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Cattle Raids and Frontier Marauders

present mode of obtaining some property that belongs to honester persons."[64]  Nine months later, Linn again wrote,

I am sorry . . . to say . . . that the frontier is and has been for some time back infested with what is usually called Cow drives but all kinds of Robbery is committed dailey. No person's property in these counties [Goliad, Refugio, and Victoria] is safe. I have to suffer along with the balance of the well disposed citizens. We are loosing our little stock constantly. This comes hard on those who had lost all in the invation of '36 for we had to buy at high prices in on[ly] one section. It is true that stock can be bought from 8 to $10 pr head in Texas Paper, but I cannot bring my mind to buy that which I know to be stolen & with marks & brands that I know as well as I do my own. We are at this time in a very bad state for all laws are trampled under foot -- and those who pay any respect to the laws of the land or has any national honor is hooted at and in truth his life is not safe if he offers any resistance to the notions of the bandit that now rules. . . . The Citizens of this county have the mortification of being represented [in] this Congress by a Man who keeps the head quarters for Cow drivers & [is] by them elected to the disgrace of our country.[65] 

The Third Congress in January 1839, enacted a law prohibiting the driving off by any person or persons of horses, cattle, and other domestic animals "which are not his or their legal property" from the so-called depopulated counties west of the Guadalupe River;[66]  and a week later, Congress made it a felony, punishable by death, to "take, steal and carry away, any horse, mare, ass, mule or gelding, colt, foal or filly, knowing the same not to be his own," or to aid in the theft or secretion of such property.[67]  It was well nigh impossible, however, for the large cattle ranchers in the western counties to keep a watch over their herds because of hostile Indians and the prevalence of banditti. "More serious in their consequences," reported a man recently from the west, "are the robberies of the cattle and horses of the Rancheros, . . . who exasperated at their losses, are ready to obtain

64. John J. Linn to the Secretary of State, Victoria, Jan. 18, 1838, in Domestic Correspondence (Texas), 1836-1846, ms.

65. John J. Linn to the President of the Republic of Texas, Victoria, Sept. 21, 1839, in ibid. Linn was apparently referring to Representative James Wright.

66. "An Act to Prohibit the Driving of Cattle from that part of the Country West of the Guadaloupe," approved January 19, 1839, in Gammel (ed.), Laws of Texas, II, 53.

67. "An Act to Provide for the Punishment of Horse Thieves," in ibid., II, 166-167.

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AFTER SAN JACINTO: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836-1841
Joseph Milton Nance, 1963