His name spanned six syllables, and his career spanned six decades. He once controlled an empire of 185,000 cattle on 1.25 million acres from Oklahoma into Mexico. By the late 1890s he owned the largest herd of registered Herefords in the United States. But amid the Burnetts and Waggoners, the Reynoldses and Sansoms and Scotts, he may be the Texas cattle king you have not heard of.
Fountain Goodlet Oxsheer Sr. was born in Milam County in 1849 to William and Martha Oxsheer.
Father William in the 1840s was Milam County district court clerk and in the 1870s served as a representative in the Texas House.
After the Civil War F. G. Oxsheer ranched and served as sheriff in Robertson County and then moved to Mitchell County, where he accumulated hundreds of thousands of acres of ranchland. He was among the first ranchers to use windmills. He was among the Texas cattlemen who drove herds of longhorns to the Kansas railheads on trails such as the Chisholm Trail. By 1882 Oxsheer was a member of the Texas Livestock Association, as were the Reynolds brothers and Charles Goodnight of the Goodnight-Loving Trail.
In 1894 Oxsheer moved to Fort Worth from Colorado City in Mitchell County. Photo shows his house (1916) just down Pennsylvania Avenue from fellow cattle baron Winfield Scott’s Thistle Hill on Quality Hill.
In 1906 Oxsheer sold one of his ranches to cereal mogul C. W. Post, who had previously lived in Fort Worth. Clip is from the November 18 Dallas Morning News.
The Oxsheers were often mentioned on two pages of the Fort Worth newspapers: the livestock page and the society page. (In the top clip, that “W. V. Niles” was Louville Veranus Niles, for whom Niles City was named. And E. F. Sansom was probably rancher Elmer Flournoy Sansom, a relative of the three Marions.)
But the twentieth century would be an ornery one for Fountain Goodlet Oxsheer. Son R. C. Oxsheer died in 1921. Senior lost most of his ranching empire to drought and the Depression. Then son Fountain Goodlet Jr. died in February 1931.
Six months later Senior died.
Eternity’s bunkhouse: Fountain Goodlet Oxsheer Sr. is buried in Oakwood Cemetery near better-remembered cattle kings Winfield Scott, John Bunyan Slaughter, and Burk Burnett. The contrast between his final resting place and theirs is telling.
I met Bill Camfield when I was as Ickey when I was 7 at the opening of a MR. Quick on 7th St.
He picked me up and when I grabbed his hat, I discovered that he was wearing a wig; it was attached to the hat. He put me down and dragged me behind the building and twisted my arm till I thought it would break. He was screaming in my face and I could smell the alcohol. Then the rubber masked crew came around to see why Bill and a little girl were screaming. I saw the masks and honestly believed they came to help him. One of the actors took off his mask and told me that he was just a person. He had to tell Ramfield several times to let the little girl go.
To this day, I hate to see that violent drunk glorified as a Fort Worth hero.
thanks for the picture.
fountain goodlet oxsheer was the brother of my father’s great-aunt madora melvina oxsheer married to his great-uncle, dr. joseph stephen letcher. their daughter was my grandfather’s first-cousin, elma letcher, married to christopher columbus slaughter, jr, son of christopher columbus slaughter sr.
as the niece of fount oxsheer and the daughter-in-law of cc sr, her marriage conceptually ceded the two largest ranches in the history of texas and north america between the two sometimes-partners, fount and cc sr, who were both jointly and independently responsible for the genesis of hereford breeding and development in the united states. fount held up to 3 million acres in texas and mexico whereas cc sr held up to 24 million acres in texas–200 square miles of the state.
though the drought claimed fount’s vast holdings and herd, the slaughter ranching empire was subsequently partitioned into 10 separate ranch holdings by 1921 resulting from the death of cc sr. however, oil was later discovered on their hockley and cochran county properties whereon approximately 643 million barrels of oil were pumped out in a 40-year period from about 1937 up to 1975 when that figure was compiled. according to the production report that i viewed, the oil revenue averaged $20 million annually for the family.
anella slaughter bauer, an early dallas socialite and founder of the visiting nurse association in dallas and my father’s third-cousin, was the sole heir of first-cousin elma letcher and cc slaughter jr.
fountain’s and cc sr’s contribution to the texas and us livestock industry is epic though rarely publicized or attributed. the king, swenson, and reynolds ranches glean most of the credit since, of course, they are still operating, but their historical significance is somewhat eclipsed by the mammoth ranching operations of slaughter and oxsheer.
his great grandson and i are close friends, mr oxsheer sr. also was part of the team that bought the goodnite herd.theres a book about mr oxsheer , the forgotten cattle king.