The historical aspects of Moncrief Ranch are plentiful and important to the family. What is sometimes called “The Rock House” was built in 1933 by former Texas Gov. W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel, who was famous for his enthusiasm for music, specifically, Bob Wills and also the Light Crust Doughboys. The restored house has become a sanctuary for Moncrief family gatherings for many years.
The Moncrief family has done a lot of restoration work on an old barn and the old Milburn cabin, which was built around 1880. Some of the Milburn descendants visited recently. The Martin Ranch is one of the divisions of the Moncrief Ranch. Broadway star Mary Martin’s family lived there. Cynthia Ann Parker’s uncle, John Parker, is buried in an unmarked grave near the old Baker Cemetery on the Martin division.
A marker on the ranch designates Parsons Station. The rail line was built through the area in the 1880s. The rail stop featured cattle pens for loading livestock. The train that made the trip from Weatherford to Cleburne was known as “Old Nancy Hanks.” The completion of what would become State Hwy. 171 led to the decline of Old Nancy’s route. A few relics remain.
A little pug-mix dog named Hope is also part of the history of Moncrief Ranch. Hope was found in July 2012 wandering the ranch with her muzzle taped shut, her tongue protruding and swollen. She had been stabbed multiple times. Hope’s abuse became an international story; and her spirit inspired Kit, their daughters, Gloria and Adelaide, and six other women to start a new foundation called Saving Hope. The little dog, now healthy and happy, enjoyed being a star in the ranch photo shoot.
“The most important thing about the ranch to us is that it’s a fully operational cattle ranch,” Charlie said. “We take a lot of pride in that. Also, we’re very conscious of the wildlife management end of it, not just inside the exotic game fence, but managing the entire property and overall habitat out here. Preserving the history is very important. Our job is being good stewards of the land and keeping the ranch as it has been for hundreds of years.”