Wire Cutting In Comanche County In The 1880s

Jeff Greene

Jeff Greene

F.H. Oberthier was an early resident of Comanche County. He was born in about 1868, and he married Amanda Holmsley in January of 1894 in Comanche.

By 1944, Obertheir lived in Herford, Texas, and he spoke out about some rough and rowdy days in the county of Comanche, most especially about what history calls the wire cutting wars or the fence cutting wars. As usual in those days, the men involved by night were usually upstanding citizens by day.

According to Oberthier, barbed wire hit the market in Comanche County in 1881.

“The Cotnam and Oberthier ranch west of Comanche, the Wright and Wilson ranch west of Round Mountain, the J.W. “Jeff” Greene ranch west of Wright and Wilson, the ranch of John Bryson on Mercer’s Creek, the T.J. Holmsley ranch, and the ranches of Aaron and Dave Cunningham were all fenced in 1881 with wire hauled from De Leon that cost $.11 per pound at the railroad.

“The wire cutters argued that there was plenty of grass and water outside and always had been and there was no used to dance any pastures, but they seemed to overlook the future development of the county, which would have been impossible without fencing material of some kind.

“The ranchmen were watching their fences by night, and it was hard to realize that our nearest neighbors were cutting the wire and costing the ranchman very heavily. When Parson Featherston [E.B.] of Blanket shot into a bunch of wire cutters one night and killed a horse, then to the Legislature passed a law making wire cutting a felony and wire cutting stopped.

John "Jack" and Saphronia Wright

John “Jack” and Saphronia Wright

“One night in 1883, the fence of Jeff Greene west of Round Mountain was cut. The parties participating in that were two brothers who lived about 2 miles west of the Greene ranch in Brown County. They were trailed home by Mr. Greene and Uncle Jack Wright. Their identity having been established definitely, Uncle Jack went to the brothers and advised them that if any more wire was cut around there they would be killed. That ended their participation in wire cutting.

“There was a reign of terror for about three years until finally the law prevailed and peace was restored. It is hard for the present generation to realize that the settlers who favored law enforcement and those who didn’t were pretty closely balanced, and you couldn’t tell in many cases whether your nearest neighbor was on your side or not.

“I remember the names of many of those wire cutters, and it would surprise our present generation to hear their names, but most of them have passed on. Let’s draw the mantle of charity over their misdeeds for as most of them were right young men, they must have realized in later years that they were wrong and have regretted their sins.”

About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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