More: Addison Jones, Range Boss
In their book, "The Adventure of the Negro Cowboys", by Philip Durham and Everett L. Jones, they talk about Add, Range Boss. They talked about the many cowboys who rode the Goodnight Loving Trail in New Mexico without getting into range feuds or getting their names in the newspapers. Mr. Add was one of these cowboys, (I call him Mr. Add, because I have not been able to find out what his last name is, I guess Add is probably short for Addison, but I'm not sure). Anyway, they went on to say that Add was a range boss of the LFD outfit and that he usually headed a crew of South Texas AfricanCowboys. Howard Thorp, a cowboy songwriter and ballad collector said, "Add was one of the best cowhands on the Pecos River". Cowmen from Tozah, Texas, to Las Vegas, and New Mexico, knew Add and many of them, at different times, had worked on roundups with him."
Experience as a range boss made Add an expert. He became famous among the cattlemen of the southwest and eventually became the subject of a cowboy song. Howard Thorp said, "the song concerns a critter found in one roundup and claimed by no one. Add was a dictionary on earmarks and brand, however, he was puzzled on this one, he read the tally of the brands: ( She's got O Block an' Lightnin' Rod, Nine Forty-Six an' A Bar Eleven, Rafter Cross an' de double prod, Terrapin an' Ninety-Seven; Half Circle A an' Three PZ; BWL, Bar xvv, Bar N Cross an' ALC). Since none of the cow punchers claimed the critter, Add said, "I'll just add my own band, cause one more brand or less won't do no harm".
Mr. Add told a friend that he was going to get married on Christmas Day and the news spread to all of the ranchers, they all knew and liked Add. The ranchers and all of their practical wives decided to send presents and in their practicality all decided on the same gift. When Mr. Add and his bride rode on their wedding day to the Roswell Freight Depot,they found 19 cook stoves waiting for them.
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Addison Jones’s birthplace is of uncertain origin, but he was likely born in Gonzales or Hays County, Texas. His cowboy skills led to his recognition in Western Texas and Eastern New Mexico as “the most noted Negro cowboy that ever ‘topped off’ a horse.” Addison, who was known as “Nigger Add” or Old Add, often was mentioned in memoirs and accounts of prominent cattlemen and cowboys who worked with him on the Littlefield Ranch (LFD). Addison’s skills at roping and breaking horses made him a notable among cowboys who usually led lives of anonymity, failing to generate a single comment about their presence. Stories abound of Addison roping a horse at full gallop and snatching it off its feet.
Addison’s fame was further extended when pioneering song collector/writer, N. Howard (Jack) Thorp, composed a poem and later a song that celebrated Add’s talent for identifying earmarks and brands entitled Whose Old Cow? Addison lived his remaining years in Roswell, New Mexico, where he died on March 24, 1926. As a sweat and dirt cowboy, Addison Jones in his declining years had the rare privilege of being recognized as a citizen worthy of this recognition and respect.
For more information on Mr. Add,Range Boss and other Black cowboys check out "The Adventures of the Negro Cowboys", By Philip Duram and Everett L. Jones and "The Black West", by William Loren Katz.
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