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My desire to become a cowboy had its inception on the old plantation in Sumter county, Alabama, when I was born November 5, 1851.
During the fall of 1863 a squad of Confederate soldiers was driving a herd of about 300 big Texas steers through our country and pastured them over night in my mother's fields from which the corn had been harvested. The next day when the herd was started to cross the Tombigbee River at Gainesville, four miles distant, I persuaded mother to let me accompany the outfit that f ar on my pony. On the way the soldiers sang over and over a song which one of their number had composed. The song had many stanzas, but two of them so impressed my boyish fancy that I recall them still :
That night when I returned to my home —a happy home indeed, in spite of the Civil War then raging —I told my dear, now sainted mother, that as soon as I reached manhood I intended to go to Texas and become a cow-puncher.
In 1870 Mr. Frank Byler, now gone to his reward, as good a friend as I or any man ever had, brought a drove of Texas ponies to our neighborhood. When he had disposed of them he invited me to accompany him home and assured me that I would get rid of malaria from which 1. suffered if I would remain in West or Southwest Texas.