Friday, September 12, 2008

Word of the Day: Maverick

The word maverick entered the English language in the late-nineteenth century. It was the name of a Texas cattle rancher -- Samuel A. Maverick -- who did not brand his calves. Merriam-Webster defines it as "an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party." It also means "an unbranded calf."

Samuel Maverick was born in South Carolina in 1803 and moved to Texas in 1835. He served two terms as mayor of San Antonio, amassed a huge amount of land, and died in 1870.

The Handbook of Texas Online describes his ranching legacy
When he returned permanently to San Antonio with his family, Maverick left a small herd of cattle originally purchased in 1847 on Matagorda Peninsula with slave caretakers. It was this herd that was allowed to wander and gave rise to the term maverick, which denotes an unbranded calf. In 1854 Maverick and his two eldest sons rounded up the cattle and drove them to their Conquista Ranch near the site of present Floresville before selling them in 1856. During the years between Maverick's return to San Antonio and his death, he expanded his West Texas landholdings, which in 1851 totaled almost 140,000 acres. By 1864 they had burgeoned to more than 278,000 acres, and at his death they topped 300,000 acres. Maverick gained land primarily by buying such land certificates as headright certificates and bounty and donation certificates. In the 1850s and 1860s he was one of the two biggest investors in West Texas acreage, and Maverick County was named in his honor.



Anonymous Sarah said...

"Headright certificate" sounds dirty.

9:01 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Site Meter