The King Ranch

Texas was our largest state until Alaska was admitted to the Union. Texas has always been noted for Texas rangers, cowboys and longhorn cattle. Now, I want to ask you a question: How many of you have ever heard of the King Ranch? It is one of the largest cattle ranches in the world. Today I am going to tell you something about this huge ranch and then I may lead off into another direction and wind up in Washington, D.C.
A man by the name of Richard King, a jewelers apprentice, left New York City to mak e his fortune in Texas. He started out working on the Rio Grande River as a deck hand on a flatboat. He worked hard, saved his money and soon had a fleet of riverboats of his own. And he became quite prosperous. King decided to invest in Texas land and purchased 600,000 acres of wilderness called the Wild Horse Desert and began the operation of the King Ranch. Ranching in this area was a tough proposition. You battled rattlesnakes, droughts, dust, no water, and wildly fluctuating ca ttle prices.
King hired a young lawyer named Robert Kleberg to handle his legal affairs. Young Robert Kleberg, a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, became very active in the operation of the ranch and when Richard King died several years later, Robert Kleberg married King's daughter and took over full charge of the huge spread. The critical shortage was water. With a grazing range of l5 miles, the cattle could reach only 5% of the ranch's grass from the few water hol es and streams. Kleberg began drilling not for oil but for water (and by the way I read just a few days ago that most of the oil in Texas was discovered by ranchers drilling for water). For l4 years he drilled for water and came up with dry holes. He was about to give up, but he read an ad in the paper that told about a new drilling rig. He decided to try one more time. He ordered one of the new rigs from Indiana and told the drilling gang to "keep on boring until you come out in China."
On June 6, l899, at 532 feet a large column of pure artesian water bubbled to the surface. Kleberg was so moved that he burst into tears. He explained later that they were tears of joy after so many disappointing years of drilling dry holes. With the coming of an adequate water supply, prosperity came to the ranch as they were able to have better pastures and better cattle. A railroad was built into the area and a new breed of cattle was developed-the Santa Gertrudis strain. This new breed of cattle has spread around the world, to Central and South America and to Australia. Many of our cattle ranches in Florida have the Santa Gertrudis breed.
Today the King Ranch is a tremendous beef factory and the majority of the herding of the cattle is done with cowboys in helicopters and computers control feed lots so that two cowboys can feed l5,000 steers a day. The mighty King Ranch with its 600 thousand acres is so large that it is one complete Congressional District. A member of the Kleberg family is nominated and elected to Congress. And so it was in the l930's Richard Kleberg, son of Robert, was the Congressman from the King Ranch and when he came to Washington, he brought along a tall young Texan, a local school teacher, to be his secretary. Now can you tell me the name of this man? Lyndon Baines Johnson, the man who was destined to do great things in the city of Washington, D.C., our nation's capital.
Lyndon Johnson did not stay in Washington very long. He was appo inted Director of the National Youth Administration in Texas by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Later in l937 at the age of 28, he won a seat in the House of Representatives. Later after war service, he was elected to the United States Senate where within a short space of time he became the Majority Leader of the Senate where he performed brilliantly. His favorite method of ironing out difficult situations was his famous saying taken from the Bible, "Come let us reason together." He accompli shed much by simply talking things over. A Southerner, he guided through the Senate some of the most far reaching civil rights legislation in history. Lyndon Johnson, as the leader of the Senate, had a hard time getting civil rights through the Senate. A group of l8 Southern Senators tried to block the passage of the bills by a filibuster. A filibuster is a well-known tactic in the Senate. It is usually referred to as "talking a bill to death." This can be done because the rules of the Senate allow a Senator to gain and hold the floor as long as he is able to keep talking. However he can yield the floor to any other Senator and as long as he does not leave the Senate Chamber he still hold the floor when the Senator he yields to has finished. So the eighteen Senators gained the floor of the Senate and passed the floor back and forth among themselves and tied up the Senate so no business could be conducted and the legislative process was brought to a half. Majority Leader Lyndon Johns on tried to block the southern Senators by a motion to close debate but for that motion to pass required a 2/3rds majority and he could not muster a 2/3rds majority.
But Lyndon Johnson had other plans. He kept the Senate in session 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He ordered cots and had them set up in the Senate reception room where the Senators could catch naps between quorum calls. The southerners continued to talk but soon gave up and Lyndon Johnson, who was also a southern Senator, won the battle over the southern block, and the civil rights bills were passed.
Lyndon Johnson went on to be Vice President under President Jack Kennedy and after President Kennedy was assassinated, he became the 36th President of the United States. He finished out President Kennedy's term and was elected for a full term of 4 years in l964 and is remembered for his great society programs. He retired to his favorite LBJ Ranch in Texas, where he died in l973. We lived in the Washington area during the times of Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and we felt like we had a reserved seat to history during those exciting years of the Viet Nam War and the Bay of Pigs affair.
Now a personal note-Margaret and I were attending a traffic and transportation convention in St. Louis, Mo. We walked into the dining room for breakfast when one of the waitresses looked at me and said, "You sure gave me a jolt. I thought you were President Lyndon Johnson." We sat down at a table and my good wife said, "I can't understand why she thought you were Lyndon Johnson." I modestly replied, "I can understand for Lyndon Johnson is tall and handsome too."

1 comment:

  1. THE KING RANCH WAS STOLEN HOW COME NOBODY EVER TALKS ABOUT THAT. HOW THE BANDITS WOULD COME ON TO SOMEBODYS PROPERTY AND TELL THEM THEY HAD A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF DAYS TO GET OFF THE PROPERTY IF NOT THEY WOULD BE HUNG. THE ONLY REASON THE KING RANCH CUT OFF WHERE IT DID IS BECAUSE RANCH HANDLERS IN THE SOUTH, UNITED TO PUT A STOP TO THE BANDITS...

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