We started off watching a calf demonstration in the chute area. We learned about the quarter horses and how they work the cattle. They told us about the different brands on the horses and what they meant, which was interesting. Next, the cowboy and cowgirl demonstrated how a calf is cut from the herd and roped. Once the calf was roped, another cowgirl secured the calf and watched how a calf is inspected and then branded. (They did not do the actual branding in the demonstration.)
They finished the demonstration and brought out Big Tex. Big Tex is a Texas Longhorn. His horns measure six feet across. He promptly made his way to the viewing area and showed himself to everyone.
The cowboy instructed us to follow the path to the dipping vat for the next demonstration. The reason for the dipping vat was to rid the cows of ticks before transport. They ran the calves through the ten foot deep water during the demonstration. The calve thoroughly enjoyed jumping in the trough and swimming to the other side.
After the calf demonstration, we began our tour of the houses on the George Ranch. We began with the first house, which was a dog trot cabin. Henry and Nancy Jones moved to the area in 1822 and claimed 4428 acres to ranch. At the time, the area was Mexican frontier and the Jones along with others that Stephen F. Austin brought to the area joined other Texans in the fight for independence from Mexico.
The Jone's eldest daughter Mary 'Polly' Moore Ryon, took over the ranch and bought out her brothers and sisters after the death of her father. Polly was a wonderful business woman and along with her husband, William Ryon, expanded the ranch to over 27,000 acres. This was the 'golden era' of the West with cattle drives. We enjoyed listening to the Chuck Wagon Cook tell us about the Ryon's and about his job on the ranch and cattle drives. I didn't realize the full role of Chuck Wagon cook and how well they were paid!
The next stop on the tour was the Share Cropper's cabin. Uncle Bob showed us around his place and answered our questions. He was a delightful old man and we talked for over thirty minutes. We learned about share cropping and how a share cropper could really never get out of debt. He showed us is animals and told us about the chicken snake Sammy. We enjoyed our visit with Uncle Bob.
Polly's daughter, Susan Elizabeth, married 'Judge' John Harris Pickens Davis. They lived in town and helped manage the ranch. Susan died young and her memory was kept alive through her husband and children. Her daughter, Mary Elizabeth 'Mamie' eventually took over the ranch.
Behind the Victorian house is a large working blacksmith shop. We enjoyed talking to the Smith and learning about the different tools he uses.
Mamie married Albert George and the couple moved to the ranch from the city. They had a child that unfortunately died. With no other children, the Georges turned to their cousin, Mary, and treated her like a daughter. Unfortunately, the presumed heir, died tragically in a car wreck. With no other possible heir, the Georges established The George Foundation. Through the foundation, the Georges' charitable giving and legacy of the ranch lives on.
What I find remarkable is that it was the women in the family that took the ranch to new levels each generation.