Earlier this month 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 Bedford Hodges, a former slave who was born in Tennessee circa 1815. Soon after his emancipation in 1865, Bedford was able to purchase 280 acres of land in southwest Bexar County, on the Medina River approximately 20 miles southwest of San Antonio’s Main Plaza. The translated symbology of his brand is “Running N Lazy Deuce.” Bedford was one of the first African American men registered to vote in the county after the Civil War. He was also active in political organizations in the county.
A commemorative cap with Bedford’s brand can be ordered from SAAACAM via the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org