Remember when you couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing the word “maverick”? (This was around the same time we were talking about pigs in lipstick and hockey moms and other ridiculously off-topic matters.) What does the word really mean? Where did the word originate? A word like “maverick” had to have been born in Texas, right? Of course.
As we were walking through downtown San Antonio on Saturday, I came across a Texas Historical Commission marker near Alamo Plaza. It stated the following:
Site of Home (1850 to 1870) of Samual Augustus Maverick
A native of South Carolina, came to San Antonio in 1835, was guide for Ben Milam and other leaders in first attack on San Antonio by Texas Army, Dec. 1835. As Bexar delegate, Maverick signed Texas Declaration of Independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos, 1836.
His famous practice of letting his cattle run about unbranded gave English language the word “maverick,” meaning an independent person, as well as unbranded animal. Texas’ Maverick county and town were named in his honor. (see complete historical marker text below.)
It’s unclear why Maverick didn’t brand his cattle. Was he lazy? Or was he more concerned with the land he owned than with his cattle? Maybe he didn’t want to be cruel to the animals? (This seems unlikely since Maverick was a slave owner and had no problem mistreating people. Someone who would treat his fellow humans in such a way doesn’t seem like the type to be concerned about the comfort of his cattle.) It has also been suggested that he wanted to be able to claim any unbranded cattle that he came across.
Or maybe he went a little nuts. After all, this heat could drive anybody bonkers.