The 83rd annual Pioneer Reunion and Rodeo commemorative button features the first 15 cattle brands registered in Clay County, one of which was owned by a man who went on to found the “largest ranch under one fence.”
Since 1971, the Henrietta and Clay County Chamber of Commerce has sponsored the sale of souvenir buttons for the Clay County Pioneer Reunion. Each button, except for the first few, feature a design unique to the year.
This year, the art work from the button is featured on t-shirts screen printed by Dunkerley Design of Henrietta. Proceeds from the t-shirt sales will benefit the FFA Calf Scramble, held during each performance of the Pioneer Reunion Rodeo. T-shirts are $10 each and available at the chamber of commerce office and Cow Palace Couture in Henrietta.
Buttons are available at local business and the Clay County Chamber of Commerce office for $1 each.
Brands on the button and t-shirts were researched and recreated using the hand-drawn marks in the Record of Brands and Markings Book No. 1, located in the office of the Clay County Clerk.
Dan Waggoner’s “D” brand is No. 14 in the book, registered June 23, 1874.
As Waggoner Ranch expanded westward to its present location in Wilbarger County as West Texas began to open up for settlement, and in the early 1870s had vast land holdings in Clay County. From the early 1870s until the mid-1880s, Henrietta served as the center of government for the unorganized counties to the west, including Archer, Wichita and Wilbarger. Clay County was organized in 1873.
In a federal court deposition dated Feb. 23, 1934, William S. Ikard, an early Clay County settler recognized for bringing the first Hereford cattle to Texas, recounted his early experiences here, including interactions with Waggoner. Ikard first came to Clay County in 1871. He was 86-year-old at the time of the interview.
According to Ikard’s statement, Waggoner and his son Tom had approximately 2,000 head of cattle when they arrived in Clay County, and grew that number to 50,000 before pushing into Archer, then Wichita and Wilbarger counties. By 1881, Ikard had 20,000 when drought forced him to sell much of his herd.
When Ikard arrived in Clay County, only one other family had settled the area after indian raids drove away the earliest settlers in the 1860s. Col. J.C. Whaley and son Tom were farming on the Red River just below the mouth of the Big Wichita River, said Ikard.
Whaley’s brand is No. 7 in the book, registers May 15, 1874. Ikard’s “V Bar” is No. 33, registered June 10, 1875.
Other brands featured are:
- Calvin Beckner, No. 1, flying “V”, registered April 20, 1874
- J.C. Campbell, No. 2, “JOCT” upside down “T”, registered May 1, 1874
- J.R. Stephens and I.E. Stephens, No. 3, “H2”, registered May 6, 1874
- Hugh Shaw, No. 4, upside down “T”, registered May 6, 1874
- James Slack, No. 5, “J” and “JS”, registered May 6, 1874
- J.W. Vance, No. 6, “T”, registered May 6, 1874
- Anderson and Cardwell, No. 8, “H” diamond, registered May 18, 1874
- Henry Cardwell, No. 9, “H” and “I” diamond, registered May 18, 1874
- B.F. Denson, No. 10, curved rafter “BF”, registered May 18, 1874
- H. McGinnis, No. 11, curved rafter “2”, registered May 23, 1874
- John Wilson, No. 12, “JOW”, registered June 16, 1874
- Courtney Babb, No. 13, “BAB”, registered June 23, 1874
- I.H. Williams, No. 15, “IH”, registered June 26, 1874