Growing up on the Fowlkes Brothers Ranch in Presidio County, Texas.



  by KK Fowlkes Moller
 
Henry Augustine Fowlkes. my great grandfather, attended school at the University of West Virginia. He came to Texas as a young man to practice law in 1881. He was a lawyer for the Texas Cattle Raisers Association. He purchased the right of way for the T and P Railroad from Fort Worth to El Paso and rode into Colorado City, Texas on the first train to come over the new road.. 

A year later he sent for his wife Juliet, whose maiden name was McComas. She had led a tranquil life on her father’s plantation located on the Guyandotte River Valley near Barboursville, West Virginia. She received her education at Marshall College in Huntington, West Virginia. When Juliet arrived in Texas, she set up housekeeping in a two room shack and her kitchen was a dugout. This was quite a change from her sheltered life in West Virginia. The lovely linens in her hope chest were used to cover dry good boxes which she used for table and dresser. Her only mirror was broken in transit and she used the broken one for months. Henry and Juliet had three children. Two died very young. The surviving child was Edwin Hockaday Fowlkes. His father died when he was three years old. Two years later the young widow married John Chandler Prude, a young cowboy who was living with his sister, Mrs. R.H. Looney. Juliet had three Prude children. John Chandler had ranching interests in Jeff Davis County. 
Edwin Hockaday Fowlkes, my grandfather grew up in Colorado City Texas and was raised by his step father John C. Prude. Edwin H. was called Fowlksie by his friends and learned the ranching business at an early age. As an older man, he could rope nearly anything that moved. Mr. Willis Boyd, who was brought up on the Fowlkes ranch who lived in Clifton, Texas, said that Fowlksie was the first man that he had ever seen rope a coyote and was one of the best old time steer ropers that he had ever seen. When he graduated from high school his mother must have thought him quite wooly so she sent him off to the University of the South in Sewannee, Tennessee. There he met and married Irene Martin from Nashville, 
Tennessee. Fowlksie took up 8 sections of land in the Davis Mountains and later purchased 60 more sections. He called it the highland Springs Ranch. Bob Eppenauer, son of Buddy Eppenauer and Elizabeth Fowlkes, ranches this property today. 
Fowlksie and Irene had 7 children, two of them being Edwin and Manny Fowlkes. They lived in a pine log house and had to haul their water in barrels from a spring. Their nearest neighbor was Jess Fisher who was 20 miles away. My Father often said that life on the ranch was very hard and often the family came pretty close to going hungry. He said that he probably killed from 300 to 400 deer during that time and that during the depression they either killed deer or didn’t eat. 
I guess this story wouldn’t be complete without a few bear stories. There was the hunt with Fowlksie and Mr. Adrience from Galveston. They split up. When Fowlksie encountered the prey and as the bear climbed a tree, Fowlksie shot him. He fell into the crook of the tree. As Mr. Adrience excitedly came up, he shot the bear with a double barreled shot gun. He never knew that the bear was already dead. 
In another instance, two of Ed and Manny’s brothers, John and Preston, went out hunting bear by themselves. They were quite young at the time and totally excited about the hunt. Late that afternoon, they spotted a bear. Manny, their older brother rode up about fifteen minutes later to see the bear calmly loping off. Preston and John, with only one gun between them, were fighting to see who got to shoot first. 
During this depression of the 30’s Edwin and Manny took a small herd of calves and angora goats and began ranching on the old Bogle Ranch in the Big Bend south of Marfa, Texas. Being raised in the manner of gentleman from the South, and with the aggressiveness of the West, they prided themselves for the fact that their word was their bond. They generated great respect from their neighboring ranchers and also the important bankers of the area. Their total honesty, charm, and dependableness enabled them to find many bankers more than willing to loan them money for their endeavors. There was a drought, it was the 
depression, and many ranchers were selling out. During this period of about 20 years, Ed and Manny were able to acquire and put together the Bogle ranch which they called the Sauceda, the Botella, the Pool Place, and the Holland Merriwether ranches, eventually acquiring about 320,000 acres. It was not an easy early life as much of the time they were camped out on different parts of the ranch. These ranches bordered the Rio Grande. In the early days of their efforts, they had farms in Redford right along the river which they used to grow supplemental feed for their sheep and angora goats and cattle. At one point in this effort, they had the largest wool clip in Texas. The land under their control was considered one of the 12th largest ranches in the United States. They had great help from Braceros that came to work there from Mexico. In fact the Border Patrol spent a good deal of time coming in and out of the ranch. I will never forget the time when my younger brother, Frank, ran to hide with them all the while yelling Chota, Chota. 
As a child growing up on this ranch, I had an immense amount of freedom which I guess a lot of children never have. As a toddler, my parents would set me on an old horse called John Jay, my first friend. He seemed content to let me sit there on his back for hours and he would never make a move. As I grew up, I graduated from one horse to another. I always had a horse in the corral and someone to saddle it for me. I think my first Spanish words were: “Pone me montuda en mi caballo.” I would spend hours exploring the creeks and mountains near the house and if I was lucky I could participate in the frequent round-ups….thinking how great I was. Girls were quite protected then and so I didn’t get to go and do everything I wanted. 
Shearing time was a fun experience. Large Shearing trucks would come to the ranch and once the sheep were rounded up the shearing would begin. Huge sacks hung from large supports where the wool would be put. Eddie, Clegg, Marian and I would get into the sacks and jump up and down on the wool. 
Animals were a great part of our early lives. Marian and Clegg, Manny’s children, had a horse called Moheno who was so gentle, one could go in and out and under him and he never minded. I can only remember one time that I got kicked by a horse. It was an old Dunn that I was chasing in the pasture. I knew better than to get right behind him but this time I was careless. Later one of my favorite horses was called Baby. It was my mother’s horse that she finally thought that I had enough expertise to ride. Eddie, my brother, had a horse called Pony Boy. He took such excellent care of him, giving him many baths with the garden hose in the yard. I would spend hours brushing Baby and these were my first friends- companions that I talked to. I think they spoiled me in that they never talked back. Later in town, sometimes when people reacted negatively to what I said, it was a shock to me. In fact, these experiences cured me of ever having a great social life.
Eddie and Clegg spent much time at the camps with the Braceros and learned to speak impeccable Spanish. It was fun to go to the camps and eat with them. I will never forget how good their beans, tortillas, which we called pan, and chili macho tasted. Once Clegg disappeared for 3 days. Everyone in the country was looking for him. They finally found him in a cook shack way down near the Solitario. 
Moving to town to go to school was my least favorite memory. Since I was alone most of my early life, it was hard to know how to relate to a bunch of town children who already knew each other. My first and lifelong friend was Anne Wilson Capron, who was raised on her grandfather’s (Anja Wilson) ranch called the Green Valley Ranch. Clegg Fowlkes, son of Manny, bought that ranch from Earl Hammond. 
We always came back to the ranch on weekends , deer season, and summers. It was a long way from town. I have heard it described since then as 75 miles from town. I remember it almost took forever over dirt roads and sometimes flat tires, and if it had rained, the creeks could be running and we would have to wait to cross and then sometimes we would get stuck in the middle of a creek and have to worry if it was raining in the mountains that would cause it to send a torrent of water and wash us downstream. That never happened but we learned as children to always be aware of the skies and if we saw dark rain clouds in the distance, we were very wary not to play in the creek beds. 
When I was about three years old and had my horse, John Jay, we lived at the ranch called the Botella. It was about 40 miles from Presidio, Texas and Ojinaga Mexico. That was a favorite thing to do was to take a trip there and to buy candy in Ojinaga. Later, we moved to the Pool Place. The Pool Place bordered the Hart Greenwood ranch. I would spend much of my time riding or wading down the creek, about 2 or 3 miles, until I got to the Greenwood place. There I made friends with Mrs. Greenwood and enjoyed exotic fruits from her orchard. Persimmions were my favorite. The pool place also had a wonderful orchard, irrigated from the creek. We had all of the common animals any ranch would have. My mother loved to cook and we had milk cows, chickens, etc. I spent many hours churning butter for my mother. She also made asadero cheese from clabbered milk. 
Dogs were a part of our life growing up. Many of the early ranchers of that period were bothered by mountain lions. Ed and Manny had a pack of hound dogs that they hunted the big cats with. I have included a picture of my Daddy with a large cat they killed A few years later, Ed, Manny, Earl McElroy, Gene Benson, and Gene Cartledge and Joe Clark took these dogs on a leopard hunt to Oklahoma City. A leopard had escaped from the zoo. They chartered a DC-9, took their hunting dogs and took off to Oklahoma City for the lion hunt. 
Hunting of all kinds was a large part of our lives. We did have hunters who came down from different parts of Texas to hunt the black tail deer. We hunted for the meat and not for the sport. Later my Daddy stopped hunting altogether. I think he became sad to see those beautiful animals lose their lives. 
During my father’s youth, the long old time cattle drives were nearly to an end . He said that the longest drive he ever went on was when he was 13….a drive from Fort Stockton to the ranch in the Davis Mountains. This took about 15 days. 
A big part of our lives we spent in the car going back and forth to town. I remember singing ranch songs like Little Joe the Wrangler was one of my favorites. It was an adventure for my Mother being from East Texas to be a rancher’s wife. Many afternoons we would just go for a long drive to see where it rained. I grew up during the drought of the 50’s. We rejoiced when it rained and to this day (I am 77) I experience a thrill and joy when it rains.
It is now October 2017. We lost Eddie years ago, Marian in July and Clegg on Sept. 19th. It was wonderful growing up with all of them at the Fowlkes Bros. ranch in Presidio County and I will miss them dearly. The ranch passed hands several times and was finally bought by the State of Texas. The name was changed to Big Bend Ranch State Park. 
Not to be outdone by Ed and Manny, Clegg, during his lifetime, built a ranch in Presidio County of 270,000 acres. He left 3 wonderful sons, Preston, John, and Patrick, and many friends. 
Ed and Manny’s other children came later. They were all much younger than Eddie, Clegg, Marian and I so I didn’t grow up playing with them. However they all experienced living at the ranch: Ed: Eddie, KK, Frank, Pat …..Manny: Marian, Clegg, JM, Lauren, Nancy, Maco and our mothers: Frank Blow, wife of Ed, and Patricia Stewart, wife of Manny. 
VAYA CON DIOS TO ALL THE GREAT OLD COWBOYS OF WEST TEXAS! 

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