Cattle Raisers Oak R.I.P.

Historical Period: Frontier Texas (1865-1900)
Historical Topic: Ranching & Rustling
Species: Post Oak (Quercus stellata)
County: Young
Public Access: No longer applicable; tree is dead

On a cold, clear day in mid-February 1877, a sober, determined group of about 40 Texas ranchers filed out of a Graham hotel and down a rutted street to assemble around a lone post oak. Privacy was of the utmost importance, but it was unattainable in a small hotel room; hence the outdoor convention. The purpose of their meeting was to organize for a war against a common enemy—cattle rustlers. Their war, declared more than a century ago, continues to this day.

Four of the ranchers who met that day—C. L. “Kit” Carter, Jim Loving, C. C. Slaughter and John N. Simpson—had discussed the problem several times before. Ranchers in other cattle-raising states had organized, and the four were convinced that they had to do likewise if they were to survive.

After the four men who had called the meeting explained their plan, C. C. Slaughter's brother, W. B., moved that their temporary chairman, Kit Carter, appoint a committee to work up a statement of objectives and purposes for the group. A committee of 16 men, representing all parts of the territory, was named, and they retired with Carter to a room in the hotel.

The next morning the ranchers returned to the old post oak and Secretary Loving read the committee report. Two of its resolutions were:

“1. That the members of this Association shall work together for the good and common interest of the stock raisers of northwestern Texas and do all in their power for the promotion of the stock interest.

“2. That the territory represented at this convention be divided into districts and that men be allotted to each district whose duty it shall be to gather all cattle in their district and to notify the owners of the same and hold them until owners call for them.”

C. L. Carter was subsequently elected the Association's first president, J. D. Smith, vice president; Jim C. Loving, secretary and only paid officer—at $50 per year; and S. J. Conner, assistant secretary.

From that first meeting of 40 men under this oak tree, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association developed into one of Texas agriculture's most powerful and progressive organizations. No obstacle, either natural or man made, has been too big in size for this breed of leathertough, independent men to tackle and, more often than not, to lick.

A state historical monument in the 400 block of Fourth Street, in Graham, marks the former location of the Cattle Raisers Oak, which was destroyed by a severe windstorm in 1976.

The Cattle Raisers Oak stood in front of the Graham Federal Savings and Loan Building, in the 400 block of Fourth Street, in Graham.