More Than Running Cattle : The Mallet Ranch of the South Plains

The Mallet Ranch, from its founding to the present, has followed the arc of most Texas ranches. It has experienced booms and busts, and its owners have fretted over droughts and floods as well as fights in courtrooms. Despite hardships that may have outnumbered successes, the Mallet, headquartered in Hockley County, Texas, perseveres to this day. But More Than Running Cattle is more than just a ranch tale. It is the story of a family both unique and conventional among Texas stock raisers. David M. DeVitt, like many before him, was not “born” to be a Texas cattleman. DeVitt began his career as a reporter in Brooklyn, New York, before he decided to leave that path behind to try his luck on the wide-open ranges of West Texas. David DeVitt passed down his hardy, independent spirit to his two daughters. Although Christine and Helen were raised in Fort Worth, both from a young age learned the lesson that the West Texas land-and the Mallet Ranch-were part of their souls. When their father died, the two sisters fought to retain control of the Mallet for the family. The discovery in 1938 of oil on the ranch, and the subsequent drilling of more than a thousand oil wells over the next few decades, transformed the Mallet from a struggling enterprise into one of the most profitable such entities in the nation. From that financial windfall sprung from the land, Christine and Helen generously reinvested back into the region. The two non-profit organizations founded by the DeVitt sisters have distributed more than $200 million. The story of the Mallet Ranch told within these pages illuminates and delves into this remarkable story of a family, their operation, and the land that made it all possible.