In 1907 the SR Ranch became the residence of another of the Captain's children, when his daughter Alice moved her husband and three small children into the ranch house originally built for George Williamson and his bride. Alice, the third child and second daughter, was born in 1878 and married to Thomas Hill Ballowe in 1902. Her senior by fifteen years, Tom Ballowe was a member of another old Brazoria County family and a carpenter by trade. His skill as a woodworker was not well compensated, and his ventures into contracting had also proven unprofitable. These circumstances might lead to the assumption that the Captain set him up in the cattle business as a last resort, but that conclusion is not borne out by any surviving accounts.
The Ballowes had been located at Stanton, in Martin County, over a hundred miles from the ranch. Just what had taken them to this small town is not clear, but it is reasonable to assume that it was Ballowe's vocation. The Captain appears to have disapproved of a trade involving frequent movement and to have offered them a home, a job, and an opportunity where George Williamson and Jim McNeill had made their entries into the cattle business. Undoubtedly some sort of negotiation must have preceded this journey and its culmination, but again no evidence remains.
Installed at the ranch, the Ballowes acquired a small herd of cattle, adopting a brand called Spanish Y. In time they raised a few horses, among them some outstanding cow ponies. Ballowe made significant additions to the ranch house; he also set up a forge in a small shop north of the house. With an anvil and tools for working iron, he made repairs and created items that would have otherwise been obtained from a blacksmith's shop. In season, he trapped coyotes and lobo wolves, an activity he enjoyed and that produced profit in bounties and fur sales. He raised, but never tamed, a lobo wolf, salvaged as a puppy when the litter was found and the rest destroyed. At night it's eerie howling often-produced answers testifying to the continued presence of the big wolves in the area despite ranchmen's effort to exterminate them. When it was nearly grown, he sold it to a zoo in Kansas City. 1
Two of the most vivid of my memories occurred in 1908. A picture of my Aunt Alice Ballowe standing, weeping, beside the wagon, which bore the homemade casket in which they buried her son, Calvin McNeill Ballowe. Born in December 1905, by accident he got hold of some poison and died in May 1908. He was buried on a knoll northeast of the Cole house (now known as the McNeill SR Headquarters home); a small marker bearing his name identifies the location of the grave.
Tom Ballowe in 1915 built a round corral specially designed for handling broncs. At that time there was a large number of unbroken geldings. Tom Ballowe took his family for a long visit to the Captain's Liberty Hall. In their abscence, the Wilhoits moved into the SR ranch house.
It had become apparent that Jim McNeill needed a ranch hand to assist him in looking after the Captain's interest. Anticipating the return of the Ballowes from their extended stay in Brazoria County, he decided to improve another facility, including a residence, and establish the Wilhoits there. The deep, rocky defile carved out by White River through the valley of Blanco Canyon made communication with the west side of the SR's difficult and suggested the desirability of locating a house and pens there. The site selected was close to the gate between the SR and Half Circle S ranches. A barn, connected by a shed to a carriage house, was built there in the fall of 1916, and the Wilhoits took up residence in the barn until a house could be built.3
Permanent occupancy of the SR ranch house ended in 1917 when the Ballowes bought a house in Crosbyton as a solution to the problem of educating their children. Conveniently located for ranching operations, the house was completely shut off from any public school. Terrain and distances were such that even the advent of school, busses, years later, would not have provided an answer to the situation.4
I recall that the Ballowes had a parrot that adapted to country life so well that it defied capture when they moved away. Calling the dogs seemed to be its sole vocal accomplishment, and thereafter when we drove a bunch of cattle near that ranch house everyone needed to be on the alert, for when the parrot flew over the herd whistling and whooping for the hounds, the cattle were sure to run.
Tom Ballowe and son used the place thereafter as a batch camp, a base from which to look after their livestock and participate in seasonal activities at the SR ranch.5
J.P. Ballowe, was the son of Alice and Tom Ballowe.1 - J.C. ("Cap") McNeill, The McNeills' SR Ranch,, Texas A&M University Press; College Station, 1988, 73
2 - J.C. ("Cap") McNeill, The McNeills' SR Ranch, Texas A&M University Press; College Station, 1988, 75 3 - J.C. ("Cap") McNeill, The McNeills' SR Ranch, Texas A&M University Press; College Station, 1988, 99 4 - J.C. ("Cap") McNeill, The McNeills' SR Ranch, Texas A&M University Press; College Station, 1988, 104 5 - J.C. ("Cap") McNeill, The McNeills' SR Ranch, Texas A&M University Press; College Station, 1988, 105
Submitted by Ophelia McNeill
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