About a month ago, while Brandon and I were driving down to Mercedes, we passed the sign for Inez, Texas on our way down Highway 59. This was Brandon’s furthest trip in south Texas, and as we passed through many of the towns (being the Brahman history buff he is) he would shout out things like “Ganado, Texas…Home of Miss Margaret Watkins!” and all kinds of trivia things like that.
So as we passed through the Victoria area, we started talking about how Henry Clay Koontz, Diana Massey, and Emily Dial, and how awesome it must have been to be youngsters growing up in a family with such a rich history in Brahmans. In case you may not realize, these are all brothers and sisters. Henry Clay Koontz’s ranch was the original HK Ranch, Diana and her husband Bob Massey had Koontz Ranch, and Emily Dial is the 3-X Ranch. Just think of all of the Brahman knowledge that could be discussed at family dinners with this group!
So after we got home from Mercedes, I started doing some historical research about the important contributions this family made to the Brahman breed. Many would know that members of each of these ranches are in the ABBA Hall of Fame…Henry Clay, Bob, and Miss Emily. But, it started WWWAAAYYYYY before these three Brahman legends, with their great grandfather, Captain John Keeran.
In the late 1870s, Brahman was popular on the gulf coast region for crossbreeding, but as they kept getting crossed, the percentage of pure Bos indicus blood was decreasing. In 1878, a Dutch ship docked at the old port in Indianola, Texas. (This town is gone now, demolished after a hurricane). Anyway, most of the people in the crowd laughed at the Bos indicus cattle coming off the ship….except two men. According to the American Brahman book, these two men “seemed to recognize a certain greatness in these cattle.”
The two men were Captain John N. Keeran and Shanghai Pierce. Together, they bought all 5 of the animals.
These men had been involved with cattle before when they had worked on cattle drives of Longhorns from Texas to Kansas.
They saw the Brahmans as a way to upgrade their stock to help fight disease and tolerate the coastal climates better. So the men decided that that Shanghai Pierce would keep 3 bulls, and John Keeran would keep 1 bull and 1 cow. The new cow was named “Lalarooke” and the bull named “Breckenridge”. He took these animals to his ranch in Victoria County (Texas), where they thrived. He gave the offspring as gifts to many of his friends.
Descendants from these orginal animals were used on the old Keeran Ranch, which eventually was the 3X Ranch and the HK Ranches in Victoria county, where Brahman cattle have been mainstays for over 130 years.
This story is fascinating to me, because it’s part of the family history of Miss Emily Dial, who is an inspiration to many young ladies in the breed like me. Her animals like Mucho Mucho, Mucho’s Crown Prince, and Mucho Grande, have influenced many herds worldwide, including ours….you’ll find it on the bottom side of +Mr. V8 901/4s pedigree. 901 is the sire to 382, the mother of Boom Shaka Laka. Without all of these pioneers and their efforts, my own herd wouldn’t be where it is today.
For more information on Captain Keeran, check out this link: https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fke73
Koontz Ranch article via TSHA Online Handbook: https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/apk04
Armel Baker, One of the first female Brahman Breeders: https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbadx