Greenup Kuykendall & The Last Trail Drive from Williamson County – Summary of Irene Michna’s Story
Irene Michna is a Taylor historian, author and keeper of the Williamson County Old Settlers Association in its 115th year. She was among the five speakers scheduled to present oral histories at the first “Deep in the Heart of Taylor” story night at Taylor’s Moody Museum, October 13, 2018. Due to a bad reaction to chemo, she was unable to attend and her story was read by museum Advisory Board Chair Susan Komandosky.
My great grandfather, Greenup Kuykendall, was born in 1850, a true Texas pioneer. He spent 86 years in Williamson County representing that noble type of early Texan who endured many hardships to lay the foundation of our present social order.
He rode the Chisholm Trail when there were few people, schools and churches in Texas and when there wasn’t a house in all the Indian Territory now known as Oklahoma.
In the late 1860s, longhorn sold for between $1 and $2 in Georgetown, but if they could be driven to northern markets, they could be sold for as much as $20 per head.
He was 20 years old on his first trail drive in 1870 and thereafter served as trail boss. He led the largest herd ever driven up the trail from Texas with 3600 head, 300 being his own. This one trip kept him away from home for 10 months.
His trail drives included the 1870 one to Ellsworth, Kansas; 1875 to Chicago; 1878 to Oakley Nebraska and 1879 to Sidney, Nebraska. In 1885, Greenup and other trail herders, that included unemployed Civil War soldiers, left Taylor after grazing the cattle and headed to Georgetown. It is noted to be the last cattle drive to leave Williamson County.
Cattlemen always took along wares for bargaining and trading with Indians along the way, but were required to have a license to do so. His license stated: “To all whom it may concern: Be it known that I have this day granted a license to Greenup Keykendall to trade in a wagon for the term of three months according to the Act of the National Council regulating trade in the Cherokee Nation.”
Greenup later served as foreman of the Sparks Ranch near Thrall, owned by the governor of Nevada. In his employee was a man named Will Pickett, today know as Bill Pickett. This ranch is where Bill originated steer wrestling and later became an international rodeo performer and actor.
Greenup had rounded up cattle on land where Taylor now is located and was sitting on his horse when the first lot in Taylor was sold. He married Josephine Kimbro in 1884 and they had five sons and three daughters. His brother, Sparks Kuykendall, was Williamson County constable in precinct six for over seven years.
Greenup passed away in 1936 and these words were spoken of him: “Here lies the last trail driver. He was described as a rugged individual, with natural independence, self-reliance, physical courage and engrained honesty. He helped create the code of ethical conduct on and off the trail that made his word as good as his bond. Always neat in appearance, clean and active and courteous with the aristocratic bearing of a prince and, of course, never without his Stetson hat.”
Click here for the transcript of the audio file