In the late 1800s my great-great uncle John Loomis, a restless young man from a well-to-do family in upstate New York, persuaded his mother that a trip west before college would be just the thing to get him off to a good start.
“I liked this country as soon as I saw it,” he recalled of San Saba and Concho County in his memoir Texas Ranchman. He settled there, and, partnering with his half brother Welton Ostrander, launched a ranching and real estate venture just as the Texas land boom was about to go bust. While Welton eventually moved his family back to New York, John stayed on and made the best of the struggling ranching environment. He married, had two children, and built a comfortable ranch house for his family. There are photos of his young children sitting starched and solemn on the porch listening to lessons from the governess, but also, as they grew older, riding roundup with the ranch hands.
Among the papers, letters, and photographs I inherited from my cousins are a group of photos from Texas of what looks like a camping and fishing adventure, which included both men and women, but it’s the women in the photos who interest me most.
Peggy, Teddy, Ellen, Ruth, and others have shed their starched dresses, donned trousers and chaps, saddled up, and headed out into the mountains on horseback with a group of friends or family. I don’t know who the people in the photographs are (even those whose names are identified), or how they’re related to our family, but the images tell the story of the people and the rugged countryside that Uncle John so loved.
Here’s to wonderful adventures in 2023.
See you soon. xo