Charlie David Bird, rancher, banker, and civic leader, was born on October 31, 1866, on Pumpkin Creek in Canton, Georgia, to Thomas M. and Mary Ann (Stephens) Byrd. Thomas Bird, a Confederate veteran, moved the family to Arkansas, then to Erath County, Texas. They changed the spelling of their name upon their arrival. Charlie and his brother and sisters went to school three months of the year. Bird ran away as a youth and in 1884 went to work for the Pitchfork Ranch in Dickens County. He hired on in 1885 as a line rider for the Matador Ranch in Motley County and remained with that operation for fifteen years. At twenty-one he helped drive 2,000 three-year-old steers through Indian Territory to the railhead at Kiowa, Kansas. At various times he also punched cows for the Flying V, Frying Pan, Double N Bar, and F ranches, while working his own ranch between periods of employment. In 1888 his pay for a season's work was a broomtail pony and a worn saddle. He lived in a dugout with a horse, a rooster, a speckled hen, and a brood of chicks for companions. By signing petitions Bird helped organize Motley, Floyd, and Dickens counties. He voted in the first election of Motley County in 1891 and served as a county commissioner for ten years. On December 8, 1891, he married Daisy Blair of Erath County at Duffau, Texas. They had six children. Bird and his family lived in a dugout on the Tongue River, two miles south of the site of present-day Roaring Springs, until 1900. Quanah Parker and his Comanche band camped near their home once a year, and in a gesture of friendliness Bird often gave them beef.
Besides establishing the Bird Ranch, which was still operated by heirs near the end of the twentieth century, Charlie Bird helped build the first church, the First Baptist, in Plainview in 1884. He was a charter member of the First Baptist Church in Matador, a stockholder, director, president, chairman of the board, and charter member (1907) of the First State Bank of Matador, a charter member (1898) of Masonic Lodge No. 824 in Matador, and a member of Khiva Temple in Amarillo. He served as the first president of the Motley-Dickens County Old Settlers Association. Mrs. Bird died in March 1948, and Charlie subsequently married a childhood friend, Mrs. Ada Black, of Colorado Springs. She died in December 1957. Bird died on February 22, 1961, at the age of ninety-four.
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Fred Arrington, A History of Dickens County: Ranches and Rolling Plains (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1971). Eleanor Traweek, Of Such as These: A History of Motley County and Its Families (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1973).
Ranching and Cowboys
Activism and Social Reform
Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
Ranchers and Cattlemen
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Bird, Charlie David,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 29, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
November 1, 1994