When developer Gerald Halpin launched his new breed of Texas ranch in the majestic hill country, he sought a landscape that would offer unique terrain, water features and expansive views for the residents to come. He would design a community tailored for Texans, with first-class services and amenities providing comfort to even the most hardened city slicker. His purchase of two larger tracts of land along Flat Creek Rd. became the creation of a single 2,000 –plus-acres ranch community. With a commitment to conservation and the great outdoors, Halpin preserved 1,500 acres of the land for open space. The open space area offered room for hike and bike trails, spring-fed swimming pools as well as a native pasture for wildlife and grazing land for the resident herd of Texas Longhorns.
Many of the longhorns at the Preserve today are descendants of the original herd that roamed the McDougle Hill Country Ranch, one of the two tracts of land which formed the Preserve. Mel McDougle, a long-time breeder in the Texas longhorn industry, focused particularly on the Butler bloodline. The Buter Texas Longhosn is a type of longhorn all its own. It is one of the seven families of longhorns and it started with Milby Butler in 1923, when he began making the Butler bloodline synonymous with certain characteristics.
Prior to the 30’s, it was not any trouble to acquire big-horned cattle in many parts of south Texas. There were thousands of different families of Longhorns from which to get new and different cows or bulls to maintain or improve a herd. As more Brahman and English blood was crossed on native cattle, the pure Longhorns became more scarce. In order to preserve Longhorn herds, a special effort had to be exerted to locate top blood. In 1931, Butler traded Pat Phelps of Newton County two Brahman cows for a white “flea-bitten” Longhorn cow. This white speckled cow with red ears, red rings around the eyes and nose, and red specks on the ankles became the first source of the color trait many people refer to as “Butler color”.
As you visit the Preserve and longhorn herd today, you’ll be able to identify the famous “Butler color”. Including one of the oldest steers on the property! Calved in 1999 by Lady Bevo and herd sire Stonewall’s Blue Jean, the stocky white steer has rich red colored ears, red ankles and the famous flea-bitten red specks all over his coat. It’s also hard not to notice his impressive set of horns! The steer’s bloodlines can be tracked all the way back to Butler’s herd in the late 50’s. While he may be 15 years of age, each year the spry steer leads the rest of the herd to the working pens during the longhorn roundup. He also enjoys the occasional cattle cube and will eat out of your hand.
It is estimated that less than five percent of today’s registered Longhorns contain Butler blood. Many of the estate’s cattle were sold for slaughter and dispersed to unknown parts. The complete history with its trials, victories, heartaches and tears will, for the most part, still remain unknown. For more on the complete history of the Butler bloodline visit: butlertexaslonghorns.com
The longhorn herd is just part of what makes the Preserve so special; roaming the community trails, visiting the fence line of residents and soaking up the attention and prevailing breezes along Flat Creek Rd. They’ve provided inspiration for published works of art and the Preserve with an ambiance of the old west. They are the living legacy of Texas, sharing their beautiful home with a limited number of residents in the scenic hill country.