Originally, a lawless marauder. The name was first applied to some pro-British gangs in the USA during the American War of Independence, who roamed the neutral ground of Westchester county in New York state (their Revolutionary counterparts were ‘skinners’). By the 1870s, a cowboy described a herder of cattle on the Great Plains. The cattle industry spread across the Great Plains from Texas to Canada and westward to the Rocky Mountains. The introduction of barbed wire to fence in ranches rapidly encroached on the open ranges, and by 1895 railway expansion had made trail-driving uneconomical, and cowboys settled to work on the cattle ranches.
Subjects: History — Literature.