- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; 15th printing edition (November 15, 1976)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0806113669
- ISBN-13: 978-0806113661
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher Paperback – November 15, 1976
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Top Customer Reviews
Teddy Blue, as he was called, was something of a rip-tearer in his youth, living up to the wilder stereotype of rangeland cowboys, by his own account. On the one hand, there is the fierce recklessness of herding cattle, which through accident and various mishaps took the lives of many young men. And then there is his life in town, befriending prostitutes, drinking hard, shooting up saloons, and on occasion riding his horse indoors.
His favorite job is working as a "rep" for cattle-owners, going to the regular roundups where cattle were sorted and branded, requiring him to retain a vast knowledge of brands used on the range and other markings. For a while, he works for stockman Granville Stuart, who headed up a vigilante effort that significantly reduced the number of active cattle rustlers in Montana. Stuart eventually becomes Abbott's reluctant father-in-law, after the young penniless cowboy takes a shine to one of his daughters.
The book rambles back and forth in time as Abbott more or less free-associates for Smith. And while scholars may question the accuracy of his memory at points, he was easily one of the more widely known figures of the old West for his personality and antics, not to mention having befriended the likes of cowboy artist and writer Charlie Russell, as well as Calamity Jane, even crossing paths with Teddy Roosevelt. His story makes an enjoyable read and evokes with feeling those early "innocent" days of an adventurous youth lived when the West was young as he was. His admiration for the Cheyenne Indians is, he admits, unusual for a white man of the times. And though they were both the best and worst of times (e.g., the crippling winter of 1886-87), he shares with Charlie Russell a nostalgic belief that they were the good old days, the likes of which haven't been seen since.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in cowboying and the old West. It is full of stories and yarns, social history, frontier customs and mores that make that time come alive with an immediacy and intimacy that are seldom found in records of the period.
But he also paints a picture of a decided happiness where honesty, dedication and humor were a way of life. He would marry a Montana girl, raise eight children and live to celebrate his golden wedding anniversary. But he would always speak with reverence of the experiences of his youth, before fences, railroads and settlers forever changed the range. The volume of beef that came up the Texas and other trails to Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana is astounding. Generally a herd was 2,000 animals and employed 11 men. At one river crossing he counted 8 herds, knew 7 more herds were behind and 16 were ahead on the trail, over 60,000 animals and 300 men. Given the amazing volume, he leaves the impression the trails were more like highways and stated that the herds moved from Oregon over the mountains into Montana were possibly more numerous.
Toward the end of his life he would say "a man has to be at least 75 years old to be a real old cowhand. I started young and I am 78. Only a few of us are left now. Wherever they are I hope they find good grass. Wherever they are is where I want to go."