Cover of Judy Alter: Most Land, the Best Cattle

Judy Alter Most Land, the Best Cattle

The Waggoners of Texas

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In the 19th century, Daniel Waggoner and his son, W.T. (Tom), put together an empire in North Texas that became the largest ranch under one fence in the nation. The 520,000-plus acres or 800 square miles covers six counties and sits on a large oil field in the Red River Valley of North Texas. Over the years, the estate also owned five banks, three cottonseed oil mills, and a coal company. While the Waggoner men built the empire, their wives and daughters enjoyed the fruits of their labor. This dynasty's love of the land was rivaled only by their love of money and celebrity, and the different family factions eventually clashed. Although Dan seems to have led a fairly low-profile life, W. T. moved to Fort Worth, became a bank director, built two office buildings, ran his cattle on the Big Pasture in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), hosted Teddy Roosevelt at a wolf hunt in the Big Pasture, and sent Quanah Parker to Washington, D.C., for Roosevelt's inauguration. W. T. had two sons, Guy and E. Paul, and a daughter named Electra, the light of his life. W. T. built a mansion in Fort Worth for hertoday the house, the last surviving cattle baron mansion on Fort Worth's Silk Stocking Row, is open to the public for tours and events. Electra, an international celebrity and extravagant shopper (she once spent $10,000 in one day at Neiman Marcus), died at the age of forty-three.Guy had nine wives; his brother E. Paul, partier and horse breeder, was married to the same woman for fifty years and had one daughter, Electra II. Electra II was a both a celebrity and a talented sculptor, best known for a heroic-size statue of Will Rogers on his horse, Soapsuds, as well as busts of two presidents and various movie stars. After marriage to an executive she settled in a mansion at the ranch and raised two daughters.This colorful history of one of Texas's most influential ranching families demonstrates that it took strength and determination to survive in the ranching worldand the society it spawned.

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