Polled Herefords originated in Texas! So says a 1915 magazine article by Welton Winn of Santa Anna, Texas. Mr. Winn told of buying a Hereford bull in Missouri in 1886, and breeding him to "large, beefy cows, good milkers, and natural muleys, of many colors." The polled white-faced offspring of this cross were retained to form a herd of grade Polled Herefords. This was several years before the date found in most Hereford history books for the first grade polls in the Midwest. The American Polled Hereford Cattle Club was organized in 1901 and at that time began the registration of "Double Standard" or purebred Polled Herefords. First Double Standard Polled Hereford to make an impression on the breed in Texas was Polled Assurance 11, calved in 1906, and bred by E.W. Gammon of St. Charles, Iowa, nephew of the breed's founder. This bull was brought to Texas by J.E. Boog-Scott, of Coleman, an early-day horned breeder. He then went to Welton Winn, who bought a group of registered horned heifers to breed to him.
The late Sam Swann told me that his father brought in a registered Polled bull about 1905, but did not use him on registered females. His pioneer registered herd was started several years later.
Two more very active pioneers started during the 1908-1910 period. George Epperson of Valley Spring was one of these. He was the grandfather of the late Cliff Martin, and some of the cattle in the Martin dispersal traced back to the Epperson cattle. J.T. Warnock of Talpa also started about 1908, and his herd has passed into the ownership of C.E. Kingsbery of Santa Anna. The year 1910 still showed no APHA registrations in Texas, but by 1920 registrations were up to 261.
The period from 1910 to 1920 saw more big breeders getting into the business. Bill and Lewis Johnson, operating as Johnson Bros., of Jacksboro, began their operation publicized as "The World's Largest Herd." For many years they ran well over a thousand head. This herd continued as the W.R. Johnson Ranch.
Burleson and John's Steiner Valley Ranch at Whitney, under the longtime management of Albert Kyle, grew to about 500 brood cows.
Phil Kendrick of Whitey started his herd in 1919. In 1920 he bought 10 cows and a bull in the National Sale at Des Moines. He was elected president of the APHA in 1925--the first person outside of the corn-belt to hold that position.
Lester Carter of Jacksboro founded a real top herd in the early days that have now been divided and is still in operation by his daughters and their husbands. George Keith, a top early day horned breeder, built a Polled unit, which he sold to his neighbor, R.O. Harvey of Wichita Falls. J.H. Crawford of Menard started a herd in 1915 that has been continued since his death by his son, Vernon.
The 1920s saw a sizable increase in numbers, along with the start of a lot of top herds. Hugh White made quite a record as a breeder and as an exhibitor. In the early '30s, Hugh won a hatful of trophies in the National and campaigned his show string widely and successfully in strong horned shows. His Pawnee Rollo 10th was sold to Parker Ranch in Hawaii. His Prince Rollo 1 was the first Polled bull to win a class in the horned show in Fort Worth.
The '20s saw the start of a group of very strong breeders in West Texas. The Halbert and Hoggett herd -- later divided into the R.A. Halbert herd at Sonora and the Mans Hoggert herd at Mertzon -- became a No. 1 source of Domestic Mischief and Woodrow cattle in the U.S. and abroad, and were most successful on the range and the show ring.