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Maverick Brothers, the


Professional gamblers.[1]


Brothers Bret Maverick (born May 11,[2] 1840[3]) and Bart Maverick (born September 16, 1841)[3] on the Maverick Ranch in Texas,[4] first and second sons respectively, to Beauregard[5] and Belle Maverick.[3]


In 1838, Cousin Samuel A. Maverick was beginning his expansive land empire with a passion. Hoping to encourage immigration from the East, he started with family.[6] He granted the brothers' Uncle Micah Maverick 3,600 acres of undeveloped ranch land on the east side of the Colorado River near it's confluence with Bee Cave Creek, Texas, only a little more than a hundred miles north of his own home in San Antonio.[3]


Uncle Micah, an insightful businessman, foresaw the potential of the growing cattle industry in the vast grazing lands of Texas. Leaving his home in Charleston in the hands of a few trusted representatives, Micah decided to move his family west. He hoped also to encourage his two wayward brothers, Beauregard and Bentley, to adopt a more responsible life. Micah paid them each $5,000 to make the move and become partners with him in the Maverick Ranch.[3]


Beauregard's wife, Belle, agreed with Micah that her husband needed to learn more responsibility. A Texas ranch and the rigors of frontier life would surely be the best thing for him. Raising a family in such an environment could finally cure his wanderlust. Later in 1838, Beauregard and Belle moved from Charleston with Micah to Little Bend, as well as with Brother Bentley, his wife and their young son Beau.[3]


By early 1839, the Maverick clan had established the Maverick Ranch. A year later, on May 11, 1840, Beauregard and Belle's first child, Bret, was born. Second son Bart Maverick was born the following year, on September 16, 1841.[3]


As her two boys grew, Belle tried vainly to discourage what she considered their adopting their Pappy's shiftless ways. But the boys idolized him, and loved his stories about how he and their Uncle Bent had traveled the South, playing poker for a living. In early 1848, Belle Maverick died of a fever, leaving her sons' Pappy to raise them on his own.[3]


In August of 1848, Colonel John Coffee Hays organized an expedition from San Antonio to discover and establish a reliable year-round route to El Paso, which would link greater Texas to the trade routes from Mexico to the Santa Fe Trail and westward to San Diego and San Francisco. Hays recruited his friend Sam Maverick for the journey[6] and Sam, in turn, invited Cousin Beauregard. Still mourning the loss of his beloved Belle, Pappy gladly accepted the invitation as a way of exorcising the cabin fever he had felt smothering him on the Maverick Ranch. Seeing the adventure as a means of bringing his young sons up in his footsteps, Pappy packed saddlebags for Bret and Bart and joined the expedition.[3]


Nearly two months later, the expedition reached Fort Leaton along the Rio Grande and stopped. The men were trail-weary and the expedition's time limit was quickly running out. With El Paso only 200 miles away with a well-established road already existing between there and the fort, the expedition was considered a success and turned back for San Antonio.[6] But Pappy and the boys had found the adventure enthralling and decided to press on to El Paso on their own.[3]


The Mavericks reached El Paso in early November.[3] As soon as they arrived in the old Mexican town, Pappy took them into a cantina. There, they saw patrons playing American games introduced by veterans of the Mexican-American War such as  twenty-one, red dog, wheel of chance and faro. Everything but poker. Pappy then spoke the words that would stick with Bret and Bart for the remainder of their lives: "Boys, take a good look. This is what's known as gambling. Stay away from it. In games like this you haven't got a chance. Remember as long as you live—stick to poker."[7]


From the day they returned to the Maverick Ranch, the boys were determined to learn all they could of Pappy's philosophy and technique of playing poker. Pappy was a dutiful and enthusiastic teacher, outlining a syllabus of studies and lessons for his sons,[7] many of which were administered in their personal classroom of nearby Little Bend's Lucky Diamond Saloon.[8]


In June of 1854, Pappy and Uncle Bent took Bret, Bart and Cousin Beau on the Grand Excursion by rail and riverboat up the Upper Mississippi River to St. Paul, Minnesota Territory. Pappy and Uncle Bent left Little Bend with only a thousand-dollar bill pinned to the inside of each of their shirts, intent on teaching the boys how to make their own way across the country and return home with a profit without committing the sin of manual labor. On this trip, now along with their cousin, the boys learned to love the adventure of travel and living by their wits.[3]


After the Grand Excursion, Beauregard and Bentley decided they had had enough of the ranching life and did not return. Micah was left on his own to run the Maverick Ranch. The five wayward Mavericks spent the next few years wandering, on their own or together, living by their own rules traveling the country and plying their chosen trade in towns, cities or on riverboats.[3]


In 1856,[3] Pappy discovered the showboat Lady Gida working up and down the Sabine River. He found the gambling onboard to be lucrative and the showboat's owner, Gida Jamison, to be an attractive and enterprising partner. Now over 50 years old, Beauregard found it easier to do his traveling aboard the Lady Gida and let the poker games come to him. Bret and Bart would still often wander on their own, but spent many weeks at a time with their Pappy and Gida on the Sabine River.[5]


At the outbreak of the Civil War in April of 1861, with no other Mavericks in Little Bend, Uncle Micah decided to return to his native South Carolina and look after his personal interests there. Upon hearing this, Bret and Bart thought it best to return to Little Bend and tend the Maverick Ranch.[3]


As the war escalated, Bret and Bart found themselves compelled to enlist in the Confederate Army. In 1862, the boys sold off the cattle from the ranch[3] for $1,650 in gold and deposited it at Jessie Hayden's general store and left Little Bend to serve as Johnny Rebs.[4] On hearing that his sons were marching off to war, Pappy sent them a telegram warning them that if either of them came back with a medal, he beat them to death.[9]


In 1863,[3] Bret and Bart were captured by the Union Army and imprisoned[4] at Camp Douglas in Chicago. In April of 1865, after nearly two years of wasting away in prison, the boys took a chance for freedom by enlisting in the 5th U. S. Volunteer Infantry to fight Indians on the Western frontier.[3] As Galvanized Yankees,[4] they were deployed across Kansas and the northern New Mexico Territory to defend the Santa Fe Trail from Indian attacks.[3]


When the war ended, the Union Army wanted to rid their ranks of the questionable loyalty of Galvanized Yankees, Bret and Bart were mustered out at Fort Leavenworth on November 13, 1866.[3] During their years "working for someone else and fighting for someone else," the boys decided it was time to return to Little Bend, Texas and do just that, but for themselves instead.[4]



Trail West to Fury: In August of 1867,[3] after more than five years fighting Yankees in the Civil War and Indians[4] along the Santa Fe Trail,[3] Bret and Bart Maverick returned to their home town of Little Bend, Texas to settle down on the cattle ranch[4] their Uncle Micah left them[3] and raise a herd. Having been robbed of all their money, Bret and Bart were forced to accept jobs as trail bosses on the Miller cattle drive to Fort Adobe. In an ambush the night before the drive, Bret killed a gunman from the Jessie Hayden Ranch in self-defense, while Bart killed another. A mysterious Tall Man witnessed the gunfight but left without giving account of the Mavericks' innocence. Bret worked the Miller drive for two months while Bart tracked the Tall Man.[4] In October of 1867,[3] the cattle drive was over and Bret and Bart had earned $20,000, but the Tall Man's whereabouts were still unknown. With murder charges against them in Texas, Bret and Bart could not return without the Tall Man clearing their names. The Mavericks continued searching for the Tall Man for years.[4]

Bart Maverick (left, portrayed by Jack Kelly) and Bret Maverick (right, portrayed by James Garner)[9]


01. The Maverick Saga

02. Maverick, The Misfortune Teller (1960), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

03. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails

04. Maverick, Trail West to Fury (1958), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

05. Maverick, Pappy (1960), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

06. Turn Your Eyes Toward Texas: Pioneers Sam and Mary Maverick, Paula Mitchell Marks (1989), Texas A&M University Press

07. Poker According to Maverick (1959), Dell Publishing Company, Inc.

08. Maverick, Trail West to Fury (1958), Dell Publishing Company, Inc.

09. Maverick, Day of Reckoning (1958), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

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Maverick™ and its various marks are trademarks of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., © 1957, 1994

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