Brandon was born and raised in Hamilton, Tx, he’s spent the last 20 years around the golf business. During that time he’s developed friendships with several people in the Texas Music Industry. He is a co-founder of the Randy Rogers Golf Jam, and has helped organize dozens of charity events and concerts. He has been an advisor/competitor for the non-profit Bacon Bash Texas, which puts on the nations largest bacon cook-off Bacon Bash, since 2012. The thing he likes most about working for Howdy is the people he gets to meet in the rural community. He says, “there are some characters outside the city limits, I’m lucky enough that I get to meet a lot of them.”
Brandon was born and raised in South Texas, where he still spends most of his off-time hunting and fishing. With more than 16 years of oilfield sales experience, he brings a strong customer base and wealth of knowledge to the team. Today, Brandon and his family live in New Braunfels, TX where he volunteers his time coaching his son’s baseball team. No matter if he is on the water or in the field, Brandon is always available to provide quality service to his customers.
Howard “Howdy” Smith was born in the spring of 1815 in Tennessee to a family of poor farmers. Later that year, his parents fell ill and perished in a measles outbreak. Somehow, the infant ended up in the care of a band of fur trappers operating off a river boat traveling up & down the Mississippi River valley near present day Memphis, TN. Although a fur trapper barge was no place for a young child, many of the men took a liking to young Howard and took turns raising the boy. In their minds, he’d get tough or die. By age seven, Howard was already checking traps, skinning deer, and learning the ways of the Cherokee. In fact the Catawba Indians called the little boy ‘dikna ninp’ - the ‘bow legged boy.’ When he was ten years old, he killed a cougar that sprang upon him while he was drinking at a fresh-water spring.
In September 1827, the child Howard, now a fairly experienced trapper and deck hand, worked on the river barge. It was all he had ever known up to this point in his life. On the 19th of September, the fur trappers’ barge arrived at a sandbar on the Mississippi near present day Vidalia, Louisiana. There the boy found himself witness to a brutal fight which began as a duel between two men, and then escalated into an all out brawl. The fur trappers, restless & drunk, joined the brawl. It seemed the crowd was focusing their attention on one man carrying an unusually large butcher knife. The man had been shot and impaled with a sword but still he managed to win the fight. It was a horrible, bloody event for a young lad to witness. At this point, Howard felt like more a slave than an apprentice to the fur trappers and their violent, drunken ways pushed young Howard to the breaking point. In the midst of the mêlée, Howard took his opportunity to escape them. Later Howard would recall that bloody day when he first saw Jim Bowie and his famous knife in action. History would call it the Sandbar Fight. During the fight, Howard was forced to shoot a man who was approaching him with a hatchet. Taking another man’s life scarred the boy. He made the decision then and there that he would only kill in self-defense.
By 1829, Howard, now a very grown up 14 year old, found himself in Texas working for Henry Austin on a river boat called the Ariel. Henry was the brother of Stephen F. Austin. It was Stephen Austin’s dream to have riverboat trade in Texas and his brother Henry was dead set on seeing it to fruition. Henry enlisted the experienced young Howard to help on the river boat. Howard found the rivers in Texas were much more difficult to navigate as compared to the mighty Mississippi, especially the Brazos. Their dream of river boating soon became a river crossing operation. It wouldn’t be until 1840 when Henry would successfully navigate the Brazos River in his new boat, the Constitution. Howard would be at the helm.
1836 Texas was in a full on Revolution from Mexico. News of the fall of the Alamo and the massacre at Goliad had already reached the Brazos Valley. Howard, now 21, was operating a Brazos River crossing ferry near Groce Landing. At a river crossing the news of the day came very easily, so it was no surprise to Howard when Sam Houston arrived with his army to cross. Howard felt duty bound to join the fight. After a few weeks of intense military training, Howard was assigned to Def Smith’s outfit as Smith’s aid d’camp - his personal assistant. He personally managed Smith’s mount, side arms, and field tent. During the Battle of San Jacinto, Howard helped to burn Vince Bridge which blocked the Mexican Army’s retreat, aiding in the Texan’s Victory.
Howard decided to stay on with Def Smith and began his career as a Texas Ranger. In 1846, he participated in the Battle of Monterrey in a force of United States Regulars, Texas Rangers and volunteers under General Zachary Taylor. Following the armistice between Taylor & General Ampudia, Howard or “Howdy” as he was now called, returned to Texas with a small detachment of Rangers to guard the Rio Grande Valley. Being partially def from cannon fire made him speak loudly. Howdy was a name he earned from his loud demeanor and his usual loud greeting, “Howdy!”.
By 1854, Howdy had grown tired of Rangering and ready to explore the west. He decided to try his hand at cattle ranching. At this time of life, Howdy was an experienced trapper, sailor, soldier, drover, wagon master, spy, scout, lawman & gunfighter. He was an easy hire for any cattle operation around. Howdy made his way out to Pecos, TX where he threw in with John Chism’s outfit. Howdy road trail drives for Chism. They drove over 100,000 cattle to the New Mexico Territory from Texas. Eventually helping to set up a cattle ranch along the Pecos River 40 miles south of Fort Sumner, near modern day Roswell, NM.
Between 1855 & 1865 can be described as Howdy’s quiet years - a decade when he settled down with a Cherokee wife and raised two sons. By 1855, Howdy had helped drive a herd of cattle from Fort Worth up to the Montana Territory near Fort Benton and decided to stay. Always the river boat man, Howdy found himself running a steamboat operation from Fort Benton to St Louis on the Missouri River. He traded regularly with the Lakota Sioux and became a strong advocate for peace with the Native American Tribes. The Natives called him Uncegila, or “the water monster” because of his ship. Howdy has a snake tattoo on his forearm that was given to him by a Lakota Medicine Man. It was rumored to be a tribute to his many trips up & down the Missouri River. Later in life, his tattoo would have a new meaning.
Following the Civil War, in which he did not participate, Howdy returned back to Texas. Howdy never could make much sense of the War Between the States. He reminded everyone that Texas means ‘friend’ and that’s how he treated everyone. He famously said that he would rather raise his hand to help another man than raise that hand in anger. Howdy found Texas in the midst of a reconstruction following the Confederacy’s defeat by the Union. In November of 1865, while in Austin, Howdy was introduced to a young Major General assigned to oversee the reconstruction of Texas. Howdy described young George Armstrong Custer as “slightly arrogant, self-absorbed and hell bent on making a name for himself”. Howdy did give Custer his expert mustache grooming tips and a small mustache comb that Custer would carry into his last battle. Subsequently, Custer did make a name for himself when he led the 7th Cavalry against a combined force of Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June of 1876 which resulted in a crushing defeat for the US Army.
By 1867, Howdy had returned to what he knew best, being on a river boat. He began running a river boat up the Rio Grande River. He made his base of operation on Brazos Island near the mouth of the Rio Grande, in what is now Cameron County near the south end of Padre Island. This is where he met Capt. Richard King, who he himself was running a boat on the Rio Grande. They became fast friends. King was always partial to Howdy’s snake tattoo, in fact, he eventually turned into his personal cattle brand mark.
In October of 1867, things took a turn for the worst for Howdy. An intense hurricane struck the mouth of the Rio Grande destroying any structures in its path including Howdy’s boat. Following the hurricane devastation, Howdy quit the river boat business altogether. He dabbled in farming in the Rio Grande Valley. The climate there was very conducive to citrus plants so he specialized in oranges & lemons. Howdy was fascinated by nature and he carried a pouch of bluebonnet seeds wherever he went - tossing them along the trails next to his horse or his wagon. In fact, many of the blue bonnets we enjoy today probably came from Howdy’s hands.
In 1873, Texas Governor Richard Coke & the State legislature recommissioned the Texas Rangers and Howdy rejoined them at the rank of Capt. During these years as a Ranger he participated in helping to capture criminals and desperados like Sam Bass & John Wesley Hardin. Always the rambler and disheartened by the events that took place during the El Paso Salt war in 1877, Howdy left the Rangers to seek employment with an old friend in Lincoln County New Mexico.
By this time, John Chism had partnered up with Charles Goodnight and he had a huge cattle operation. Howdy was very experienced and Chism knew him well so he felt it would be a great opportunity for work. About a year later, Lincoln County erupted in a feud between two rival businessmen, John Tunstil, who Chism partnered with, and LG Murphy. The feud would become an armed conflict when Tunstil was killed by a posse working on behalf of Murphy. The violence that ensued would be known as the Lincoln County War. One of Tunstil’s ranch hands, who Howdy often called ‘Kid’, took the loss of his boss & mentor very hard. In his later years, Howdy often expressed regret about lending William H Bonney or “Billy”, as they all called him, one of his good pistols. Howdy described Billy the Kid as a truly dangerous young man; he was impossible to catch. Not wanting to be mixed up in such a bloody/political conflict Howdy left Lincoln county not long after the John Tunstil killing.
1880 found Howdy in the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona. His mining career never produced much but he learned to play a pretty good hand of poker. Many nights he would stay up playing cards with the likes of Doc Holiday & Wyatt Earp, with whom he claimed to have been very close. Howdy was not in town the day that the shootout at the OK Corral occurred. Howdy always had great respect for the Earps, especially, Wyatt, who he felt a kinship with because of their law enforcement backgrounds. Howdy often described Wyatt Earp as not an overly imposing person, but someone who “showed no fear of any man”. Also, that his fists were almost as dangerous as his pistol.
Following the bloody events at the OK Corral, Howdy decided to leave the west and return to his beloved Texas. He found that his old river boat friend Richard King had established his cattle empire in south Texas near present day Kingsville. The years of working together on the Rio Grande river boats gained Howdy immediate employment at King’s Ranch where he worked as an experienced ranch hand and scout. In 1885, Capt. King’s health was failing. Howdy was part of an escort to take King to see his physician in San Antonio. They took up residence at the Menger Hotel near the Alamo. King’s health quickly deteriorated, and he died on April 14th in the hotel. Distraught over the passing of a longtime friend & colleague, Howdy decided not to return to the cowboy life. He thought he would try city life for a while. In late May of 1885, Howdy received a telegram requesting his assistance in tracking and aiding in the capture of Geronimo and his band of Apaches who had recently fled the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Although he was fluent in Spanish & Chiricahua, knew the borderlands of Mexico very well and was an expert tracker, Howdy declined. He was disheartened with the plight that Native Tribes experienced with the western expansion into the plains and mountains and would not assist.
In those days, the Menger hotel had an elegant bar room, billiard hall, and barbershop which were all connected to the hotel. The bar brought in both the local citizens as well as famous celebrities. Mr Howdy or Capt Howdy as many of the people knew him back then, was a mainstay at the Menger Bar & hotel over the next decade. He found odd jobs around town, was always willing to tell a wild tale of his adventurous youth or lend a hand to someone in need. Most nights he could be found at the Menger Hotel running games of pharaoh, tending bar, hanging around telling war stories or breaking up a barroom skirmish. Most people found it hard to believe Howdy’s wild tales of adventure because, first of all, most people had never heard such fantastic stories with so many famous people. Secondly, for a 75 year old man, Howard ``Howdy” Smith did not look or act a day over 55.
The years slowly passed Howdy by. The cowboy era and all the romanticism of the wild west began to fade away. The turn of the century was rapidly approaching and Howdy, a hero of a bygone era, was all but forgotten. Howdy, once revered for his adventures and accomplishments, now just dismissed as a rambling old veteran. Until, in 1898, he found himself serving drinks at the Menger to a group of cowboy volunteers that were joining up with Colonel Theodore Roosevelt to prepare to sail to Cuba to fight the Spanish. Howdy, invigorated by the youth and patriotism of these “Rough Riders'', decided to join them. A veteran of so many battles, a sailor and a crack shot gun fighter made Howdy a welcome addition to the young group of soldiers bound for Cuba. On July 3rd, Howdy helped the Rough Riders fight their way up San Juan Hill. Howdy described Teddy Roosevelt as a larger than life leader who he’d follow anywhere. Howdy claimed to have told him, “Careful Teddy, if you live through this, they’ll make you president”.
Following his short stint as a Rough Rider, Howdy returned to the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas to again try his hand at farming. By 1905, the railroad had been developing towns like Corpus Christi, Kingsville all the way to McAllen at the border. Howdy began to produce tomatoes, cantaloupes, watermelons and citrus fruit for railroad shipments. He made a very good living at it but trouble always seemed to find Howdy.
In 1913, Victoriano Heurta led a conspiracy to overthrow the democratically elected Mexican president, Francisco Madero. The US refused to recognize this new regime and began supplying arms to rebels south of the border. Many Texas mercenaries headed south to help the cause. Howdy was one of them. His deep ties to the people of northern Mexico drew him into the conflict. He served as a chief strategist and advisor to Francisco “Pancho” Villa for about a year. Following the victory at Zacatecas in 1914, Howdy retired once again to his ranch in Texas.
Howard “Howdy” Smith died on March 2nd 1915 at the ripe old age of 100 in Brazos County TX. A champion for the oppressed, a patriot, a volunteer, a hero….a Texan.