Save for a very few, the true West Texas cowboy has ridden his last round – up. Gone are the dusty trail drive, the remote line camps, the fence riders, the open pasture brandings, and the chuck wagons. But stories of those bygone days remain, albeit far too few. Fortunately, a handful of those cowboys were also of the literary type. “Scotch Bill” Elliot was one of those. He had the foresight to record those stories for posterity. Without Elliot and those like him, much of the history of the settling of West Texas would have been lost.
Elliot’s subjects were varied—from the killing of the last buffalo to the end of the open range, from searing droughts to winter blizzards, from lush pastures to barren prairies, from good cow horses and good companions to bad deeds done by bad men. Perhaps the greatest contribution of Elliot’s book is the numerous insightful profiles of cowboys and cattlemen. The American cowboy is always remembered as an unrivaled folk hero who possessed all of the qualities that people most admire. Elliot holds the cowboy and his lifestyle in the highest esteem, but he strips away the myth and writes forthrightly about that way of life.