Early Cattle Trade

Location: On grounds of Rio Vista Street Bank SH 174, Rio Vista

Famed for its beef since era of the Republic, Texas fed a great part of the Confederacy--both civilians and army-- in the Civil War years, 1861-1865. Routes for beef supplying were many: Shreveport Trail to Vicksburg, Miss.; Alexandria Trail to Natchez, Miss.; Opelousas Trail to Woodville, Miss., and on to Mobile, Ala.; Old Government Road to Little Rock, Ark.; Oliver Loving's 1859 trail north, to Indian Territory; trails to all army depots and even to Mexico. Cowboys had to swim cattle across rivers--even the Mississippi. After undergoing such hardships, one outfit was mistakenly arrested by Confederates. Lt. Col. J. F. Scurlock and son, from Johnson County, on a Texas beef drive into southern Louisiana, were arrested by Federals and died in prison, of fever. Meredith Hart (1811-1864), a leading beef supplier, came to Johnson County in 1855, after fighting for the Texas Republic in 1836. In the 1850s, he sold beef to the U.S. Army. During the Civil War, he was one of the ranchers victimized by beef contractors using counterfeit money, but accepted losses in the faith that beef was feeding his sons and others on Confederate fighting fronts.

Source: Texas Historical Commission