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Diamond "A" Cattle Company

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TXTibbs

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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.
 

koj

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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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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.
 

EJ

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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'.
 

mrj

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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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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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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.
 

Jinglebob

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MRJ
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Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:59 pm    Post subject:
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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!
 

Saddletramp

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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.
 

Jinglebob

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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.
 

Saddletramp

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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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Fella's, I think it might have been the last year the N-Bar ranch had a bull sale, they had a seminar put on by Dr. Bob Long. He came up with the SCORE system of visually classing cattle. He brought up the fact that the further North you get from the equator, the bigger all animals will be. Doesn't matter the feed so much, but the climate and so on make the change. Think about the deer size in Texas vs. our northern deer. I believe all animals will be effected by this. I can't say how it effects humans.

I also have read where the mature Texas horses put on a lot of size after coming north to stay during the cattle trail days. Interesting.
 

EJ

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Thanks MRJ, don`t know where I got the Murdock from anyway.

Isn`t the spot about 8 miles west of Ridgeview, Mossman corrals?

Also the stories and area of the Blasingames has some neat history with some real characters that developed the area. Maybe that`s why there are still some of those characters left.

By the way where was Washington County?
 

mrj

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EJ, don't recall hearing of a county called Washington. Which doesn't mean a thing because my memory if fickle and doesn't always serve me well.

There was a Washabaugh county which was annexed onto the south side of Jackson county a few years ago. Could that be what you are looking for?

real Jake, Dode was the son of Murdo McKenzie, I believe.

Just had a "duh" moment.....never thought about this before, but there still are McKenzies in the Murdo area and it never crossed my mind whether they could be descendants of Murdo McK.

MRJ
 

EJ

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In one of those old S Dak books they also listed Washington in addition to Washabaugh and Armstrong.

EJ
 

TXTibbs

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I've heard my grandpa and dad talk about Mossman as if its a location. Like they'll say "up at Mossman" or "Over at Mossman"....I'm not sure if they are refering to a draw or a creek or what. Our ranch borders the Cheyenne River (well actually now Lake Oahe) and before they flooded the river bottom and wrecked some of the best country in the area grandpa and dad used to go across and do stuff on the other side of the river quite often. Neighbors from across the river would come for parties and vice versa. I wish i'd of grew up in that era. I think it would of been a lot of fun. My mom wrote a book about our area of South Dakota and its really interesting.

Did anyone ever have the opportunity to meet Winnie Alexandar? She lived to the age of like 101 or so and died in about 2003 I guess or somewhere near there. She was an old timer from that area and could tell lots of stories. I've seen her on TV telling them about the Diamond A and sure was interesting to hear her rendition of things. She was a Hiett i believe before she married an Alexandar. She was Joe Hiett's daughter.

Joe Hiett was from the Ridgeview area, and owned the Bar Z Bar Ranch if any of you heard of it. Joe's sons were Charles and Peter (Swede) and daughters that lived in the Eagle Butte/Ridgeview area were Mrs. E.E (Winnie) Alexander and Mrs. John Maupin. There is a story in this book mom put together that talks about Joe Hiett roping a wolf while gathering cattle north of the Cheyenne River. Quite interesting to read those old stories.

I think all the original Diamond "A" bunch is dead now. Kirk Myers and some ole boy from Faith used to be the last survivors, but Kirk died and I think the Faith guy did to.

I know its turning spring and calves are dropping up home......makes me homesick.
 

cowsense

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It's very interesting to see the references to Murdo Mackenzie and the various Matador operations. The Matador operated a grasser operation in central Saskatchewan from 1912-1922 . They stated that they got their best gains and finishes on the "northern" shortgrass ranges. Settlement contributed to the Matador pulling back to it's Dakota and Montana operations. "The Last Roundup" by Stan Graber gives a good overview of the final era of the Canadian Matador.
 

Silver

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cowsense said:
It's very interesting to see the references to Murdo Mackenzie and the various Matador operations. The Matador operated a grasser operation in central Saskatchewan from 1912-1922 . They stated that they got their best gains and finishes on the "northern" shortgrass ranges. Settlement contributed to the Matador pulling back to it's Dakota and Montana operations. "The Last Roundup" by Stan Graber gives a good overview of the final era of the Canadian Matador.


I don't know much about it, but my grandfather worked for the Miner ranch in the '30s and he talked about the Matador... so it must have went past 1922.... or am I mistaken?
 

EJ

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1925 census of the 3 counties that are annexed to other counties now:

Armstrong:313
Washabaugh:2863
Washington:2965

I don`t believe this included native reservation residents as this is listed seperate.

Not that this has anything to do with the topic but I thought it had some interest in the area of the times talked about.
 

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