February 27, 2009

How Big is a Big Ranch in Texas?

by Molly Noble Bull

In historic Texas, the area from the Nueces River to the Rio Grande River was known as the Nueces Strip or the Wild Horse Desert. Some called it the Desert of the Dead because in the 1800’s hostile tribes and bands of marauders roamed the countryside.

Nevertheless, the Southern Texas counties of Kleberg and Kenedy hold some of the largest ranches in the state, and I spent part of my growing up years on two of those ranches. As a small child, I lived on the Santa Rosa—a sixty thousand acre cattle ranch in Kenedy County.

Below is an old photo taken on the Santa Rosa Ranch.

Later, the Santa Rosa was divided into three ranches, and I lived on the La Paloma Ranch (about 30,000 acres) in Kenedy County. In fact, I lived on the La Paloma until I married.

However, the King Ranch is the most famous ranch in Texas if not the world, sprawling across 825,000 acres. The King Ranch was founded in 1853 by a man by the name of Captain Richard King, and the King Ranch is larger than the state of Rhode Island. King called his ranch the Santa Gertrudis, and later he developed the Santa Gertrudis breed of cattle and produced the first registered American Quarter Horse.

Below is a photo of the cover of a pamphlet telling about the King Ranch. Notice the
Running W brand at the bottom of the page.

Next I would like to introduce the Kenedy Ranch—another huge area ranch.
The original owner of the Kenedy Ranch in Kenedy County, Texas was a man by the name of Mifflin Kenedy, and in 1867, Kenedy chose the Laurel Leaf as the Kenedy brand. However, in 1882 he sold the La Laureles portion of his land, bought the La Parra Grant and adjacent land for what would become the 400,000 acre Kenedy Ranch -- called La Parra.

Ranches are big in Texas. But we have small ones, too.


Vickie McDonough said...

Goodness! Those were big ranches. It's hard to imagine how anyone could keep an eye on that much land.

Molly, I always wanted to grow up and marry a rancher. Instead, I married a computer geek. :)

Molly Noble Bull said...

Thanks for writing. I married a lab tech guy that later became a history teacher. My dad and grandad were the cowboys. Now our sons are cowboys, too.