Jose Monte Gateado weighed-in at 1,200 pounds and had an 8-foot horn spread. He was a longhorn steer gifted to the American people by Tom T. East from a remnant herd of 175 animals remaining on the San Antonio Viejo at the end of the 1930s. At 2 pm on October 9, 1941, this Texas Longhorn was presented to the American people at the Connecticut Avenue entrance to the National Zoological Park – part of the Smithsonian Institute. William Mann, noted entomologist and Director of the National Zoo, wrote to Tom East the following day. He noted, “Last Sunday there were 28,000 people out at the Zoo to look at the Longhorn.”
Tom East’s “Gateado” was presented in a ceremony by Texas Representative Wright Patman. Among the dignitaries present were Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, Congressman Richard Kleberg, and noted Fort Worth publisher Amon Carter. Joe Montague represented the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Joining the group was the entire Texas A&M football team – (Note: two days later, the Aggies went on to beat New York University 49-7 on their way to the Southwest Conference Championship).
Earlier that year, J. Frank Dobie’s book “The Longhorns” was published. Through this book, Dobie had brought attention to this vanishing breed of cattle and it was probably the turning point for saving what was left of the once numerous longhorn – and it was what stimulated Wright Patman to find a Longhorn for the Smithsonian. A chapter of Dobie’s book was dedicated to Tom East – just below a Tom Lea illustration at the start of Chapter XII, Dobie’s text reads “To Tom East, who still raises Spanish horses, saves a few horns, and has coyote sense as well as horse sense and cow sense.”
Tom East must have had a heart for hanging on to some of what made ranching in the wild horse desert so special – longhorns and wild mustangs. While keeping what was important to him, he also managed to hold onto the ranch through some of the toughest hardship faced by anyone. Th rough strength of character, he held onto what was important to him and his family. He also shared it with the nation.
Less than 2 months after Jose Monte Gateado made his home in Washington DC, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and our nation was at war. While Tom East did not see the end of WWII – he died in November of 1943 – he did leave behind what he cared about most. That is the land, and those things that depend upon it.