Bob Lemmons (or Lemons), "the most original mustanger," according to J. Frank Dobie, was born about 1847 and moved to Texas in 1854. He was the slave of John English, who had come to make a home at Carrizo Springs in Southwest Texas. Lemmons's birth name is not known. After being freed, he came under the tutelage of Texas rancher Duncan Lemmons, who took the seventeen-year-old youth to Eagle Pass to work for him. Out of respect for his new employer and friend, Lemmons adopted the rancher's last name. He worked at the Eagle Pass ranch learning the techniques of ranching and mustanging. When Duncan Lemmons died, Bob continued to work as a "brush cowboy" and ranch foreman in the Carrizo Springs area. He eventually purchased his own ranch near Carrizo Springs and worked it until his failing eyesight forced him to retire. His fame came about as a result of his mustanging methods. Said Lemmons, "I grew up with the mustangs....I acted like I was a mustang...made them think I was one of them." His methods were unusual because he would mustang alone. When working a herd of mustangs, Lemmons lived off the land, taking for comfort only a Mexican blanket, which served as both cover and slicker. The legend of the man who lived as a mustang and gained the confidence of the wild horses spread throughout Texas, but his career as a mustanger ended when the Carrizo Springs area population began to grow and when fences sprang up on the landscape. Though he could no longer mustang, Lemmons determined to live "alone in the brush." In 1931 author J. Frank Dobie interviewed Lemmons for his book The Mustangs (1952). Lemmons was eighty-four years old. He died in Dimmit County on December 23, 1947.
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J. Frank Dobie, The Mustangs (Boston: Little, Brown, 1952). Philip Durham and Everett L. Jones, Negro Cowboys (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1965). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Ranching and Cowboys
Cowboys and Cowgirls
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 23, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
March 1, 1995
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: