Landrunners and early homesteaders had led interesting lives before they arrived here….
James C. Dobbs, born in 1855 and his next youngest brother, Garrett Hunt “Kid” Dobbs, born in 1857 were the fifth and sixth children of nine total born to J.W. Dobbs and Elizabeth Creech Dobbs in Panola County, Texas. Panola County is located on the Louisiana line west of Shreveport. Their father was killed during what Kid called the “Nigger War” and left the mother with a large family. Kid started working cows when he was twelve years old and also moon-shining and catching wild cattle. Two years later he left his mother in Falls County, where they had moved.
At the age of 19, Kid was with an uncle on the south end of the Chisholm Trail where he found work on a trail herd and ended up in Dodge City. During the travel to Dodge City, Kid rode his horse across the Pease River 23 times in one afternoon trying to get wild cattle across. His boss said that he was the youngest, the best cowhand, the best rider, the best roper that ever went up the trail. Kid was short of stature and really stout for his weight—about 150 pounds. He was at Dodge City when he got his leg broken in a roping accident in the remuda when another cowboy threw an errant loop which got Kid hurt. The leg was set by an Army Doctor at Ft. Dodge without chloroform. He spent two months in the Ft. Dodge Hospital and when released he traveled to Hugo, CO and from there took a mess wagon back to Ft. Griffin on the south plains. Jim and Kid then went buffalo hunting with an outfit until Jim and Kid bought it out in 1876. Once when asked how long it would take for Kid to skin a buffalo cow, he said he could do it in ten minutes. The man who made the inquiry said he was willing to bet he could do it in five minutes. He had timed Kid from the time he first put the knife to the animal until he had it loaded in the wagon—four and one-half minutes.
Kid and Jim knew the plains country like a book and they knew cattle.
While working cattle on the south plains, Kid and Jim were offered jobs with an LS wagon which was hunting stray cattle. They followed the LS wagon north to the LS headquarters on the Canadian River at Tascosa. They rode line until just before Christmas of 1878. A young man with a small band of followers came to the LS Ranch to sell some horses. They spent the night at the LS headquarters, the next day, Kid and Jim rode into Tascosa with Billy the Kid and his gang. Billy was the war captain for Jim Chism the Cattle King on the Pecos River. Jim Chism had a herd of cattle thirty miles above Tascosa. They were located here as a result of the settlement of the Lincoln County War. Billy the Kid came with him as his horse wrangler.
While working at the LS, Kid was offered $125 per month to take a herd through to Montana. This is one of nine herds sent to Montana that summer. Because this was a difficult drive, involving loading on a train, and then driving them again, Kid turned down the good offer. Later there was a cowboy strike at the LS Ranch. Kid was threatened if he didn’t quit his job and join the strikers. Kid said that he was a free man and worked for whomever he pleased and continued working.
Kid Dobbs had a gun which Billy the Kid wanted. Billy the Kid offered a wild five year old mare for the gun even up, if Dobbs could ride the mare. Dobbs rode her for five saddles before she ever pitched and that was in the Canadian River when a log ran into her. She made a fine horse. A few days later, Billy the Kid said he would give Kid Dobbs a fine white horse which had a bad cut, if Dobbs would clean him up and get him well. This he did and the horse was as good a cutting horse as ever rode in a roundup. Jim Dobbs then took a job on the Pecos in NM and Kid got a job with Jim Campbell, hunting deer and antelope for food for his sheep outfit. Campbell felt this was cheaper than feeding a sheep a day and also more variety.
Prior to 1879, Mexican sheep ranchers had settled down the Canadian River from the New Mexico line. They had built a series of plazas near the river where they settled with their families. The fourth plaza down was the Vorregos Plaza on the south side of the river just below Tascosa. Vorregos Plaza was quite a Mexican plaza with several buildings on it. With the new lease law in effect in 1879, the Mexican ranchers were bought out and the plazas were abandoned. The country was surveyed and sectionized in 1879. With the Mexican ranchers gone, Kid Dobbs filed a claim on the 160 acres where Vorregos Plaza was located