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Diamond "A" Cattle Company
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TXTibbs
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Joined: 09 Apr 2005
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Location: South Central Texas, former South Dakotan

PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 1:10 pm    Post subject: Diamond "A" Cattle Company Reply with quote

Anyone have any interesting stories, tales, lies, or truths about the Diamond "A" Cattle Company that used to exist in north central South Dakota around Eagle Butte, SD until the late 1930's?



History

The Diamond A Cattle Company was a nationally-known ranching outfit based in New Mexico and Colorado between 1885 and 1939. The company was created in 1885 by Frank G. Bloom of Trinidad, Colorado, and M.D. Thatcher of Pueblo, CO, as a subsidiary operation to the Bloom Land and Cattle Company. At that time, The Bloom Land and Cattle Company acquired the Diamond A Ranch in Chaves County, New Mexico and the Circle Diamond Ranch in Lincoln County, N.M., combining the two ranches into a large cattle and sheep ranching outfit called the Diamond A Cattle Company. As the ranching operation grew, the Diamond A Cattle Company used lands in Chaves, Lea, Eddy, and Lincoln counties, New Mexico. Later acquisitions included ranches on the Rio Hondo, in the Pecos, and at Wagon Mound, N.M. The company also purchased a ranch in South Dakota. The daily operations of the Diamond A properties were managed by former Arizona Ranger and U.S. Army Captain, Burton C. Mossman of Roswell, N.M. After 1939, the Diamond A Cattle Company holdings were broken up into smaller parcels and sold. Leon E. Williams, New York businessman, acquired the Wagon Mound and South Dakota ranches. Other parcels were sold to parties in Roswell, New Mexico. By 1977, much of the Diamond A land in New Mexico was owned by Robert O. Anderson, Arco oil tycoon.


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koj
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Joined: 11 Feb 2005
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Location: Former North West SD

PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TXTibbs,
I have heard some pretty hair raising stories from a few old timers about that ranch. Those big outfits in that day were pretty rough and tumble. Now they were cowboys to a T.


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the real jake
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just finished Melvin Anderson's good book titled -Renegades, and Ranching on The Rez, or something like that. He wrote of the Diamond A in one chapter, and it was real interesting. Dakota Cowboy is an interesting book of that same era, and vicinity. Ed Lemmon also has a good book, and I think he leased this same ranch for a while. It was the biggest fenced pasture in the world at one time, consisting of 850,000 acres if I am remembering right. That is about 100 miles east of here roughly. The E6 cattle company, and the Hashknife ranch were two big ranches that ran where our ranch sits today. Also the Jones Brothers, or JB horse ranch was just east of here in the Slim Buttes region. They ran lots and lots of horses, but no cattle that I am aware of.

Another interesting point from that time, is that the Railroad leased an area that was half a dozen miles wide, and 80 miles long or so, that stretched into west river for the trail herds to use on their way to market. It was called the strip, and ended on the east side of the Missouri at a place called Everts. It is probably under the Missouri now, but was south of Mobridge a ways.


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EJ
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 6:05 am    Post subject: diamond a Reply with quote

I had just finished Mel Andersons book recently also. Kinda unigue how things developed through the times. The crossing point of
Evarts is out of the water now due to the low river. I do remember one of my grandfathers telling about the gun fight that killed Dode Mckensie[sp]. His father was Murdock and he "owned" the town after that within a year the town was gone. The gun that killed Dode is or was in the Court house in Selby.

One of my grandfathers was always tradeing horses with Indian traders that came through the area according to my mother, so there was always stories about the "old days'.


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mrj
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EJ, I believe that was Murdo Mc Kenzie. The town of Murdo was named for him. Part of the country he ran on was north of the town of Murdo. Not too long ago, there still was an old log cabin standing that those old-timers used.

Found a bit about Cap Mossman in the Roundup Years, Old Muddy to the Black Hills book. This was from the Argus Leader and written by Laurel Gray. "The largest cattle ranch in South Dakota was started by a cowboy who once controlled the entire county of Armstrong and had 50,000 head of beef roaming (can't resist pointing out that even back then, ranchers realized their cattle were "beef" on the hoof) roaming about his domain.

The colorful cowpuncher was Capt. Burton C. Mossman and the ranch was big Diamond A, located in Dewey and Armstrong counties. A member of the tough Arizona Rangers, Capt. Mossman was thrust among the reckless, dangerous characters of the west and became the source of many heroic tales of courage. The shipping point, Mossman, was named after the brave cattle owner, although it is no more than a spot on the map today."

I'm not certain "Mossman" is even on current maps. I personally do not know where it was. Will see if I can find out.

Isn't there a barn on the south side of the Cheyenne River bridge on hiway #63 that carries the diamond A brand? Haven't been by there in quite a while.

MRJ


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the real jake
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MRJ.

I think EJ is right about it being Dode. He got killed in Everts, and Murdo pulled all his holdings out after that. In that area. He kinda lost interest for a while after that.


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the real jake
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After re-reading your posts, I realized that you meant Murdo, instead of Murdock. Sorry MRJ. I thought you meant Murdo, not Dode that was killed.

I have heard and read that the Hashknife ranch ran more cattle than the numbers you referenced that the Diamond A ran (in SD), but some of the Hashknife cattle were in Montana also. It is interesting to find out more about that bygone era. I treasure my newer copy of the Roundup Years. It was well worth the price.


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Jinglebob
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MRJ
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Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:59 pm    Post subject:
------------------------------------------------------------------------
MRJ posted- EJ, I believe that was Murdo Mc Kenzie. The town of Murdo was named for him. Part of the country he ran on was north of the town of Murdo. Not too long ago, there still was an old log cabin standing that those old-timers used.

Found a bit about Cap Mossman in the Roundup Years, Old Muddy to the Black Hills book. This was from the Argus Leader and written by Laurel Gray. "The largest cattle ranch in South Dakota was started by a cowboy who once controlled the entire county of Armstrong and had 50,000 head of beef roaming (can't resist pointing out that even back then, ranchers realized their cattle were "beef" on the hoof)


I think it was easier for them oldtimers to think of them as "beef", as they were 2-3-4 year old steers who were butchered when they got off the train in Chicago, as opposed to many people now who sell calves or yearlings that are sent to a backgrounder, stocker opertation or feedlot, and then sent to the packing plant. We all raise bovines who will become beef and/or brood cows. And most beef cows end up as beef. Most ranchers tell you that they have a cow/calf or a yearling operation.
We don't butcher calves in this area and most people serem to butcher long yearlings to 2 or 3 year old, mostly dry cows. The oldtimers refered to "trailing beeves and/or beef steers" to differentiate a herd of "mixed", or cows and/or cowcalf pairs. Most cattle that came up the trail were steers and some had cows with them and some herds of cows only, to stock the upper plains. Few yearlings as I suppose they were too flighty or more probably, didn't put on weight on the trail as did the older cattle.
All of this comes from references in true accounts of the trail herd days. Interestingly enough, according to certain accounts, many cattle that came to this area and a little further west of here came from Oregon. Horses also came from there as the Oregon horses had a little more size then the southern horses
Ike Blasingame claimed that mature cows and horses from Texas would add size and weight when brought north and even more when shipped to Canada. I wonder if this is true and if so, if it still hold true today.
Very interestring post here!


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Saddletramp
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I was at the Mustang Meadows ranch, Alan Day would send up horses out of Arizona and New Mexico for us to ride. Them little rats were a third smaller than our sandhill horses. No one wanted to ride them. But they were tough and they were cowy. It took about a year and then they'ed gain a couple hundred pounds and were the slickest and fattest ones in the cavvy. I suppose it was 'cause they always had feed and they didn't have to trail half a day to water like back down there.


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Jinglebob
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saddletramp

Did they gain any in height?

There is a family who raise horses up past Eagle Butte and they used to just run them out in the hills. The colts looked kind'a scrawny when they were weaned, but most kept growing in height untill they were 5 or 6 years old and then would fill out to be big horses. Used to see their brand on quite a few horses during the NFR. I have one now who is a red roan 4 year old and he's almost too big for me.


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Saddletramp
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jinglebob,

Yeah, they would gain some in height and that was what was so strange cause they were all mature horses when we got them. They wouldn't get as tall as our native horses but they had alot of bone and frame. They just appeared to us like they was kind of stunted till they got up here.

We saw the same thing in those mustangs and they were all old horses.

Plenty of grass and good water does amazing things.


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Jinglebob
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Must be why this is such good stock country!

Thanks ol' pard!


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