Early Ranching in Rockport
By Kathryn Morrow, History Center for Aransas County
DID YOU KNOW? That the Coleman Mathis Fulton Pasture Company was started in 1871 in Rockport and eventually include more than 265,000 acres of land in four counties? The historic Mathis home is still located on Church Street in Rockport, and the Fulton mansion is on Fulton Beach Road.
Five South Texas entrepreneurs pooled their assets and experience in 1871 to form one of the largest cattle companies in Texas. Col. George Ware Fulton, of Rockport, convinced Youngs Coleman, his son Thomas M. Coleman, Thomas Henry Mathis, and his cousin, J. M. Mathis, to form the Coleman, Mathis, Fulton Cattle Company, with headquarters in the new town of Rockport. Tom Coleman, gradually took over his family’s interests. The Mathis cousins had been in the area since 1859, and had built a packery at the site of the future Rockport. They had their own steamboat, the Prince Albert, and shipped tallow, hides, and bones to the east.
The five men immediately began a campaign of acquiring additional land. At its peak the company controlled 265,000 acres of land that ran from Rockport westward through San Patricio County and spilled over into Live Oak, Bee, and Goliad counties. Some of the first fences in South Texas were put up by this company. They built a board fence that enclosed a sizable portion of the land near Rockport as a holding area for cattle awaiting their turn at the slaughterhouse.
The partners dissolved the company in 1879. Fulton and the two Colemans then formed the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company. Youngs Coleman left, and his son, Tom Coleman was in charge of his interests. Fulton’s son, G. W. Fulton, Jr., was brought into the company in 1884.
Financial problems beset the company, but despite this, the company became a leader in the ranching world in South Texas. Improved breeds of cattle were introduced in keeping with Colonel Fulton's desire to push forward. Originally the company offices were in Rockport, with the ranch headquarters at Rincon (eight miles north of Gregory). The last company office was in a two-story building constructed by the company in 1923 in Taft.
The ranch began to be known locally as the Taft Ranch. However, the official name, Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company, remained until the charter was officially dissolved in 1930.
Learn more about Hispanic Heritage and early ranchers at the History Center, 801 E. Cedar., www.thehistorycenterforaransascounty.org The current exhibit, Hispanic Heritage in Aransas County, will by showing from Jan. 11thto April. The Center is open Mon. & Fri. 10am-2pm; Sat. 10am-4pm; and Sun. 1-4pm.