Texas Heritage, Fall 1984

In September of 1934, August passed away and three
months later, his wife Adelina followed him. The 195.6
acre farm was passed on to the heirs: Frank, Edmund,
Alvina, Emelia, Amanda, and Minnie. Frank, the
founder's oldest son, and his brother kept the farm in
operation. The two brothers each had a horse-drawn,
mold-board plow which they used in their operation.
Frank and his wife Stephanie "Fannie" (Sittre) had four
children: August James, Emmett, Norma (Wernette),
and Melba (Haegelin).
August James, the grandson of the founder, purchased
163.6 acres in 1944 and the remaining 32 acres in 1945.
He and his wife Lucille (Hoffman) had three daughters:
Velma (Keller), Mildred (Breiten), and Jonelle (Crow).
August James continues in the daily activities of farming
in the production of corn, maize, oats, and wheat. He
also runs a small herd of cattle along with small herds of
sheep and Spanish goats.

The Padgitt ranch lands near Leaday were part of the
school lands of Brazoria and Fort Bend Counties until an
enterprising cattle broker and trail driver named William
Day convinced them to sell out to him in 1880. His earlier
career mirrored the changing trends of the Texas
cattle industry. Before the civil war, he was driving cattle
to Louisiana markets; by the 1870s he was involved in
drives to Kansas. But his greatest insight was that the
"days of the open range were coming to an end, and that
it would be essential for operators to actually own and be
able to fence their property."

Courtesy of the Texas Department of Agriculture, Austin, Texas

He set himself to the task of fencing, and the enclosure
of the 7500 acres known subsequently as the red wire
pasture marked the transition toward settled ranching
patterns.

His death the next year from injuries sustained in a stampede
left the ranch in the hands of his young widow,
Mabel Doss Day, whose adept management led to her
reputation as the "Cattle Queen of Texas." Fighting
fence-cutters and indebtedness, she held the ranch
together through the declining years of the cattle boom.

Her efforts to refinance the ranch took a novel turn in
1904 when she began to promote homesteading plattes
on her land along the Colorado River. Enticing "colonists"
from as far as the St. Louis World's Fair, she
platted the community of Leaday, and subdivided sections
of the ranch. Her well-intentioned effort to remain
flexible in a changing economy was doomed to failure,
as ensuing drought years turned the colonists' dreams
into dry realities.
"If ranching is to survive, flexibility and diverse
responses will be necessary."
There is a logic to ranching in this country. It is one of
the best possible uses of arid country, and when wellmanaged,
the land can sustain ranching enterprise indefinitely.
But more intense use demands water, and the
current crises of ranch life revolve around competition
from many sources for the water that flows through
ranching country. And if ranching is to survive, flexibility
and diverse responses will be necessary.

Courtesy of Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Circa 1949

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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Fall 1984. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45447/. Accessed December 24, 2014.