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 John Nathan “Cattle Jack” Hittson, Sr

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John Nathan “Cattle Jack” Hittson, Sr

  • Birth 11 Oct 1831 Bedford County, Tennessee, USA
  • Death 25 Dec 1880 Deer Trail, Arapahoe County, Colorado, USA
  • Burial Denver, Denver County, Colorado, USA
  • Memorial ID 8799848

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The Hittson Project

"Jack Hittson. -- John Hittson's ranch is in Palo Pinto County, on the Brazos River, where he has 50,000 cattle; he has 300 saddle horses and 50 herders. He drives about 10,000 head of cattle north annually. Eighteen years ago he was working from daylight till dark in Tippah County Mississippi, a timbered section, felling trees, cutting, rolling, and burning logs, and clearing the land to raise a little corn and wheat. From experience in the forests of Tennessee and Mississippi, he knew that it would take the three score and ten years of a natural life to clear away the trees and wear out the stumps, and not fancying the doom of hard labor for life he sold his land, and with 60 Durham cows and 9 broodmares turned his face toward the setting sun and the grass regions of the Brazos. Less than a score of years have passed and he has 50,000 head of cattle and as many acres of land. Hittson is about forty years old, six feet in height, and broad-shouldered. Has an honest, sunburnt face, with a square, firm-set under jaw, which, as I looked at it, I thought was shut a little firmer, giving him a more determined look than it would otherwise, but for a dozen or so encounters with the fierce and insatiable Comanches, who knew Hittson and his old, long, muzzle loading rifle well, and now know him with his "Winchester," and received ten shots in a minute instead of one in five minutes. They must have thought the old rifle bewitched. At any rate, they will give him a wide berth, unless they can creep upon him as the hunter does upon the buffalo bull he does not dare to face. Mr. Hittson is establishing a ranch on the South Platte, near old Fort Morgan, for use as his general northern headquarters. He will winter 5,000 cattle there this year, and bring 10,000 head there for sale next season." 1868

Cattle Baron of Colorado and Texas. Reputation extended from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. A newspaper of the times noted his cattle herds were as well known as the gold and silver mines of Colorado Governor Tabor. In 1847 the Hittson family moved to Rusk County, Texas; In 1856 to Palo Pinto County where he ranched and was first county sheriff until 1861; owned about 500 head of cattle in 1860. Branded owner-less cattle and sold them in Mexico during the Civil War, becoming the wealthiest man in that area by 1865. Then moved ranch headquarters to Callahan County to graze his cattle over an eight-county area, first ranching operation in Callahan County. In 1866 Hittson along with the famed John Chisum drove cattle to sell to exiled Navajos at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, later averaging 8,000 cattle a year to New Mexico and Colorado along the Pecos trail. Obtained a rich grazing area southeast of Denver near Deer Trail, Colorado, and moved his Texas herds there in 1872. Also in 1872 Hittson employed approximately ninety gunmen and entered New Mexico reclaiming cattle and horses with Texas brands from owners lacking bills of sale. Retrieved several thousand head on behalf of the Texas Stockraiser's Association, with powers of attorney from neighboring ranchers, essentially ending the "Comanchero trade." Hittson remained a prominent stockman in Colorado until his death. At the time of his death, estate probate records showed well over 20,000 head of cattle, 10,000 Merino sheep and a dairy herd.

Cause of death: killed when he was thrown from a wagon after a loose wheel spooked his team of horses and turned over the wagon. He died instantly of a broken neck, thrown onto the railroad crossing at Deer Trail.


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  • Maintained by: Vicki Hittson
  • Originally Created by: Fred Beisser
  • Added: 19 May 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8799848
  • Vicki Hittson
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Nathan “Cattle Jack” Hittson, Sr (11 Oct 1831–25 Dec 1880), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8799848, citing Riverside Cemetery, Denver, Denver County, Colorado, USA ; Maintained by Vicki Hittson (contributor 47380664) .