Earlier this week the Rivard Report posted a detailed article by Brendan Gibbons about the struggles of the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum (SAAACAM) to gather support and expose some amazing, and authentic, discoveries. Mr. Gibbons’ article notes I had “squiggly lines printed on hats.” Those “squiggly lines” are actually cattle and livestock brands used to identify the owner. According to The Handbook of Texas, and other sources, some ancient cultures chose brand symbols with mystical meaning to protect their animals. The Spanish brought the custom to the American southwest and it became a part of the vaquero tradition in the region that became the state of Texas. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, in cooperation with county governments, administers the practice of legal registration of brands in the state today. The orientation of the brand characters gives each composition its unique appearance and translation.
The Rivard article mentioned that research has collected of more than forty cattle/livestock brands registered by African Americans in Bexar County. The registrants, including Black cowboys, lived in all quadrants of the county. One is that of Jane Warren, a former slave who was born in Alabama in circa 1825. Soon after her emancipation
in 1865, Jane was able to purchase 101 acres of land in north Bexar County, approximately 13 miles north of San Antonio’s Main Plaza. She was the matriarch of the extended Freeman, Hockey and Clay family. Jane died in San Antonio in 1912. The translated symbology of her brand is not known. But the fact that she registered her brand clearly indicates her independence and courage. Jane’s brand is the only one identified to be filed by an African American woman in Bexar County between 1865 and 1920. She deeded 1.26 acres of her land to be used as a cemetery for “….colored people of all religions.” Following her death her descendants deeded an additional acre of land “…to be used by colored people as a school lot and playground also as long as same shall be used by said colored people for religious services, including any and all denominations, and creed.”
A commemorative cap with Jane’s brand can be ordered from SAAACAM via the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org