Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Spade Ranch History

Isaac Ellwood was one of the original patent holders for barbed wired fences in 1874. During which he and his neighbors found away to keep livestock contained to a certain area. In the Midwest, the barbed wire did many good things for the farmers and ranchers, yet Ellwood saw the potential of the barbed wired in the western plains of Texas. Ellwood and his son took a business trip to west Texas, where Ellwood saw an investment opportunity by buying local land. While trying to sell barbed wired, the Ellwoods meet the Snyder brothers, who sold the first 130,000 acres of what came to be known as the Spade Ranch. Renderbrook quickly became the headquarters of the Spade Ranch. The interests of the ranch were in cattle, horses, and the land. W. L. Ellwoods, eldest son, was put in charge of purchasing the cattle for the ranch. he bought about 800 head of cattle from a man named J. F. “Spade” Evans along with the spade brand and a ranch. In 1891, the Ellwoods bought another 128,000 acres from the Snyder brothers. The Ellwoods now owned the Renderbrook Ranch and the Spade Ranch. The Ellwoods made additional purchases bring their total acreage up to 265,000 in 1906. In the ranch changed some in 1924 because the railroads had finally reached the western part of Texas. Over the next 30 or so years the Spade Ranch was subdivide so that all the new settlers could make start. The Spade Ranch survived through the Dust Bowl, Great Depression, two World Wars, and countless market changes, regional droughts, and hard times. The employees were able to repay the family through their loyalty. In the 1960s, the ranch began a new crossbreeding program in their cow-calf operation, which is continued today. The ranch uses composite bulls crossed with heifers from the other composite. This allows them to maintain a high level of heterosis, to still produce a uniform calf crop, and eliminate the need to buy replacement heifers. 


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