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Weinheimer family makes valuable contributions to agriculture for 144 years

published: July 11th 2022
by: Martha A Hollida

Success can be measured in many ways and withstanding the test of time is definitely one gauge of success. Weinheimer Ranch in Stonewall, Texas has withstood that test for 144 years and continues to be a viable diversified operation with a rich history and strong family leadership.

 

The ranch has adapted when needed and the family ownership has remained strong and continuous. Today it includes the Hill Country ranch, another ranch in Chaves County, New Mexico, plus they lease land in the Madisonville, Texas area for cattle. Over the years the income source has been cattle (both commercial and registered), sheep, goats, grains, orchards and hunting.

 

Jakob and Theresia Weinheimer and their six children arrived in Fredericksburg, Texas in June of 1846, which was the same year Fredericksburg was founded. They left Germany, traveled to Belgium, sailed for two months to Indianola, Texas and then homesteaded in the Texas Hill Country. Jakob and his two older sons were among signers of a petition that requested the Texas Legislature define the Fredericksburg area and form a new county named Gillespie from the existing counties of Bexar and Travis. The Weinheimer’s first brand was registered in 1851 and they received their citizenship in 1854.

 

Their son, John would acquire substantial land holdings in the county, including the area now known as Stonewall and headquarters to the present-day Weinheimer Ranch. John’s son, Jacob would actually start the ranch in 1878, as well as be part of the original ownership of the Weinheimer Store, which continues in operation today. In 1880, Jacob and his wife would build the original log home where the main ranch house stands today.

 

Herman, one of three sons to Jacob, would be gifted the original ranch, while his brother, Hugo was gifted other land and brother Felix would take over ownership of the store. Herman and his wife, Anna, would raise their six children in the original house built by Jacob. Under Herman and Anna’s leadership, the ranch would add registered Herefords and American Quarter Horses, as Herman was an avid polo player. Of their children, three remain alive today, Roy, who is now 97, Joanne, 95 and Clara, 94. The other three included Jake, Tom, and Evelyn. The girls would marry and move. Jake and Tom went to college and then the military. Roy remained and ranched alongside his parents. He and his wife, Bernice, were married in 1950 and moved in with his parents on the ranch. Herman would die suddenly in 1954 at the age of 64 years. Roy, who was 29 at the time, would take over the management and has been at the helm since.

 

He and Bernice raised their eight children in the home that Jacob built and it has been added on to over the years. Roy has lived only in this house his entire life and it’s the center of operations for the ranch today. Tom served in World War II and worked as an engineer for the U.S. Geological Survey. He returned to the ranch after his dad’s death. He and his wife, Betty, raised their children on the ranch. Tom would pass in 2005.

 

Anna, who lived to be 103, was very involved in the ranch’s management and was known throughout the Hill Country for her hunting and fishing skills. She bagged several deer in her lifetime, including her last two at the ages of 100 and 101.

 

Under Anna’s ownership, the ranch was incorporated in 1959 with her and her six children as shareholders. Daughters, Clara and Joanne, sold their shares back to the ranch and today there are 18 shareholders from the four children of Herman and Anna. Roy’s son, Len is the manager today and his son, Chism is living and working on the New Mexico division.

 

The Weinheimer history also includes involvement and leadership in many civic, church and agricultural organizations at each generation. Roy was a founding member of the Hill Country Hereford Association and is an honorary member inductee of the Texas Hereford Association.

 

The ranch grew in acreage as each generation made land purchases and additional land was leased throughout the area. At one time, they leased considerable acreage in Gillespie and surrounding counties, but the population growth in the Hill Country has seen lots of ranchland converted to homes and subdivisions.

 

The ranch operates under two brands today, a running W and 93 that was first registered in 1887, which has been modified over the years. The 93 is on the Texas A&M University Kleberg Center’s wall of brands and the 93 branding iron was on display at the LBJ State Park Visitor Center when it opened in 1970.

 

Commercial cattle were part of the ranch from the beginning and in 1921 Herman purchased five registered Hereford heifers. The herd would grow and be strong in Line 1 breeding. The Weinhemers developed a strong market for their bulls throughout the Hill Country and into South Texas.

 

“Today we run about 50 registered Herefords but we utilize the Hereford breed in our commercial outfits,” said Len.  “We run Tiger Stripes here in the Hill Country and on the Madisonville ranch. These are F-1 Hereford females x Brahman bulls, then crossed with Angus bulls. In New Mexico our cowherds are predominantly commercial Hereford cows crossed with Angus bulls.”

 

“We have scaled back our registered operation as the Hill Country has experienced tremendous change over the last 20 or so years,” explained Len. “Urban sprawl is a major factor and many of our bull customers are just not in business anymore. Their land has been purchased for other uses. We used to sell a lot of bulls into South Texas also, and a lot of that land is now home to wildlife rather than cattle.” He added that drought has also been a factor in reducing their registered Hereford numbers.

 

Annually, they market their bulls by private treaty and have a strong repeat clientele. They also consign to the San Antonio All Breed Bull Sale, where in 2022 they had the second highest grading bull overall and one of the top sellers. They also take bulls to the Independent Cattlemen’s Association Sale in Beaumont where they won the high grading bull honor in 2022.

 

“These sales allow us to get our cattle out to a different audience and it expands our customer base. We have also been able to sell females from the registered segment to some of the bull buyers. It’s a good way to advertise Weinheimer raised Herefords,” said Len.

 

Marketing of the commercial calves varies due to economic and weather conditions. Calves at all the locations have been marketed through private treaty contracts, through Superior Livestock and some have been retained and fed in Texas feed yards.

 

A number of breeds of goats and sheep have been raised over the ranch’s history. Today, it’s mainly registered Spanish goats and some hair sheep that are part of the hunting division.

 

The ranch is involved in some hunting leases and also has guided hunts on some of the land in Texas and New Mexico. Today’s wildlife includes whitetail deer, turkey, dove, ducks, axis deer, black buck antelope and in New Mexico they have mule deer, pronghorn antelope and some quail.s

 

They also have some peach orchards, which they have leased out to a local peach grower. While Stonewall is known in the region for its annual Peach Festival, its wider claim to fame is the LBJ Ranch, home to President Lyndon Baines Johnson and now part of the national park service.

 

“LBJ’s ranch was right next to ours. He started ranching and raising Herefords before he was elected president. We developed a strong relationship with his foreman and we owned bulls in partnership with LBJ. He was very open to learning about the cattle industry and enjoyed his Herefords,” recalled Roy.

 

Len added that the Secret Service agents knew all the Weinheimers, even the kids, as they were allowed to go back and forth in the pastures very freely.

 

Another milestone in the ranch’s storied history happened in 1975 when Len and his younger brother, Don, captured grand champion steer honors at Houston and San Antonio with their home raised Hereford x Simmental steers.

 

“Don was grand champion in San Antonio and his steer brought $23,600 and mine was grand champion at Houston and brought $50,000,” explained Len.

 

“We put all that money in a separate account and we were able to pay for all the kids to go to college from it,” said Roy. “It was a good for our Hereford program, too,” he added.

 

Roy, who is now 97, says that he never thought of doing anything else but ranching and being a part of the family operation.

 

“I don’t know of a better place to have lived. Back in the day, everyone in the Hill Country was involved in agriculture. That is obviously not the case today. The most significant change in my lifetime would have been when we were able to eradicate the screwworm. That made a world of difference, not just in livestock but also wildlife. It greatly increased the deer population and opened up a lot of avenues for income with deer hunting,” Roy recalled.

 

Annually since 2005, the ranch hosts Camp Cousins in June. Weinheimers near and far return to enjoy the ranch, share their rich heritage, remember their ancestors and acknowledge the family’s contributions to the Hill Country and the agricultural industry.

 

Roy’s great grandchildren, who can be found sitting in his lap often, are now the ninth generation of Weinheimers on the ranch. Their ancestors Jakob and Theresia emigrated from Germany to start a new life and the foundation and principles they established continues to inspire the family to work hard and be a contributing part of American agriculture.

 

 

 

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