The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Support Texas History Now

Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.

Become a TSHA Member Today »

Cottonwood Mott Line Camp

Marisue Potts General Entry

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).


  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranches Established After 1835

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

Marisue Potts, “Cottonwood Mott Line Camp,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 28, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.