Traveler (1900?) - AQHA Hall of Fame Stallion
It is most unusual, although not without
precedence, for an unknown sire to beget a strain of horses. One
such was Justin Morgan; another, Old Fred. Traveler, could be listed
as the third, for he is a sire who came out of nowhere to establish
a strain of Texas Quarter Horses. From the ignominious position
of pulling a scraper on the Texas and Pacific Railway, he rose to
become the great Quarter Horse sire of his generation.
Traveler's history has been traced back to Eastland County, Texas,
where he was working on the railway. He was just a sorrel work horse
in a large remuda owned by the contractor. It has never been
adequately explained just how it happened that a stallion was allowed
with the horses, but there is no disagreement on this part of the
Traveler was not a young horse when he left the railroad -- his
age has been estimated at between eight and ten. He had to be broken
to the saddle, even though trace-chain marks showed on his side
and collar marks on his shoulders. He had been worked plenty but
not ridden. According to one old-timer, he pitched terrifically
but showed great intelligence and soon quieted down.
There are several stories about how he happened to leave the railroad.
One has a man named Self trading a mule for him and driving him
home hitched to the wagon with the remaining mule. Soon he was racing.
One of his first races was against a mare named Mayflower. Will
Crutchfield rode Mayflower. Bob Berry tells in a single sentence
how the race came out: "Crutchfield could not have thrown a rock
off Mayflower and touched Traveler's Dust."8
Still another story has John Cooper and Brown Seay, who owned a
saloon in Granbury, Texas, buying Traveler. One day Cooper drove
to San Angelo in a buggy with a mule team. He noticed Traveler working
the railway fill pulling a fresno and admired him. He stopped on
the spot and traded one of his mules for Traveler. When he got back
to Granbury, he called his partner out to see Traveler, and they
went for a ride. When Seay tapped the mule with the buggy whip the
horse stepped out. Then Seay remarked, "He sure is some traveler."
According to this account, that is how he was named.
In all of the stories, Brown Seay owned Traveler for a time, and
while Seay owned him he ran one of his best races against Bob Wilson,
the top Quarter Horse in Central Texas. When he beat Wilson, his
fame was made. Everyone who saw him commented on his powerful rear
end. In a letter to me, George Clegg said that Traveler had "the
shortest back and biggest butt"9
he had ever seen on a saddle horse. He added that he was a speckled
sorrel and bred colts with gray hairs in their tails. He also bred
quite a few colts with glass eyes. He bred his last colt in 1911.
Curiously, if it had not been for two mares, Fanny Pace and Jenny,
Traveler might not have been considered the great sire he was. With
Fanny as a dam, he sired Judge Thomas, Judge Welch, and Buster Brown,
who was also known as Jack Tolliver. Bred to Jenny, he produced
Little Joe, King or Possum, and Black Bess. None of his other colts
ever came near to equaling any of these six.
Little Joe sired Zantanon, Joe Moore, Cotton Eyed Joe, and many
others. Zantanon sired Hankin's King, Chico, San Simeon, Sonny Kimball,
and many more. Possum sired Guinea Pig, who sired Tony, and Red
Cloud, who in turn sired Mark.
Other of Traveler's well-known get were El Rey, Booger Red, Old
Crawford, Texas Chief, John Gardner, and Chulo Mundo.
Traveler passed through several hands after he left Brown Seay,
who was interested in him primarily as a running horse. For a while,
he was used as a ranch stallion and bred mares on Chris Seale's
ranch near Baird, Texas. Traveler left the San Angelo country about
1903, staying briefly at Comanche, Big Lake, and Sweetwater. From
Sweetwater, he was taken to South Texas by Will and Dow Shely of
Alfred. Truly, Traveler was an exceptional horse.
7 Traveler was for the most
part a mystery horse. Well-known writers have offered contradictory
stories concerning him. Those interested in Traveler would do well
to read Lewis Nordyke, "Traveler Country," The Quarter Horse
Journal, December, 1954, and Nelson C Nye, The Complete Book
of the Quarter Horse, 215-26.
8 Nye, ibid.,
9 Letter dated in Alice,
Texas, on December 14, 1939. Denhart Files, Clegg Folder.
This story was taken from the book by Robert Moorman Denhardt
- Quarter Horses: A Story of Two Centuries. (For more reading,
check out another book by Denhardt - The King Ranch Quarter Horses.)