The Hash Knife BrandBook - 1993
"Unique in the breadth of its appeal to students and aficionados of the American West. A well-wrought microcosm of ranching in the early West, a 'must' read for scholars and western buffs alike."--Francis L. Fugate, former president, Western Writers of America
"The first serious and in-depth account of one of the West's largest and most renowned cow outfits [and] a history of the romantic and colorful cowboy culture . . . rustling and robberies, gunfights and Indian skirmishes."--James Babbitt, Northern Arizona University
Old-time western action and adventure punctuate this history of cowboy life and commerce, the story of a large-scale cattle-ranching business when ranges were still unfenced and cattle drives raised dust from Texas to Montana. The author traces the development of the Hash Knife outfit--its brand, its owners, and its hell-for-leather cowboys--through three Texas ranches (one with its own Boot Hill and a foreman who wore chaps with cartridge loops that dangled to his knees), a vast Montana range, and a two-million-acre spread in northern Arizona.
On one level the book is a business history based on exhaustive research in archival sources. The Hash Knife's fortunes wax and wane through complex financial deals, droughts, and hard Montana winters as the investment focus shifts from Texas to New York to Arizona.
On the ranges themselves, however, and on the trails and in the cowtowns and saloons, the Hash Knife cowboys were writing their own kind of history--of brand changing and Indian skirmishes, train robberies and gunfights. A few Hash Knife cowboys were inadvertently part of the Pleasant Valley war between Arizona cattlemen and sheepmen. In Montana, the great tribal warrior Young-Man-Afraid-of-His-Horses appealed to the U.S. government to rid the Sioux of the Hash Knife cowboy who was stealing their horses.
The book includes over a hundred rare drawings, newspaper ads, brand registrations, and photographs of sheriffs, cowboys, range work, and roundups, among them a sequence of Hash Knife cowboys exhuming a gunshot comrade from his grave to give him one final shot of whiskey.
This vivid narrative of Western culture will be appreciated by all students of the history and lore of the American frontier as well as by scholars interested in the economics of large-scale cattle ranching in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Jim Bob Tinsley has been a working cowboy and a performer, collector, and more recently a preserver of cowboy music. His many works on southern and western subjects include He Was Singin' This Song (UPF, 1981), Florida Cow Hunter: The Life and Times of Bone Mizell (UPF, 1990), and For a Cowboy Has to Sing (UPF, 1991).