The Marks Family

Family founded successful LH7 Ranch

In 1898, Emil Henry Marks registered the LH7 brand in Harris County to begin breeding cattle on his 63-acre ranch in Addicks. In its peak, the ranch housed more than 6,000 cattle on 36,000 acres. It spanned what is now the Addicks and Barker reservoirs.

Emil's grandparents were Prussian immigrants who arrived in Galveston in 1843, and they were charged with caring for Emil when he was 10 years old after his parents died. The burden of caring for four children overwhelmed Emil's grandparents, and he was soon sent to live with an aunt and uncle in Pattison where he worked as a ranch hand—the beginning of his cattleman's career.

He officially founded the ranch in 1907, the same year he married Maud May Smith. Ten years later, the couple relocated the ranch closer to Barker and began staging small riding and roping contests to entertain neighboring ranchers who helped him brand his cattle. The small events eventually gathered steam and transformed into an annual ranch rodeo that attracted thousands from Houston for 30 years.

Emil became one of the first Gulf Coast cattleman to cross Indian-imported Brahman bulls with the longhorn cattle, which proved well-suited to the intense Gulf Coast climate. The LH7 ranch became an important supplier of quality Brahman breeding for ranches across the South.

Because he was passionate about preserving the Texas longhorn, which grew endangered in the early 1900s, Emil began hand-picking a herd of 500 to maintain, and is considered one of the seven families of longhorn cattle by the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America.

Emil and Maud's daughters, Maudeen Martha and Atha, who both died in 2009, was known in the community for sharing their father's passions. Both were involved in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and became a lifetime member of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association, and Atha was an active member of New Hope Presbyterian Church in Katy.

Emil kept the ranch until his death in 1969. Maudeen and her brother, Travis, split the heard and ranching operations. Maudeen settled her portion in Bandera in 1982 where it still exists as both a ranch and vacation resort.

Sources: Texas State Historical Association, "The LH7 Ranch: In Houston's Shadow" by Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore


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