a large lead on days two and three was only three miles ahead of Shannon Davidson and Chris Uselton by the time they reached their fourth stop in Abilene.

Stock handlers Lee Crenshaw, Jack Crenshaw and Andy Jennings. Photo courtesy of Tom Uselton

All of the contestants encountered hardships above and beyond the physical demands on their saddle weary bodies.  Taylor Tuck, the rider from Saint Jo, fell unconscious from his horse, suffering from flu-like symptoms.  Jack Clifton had to drop from the race due to a sick horse.  Bob Moyer was stranded for over a day near Odessa when his stock truck had mechanical difficulties.  Another great obstacle they met along the route was nasty weather.  They battled their way through blinding sand storms, rain and cold temperatures, each determined to be the first to reach the Golden Gate destination.

Nurse Claudie Brown says goodbye to Taylor Tuck as he is sent back to Saint Jo by ambulance. Friend E N Dunbar looks on. Newspaper clipping courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

Once T J Sykes took the lead on day two he pushed himself harder and harder to maintain the distance between himself and the other riders.  His strategy was to cover more miles per day than the others.  His longest non-stop stretch was 125 miles in length.  But even this was not enough to hold back his strongest competition, Shannon Davidson and Chris Uselton.  By the time they had reached Midland, Texas on the eighth day of the race, Davidson had a seven mile lead on Sykes with Uselton close on his tail.  Even those further back in the pack were still in it to win it.  In a letter home to his parents, Lige Reid mentions a telegram his stock handler sent home stating “We are riding in the rear without any fear.”  He went on to tell his parents that he felt the other riders were working their mounts too hard and that the excellent care his horses were receiving was going to pay off in the end.  All of the riders were pushing hard to reach El Paso which would mark the first third of the race.  Some even rigged tail lights on their saddles in order to ride safely late into the night.

Shorty Hudson and his stock men taking a quick rest in Quanah

Shannon Davidson arrived in El Paso eleven miles ahead of T J Sykes.  Chris Uselton was twenty miles further back.  The next stop would be in Deming, New Mexico.  Davidson rode several legs of the race bareback to spare his horses the extra strain and wear of a saddle.

Bob Moyer and Shorty Hudson. Newspaper article courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

Pushing toward Deming, New Mexico, Sykes, Davidson and Uselton are all contenders for the lead.  Sykes reached the rest stop first, but was forced to drop out of the race as one of his horses was too ill to continue.  As the bone crunching adventure continued, Davidson led with Uselton close on his heels.  About sixty to seventy miles back, practically out of the running, but determined to finish were V H Henderson, Shorty Hudson, Lige Reid, Bob Moyers and Hudie Helms.

George Cates. Newspaper clipping courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

Even further back in the pack was George Cates.  He relentlessly plodded along, determined to finish the race.  For Cates it was more than just the prize at the end, it was a personal tribute to his father, I M Cates.  The senior Mr Cates had delivered mail on Pony Express in 1878.  He eventually had to drop out of the race when his horse became lame.

Shannon Davidson managed to create a sixty mile buffer between him and Chris Uselton by they time they reached Tuscon, Arizona.  He maintained this lead as he entered Phoenix, the half way mark, sixteen days into the race.  Upon arriving in Phoenix, Davidson was met by Arizona Governor, Bob Jones who gave the weary rider an honorary escort through the city.  Trying to keep his lead, Davidson did not tarry long before striking out again.

Shannon Davidson cinches up his spare mount outside Los Angeles, CA. From left to right, Wood Byrd, Davidson, Bill Meyer. Newspaper clipping courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

When Davidson reached Santa Barbara, California, he was still in the lead, but Uselton was making a run at closing the gap.  Uselton had made camp in Los Angeles for the night and was planning on shortening the distance between first and second the next day.  His hopes were dashed, when he and his horse were struck by a vehicle in Ventura, California.  His horse suffered a broken leg which made it impossible to continue the race.  Just 340 miles from the finish line, the Nocona home town boy had to call it quits, leaving King Kerley in second place.
The longest horse race the world had ever seen was coming to a close.  On March 20th, Miss Enid Justin left the boot making at the Nocona Boot Company to her trusted employees and traveled to San Francisco to be on hand as the rider crossed the finish line.

Map showing the route taken by the riders. Newspaper clipping courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

Shannon Davidson had about a 100 mile lead with only 196 more miles to go when he reached King City, California.

Shannon Davidson crossing the finish line. Newspaper clipping courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

He rode day and night for the remaining journey to ensure he would arrive first.  Twenty four long, hard days after the start, Shannon Davidson crossed the finish line.  The twenty-two year old cowpoke from Matador, Texas won the race with the help of his faithful ponies, Ranger and Rocket.  Davidson’s friends and family  traveled the long distance to California to celebrate  his victory.  Miss Enid Justin was on there to hand  deliver Davidson the 750 silver dollar prize money.

Winner Shannon Davidson with his cash prize. Newspaper clipping courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

King Kerley came in second place, 100 miles behind.  The few remaining riders left in the race straggled in over the next two days.  The hoopla of the race was over and the remaining cowboys had a difficult time navigating through San Francisco without a greeting party.
Shannon Davidson returned home a hero.  He landed a few bit parts in western movies of the day as a result of his new-found fame.  Shannon Davidson died in a tragic farm accident a few years later.

San Leandro city manager, Ray Billings, Miss Enid Justin and race winner Shannon Davidson shortly after crossing the finish line. Newspaper article courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum.