Guest speaker at the first regular meeting, October 13th, of the Clara Driscoll Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, held at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, was Patrick King of the “Blackland Museum” in Taft, TX who spoke about the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Co. which at first encompassed four South Texas counties- San Patricio, Live Oak, Bee and Goliad Counties.
After George Ware Fulton came to Texas he joined forces in 1871 with four other men, Youngs Coleman and his son, Thomas Coleman and two Mathis cousins, Thomas Henry Mathis and J. M. Mathis to form what was known as the Coleman, Mathis and Fulton Cattle Co. which, during its peak of operation, their ranching enterprise consisted of 265,000 acres. Through the years of operation troubles developed, largely due to droughts, heavy borrowing, personality conflicts and other factors causing the withdrawal of the Mathis cousins and resulting in the dissolution of the company in 1879.
The remaining partners, George W. Fulton and his son, G. W. Fulton, Jr., Youngs Coleman and son, Thomas, then formed the Coleman–Fulton Pasture Company now primarily located in San Patricio County and now consisting of 167,000 acres when George W. Fulton borrowed money from millionaire David Sinton to continue operating.
During the years of operation, despite financial difficulties, the company had become a leader in the ranching world in South Texas. By the late 1890s Sinton had full control and had eliminated all debts and hired Joseph F. Green in 1896 as manager. The business was now on a paying basis. Green became a driving force in agriculture and ranching operations during this time. Continual borrowing eventually left Sinton with the controlling interest in the agriculture and ranching operation since he had bought the Coleman interests. When Sinton died his only daughter, Anne Sinton Taft, whose husband was Charles P. Taft, half brother of U. S. President William Howard Taft, inherited control of the company. The Taft Ranch, as it was then commonly called, was still officially the Coleman - Fulton Pasture Co.
Originally the company offices were in Rockport with ranch headquarters in Rincon (8 miles N. of Gregory) but later moved to Gregory nearer the railroad which had come through in 1886. The last move was to a new two-story office building built by the company in Taft where two company banks were located on the first floor with company offices on the second floor.
When sweet water was discovered in Taft in 1909 the board of directors of Coleman –Fulton Pasture Company directed Green to construct an agricultural-industrial complex in a manner designed to increase the value of the company land. A meat packing plant, slaughterhouse, rendering plant, power plant, ice plant, creamery, hatchery, machine shop, cottonseed oil meal, cotton gins, feed mill, streets, sewers, water lines, telephone lines and schools were built. “La Quinta”, a large mansion, was also built for entertaining notables such as President William Howard Taft who visited the ranch in 1909. Millions of dollars were poured into the operation.
The company town of Taft was placed on the market in 1921. Over 5,000 people attended the auction featuring town lots, farm tracts and businesses. By the time the charter expired in 1930 the vast ranch and enterprises had been sold.
After speaking to the Daughters the DRT members gave Patrick King a rousing ovation for his very comprehensive and interesting report with many Daughters discovering a local story they had never heard before, the story of the once famous Coleman –Fulton Pasture Company, famous in its time but with the passing of years, all but forgotten.
After the report by King, who was given a rousing ovation, Jo Ann King was presented a Twenty-Five Year Certificate for her many years membership in the DRT organization.
Any woman interested in membership in the DRT with ancestors living in Texas and being productive citizens of the Republic of Texas before February 19, 1846 may contact Sylvia Budd, DRT President, telephone 512- 216-2433 for further information.
Writer’s Note: (Currently “The Blackland Museum" in Taft, TX, with Patrick King as curator, exists in the very same building that once housed the banks and offices of the famous Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company. It is almost as if it still exists in order to tell all who come about its rich heritage, bringing many new settlers to the South Texas area).