Cottonwood Mott

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Map of Motley County

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.

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Marisue Potts | © TSHA

Handbook of Texas Logo

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Cottonwood Mott is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Cottonwood Mott is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Lyman)

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated