Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The Big Ranch Country. By J. W. Williams. Wichita Falls (Terry
Brothers, Printers), 1954. Pp. 307. Illustrations, notes, and
As the author, Mr. Williams, announces in the foreword of this
volume, he serves up "story-book fashion" a narrative of his own
travels, investigations, and vicarious adventures in those parts of
Texas where lie the big ranches of today. Compounded of fact,
folklore, and range gossip, the book transports its reader on two
principal journeys across the drainage areas of the upper Brazos,
Wichita, Pease, and Red rivers into the Panhandle, down to the
Trans-Pecos country, and farther south to the Texas coast. On the
way visits are paid to the round-up grounds and ranges of the
Waggoner, Pitchfork, 6666, Matador, Spur, JA, and a host of
other brands. Historic sketches of the founders, operators, and
present owners of many ranching establishments are provided.
The author does his most effective writing when telling of his
own excursions across the region which he loves and knows best,
his "Wichita Falls-Lubbock section" lying along U. S. Highways 82
and 7g between the Wichita River and the "Caprock," that east-
ward facing escarpment which separates the prairie country from
the High Plains. Here he gives an account of modern cattle
rustling, tells the story of Boley Brown, that "princely cattleman
a legend of the upper Brazos," of Hub, the champion cutting
horse, and here he recounts the hospitality of the 6666 Ranch at
its chuckwagon and at its palatial headquarters near Guthrie.
Further travels take him to Post City, where the breakfast cereal
manufacturer attempted to establish his ideal community; to the
location of Estacado, a nineteenth century Quaker settlement on
the Plains; and to the site of Hank Smith's ranch in Blanco
Canyon, "the end of the world in 1877."
A chapter entitled "The Great Ranches of Today" carries a
list of the fifteen largest ranches in Texas in terms of acreage,
based on tax rolls in 1947-1948, and a final section deals with
developments in forage and feed crops which have made it pos-
sible for the nation's increasing population to continue eating
beef despite the plow's inroads on the great grasslands of the West.
Contrary to Mr. Williams' anticipation, no one-scholar, critic,
or layman-will "object to this informal method of surveying the
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101162/. Accessed February 28, 2015.