By the turn of the 19th century demand for the Texas Longhorn beef began to fade. It took less than 40 years of fencing,plows and demand for the fat English breeds to drive the Texas longhorn closer to extinction than the buffalo. Six cattle families along with the United States Government are responsible for preserving the Texas Longhorn as a breed.
The Butler family: Named for Milby Butler, a pioneer cattleman who began raising Texas Longhorns in the early 1900's. His cattle trace back to the wild cattle of east Texas and the Gulf Coast. Most of Milby's cattle were butchered after he died in 1971 but the best were saved by several selective breeders. The Butler line is known for exceptional horn growth. Perhaps the most famous Butler cattle were Bevo and Beauty. This sire and dam produced the bull, Classic among others.
The WR (Wildlife Refuge) bloodline: The WR line of Longhorns is a result of selective breeding that began with the acquisition of breeding stock in 1927. That year, the Wichita Refuge searched for Longhorn cattle to preserve the breed from extinction. Refuge employees(Earl Drummond,Heck Schrader, Joe Bill Lee and Elmer Parker Jr.) viewed thousands of cattle and finally located and acquired 20 cows and 3 bulls that were of the Longhorn type. Several bulls and cows were added to the original herd through the years. The success of the breeding program has made the WR line one of the most popular today.
The Peeler family: Named for Graves Peeler. Mr.Peeler raised longhorns, a tradition established by his father starting in 1931, extensively after losing many heads of English-bred cattle in a blizzard. One of the most well known of the Peeler cattle was YO Carmela I, the first cow registered by the TLBAA.
The Marks family: Named for Emil H. Marks. By 1920, Mr.Marks noticed that longhorns were disappearing from the marketplace. He began holding back some of his best animals just to keep the breed alive. The Marks line was among the oldest of the Texas Longhorn bloodlines.
The Wright family: Named for M.P. Wright. The Wright line originated in South Texas where the family had a ranching and slaughter business. When ranchers would bring in longhorns for sale, Wright would select the better longhorns for breeding stock. His first 100 animals were acquired in this way. In 1965, the Wright herd consisted of 222 registered Texas Longhorns.
The Yates family: Named for Cap Yates. Mr. Yates interest in Longhorns resulted in a bloodline known for purity toward the original "old type" Longhorn. Yates began developing an eye for cattle while working as a ranch foreman in 1910, and bought many cattle from Mexico after World WarI. At his ranches in south and west Texas, the only breed of cattle that could survive on the desolate, harsh land were Longhorns.
The Phillips family: Named for Jack Phillips. Jack followed his father and grandfather in raising Texas Longhorn cattle. Phillips had raised Longhorns for 30 years before the TLBAA was formed in 1964. Phillips always looked for long legs, long bodies, slender heads, long bushy tails and good horns. He used the selection rules of conformation first, followed by horns and color traits. Texas Ranger JP is perhaps the best known animals from this bloodline. Known as the sire for size.
OTHER IMPORTANT TEXAS LONGHORN BLOODLINES:
Scott - Developed by Walter B. Scott of Goliad Texas. A blend of Peeler and Marks bloodlines.
YO - Charles Schreiner III developed a blend of "WR" and Peeler along with the bull "BOLD RULER".
SPEAR-E - Elvin Blevins of Wynnewood, Oklahoma started this bloodline in 1952. Primarily "WR" with "YATES" influence.
SHAHAN - James T."Happy" Shahan line of Texas Longhorns is the result of selective inbreeding from the Marks, Butler, Peeler and Stanger bloodlines.
WOODS - Grady Woods, great-great grandson of Joshua Westbrook homestead in Newton County east Texas. These cattle are descendents of stock brought to Santo Domingo and Mexico by the Spaniards.
BLR - Bright Longhorn Ranch. Arthur Bright of Le Grand California. "WR" based heard on the west coast starting in 1962.
Ox Yoke T - This line of cattle was developed by Ken Humphrey of Okreek, South Dakota in 1950, utilizing the Fort Niobrara Refuge cattle for 50% with 25% "Yates" and 25% "WR".