The SMS Ranch
Few images captivate the Western imagination more than the Texas
cowboy, at home on the range, herding, corralling, throwing and
branding cattle, bronc busting, dining from chuckwagons, and sleeping
under the stars. The SMS Ranch in the early 1900s was exactly such
a place. Spanning hundreds of thousands of acres and holding land in
12 Northwest Texas counties, the SMS was formed by Swante Magnus
Swenson, said to be the first Swede to immigrate to Texas. Swenson, a good
friend of Sam Houston, had a penchant for wise financial decisions
and, by the late 1800s, lived in New York with offices on Wall Street.
Swenson sent his two sons to manage his vast Texas landholdings.
In 1902, they hired legendary cattleman Frank Hastings to manage
the SMS Ranch, headquartered in Stamford, Texas, north of Abilene
and west of Fort Worth. Hastings’s wife, Laura, and daughter Ruth
photographed life on the ranch, and many professional photographers
visited the SMS as well, leaving a rich visual legacy.
About Dawn Youngblood, PhD (San Antonio, Texas Author)
Dawn Youngblood grew up in San Antonio, where she attended the Alamo Heights Schools and developed a passion for history. She obtained a degree in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, where she met and married her husband, Fort Worth Attorney Edwin Johnston Youngblood. They have lived in Fort Worth since 1982 and have two grown children, Christian and Eden. Following a career in publishing – including serving as a Senior Editor for Harcourt Brace – Dawn returned to graduate school. She obtained a PhD in Anthropology with specialization in Archaeology from Southern Methodist University in 2003 and worked full time at SMU as a curator and professor for ten years. During this time, her love for collections inspired her to obtain a Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) with a specialization in Archives and Special Collections from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – the number one rated MLIS program in the nation. In January 2011, Dawn began her current position as Tarrant County Archivist. In this position, she has greatly expanded the exhibits and public outreach program as well as the collections and online presence. It was in this position that she discovered a priceless photographic album covering the early years of the vast SMS Ranch.