To the editor,
Nearly 20 years ago, I was living at my late cousin Jon’s farm and he had the desire to make it a true farm. Having livestock animals was a dream of his, and I caught the desire too. Although we were mostly confined to raising goats, Jon had the dream of also owning cattle or even bison. I sought out to design a brand which reflected my identity. Back then, I had the hobby of talking to the now deceased lawyer, prosecutor, former FBI agent, turned radio talk-show host G. Gordon Liddy. Dr. Liddy dubbed me “Travelin’ Jim” due to my then traveling to distant places. I even met Liddy in five U.S. states. I settled for the T-Star-J livestock brand. I couldn’t bear to “brand” goats with a red hot branding-iron. In many ways, I preferred to use my brand as a logo or whenever I signed my signature.
One funny episode happened about 15 years ago. A County Sheriff phoned me and said he had rounded up 60 cattle having my brand in his county. Although I had registered my brand there, I had no cattle there, and I said so. The Deputy was almost adamant saying I could pick-up my cattle. I tried to explain they weren’t my cattle. Speculation is that the rustlers nabbed some cattle with an “I” and a lone star, and did a botched brand which faintly looked like mine. Needless to say, I didn’t claim them. I have registered my brand in various states and counties. At one county seat, it gave me awe to have the clerk pull down one of the huge leather-bound “brand books” and I got to draw my brand and sign my signature alongside notable livestock raisers of the past. My branding rights there included cattle, horses, oxen, sheep, goats, bison, and even mules. My late grand-dad named John Marples (1862-1934) had each of those species of animals. So, for me, it was sort of like continuing the heritage. Currently, in addition to the “T-Star-J Brand”, I also have “The Prairie Star Brand” (named to honor my Archbishop friend, the Most Rev. James P. Keleher of Kansas City, Kan). Its design is the Chi Rho (symbol of Christ), with a staggered down letter “S” followed by a staggered down Texas Lone Star. I also have “the Big Valley Brand” (which honors the well known TV western of the 1960’s). The design is a Capital Letter “B” with a slash going from top left crossing the B and terminating at the lower right, with a tiny slash upward. I have the “Lucky Star Brand” which is an Upright Horseshoe with a Lone Star inside. Lastly I have the “Travelin’ White Brand. It is a horizontal bar, above a letter W with a “wing” at the upper right of the W. Then another horizontal bar at the bottom.
This brand gives a nod of homage to my “White surnamed ancestors” who held this brand and similar brands. My late grandmother was Dora (White) Marples and her brother Roy White devised the early brand which he used regularly. A livestock brand is more than just a mark of identification. It is your “mark” of character, your distinction, and a logo which reflects your personality and character.