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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

RANCHO REYES Chapter 1 The Mystery Man


Cow Boys
courtesy free clip art
On the border of Mexico, the large Reyes ranch in the United States was the result of a land grant the beginning of which is unknown.

All the records were lost in a fire in the late 1500s.  After the fire, people were making claims for parts of the huge ranch and several skirmishes resulted from the disputes.
 
What happened was the Reyes ranch was reduced down to 50,000 acres.

It was joined to Mexico on the south and cut a swath to the East, West, and North. Prior to this no one knew how large the ranch was.

The range that made up the ranch had three rivers which watered the better part of land grant.  Several men died trying to take the rivers from the Reyes family.  Though it cost a lot of blood the ranch was still intact as when they received the deed in the early 1600s.

Although the Vaqueros had to be very good cowboys they also had to be excellent hands with a gun.  They had to defend the southern border.  This wasn’t the case until a line was drawn in the sand and that changed everything.

In the mid one eighteen hundreds, the land had been passed down to Senior Reyes.

Senior Reyes was married with four sons and five daughters.  His wife was still a young woman in her forties and by all standards was a strict mother on the girls.  She wasn’t of mixed blood and her fiery Spanish temper was obvious to everyone.

The ranch had a church attached to the main complex of the ranch house. The Spanish were the elitist and ruled the different land grants with the church controlling smaller tracts of land.

There was little hope of owning a ranch by the main Vaqueros for that would have meant breaking up the land grant and because this had been done by past events the senior heads of the families were not going to let that happen.

Without any hope of owing land they were incorporated into the family and that ingratiated them to the “Patrons.”  This brings us to the beginning of our story.

On a trip to the southern part of his land the Senior Reyes along with several of his ranch hands were near to the Mexican border and they spied a lone vaquero driving a small herd of cattle north.

Several of Senior’s Vaqueros, quickly surrounded the man as the herd scattered.  They just stared at the man while Senior approached.

When Senior got near the stranger he demanded to know what he was doing with his cattle.  The stranger sat on his horse while throwing his leg around the horn on his saddle, saying nothing.  After a while he answered, “Who are you to be asking me that question?”

Senior answered, “I am Senior Reyes the owner of this land and cattle and once again I ask you to answer my question.”

Controlling his voice, the man answered, “First off my name is Juan Esteban.  Second I recognized your brand on these cattle that had drifted into Mexico.  I had nothing to do so I rounded them up and was driving them across the border back to your property.  I was planning to push them several miles north for they would end up across the border again if left them near the line.”

The ranch foreman said, “I think he was trying to steal these cattle and he is lying.”

Juan said, “Where would I take them?  It is my understanding that Senior Reyes owns the land in all directions and they were already in Mexico so I wouldn’t need to take them there.”

Lopez the foremen said, “We shoot cattle thieves around here and I think he should be shot.”

Juan said, “I believe you need to think that over for before you clear your holster, because you would be dead and any others who tried to draw.”
     
Senior Reyes becoming uncomfortable with the way things were going said, “There is no need for that.  I believe the young man is truthful and if he is hungry he can join us at the camp.”

Juan said, “I am plenty hungry for I haven’t eaten today.  I was going to kill a rabbit if I could find one for my supper.”

Senior Reyes observed Juan on the way to camp and could see he was an excellent horseman and knew how to work cattle without harming them.

They picked up several other cattle as they worked their way back to the camp and Juan helped get them settled down for the night.

Pepe, the cook had a large pot of stew and some baked bread ready for the hands as they drifted in.  

After Juan ate he volunteered to ride night herd if Senior wanted, but his offer was declined for Senior wanted to question him further and find out more about him.

As Senior questioned Juan about his past he declined to answer many of the questions but said he would like to ride with them until they arrived at Senior’s hacienda and then he would move on.

Senior told him that would be alright as long as he didn’t cause any discord among the hands.

Juan answered saying, “There is no reason why we can’t be friends for I am just passing through and will be glad to work for my food on the way.”

Senior said, “You must understand that my men are loyal to me and are suspicious of anyone they don’t know.”

Juan said, “I will be careful not to do anything to make them distrust me and my motives.  It is well that they are watchful over your goods.”

To be Continued

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