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The Jim W. Keeland Collection, no. 13 - Pierce Ranch Cattle Drive, Part III

Brazoria County Historical Museum


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  •  Cowboys start a round-up 
  •  A cute young calf sits in the grass 
  •  The whole family comes out to admire the animals in their pens 
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This footage captures scenes of the cattle industry as a cattle drive comes to its end on the historic Pierce Ranch in Wharton County. Cowboys and their cow dogs herd cattle in and out of pens while the family looks on. Later, cattle are put into trailer trucks and driven away. The producer of this film, Jim W. Keeland, was a photographer and videographer in the Houston area for sixty years. He took photographs and films for Houston's NBC affiliate, KPRC-TV, from 1948 until 1961, worked for the Houston Post from 1951 to 1982 as a printer, and was a freelance photographer of agricultural subjects.
The Pierce Ranch was founded in the late 1800s by Abel Head "Shanghai" Pierce. Shanghai Pierce was born in Rhode Island, but claimed he had to leave the small state when his 6 foot 4 inch height forced him to sleep with his head in the lap of a person in Massachusetts. He stowed away on a ship headed for Indianola, Texas at the age of 19, and went to work as a ranch hand for W.B. Grimes upon his arrival. After serving in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, Shanghai returned to Texas and, with his brother, Jonathan, founded the Rancho Grande on the Tres Palacios River. He married Fannie Lacy, the daughter of a Texas judge and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. 
Upon the death of his first son and wife in 1870, Shanghai spent some time in Kansas City, then returned to Texas and began to buy large expanses of land in Wharton and Matagorda counties that would eventually comprise two hundred and fifty thousand acres and become the Pierce Ranch. Surrounding the Pierce Ranch, the Pierce family built up the towns of Pierce and Blessing, Texas and were instrumental in the New York, Texas and Mexican Railways expanding into Wharton and Matagorda counties. Shanghai continued in the cattle industry until his death in 1900, touring Europe and East Asia to research and purchase new breeds of cattle. In 1900, a government-sponsored experimental farm raised tea, camphor, and poppies on the Pierce Ranch lands, and the Pierce estate established a Brahman stock base that most Texas ranchers rely on today. The descendants of Shanghai Pierce continue to own and operate the Pierce Ranch, which presently consists of 32,000 acres of pastureland and rice crops. Shanghai Pierce is buried in Hawley Cemetery in Blessing, Texas, his grave marked by a full-size statue and monument that he had sculpted late in life by German-born San Antonio sculptor Frank Teich. 
Frank Teich, considered the father of the Texas granite industry, was born on September 22, 1856 in Lobenstein, Germany to Frederick and Catherine. He graduated from the University of Nuremburg and became an apprentice to Johannes Schilling, a sculptor. 
In 1878, Teich immigrated to the United States and traveled to several different states for a few years before settling in Texas in 1883. There he began working in the granite industry, notably overseeing the granite cutting during the construction of the State Capitol in Austin. Teich assisted on a variety of projects, including the Tarrant County courthouse in Fort Worth, the Volunteer Fireman’s Monument, the Confederate Monument on the state capitol grounds, the San Antonio National Bank Building, and the old San Antonio City Hall. 
Teich was responsible for discovering a large granite deposit near Llano, Texas, which led him to start Teich Monument Works. His company was responsible for the construction of many granite bases and monuments around Texas, including the Sam Houston Monument in Houston. 
Teich married Elvina Lang in 1887, and together they had three daughters. He retired in the mid-1930s and died on January 27, 1939 in Llano.