El Rancho in South Texas: Continuity and Change From 1750 Page: 53
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$350,000 to build and consisted of twenty-five rooms,
each with its own fireplace, with many bathrooms and
wide, cool verandas. It was finished in 1915 (Lea 1957).
Social Organization of a South Texas Ranch
Changes in the old patrdn system took place only
slowly. Some ranches in South Texas remained very tra-
ditional. Mifflin Kenedy's 375,000-acre La Parra Ranch
in Kenedy County maintained the old two-level social
order of the earlier haciendas well into the I96os (Villar-
The La Parra Ranch was composed of two divi-
sions, the Mifflin Kenedv Division and the Laurel Leaf
Division. Each division had a corrida or cow camp;
a campo de apie crew which worked "afoot" building
fence, clearing brush, and repairing fences and corrals;
and a series of ranchitos, two- and three-man stations
assigned to look after livestock. A windmill crew took
care of all of the windmills on the ranch. The corridas
had ten to thirty vaqueros, a remudero or horse wran-
gler, and a cocinero or camp cook, all supervised by a
caporal assisted by a caudillo. The campos were made up
of about twenty laborers supervised by a mayordomo,
who was assisted by a segundo. The early caporales were
Anglos, but since shortly after 1900, most have been
Mexican Americans (Villarreal 1970).
Into the early 196os, Kenedy vaqueros lived in cow
camps and spent their time working cattle or breaking
horses. In addition to being fine riders, vaqueros had
to be skilled at driving or herding cattle, cutting cattle
from the herd, and roping. Many took pride in their
work and their skills, and some became well-known
performers. As one vaquero noted, the life of a vaquero
was "interesting" and at times almost "romantic," but
would "never make a man rich" (Villarreal 1970).
Male children on the ranch were expected to begin
working for the ranch at about eight years of age. They
started as yard cleaners, and by the time they were
ten, they would begin working in carridas or campos.
Villarreal (1970) notes that the loyalty of earlier Mexi-
can vaqueros can be seen in the case of Encarnaci6n
Morales, whose five sons, a step-son, and two sons-
in-law began working on the Kenedy ranch in 1882.
As of the 1970os, five generations of the Morales family
had worked on the ranch: twenty-five grandsons, two
grandsons-in-law, fifteen great-grandsons, and seven
Certain vaquero equipment remained basically the
same, including the quirt, the chicote (cattle whip),
spurs, the bridle, bridle reins, and saddle blankets.
Vaqueros continued to impress outsiders with their
skills with this equipment. For example, Maude Gilli-
land recalls in her memoirs that in the summer of 1902
her family traveled in wagons from Corpus Christi to
Rancho Capisallo, located in Cameron and Hidalgo
Counties, to be with their father, who was the ranch
manager. Accompanied by two Tejano vaqueros on
horseback, the family witnessed some remarkable dem-
onstrations of their skills:
There were thousands of wild geese on the coast in those
days and we weren't on the road long before we saw a large
flock. The Mexicans killed several. These men were experts
in the art of popping their long plaited raw-hide whips. Just
as the geese started to fly, one of the men put spurs to his
horse and ran among them and with a crack like a pistol shot
brought one down with his bullwhip! Mama cooked them in
the big Dutch oven. (1964)
The vaqueros on many ranches also became proficient
with new (and less romantic) equipment, like the claw-
hammer and fencing pliers. The hemp lariat replaced
the rawhide one not only because of hemp's greater
strength and flexibility, but because of its greater avail-
ability in local feed and hardware stores. Of course, the
saddle styles also changed. Although its basic shape re-
mained similar to the modem stock saddle which had
evolved by I870, modifications continued. Some types
became famous, like the Vela saddles of Floresville and
saddles of the King Ranch's Running W Saddle Shop,
made since 1865.
The Ranch in South Texas
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Graham, Joe S. El Rancho in South Texas: Continuity and Change From 1750, book, 1994; Denton, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28328/m1/65/?q=el%20rancho: accessed January 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.