History

McAllen Ranch: A History of Quality Cattle and Horses


 

In 1748, in order to establish Spanish outposts in Nuevo Santander, conquistador José de Escandón recognized that habitation by families, clergy, and military would be imperative to hold their claim against other encroaching European powers. 

Agriculture, particularly ranching, remained a Spanish legacy integrated into nearly every aspect of life. Seeing the grasslands along the lower Rio Grande as perfectly evolved to support cattle and other grazing livestock, between 1767 and 1800 the crown awarded hundreds of thousands of acres to colonial subjects having proven themselves worthy of managing property. Spanish ranches tracing their heritage back to the 18th colonization of South Texas set the standard for ranching practices adopted across the American west into the 20th century.

Ranch History

1790

1790

1790

The royal land grant of Santa Anita was applied for by Manuel Gómez and conditionally approved

1801

1801

1801

Manuel Gómez officially takes possession of the 15½ league Santa Anita land grant

1803

1803

1803

Manuel Gómez dies, ranch passes to Dominguez family through his wife Doña Gregoria Domínguez Gómez

1850

1850

1850

Portion of ranch land purchased by Salomé Ballí
Picture is of ranch family at El Rucio

1861

1861-1870

1861-1870

Remainder of Santa Anita inherited and purchased by Salomé Ballí de Young McAllen and her husband, Irish immigrant John McAllen (pictured). Subsequently, the ranch is known as the McAllen Ranch. Santa Anita has cattle contracts to supply both Union and Confederate armies at Fort Brown in Brownsville, Texas

1865

1865

1865

John McAllen bought horses from the quartermaster at Fort Brown, which were liquidated after the war

1898

1898

1898

Death of Salomé Ballí de McAllen

1910

1910

1910

Cattle depredations intensify with the beginning of the Mexican Revolution

1913

1913

1913

John McAllen dies in Brownsville, Texas at the age of 83

1917

1917

1917

Ranch managed by McAllen’s widow, Margaret Rhode McAllen.

1930

1930

1930

Sons of Margaret Rhode and James B. McAllen, Argyle and Eldred McAllen manage San Juanito. Begin to improve cattle herd, purchasing improved breeding stock from Lasater and Santa Fe ranches

1933

1933-1960

1933-1960

Argyle A McAllen takes over and continues to improve general conditions of ranch. Ranch continues to improve livestock
Argyle A Mcallen (right) pictured with James A Mcallen (left), with Goldsnip (Horse)

1960

1960-1980

1960-1980

Argyle A McAllen with son James A McAllen begin intensive livestock breeding program with Beefmaster
Picture is both of them overlooking feeder steers in Tres Corales.

1998

1998

1998

McAllen Ranch takes top honor in trial tests of Beefmaster excellence.

Horse History

1803

1803

1803

The earliest mention of horses at Santa Anita occurs in the inventory of the estate of José Manuel Gómez. The inventory claimed that at the time of his death he owned: 44 cattle, 4,000 goats and sheep, 351 mules and horses, including one named “Pintitas.” Manuel’s father, José Antonio Gómez, received in payment of his share 100 breeding mares, cows, 10 gentle horses, 1 yoke of oxen and other horses, with the same left to Manuel’s widow, María Gregoria Ballí de Gómez.

1860

1860

1860

Doña Salomé Ballí de Young files a claim with the United States government for 3 mules and 1 horse, each at $50 per head

1861

1861-1862

1861-1862

The value of a horse was approximately $50 per head. John McAllen sold $2,100 worth of horses from the Santa Anita to the Mexican army. This was 42 head

1864

1864

1864

It cost $102 in duties to cross one horse from Brownsville to Matamoros

1865

1865

1865

John McAllen bought horses from the quartermaster at Fort Brown, which were liquidated after the war

1866

1866-1872

1866-1872

Santa Anita suffered a loss of 250 horses to rustling. A claim filed with the U.S. government claimed they were worth $60

1868

1868

1868

McAllen hired F.F. Fenn (Gilbert Kingsbury) to show horses for him

1878

1878

1878

Seventy-five horses participated in a drive up the Chisholm Trail to Kansas and were likely sold upon their arrival

1900

1900

1900

When James B. McAllen offered to sell his interest in Santa Anita to William E. Halsell, his share of the stock amounted to 400 head of horses. At the time, Halsell owned 1/4 of the ranch, which was not yet fenced. Therefore, it seems that the Santa Anita had about 1,600 head of horses on it at that time. This was during a drought as well. James B. McAllen valued the horses at $3 per head

1908

1908

1908

James B. McAllen purchased a Morgan trotting stallion in Kentucky to introduce into the herd at San Juanito

1943

1943

1943

Bill Warren 000670. Argyle A. McAllen began introducing stallions to the ranch from other regions of Texas. Argyle bought Bill Warren 1939. A sorrel stallion that began a lasting relationship with quarter horses and their importance on the ranch. He is a paternal grandson to Traveler and a maternal grandson to Little Joe 1. Bred by the founding president of the AQHA, Bill Warren

1955

1955

1955

Boiler Maker 0001743. Leased by Argyle in 1955 from his friend Don Stone. The stallion was chestnut in color, muscular, and large in height and weight. A son of Old Sorrel 1915 and maternal grandson to Chicaro (TB) 1923. His confirmation was his greatest asset. A foundation quarter horse. He is listed in The Foundation of Sires Of The American Quarterhorse by Robet Moorman Denhardt

1958

1958

1958

Gold Snip 0116909. Gold Snip was purchased from Byrnie James, owner of King P234, in 1932. He was a black stallion, well-muscled with plenty of “cow sense.” Many brood mares were kept from this stallion adding color to the remuda, especially duns. A grandson to King P234 and son to Black Gold King 1949. He brought confirmation and work ability to our herd

1968

1968

1968

Abejero 0617061. Abejero was purchased from King Ranch, Inc. Annual Horse Sale. A deep-chested, chestnut stallion, his greatest asset was his ability to work cattle. He added stamina and intelligence to the remuda and many broodmares to the manada. He was a paternal great-grandson of Hired Hand 1943, maternal great-grandson to Wimpy 1937 and a paternal grandson to Bill Cody 1944. Old Sorrel 1915 appears more than 3 times in his pedigree

1980

1980

1980

Peppy’s Gift 1706135. Argyle was gifted a stallion by his friend Tom T. East of Linn, Texas. A zebra-striped, line back dun stud colt, a proud addition to our horse herd. He is a paternal grandson of Mr. San Peppy and a maternal great-grandson to Trinidad. This stallion reflects the essence of South Texas quarter horse breeding. Not a large horse by any means, but very quick, agile and most of all, intelligent. He is truly the last of his kind, a South Texas cow horse. His colts are no exception; they are all born with his talent and confirmation. Many brood mares were kept from this stallion

1989

1989

1989

Par Three Jack 2612353. Par Three Jack was purchased from El Mileño Ranch of Rio Grande City, Texas. He is a well-muscled, heavy-boned, sorrel stallion with an outstanding pedigree. He is a son of Par Three and maternal grandson to Two-Eyed Jack. He is a pleasure to have. His colts carry his gentle disposition and train easily. His stout confirmation and “cow sense” also show in his offspring

2000

2000

2000

Many mares were purchased from the W.T. Waggoner Ranch, Hal Bogle Estate, Haythorn Ranch, Mileño Ranch and other well known breeders, in hopes of replicating old bloodlines of South Texas horses

2005

2005

2005

Zanderford’s Cowboy 3012440 was purchased from Ledford Ranch, Durango, Colorado. He is directly descended from old bloodlines of King Ranch breeding. Zanderford possess all the characteristics of his King Ranch ancestors

2007

2007

2007

Platinum Playgun 4548642 is a beautiful gray stallion, purchased from the Bartlett Ranch in Weatherford, Texas. He is a direct son of the legendary stallion Playgun and maternal grandson to Handle Bar Doc. Thank you to Dick and Brenda Pieper, owners of Playgun, for their help in finding this beautiful stallion. We hope to improve confirmation, agility, and pedigree to our horse band with this stallion

Cattle History

1748

1748

1748

Cattle brought by Spaniards through Northern Mexico inhabited the Mexican frontier region and the ranch for centuries. Throughout the years, Spanish cattle soon evolved into modern day longhorns. They were bred and raised for their resilience and ability to survive in harsh conditions

1790

1790

1790

Santa Anita grant awarded to Manuel Gómez

1800

1800

1800

Cattle in the region and at the ranch remained the same, few changes are made. Longhorn cattle are the dominant breed

1861

1861-1865

1861-1865

The Confederate and Union armies occupied Fort Brown in Brownsville, Texas at intervales. Contracts ranch cattle to feed confederate troops. Cattle are regularly driven to Brownsville, Texas (150 miles) or shipped down river by steamboat from Hidalgo

1863

1863-1870

1863-1870

Ranch cattle were driven to the Rio Grande and boarded on a steamboat to Brownsville. Cattle are then transferred to another vessel for voyages to New Orleans or other gulf coast ports to supply troops

1870

1870-1880

1870-1880

Frequent cattle drives to Dodge City, Kansas. Cattle sold at rail head

1880

1880

1880

Santa Anita grant under full ownership of Salomé Ballí and John McAllen

1898

1898

1898

The “SM” is registered at the Hidalgo County Courthouse, representing the cattle of Salomé & John McAllen

1900

1900

1900

At the turn of the century, John and James B. McAllen (father & son) experimented, as did many other ranchers at the time, with the influence of European breeds. European breeds allowed for greater yields in calf size and weight, thus adding more value at market

1905

1905

1905

Sheep farming is halted due to a lack of rain and overgrazing

1915

1915

1915

The popularity of cross breeding cattle continues. Local ranchers favored the hardiness of the old longhorn breed, but through cross breeding, were able to add greater value at the scales

1916

1916

1916

James B. McAllen dies; cattle improvements come to a stand still

1930

1930s

1930s

Argyle and Eldred McAllen (James B. McAllen’s sons) take an active role in improving the cattle. Many different breeds were bought and tried from all over the country. Herefords, Brahmans and Milking Shorthorn were crossed and used extensively in breeding with other ranch stock. Throughout the years the cattle grew a color pattern, which was preferred by Argyle, a dark red, mottle face

1942

1942

1942

Argyle buys a few crossbred bulls from Mr. Tom Lasater in Falfurrias, Texas. Lasater was crossbreeding similar cattle and had become successful in raising a quality herd. These crossbred cattle from Lasater’s herd were popular with many cattleman in the region. They were later to be certified as Beefmaster cattle

1956

1956

1956

The last train of cattle are loaded in Linn, Texas, headed for Eureka, Kansas. Cattle in the future will be hauled via truck

1960

1960s & 1970s

1960s & 1970s

The breeding of quality livestock continues. Further experiments in cross breeding persists

1980

1980s

1980s

Cattle improvements continue within the registered herd. Data collection begins on birth weights, weaning weights, and yearling weights

1987

1987

1987

“Gold Plate” son of “Mountain Man” is purchased at the La Cuarenta Ranch Dispersal Sale. “Gold Plate” is a key herdsire, helping our cattle improve in growth, thickness and overall feedyard performance

1990

1990s

1990s

The importance of carcass data collection is apparent within the cattle industry. Carcass improvements begin within the registered herd

1997

1997

1997

McAllen Ranch wins the prized National BBU Environmental Conservation Award for wildlife conservation and awareness

2007

2007

2007

McAllen Ranch continues to experiment in cross breeding by introducing new lines of Gelbvieh, Balancer, and Wagyu type cattle