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.
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