Dry Times on the EL EBANITO RANCH

| August/September 1997

P.O. Box 373, Hebbronville, Texas 78361

My grandfather, C. W. Hellen Sr., came to the southern gulf plains of Texas in 1894 at the age of 16 years from his home in Washington, D.C. He began a cattle ranching career that is continued by my family today. This area of Texas is very dry semi-desert, and the primary limitation to cattle raising is water. There is very little surface water, but abundant well water is available and is primarily brought to the surface by windmills. We enjoy fairly constant winds off of the nearby Gulf of Mexico, but even those breezes fail us seasonally during the 'dog days' of summer, also known locally in the Spanish language as 'La Canicula.' At those times of the year, thirsty cattle forced the ranchers and cowboys to shut down their old Eclipse windmills and either herd the cattle to pastures with rare surface water or find some other way to pump water to the surface watering troughs. One of the solutions used by 'Old Mr. Charlie' Hellen was this 1928 model Fuller & Johnson pump jack that I found while cleaning out an old barn on the ranch!!

Several years ago, I met a very fine gentleman by the name of Mr. Ray Ward at a reunion of my wife's family. He and I had an interesting discussion about his hobby of restoring old gas engines, and I contacted him about my grandfather's Fuller & Johnson. Ray agreed to tackle the job and now I am so proud to display and even run the old machine at our local Natural Resources Conservation Office of the U. S. Department of Agriculture in Hebbronville, Texas. I hope that someday I can donate it to our local museum about the area ranching heritage of south Texas.

Ray lives in San Antonio, Texas, and can be reached at (210) 696-0918. I hope to find a way to properly thank him for me and my family.


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