The American Native cattle as described in writings around the 1864 time frame.
The foregoing comprise the pure-bred races in America; for, though other
and well-established breeds, like the Galloways, the long horns, the Spanish, and others, have, at times, been
imported, and have had some influence on our American stock, yet they have not been kept distinct to such an extent
as to become the prevailing stock of any particular section.
A large proportion, however, by far the largest proportion, indeed, of the cattle known
among us cannot be included under any of the races to which allusion has been made; and to the consideration of
this class the present article is devoted.
The term "breed", as was set forth in the author's treatise, "The
Horse and his Diseases", when properly understood, applies only to animals of the same species, possessing, besides
the general characteristics of that species, other characteristics peculiar to themselves, which they owe to the
influence of soil, climate, nourishment, and the habits of life to which they are subjected, and which they
transmit with certainty to their progeny. The characteristics of certain breeds or families are so well marked,
that, if an individual supposed to belong to any one of them were to produce an offspring not possessing them, or
possessing them only in part, with others not belonging to the breed, it would be just ground for suspecting a want
of purity of bloods.
In this view, no grade animals, and no animals destitute of fixed peculiarities or
characteristics which they share in common with all other animals of the class of which they are a type, and which
they are capable of transmitting with certainty to their descendants, can be recognized by breeders as belonging to
any one distinct race, breed, or family.
The term "native" is applied to a vast majority of our American cattle, which, though
born on the soil, and thus in one sense natives, do not constitute a breed, race, or family, as correctly
understood by breeders. They do not possess characteristics peculiar to them all, which they transmit with any
certainty to their offspring, either of form, size, color, milking or working properties.
But, though an animal may be made up of a mixture of blood almost to impurity, it does
not follow that, for specific purposes, it may not, as an individual animal, be one of the best of the species.
Indeed, for particular purposes, animals might be selected from among those commonly called "natives" in New
England, and "scrubs" at the west and south, equal, and perhaps superior, to any among the races produced by the
most skillful breeding.
There can be no objection, therefore, to the use of the term "native," when it is
understood as descriptive of no known breed, but only as applied to the common stock of a country, which does not
constitute a breed. But perhaps the entire class of animals commonly called "natives" would be more accurately
described as grades; since they are well known to have sprung from a great variety of cattle procured at different
times and in different places on the continent of Europe, in England, and in the Spanish West Indies, brought
together without any regard to fixed principles of breeding, but only from individual convenience, and by
The first importations to this country were doubtless those taken to Virginia previous
to 1609, though the exact date of their arrival is not known. Several cows were carried there from the West Indies
in 1610, and in the next year no less than one hundred arrived there from abroad.
The earliest cattle imported into New England arrived in 1624. At the division of
cattle which took place three years after, one or two are distinctly described as black, or black and white, others
as brindle, showing that there was no uniformity of color. Soon after this, a large number of cattle were brought
over from England for the settlers at Salem. These importations formed the original stock of Massachusetts.