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It was the end of a long, dirty trail drive when Archer L. Jackson (left) and Thomas Edwin McDonald paused near the Gainesville cattle yards to allow an early photographer to take this photograph. The two men, mounted, booted, and wearing holstered hand guns, had driven a herd of 45 or 50 cattle from Old Town, forded the Suwannee River, and drove on into Gainesville. The drive was made 100 or more years ago, and the cattle probably were wild, descended from the Spanish cattle herds of the ancient La Chua Ranchero or others. The cattle pens in Gainesville were located in what is today the southwest section of downtown, a few blocks from the Courthouse. In the background of this picture is the west (rear) side of the old Steenberg Hardware & Leather Company, later Thomas Hardware Company. The building, located in the center of the west side of the Courthouse Square, burned in a downtown fire on April 24, 1938. At the time of this photo, Gainesville was a railhead for shipping cattle and a trails-end for herds driven here to be fattened on the fertile grassland of Payne's Prairie.
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