The text of the following links to the history of the Freeman Ranch were taken from Freeman Ranch: The Land, History, and Research, Southwest Texas State University School of Applied Arts, Center for the Study of the Southwest, and the Freeman Ranch Advisory Board. 1999.
The Freeman Brothers:
Harold M. "Harry" Freeman, born in 1889, and his brother Joe were longtime philanthropists who made their fortunes in Texas cotton, oil, ranchland and Chevrolet dealerships. San Antonians will recognize their name from the Freeman Coliseum where the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo is held each year. The Freemans bought the first parcel of land that would become their ranch from Mr. E. J. Jameyson in 1941, adding several other parcels over the years. They were weekend ranchers who liked to get away from the San Antonio business world to enjoy leisure pursuits on the land, such as hunting and hiking, and they also held legendary poker games at the ranch house.
"Mr. Harry," as many people called Harold Freeman, bequeathed 3,485 acres of ranchland to Texas State University in 1981, to be held in a perpetual trust as the Harold M. Freeman Educational Foundation. The ranch was to be used by Texas State University for farm, ranch, game management, educational, and experimental purposes. The university officially took over managing the ranch in 1985 after Mr. Freeman's death. Joe Freeman's part of the ranch is managed by Frost National Bank and lies adjacent to the university managed land.
San Marcos and Hays County:
The history of the Freeman Ranch is directly tied to the history of San Marcos and Hays County. There are several good books and studies of Hays County and San Marcos history, including Clear Springs and Limestone Ledges: A History of San Marcos and Hays County, developed by the Hays County Historical Commission; A Brief History of Hays County and San Marcos, Texas, written by Dudley R. Dobie for Texas' Sesquicentennial; The New Handbook of Texas, published by the Texas State Historical Society; and a booklet called A Guide to a Historic Texas Town, written by an honors-level History class taught by SWT professors Gene Bourgeois and Frank de la Teja.
Gathered from these different sources, the history found on this site is a historical sketch of the region surrounding the Freeman Ranch.
San Marcos area history can be traced back almost twelve thousand years. Artifacts from Paleo-Indians, such as Clovis points, have been found in archeological excavations in Spring Lake at the headwaters of the San Marcos River. Remnants of the animals the Indians killed, such as large bison and mastodon bones, have been recovered, too. The river provided dependable fresh water as well as a good source of game.
Prior to European contact, Tonkawa Indians were the main native band in the area, with evidence of agricultural activity dating back 800 years.
When the Spanish first arrived, various Indian groups roamed through this region. Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, the first European in the Southwest, traveled the Southwest beginning in 1528, when he landed near present day Galveston, until he returned to Spain in 1935. He no doubt gathered pecans and tuna (fruit of the prickly pear) nearby. The 1709 Spanish exploration of Espinoza, Olivares and Aguire found a peaceful tribe of Tonkawas in the San Marcos area. The explorers found a rich area, ripe with nuts like pecans and with so many deer that one explorer called them like "flocks of goats." It is interesting to note that these first explorers also found alligators and bears but were disappointed not to find buffalo. At first the Indians were peaceful and helpful, but over time they became more hostile because of encroachment on their territory. The various tribes began dispersing as they fought with one another for European trading rights, not to mention the conflicts they had with white settlers.
In the 18th Century, Spanish missionaries, soldiers and settlers began pushing north from Mexico through San Antonio and into the San Marcos area, then eastward to Louisiana. Spanish missionaries set up several missions at the headwaters of the San Marcos between 1755 and 1756, the remains of which have not been found. Spanish settlers first made San Marcos their home in 1807, led by Felipe de la Portilla, but their attempt was short-lived due mostly to Indian attacks and floods, and they were forced to abandon "San Marcos de Neve" in 1812. In 1831 Juan Martin Veramendi, a powerful and interesting figure-a one-time governor of Spanish Texas-was granted more than 45,000 acres of land in the area.
San Marcos was a stop on the Old San Antonio Road (El Camino Real), a fact which made the town grow in importance. The first Anglo settler in the Hays County area was Thomas G. McGehee, who was granted land by the Spanish.
Early Anglo-American Settlement through Civil War:
The battle of Plum Creek in 1848 marked the last of the Comanche raids into Central Texas. Slowly, settlers began to feel safe, and the area grew in population, with settlers using the San Marcos and Blanco Rivers to power cotton gins or grist mills. A group of former Texas Rangers joined settler William Moon on the site of what became San Marcos. In 1851, W. Lindsey, Edward Burleson and Eli T. Merriman took possession of 640 acres of the Veramendi land grant and laid out the present town of San Marcos for settlement.
Until the American Civil War, people in this area were mostly rural subsistence farmers. At about the time of the Civil War, the population in Hays County was a little over a thousand people, one third of them Black slaves. Cattle ranching was the main economic activity, with corn being a chief food crop, along with a small commercial crop of cotton.
The Civil War emancipated Texas' slaves. Another group, the Indians-Kiowa, Comanche and Apache, were completely driven out of Texas after the Civil War. Later, the area found additional importance as a stop on the Chisolm Trail when Texas ranchers drove cattle north to market. Hays County ranchers took advantage of the trail to send much of their own cattle to Abilene, Kansas, and to the railhead that connected to the rest of the country. During the 1880s and 1890s the cattle industry changed, smaller ranches giving way to larger ones, and cotton farming rose in importance.
Late 19th Century-Early 20th Century:
Between the end of the Civil War until the beginning of World War I, modern Texas began taking shape with the development of railroads and industry. Rail lines made Texas a part of the nation's economy. Oil production and refining, with the 1901 Spindletop oilfield discovery near Beaumont, joined agriculture as one of Texas' important economic activities. During the early part of this century, the Hays County region was still mostly agricultural, but it was tied more to the commercial crops and livestock economics of the United States.
It was Southern in outlook, with a good-sized African-American population, but with an increasingly Mexican-American workforce for agricultural labor. Like more of Texas, San Marcos was a rural community but was experiencing growth as an educational and business center. Until the Depression, the Hays County area experienced substantial economic growth.
The Depression Era through World War II:
The stock market crash of 1929 ruined many people's bank accounts. Most of the nation suffered, and the people in Hays County did too, losing farms and ranches. This era was marked by a constant battle to keep the infamous boll weevil from ruining the cotton crop. The area emerged from this time of turmoil mostly with the help of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs, especially those that had to do with agriculture.
World War II, as many historians note, brought the nation out of the Depression. At the beginning of World War II the Freemans bought their ranch, perhaps as an opportunity to sell beef to the government.
Present Day Operation:
The Freeman Center lies within the biogeographically unique region of the Texas Hill Country, characterized by rugged hills, karst hydrology, variable climate and high species diversity. In addition, the Center and the whole region are located on the boundary of one of the fastest growing population centers of the United States, the Austin-San Antonio corridor. This confluence of unique ecology, rising resource demand, especially for water, and related factors renders the Freeman Center a much needed and matchless natural laboratory for the study of sustainable land and water management, as well as the study of the urban-wildland interface.
The Texas Hill Country lies at the boundary between eastern and western climates, and is surrounded by prairie, savanna and desert biomes. It is characterized by extraordinary climate variability and a high level of endemism associated with aquatic and cave ecosystems. Historically, the region has been used primarily for grazing by cattle, sheep and goat, but increasingly large tracts of rangeland are subdivided into smaller tracts under a wide array of management objectives, goals and expertise.
The Freeman Center is therefore exceptionally well situated to enable research and teaching that define and promote best stewardship practices, studies relevant to understanding the challenges at the urban-wildlands interface, as well as communicate results to a diverse community of local stakeholders. These capacities permit students and faculty at Texas State University to conduct externally funded research and lays the foundation for collaborative research across scientific disciplines and institutions.
The following narratives were taken from taped interviews with some of those who have personal memories about the Freeman Ranch.
Rufus Alexander is a former ranch manager who grew up on part of what became the Freeman Ranch. His father, Frank Alexander, became the first manager for the ranch in 1941. Originally, Frank Alexander owned 700 acres of what is now the Freeman Ranch but sold it to Gene Scrutchen, who owned the original San Marcos Chevrolet dealership. At a regional Chevrolet meeting, Joe Freeman talked with Scrutchen about wanting to acquire some land in the Hill Country.
At that time, a Mr. Dix from Seguin owed 3,000 acres, which both Frank Alexander and Scrutchen leaded and ran livestock on. Scrutchen thought Dix wanted to sell and brokered the deal for the Freemans in 1940.
Frank Alexander became manager by default after the land he worked on was bought out from under him. According to Rufus Alexander, when the Freemans asked if his father could manage the land, his father said he would run it for two years. But his tenure as foreman stretched out considerably because he and the Freemans "got along famously."
Rufus Alexander had his own ranching concerns until a drought forced him into the banking profession in order to support himself. Sadly, Frank Alexander became debilitated by the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. When his father wanted to retire because of the effect of the Fever, Rufus returned to ranching and took over management in 1968.
Although the ranch manager's job was to take care of the everyday operation of the ranch, neither Alexander sold cattle. "This was Joe and Harry's province," Alexander said. They loved to be close to the operation, whether it was big purchases or big sales. "They topped the market all the time," he said. Joe Freeman gave Alexander the following advice more than once: "If you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves." In other words, watch the details.
More than just a hobby or a place of leisure for the Freemans, the ranch had to make a profit. While Alexander had a general sense of how much money was coming in, the Freemans did the bookkeeping, and thus he did not know the costs. But the brothers were always pretty happy with the ranch operations. Alexander says that one sign of success was the "if things were really going good they might show up with a lot of extra supplies that I hadn't even asked for." This happened fairly frequently.
The Freeman family at one time was very interested in showing and racing trotting horses. So much so that "two rooms of the ranch house were lined with blue ribbons from their show horses." Before they owned the ranch and built a horse barn, Joe Freeman had a riding stable in San Antonio. They also became enamored of gaited horses and owned the undefeated, five-time world champion gaited saddle horse, Midnight Star. Harry Freeman also had a Tennessee walking horse that he rode almost every time he came to the ranch.
Cattle, of course, were the main concern of the ranch. Under the Freemans, there were two cattle herds, one registered and one commercial. At the height of the registered (or breeding stock) business, they had one hundred cows and bulls, with another four hundred in the commercial herd. During most of the time Rufus Alexander managed the ranch, he aimed for one animal unit (one cow and one calf, five sheep or seven goats) per fifteen acres. In general, he tried to blend all the animals together in pastures, using the goats for brush control.
Caring for goats was easy after the screwworm was eradicated in Hays County around 1966. Before that, caring for them was time-consuming because the goats would hide from flies that drove them crazy. "They'd climb up on a bluff and crawl into a hole," says Alexander. "From the first of March to the first of December, you never got off your horse because of the screwworm (checking sheep, goats and cattle), which did billions of dollars of damage a year in the South and Southwest."
But even during post-screwworm times, the job hours were dictated by the sun, people working from sunup to sundown every single day, except for perhaps a half day off on Sunday.
In managing the 7,000-acre ranch, Alexander had few disagreements with the Freeman brothers. The one area where they did disagree was not allowing pastures to go fallow. Even though the Freeman brothers had friends who were agricultural professors, county agents and both large and small ranchers, they did not believe in allowing grass to rest, re-seed and reestablish root systems.
"I tried to let some pastures go fallow, but if you let grass grow about eight inches tall in a pasture, Joe Freeman would say, 'You're wasting that grass!,'" Alexander said. Even though they were progressive ranchers in many ways, no one could convince them of the benefits of range rotation.
Working for the Freemans had many unexpected benefits. Alexander remembers that when the brothers put on a rodeo or stock show at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, they often brought two or three top entertainers out to the ranch. He relates a story about the time that Western music star Rex Allen came out one day during branding time.
"Rex decided that he'd show off and throw a calf for us. He hooked a calf and was going to set it down, but tripped over a root and draped the calf right over his chest." All turned out well as everyone laughed and Mr. Allen was not hurt."
Alexander has some insight into the Freeman brothers' character. He says that the two brothers had such a close friendship that he "never heard a cross word between them, ever." The "lived out of the same pocket," meaning that their finances were interchangeable, as were their interests. "They operated as a unit. Joe was very much the thinker, Harry the doer."
--Taken from interview on February 24, 1998.
Dr. Amy Freeman Lee, an educator, lecturer, artist and author, is the niece of the Freeman brothers. She was raised by her grandmother, their mother. She was quite close to her Uncle Harry. She knows a good deal of the Freeman family history, as well as how the idea originated to pass the ranch to SWT.
After her mother dies in the "infamous 1918 Asian flu epidemic," her Grandmother Freeman raised Dr. Lee. The maternal part of the family is from New Orleans and from France before that. According to Dr. Lee, the family became established in Seguin, Texas around the turn of the century with land, a grocery store, dry goods and a horse and mule barn.
"After Grandfather passed, his eldest son, Joe, at sixteen years of age, became head of the family," said Lee. Harry Freeman was around fourteen at the time and the brothers carried on with the family business and expanded it. While the main house was in Seguin, the family maintained a residence in San Antonio as they began to make more and more business connections.
Joe Freeman, as many people will attest, was a shrewd businessman. Generally, he was acknowledged as the "idea man," said Lee, while Harry Freeman put those ideas into action. They expanded their business and holdings through cotton. Not only did Joe Freeman own cotton farms of his own, but he also bought cotton from hundreds of people. The reason he did so well in cotton is that he was an expert in cotton sampling.
Dr. Lee said, "I used to watch him at the old compress in Seguin . . . Let's say he had five hundred bales. He would try to determine the quality of the cotton through spot-checking. He would take a knife and hack through the bale and pull the fiber out. The manner in which he pulled and separated the fibers would determine the quality." By determining the grade of the cotton quality, he would know how much the cotton was worth. Knowing this helped him to buy low and sell high.
Another lucrative business for the Freeman brothers in the early days was founded on pecans. Pecans mostly grow in river bottoms, such as you would find in the Seguin and Central Texas area. At one time the Freemans had the largest pecan shelling business in the world. At another time they managed to corner the pecan market.
These businesses, in addition to the Chevrolet dealership they later opened in San Antonio, and oil concerns, among others, build the Freeman legacy. But according to Dr. Lee, the Freeman Ranch "meant more to Harry Freeman than anything he ever had. Because he would say, 'I can go out there, away from the telephone and away from everyone pulling me in forty directions, and be at peace.'"
One of Dr. Lee's favorite humorous memories of the ranch is of her grandmother's one and only overnight visit there. When the brothers were deciding upon the dimensions of the ranch house, their mother wanted a two-story design. This, however, did not fit in with Joe's plans, and they built a typical one-story ranch house. Their mother did not like to sleep on the first floor of any building.
"She didn't feel safe on the ground floor," said Dr. Lee. "So she just absolutely, positively, unequivocally, refused to spend the night out there. But one night they persuaded her to stay."
When Mrs. Freeman returned home the next day, her chauffeur, Lee Scott, looked very tired. When Dr. Lee asked what was wrong, Scott responded, "You know Mrs. Freeman isn't going to sleep on the ground floor. She had me sit outside her door with a shotgun in my lap all night."
But Mrs. Freeman did enjoy visiting the ranch during the day, especially when the goats were kidding. Her sons liked the place a great deal more.
Harry Freeman, the younger brother, would spend three days a week at the ranch, going early in the morning on Wednesdays, while Joe liked to spend many weekends there. The ranch was used for leisure pursuits such as hunting and horseback riding, but also to entertain business associates.
Before he became President, Lyndon B. Johnson was a fairly frequent visitor; the Freemans knew him from the time when he was a teacher in Cotulla.
For a number of years, the brothers hosted an annual party for the FBI on the premises, as you will discover if you read the inscription on the flagpole in front of the ranch house. The inscription commemorates the 20th annual FBI hunt and the friendship shared between the FBI and the Freeman brothers. It reads, "Presented to Mr. Joe and Harry Freeman in grateful appreciation by their FBI friends on the occasion of the 20th Annual FBI Hunting Party, November 1967."
Mr. Harry worked - not just visited - at the ranch until his ninety-fourth year. Dr. Lee recalled how she would frequently receive worried telephone calls from the ranch manager, telling her that "Mr. Harry's up on the barn again."
She'd answer, "Get him down."
And the manager would respond, "You want to come and get him down? I've got a wife and children to support."
Harry Freeman did not just go to the ranch to ride horses or hunt; he loved to work on the land and be a part of ranch operations. And when he got older, his obvious concerned niece tried to get his doctor to admonish this man of independent spirit, but she instead got an admonishment herself: "I want you to get off his back," the doctor said to her. "Let him do what he wants. If he falls, we'll patch him together the best we can." Perhaps his secret to longevity was staying busy for so long.
When Harry Freeman was nearing the end of this life in his 90s, he told his niece that he was depressed and worried. When she asked why, he said, "No young people are going into agribusiness at all. No one wants to go into farming or ranching."
Dr. Lee said, "Well, you can do something about that . . . You could give the ranch to an educational institution in perpetuity."
At first he was skeptical. He was not about to simply give away something he loved and worked so hard for, but the idea had staying power. About ten days later, he informed his niece that he had completely changed his mind. While he originally wanted to give it to Texas A&M, they wanted it with no strings attached, probably to sell the property once it was received. He wanted the property to have an educational purpose. Southwest Texas State University was the better choice because it agreed to fulfill this purpose and was located nearby.
In Dr. Lee's opinion, the gift "gave him more peace of mind than anything he ever did. And the beautiful part of it is that he lived long enough to be a part of the dedication." Dr. Lee believes that her Uncle Harry would have been pleased with the ranch's improvements. The educational goals that he wanted for the ranch are continuing today.
--Taken from an interview on May 11, 1998.
Mr. Robert Nance, a native of Kyle, Texas born in 1912, knows most of the history of the Freeman Ranch and Hays County and understands well the ranching way of life. Nance still lives on a ranch near Kyle, established by his grandfather Ezekiel Nance in 1848. Ezekiel Nance was one of the original settlers of Hays County and once owned land near the present-day Freeman Ranch.
As a young man, Robert Nance rode his horse cross-country seven miles from Kyle through what would later become part of the Freeman Ranch in order to work cattle. A colorful man, Nance is a direct link to the past.
His grandfather Ezekiel ran an old mill, cotton gin and meat packing plant about two miles from the Freeman Ranch on the Blanco River. These facilities saw good use during the Civil War, supplying the Confederate Army. The original buildings, as Robert says, "washed out to the Gulf of Mexico" in a record flood in 1869, leaving behind only the cellar and a cedar post set in the ground. The plant was never rebuilt, but many years later a worker wanted to bulldoze over the open cellar.
"I told him not to," Nance said. "It's a reminder of the past."
The Freeman Ranch has belonged to a number of people. Different parcels were originally owned by ancestors of Nance, as well as the Jameson, Hughson, Gunther, Mitchell, Poulton, Posey, Crawford, Dix, Alexander, Morgan, Sherrill, and Storey families. Some of these families still own land near the ranch. Nance can trace one of the original owners as far back as 1871, when a Mr. J. Chandler sold 2,000 acres to Conrad Krueger, a fact documented by Hays County records.
Krueger passed his land on to his daughter, Mary, who sold it to D. E. and C. C. (Clarence Columbus) Mitchell during the 1920s. Sometime in the late 1940s to early 1950s, the two brothers split the land in half. D. E., a bachelor, deeded 991 acres to his sister, Mrs. Nellis Mitchell Poulton, who soon thereafter sold part of it to the Freemans.
In another land-sale pathway, Robert Nance's uncle, Dan Nance, bought six thousand plus acres from the Wren family in 1908. Part of this land also later became part of the Freeman Ranch. In 1926, just after Dan's death, his widow Mary C. Nance sold a small section of land to a Mr. Jameyson. Jameyson, followed by Mrs. Poulton, was the first to sell a parcel of about 2,000 acres to the Freemans in 1941. The remainder of the Dan Nance ranch was sold to a Mr. Fulton in 1963, which has been sold several times, but presently belongs to one ranching family.
These two parcels, the Jameyson land and the Poulton land, were the start of the Freeman holdings. The Freemans then added parcels, such as the Mitchell land mentioned above, to increase their holdings for ranching, to add good hunting land and to straighten their boundary lines, aggregating approximately 7,000 acres.
Nance remembers the land around the Freeman Ranch well, and has seen it change over the years. Wolves are now long gone, but in his childhood they were a worry. It used to be much more open country, full of grass and with few mesquite. Now it is much more wooded with "little cedar" (second-growth mountain juniper, smaller than the original "old cedar" that settlers cut down). Nance's explanation for the change is that horses, cattle, and raccoons liked to eat the seeds of the mesquite, pecan and live oak trees and helped spread them around. The practice of fire suppression allowed the "cedar" - mountain juniper - to proliferate.
After the Civil War, when slaves were given their freedom and were offered wages and housing to stay and continue working on the land, some chose to stay. After around 1870, most of the hands on Hays County ranches were Hispanics who usually lived somewhere on the ranch. They mostly did the farming and could make about seventy-five cents a day in the area. For comparison, in those days a cord of wood cost a dollar and a half.
On another historical note, the fever tick was one of the key problems in the cattle industry. According to Nance, ranchers discovered that cattle brought here from the north soon died from a fever which people originally thought was caused by the Texas cattle. They soon discovered, however, that a tick transported by the cattle, rather than the cattle themselves, caused the fever. Knowledge about the fever became widespread in the 1880s and caused the northern ranchers to no longer want Southern cattle brought north; they would fire upon the drovers to keep them from infecting their herds.
By the time Nance worked cattle, a chemical dip treatment for cattle had been invented, which required the full immersion of the cattle into a trough. If government inspectors found even one tick on a cow, the whole herd had to be dipped again. Ticks used to be so numerous that a cowboy would find ticks covering his chaps or pants after riding through tall grass. Ticks, however, are no longer a problem in this region because, Nance surmises, fire ants have preyed upon most of them.
"This area used to be mostly cattle country, with a fair bit of cotton thrown in," says Nance. Kyle, not San Marcos, he explains, was the center of the cattle industry because it had stockyards that fed into the railroad lines. Almost everyone in Hays County sold their cattle in Kyle, which had eight shipping pens. According to Nance, most of the cattle in the area were Herefords, and the land supported a pair for every twenty acres during the 1930s and 40s.
Drought was another problem, as in any agricultural business. The droughts of 1996 and 1998 were nothing compared to those of the 1950s that forced a lot of area ranchers out of business and into towns and cities to find work. People who lived from year to year, just barely scraping by, with no savings, were ruined by three rainless years. The economic realities of farming and ranching have caused the accumulation of land into a few people's hands. The Freeman Ranch, as well as the McCoy and Park Ranches which border it, once supported a fairly large number of families.
Nance has loved the ranching and farming way of life. He has not slowed down much, still managing to put in a full day's work.
--Taken from interviews on October 13, 1997 and June 20, 1998.
Ofelia Philo (nee Trinidad), the executive director of Blanco, Comal, and Hays Counties' Community Action, Inc. for 27 years, grew up on the Freeman Ranch as the daughter of Fernando Trinidad, who was a foreman for the Freeman brothers. She lived in a house that has since been demolished, at the location of the new ranch office and visitor restrooms. She, along with Rufus Alexander, speaks to Elderhostel groups about her experiences growing up on the ranch and about local history. Her family has been linked with the Freeman family for several generations. She is a third generation Tejana: her ancestors lived in Guadalupe County when Texas belonged to Mexico. Her paternal grandfather came from Mexico; her maternal grandfather came from Spain.
The Trinidad family lived in Seguin, Texas; her father was born on one of the Freeman farms in Guadalupe County. Various members of the family worked for the Freeman family, mostly through a sharecropping system. Just after World War II started, Sam Freeman, a cousin of the Freeman brothers who operated a general store for the brothers, "called my father and asked him if he would like to move to a big ranch and look after it."
Philo says that her father agreed because times were tough: soil was tired, farms were going under, drought was rampant, along with the boll weevil infestation which ruined the cotton crop. "My father was working very hard for the WPA in Seguin," says Philo. "He was the type of man who would rather work hard digging ditches for a dollar a day than go on welfare relief." Opportunities were rare, and Mr. Trinidad, with a growing family to support, agreed to come to the ranch as foreman. He enjoyed the work because as Philo says, "He loved to work outside and be in nature, and he liked animals." His first day of work was May 1, 1941. Working with him were the ranch manager Frank Alexander and his son Rufus.
Mr. Trinidad did everything from feeding the cattle to taking care of show horses. When he worked at the ranch there were a lot of sheep and goats, besides Hereford cattle. He rounded up cattle and looked after them, with the help of his sons Simon and Jacinto (Jake). He oversaw workers and found shearers for the sheep's wool. According to Philo, he did a lot of different work, "anything from supervising people like what were then called 'Mexican Nationals'-green card carriers-to working on the fences and clearing brush." At any one time there would have been between eight to twelve men working on the ranch.
While her brothers were encouraged to work on the ranch, Philo, as a girl, either stayed at home to help her mother or went to school, receiving more education than her brothers. Her love of education led her to briefly attend SWT and finish her degree at a one-time branch of Antioch College in Austin. She did not get to go to school as often as she would have liked because of occasional bad weather, sometimes-impassable roads and a lack of school buses. Her duties around the ranch were cooking lunch (often steak) for the Freeman brothers when they visited, as well as watering the plants in the main ranch house.
She remembers seeing Lyndon Johnson, as well as Judge Ben H. Rice, who would come out to the ranch to play dominoes or cards or hunt. Philo does not think that LBJ ever really bagged any deer, but the cooled off with what LBJ called "a Bourbon and branch."
Often, Mr. Trinidad made the preparations for hunting, fixed the deer blinds and cut wood for the fireplace. When guests killed a deer, he would usually have to retrieve and clean it. There was a lot of venison around the Trinidad household.
One of the big differences she sees physically between the land from her childhood and today is that there used to be a lot of rattlesnakes. "We had to be careful where we walked," she said. There also used to be more raccoons, possums and armadillos.
While there may have been a general racism in the area, Philo never felt any discrimination from her father's employers, perhaps because as they were Jewish they were sensitive to such issues. "The Freemans were always kind people. They always gave us presents at Christmas." She like the Freeman family's emphasis on charitable giving, as evidenced in their many donations, such as their contributions to Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio.
Philo remembers having a happy childhood on the ranch, although her family did not make a lot of money. "Father didn't get paid all that much--$35 a month at the beginning," she said. However, there were many benefits to living on the ranch besides cash: "We had a nice house, good roof, good drinking water, all the vegetables we could raise, our own milk cow, chickens and eggs." Her happiest memory was being able to get up in the morning and "see all the greenery, all the birds, all the wildlife running around, and the freedom that I felt."
Philo's father officially retired in January of 1975, but, unofficially, he kept going out the ranch until the Friday before he died on Easter Monday, March 27, 1978.
--Taken from interviews on February 5, 1998 and June 22, 1998.