While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Marisue Potts

COTTONWOOD MOTT LINE CAMP. Cottonwood Mott, named for the motte or cluster of trees that grew near some weeping springs on the headwaters of the Middle Pease River, is the site of what was probably the first house in Motley County. The log house was built by Frank Collinson twelve miles west of Matador in the winter of 1878 and was originally part of a line camp shared by the Jinglebob and Hall Ranch cowboys, whose job was to ride the line between ranges, pushing their respective herds back toward their headquarters. Perhaps because of its distance from the civilizing forces even of the ranch center, Cottonwood Mott was the site of at least two gunfights. A shoot-out occurred on January 1, 1880, when line riders Jim Barbee of the Jingle Bob Cattle Company and Jim Harkey of J. M. Hall's Spur Cattle Company disagreed over the singing of "Yankee Doodle." Taking offense at Harkey's song, Barbee drew his gun and mortally wounded him; Harkey drew and killed Barbee. Two freighters from San Saba witnessed the shooting, notified authorities, and helped bury the two side by side in a grave only eighteen inches deep and dug with an ax.

After Henry H. Campbell bought the Jinglebob herd and its free-range claim from the Coggin brothers and R. K. Wylie of Brownwood in 1881, the line camp was controlled by the Matador Ranch and was later purchased by the Matador Land and Cattle Company. From March 23, 1883, to September 21, 1885, Frank M. Drace served as postmaster of Old Lyman from the family home at Cottonwood Mott, offering mail service to the sparsely settled region. In 1888 Drace became enraged at Mose Harkey, a boarding Matador hand, and drew on him. The two exchanged shots and Harkey died the next day, thus becoming the second member of the family to die in a shoot-out at Cottonwood Mott.

The log cabin was replaced by a box strip house, and Cottonwood Mott, one of at least twenty line camps of the Matador Ranch, served as a batch camp or home to cowboys and their families until the ranch was split up in 1951. A Texas historical marker for the camp was granted in 1986.

Dee Harkey, Mean As Hell (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1948). Matador Tribune, August 22, 1940. W. M. Pearce, The Matador Land and Cattle Company (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964). Eleanor Traweek, Of Such as These: A History of Motley County and Its Families (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1973).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Marisue Potts, "COTTONWOOD MOTT LINE CAMP," accessed August 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/apc10.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...