The LH7 Ranch
In Houston's Shadow
Praise for The LH7 Ranch
“[A] captivating history of both a fascinating family and a way of life . . . well written and enriched by photographs, snippets of cowboy poetry, personal reminiscences and quotations . . . The book is recommended.”
—Andrea Twiss-Brooks, Review of Texas Books
“Rich with details of ranch women's lives, and spiced with humor, this is the warmest, liveliest ranch history I've ever read.”
—Jeanne Williams, Books of the Southwest
“Warm, personal and often humorous . . . a well-written, entertaining look at one of Texas' most important figures.”
—Charles B. Searle, Texas Longhorn Journal
"The late E. H. Marks may be best remembered today for his pivotal role in saving the Texas Longhorn from extinction at a time when conventional wisdom said Texas' native cattle breed had outlived its usefulness. But he did much more. . . . His LH7 Ranch represented a Texas heritage spanning from settlement in the Republic to today's mostly urban society."
—The Dallas Morning News
"Sizemore's history is filled with details of everyday ranch life, from cowboy poetry to battles with weather. She describes Marks' wife Maud, a teacher whose love of books so marked the LH7 that horses were named for characters in popular novels and dinnertime conversation was 'sprinkled with quotes from great literature and classical philosophy.' . . . Generously illustrated, the book is an excellent history of one family's contribution to Texas and its lasting legacy."
—Judyth Rigler, San Antonio Express-News
About the LH7 Ranch
The story of Emil Henry Marks and the LH7 Ranch records not only the history of a unique family but also the cattle business on the coastal prairies of Texas when ranching was the principal industry of the Houston area. It also chronicles the beginning of the Salt Grass Trail.
The family story begins with the birth of August Texas Marks, on a sailing ship off the coast of Galveston on August 15, 1843. His son Emil Henry learned "the cow business" from the back of a horse, memorizing Western ballads at night and learning to recite cowboy poems by the dozens.
Marks registered the LH7 brand in Harris County in 1898 and started the ranch with 63 acres west of Houston and a few Texas Longhorns. The LH7 became one of the first Gulf Coast ranches to breed Brahman cattle from India, crossing them with Longhorns. By the early 1930s the LH7 was running 6,670 head on 36,000 acres. Branding day on the LH7, drawing cowboys from neighboring spreads and spectators from Houston, quickly grew from a neighborhood event into a nationally known annual rodeo held for thirty years.
Marks, unlike most twentieth-century ranchers who dismissed the Longhorn as a remnant of a past age, spent decades gathering good examples of old-time Texas cattle to keep the breed alive. Over the years, one hand-picked specimen at a time, he built one of the nation's finest and largest herds of authentic Texas Longhorns.
Houston's shadow loomed over the LH7 in the 1940s and 1950s, and eventually a big bite of the ranch was condemned to protect the booming city from flooding along Buffalo Bayou.
At age 70, Marks made the first Salt Grass Trail Ride in January 1952. That ride started one of Houston's most enduring traditions, reenacted each February to kick off the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.