A Historic Donation

The ranch will house a Texas A&M AgriLife peanut breeding nursery among many other research initiatives.

More than 900 acres of the George Webb Slaughter Ranch in Palo Pinto County will serve a new Texas A&M AgriLife Research initiative to ensure the economic and environmental prosperity of Texas agriculture and natural resources production. 

Texas A&M AgriLife’s peanut breeding program will establish a research nursery to increase germplasm at the new ranch location.

Slaughter founded the historic ranch in 1857. Following generations of family ownership, AgriLife Research received the land donation in a formal signing ceremony with Dr. Maynard F. Ewton Jr. and his wife, Rosemarie. The property carries deep foundational ties to the former Republic of Texas and the state’s history.

During the Texas Revolution, Slaughter served as Sam Houston’s courier. A state historical marker recounts a ride by Slaughter to deliver correspondence to Col. William B. Travis at the Alamo in San Antonio. Slaughter’s marriage to Sarah Mason in 1836 was the first marriage sanctioned by the former republic. In 1857, Slaughter moved his family to Palo Pinto and operated a large cattle operation. From 1868 to 1875, thousands of his cattle were driven up the Chisholm Trail to the Kansas rail. Slaughter also practiced medicine and was a Baptist preacher.

The Future of the Slaughter-Harris Ranch

Native rangelands, plants and wildlife continue to inhabit the now Slaughter-Harris Ranch. AgriLife Research scientists will seek to conserve these natural resources with new food, feed and fiber production methods that work harmoniously to support and strengthen the natural environment.

“We are honored to serve as the stewards of this precious piece of state history,” says G. Cliff Lamb, director of AgriLife Research. “In addition to benefiting directly from these important studies, the land will serve all Texans with our agency mission to nourish health, protect natural resources and support economies.”

“We’re pleased to see the ranch going to support the important agricultural commodity sectors, natural resources and wildlife of Texas, which have been a cornerstone of this land since its establishment in 1857,” says Ewton Jr. “This donation supports a new era of sustainable production that we are proud to encourage.”

The new ranch will house agricultural, natural resources and life sciences research conducted by scientists across the state and over a range of interconnected disciplines.

Peanut Cropping And Plant-Microbe Interactions

AgriLife Research’s nationally recognized peanut breeding program seeks to establish a research nursery to increase the germplasm available for breeding new varieties. The program also aims to conduct dryland cropping system research and establish breeding trials along the ranch’s river tracts — steps toward building Texas’ standing as a peanut production powerhouse.

Peanut research at the ranch will coincide with studies on plant and microbe interactions and how they affect a plant’s ability to persist between precipitation events during drought. This research also holds implications for controlling invasive bluestem by restoring native plants and grasslands.

Faculty of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Stephenville will manage the historic property. Researchers expect to kick off projects at the new property by the spring of 2024. PG

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