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Wilson County History


Beauregard Ranch spawns ‘maverick’ moniker




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Gene Maeckel
Historic Moments
December 26, 2012 | 2,421 views | Post a comment

The Beauregard Ranch was one of the earliest ranches established in Wilson County during the open range days prior to the American Civil War. It was located in the San Antonio River Valley and was situated mostly in Wilson County, with a small portion on the southern end of Karnes County. It was part of the original Luis Menchaca 11-league grant, granted to him by the king of Spain in 1758. Luis Menchaca was captain of the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar at this time and the ranch was called El Rancho de San Francisco. It is one of the first and largest private ranches on record in the Spanish Archives of the General Land Office of Texas in Austin.

The Beauregard Ranch consisted of 8,542 acres. The upper part of 2,987 acres was the original home tract purchase in 1841. A second tract of 5,555 acres was purchased separately from different owners in 1851. The northern boundary was shared with a tract of land consisting of 14,957 acres owned by A. Superville, a French merchant whose business was located on Alamo Plaza in San Antonio. The eastern boundary was shared with a Lydia Van Wyck. The southern boundary was adjacent to a ranch owned by a San Antonio lawyer named Samuel Maverick. The western boundary was the east side of the San Antonio River.

This ranch was purchased and owned by Augustine Toutant Beauregard in 1841. A. Toutant Beauregard was a native of Louisiana, whose parents were born in France of Spanish nobility. At the time of the ranch purchase, Augustine was suffering from poor health. It was his hope this change in environment would improve his medical condition. He relocated permanently in 1853 to San Antonio with his family. Five children were born to A. Toutant and his wife, Adele. In 1867, in order to abbreviate his name, he had the court in Bexar County change his last name to only Beauregard, eliminating the Toutant name.

After moving to Texas, Augustine’s health improved and he developed into a major cattleman and prominent rancher of the area. He died in 1881 in San Antonio, and was buried in the St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in a family plot marked by a large memorial stone shaft.

Perhaps the most notable member of this immediate Beauregard family was Pierre Gustane, a brother to Augustine. He attended West Point Military Academy and graduated second in his class in 1838. He participated in the U.S. -- Mexican War in 1847 and was promoted to Captain. Because of his Southern sympathies, he resigned his U.S. Army commission in 1861 and accepted an appointment as a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. He was assigned to command the Southern forces at Charleston, S.C. He commanded the attack on Fort Sumter, firing the first shot of the American Civil War and becoming the first military idol of the Confederacy. After receiving another promotion, he became the fourth highest-ranking officer of the Confederate Army.

An interesting, but undocumented incident occurred between the two brothers during the latter part of the American Civil War. Many supplies, particularly food, were becoming hard to obtain. Pierre was aware his brother had a large cattle ranch in Texas. He requested Augustine to trail a herd of cattle from his ranch to aid his army in the war. Augustine’s older teenage son agreed to gather a herd of cattle from the ranch and trail them to his uncle’s battlefields in the South. He apparently was successful on this one occasion in crossing the Mississippi and avoiding conflicts with the Union Forces.

In 1858, construction of the ranch headquarters was started on the first tract of land purchased for the ranch. All of the labor was performed by Augustine’s slaves. Construction material for the buildings was native stone obtained from the ranch. The walls of masonry rock were mortared with slacked lime burned on the site. Prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, six buildings had been completed. These consisted of a laundry, a smokehouse, a storage building, two slave living quarters, and a large two-story barn. The upper floor of the barn was planned to be a school for the children of the slaves. Work on the main ranch house residence was started but was not completed because of the necessity to participate in the war effort. At the end of the American Civil War, all the slaves left the ranch to begin their free life, thus ending any further construction effort.

In 1856, Samuel A. Maverick, owner of the ranch adjacent to the south boundary of the Beauregard Ranch, sold his entire ranch to Augustine Beauregard, who was an active and ambitious cattleman. All the cattle were sold for range delivery, which meant the buyer had to locate the cattle on the open range. This was a time of open range with no fencing. Beauregard sent his cowboys to several adjacent counties looking for strays. Any unbranded cattle were claimed as “Mavericks” and branded. It was assumed that Sam Maverick’s slave, who was incapable of managing his ranch, had failed to round up the Maverick cattle each year and brand them. Instead, they were permitted to roam freely on the open range, multiplying and straying far from the ranch. Beauregard’s cowboys thus claimed any unbranded cattle as a “Maverick” animal, thereby creating a new word for any unbranded and unclaimed cattle or calves.

In 1967, a Texas Historical Marker was placed near the ranch site at the intersection of C.R. 202 and U.S. 181 south of Poth, Texas. In recent years the marker has been vandalized and later, the remaining marker was stolen. The inscription on the marker read as follows:

Beauregard Ranch Founded 1852 by Augustine Toutant Beauregard, of Landed Creole Gentry who traced Lineage to 16th Century Spanish Nobility Brother was Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant -- Beauregard Stone -- Mounted Iron Ring Were Part of Scaffold Used to Butcher Hogs.

Article by Gene Maeckel, Wilson County Historical Society
 
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