The Palmer Ranch / Flint Hills Beefmasters

The Palmer Ranch consisting of some 5120 Acres lies south of Beaumont in the Flint Hills of Kansas. It was founded by my maternal grandfather, Joseph H. Porter, beginning in 1886 with the deeding of pasture land to the Elk Grove Cattle Company. He had a one half interest in this company or partnership with Mr. William Ferguson. These men set up at least two stations on the railroads running from the south for the purpose of unloading, feeding and resting livestock being transported in cattle cars. The northerly of these facilities was at Beaumont and no doubt led to an interest in nearby pastures. Mr. Ferguson operated the unloading pens some thirty miles south in Union Township and thus his descendants own ranch land in that vicinity. I have been told that at one time these two men owned or leased all the land between the pens for some thirty miles. The name Elk Grove developed naturally as the headwaters of the Elk River are on our present property.

Joseph Porter was one of the first children born in Davenport, Iowa in 1856 according to records in the Iowa Historical Department. He told me that he ran away from home when he was twelve years old. He claimed to have been captured by Indians who took him to Chief Sitting Bull. He lived with Sitting Bull for two years and only escaped when the Chief thought that other young braves were jealous and would hurt him. He traveled to Kansas as a young man and originally made a living buying livestock in the country based on "Catch Weights". He then took his purchases to town and sold them. He and my grandmother, Hulda Hampton Porter lived most of their lives in Towanda, Kansas where they owned farmland.

Our part of the Flint Hills was opened to homesteading by veterans of the Civil War. A man could prove out 160 acres. Our ranch has sites of seven such endeavors. Unfortunately our country is too rocky for much farming and after several years of drought the property would be sold. The abstracts tell a story that was sad in many cases but was usually a good rain gauge.

Eventually the need for cattle resting business died out and the Elk County records show the property being divided between Ferguson and Porter. My grandfather continued to add to the ranch until he had some 8200 Acres in Elk and Greenwood Counties. He used this "tall grass" Blue Stem country to fatten steers during the summer months. He generally bought these cattle in Texas or Mexico and I am sure that many had swam the Rio Grande. These were older steers by today's standards and when grass fat, were sorted off and shipped to the "River Markets" to our north and east. I can remember seeing buyers from the rodeo circuits selecting large Brahman type animals for their shows. I also have seen steers still wearing steel shoes that showed use as draft animals.

After my mother, Oreta Porter Palmer passed away in 1933, followed by her father Joe Porter in 1936 I received a one half interest in the ranch. During the declining years of my grandfather and then until about 1955 the ranch ran stocker cattle during the summer and received pasture rent.

When I returned from World War II my aunt and I divided the ranch in two parts. Fortunately a county road ran across the middle so this was an easy division. Since 1960 I have had a cow herd as well as stockers and have added property whenever the opportunity arose. Today as stated above the Palmer Ranch covers some 5100 acres. It carries a cow herd of 350-400 head plus bred and breeding heifers and a bull crop. At the suggestion of our son, Gregory, who was running the ranch in 1975, we bought our first Beefmaster bulls. We have used Lasater Beefmaster Foundation bulls since then and we are now 100% purebred Beefmaster. We have tagged and weighed each calf born for the last 30 years and feel we can guarantee satisfaction with the use of our cattle. We cull heavily for sheath and disposition and take great pride in our cattle.

Along with our Beefmaster herd we run 1000 stockers which are normally "bought" cattle. We believe in taking our stockers as well as a good portion of our Beefmasters to the feedlot and the packer.

Through the years I have been blessed with good foremen or managers to run the ranch on a day to day basis. For the last several years our ranch has had an excellent man in charge. Mr. Don E. Nelson has impressed us with his conscientious efforts in behalf of our ranch and cattle.

Our family of four married children and ten grandchildren participate at the ranch frequently. Our son, Jeffrey, is assisting with records on his computer.

We feel blessed to be stewards of a good ranch in the Flint Hills of Kansas and owners of some of the finest Blue Stem grass in the world. It is our goal to pass it on to the next generation in the best possible condition.

Everett Palmer, Jr.

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