The Land Report

Spring 2016

The Magazine of the American Landowner is an essential guide for investors, landowners, and those interested in buying or selling land. The award-winning quarterly is known for its annual survey of America's largest landowners, The Land Report 100.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 82 of 107

S P R I N G 2 0 1 6 | The LandReport 81 LANDREPORT.COM T om Waggoner (1852–1934) was to the Old West what Steve Jobs was to Silicon Valley. He endured the before, and he created the after. In 1869, Tom's father, Dan, entrusted his son with $12. Then he put him in charge of a crew of cowboys. Tom's task? To drive 5,000 steers more than 400 miles from his father's ranch in North Texas to market in Abilene, Kansas. Let that percolate for a moment. 1869 was seven years before Custer's Last Stand. P.S. The Waggoner boy and his crew couldn't trail their herd across Oklahoma. Why not? Because Oklahoma didn't exist. Much of what is now Oklahoma was at that time known as the Indian Territory, home of the Comanche, the Apache, the Cheyenne, and Kiowa reservations. Is this the sort of chore you would give your 17-year-old? But Tom Waggoner did more than do his chore. He returned from Kansas with $55,000 in his saddlebags. Take a moment and pencil those numbers: $12 in; $55,000 out. That type of return created the largest ranch behind one fence in Texas. And while it was being created, Tom witnessed the end of the Old West. A good example would be the deal the Waggoners cut with the Comanche chief Quanah Parker to lease an enormous swath of the Indian Territory called the Big Pasture. Congress had set aside this open range for the benefit of Native Americans, not Texas ranchers. As the pres- sure built to nix the lease, the Texans held tight. They even had Quanah invite Teddy Roosevelt out to the Big Pasture to go wolf hunting. It may well have been the highlight of T.R.'s second term, but that didn't matter. Losing the Big Pasture lease was a rare setback for Tom Waggoner. Another chal- lenge that stymied him was what to do with his ranch. He had been his father's only heir. Unlike Dan, however, Tom had multiple heirs. In 1909, he divided the ranch into four parts. The largest he kept for himself. The three smaller ranches he parceled off to Electra, E. Paul, and Guy. Maybe it was Electra's million-dollar shopping sprees. Or Guy's eight marriages. But in 1923, Tom took control of all four ranches and put them under the control of a single trustee: himself. The W.T. Waggoner Estate Ranch had become a Massachusetts business trust. Which is why Governor Perry was spot-on with his first point. When the equal beneficiaries of such a trust disagree, nothing much can get accomplished. Tom Waggoner drove 5,000 steers through the Indian Territory, but he couldn't corral his heirs. W.T WAGGONER ESTATE

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Land Report - Spring 2016