By Donald F. Schofield
Indian dealer, rancher, harbor developer, oil impresario—these are the various worlds of 1 of the least chronicled yet so much attention-grabbing characters of the yank West. within the early, bustling years of the frontier, a brazen younger guy named William McDole Lee moved from Wisconsin to Kansas after which to Texas to forge a lifestyles for himself. changing into a using entrepreneurial strength in Texas's improvement, Lee quickly garnered the alliances and assets essential to form the monetary destinies of disparate teams in the course of the country. His tale is expertly instructed in Donald F. Schofield's Indians, farm animals, Ships, and Oil.
Beginning in 1869 as a dealer to the southern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes and castle provisioner to troops garrisoned at Camp provide, Indian Territory, Lee received a associate and accrued a fortune in brief order from buying and selling buffalo hides and gowns. colossal herds of buffalo grazing at the southern plains have been killed mostly on his order. whilst buffalo have been not a ecocnomic commodity, Lee tackled his subsequent challenge—the livestock trade.
He started with herds branded LR that grazed on pastures close to castle provide. Then got here his LE herd within the Texas Panhandle. one other partnership, with famous livestock rancher Lucien Scott, led to the mammoth LS ranch, probably the most profitable operations of its day. Lee even brought a brand new breed of farm animals, the Aberdeen-Angus, to the western variety. yet as his partnership light, Lee moved directly to his subsequent undertaking—the improvement of Texas' first deep-water harbor.
In 1888, Lee and different financiers submit a million money to finance a dream: starting overseas alternate from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the mainland on the mouth of the Brazos River. Their Brazos River Channel and Dock corporation was once to build, personal, and function a deep-water harbor at Velasco, with a railroad hyperlink to Houston. although threats of monetary catastrophe loomed huge, the Velasco facility used to be to welcome, in its day, tugs, barges, and three-masted schooners and to supply impetus for Houston's growth. but with luck, the mercurial Lee became to yet one more challenge—oil.
Starting nonetheless one other partnership, Lee devoted himself to prospecting for oil at the West Columbia Ridge in Brazoria County. Lee and group struck oil in 1907, constructing one of many first generating wells of Brazoria County, yet insufficient drilling gear hampered extra fruitful exploration. Lee moved his rigs to the famed Spindletop, the place he perfected the means of shallow drilling. even though awesome luck within the oil company eluded him, Lee's accomplishments set him squarely one of the nice marketers of the Texas oil industry.
Lee's exploits led him to roles in essentially the most dramatic moments in Texas and the West—Indian uprisings, buffalo hunts, political scandals, cowboy moves and shoot-outs, railroad promotions, oil-well blow-outs and gushers. the folk he encountered are the recognized and notorious of western background: Cheyenne leader Little gown and the outlaw "Hurricane invoice" Martin; Indian Agent John D. Miles and significant normal John Pope; outlaws Tom Harris and William Bonney, and Sheriff Pat Garrett. Altogether, Lee's biography vividly indicates one man's manipulation of individuals and occasions through the payment of the yankee frontier.
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