Ranching Legacies Are Priceless Legacies
Ranch and family lore are priceless tales, passed from one generation to the next, that help us as individuals shape our sense of who we are and where we fit into the flow of people and time.
When you meet ranchers or tour their properties, history is one asset that is not immediately visible and can’t quickly be assessed.
But never doubt its value – both tangible and intangible.
I grew up knowing that my father, and his father, and his father were each ranchers. You might say that I inherited not only my share of their physical estate, but also of their love for the land, wildlife, open skies, loyalty, and patriotism.
What is that worth? Let me offer an illustration.
There is a well-known street in Beverly Hills, just a few blocks from the famed Rodeo Drive, called Roxbury Drive. It is a street rich with tinseltown lore.
Jimmy Stewart enjoyed a “Wonderful Life” at 918 N. Roxbury.
George and Ira Gershwin, composers of the classic folk opera, PORGY and BESS, lived at 1019 N. and 1021 Roxbury, respectively, dazzling neighbors and the music-loving world their music.
Betty Grable, America’s undisputed pin-up queen, lived at 1015 Roxbury.
TV Detective Columbo, who in his private life was known as Peter Falk, occupied the red tile roofed, Mediterranean-style house at 1004 N. Roxbury, easily recognizable for its red-tile walkway.
Columbo’s neighbor, who never lent him a cup of sugar, was the notoriously frugal (in act only) Jack Benny.Jack and his wife Mary, threw a New Year’s bash at their home at 1002 N. Roxbury in 1944. Their guests included Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, and Bing Crosby.
Every Ranch Has a Legacy
For cinephiles and lovers of Hollywood history, Roxbury Drive is much more than a collection of brick-and-mortar homes, tile roofs, well-coiffed lawns and gardens, and swimming pools. It is the repository of silver screen treasures.
Which is exactly how I, and hundreds of thousands of other red-blooded Americans feel about the ranches we live on, or near, and our ancestors who have worked this land and laid down their lives for our country since the American Revolution and even before.
Every ranch has a legacy, as does every ranch family. Many people, quite honestly, don’t know and haven’t investigated what their legacy is. But everyone should.
To describe your ranch solely by its acreage, location, and on-site structures is a mistake. What is your property’s legacy? Who owned it? What pieces of history did it witness? What pieces of history did it make?
I was blessed growing up with a rich oral tradition passed on to me, and which I’ll pass along to my children, and one day, my grandchildren.
Lately, I’ve been supplementing that oral history by digging into the vast mine of data available at Ancestry.com and other online sites. My research has enabled me to fill in many of the details of my family’s and ranch’s past, and uncovered some surprising – and very much welcome – new nuggets that had previously been lost to the fallibility of memory alone.
American Values and Tradition
Will being able to tell the history of your property to others, especially prospective buyers, enhance the value of your property? Maybe. Likely. Do you think Lucille Ball’s modern colonial home at 1000 N. Roxbury is worth more because it once was owned by the comedian? I strongly suspect so.
But there is a bigger, more important reason to know your past and to share it with the future: tradition.
America and American values are rooted in tradition. When it comes to ranching, we can learn and teach so much when we know our history.
[As an aside, I should say that it’s never, ever, too late to start your own family and ranch-land legacy. Plenty of good folks from outside Texas, urban dwellers, have been buying up ranch properties as vacation and recreation homes. Bravo. To them I say, begin your family traditions now, so that your children, and their children, and their children will have rich memories and oral histories to love and pass along.]
What's Your Ranch Legacy?
In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing more of my own Lewis Family legacy with you, as well as recounting some details of my experience researching my past. The roots of my family tree run deep and the braches stretch wide.
I’d love to know and share your ranch and family legacies as well. In time, it would be very nice to compile an anthology of ranching legacies – something we can share with our families and friends, and something we can use to educate non-ranchers about the rich culture and traditions of ranching.
Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at: 210-275-3551.
What’s your ranch legacy?