I just saw Traces of Texas post on FB about Bob Lemmons - and my family has some investing connection with him. I thought I'd share the photo I got from the Library of Congress that was taken in the 1930's by Dorothea Lange.
A little history on Bob:
"Bob Lemmons was one of the greatest mustangers of all time. He became a legend in his day by perfecting his unique method of catching wild mustang horses.
Bob Lemmons was born a slave in Lockport, Caldwell County, Texas in 1848. He moved to Dimmit County, Texas; then a sparsely uninhabited land overrun by wild horses. Lemmons gained his freedom at the end of the Civil War at age seventeen. He found employment with Duncan Lammons, a man who taught him about horses and gave Robert the surname “Lemmons,” (a variant spelling that evolved over the years). Robert Lemmons farmed, hauled supplies, and went on cattle drives for Duncan Lammons.
No other cowboy equaled Lemmons in capturing mustangs, which were in high demand for roundups during the cattle drive era of the 1870s and 1880s. Lemmons usually worked alone totally isolating himself from humans to gain a mustang herd's trust and thereby infiltrate the heard. He then uprooted the herd hierarchy by mounting the lead stallion and then taking control of the herd, which followed him into a pen on a nearby ranch. ​ In 1870 at age twenty-two, Robert Lemmons had earned a small fortune of $1,000 for gathering wild mustangs. He bought his own ranch and learned how to read and write. Eleven years later he married Barbarita Rosales, a Chicana, on September 3, 1881. During that time inter-racial marriage was a big deal. The couple had eight children. During his life Robert Lemmons had amassed 1,200 acres of land and impressive holdings of horses and cattle. With his own financial security achieved, Bob and Barbarita Lemmons became well known as people who helped their neighbors during the Great Depression. Robert Lemmons died on December 23, 1947 at the age of ninety-nine years."
My great great grandfather and Bob ranched together and my great grandfather, Erskine Rhodes, took care of Bob in his last 15yrs of life, when his eye sight started to fail. He lived on our family ranch in a humble one room building. The chimney still stands today, and I hope to one day replicate his house where it once stood.
I have a webpage that has a lot more information about him that I put together, below. I think I may even get an ebook together on the stories we have of his life. My mother wrote her Thesis paper on him and we even have his old rifle.
Notice the hand carved stock, that Bob himself carved:
Some historians believe that the character in Lonesome Dove that stayed with the horses and never spoke or stayed with the other men, was based on Bob Lemmons. I've always wanted to ask Larry McMurtry and the people who put the movie together for verification. If anyone has a contact for Larry or the production team, let me know please. J Frank Dobie also wrote about time spent with Bob in the book, "The Mustangs."
That is one of the stories I would very much like to read. Earlier in life I was privileged to share several conversations with Watt Matthews. Man he had stories to tell and me and my boys would sit mesmerized by them. He would always invite us to stay for supper or lunch and spend the night. The Lambshead Ranch was a special place and miss going out there. Everyday we were there Watt and his nurse (he was in his late 80's at the time) would be driving around on the ranch and at 4:30 he would have his Crown. He died April 13, 1997 at 98 years of age.
Great story and thanks for posting. My Great Grandfather Erskine Outlaw lived in Frio County and made his living gathering unbranded cattle in Mexico and driving them back to Texas. I never knew him as he passed before I came along in 1953. My Uncle A. E. Outlaw, son of Erskine made his first trip into Mexico at age 13. I knew A. E. (Everett) Outlaw very well and rode with him most of my early life catching working cattle or penning spoiled cattle that no one else could catch. The stories that he told on the forays into Mexico were pretty wild. As a youngster, I had a bull horn used for calling hounds that had a steer head on one side and a cowboy roping a steer on the other. It was old and brittle and should have been in a museum some where. I wore it around my neck most everywhere I went and was beginning to get a pretty good sound out of it when I feel on a sidewalk and broke it. I would give anything to have that horn today. Adios, Gary