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Note - most stories are fictional and do not refer to anyone in particular living or dead. True stories will say they are true!
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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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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