When you hear of a "company town," it's a term usually meaning a factory, oil company, or coal mine that employs just about everyone in the community. But in Texas the reference to "company" can just as easily refer to a big ranching operation. Taft, a Tropical Trails town in South Texas, owes much of its existence to the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company, an enterprise fully engaged in cattle raising, farming, and shipping—specifically shipping cattle by boat from company wharves—during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Coleman-Fulton partnership ended with Fulton's financial problems when the controls were handed over to his primary lender David Sinton. After Sinton's death, the holdings transferred to his daughter Anna Sinton-Taft, wife of Charles P. Taft, the communities namesake who renamed the enterprise the Taft Ranch.
Taft's Blackland Museum, housed in Coleman-Fulton's final headquarters, tells the full story in exhibits—some interactive—that capture the history and heritage of Taft and its benefactors. In the company's heyday, the Blackland Museum building, a handsome red brick, two-story construction built in 1923, housed two banks—the company bank on one end and one in private hands on the other—with a drug store and a barber shop in between. The second floor held the company offices. As "company towns" go, Taft, a pleasant rural ranching and farming community located in a balmy coastal region of the state, offered ranch employees a brief and pleasant commute to work. In other words, no sitting in the saddle for hours waiting for the left turn arrow to turn green.
Watch our Land and Animals of the Chisholm Trail video to learn more about the Chisholm Trail in Texas. This video was produced for inclusion in our Chisholm Trail mobile tour found in our Texas Time Travel Tours mobile app. Download the app for more videos and travel information:
Taft Blackland Museum
Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m.-5 p.m.